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PSA comes late to the party with tiny VELV EV concept

Energetic: The 650kg VELV concept is said to return energy efficiency equivalent to that of a train journey.

French group PSA Peugeot-Citroen unveils compact three-seat EV concept

Peugeot logo30 Sep 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

FRENCH conglomerate PSA Peugeot Citroen this week unveiled an urban electric runabout similar to the quirky concepts revealed by German brands at the recent Frankfurt motor show.

Called VELV – a French acronym that translates to City Light Electric Vehicle – the PSA concept debuted at a Paris innovation forum where the company said its baby would be aimed at corporate fleets, rental companies, car-sharing schemes and private buyers who fancy a second car or just a round-town runabout.

Like the Opel RAK-e shown at Frankfurt, it has an enclosed car-like front-end and narrow rear track with motorcycle-style exposed suspension components, setting it apart from the open-wheeler Audi Urban and Volkswagen Nils concepts – and the plug-in Twizy for which rival Renault is already taking orders.

In this sense it also shares its layout with the trike-like, ultra-light and highly accelerative Peugeot EX1 concept that debuted at Paris last year.

Rather than prioritising high performance like the EX1, the VELV is designed to “meet the mobility challenges of tomorrow”.

Weighing just 650kg and powered by a 20kW electric motor, PSA claims the three-seat VELV can hit 110km/h and provide a 100km range from its 8.5kWh Li-ion battery pack, which is said to roughly match the “environmental footprint” of an equivalent train journey while providing an “extremely enjoyable” driving experience.

Compact dimensions and a tight 7.2-metre turning circle helps the VELV concept negotiate cramped city streets. For comparison, London taxis, noted for their impressively small turning circles, achieve a U-turn in eight metres.

23 center imageThe basic interior is accessed via conventional side doors, then swinging open the transparent canopy like the gull-wing door of a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.

Inside is a pretzel-like white and grey steering wheel, through which a multi-function colour instrument display can be viewed, with a separate panel containing switchgear for things such as heater controls to the left of the driver.

Its navigation system shows the area that can be covered on the battery charge level, identifying and locating charging stations within range.

Like a McLaren F1 supercar, the driver sits front and centre, with the two passenger spaces further back.

Despite its size, the Velv is said to comply with passenger car passive safety regulations.

With support from the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, the concept’s compact, lightweight electric drive components were developed with input from French electric drive system Leroy Somer, driveline manufacturer GKN and vehicle component manufacturer Valeo – which also developed a “specific heating system for small electric vehicles”.

Battery specialist Johnson Control-Saft providing the power storage and management technology, and cabling specialist Leoni supplied the wiring.

Michelin is also credited with a contribution towards the management system for the in-wheel motors, and a research centre in Bordeaux “provided valuable insights into the dynamic behaviour of very small vehicles”.

Although the VELV wears no branding, its grille is reminiscent of all recent Peugeot concepts since the sleek SR1 that was revealed at the 2010 Geneva motor show.

No plans have been announced for the vehicle to go into production, but some of the concept’s features could well be used one day for a rival to the Twizy – or even established city cars such as Smart’s ForTwo and the Toyota iQ.

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