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The $529,000 Electric Supercar That No One Saw Coming

Renovo Motor's co-founder and CEO Christopher Heiser is used to fast things -- his company's battery-powered supercar goes from 0 to 60 in under 3.4 seconds. But even he wasn't prepared for the speed with which his coupe became the talk of the 2014 Pebble Beach's Concours d'Elegance.

"It's been a whirlwind," he says. "Working in stealth mode for four years and having zero contact with the media is kind of like working in a cave. When you step out it all feels really, really bright."

The buzz isn’t just because the car is battery-powered -- it's that the three separate lithium ion battery packs themselves are so advanced. "We definitely focused our technology platform on the performance segment," Heiser says. "So the decisions we made have brought us products with high-powered delivery and super-fast charge rates." So not only does the drivetrain ramp up to full power in a mere 37 milliseconds, the battery can be fully recharged in just 30 minutes. (A Tesla takes well over an hour to recharge.)

It also helped that Renovo's technology is packed into the updated shell of a Shelby CSX9000, one of the most iconic -- and coveted -- American models of all time. This was Pebble Beach after all. "We were interested to see how this group that's so knowledgeable about cars reacted to taking a classic shape and re-imagining it," says Heiser. "We had people coming up to us telling stories about the original model, and that was juxtaposed by some of the younger people at the show tugging at the arms of their parents going 'look! look! It's electric!"

And then there's the price. The Renovo coupe will sell for $529,000 in a limited production run. "We have dozens of interested customers from Pebble, and dozens more online," Heiser says. "But we're producing a small number, well under 100 cars, so we have to make really good decisions about how those first sales happen."

If you don't happen to happen to have half a million dollars to shell out for a car, and/or don't happen to be one of the lucky first buyers, take heart: in a few years' time, you might be getting some of the technology that makes the coupe so special. "The actual supercar won't really trickle down, but the components and systems inside of it certainly will," Heiser says. "Just in the same way that not everyone has a moon rocket, but NASA's technology is everywhere."

In the meantime, a few lucky drivers should plan to strap in to their own (electric) rocket in around a year -- the first deliveries of the Renovo coupe are expected at the end of 2015.

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