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PHOTO CAPTION: Venturi America 'high voltage' dune buggy concept car. Photo: EV WORLD.

Venturi Puts French Flair in Electric Cars

Jim Motavali reports on Venturi Automobiles' debut at 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

Published: 17-Jan-2011

DETROIT — By chance, on Tuesday afternoon at the Detroit Auto Show, I wandered into one of the more unusual electric car press conferences. All the big companies presented on Monday, which left the much more sparsely attended Tuesday sessions to be held by the smaller players, ranging from transmission ventures and auto suppliers to this one, a presentation by an electric vehicle enterprise, Venturi, based in the tiny principality of Monte Carlo that is just now starting its first American venture.

There were three cars on Venturi’s stand, all wildly different. One was a cross between a Tesla Roadster and a doorless dune buggy. A second was a modest panel truck done up in the livery of La Poste, the French postal service. I later learned that it was an electrified version of a Citroën Berlingo (similar to the Ford Transit Connect).

And the third vehicle was clearly a land-speed record car, echoing the Jamais Contente (“never content”) car that had set a speed milestone in 1899. I was curious about what these cars had in common — electricity, it turned out. All were electric vehicles of one type or another, part of a bewildering fleet of concept cars and racers that Venturi has brought out since 1984.

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