Silk-FAW showed the S9 at 2021 Milan Design Week. The plug-in hybrid hypercar, designed by Walter De Silva, has 1,450 hp, a top speed of 400 kph and a price tag of around 2 million euros. “When I was asked to design a new hybrid hypercar, I took some time to think: I wanted to get to the essence of beauty by seeking, as I have always done throughout my career as a designer, the purity of functional lines to achieve a performance goal”, Walter De Silva told Auto&Design.
The version shown at Milan Design Week 2021 is not yet the one destined for final production in 2023 at the manufacturer’s new Italian plant in Motor Valley: “It is a very advanced stage prototype. We will still do some minor refinements on the front and tail, but we will keep the proportions intact, which are perfect even if it is a long-tailed car for functional reasons: it has to reach a top speed of 400 kph,” continues Walter De Silva. Simplicity is the principle that has inspired the design of the S9, with clean lines that give rise to athletic forms. Moving light and shadow effects on the bodywork change depending on the environmental situation. “During the design development of any model it is essential to see the car moving because cars are shapes in motion”.
The same general exterior principles have inspired the shapes of the interior, where, compared to the prototype shown, the design team will made some changes that specifically concern the layout of the interior displays. The S9 concept has a display on the steering wheel showing the infotainment system information, a solution not easy to reach because of the frontal driver airbag presence. “We will move the display higher up and install another high-resolution one on the console where we now find a series of physical controls. We will also have a third touchscreen in front of the passenger seat”.
In designing the user experience, Walter De Silva’s team has sought to maximise safety: “Depending on the context the displays will show a specific set of information. When you’re racing on a track at 400 kph you certainly don’t need phones, navigation or entertainment. The safety issue is crucial when designing a digital layout from scratch”. The Silk-FAW S9 will be the brand’s only plug-in hybrid car, all others will be 100% electric. The studio led by Walter De Silva will also be responsible for the styling of the next models, which will include the sporty S7 and the more compact S5 and S3.