Innovation: La Gazelle, the 21st century 2 CV, a low-tech and electric car designed in Bordeaux
It is a nugget born in Bordeaux, in Gironde. The Gazelle is made of composite material in micro-factories in a very short time. Very light, it consumes almost half as much as its competitors. Its designer wants to launch a new industrial model. This article was published on February 15, 2022.
Is Gaël Lavaud a visionary? He has been dealing with changes in manufacturing methods in the automotive industry for years. Now he is very close to the goal.
He is convinced of this, a graduate of the renowned Ecole Centrale de Lyon, former head of development at the Renault concern The future will be “low tech”. the exact opposite of high-tech.
Either a technology based on simplicity, durability, locally made and more artisanal than industrial.
In contrast to the gigafactories, which concentrate production in one place and then export it all over the world, on the contrary, we want to spread micro-assembly workshops all over the world and create jobs where they are needed.Gaël Lavaud
France 3 Aquitaine
It took him eight years to develop this model.
This Monday morning, he welcomes us to the very first “factory” he designed, installed on the premises of the Bordeaux Technowest startup incubator in Blanquefort, in the Bordeaux metropolis.
Four containers are put together, no big machine, no robot inside…
” It’s really ultra simple with three bins for assembly and one at the bottom for storing spares. They have a concept in the logic of low-tech, where we will make the assembly and maintenance of vehicles as easy as possible.
With a tool box and some compressed air you can build cars!Gaël Lavaud
France 3 Aquitaine
In force. The chassis of the Gazelle is assembled like Lego in an hour. And with good reason: only 10 elements need to be assembled, compared to around 300 for a classic car.
The secret ? This is the material used. No steel, no expensive equipment.
” It’s a technology by framework made entirely of composite material. With fiberglass in combination with other low-cost materials that allow exceptional mechanical behavior in terms of energy absorption and rigidity “explains Gaël Lavaud, who got the maximum score in the crash test.
Its technology is patented and kept top secret.
In addition to being easy to assemble, the composite material makes the car considerably lighter.
” It weighs about 900 kg, we could still lower it to 800 “says the Girondin designer. While a classic city car weighs at least 1.2 tons.”
Lightness means less fuel consumption, because three quarters of a vehicle’s fuel consumption is due to its weight. By lightening, as we have done, we reduce consumption by about 40%.
“And then one of the main costs of the electric vehicle is its battery. There, by reducing the battery, we get the same autonomy as the others. Thanks to this we manage to have a competitive vehicle in price. It will come out around 20,000 euros”.
The battery can travel 180 kilometers. It charges in 4 hours from a regular outlet. ” It is a car that does not exceed 100 km/h. The idea is to really have a simple and efficient vehicle for all daily journeys, it’s a bit like the 21st century 2 CV. explains Gael.
The initial aim is to equip municipalities and companies that will have to convert their vehicle fleets to purely electric vehicles in the next few years.
But he wants to market these micro factories quickly. Sell them, sell spare parts and training to dealers or others.
” In addition to sales and maintenance, they also take care of assembly. It costs you very little initial investment. A micro factory costs around 250,000 euros“.
So that’s what Gaël Lavaud is aiming for Create activities in all parts of the territory.
The advantage of micro-factories is that they allow, with very little investment, to develop an economic activity where there is nothing. They are likely to create jobs in our rural areas and in emerging countries where there are no construction companies.Gaël Lavaud
France 3 Aquitaine
Before the “Gazelle” rolls, there is one more important step to take: official homologation. It is planned for autumn 2022.
Here is the report by C. Albo and S. Delalot