President Nicolás Maduro takes a test drive in a model of the Catatumbo electric car, designed in Maracaibo by Augusto Pradelli, who’s also along for the ride.
It may not look terribly impressive at the moment, but this humble little car represents what a bit of local engineering can do for mobility, the economy, and the environment. Pradelli and his team designed it to be agile, affordable, comfortable and easy to drive. It can carry up to 500 kg of cargo and seats four. It reaches 40 km/h at the moment, comparable to driving on suburban residential streets. It is made from recycled materials, will eventually be equipped with solar panels for plugless charging (it currently uses a domestic 110-volt plug, meaning it can be charged from any household outlet), and is named after the famous Catatumbo River, the world’s most lightning-prone spot, which flows into the head of Lake Maracaibo in the Venezuelan state of Zulia, where a confluence of air currents from the Caribbean and the Andes ensures frequent electrical storms over the great lake. (The name literally means “House of Thunder” in the language of the indigenous Bari people.)
Here’s hoping that they’ll get this one manufactured quickly, and achieving lightning speeds, too.