Test Drives Start in Electric Car Dubbed the Anti-Ferrari

Mindset Electric Car Prototype in Street Testing Photo

Image: Spirt Avert
A Dream on Wheels
The Anti-Ferrari. The Classless Status Symbol. Günak's Dream. These are just a few of the rubrics earned by the first European sportscar designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle. Lorenzo Schmid, the Swiss millionare backer for Günak's dream, tells the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine why all other attempts to break into the automotive market with eco-autos have failed:
They were all super concepts, fuel-efficient, clean, innovative -- except they are mainly not fun. Without sex appeal, you can't sell a car.

Of course, the Tesla is excluded from this assessment, but the Tesla can be dismissed as too pricey for the average driver. Schmid aims to make an electric car that is affordable but which is more sportscar than golf cart. From the looks of the prototype, Mindset is well on its way to acheiving this goal. But Mindset will be more than one step ahead: at least one of the technical specification will really suprise you...and that is not even counting the solar panels on the roof and trunk.With the street-legal licensing of the prototype, the dream of Martin Günak, former Head of Design at VW, to beat the auto manufacturers at their own game is one step closer to reality. Günak's electric car prototype, the Mindset, was presented in Bonn, Germany, only 18 months after the start of development. The 2+2-seater benefits as a high-performance car from being designed for lighter weight. This quest for the lightness of being loans the Mindset its most unusual specification: you can leave the motor at home!

Leave the Motor at Home
Yes, it is true. The car is designed with a combustion generator motor that can turn 30L (7.9 gallons) of gas into 700 km (435 miles) more range in case the 100 km range of the lithium-ion battery pack runs out. Drivers that are satisfied by plugging the car into a normal household outlet for two hours to top up another 100 km can leave the extra weight of the combustion engine in the garage at the press of a button. Or, a truly eco-efficient possibility for Europeans who rarely have garages: rent the range-extender motor only when it is needed. A partnership with the ubiquitous auto parts company A.T.U. Auto-Teile-Ungar points to the seriousness of this possibility.

Reflecting on why these innovations are not coming out of the American Big 3 automakers, or off the tables of designers in Wolfsburg or Tokyo, Günak's reply provides food for thought as regulators face big questions about bail-outs for the traditional automotive companies:

Revolution can only come from outside.

Mindset Electric Car Prototype in Street Testing Photo

Image: Spirt Avert
Heuliez Mindset Prototype in Test Drives
The prototype was built by the French based coachbuilder Heuliez. You may remember that Heuliez is also a partner in the design of the Will, an electric car with the Michelin Active Wheel system that sets a motor inside each wheel. Günak's team reportedly has a secret partner in the wings, ready to launch production of the Mindset; it is not clear whether Heuliez will have an ongoing role in the project.

Test drives for potential Mindset customers will demonstrate a 95 horsepower electric motor which can go from 0 to 100 in under seven seconds. The top speed is limited at 140 km/h (87 mph). The company Mindset, under the publicly traded parent organization Spirt Avert, hopes to be selling 10,000 cars per year starting by the end of next year, with a goal of 50,000 units per year in the long term.

More on Mindset Electric Hybrid Car
Spirt Avert Press Release
Spiegel Online (German)
FAZ (German)
auto-illustrierte (German)
Hybrid by Former Head of Design at VW Due in 2009
Michelin Unveils Active Wheel in Affordable Electric Car

Related Content on Treehugger.com