Peugeot have launched in London the BB1 electric car concept that seats four people in a vehicle just 2.5 meters long. The BB1 was originally launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show and is now being promoted as a concept in a number of cities around the World.
I asked Peugeot’s Managing Director, Jon Goodman, about the company’s future fuel strategy:
“We need to have multiple solutions. In about two years we need to have vehicles on offer that use standard fuels but are more fuel efficient than today’s models. We need to offer micro-hybrids — that’s cars that use carbon-based fuels but also recover energy when the car is braking. We need to offer Diesel Hybrids which we will do in 2011 as well as a range of electric vehicles in about three years.”
The BB1 is, Peugeot claims, a mixture of a scooter and a car and seems to be the car manufacturer’s first foray into electric car design. Athanassios Tubidis, the BB1′s designer, told assembled guests:
“The BB1 isn’t about long journeys, it isn’t about linear travel — it’s about the gesture: Stop. Go. Accelerate. Get in. Get Out.”
So clearly the BB1 is aimed at the young urban market in a World where gas prices could rise again to over $101 a barrel and stay there.
The Peugeot BB1 in day-to-day use
The BB1 is entirely electric so it just plugs in to a mains socket at home and the lithium ion batteries charge up in six hours. This electric car is obviously designed for city driving so you won’t be using it for a motorway trip to work but for urban journeys the BB1 provides rapid acceleration, space for four people and a 360° driver view.
The four people claim gives the BB1 an advantage over rivals such as the Toyota iQ and the Smart Car but it should be noted that the rear passengers are straddled on scooter-like seats and their legs actually wrap around the occupants at the front in order to squeeze them into the 2.5 meter BB1. Some people may not like this intimate arrangement!
The scooter analogy doesn’t stop there as the steering of the BB1 is done through a handlebar-like device that also houses an iPod dock. Dock your iPod to the handlebars and the central display uses it to access the internet.
The front occupants sit in a more upright position than most of us are used to. This is necessary to cram four people into the thing and its made possible by the complete lack of any foot pedals.
The Peugeot BB1 is powered by a pair of 20 bhp electric motors driving the rear axle but its the torque of electric motors that will give this diminutive vehicle its agility and responsiveness in urban traffic. Weighing only 600 Kg that’s nearly 40 bhp/tonne. The bubble-roof (a styling reference to the RCZ) has integrated solar panels that drive the air-conditioning system.
Peugeot has come a long way since the producers of Columbo selected a Peugeot 403 because it was the ugliest car they could think of. Some people will hate the styling of the BB1: it looks as if it’s back to front, the front windscreen leans forward at an odd angle (though this would be effective at removing reflections from the dashboard) but I can’t help loving the many exquisite details the BB1 has to offer from the front and rear lamp clusters to the quirky interior and bubble-shaped roof.
The BB1 has a top speed of round 50 mph and Jon claims a 0-20 mph time of 2.8 seconds thanks to the “very torquey” electric motors. The batteries give the BB1 a range of about 75 miles which is more than enough for a day’s urban driving.
Should Peugeot build this car?
Peugeot has no firm plans to put the BB1 into production but is listening to feedback from the various launches they’re making in the World’s major cities. The BB1 will be on public show in Covent Garden, London this weekend — you might even get a chance to drive it!
Here’s a movie of celebrity views from the launch party:
So here’s the question: Should Peugeot build this car?