The Electra Rise, the first wholly-Lebanese car, has launched in Beirut
Saturday 24th April 2021 marked a first in the motoring world when Electra unveiled the Rise, the first car to be wholly manufactured in Lebanon (and before you say “but what about the Lykan HyperSport?” that doesn’t count - it was a collaboration of Lebanese and Italian engineers under W Motors, which is a company from the UAE).
No, I hadn’t heard of them either, but according to the website, Electra started “as a division of Jihad Mohammad Investments, a company involved in supporting the sustainable greener planet agenda,” before becoming a company in its own right. Jihad Mohammad himself apparently has a long-term interest in environmental issues, and decided that car manufacture gave him another route to pursue that interest.
So yes, as if the company name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, the Rise is an EV. This is a brave choice for a company based in a country with a fragile economy and a somewhat temperamental power supply, but the reasoning behind it is sound when you consider the company’s wider ambitions. And boy, do they have ambitions.
Electra hopes to sell 10,000 Rises when the car goes to market in around a year’s time, at a cost of around $30,000. This is quite a big ask, especially as they seem keen to sell them domestically in a country that has no EV infrastructure and around half the population living in poverty, but they clearly have their sights set on global sales - their website says they have a dealer network encompassing Germany, Canada, Denmark, Palestine and Jordan. And Mr Mohammad intends to build a network of around 100 charging points across Lebanon, which could be powered by solar or wind generators to sidestep the unreliable and cut-prone local supply.
So what does this trailblazing EV look like?
Well… it’s certainly got a strong aesthetic. Then again, that never hurt the TVR Sagaris, did it?
It’s worth pointing out that the car unveiled on 24th April 2021 shares some details with the company's earlier Quds Rise, which seems to be more of a concept, and the production version shown on the company website is somewhat toned down from this. The design seems to borrow heavily from Bugatti’s style book for the front end, with a rear most immediately reminiscent of recent McLarens. One of the most striking features is the gold grille, and it’s probably the strongest indicator of the car’s roots. Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, and the shape of the grille is inspired by the golden Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa mosque. While the production version maintains the shape of this grille, it will be black, and feature the Electra bird badge, rather than a polished gold coating. Another significant change is that the gullwing doors of the Quds will be replaced with scissor doors. Finally, the more extreme ‘Batman angles’ have been softened and the overall design simplified. I have to say the end result is a big improvement in my eyes.
But will we ever see one on the road? I’m honestly not sure. I can’t fault Mr Mohammad’s enthusiasm and ambition, but I can’t help being reminded of Mexico’s first wholly domestic car, the Mastretta MXT. This appeared in 2011 with similar enthusiasm, but sadly disappeared without trace by 2014. Still, I wish him well, because Britain has a history of low-volume specialist car manufacturers that prevailed solely through the willpower of people like Colin Chapman, Ron Dennis and Trevor Wilkinson. There's no reason the same couldn't be true of Jihad Mohammad and Lebanon.
400 Km max range
230 Km/h max speed
0-100 Km/h in 4s
240 HP equivalent
Weight 1200 Kg