W Motors
A “hypercar” carrying a price tag from $1.4 million onwards will be coming out of the production line in Dubai later this year Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan

Dubai: A “hypercar” carrying a price tag from $1.4 million onwards will be coming out of the production line in Dubai this October/November.

This will be at W Motors’ new base at Dubai Silicon Oasis, the groundbreaking for which was held today (January 13) and with completion set for the fourth quarter.

The overall production capacity will be for about 200 cars a year.

For fans of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, W Motors need no introduction. It’s extreme high-profile model, the $3.4 million Lykan HyperSport, made quite an impression jumping off a skyscraper in the seventh film.

For the record, only seven of the Lykans were ever made) “Dubai will be our main hub for electric mobility — 90 per cent will be electric focused and the other will be for the government projects we do (such as for Dubai Police),” said Ralph R. Debbas, CEO of W Motors, which in November listed its shares on Nasdaq Dubai’s CSD (Central Securities Depository).

It became the first privately held firm to do so on Nasdaq Dubai.

“The first vehicle that we will bring out from DSO will be a $1.4 million Fenyr SuperSport. And we will hit full production from 2021 onwards. Our entire line up will be done in Dubai.

“That means fully manufactured here — all the parts will be produced here and the chassis from our suppliers.”

These plans take up part of the $100 million investment W Motors has planned for DSO, where apart from the production and assembling, it plans to have an automotive design academy — a first for the region.

In a world where high-performance and super luxury auto brands abound, the promoter of W believes there is space for a Dubai-based entity to punch its way into the limelight.

The company has been operational for seven years, with its production until now being managed from facilities in Spain and Italy. (Even with the Dubai production line going operational, the European bases will be retained.)

Costs can be kept in check

Debbas dismissed long-held views that building cars in a market like Dubai would be prohibitively expensive, because parts will need to be shipped in and that always jacks up cost of production. “On the contrary, we reckon that building here will be 30 per cent less expensive for us,” the CEO added. “The labour in Europe and elsewhere are extremely high, and so are development costs. But when we start building in-house — it’s not going to happen immediately but take two years — we will have ways to manage the costs.”

Of course, the batteries for the electric cars will have to be sourced from elsewhere.

“The first units of the Fenyr — nine in total — have been delivered, and the second batch — 60 units — are in production currently,” said Debbas. “The hypercars and supers that we do represent 30-40 per cent of our business.

“The bulk of the work comes from consultancy services, like what we do with the Police. The bulk of the profits also come from this.”

Debbas says the company is already in profitability mode, and in the process of raising $50 million. “There will be several fund closings happening through the years,” the CEO said. “We don’t have strategic investors on board … at least not yet. We are targeting a few of them.”

W puts weight behind self-driving

As if building hypercars and supercars was not enough, W Motors is also doing its bit to push the “autonomous” or “self-driving” message forward.

“Autonomous is not just about the cars themselves, but the technology behind it,” said Ralph R. Debbas of W Motors. “That technology can be used in many different ways, be it for military or civil purposes.

“But a few years down the line, autonomous cars can be placed into leasing programmes. Maybe it will take seven years for autonomous cars to really come into their own. But we need to start building the technology now. That’s what we will be doing in Dubai.”