High-Performance Materials for a High-Concept SupercarTue, 09/01/2015 - 15:44
Occasionally, innovation is only possible when the right imaginative and creative minds work together. In the case of the Inferno Exotic Car concept, the collaborators involved have taken their creativity to the next level, designing their dream sports car and working to turn it into a reality with next-generation materials.
Over the last decade, LTM Hot Spot has been focused on communication materials for mass consumption brands, such as industrial model road signs for Mexican localities. However, as an unusual escape from their regular projects, the company has designed the Inferno Exotic Car concept. The company’s designers and engineers have exercised their love of disruptive brands, such as Pagani, Koenigsegg, Ferrari, and Lamborghini, particularly highlighting the latter two as reference brands for quality and design. Despite the exceptional classification of the concept, Álvaro Gutiérrez, CEO of Inferno Exotic Car wanted to design a vehicle that could compete in the market as a legal car. Although this car would be risky to truly manufacture and commercialize, the company knew it would tap into the inner child of drivers. According to initial feedback, Inferno was compared to the Batmobile or a Hot Wheels car, showing that the company had succeeded in its imaginative approach. The vehicle has a total height of 1.1m and a weighs less than 1,000kg, which would allow the car to reach a top speed of 395km/h with its projected 1,400hp. The roof is particularly interesting from a design perspective, as the company has not yet settled on a polymer that would offer the resistance required, but the vision is to create a panoramic roof resembling glass. A remote control system is also being developed to operate the doors, inspired by Koenigsegg, Lamborghini, and Ferrari, although the Inferno variant on these designs will open up the whole side of the car, as well as allow the driver to start and stop the engine..
To transform its innovative design and the driving conditions created by its powerful engine, one of the first problems faced by the company was the need for new materials. As a result, the Inferno Exotic Car will be the first concept car to apply metal foam technology, as its intricate design would be impractical to build with any other material. Metal foam technology requires elaboration of a Zn-Al-Ag alloy, which offers exceptional mechanical and anticorrosive properties that are ideal for automotive manufacturing. The silver element adds superplasticity that allows the alloy to be deformed up to 100 times its original length, without losing mechanical properties. This alloy is used to cast and to elaborate a large interconnected network of NaCl-filled pores, as well as open-cell foam, which is a cellular structure consisting of a solid metal. Ultimately, the defining characteristic of metal foam is that the extremely high porosity makes it ultralight. The company is including close to 25 patents in the project (belonging to both ITESM and LTM Hot Spot), encompassing technology that is already available but not included in any brand. This means that the project is neither restricted by design, nor by the copyrights of existing brands. One of Inferno’s collaborators is Senior Automotive Designer, Antonio Ferraioli, who has been part of other exotic car designs including the Lamborghini Veneno Roadster. Ferraioli has helped the Inferno prototype, which is currently situated in Guadalajara, to meet its compliance with official regulations. Even so, the vehicle still needs to pass all the necessary tests before it arrives in Leon for feedback, painting and finishing, and the official presentation with the internal team. It can then be subjected to further tests in ITESM’s testing chambers.
The company is seeking a foothold that would allow it to join forces with national companies, and to demonstrate that Mexico is a hub of innovation for new automotive products and projects. Gutiérrez knew from the outset that it would be difficult to approach a transnational company until they could produce something tangible. “We initially needed something real to make companies believe in this project, but the vehicle is now a reality, and new companies are always looking to get involved,” he glows. Some of the companies that are now working with the project are logistics specialists, who intend to include people with expertise in vehicle construction specific to the concept’s characteristics, even if this means branching into foreign markets or importing personnel. Several entrepreneurs are taking note of this opportunity to increase investment in the automotive industry, and Gutiérrez expects the experience of Antonio Ferraioli’s team to launch them into the exotic car or limited edition models segment. If they can ensure high levels of quality and safety in their manufacturing process, then the ambition to create a roadworthy vehicle could be reached. In the long term, a minimum of five to seven prototypes would need to be constructed and displayed at the most important international forums and museums of influential companies in locations such as Dubai, Miami, Los Angeles, London, and Monaco. “It might sound like an impossible dream but we are making progress,” continues Gutiérrez.