Electric French Kart swaps track for dirt
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.
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.
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.