Electric Cars in Monte Carlo: Racing, Luxury and Exclusivity
If you're an EV fan in Europe, there's one show you should not miss: Ever Monaco. Each year on the first weekend of spring, there's an exhibition with all EVs and hybrids on the market, conferences on electric mobility, a rally for green cars—which was won by an Opel Ampera (a sister's model to the Chevrolet Volt for Europe—and there was something new this year: the Monaco Eco Luxury Tour. It was a parade of all the best electric cars the world has ever seen, led by Prince Albert II of Monaco. The Prince drove a Nissan LEAF Nismo RC. He was followed (from right to left on the picture above) by the Venturi Volage, the Exagon Furtive e-GT, the Protoscar Lampo 3, a Fisker Karma, a Porsche Panamera hybrid (the only car here without a plug), and the Formulec EF01, a one-seater racecar with a Venturi electric motor. Obviously, they know how to have fun in Monte Carlo. The cars paraded silently all around Monaco, but with the city-state being so small, that didn't last long. Yet it was a nice demonstration of support for EVs. Monaco has been supporting electric mobility for more than a decade, and the Monaco Eco Luxury Tour demonstrated to everybody that Monaco supports EVs, right up to the Prince.
On the show floor, the biggest surprise was the Latvian Oscar eO race car. This was the car that competed in the Dakar rally last January. The mere sight of this beast was a thrill. A few years ago, there were only very small vehicles at the Monaco EV show. Light vehicles, many low-speed, then sports cars came, and now here's the first large SUV. Its builders are anything but amateurs. They explained that on the first test-drive on soft sand, the 50 kWH battery was dead after 20 minutes. A serious problem considering the Dakar rally is more than 5,000 miles long. So they've added a 6-speed gearbox to lower RPM, and a gasoline V6 hooked to a generator to recharge the battery continuously. That did the trick.
The Oscar eO was assuredly the most fuel-efficient car in the Dakar. Say hello to the first green two and a half ton SUV! That Latvian team was there to promote its engineering services. They may also start an EV conversion business. They have already converted a Mini Cooper and a Volkswagen van to an electric drive, but it could be smart move to stick to 4WD vehicles. They're about the only people in the world with proven and successful experience in electric off-road racing.
Racing has always been important in Monte Carlo, and it will remain that way with some Estonians who are organizing an EV rally between Tallinn and Monaco next June. Information for those interested is available here, and there was another announcing from local brand Venturi: Mission Africa. The plan is to drive an electric car from Mount Kilimanjaro down to the Okavango Delta, about 3,000 miles away. Without any kind of organization nor back-up car to drive along. Driver and co-driver will be all by themselves, with the need to find a plug each night. With a 70.5 kWh battery pack, the Citroën Berlingo converted to electric propulsion by Venturi charges quickly with a 380V charging station. But there might not be many of those stations in Tanzania.
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