- Published in Features.
Craftsmanship doesn’t play much of a role for OEMs whose flow-lines churn out thousands of vehicles a day. But when your production run is a little more modest, you can afford to spend a bit more on the components.
When the list price is €196,000 – before taxes –the cost of features such as a machine-turned aluminium dashboard is acceptable. You’ll find one in the luxurious interior of Spyker’s latest model, the C8 Aileron, but, just like the mass-produced vehicles, it’s built to a cost and has to be profitable.
“Most of the tooling investment is in the super-formed aluminium body panels’ Asurfaces and in the spaceframe,” says Spyker’s chief technical officer Michael Schouten. “We looked at the launch budget for this car, but of course it has a lifespan as well. We have a very clear idea of what we want to do with it during that time and made sure that we can make all of the upgrades and modifications using the same tooling.”- Wicher Kist, Spyker’s chief operations officer, says: “We know what certification factors are going to change, especially in North America and Europe. So we’ve anticipated them in the design so that this vehicle will be compliant. Yes, CO2 will be difficult with the V8 but in terms of crash performance and pedestrian impact we already know what we’re going to do in the next six years.”
Spyker uses Lotus as a development partner and looked at its bonded aluminium technology. But this wasn’t used for the Aileron because, Kist says, it didn’t offer quite enough design flexibility. And the wide sills – essential for stiffness – would’ve compromised the styling: “And we’d have been the first to use a longitudinal V8 installation in that chassis – it was too much, too soon,” says Kist.
Instead, Spyker modified its existing welded spaceframe, widening the front end by 70mm to get the correct proportions, and integrating aluminium castings into the rear structure. It was then optimised for stiffness, reaching 22,000Nm/°, and cost.
Because it’s Spyker’s own design, the firm was able to future-proof it against the legislative changes expected in the next few years. Crash-test homologation is one area that can make a business case very difficult at low volumes.
“Our strategy is for all Spykers to be fully certified in the US so we perform all mandatory federal crash tests,” says Schouten. “And we use European small series type approval. With that combination we can sell vehicles worldwide. And some of the federal work carries over into European certification as well.”