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The first energy-autonomous vehicle

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October 1, 2006

The first energy-autonomous vehicle

The first energy-autonomous vehicle

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October 2, 2006 There is no doubt that if you rated all the automotive companies in the world on their forward thinking and commitment to commercialising new concepts in sustainable mobility, Monaco-based Venturi would win by a country mile. The company which produced the world’s first available electric sportscar (see articles here here and here), recently announced it would partner with Intel to make energy sharing possible via the Venturi Fetish platform and now it has debuted the first energy-autonomous vehicle and despite its non-traditional appearance, production has already begun. The urban 3-seater electro-solar vehicle named the Eclectic goes well beyond anything previously offered by car manufacturers, being the first vehicle powered entirely by renewable energies, the first solar production vehicle and the first car that can be directly recharged with a personal wind turbine. A limited run of 200 vehicles will be available in June 2007 at a price of EUR24,000. The company is shooting for an even higher level of production from 2009 at an estimated base price of EUR15,000. Innovative and astonishing, Eclectic is much more than a simple vehicle ; it is a production and storage plant for renewable energies, either solar or wind based. Charging of these energies, which is intermittent in certain regions, can also be complemented by electrical recharging.

Given that the world’s largest automotive companies don’t feel at all constrained in creating outrageous chowcars, it’s testimony to the forward thinking of Venturi that the Eclectic is not just a show car but a production car – a manifestation of ideas the traditional companies appear to have not yet countenanced – this is the first autonomous production vehicle in the history of the automobile. Clearly its usage is going to be limited, and it will be restricted for daily driving in urban areas, but its low energy consumption make it the most economical environmental vehicle ever built.

Of decidedly original design, this is a vehicle that has no desire to look like other cars which depend on “black gold”: priority has been given to integration of the photovoltaic cells which compose its translucid roof.

Eclectic thus does not pass unnoticed in traffic: its elevated central driving position offers exceptional panoramic vision and considerable space, for both driver and passengers. Eclectic’s message is loud and clear: this is not an ordinary car, but an avant-garde way of getting around. Owning an Eclectic is also a personal commitment : it means changing one’s way of getting from one place to another by exchanging one’s role as a “consumer” for that of a “producer” and this, in the general interest.

Its designer Sacha Lakic describes Eclectic as : “a modern, autonomous and intelligent automobile. The energy that drives it exists all around it : it simply has to deploy its wind turbine, expose its solar cells or, if necessary, find a simple electric plug.

It is usual practice to “stylise” a car. In the case of Eclectic, its contours were born of an approach to design. Its appearance reflects its function.

Its silhouette pays homage to certain icon-cars such as the Lunar Rover, Mini-Moke and Méhari. Though its technology positions it clearly in the present and, above all, the future”. Unlike other vehicles which are not used for over 90% of the time, Eclectic takes advantage of moments of immobilisation to store energy in its batteries ; contrary to a petrol tank, this energy reserve remains available for other uses. It’s well worth betting that one day, and at national level, this could comprise a considerable reserve of energy which could compensate for breakdowns in the production of electricity as already seen, for example, in California. Available with last-generation NiMH (NIV-7) batteries (liquid cooled), Eclectic offers a range up to 50 km at a speed of 50 km/hr (electronically restricted), which suffices largely to cover daily movements in urban areas.

The share of solar recharging is approximately 7 km per day of exposure.

When using electricity, a full recharge requires 5 hrs using a standard connection (16 A). Finally, as an option, Eclectic can be recharged with one or more wind turbines, fixed either on the roof of the vehicle when it is stationary, or to the ground with a specific mast. In this case, the share of recharging is approximately 15 km per day in windy areas.

Production of 20 pre-series vehicles has commenced

A limited version of 200 vehicles with specific equipment will be launched in June 2007 (colour : white) at a price of 24,000 € plus VAT (excluding State subsidies of 2,000 €).

A higher level of production should see the light of day as from 2009 at an estimated base price of 15,000 € plus VAT (excluding State subsidies of 2,000 €).

Eclectic targets two different markets : that of companies wanting to adopt an environment-conscious stance and that of a very avant-garde public at the top end of the range. A single-seater utilitarian version will also complement this production. The vehicle comes with a 2-year guarantee (parts, labour and batteries) Recycling of batteries is handled by Venturi.

Venturi’s commercial agent is Carbon Neutral.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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