Central and Eastern Europe might not be the first places you think of when it comes to electric cars. In fact, you’re probably more likely to think of bad cars, such as the infamous Yugo, dubbed the worst car in history.
Although it’s not particularly known for its autos, Hungary is taking a stab at the electric vehicle market with a futuristic new solar-electric car. Founded by auto enthusiasts and backed by local investors, the Hungarian company Antro, is working on a prototype for a modular car that is capable of splitting into two separate vehicles. With solar panels on the roof, the three passenger Antro Solo can run up to 20 km per day on solar energy alone.
The environmentally-conscious company started research back in 2002 and, with backing from various local sponsors, has invested 1.5 million euros in market research and development of a working prototype.
The Antro Solo concept is a three-passenger car, with a hybrid drive and solar cells on its roof that the company says could generate enough electricity for up to 20km a day at city speeds.
Futuristic looking in itself, the grander plan for the car is much more audacious: Antro intends to allow users to be able to connect two Antro Solos to form a six-passenger Antro Duo. Or perhaps more interesting still, owners of a Duo could split the car into two smaller Solos should Mum have different weekend plans to Dad. Or if they divorce.
The current prototype looks interesting, but I can’t believe its chances of ever making it to past the prototype stage are much above slim.
Also worth a mention, just across the border to the south of Hungary, is a Croatian company called Dok-ing. It specialises in making landmine clearance machines, and sports the company motto: “Don’t send a man to do a machine’s job.” But it, too, has launched its own project for a small electric city car called Dok-ing XD — a fully electric three-seater that promises to travel 155 miles on a single two-hour charge.
The project was disclosed in 2009 after four years of development. But like Antro, Dok-ing XD sounds and looks good, but the likelihood of it hitting mass production are low. Local media hype followed announcement of the project last summer, but there has been no news since. The working prototype was expected to be on roads by the end of last year, which led to mass production being optimistically scheduled for middle of 2010.