AutoPeugeot VLV: journey into the electrified past

Peugeot VLV: journey into the electrified past

The Peugeot 208 rose as the winner of the Car of the Year award in Europe , against rivals such as the Tesla Model 3 or the Porsche Taycan . Its wide range of engines has been one of the reasons for its choice by the specialized jury, along with the commercial success of the model and its daring design. The Peugeot e-208 is equipped with the most advanced technologies of the PSA Group, maintaining the premium and sophisticated aura that characterizes the lion brand. Electrification is the way forward for the automotive sector, there is no doubt about that, and all manufacturers have turned to the development of hybrid, plug-in hybrids or 100% electric models. Despite the rush, electric propulsion is not a thing of the present, Peugeot launched its first zero-emission model in 1941 . The Peugeot LVL was a two-seater mini-cabriolet that was developed due to fuel shortages during World War II.

Peugeot was the first firm to manufacture a 100% electric model but its crisis to combat was very different from the current one. If in 1941 fuel was the problem , now it is climate change and its disastrous consequences for the planet. The shortage of this liquid was temporary but the climatic emergency has no turning back, not without a change in consumption and energy that moves this world. Governments, encouraged by a more conscious and responsible society, have put their measures on the table. Europe is by far the continent most involved in this fight. What’s more, the legislation, applied since 2020, will entail millionaire fines for car manufacturers , a sector especially persecuted these days. Knowing the history of some pioneers may help us understand that a clean future is possible

A trip to the past

The Peugeot VLV was a two-seater convertible model, with a canvas roof that creased at the rear of the vehicle and could be removed. Its manufacture was carried out in times when raw materials were difficult to obtain, hence its small size. It was 2.67 meters long by 1.21 m wide and 1.27 m high and the detail of the convertible roof was an ideal solution to reduce weight . No one will forget March 2020, when the Spanish population had to lock themselves in their homes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Interestingly, that was the month in which the LVL project ended in 1941, when European society was immersed in a very different war .

The use of gasoline was controlled by the armed forces. Alternatives such as diesel or the electric car that concerns us today arose from that historical moment. As you can see in the images, the rear wheels were very close together, there was barely 33 centimeters of distance between them. The Safi electric motor sent its energy to this rear axle , leaving the front hole to fit the four 12-volt lead-acid batteries . These modules generated a power of up to 3.5 CV and you could recharge the battery in any conventional socket, a process that took about 10 hours .

Simple but a success

The VLV project had to be fast, cheap and easy to drive. For that reason, weight was crucial. The incorporation of the batteries added 160 kilograms to the vehicle, which gave a total scale data of 348 kilograms . Can you imagine such a light car today? Obviously, it did not have the assistance systems or the comfort equipment that the new Peugeot e-208 boasts. Of course, its autonomy of up to 80 kilometers was not bad at all . We remember that the first electric vehicles of the modern era did not offer much more travel.

The engine itself only had 1 kW of power (1.3 hp) but, thanks to a boost function that was activated manually, it could reach those 3.5 hp at specific moments. Its usual top speed was 30 km / h, but using that system it reached 36 km / h. As it was an electric model, it did not need a transmission but it did need a lever to be able to go forward or reverse.

The war could with him

The ravages of the World War constantly paralyzed its production line. These stoppages, added to the lack of raw material for their manufacture, reduced the possibility of launching all reserved Peugeot LVLs. 377 units were built until the Vichy regime authorities banned their production in 1943.

Of course, the LVL is not Peugeot’s only foray into the electrical world. In the 1970s, the oil crisis, derived from the refusal of the OPEC members to export oil to the allies, forced the company to return to its old ways. The brand revived the projects on standard electric vehicles and launched the electric Peugeot 106, marketed between 1995 and 2001.

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