Venturi Astrolab

French car maker Venturi’s 2-seater tandem vehicle relies on photovoltaic cells coated by a film of nano-prisms to concentrate solar energy to recharge its NiMH batteries. Delivery has been set for early 2008.

by Ross Bonander, Contributing Writer

Type: Electro-solar hybrid vehicle
Class: Heavy quadricycle

Manufacturer: Venturi Automobiles

Venturi Astrolab

The Manufacturer Says...

“Astrolab is the first high-performance solar vehicle to be commercialized in the world.”

The Critics Say...

“Within a 30-year perspective, Venturi is the only automobile manufacturer capable of presenting a [solar] solution while ensuring new driving sensations and an essential aspect of automobiles: the dream.” —

What We Like

The chassis. The Astrolab’s ultra-light carbon monocoque chassis will no doubt provide a level of occupant safety.

The PV cells. They’re giving a 21% yield—sure, that’s awfully inefficient, but compared to other commercial solar cars—all none of them—it’s the best in the business. The only concern might be the speed at which photovoltaic technology is advancing; whether the vehicle’s cells are upgradeable is unknown but this seems unlikely.

What We Don’t Like

The price. We’ve seen published figures at around $117,000. That’s probably a good price for the technology, but it’s also another example of a vehicle priced beyond the average consumer that nonetheless offers little in the way of practical value.

The cockpit. Man, that looks cramped. If you get stuck in rush hour traffic, does thrombosis become a concern?

The design. Described by its designer Sachs Lakic as a “Flying wing set on four wheels” it has been designed very much like a Formula 1. The end result is more like the most intimidating soap box in the whole derby.

Astrolab Specifications

Propulsion system:16 kWc motor
Top Speed: 120 km/h (75 mph)
Zero-to-60: NA
Vehicle range: : On batteries 100 km (68 miles)
Battery system: NIV-7 Pack (Hydride metal Nickel) 72V 100 Ah (full recharge, 5 hours with onboard charger).
Solar: 3.6 sqm (11.8 sqf) of photovoltaic cells, yielding 21%; 600 W contributes about 18 km (11 miles) per day.
Tailpipe emissions: None


We’re still trying to make sense of this vehicle. Venturi has hinted at its value as a commuter car, but with a 68 mile range they have little other choice. Lacking much in the way of practical features, the final analysis of the Astrolab is obvious—its technology is the thing. It’s a fantastic advancement in the way of solar vehicles and we hope it opens the door to further research in this area.

More information on the Venturi Astrolab at:


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