The 2020 Drako GTE Is a 1,200-Hp, All-Electric Hyper-Handling Supercar
Startup firm Drako Motors has unveiled its $1.25 million four-seater.
On Friday morning at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering during Monterey Car Week 2019, upstart Drako Motors unveiled its striking new all-electric supercar, the GTE. And whatever your feelings regarding its exterior styling, it boasts several attention-grabbing numbers: 1,200 combined horsepower, a 206-mph top speed, and a base price in excess of $1 million.
The all-wheel-drive Drako GTE comes from the Silicon Valley-based auto-engineering firm founded in 2015 by three tech entrepreneurs. It has four permanent-magnet hybrid synchronous motors (225 kW/302 hp each) to produce that 1,200 horsepower and blistering acceleration. Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes and, in road configuration, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires add to the extreme performance.
More important, the GTE incorporates the company's proprietary Drako DriveOS, a software system that replaces conventional mechanical axle differentials with computer-managed four-wheel torque vectoring; the motor at each wheel can be instantly and independently controlled for maximum traction, stability, and handling responsiveness, the company says. The entire system is controlled by a single ECU, making it far less complex than the computer networks in most modern vehicles.
Shiv Sikand, Drako Motors executive vice president and co-founder, says, "I believe we're on the cusp of a revolution with the use of four-motor electric cars. And we aim to lead that charge."
Company president and CEO Dean Drako started working with Sikand around 2002, after a friend suggested the two engineers and tech entrepreneurs "would make a good team." After starting a software company that's still going strong, Drako and Sikand—both avowed car crazies—turned their attention toward building a car of their own.
"I have a couple Ferraris, a BMW M5 or two," says Drako. "But I've always been a fan of the electric car, always wanted to have one that has the track-capable performance of a traditional sports car. But I'm disappointed with the look of so many electric cars. They look funny. And the makers say, 'Well, it's a different thing.' But the reality is nobody wants a different thing. They want the same thing but better. That was a lot of the motivation for building our car."
"We want to evoke the passion, the sexiness, of long-bonnet, V-12 sports cars," agrees Sikand. "We want to show that you can have beautiful, inspiring cars that are high-tech. When you lift the hood of our car you'll think, 'I've never seen anything like this!'"
That car, unveiled after roughly six years of development, is based on a Fisker Karma platform but every panel except the doors is new. Indeed, the sensuous lines of the carbon-fiber bodywork were penned by ex-Pininfarina design director Lowie Vermeersch, who helped create such stunning shapes as the Ferrari 458 and the Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta concept car before founding his own design house, GranStudio, in Turin, Italy. But what lies underneath—namely, an innovative battery, four electric motors, and that proprietary Drako DriveOS software to run it all—truly sets this new supercar apart.
The GTE doesn't mark the first-ever use of such electric architecture, mind you. In 2013, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the four-motor, 740-hp SLS AMG Electric Drive—a car that set the lap record at the time for an electric car around the Nürburgring Nordschleife with a time of 7 minutes, 56 seconds, handily beating the Audi R8 e-tron. Yet after selling fewer than 100 examples of its half-million-dollar supercar, Mercedes essentially abandoned the program.
The Drako GTE aims to pick up where the SLS Electric Drive left off, while also taking the four-motor concept to an entirely new level. Drako promises that effortlessness at the wheel is the GTE's secret sauce.
"Our obsession has been the new control methodology," says Sikand. "With electric-motor propulsion at each wheel, you can apportion the torque any way you want. Now, we've seen this—Porsche has their torque-vectoring rear axle, for example—but it's still fundamentally primitive. Or these electronic differentials that control clutches electronically; you're still doing retardation with hydraulic brakes, and the latency is long. With our system you've got a virtual triple differential with no brakes needed. There's zero latency. And our system is proactive. We're computing a new torque value every 10 milliseconds to all four wheels, taking into account steering angle, slip angle, wheel-speed sensors, accelerator, and brakes. The tech is not only very intuitive for race-car drivers, but for the general public you can build a very safe car—particularly for inclement conditions."
Four switches on the console—what Drako calls the Quattro Manettino—allow a driver to adjust the torque-vectoring level, front-to-rear power distribution, braking regen level, and settings for six different road-surface conditions.