EVs for the Rich and Famous At the Paris Motor Show

By · October 03, 2012

Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive

Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive

The Paris motor show opened a day after news broke that unemployment was at a 14-year high. New car sales are down in most of Europe, and there are few positive signs about the economy. But here's one: Land Rover's sales are strongly up in France.

That's the Evoque effect, and it's a clear message to all automakers out there. If the product really stands out in the street and if a car makes people stop and stare, there are buyers. Three EV makers jumped at this opportunity, but they forgot one important element: affordable pricing.

Mercedes had the best product, and it's not afraid at unveiling it as such. The gasoline Mercedes SLS AMG has been on the market for three years, and it still commands everybody's attention when one drives by the street. It will become even more of a magnet with that chrome blue finish, though it wasn't paint. That was film. Specifications are above anything else on the market. The SLS AMG Electric Drive has four motors, one per wheel for the best possible traction and road-holding. Total power available is 552 kW with 738 lb-ft of torque. That's more than the gas model which has 435 kW and 479 lb-ft of torque. The electric SLS AMG will be substantially heavier because of its 60-kWh battery pack, but it should have slightly faster acceleration. The only drawback is that the performance increase comes at a huge premium in price. Most people had estimated a 50 percent price hike for the electric propulsion, but it will be more than 100 percent. The price in Germany is 416,500 euros (VAT included, about $540,000).

Exagon Motors Furtive eGT

Exagon Motors Furtive eGT

The two other new EVs were shown the last time in Paris as concepts. They were here in 2012 as regular production models. Unlike the Mercedes which started life with a gas engine, both were born as EVs, and both have the best technology available, starting with a carbon and honeycomb monocoque. The first is the Exagon Furtive eGT. It's a refined supercar. The biggest trouble about it may be that it doesn't look wild enough. Between a Toyota GT86 and a Lamborghini Aventador, it looks more like the Toyota. With a roomier back seat, it has a trunk in the front like a Porsche, and another one in the back to enable traveling with excess luggage.

Power comes from two motors with a total of 296 kW with 381 lb-ft of torque. Two things set the Exagon apart from all other EVs. The first is a three-speed transmission, and the second lies in its racing genes. Exagon doesn't do street cars. The Furtive eGT has explosive acceleration. It can go 0 to 62 mph in 3.5 seconds, but what's more important is that it's faster than a BMW on a racetrack. People from Exagon and Mercedes both told me that their car will be faster than the Audi R8 e-tron at the Nurburgring. I'll write again about that when they set a new record for production EVs.

Venturi America

Venturi America

The Exagon Furtive eGT costs 404,000 euros (VAT included, $523,000) and that makes the Venturi America looks quite affordable. It costs only 358,000 euros (VAT included, $463,000), but it's very different from the two others. This is not a track car, nor a supercar. Nobody knows how to define it. Can we say roadster crossover? Or off-road roadster? This is a 220-kW car, and you can see what it's made for in the video below.




You could argue that those super expensive EVs will only sell to a handful and will not advance the cause of the electric car, but I believe that they are quite useful to the EV movement. That's because they'll make small kids dream. And the more people dream about EVs, the better.

New to EVs? Start here

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