The E-car 333, a three wheeled electric microcar by a Belgian designer and built entirely in Belgium, debuted this week at the Belgian Auto Show. The car is priced at 18,000 Euros and has a range of 180 miles from its 9.6 kWh battery, reports Technologic Vehicles.
Technically, the car has some interesting features. The frame is made from recycled steel and the bodywork is constructed from laminated flax. Shades of the Henry Ford hemp car, which was actually made from soybeans! It’s designer, Xavier Van der Stappen, claims a top speed of 80 mph. He says the battery can be fully recharged in only 3 hours on normal household current (220 V in Belgium).
The car will be available in 6 configurations, including a roadster and a utility vehicle, he says. Buyers can choose several battery options and either a 15 or 25 kW motor. Fully optioned, the E-car 333 will cost 42,000 Euros. That’s about $45,000 even at today’s exchange rate, which has seen the Euro sink to a 12 year low against the dollar after the recent Greek elections.
That’s an absurd amount of money for this Twizy-like bit of silliness. Who in their right mind would pay that much for this thing? Has the world gone mad? Doesn’t it seem like the world of electric cars today is like the beginning of the automobile 120 years ago, when every blacksmith and bicycle mechanic felt driven to create his own bespoke vehicle?
All that creative genius is wonderful, but is there a credible business case for any of these curiosities? I’m sure Belgians are pleased and proud to have an all Belgian car they can call their own and clasp to their collective bosoms, but 42,000 Euros? Are you nuts? Reaction from the crowd at the show tells the story. Notice they all have their backs turned to the car?
Here at home, we have been closely following the on again, off again progress of the Elio, our own homegrown three wheel small car. While it looks as though that project may yet see the light of day (the company revealed its proprietary engine recently), the projected price is still only $8,600, which is quite a bit less than the E-car 333.
It takes more than a dream to make a successful automobile today.