Oftentimes in life, particularly in this automotive life, the two toughest words to bring together are “supercar” and “production.” Automotive history is littered with failed attempts, from the Argyll GT to the Vanda Dendrobium. Remember the Foose Hemisfear? Heck, plain old “car” and “production” ain’t exactly easy — just ask those guys in Fremont, California, trying to build Model 3s. So when you see the fantabulous Aria FXE supercar at the LA Auto Show and you hear they want to make 400 of them, should you believe?
Aw, quit being such a nattering naybob of negativism. Believe already!
Aria FXE makes 1150 hp
The Aria FXE is the product of the Aria Group of sunny suburban Irvine, Calif. This is not just some group of daydreaming rich-guy investors who think they can throw this thing together. No, Aria has built cars, planes and even space capsules for almost every carmaker in America and plenty of plane- and trainmakers, too, and has built parts and interiors for many more. Most famously, they make the carbon-fiber bodies for those Singer 911s everyone’s raving about. So they are capable of putting together vehicles that move.
And this one should really move. The basis is a supercharged Corvette LT4 engine bolted into a carbon-fiber tub. It may be more than just bolted, since Aria has new processes for carbon fiber that’ll be used here. The LT4 drives the rear wheels. The fronts are driven by a pair of “axial-flux induction motors.”
HRE wheels, 20s in front, 21s in back, wrapped by Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tires
The LT4 we can grasp. It powers the Corvette Z06 and does a heckuva job at it. In Z06 form, the blown 6.2-liter V8 makes 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque with direct injection, active fuel management and continuously variable valve timing. The LT4 engine in the Aria will make 720 hp because … well, we haven’t heard exactly why it’ll make 90 more hp than it does in the Z06, but don’t let yourself get bogged down in the details while you’re in the process of believing.
Axial-flux induction, on the other hand, we had to look up. No less an authority than the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers — pronounce it “eye triple eee” if you want to sound like a hip engineering insider) likes them, saying in a paper beautifully titled “Review of axial flux induction motor for automotive applications” that the little suckers are “an interesting solution” for hybrid and electric vehicles. Aria says its axial-flux induction motors –- there are two of them, one for each front wheel –- add 540 hp to the powertrain. Remember, you can’t simply add up the two power figures in a hybrid because they hit peak output at different revs, but together these power sources are listed at 1,150 hp and 1,316 lb-ft of torque.
Aria FXE looks like a Star Wars car from the rear
Consider that the curb weight listed by Aria for the FXE is 3,450 pounds and you get an outrageous 3 pounds per hp. That’s despite a 10-kWh lithium-ion battery pack in there somewhere which could weigh, what, 100 pounds?
Since the sticker price for just one of these will likely be over a million dollars, we’re guessing, Aria is also offering a model that does not have the hybrid component. That will have just the LT4 and be called simply the FE.
OK, so you’ve got our attention, Aria. Now let’s see you manufacture more than five, or 14 or however many it takes to be considered a “success.” Plans call for a late-2019 launch, with assembly to be done right there in the tract-home and concrete-tilt-up paradise of Irvine, which many compare to Modena. Hey, isn’t Irvine where Saleen used to be?