La Gazelle, the 21st century 2 CV, a low-tech and electric car designed in Bordeaux

It is a nugget born in Bordeaux in the Gironde. The Gazelle is made from composite material in micro factories, in no time. Very light, it uses 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 thinking about changing manufacturing methods in the automotive industry for years. He is now very close to the goal.

Graduated from the prestigious Ecole Centrale de Lyon, former development director of the Renault group, he is convinced that the future will be “low tech” the exact opposite of high technology.

Either a technology based on simplicity, durability, made locally and more artisanal than industrial.

Unlike the giga factories that concentrate production in one place and then export to the whole world, on the contrary, we will distribute micro assembly workshops to the four corners of the world and create jobs where they will be used.

Gael Lavaud

France 3 Aquitaine

This model took him eight years to develop.

This Monday morning he welcomes us to the very first “factory” he designed, installed in the premises of the Bordeaux Technowest startup incubator in Blanquefort, in the Bordeaux metropolis.

Four containers are assembled, no big machine, no robot inside…

It really is ultra basic with three containers dedicated to assembly and one at the bottom for storing spare parts. You have a concept in the logic of low technology, where we want to make the assembly and maintenance of vehicles as simple as possible”.

With a toolbox and a bit of compressed air, you can build cars!

Gael Lavaud

France 3 Aquitaine

Take effect. The chassis of the Gazelle is assembled in an hour, like a Lego. And for good reason: There are only 10 items to collect compared to around 300 for a classic car.

The secret? This is the material used. No steel, no expensive equipment.

It is a technology of frame entirely in composite material. With fiberglass combined with other inexpensive materials that allow extraordinary mechanical behavior in terms of energy absorption and stiffness ” explains Gaël Lavaud, who achieved the maximum score in the crash test.

Its technology is patented and a closely guarded secret.

In addition to easy installation, the composite material makes the car considerably lighter.

It weighs around 900 kg, we could still lower it to 800 “says the Girondin designer. While a classic city car weighs at least 1.2 tonnes.”

Lightness means less consumption, since three quarters of a vehicle’s consumption is its weight. By simplifying, as we have done, we reduce consumption by about 40%.

“And then one of the biggest costs of the electric vehicle is its battery. There, by reducing the battery, we achieve the same autonomy as the others. It is thanks to this that we manage to have a competitive vehicle in price. will come out around 20,000 euros”.

The battery can drive 180 kilometers. It recharges in 4 hours on a conventional socket. ” It is a car that does not exceed 100 km/h. The idea is really to have a simple and efficient vehicle for all daily trips, it’s a bit like the 2 CV of the 21st century” Gael explains.

Its first goal is to equip local authorities and businesses that will be converting their fleets of vehicles to fully electric over the next few years.

But soon it is these micro-factories that he wants to market. Sell ​​them, sell parts and training to dealers or others.

They will provide assembly in addition to sales and maintenance. It will cost them very little in initial investment. A micro factory costs around 250,000 euros“.

Gaël Lavaud thus aims create activity in all parts of the territory.

The advantage of microfactories is that they make it possible to develop an economic activity with very little investment where there is none. They are adapted to create employment in our countryside and in developing countries that do not have builders.

Gael Lavaud

France 3 Aquitaine

Before seeing the “Gazelle” rolling, there is still an important step to be taken: obtaining official homologation. It is planned for autumn 2022.

Here is the report of C. Albo and S. Delalot

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