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Venturi Astrolab

The Venturi Astrolab will be the first solar-electric hybrid car to hit the market when it rolls out in January 2008. Though it may appear to be, the Venturi Astrolab is not a concept car, but will rollout as a full production zero emission vehicle with a cool price tag of around $117,000.

The Venturi Astrolab uses photovoltaic cells with an impressive 21-percent yield and the company believes even greater yields can be achieved in the years to come.

Though the price tag is steep, the novelty and wow factor will certainly make the Venturi Astrolab a force to be reckoned with if the public demand for this French vehicle is as sustainable as the car itself. Considering the solar vehicle is covered with 3.6 meters of photovoltaic cells, (nano-prisms) which provides enough oomph for the car to achieve a top speed of around 74 mph, that's pretty impressive for something that looks like it should be competing in the 2006 Michelin Challenge Bibendum sustainable fuel competition or displayed at an auto show for concept vehicles.



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Venturi Astrolab Solar-Electric Hybrid Car


The Venturi Astrolab contains a small 16 kw engine and does not need permanent sun exposure in order to move. Power is also supplied by the last generation nickel metal hydride batteries (NiMH) NIV-7, which are liquid cooled and can be plugged in using its onboard charger. A full recharge takes about 5 hours and the batteries are designed to last for 10 years. There is also the option to use high voltage outlets 80A / 380Volts and reduce the recharging time. The minimum range of the vehicle is 68 miles, which one would assume could be achieved from night driving or driving in low light conditions. Apparently, there is no maximum range for sunny conditions or locations.

Designed with an ultra-light carbon monocoque chassis, the Venturi Astrolab has been likened to a Formula 1 racecar, a sailboat and a flying wing on four wheels. Whatever the analogy, the Venturi Astrolab is lightweight, quiet running and emits no greenhouse gases. In addition, the Venturi Astrolab is a 2-seater encompassed by an oversized protection cell in case of a collision and takes the passengers' weight into account during its dynamic operation.

When looking at the photos of the Venturi Astrolab it appears there is no glass to cover the driver's and passenger's heads and that the automobile is not equipped with doors. So, we asked Venturi's Service Marketing Manager Jean-René Ricord about this. According to Mr. Ricord, "The car won't be available with any glass covering for the moment." Ricord goes onto say, "There won't be any doors on Astrolab. To get in the car, you just put a carbon board on one of the 2 sides of the car, then you sit on it and pass your legs in the car. It's a bit sporty but very funny." Funny or not, many eyes will be on this vehicle in the next couple of years in regards to performance and popularity when it finally hits the showrooms.