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Citroen's Iconic Mehari Beach Car Gets An Electric Heart

10 Mars 2016 - Autoblog

The number of new electric vehicles on the market grows annually, but enthusiasts looking for an eco-friendly vintage car have precious few options to choose from.

A French parts supplier-turned-manufacturer named 2CV Club Cassis is breaking into the electric classic niche with an all-electric version of Citroën's iconic Mehari beach car.

Dubbed Eden, the close-to-production prototype looks just like the original, 2CV-based Mehari that was introduced in 1968 when it's viewed from the outside. 2CV Club Cassis hasn't modernized the overall design, but it has made several small modifications in the name of safety such as the addition of a roll bar and three-point seatbelts for the rear passengers. Additionally, the Eden prototype is finished in a specific blue, white, and red paint job that was never offered on the original car. Painted in a period-correct color, the Eden could easily pass as a regular, gasoline-slurping Mehari.

Technical details are still few and far between because they haven't been finalized yet. At this point, all we know is that the 602-cc, air-cooled flat-twin engine has been replaced by a compact electric motor that's surprisingly bolted to the car's original four-speed manual transmission. 2CV Club Cassis CEO Stéphane Wimez explains he decided to retain the four-speed gearbox because it was important to use as many original parts as possible, and because he wanted to keep the Mehari's atypical dash-mounted shifter. He also points out that being able to change gears drastically improves drivability.

The Eden is equipped with a lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack that gives it a roughly 50-mile range. According to Wimez, range is of little importance because the average Mehari owner drives no more than 30 miles a day. That said, enthusiasts who suffer from range anxiety can order a bigger battery pack that holds 75 miles' worth of electricity. A full charge takes between three and four hours depending on which pack is selected.

2CV Club Cassis is currently fine-tuning the Eden prototype, and it expects that production will kick off in the not-too-distant future. The company has transitioned from a parts supplier to a full-fledged manufacturer, so every Eden will have its own chassis number and its own title; in other words, buyers don't need to source a donor car.

Pricing information won't be published until closer to the Eden's on-sale date. In an odd twist of circumstances, one of the electric Mehari's main competitors will be the heritage-laced Citroën E-Mehari that was introduced late last year.

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