Venturi Eclectic: Impressive Innovation

The Eclectic is part Model-T, part Herbie, part Legoland, part lunar lander... is this the future of the ultra-economic vehicle?
Venturi Eclectic Prototype

by Ross Bonander

Specs

  • Type: Electro-solar-wind tribrid vehicle
  • Class: quadricycle (NEV is equally accurate)
  • Manufacturer: Venturi
  • Propulsion system:Asynchronous 11 KWc engine
  • Top Speed: 30 mph
  • Zero-to-60: NA
  • MPG: NA
  • Vehicle range: On batteries, 30 miles
  • Fuel(s): Electricity , Solar, Wind
  • Battery System:Hawker 48V 168 Ah
  • Recharge time: 5 hours with onboard charger)

The Manufacturer Says...

“The Venturi Eclectic is the first electro-solar autonomous vehicle in the history of the automobile … its low energy consumption makes it the most economical environmental vehicle ever built.”

The Critics Say...

“Taking a spin in an electric vehicle that’s self-sustained through its solar-panel roof and plug-in wind turbine is, frankly, pretty amazing.” -—popularmechanics.com

Overview

Set to make her debut at the 2008 Paris Auto Show, the Venturi Eclectic is a 3-seater with bragging rights on all sorts of firsts, including the first vehicle fully powered by 100% renewable resources—which is nothing to scoff at. The Eclectic itself is another matter altogether; she’s part Model-T, part Herbie, part Legoland, part lunar lander... is this the future of the ultra-economic vehicle?

“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’. --Venturi

What We Like

The wind turbine. This is glorious; park your Venturi Eclectic, pull out the wind turbine and set it up next to the car. As you go do your thing, a healthy breeze is charging up the battery, giving you a solid 9 or so extra miles. This is audacious, hilarious, ingenious.

The roof. Two and a half square meters of PV cells can give you 3-4 extra miles and give the feel of, well, of a sun roof.

The plug-in. Stellar addition, it really makes all the difference; otherwise you rely on sun and wind.

The personalization program. Cloth-covered wood seats? No problem. Fabric doors? Done. A trunk with a lock—how novel!

The justification for its design. Says Venturi, “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’.

What We Don’t Like

Battery life-span. 500 charge cycles, that’s rather weak. You can upgrade to their NIV-7 (Hydride metal Nickel) 48V batteries and get 2,500 cycles, but the additional on-board energy is only 1.6 kWh.

The cabin. The driver’s in the middle, with two seats in back on either side. This is an awkward configuration - how are we supposed to call 'Shotgun’?

Conclusion

The Venturi Eclectic is a production vehicle, albeit limited, and let’s face it: the limited range makes her a NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle). It really is, for better and for worse, the anti-car. You’ll be lucky to see one on the road but is so innovative that I think you’ll see its descendents sometime soon, even if you don’t recognize them.

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