Now that we know that the Chinese are already a step ahead of everybody regarding the manufacturing of cheap electric cars, we find out something else: the French have plans for making a rival to Tesla Roadster, but not too soon, not to offend the oil industry too hard. They only want to release it into production beginning with 2012.
The French piece of electric cake is called “Volage Roadster”, and is being developed by Venturi, also a French company. Primary performance analysis with today’s presumptions about immediate future technology says that Volage will be capable of reaching 160mph and going about 200 miles with the onboard battery.
Venturi showed their electric car at the Paris Motor Show. It has 295 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, and goes from 0 to 60 in less that 5 seconds. Impressive, at first sight.
More impressive is that the French are using a special breed of motors that do not respect any previous rule: each wheel consists of two electric motors, which play the role of traction, regenerative braking, and active suspension. Because everything is in the wheels, there will be more room in the carbon fiber chassis, and there will be more traction control over each of the wheels, which leads to better stability.
The idea of encapsulating the motors in the wheels is not new. Siemens has plans for such a system, and even the controversial ZAP Electric boasted about it. The whole car will weight about 2,369 pounds, which is not very light but not heavy either (compared to current sports cars). Let’s say the weight, agility and autonomy depends on the batteries used.