As a passenger in a car racing around a racetrack, I normally look out the windshield and scan the turns ahead, just like the driver. But how they take me on a hot bikearound the South Palm track at Thermal Club by IMSA racer Joel Miller, my view ahead is obstructed — the driver’s seat.
Unlike almost every other car in existence, the 21C has a tandem seating arrangement with a mostly glass roof that acts directly from the cabin.fighter. From the back seat, my only option is to look out the long side windows when cornering, which is a pretty amazing view nonetheless, if still a bit of an unnerving experience – we’ve been doing well over 150mph on the straights and I have no idea what’s ahead. But the seating arrangement is far from the wildest thing about this American-made hypercar, which is one of the most interesting and innovative vehicles I’ve ever experienced.
At first glance, the 21C might remind you of an LMP1 Le Mans prototype or some other extreme racing car, but its styling is truly unique. The tandem cab allows for a narrow body but a wide stance, with the 21C body looking like it’s been shrink-wrapped over a Formula 1 car. This is a high downforce model designed for use on tough racetracks – a luxury low-drag longtail model coming soon – and has an extreme aero package that includes a slatted front splitter and a huge upper rear wing. .
And yet it is not some specialty designed only for the track. The 21C is fully homologated for US road use and has met all crash test standards and emissions regulations.
The 21C has one large butterfly door on each side, and despite the lack of a B-pillar, it’s hard to get into either seat thanks to the extremely wide and tall sills. The front seat is a super-thin carbon fiber bucket, while the rear “seat” is molded directly from the chassis. The front passenger also doesn’t have a lot of padding or protrusions to hold on to. I’m 5ft 9in tall and have to hunch over to get a comfortable seat and with a helmet on my head I don’t have much room. At least there is plenty of legroom, with your feet resting next to the driver’s seat.
Roller coaster on road and track
The 21C is powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbo flat-crankshaft V8 that was designed by Czinger himself and is mated to a seven-speed sequential gearbox that sends power to the rear wheels. The engine is wild in itself, it produces 950 horsepower and revs up to 11,000 revolutions per minute. But Czinger also pairs it with an 800-volt electrical system, a 2.8-kilowatt-hour battery, an electric motor on the front axle, and two motors on the rear axle. For all that, the 21C weighs less than 2,900 pounds.
Total output is 1,350 horsepower, though this first-run prototype is a few hundred horsepower lower. Czinger quotes a 0-62 mph time of 1.9 seconds, and the 21C takes just 8.5 seconds to accelerate from a standstill to 186 mph, requiring just 5.4 seconds more to come to a complete stop from that speed. Top speed is 253 mph, or 281 mph for the low-drag car. Acceleration is immediate and intense, with a loud V8 soundtrack enhanced by the hum of the electric motors. These physics match the feel of even the fastest EVs, and the deceleration is just as shocking. The 21C brakes are carbon-ceramic, with 16.1-inch discs with six-piston calipers up front and 15.3-inch discs with four-piston calipers at the rear. The 21C also uses regenerative braking to aid deceleration and recharges the battery via a motor-generator unit.
Outright speed is only part of the picture. The 21C produces 1,356 pounds of downforce at 100 mph and a whopping 5,512 pounds at 200 mph, and has Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R tires that are about as close to real race tires as you can get. The hybrid setup provides precise torque vectoring capabilities that make the 21C really feel like it’s on rails in the corners – it’s like riding one of those high-speed roller coasters. There is no noticeable weight transfer and zero body lean; even when we hit curbs on the track, the 21C feels perfectly planted and stable. From the passenger seat, the 21C easily matches the GT3 race cars in terms of speed, grip and g-force.
Uncover the large rear engine cover and you’ll see what really sets the 21C apart. Where you’d normally see a jumble of straight lines and carbon fiber mounts forming the car’s structure, the 21C’s engine bay looks almost organic. That’s because almost everything about the 21C has been 3D printed using artificial intelligence. No really.
3D printing of the future
Czinger was co-founded and is currently run by father-son duo Kevin and Lukas Czinger, the former of whom is also the CEO of Czinger’s parent company Divergent, a pioneer in 3D printing technology. Walking into the company’s headquarters in Torrance, California, is more like walking into Iron Man’s lab than a traditional car factory. (It also gives shadesthough hopefully Czinger’s robots and AI aren’t on their way to revolt against humans.)
The company’s innovative Divergent Adaptive Production System essentially automates the design and development process for most 21C parts. Engineers plug into the computer the attributes and constraints each part needs, from how much it should weigh and how it must fit and connect to other parts, to what g-forces it must withstand and how much it will cost. produce. The AI software then generates the perfect design by running thousands of simulations to optimize the shape and construction of the part to make it as strong as possible.
It takes a tiny fraction of the time it normally would, eliminating a lot of construction work and resulting in parts with a unique appearance that mimic many things found in nature, such as the cell wall of a plant under a microscope or the tendons in a muscle. For example, the axle arms are hollow with an internal structure that saves weight and increases strength compared to a normal vehicle arm.
Once DAPS comes up with an optimized part design, they are produced on some of the largest 3D printers I have ever seen. Czinger printers are some of the most advanced in the world, using 12 lasers that are able to print many times faster than other systems. AI also optimizes the manufacturing process so there is no metal waste when creating each part. Divergent also came up with the aluminum alloy that printers use. Currently, the only things that aren’t 3D printed are the carbon fiber body panels, wheels, leather and fabric interior parts, the suspension, and the entire drivetrain, but Czinger is working on making many of these parts printer-friendly as well.
Divergent technology also made it easier and faster to improve the 21C during its development. The working prototype I rode is the only one Czinger currently has, partly because it doesn’t need to make more. It takes only hours to design, perfect and print a new part where it used to take days. If engineers have an idea to improve something, they simply let the AI develop the perfect solution, print it, and then put it on the car. This is the tenth iteration of the 21C since it was first introduced in 2020, and Czinger is sure to keep improving it before it goes into production.
But the real party trick, at least visually, is how it’s all put together. Since even the most massive 3D printers can still only produce things that would fit in the space of a large oven, smaller parts need to be produced and combined to create a usable part. Czinger uses ultra-strong adhesives, also designed by the company’s own scientists, that can cure in seconds, resulting in a stronger bond than existing solutions. DAPS also comes up with ways to attach parts together that don’t require special brackets or mounting points, as each part is designed to organically fit together.
Instead of a traditional assembly line, Czinger uses a group of about a dozen robots, all arranged in a circle. One robot will hold the part while others reach in to apply adhesives and glue other pieces together. Once the robots have all the parts, assembling a part like a car’s subframe takes just a few minutes. And because the entire process is optimized by artificial intelligence and requires no molds, dies or special assembly parts, it’s easy for robots to move on to the next project with minimal downtime. The whole thing is quite stunning, especially when you see the manufacturing process up close.
What comes next
Only 80 examples of the 21C will be built at a starting price of around $2 million each, with about half likely to be the low-drag model, and deliveries will begin next summer. The 21C is infinitely customizable, with owners essentially getting their cars exactly how they want them.
Czinger is already thinking beyond 21C. Another Czinger model will be revealed during Monterey Car Week. The company is also expanding rapidly, with its several hundred engineers and designers augmented by some of the best from the Mercedes and Williams Formula 1 teams. There’s plenty of exciting stuff on the walls in Czinger’s design studio, and the successor to the 21C will be a more mainstream, higher-volume model, although the company and the products it offers will increasingly be more McLaren than Mitsubishi.
In addition to Czinger becoming an established name in high-end cars, the real goal is for Divergent’s pioneering processes to be licensed for use by other major automakers, which is already in the works with multiple brands. Using Divergent’s AI software and 3D printers would allow other brands to abandon or downsize large parts of their factories, eliminating the need for things like molding lines. While final assembly of the 21C is done by hand, the manufacturing process can easily be scaled up and further automated, with 3D printers and robots working in conjunction with a more traditional assembly line.
What Czinger and Divergent are doing really looks like the future of car manufacturing. The DAPS process is faster, smarter and cheaper than traditional manufacturing, resulting in far less waste and better performance. It could be used to upgrade every type of car on the road. It just so happens that the showcase for this new technology is an absurd hypercar.
The Czinger 21C Hypercar is the future of car manufacturing
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