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Nonsense; thy name is Elexceed.

Chris Haining July 23, 2012 All Things Hoon 16 Comments

Those less discerning readers of The ‘Verse, those of you who bravely read every single item, including those that have my name to them, may remember mention of my definitely-not-obsessive Car Brochure Hoarding Collecting habit. It now genuinely spreads over fifteen miles, being split between my old address and my new one until I manage to corral it all together. On Wednesday this week, thanks to one Tanshanomi of this parish, my fetish has gone global once and for all.

The Superb Mr. Tanshanomi has invested almost nine of his valuable American Dollars to send his contribution across the Atlantic to rural England, during which trip it probably enjoyed more comfort than your average Virgin Economy passenger would. And the subject of this well-travelled document? Why, the Elexceed Zero EV. Squirt your cursor at the jump for more on this extraordinary conveyance.

Pete harvested this most attractive brochure during a trip to the SEMA show in Las Vegas in 2006. Now, to these fog-choked English ears that all sounds impossibly exotic, but is probably anything but. I’ve been to Automotive trade shows before, and no end of peroxide ‘n plastic booth babes can inject much interest into the latest news in mechanical fasteners and the latest colour of braided brake hoses. But I digress.

The Elexceed Zero was brought to America by Zero / Sports Racing Developments, an producer and iimporter of aftermarket enhancements for Subarus. It took the form, the very small form, of a single seater, rear wheel drive, electric sports car. Design wise it enjoyed styling from the same mould as all the other Japano-European sports roadsters of the immediate post-nineties era, with a form that looked part miniature Yamaha OX99-11, part dodgem car. It featured a Tesla roadster-style aluminium spaceframe, albeit a far, far more primitive type than found under that Tofu ‘n Yoga Lotus. The aluminium is then clothed in an FRP shell… er… like a dodgem car.

It was unique in many ways, not least the fact that it’s only three feet wide. Indeed, it’s actually the same size as one of those Little Tikes Race-Car beds. Strikingly similar to look at, too. There are some pretty neat design touches; the actual cockpit with its offset pair-o’-dials is as sparse and functional as it possibly could be. Functional parts like the brake assembly and differential appear to be of good quality, but, really, there doesn’t seem to be much innovation going on here.

Oh, who am I kidding. The whole thing is completely stupid.

Tanshanomi’s helpful annotations to the brochure confirm that the maximum crusing speed is 37 (count ’em) miles per hour, and you can only do this for 45 miles, whereupon you have to find a 100 volt (I piss more volts than that) charging socket and hang around for eight hours, waiting for your next bout of high-adrenaline low-speed driving. Actually, sub-40 mph isn’t even driving; it’s maneuvering.

Then there are the photos. They’re very artfully shot; the photographers work would have done justice to anything to have ever issued from between a pair of Modenese factory gateposts. Here, it all looks a bit desperate. It’s made even more so by the choice of pilot; where they could have used the stereotypical endomorphic student of extreme sports, all perma-tanned, sunglass’d and hair products glinting in the sun; they chose an elegantly rugged Gentleman of experience and wisdom, who looks like he might use his Elexceed to nip to the pharmacists to stock up on denture adhesive.

OK, that’s unfair. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see our hero in a few years time advertising those little mobility buggies that old folk use. In fact, come to think of it, that’s pretty much what the Elexceed is!

But the poor, misguided chaps at ZEROSPORTS don’t seem to realise, or care. They see the Elexceed as “A high quality E.V sports car.” Like the Tesla would be several years later. (except obviously the Tesla isn’t a dodgem car with alloy wheels bolted to it).

The typo-laden, Engrish-packed text boasts that “Our knowledge and technique is now in harmony allowing us to make a perfect electric car”. That’s good. Perfection is always nice. But there’s more!:

“For our technicians, who have grown from so much experience in unknown areas, their goal, which is like clearing the highest hurdle, is to make the highest standard E.V. car the world has ever seen.” And jolly good luck to them, I say.

One of the photos shows a procession of the little blighters as if in a sort of one-make race championship, which, preposterously, kind of makes sense. It would certainly make for a pretty close race, what with a 40mph VMax and a laden weight more than two Honda Fireblades.

Which brings us finally to the greatest failing of the Elexceed: The fact that they even bothered trying to make it run on electricity. What a total, utter, waste of time. By sticking an internal combustion engine in, almost any internal combustion engine, they’d have created one seriously desirable piece of kit. One of these with a ‘busa lump would be invincible on a track, and fearsomely dangerous to boot. Designing a car like this and having it not run on gas is like spending infinite quantities of money trying to find a way of making a suspension bridge out of soup and biscuits. It probably can be done, but there are millions of reasons not to.

The Elexceed was possibly even brilliant to drive. I’ve obviously never tried one; I know that Go-Karts are fun despite their tiny size, tiny single cylinder motors and 35mph top end, so think of the Elexceed as a glorified electric Go-Kart and it may be on to something. But the thing’s being presented as a car, and I can’t really see how it deserves that hi-falutin’ status. I’d love to have a play in one, but I’m sure I’d love it more if it went Vroom rather than Whirr and could be made to go fast enough to really do myself a mischief in. So close; yet so far. Tesla have shown that an electric sports car ain’t such a daft idea. But I fear that the Elexceed might have been an evolutionary cul-de-sac.

The brochure, however, has shot straight ito the top of the “interesting” pile in my research library, representing a small and totally insignificant footnote in the annals of automotive history. But a very amusing one.

Cheers, Pete!

  • Just to add a bit of detail here — the Elexceed was shown off as an attention-getter at the Zero Sports booth, but was never available for purchase in the US.

    • You're such a killjoy: I already had my checkbook in hand…

    • The internet tells me the figure of $19,000 was bandied about for several nanoseconds; a nice alternative to a nearly new Mustang or ten rough Miatas…

  • Frere P.

    Well, at least there is some truth in advertising–there is no arguing that it has ZERO sports, racing or development.



    • Devin

      Come now, taking that thing on the highway would be plenty exciting!

      Mostly because you'd probably die.

      • POLAЯ

        For our Highway driving friends:


        • PowerTryp

          Keep going, you're good at this.

          • POLAЯ




  • Alcology

    Some say little tikes race car bed, I say old farts race car coffin.

  • Alcology

    That's the last known photo of Gerry Adam Trick before he escaped the dementia ward.

  • Just for the record, I am henceforth to be addressed as "The Superb Mr. Tanshanomi"

  • safetystephen

    Messerschmitts KR250s laugh at that thing for sure. Invicars too. Nice try though. Perhaps they'll make the recipe a bit more substantial down the pike after the laughter dies down. I'm sure there is a place for a modern successor to the Crosley Hotshot.

    • bhtooefr

      Hey, where did that extra 50 cc come from? One of those Honda Helix-based knockoffs?