The Venturi Astrolab: Solar-Electric Hybrid to Hit the Market

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We've seen a lot of solar cars here on TreeHugger, but most of them have been record-setting specialty projects, prototypes, or one-man-and-a-dream labors of love. Venturi, the French company and maker of the Fetish, an electric sports car that came before the Tesla, has announced the unveiling of the Astrolab. Claiming that it's the first high performance solar vehicle to be commercialized, Venturi plans to make this car available by January 2008. The two-seater (single line) is outfitted with 3.6 square meters of prismatic nano-coated solar panels, which help charge the NiMH battery pack, even while the car is in motion. With a top speed of 75 mph and an autonomy (range) of around 68 miles, the Astrolab could prove to be a practical local driver. Technically, the Astrolab is not what we can really call a solar car, however. Venturi bills the Astrolab more appropriately as an "electro-solar hybrid," a plug-in electric car with a generous serving of solar power onboard for support. It is the charge from the plug (standard European outlet) that provides most of the juice for the Astrolab's batteries, while the solar panels contributes a lesser 11 miles of driving per day. Venturi's new permutation of hybrid will be on the market next year, running around 92,000 Euros (117,000 USD). :: Venturi via Gizmodo