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Venturi Volage: Watch out, Tesla!

Venturi, an electric car maker from France, has just unveiled a prototype electric sports car that will have Tesla Roadster drivers gazing nervously in their rear view mirrors

Venturi, an electric car maker from France, has just unveiled a prototype electric sports car that will have Tesla Roadster drivers gazing nervously in their rear-view mirrors.

The Venturi Volage is designed in conjunction with tyre-maker Michelin, which provides the car's drive system. Unlike the Tesla Roadster, which uses a single electric motor, the Volage relies on Michelin's Active Wheel system. This not only provides propulsion, but also actively changes the characteristics of the suspension at each corner depending on driving conditions.

The four motors -- one in each wheel -- have a combined maximum power of 220kW and are powered by a lithium-ion battery weighing a hefty 350kg. Despite the weight, the Volage is able to -- theoretically -- accelerate from 0-60mph in under 4 seconds. It has a top speed of 93mph and a range of around 200 miles if driving at a constant 55mph. The Roadster, by comparison, also does 0-60mph in under 4 seconds, but has a top speed of 125mph and a range of 244 miles, based on testing using EPA guidelines.

Want one? So do we, but don't get your hopes up too high. The Volage is expected to go on sale sometime around 2011, and even when it does roll off production lines, it'll only do so in limited numbers. Its older brother, the Fetish, had a production run of just 25.

Gawk at the pic, and keep your fingers and toes crossed. -Rory Reid

Update: A previous version of this article erroneously stated the Tesla Roadster's range as 86 miles. It is 244 miles.