This year’s Paris Auto Show is turning out to be the most electrifying one yet, with car makers from all over the world debuting their electric vehicles. The offerings range from far-flung concept cars to very real production models. Solar roofs are a popular theme and lithium-ion battery packs abound. While it will take years to get the world’s cars off petroleum, electric transportation is imminent and the showing in Paris offers a glimpse of what that will look like.
Monaco-based luxury vehicle maker Venturi Automobiles teamed up with French tire giant Michelin to develop the Volage, a tricked-out electric roadster that sports eight electric motors, two in each wheel. The curvaceous, carbon-fiber bodied vehicle rocks a number of cutting-edge digital features like Michelin’s “active wheel” technology and a touchscreen dashboard. Read more of our Volage coverage here.
Venturi developed a compact electric power train, electric motor and battery pack so that the electric Berlingo First has the same volume and payload as Citroën’s petrol-based Berlingo. This is important because this electric version will be delivering mail in 15 of France’s largest cities soon. The French postal service has commissioned 500 of the vehicles and has the option to order up to 10,000 over the next five years.
Based on Renault’s Kangoo be bop, the Z.E., which stands for “Zero Emissions,” has a number of features designed to extend the car’s lithium-ion batteries. The body is designed like a thermos, using two insulating panels with a sandwich of air in between, to keep you warm and cozy inside your car. On sunny days, solar panels on the roof run a “temperature regulation system” that controls the AC. Read more of our Z.E. coverage here.
The Paris Auto Show has also served as the Chevy Volt’s international coming-out party, and critics agree — the car looks much better in person than it does in those “leaked” photos. No word yet on whose batteries will power the Volt.
Smart celebrated its tenth birthday with the introduction of its smart fortwo ed, for “electric drive.” It is an all-electric version of its petrol-powered smart fortwo coupe. The electric vehicle will be part of Daimler’s “e-mobility Berlin” program, which will see more than 100 of the electric cars zip around the German capital and charge up at some 500 plug-in points to be installed by utility partner RWE by 2010.
Nissan hopes it’s Nuvu will offer a “new view” of urban transit. The Nuvu can hit 75 miles per hour and gets a range of 80 miles on its lithium-ion batteries. The car has an arboreal theme including leaf-shaped solar panels on the roof and a structural pillar inside the car that Nissan calls a “tree trunk.” It’s a concept car, so don’t expect a launch date, but Nissan says the car uses EV technology that will be seen in its commercial electric offerings in 2010.
Italian automaker Pininfarina has teamed up with French conglomerate Bolloré to make the B0, a mass-produced electric vehicle. The first units should roll off the production at the end of 2009. The car will be powered by Bolloré’s proprietary energy storage technology, using a combination of batteries and supercapacitors which will be partially recharged by the solar panels on the roof.
Designed by Chinese car stylist Li Shi Guang Ming, the Chika, or “Xiaoya,” comes with either lead acid or lithium-ion batteries and only travels 28 miles per hour. But as Gizmag notes, this vehicle represents a very original design and could shed some insight into the future of the Chinese auto industry, especially at an auto show that otherwise saw very few cars from the People’s Republic.
Audi/Volkswagen – VW Up! (Maybe)
Reacting to rumors that BMW is planning on debuting an electric version of the MINI at the L.A. Motor Show next month, Audi board member Peter Schwarzenbauer has confirmed that the German automaker will build its own electric car. “We will offer a pure electric car,” Schwarzenbauer told Autocar, but added the small electric Audi “will not be based on the A1.” A likely electric candidate is the VW Up! which could be renamed the Lupo and hit the roads in 2011.