Tiny $10K electric off-roader rambles like a mini Jeep with big bed
Leave it to the French to come up with a truly unique, adorable electric off-roader. The Kilow La Bagnole looks part mini pickup truck, part UTV and part shrunken Jeep CJ. It zips silently across rugged terrain via an exceptionally modest 16-kW powertrain that proves more than ample thanks to the skinny-wheeler's tiny size and sub-1,000-lb weight. The lil' La Bagnole carries two people and up to 650 L of gear or cargo on an off-road adventure of their choosing.
Measuring in at just under 111 in (2,812 mm) long, La Bagnole is more than 1.5 feet (46 cm) shorter than the original postwar-era Willys CJ, which eventually grew up into the modern-day Jeep Wrangler. The La Bagnole's 59-in (1,495-mm) width is also comparable to early CJs and to 58-in-wide Polaris Ranger gas or electric UTVs, promising to be plenty agile and maneuverable on even the tightest forest or canyon trail. Kilow's e-UTV stands at 57.5 inches (1,460 mm) to the top of its roof.
La Bagnole comes powered by a pair of rear-mounted brushless motors that team for up to 21 hp (16 kW). That doesn't exactly sound like the makings of a thrill ride, but given the vessel's sub-772-lb (350-kg) weight, it's able to achieve speeds of roughly 50 mph (80 km/h). Kilow lists acceleration time for 0 to 40 km/h (25 mph) at four seconds, though many drivers will be best-served laying off the accelerator in order to conserve range, which maxes out between 43 and 87 miles (70 and 140 km).
We'd love to see how a four-motor La Bagnole with torque vectoring could whip its way around trees and boulders, but that might ultimately interfere too much with Kilow's goal of no-frills simplicity. Plus, the French do pretty well with 2WD off-road setups.
La Bagnole rides on a steel chassis and galvanized steel double-wishbone suspension. The R18 wheels are fitted with skinny 130/90 R18 tires that help deliver 15-in (39-cm) of ground clearance.
As if the La Bagnole wasn't already the cutest little four-wheeler we've ever seen, Kilow envisions it as a toy for grownups and has even designed a toy car-inspired box in which it can ship. The little EV is crafted with sustainability in mind, so the big box isn't meant to be thrown away or even broken down for recycling but to be used as a storage crate. It even includes an integrated solar system for recharging the La Bagnole battery off-grid.
If Kilow could only make the box foldable or otherwise collapsible enough to fit inside La Bagnole's tall-walled utility bed, and perhaps add an integrated battery, the storage crate could make the perfect in-field charging system for extending a day of electrifying off-road fun. Perhaps Kilow could even add a modest camper interior to extend that fun to the entire weekend.
We suppose we're getting ahead of ourselves on all that, but Kilow has at least been playing with other bed accessories:
Kilow is a new spinoff of France's Savoy Group and its KG Auto brand. It debuted La Bagnole at this week's Paris Motor Show, providing an interesting diversion from the typical street-legal car and concept brigade that otherwise fills the floor of the international auto show.
Kilow is offering La Bagnole for pre-order in two variations: an L6e version with limited 28-mph (45-km/h) top speed that does not require a license and a 50-mph (80-km/h) L7e variant that will require a license to drive legally. Prices start at €9,990 (approx. US$9,975), and the company plans to begin deliveries in early 2023.