Venturi - Car Fetish

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Car Fetish
by: Dan Lienert

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At the recent Paris Motor Show, Venturi, an automaker based in Monaco, unveiled the version of its Fétish electric coupe that it will put into production next year. Venturi released a prototype of the Fétish at the 2002 Geneva International Motor Show.

The company plans to build only 25 copies of the Fétish, which will sell for $660,000 each. The car will be available in the U.S.

Tiny Venturi is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The sports car maker has raced in Formula 1 and at such famous events as France's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Venturi's race cars have beaten Porsche and Fiat's (nyse: FIA - news - people ) Ferrari subsidiary--both kings of racing--on several different occasions.

Venturi said in a statement that the Fétish will be the first electric sports car to go into production. A California-based company called AC Propulsion has an electric sports car prototype, the tzero (pronounced "tee-zero"), but it awaits production as the company finalizes engineering and seeks safety certification.

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It's easy to see why the Fetish could become a fixation.

The Fétish offers a top speed of 105 mph, as well as the ability to go 217 miles on a single charge. Recharge the Fétish's empty battery for one minute, and you will be able to drive it for about one mile.

That 105 mph top speed might not seem that impressive; after all, you can drive an Altima sedan from Nissan Motor (nasdaq: NSANY - news - people ) at higher speeds. We imagine that the thrill of the Fétish will be similar to the thrill of driving a go-cart: Comparatively speaking, you're not going that fast, but the way the vehicle is set up, you feel like you are.

The Fétish's layout involves an engine mounted behind the passenger compartment, like that of a race car--a configuration that allows for weight distribution, handling and road-holding that are superior to those of front-engine cars. It also features a lightweight carbon chassis, which helps the Fétish weigh only 2,425 pounds. General Motors' (nyse: GM - news - people ) Chevrolet SSR hot rod, in comparison, weighs almost twice as much.

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Leather interior? Of course.

Electric cars also feature a special performance advantage: Their peak torque is available the instant you step on the gas, whereas gasoline-powered internal combustion engines need to rev to a certain point before reaching their torque peaks. Not that the Fétish has a shortage of engine speed: It can reach 14,000 rpm, a rate usually reserved for motorcycles and Formula 1 cars.

The evolution of electric cars has reached a point that allows for a vehicle such as the Fétish to come about. Venturi said in a statement that before the advent of lithium-ion batteries, more than a ton of batteries would have been necessary to achieve the Fétish's power.

Forbes Fact

The Fétish's engine generates 241 hp, and the car can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in under five seconds.
 

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