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Weird and Wondrous Cars of the 2016 Paris Auto Show

A Look at What’s Lurking in the Paris Show’s Dimly Lit Corners

A Look at What’s Lurking in the Paris Show’s Dimly Lit Corners

The 2016 Paris auto show has room to spread out in eight halls, so plenty of guys with a bright idea can afford space in the corners and odd spaces around the big manufacturer booths. Day two is for ferreting these things out, and we found some doozies.


Formula Giol Sport Leisure Trike

Formula Giol electric trike side

Luciano Giol is an engineer and tinkerer with lots of experience in electric vehicles. He spent some time in California working on Sunrayce solar race cars and he even returned to France and built a solar race car. Now he’s built the vehicle of his dreams in prototype form, and is looking for partners to potentially build the vehicle at a price of about €25,000. A production model would get different bodywork crafted from carbon fiber instead of aluminum panels formed on a press break and riveted together—though this look does convey a radar-stealth fighter-jet look. Power comes from a pair of 50-hp AC electric motors drawing from a 28-kWh battery. Accelerating the 1,870-pound rig to 62 mph takes 10 seconds en route to a 100-mph (161 km/h) top speed (at which point those aggressive wings start to really kick in the downforce). It has four wheels, but in Europe if the front two are closer than 18 inches together they count as one, so it conforms to motorcycle regulations and uses motorcycle controls, augmented by a brake pedal. We admire Giol’s passion a lot—his trike design’s aesthetics a tad less.


Beach Cars!

The Paris show is THE place to go shopping for a little something to run around in at your weekend getaway place on the Cote d’Azur. There were four highly viable options to choose from in the various pavilions, all of which harked to the glory days of beach cars like Austin’s Mini-based Moke and Citroën’s 2CV-based Méhari.

Citroën E- Méhari

2017 Citroen E Mehari front three quarter

The automaker itself is just rolling out a modern electric version of the 1960s classic, produced in collaboration with French electric car producer Bolloré. The price starts at €25,000 but tax incentives drop that to €18,700. Power comes from a 67-hp/103-lb-ft electric motor drawing from battery pack that owners rent from a company called Bluecar for €79/month. Said battery will provide about 120 miles (193 km) of range. Instead of the cloth tops of yore, this one gets rigid panels connecting the windshield and the two basket handles.


Méhari Loisirs Technologie SAS E-Story

1982 Citroen Mehari front three quarter

For those who demand the corrugated look of the original, a 2CV restoration company in Le Pouzin, France, now offers the E-Story (sounds like ‘history’ said with a French accent), a completely new, faithfully rendered take on the original vehicle powered by 20-hp/93-lb-ft electric motor drawing from a choice of 10- or 15-kWh LiFePo4 battery pack good for either 62 or 93 miles (99.8 or 149.7 km) of range (a 1982 Citroen Mehari is shown here). Weatherproof with the top down, it can be yours for just €22,772.


Nosmoke Flower Power (Moke)

2017 NoSmoke Flower Power models

Built in Cerizay, France, this beach car went on sale in China two years ago, and is just launching in France. Power comes from a simple 13-hp electric motor and a lead-acid battery good for a 42-mph (68km/h) top speed and 48-60 miles (77.3-60.6 km) of range depending on driving style. A summer bimini top is included, but full weather protection with side curtains is optional. For beach-house owners on a budget, this one starts at just €15,990.


Group BurBy’s E-Moke

2017 Group BurBys E Moke front three quarter

Here again we have a  13-hp electric Moke with a lead-gel battery good for 48 miles (77.3 km) of range, though a lithium-ion upgrade good for 72 miles (115.9 km) is optional. Or for the truly range-anxious, the company will fit a 600cc Chery engine with a centrifugal clutch. Top speed is 48 mph (77 km/h). BurBy’s is based in China, with an importer in Villefranche sur Saȏne. And if all of these are too small for you, perhaps the 1.6L gas powered Jumboke is worth a look.


Quadricycles

In 1992, the EU declared that small, light, motorcycle-engined cars could be considered in the same class as mopeds, and a 2002 redo of the law formed two classes, L6e and L7e based on weight. The licensing and taxation of these usually two-seat cars and delivery vans is less stringent than for “real” cars (14-year-olds can take the wheel!), and for some reason the French (and to some degree) the Italians really love their quadricycles. Here were two favorites:

Ligier Highland X

Ligier Highland X Concept front three quarter

OK, I just love that Ligier’s Microcar truck sub-brand can’t help itself but to attempt to jump on the big SUV craze. This prototype Highland X, based on the Flex truck, is hiked up to the bejeebers and wearing ultra-knobby mud tires. We’re not sure the Flex’s 500cc 5-hp/13-Lombardini diesel engine has enough oomph to turn two of those tires, let alone spin mud with any of them.


Aixam GTI

Aixam GTI front three quarter

“The GTI is a city car with a fiery temperament, whose sportiness will surprise you. Compact, strong and athletic, GTI has a unique personality. Give in to temptation!” That’s the web site hyperbole describing an appearance package that gives the Coupé model a black roof and wheels, aggressive fascias, and a sporty interior, but leaves the new 8-hp diesel engine and automatic transmission unchanged. Color us dubious of its “fieriness.”


Ssangyong LIV-2

Ssangyong LiV front three quarter

This one was front and center in Korean SUV-specialist Ssangyong’s display. The un-badged model is billed as the production version of a LIV-1 prototype that was unveiled at the Seoul Motor Show in 2013 (the taillights still bear LIV-1 nomenclature). The letters stand for Limitless Interface Vehicle, so naturally all your electronics will communicate via Bluetooth, USB, Apple CarPlay, etc. It’s a big luxurious SUV, but the engine choices seem kinda small: a 2.2-liter turbodiesel or a 2.0-liter gas direct-injected turbo. We’re rather shocked that Ssangyong has yet to attempt selling its utes in ute-crazy America, but we’re glad they’ve waited to get their styling house in order. This thing looks pretty good. Google the first-gen Ssangyong Rodius for some real eye pain.

Read about our 2016 Paris auto show favorites HERE!