LA Auto Show: Doking Unveils Luxury Micro Car

Luxury and micro are generally not used to describe the same object, especially when it comes to cars. But Croatian startup Doking plans to change all that with their XD. This Kevlar-bodied electric city car is merely 9 feet long, with either 2 or 4 synchronous permanent magnet motors delivering either 90kW or 180kW. The XD tops out at 87mph and its LiFePo4 battery capacity is 33kWh. The styling is indeed more luxurious than any other microcar I’ve seen, but of course we don’t see many here in the US. The car is here in the same salon with Bentley, Aston Martin, Lotus et al to show Americans that a small electric city car can be luxurious too. Priced at €50,000 (almost $70,000) it’s priced to compete with the Tesla Roadster but not nearly as fast. Yes, as Elon Musk discovered (documented here), it costs a lot of money to launch a new car company. But with Tesla and Fisker both offering better luxury sports cars at lower prices, does the XD even have a market? Sure, it can fit into smaller parking spaces than a Karma or a Tesla S, but that’s for the valet to worry about. The Tesla Roadster has 47 more ponies, and is actually sexy.

The car’s unique seating plan seats 3 adults in a Y formation, with lovely high back bucket seats. Although how often people travel in threes is a big question. Is it worth it to have that 3rd seat? Wouldn’t most drivers want some storage space? Will isolating the driver make them more focused or less focused on the task at hand? There is carbon fiber throughout, but they joked that the car was bulletproof because of the Kevlar body. Although the thin Kevlar weave used for body panels won’t stop bullets, it will save money and weight. Still, I think if you’re going to go cheaper than carbon fiber, it’s best to go with aluminum. It’s almost as light as Kevlar and easier to repair.

I do like the cute X taillights, though. I think the best customer for this car is the Beverly Hills teen whose parents want to be sure they don’t stray too far, or perhaps a city-car owner in Paris who wants something luxurious yet easy to park. What was cool about the intro is that they plan to keep the car in sleep mode, never off, so the BMS can communicate with the local service center. Then the car will let the owner know if a cell is low and needs to be replaced. Uneven battery “wear” is a critical issue, as the entire array can fail if one is too low. Doking also plans to create an app store where developers can sell cool apps for XD owners. Owners can then download those apps directly to their car.

 

Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.