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HK brothers take on Tesla with $195,000 e-supercar

Will Davies | Updated on March 12, 2020

The AP-1

In a Chinese electric-vehicle market packed with big hitters like Tesla Inc, two brothers from Hong Kong are carving out a niche, catering to motor racing enthusiasts.

The 305 km/hour electric supercar, codenamed AP-0, is the brainchild of Jason and Gary Leung, who founded Apex Motors. At around $195,000 plus tax, the two-seater is priced to compete with Tesla’s Roadster and will be made in the UK. Production is due to start in the fourth quarter of 2022, ramping up from an initial target of 500 units in the first year.

To prove the car’s carbon fibre technology, aerodynamics and chassis design, Apex is building a limited number of gasoline-powered versions called the AP-1, built to customers’ preferences. I took a ride in one in the hills of Hong Kong in January before the coronavirus outbreak. For a moment I thought I might die.

I can’t claim my whole life flashed before my eyes but I definitely saw the highlights as we sped along the winding roads of the New Territories. That’s not to say the Apex AP-1 is unsafe. It just feels fast. Really fast.

Low-slung design

The car’s low-slung design heightens the sensation of speed, as does the feet-up driving position, open cockpit and the fact that I was wearing a racing helmet that threatened to fly off my head when the driver put his foot down.

The AP-1 weighs only 620 kg, thanks to its carbon-fibre design, and can go from zero to 100 kph in 2.5 seconds, something I experienced when we overtook a shell-shocked learner driver struggling with a hill start. That’s the same sort of acceleration of a Bugatti Chiron. The electric version is expected to be almost twice as heavy, but a tad quicker in acceleration and with a similar top speed.

Apex describes the AP-1 as a rival to the $1.7-million Mclaren Elva or the slightly more expensive Ferrari Monza SP2. Powered by turbocharged 2.3-litre Ford EcoBoost engines, only about 10 will be made, with a base price of HK$1.68 million ($216,000). It’s designed and assembled in the UK by engineers experienced in Formula One and Formula E.

The company says the AP-0 will cover up to 515 km on a full charge and can recharge to 80 per cent in 20 minutes with a fast charger. The electric car was due to be unveiled in Geneva this week, but the motor show was cancelled at the last minute because of the coronavirus outbreak. Apex now plans a live-streamed launch event on March 13.

While production will initially be in the UK, there are plans to expand manufacturing to Shenzhen, where Apex is based, said 25-year-old Gary, the younger of the two Leungs. Jason is 27. They grew up in Hong Kong and Australia, where both studied engineering and nurtured dreams of motor racing. Their plans also include developing a race track and racing academy in the Greater Bay Area. Bloomberg

Published on March 12, 2020

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