Venturi Eclectic is not as weird as it was

18 October 2008

Venturi Eclectic production versionQuite a bit of size, and quite a lot of quirkiness, has been lost in the translation of Venturi’s Eclectic electric car from concept to production form. While the Eclectic concept looked like something burped up from the belly of a UFO, the finished edition looks like it’s just driven off a golf course.

The original design was clearly the result of form through function. Designed to be energy self-sufficient, it needed a broad, long canopy to offer the maximum area for solar panels – dictating the Eclectic concept’s generous proportions, upright glass, and wider-at-the-top frame.

Venturi Eclectic conceptThe finished car keeps the details of the larger design but loses the proportions. As a result it’s unlikely to be energy self-sufficient, sadly. According to Venturi, the new car’s 0.8 square-metre photovoltaic panel offers less than a third of the concept’s sunlight-gathering potential. It will peak at 70 watts and provide only enough power for 2km (one and a quarter miles) per day. And that’s if the driver can leave it in a sunny spot - underground car-parks, leafy avenues and domestic garages will not be good places to park your Eclectic. A 300-watt wind turbine is also an option that, on a windy day, will generate enough juice for about 13km (eight miles). Most driving will, therefore, be powered by electricity that comes out of the wall – a full charge of its Trojan batteries takes five hours from a 16A socket.

Production will start in October 2009, but Venturi is taking reservations now. It aims to build 3,000 units per year. Legally the finished Eclectic will be classed as a heavy quadricycle, the same category as the G-Wiz and Mega City electric cars. The quoted range is 50km (31 miles) with a top speed of 45km/h (28mph), and it will cost from €15,000 (a little under £12,000). Doors are presumably extra. Overall, we feel these figures will not be causing any sleepless nights among the competition.

All in all, 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?

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