Peugeot's Electric Car Concepts Date Back to 1941, And They're Fascinatingly Weird
Do you like battery-powered three-wheelers? What about cars you can drive with a joystick?
Peugeot produced its first car in 1889, and today, the brand acts as the leader of the PSA Group, the French giant that recently merged with FCA to create an even bigger company called Stellantis. As you'd imagine from a brand with 131 years of experience in the automotive business, there's quite a lot of history to chew through and that includes multiple electric vehicles, which we'll take a look at below.
First, the new stuff Europe got. Peugeot's latest is a crossover called the e-2008. It's available with gasoline and diesel powertrains as well, but the electric version is powered by a 50-kilowatt-hour battery and a 134-horsepower electric motor, for a range of 206 miles under WLTP testing. Back in 1941, Peugeot's EV offering was a lot more humble.
Dealing with a German occupation and fuel shortages, Peugeot came up with what it called "Véhicule Léger de Ville" for Light City Vehicle. It was a cutesy micro cabriolet with two seats and an electric drivetrain. From a taxation standpoint, it was valued as a fancy cyclecar, with a wide track at the front and a narrow track at the rear. With the batteries stored in the front, the VLV was mostly used by postal workers, who could cover no more than 50 miles at speeds up to 21 miles per hour. Between 1941 and '43, Peugeot built 377 units at its La Garenne factory near Paris.
Over half a century later, electric cars started to make sense once again. After experimenting with a 205 EV, Peugeot went on to sell an electric version of its J5 van to local businesses and the government, and began developing an EV variant of its popular 106 hatchback under a partnership with French energy company EDF. In 1995, 25 106 Electrics were sent out as trial vehicles before Peugeot began mass production. As a result of this work, the company ended up building 3,542 electric cars by 2003.
For the 1994 Paris Motor Show, Peugeot also took a peek into the future with its innovative urban concept, the Ion.
Wide doors, four seats, and an interior with such features as a CD player, hands-free telephone, an LCD screen and storage for children's video games. This predecessor of a current electric Smart was powered by a 27-horsepower electric motor kept at speed by nickel-cadmium batteries.
After the Ion, 1996's Tulip wasn't revolutionary. Yet it introduced the idea of car-sharing with an even smaller footprint, which is a business model enjoyed by millions today.
From this point going forward, nobody could stop Peugeot from taking a joyride down study avenue.
A hybrid for the sand dunes with four-wheel-drive? 1996's Touareg combined nickel-cadmium batteries located behind the front seats with a single-cylinder range-extender good for 186 miles using just four gallons of fuel. In short, it's a wild yet capable two-seater that we have a whole lot more info on here.
For our one and only century leap year, Peugeot produced a pair of EV concepts next to two more conventional ones created by Gérard Welter's teams under the themes of "the year 2000" and "urban mobility." The four were collectively known as the "City Toyz," and the electric e-doll would certainly live up to that. It could be steered with a handlebar like your favorite scooter. Also, pool balls.
Really, though, who cared about the e-doll at the Paris show in 2000, when next to it was the excellent and equally electric Bobslid, controlled by a joystick?!
This with a modern EV powertrain and less-lethal steering system, and we're in business:
I could continue with 2009's Peugeot BB1, which was a tiny EV concept along the lines of a futuristic Toyota IQ. But I choose not to, since in 2010, the French introduced the EX1 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of their brand. This was a two-seat roadster built on existing architecture, accelerating to 60 mph in 2.24 seconds and reaching its top speed of 161 mph in just 5.1 seconds. Peugeot says its performance is the result of its "sharp aerodynamics, ultra-light structure and two electric motors, which give it its maximum cumulative power of 250 kW (340 hp) delivered through its four-wheel-drive system."
This carbon fiber wonder EV, the Peugeot EX1 concept, broke six FIA world records. So naturally, a decade later, the company went with the flow and put an electric SUV into series production. With that in mind, please enjoy the EX1's record lap around the Nürburgring:
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