Teaming up with tiremaker Michelin, Monaco's boutique carmaker Venturi Automobiles showed a sleek electric GT coupe in Paris that matches a radical look with even more dramatic innovations in electric powertrain technology. Beneath its carbon-fiber bodywork that's based on Venturi's upcoming Fetish electric vehicle due out next June, the Volage Concept is fitted with a fully functional chassis and drivetrain hardware that incorporates Michelin Active Wheel technology.
Unlike anything else on the road today, the Michelin Active Wheel setup consists of two electric motors in each wheel: one to provide drive and the other to control the suspension. Both the mechanical and the solid-state components have been scaled to fit inside of the wheels themselves. With a chassis designed to optimize positioning of its Lithium-ion battery packs, the Volage distributes its 2370 pound mass in a near-ideal 45/55 percent split. Its inherently low center of gravity coupled with active electric damping promises outstanding handling and Venturi claims the Volage packs sufficient electric punch to run from 0-60 mph in less than five seconds. It also incorporates touch-screen dash controls that allow a driver to re-bias the vehicle's performance potential towards range rather than just speed when the need arises. Venturi's current plans call for the Volage to enter limited series production starting sometime in 2012.