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Electric History: Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne.

One of the oldest names in automotive and aviation circles, Hispano-Suiza, has launched a second vehicle in its 21st century rebirth. In 2019 the company unveiled the Carmen, a re-interpretation of a classic design from the 1930s called the Dubonnet Xenia. The Carmen Boulogne is a sportier evolution of that iconic vehicle. It is a fully electric vehicle and exclusivity will be stratospheric. Just five will be produced.

Dubonnet Xenia 1930s

The company’s lineage can be traced back over 120 years. Emilio de la Cuadra, a Spanish artillery captain, had been working on electric cars in Barcelona in 1898. During a visit to Paris, he met and subsequently employed Marc Birkigt, a Swiss born engineer. The pair collaborated and swiftly produced two gasoline powered engines which were released in 1900. Some financial hiccups saw a restructuring in 1902 and 1903, with a new owner and name change to Fábrica Hispano-Suiza de Automóviles (Spanish-Swiss Automobile Factory) which went bankrupt in 1903.

La-Cuadra automobile

José María Castro Fernández was the owner and in 1904 the company underwent yet another rebuild, this time more successfully and known as La Hispano-Suiza Fábrica de Automóviles. Damian Mateu, a Spanish entrepreneur, would partner with Birkigt to formalise the rebirth, and his granddaughter, Carmen, is the inspiration for the naming of the company’s 21st century vehicles. Come WW1 and aircraft engines would be produced under the watchful eyes of Birkigt. 1919 and they returned to automotive manufacturing and grew from there.

The Boulogne name dates back to 1921, when Hispano Suiza made a racing version of its high-performance H6 Coupé and entered it in the George Boillot Cup, an endurance race lasting more than 3.5 hours around the French city of Boulogne. Three consecutive victories with André Dubonnet (1921), Paul Bablot (1922), and Léonce Garnier (1923) driving the mighty Hispano Suiza H6, would be the results.

The Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne pays tribute to these historic motorsport victories with this fully electrically powered version packing 1,100hp/820 kW and a maximum velocity of 180mph/290kmh. The sprint to 100kmh (62mph) will take just 2.6 seconds. Four permanent-magnet synchronous engines, two on each rear wheel, will power the carbon fiber roof, body, and subframed Carmen Boulogne. The design, engineering, and production of the Carmen Boulogne is a result of a collaboration between Hispano-Suiza and a company specializing in the development of electric motors and motorsports, QEV Technologies.

Formula-E, a race series and a working test-bed for battery powered vehicles, has contributed to the development of the 1,180ft-lb/1,600Nm engines, and lithium-ion polymer batteries. These have a capacity of 80kWh (and can be upgraded later, says the company, with a 105kWh pack in development), and can see the Carmen Boulogne to a range of up to 250 miles/400 kilometres.

2021 Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne

They are an in-house designed and produced T-shaped unit, including a complete temperature control system (including three radiators) to ensure that the cells can operate optimally. It has a fast-charging capacity of more than 80 kW DC, requiring only 30 minutes to charge to 30-80% capacity via a CCS2 fast charger. It also has CHAdeMO and GB/T charging options. Torque-vectoring is employed to ensure the Carmen Boulogne is kept straight under acceleration.

That 4.7 meter long carbon fiber body will be protected by coats of clear varnish, allowing those outside to see the strength of the material, and the emphasis on light-weight sportiness. It will also dramatically emphasise the slippery design, with a drag co-efficient of just 0.32cD. The distinctive semi-circular headlights of the Carmen will be kept, and flanked by a new copper coloured grille, with highlights of the same hue found inside.

2021 Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne cabin

The five buyers can customise the Carmen Boulogne to their own bespoke tastes, thanks to Hispano-Suiza’s “Unique Tailormade” in-house department. Suede or Alcantara will be the interior trim choices as a starting point.

Pricing for the Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne starts from 1.65 million euros plus local taxes (approx USD1,942,000), and its manufacturing process, handmade with the utmost precision, requires approximately twelve months.

The five units of the Carmen Boulogne hypercar join the 14 units of the Carmen to reach a total of 19 units in production, with the first unit ready to be delivered in 2022.

2021 Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne tail

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