Outdoors

Electric French Kart swaps track for dirt

Electric French Kart swaps tra...
Flying over dirt, the electric French Kart
Flying over dirt, the electric French Kart
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Early French Kart prototype made from wood by Marcel Beltran
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Early French Kart prototype made from wood by Marcel Beltran
Second main French Kart prototype tested in dirt
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Second main French Kart prototype tested in dirt
The most recent, pre-production prototype of the French Kart
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The most recent, pre-production prototype of the French Kart
Flying over dirt, the electric French Kart
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Flying over dirt, the electric French Kart
The child-friendly version of the French Kart has a top speed of 12.5 mph
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The child-friendly version of the French Kart has a top speed of 12.5 mph
The French Kart comes in two sizes: a child version that maxes out at 12.5 mph and an adult model that can get up to 31 mph
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The French Kart comes in two sizes: a child version that maxes out at 12.5 mph and an adult model that can get up to 31 mph
Drivers of the French Kart sit cross-legged and are secured in place with a seatbelt
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Drivers of the French Kart sit cross-legged and are secured in place with a seatbelt
Marcel Beltran hand-building a French Kart prototype
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Marcel Beltran hand-building a French Kart prototype
The child version of the French Kart has a 36 V/800 W electric motor and three 12 V batteries, while the adult model is treated to a 72 V/5,000 W motor and six 12 V batteries
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The child version of the French Kart has a 36 V/800 W electric motor and three 12 V batteries, while the adult model is treated to a 72 V/5,000 W motor and six 12 V batteries
Is the driver meditating? Nope, that's the driving position
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Is the driver meditating? Nope, that's the driving position
The child version of the all-electric French Kart has three speed controls, while the adult model has only one speed level – full
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The child version of the all-electric French Kart has three speed controls, while the adult model has only one speed level – full
The French Kart has launched its production bid on Kickstarter, where pledges for the 800 start at €395 and the 5000 at €1,295
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The French Kart has launched its production bid on Kickstarter, where pledges for the 800 start at €395 and the 5000 at €1,295
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What could be more fun than roaring around tarmac driving a go-kart? Going off-road of course. And that's what's being offered by Marcel Beltran and his French Kart – an all-electric, all-terrain thrill machine that's been in development since 2012. After a dozen or so prototypes, the quiet off-roader has hit Kickstarter to raise production funds.

As with many places around the world, karting is very popular in France – enjoyed by enthusiasts in their free time and as an official sport. In either case, it can serve as a training ground for future F1 drivers (Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton all got a taste for motorsport on karts). Those wanting to venture beyond tarmac may have to climb inside the cages of pint-sized buggies, but the French Kart is a little different.

Is the driver meditating? Nope, that's the driving position
Is the driver meditating? Nope, that's the driving position

Described as compact, stable and light, the toy-like electric off-roader has the driver sitting cross legged and taking up much of the open chassis, instead of adopting a more traditional position with legs out front, like with the Bosch e-kart concept from 2016 for example.

We're not sure what, if any, advantages this Buddha pose offers for the driver, but those in the video footage look to be comfortable and secure as they zoom through dirt, jump mud mounds and drift into corners. And, though there's no mention in the given specs, photos and footage do show safety belts and crash helmets in play.

There are two versions of the French Kart being produced, the 800 for kids of 4 years and up and the 5000 for adults. The 961 x 774 mm (37.8 x 30.4 in) 800 model has a 36 V/800 W electric motor and three 12 V batteries. It's limited to a top speed of 25 km/h (12.5 mph), and features three speed levels – slow, moderate and full. This e-kart tips the scales at 30 kg (86 lb) and is able to handle a driver weight of up to 60 kg (132 lb).

The 5000 has 1,141 x 840 mm (449.2 x 330.7 in) dimensions and comes in 10 kg heavier than the child-specific model, and can carry a driver weighing up to 130 kg (286 lb). It's been treated to a 72 V/5,000 W motor and six 12 V batteries, which results in a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). This version only has one speed level – full.

The child version of the all-electric French Kart has three speed controls, while the adult model has only one speed level – full
The child version of the all-electric French Kart has three speed controls, while the adult model has only one speed level – full

Both flavors feature a large top-mounted steering wheel, can zip around for about an hour before the batteries positioned to the front of the vehicle need some charging attention, rock 4-inch wheels wrapped in chunky tires and rear disc braking. And unlike its 4-stroke or (particularly) 2-stroke relatives, the French Kart offers relatively quiet all terrain fun.

The French Kart has launched its production bid on Kickstarter, where pledges for the 800 start at €395 (US$485) and the 5000 at €1,295 ($1,590). If all goes to plan, shipping to backers is expected to start in November. The video below has more on the project.

Sources: French Kart, Kickstarter

French Kart : the first all-terrain electric go-kart

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4 comments
ErstO
better get a kidney belt if you want to spend time on this thing
Deres
Seems very clever and very fun ! I like the compactness that permit simple transport in a car. And the price is quite low especially the children version. This will permit to open such sport to kids with the lower power one.
guzmanchinky
Why does an off road vehicle without suspension look so painful?
highlandboy
With the suspension travel show here be prepared for regular back injuries.