Horlacher GL-88

I really like this car.

While most enthusiasts are busy fretting over Hellcat-this and GT3 RS-that, it's all a bit disappointing to someone like me who expects that by now cars should have gone beyond what they've been like for the last 100 or so years. 

Sure, BMW's i3 and i8 are awesome steps in the right direction, but how is putting a massive engine in a seven year old car progress? (Seriously, I think they probably started to develop the Challenger right after hearing George W.'s "Mission Accomplished" speech in 2003.)

"Guys! The war is over! The vets will be coming home and eager to buy muscle cars! We should make one!"

I totally get it rules and regulations for vehicles around the world are complete and utter bullshit—I want pop-up headlights back—but by being large, risk-averse companies, car manufacturers don't often have a reason to change what they're doing unless a government tells them to or their vehicles are no longer selling. 

"But Michael, Toyota now sells a hydrogen car! That's futuristic!" Definitely, though even General Motors had the first hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle…in 1966.

To spur innovation, organizations around the globe have been holding competitions for electric and solar-powered vehicles, with schools and small companies making up the bulk of entrants. And when I found a fan page for the Horlacher GL-88, something stuck with me:

"They dominated all major electrical and solar races of their time. With a curb weight of 300kg to 340kg (including lead-acid batteries) they were unbeatable," says Freddy Thommen on his website.

I'd never thought about an electric car that dominates much of anything, except holding up traffic in the right lane. That's just it: we judge vehicles on their speed, power, and capability. But in a modern society, what most of us really need is a small capsule to keep us warm and take us from A to B.

Horlacher is primarily a German technology firm that produces design and component engineering services to a number of industries including rail, construction, and aerospace. Their electric vehicle division was founded in 1985 with the express purpose of combating—and I'm quoting them directly: poor range and speed, insufficient safety, unattractive design, "no pleasure to drive," and weight.

One look at the "Egg," as it is affectionately known, and you may wonder how it satisfies any of the criteria. First, as above, it weighs at minimum just 300 kg (661 lbs)—with batteries on board. The car's lightweight reinforced fibreglass shell (with a Pulse-like sliding canopy!) may not look like it's just come from Le Mans, but it's at least a few degrees less embarrassing than a Sunfire or Caliber.

Thanks to 11 12V lead-acid batteries and a BRUSA AMC 200 AC motor with 8 kW of power (no I have no idea what any of that means) it'll hit a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) and has a range of 100 km (62 miles).

This was Horlacher's first design, in 1988, and since their limited production run owners have taken to modifying their vehicles as-needed, with some hitting close to 150km on a single charge and top speed bumped up to nearer 100 km/h. For keeping up with the Hellcat it's probably not going to compare favourably, but for doing shopping and commuting to work it's more than adequate.

Thirty were made in total, with 20 believed to still be on the road. You can pick one up without batteries for about $7000 Usd., or buy a fully-sorted and modified example (upgraded wheels, drive unit, etc.) for $25,000 Usd.

Not cheap, of course, but it puts the price of a new EV—complete with every modern convenience, better comfort, better speed, and better range—in perspective. 

But I do love that Swatch-inspired paint job…