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Venturi Eclectic Production Model - Not So Much

Breaking News

What Venturi claimed about the Eclectic Concept at the Paris Auto Show remains true: She is the first electro-solar autonomous vehicle in the history of the automobile.
venturi electric production

by Ross Bonander

Specs:

  • Type: 3-seater electro-solar vehicle
  • Class: Heavy quadricycle (although NEV is equally accurate)
  • Manufacturer: Venturi
  • Propulsion system: 4 kW nominal (9 kWc) separate excitation motor
  • Top Speed: 28 mph (45 km/h)
  • Zero-to-60: NA
  • Vehicle range: (on batteries) 31 miles (50 km)
  • Fuel(s): Electricity, solar power, wind power
  • Battery system: Trojan 48 V – 145 Ah with a 500 cycle lifespan (optional 48 V – 240 Ah battery with 1200 cycle lifespan). Recharge: Full in 5 hours with a 3 kW onboard charger using a standard 16 A socket.
  • Solar roof: .8 m2 photovoltaic cells (72 W) with a 14% yield that can contribute 1.2 miles (2 km) per day.
  • Wind turbine: 300 W turbine that can contribute about 8 miles (13 km) each day.
  • Tailpipe emissions: No
  • Price: Starts at 15,000 (around $19,200)
  • Availability: 2010

The manufacturer says

“As a result of the considerable interest shown by the public in this model, we have had to adapt it to mass production. More compact, lighter, Eclectic has become a real urban car, ready to confront the important stakes that await it … much more than a simple vehicle, [it is] a real production and storage plant for renewable energies”

The critics say

“The production Eclectic seems an underwhelming prospect after the lunar-module loveliness of the enticing concept. Given that it will struggle to best today’s production electric cars, how will it make any kind of sense against the upcoming Think City and Pininfarina B0?” --greenmotor.co.uk

Overview

What Venturi claimed about the Eclectic Concept at the Paris Auto Show remains true: She is the first electro-solar autonomous vehicle in the history of the automobile. They also described it as a “small, futuristic robot-car” with a “compact silhouette, a smiling face and a keen gaze”, a description that sounds even better in the original French: “Silhouette compacte, visage souriant et regard vif.”

Venturi is targeting production to begin in October 2009 and they believe they can crank out 3000 of them annually. Additionally, they will offer three models: The 1-seat model will serve as a delivery vehicle; the 3-seat model will serve consumers and fleets; the 5-seat model will transport people on private roads, for obvious safety reasons.

What we like

The new design. From Concept to Production, the change in design is rather drastic, but clearly she will be more aerodynamic. And when you’re dealing with these kinds of minimalist performance numbers, you need to find ways to boost them wherever you can. For this reason—and this one alone—I can get behind the change.

The wind turbine. I loved it a year ago, and nothing has changed: It’s a glorious bit of inspiration.

What we don’t

The questionable practical value. If Venturi can sell 3000 a year it will be quite an accomplishment, because while Venturi may not have any competition in the electro-solar autonomous vehicle class, they have plenty of it everywhere else. The thing to look forward to will be the 2nd and 3rd generation Eclectic—should it get that far.

Conclusions

The remarkable technology notwithstanding, to be fair the Eclectic is in every way an NEV that’s been souped-up with an aesthetic style only the French could dream up. And going from Concept to Production, one aspect of the Eclectic has vanished, and its absence is breaking my heart: the vehicle’s original joie de vivre.

You see, one of my favorite things about the concept was Venturi’s published justification for the wild design. They said, “This is a vehicle that has no desire to look like other cars which depend on ‘black gold’”, it is “avant-garde” and its driver is not a ‘consumer’ but a ‘producer’.”

Well the first half of this is no longer accurate, because it does now look like other cars—uninspiring cars like NEVs and golf carts—and the reduction in power, both in the battery and the PV cells, likely renders the Eclectic more of a PHEV than anything else, one which will rely chiefly on the grid for juice.

And we all know what provides most of the power to the grid.

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