It seems like only weeks since the London Motor Show but looking at the calendar, I can see that an update as to progress probably seems overdue. I realise that many of you might have expected more frequent updates but please don’t forget that the elapsed time since the deposit book first opened will feel artificially extended due to the fact that, by popular demand, it was opened more than 12 months early – most manufacturers might expect to start taking deposits 12 months before the car launch and some 18months/2years prior to first delivery. Nevertheless, as we start to pass significant milestones at greater frequency, you will hear more and more from us.
“You don’t know what you don’t know” as they say and, as you’d expect, development throws up many questions as we advance at an ever-increasing level of complexity and pace. Of course, like anybody involved in such an undertaking (in which a lot of the content is largely subjective), one anticipates a reasonable level of uncertainty and therefore builds in extra time in the development schedule to account for this. Indeed, not all challenges are unwelcome; we were not aware at the start of the design journey that Gordon would have the iStream Carbon process perfected in time for us to incorporate the technology in the chassis development of the new car. In this particular case, we decided that adding 3 months to our schedule was a small price to pay to have this feature, and your feedback since the announcement confirmed this. I’ve been told that there was a suggestion on one of the forums that Brexit might be a good whipping boy to blame any delays on, but I have to say that the complexities of negotiating a clean exit strategy from the EC has nothing on dealing with the implications of aerodynamic exactitude with small body changes to the exterior of this car!
One of the current challenges we are facing includes getting rid of the enormous amount of heat generated by the Catalytic converters. These are mounted vertically just inside the wings between the front wheels and the door hinge. The challenge is to make sure that heat can escape properly when you pull up at a péage on the way to Le Mans in 35deg sun having been doing 200mph with the cats at 900deg C and a Gendarme leans on the wing… this is still feeding into final wing / bonnet design (and we are including a warning sticker in French!)
The moving feast that is homologation legislation causes no end of issues and, although our car will be going through the European Small Series Type Approval, there are still areas where we have had to modify our original design to accommodate legislative changes (current and future), further impacting on development schedules.
The process to reach agreement with the Welsh Government, despite best efforts on both sides, took 4 months longer than allowed for; whereas this did not directly (adversely) affect the development schedule, it does affect the occupation date for the factory, pushing start of production out past our target. Conversely, it also means more available development time, which is always useful! However, the factory site in South Wales has been chosen and tender documents for the refurbishment are being prepared. This bit is slow but the actual refurbishment is not complex and, as I mentioned above, will not affect development schedules.
Nevertheless, we are making great progress on all aspects of the car design, albeit a little behind where we would like to be, and the good news is that we are on target for the launch of the car in 2017 - our 70th anniversary! While considering our current development status (and inevitably the budget) it did occur to me that most manufacturers spend fortunes developing features for their cars to differentiate them from the competition. Sadly, that also adds cost, complexity, unreliability and, of course, weight. We, on the other hand, have spent a significant portion of our budget doing the opposite – taking out as much weight as we can in order to give fantastic performance in a light weight car. Of course there will be plenty of opportunity for you to add weight (your own, megaton hi-fi, tow bar, etc.) but at least you will have started with an exceptionally balanced, lightweight vehicle!
Gordon Murray Design are flat out on further chassis refinements, engine integration, aero design etc. The design team is growing exponentially each month.
Interestingly, a little while ago we benchmarked a range of competitors’ cars against a TVR and, in the words of Gordon himself, the TVR was by far the best SPORTS CAR in the bunch – the only one you could properly get to do a controlled 4-wheel drift. As I suspected, it looks like our performance benchmark was ourselves all along.
Back to the main point of this letter. We want to show all our loyal deposit holders how far we’ve progressed as soon as possible and I’m acutely aware we have said that we would reveal the exterior styling of the car to you by the end of the summer this year. We are likely to be in a position to do this now in the autumn but, following significant feedback from customers, the press, our partners not to mention some of the more sane posts on the various forums, we decided that we should not reveal the new car ‘piecemeal’ but give a far more comprehensive presentation, including internal and external styling, equipment level, performance, pricing and indeed, as many attributes as possible, to give you the most complete information we can, thus enabling you to fully comprehend our vision for the next generation of TVRs.
With that in mind, we determined that we will have much more of the above to show early in the New Year and therefore we are scheduling the customer reveal for early next year – further details below. Yes, I know there will be the usual suspects who say “told you so”, “expect many more delays”, “it’ll never happen”, “Not a TVR if it’s not built in Blackpool by blokes munching on rock” etc. etc., but remember, to those who haven’t put a deposit down “why are you bothered?” and to those who understand what we’re doing “you won’t be disappointed” – easy for me to say because I know exactly what we’ve achieved so far and pretty much what the end result will be, but I believe the vast majority of you understand our strategy. This change of timing is not a reflection of delays in development, but solely so that we can show more at the reveal – something I’m sure will be welcomed by all who want to be certain that the new car will be everything it can be, and giving you as much information as possible to allow you to confirm your order and get your build slot.
We are also planning to announce some further exciting developments around the specification for the car at the time of the reveal – I can promise that this will be worth the wait.
Additionally, we will be able to give you an update on the progress with the factory together with our plans surrounding the launch of the new car later in 2017.
We have now set some dates for the customer reveal and I would like to invite you (and a guest) to a private unveiling of the Launch Edition of the new TVR. We are finalizing exact details and the final date is dependent on the number of attendees, but it will be between 27th Jan and the 19th Feb. In order for us to cater for all who wish to attend, please can you RSVP by clicking [DearLes@tvr.co.uk] indicating you wish to be added to the list. We will allow for any deposit holders that wish to attend but guest places may be limited in which case they will be allocated randomly. Incidentally, this is your primary contact email address at TVR from this point on. We will answer all emails received personally, but please use the email address we have you registered under, otherwise you will not get a response – its only for those of you currently holding a deposit.
At the event, myself and key TVR personnel will be on hand to give you as much information as possible regarding delivery dates, further specifications, any options and to discuss how we ensure that owning a new TVR is an exceptional experience for you.
By the way, this is certainly not the last update before the reveal - we will be more communicative from now on, as we have more to say. Despite pressure from all sides, we are determined that we make statements only when they are substantive.
Some of you, I know, were present when we took the Black Hound around the Millbrook high speed circuit last month and I hope you’ll agree that it made a huge impression aurally. This Cerbera-based mule is simply a test of engine power and gearbox in a car that broadly represents a vehicle of our target weight (slightly heavier actually). For the avoidance of doubt (and the usual nonsense on the forums), that’s all it was. It’s not supposed to be representative of our progress with the new car, simply a test of the Cosworth drive train in something approaching the weight and size of our car. We showed this to a group of Cerbera owners celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the launch of this iconic 2+2.
FEEL THE FORCE
To those of you that were unable to sample the delights of the Black Hound’s soundtrack, there’s a link below to one of our own tests – yours truly trying out the ‘wet’ throttle map on a damp section of the Top Gear track…
…and yes, it really does sound like that.
(I recommend it on full volume on the 5.45 commute home).
Thanks for your support,
TVR Manufacturing Ltd