This veteran car style electric Voiturette is a more advanced project than most of the other
earlier designs and was primarily intended for my own use. It has proved popular with the kids though as they get bigger. The design and build was inspired by the work of the many replica car builders now active in the US (and elsewhere) whose vehicles can be seen on the
websites and on other user groups on the web.
The real thing
...photo courtesy Harry Foster
I thought I'd have a shot at a 3/4 scale electric version of the style of small car first produced around 1898 by Louis Renault in Paris but also made locally here in Scotland shortly after by the Argyll Motor Co. of Glasgow. This Type A car or "Voiturette"
is historically significant - it is reported that
Renault's was the very first car to have a direct drive
to the rear wheels and set the model for many vehicle
designs that followed.
(However I've also read that a front engined car driving through a clutch and gearbox was also built by the Panhard-Levassor company in 1890-91)
- This electric Voiturette is an approximate 3/4 scale of the original and is a single seater. It uses 20" front and 26" rear heavy duty bicycle style spoked wheels to maintain vehicle proportions similar to the originals and it shares both their distinct seating position -
high above the rear wheels - and their tiller operated steering.
Although the basic constructional approach of lower chassis with separate non-load bearing upper body structure is similar to that of the originals much of the other engineering reflects today's available technology.
I've used two efficient 660Watt permanent magnet DC electric
for the prototype - each driving one rear wheel through a two stage
roller chain transmission (they are actually 1000W 36V DC electric motors, but running at 24V). This is a very quiet and efficient drive system and contributes to the overall quiet operation of the car. (Ironically Renault's direct mechanical drive was an improvement on the "noisy" chain transmissions of its preceding designs!)
- A 150Amp 24V battery motor speed
controller and a 24V 76AmpH onboard lead-acid
battery pack provide the speed control and energy storage respectively.
Continuous running time between charges is well over 2 hours.
Top speed is about 12 mph. Adjusting the drive reduction ratios to achieve better than this is quite possible, however the proportions of these early vehicle designs with their relatively high centre of mass do not lend themselves to stability during hard cornering and I would advise caution when driving it. This is a vehicle that demands a modest and careful driving style. I'm not saying that it's actively unstable it's just just that if
you try and throw it into a bend it'll probably throw you in return.
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Detailed plans are now available for a slightly modified version of the Voiturette. The modified version has
2 x 500W motors and runs slightly slower than the prototype and also uses heavy duty Worksman spoked wheels which are available in the US. These simplify the vehicle construction and avoid the need for constructing your own wheels.
sheets are available
for the assemblies only - part details are in the paid-for
set. The more convenient paid-for set is available as a single packaged pdf document download with an overall materials and components list. This is included with the full download plans set or