A former Executive at General Motors in the UK who had trained as an automobile engineer once told me that if he had his time over, he would have trained as an electrician. Malcolm Harbour went on to become a British Conservative member of the European Parliament but always retained a fascination for and an interest in motor vehicles. “The future of motor vehicles is electric,” he said. That was years ago, since when electric vehicles have come on apace and no doubt will be the personal transport of the years ahead. In a few short years from now, people will look back on internal combustion engines in much the same way as we look back at, say, the 1902 Serpolet “H”, a remarkable automobile that actually outperformed many petrol-driven competitors, despite being powered by Steam, just like the popular Stanley Steamer of 1906, which set a speed record of over 205 kilometres per hour (kp/h), which remained unbeaten by a petrol vehicle until four years later. But it never again challenged the upcoming technology.
All of which helps to make this a very special year for Monaco’s Venturi motor manufacturer and its President, Gildo Pastor. Why? Because it marks the company’s 20th anniversary under his leadership. He and his team have devoted the last two decades to developing innovation and excellence in high-performance electric vehicles. They have been involved all the way from their first GT to the first polar exploration vehicle, leading the field in electro-mobility. And this, they’re convinced, is only the start.
WILL IT CATCH ON?
It was back in 2000 that Monegasque entrepreneur and automobile-lover Gildo Pastor acquired Venturi, a French maker of motor cars. People scoffed at his prospects of success. He moved the brand to Monaco and took the bold decision to devote the company to making electric vehicles. Gildo Pastor was already convinced that this fast-developing new technology would be the key to the future, a decade before the automotive industry at large began its slow switch towards electric power.
PROVING THE DOUBTERS WRONG…
Since 2004, the Monaco firm’s workshops and test facilities have produced no less than ten different vehicles, with names such as Fétish, Astrolab, Eclectic, Antarctica, Volage, America, VBB 2.0, VBB 2.5, VBB-3, and Voxan Wattman. Each of them has made its mark on automotive history with unique design, ground-breaking new technology and exceptional performance.
Each vehicle has made its own mark on history, with unique design, ground-breaking technology and outstanding performance. Take, for instance, the Venturi Buckeye Bullet (VBB), the fastest and most powerful electric cars with speed records that remain unbeaten:
In 2009, the VBB-2.0 (Venturi’s hydrogen-powered exception) reached 487 km/h and in 2016, the VBB-3 reached a stunning, eye-watering 549 km/h. Venturi also worked with Citroën to transform the Berlingo range of vehicles. The firm has built some 1,000 motorised units for eleven European markets as well as the Principality of Monaco. French and Monegasque postal services vehicle parks also include 250 of their products.
Meanwhile, Venturi has been building up a well-earned reputation in the world of motor sport. ROKiT Venturi Racing (formerly the Venturi Formula-E Team) was the first Formula E team to enter the world championships and it’s now one of the category leaders. For the last six years, the Made In Monaco team has been duelling with the world’s biggest automotive constructors.
2020, A YEAR OF EXTREMES
Venturi’s twentieth anniversary this year will be marked by two major, yet very different events: the world electric motorcycle speed record attempt by Voxan (part of the group), and the delivery to the South Pole of the appropriately named Antarctica exploration vehicle. The aim of Gildo Pastor and his team is to prove yet again the unrivalled superiority of their electromobility solutions, all the way from 25 km/h to 330 km/h, and from -50°C to +30°C. Antarctica will set off for the South Pole shortly after the Voxan Wattman returns from the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, the world’s largest salt flat: from baking desert heat to icy, sub-zero cold. There, the caterpillar-tracked vehicle will assist the scientific community with their day-to-day work.
This very special year will also see ROKiT Venturi Racing aim for further glory on the race track. Gildo Pastor and Team Principal Susie Wolff will join forces with Mercedes as they lead the team into the Formula E Championship, with drivers Edoardo Mortara and Felipe Massa on board for the second consecutive season.
The cherry on top of the 2020 anniversary cake, will be the move to the new offices and workshops on the ground floor of the Gildo Pastor Center in the Fontvieille district of Monaco.
As a child, Gildo Pastor was entranced by stories of the great pre-war expeditions and explorations. It’s not surprising, then, that he has demonstrated a similar taste for adventure in his own career.
Along the way, he met Sacha Lakic. From day one, the Frenchman has designed every Venturi car project ever built, down to the last square centimetre, the last nut and bolt. Sacha Lakic’s talents have proved crucial to the brand’s success, thanks to his uncanny ability to design sleek, stylish vehicles, despite the size of the batteries needed to power them. This year will see the unveiling of his two newest creations: the Voxan Wattman and the final version of Antarctica (see above).
The third leading light behind the brand is Xavier Chevrin. Xavier is Venturi’s very own adventurer, in the strictest sense of the word. The Frenchman has already demonstrated the efficiency and solidity of the Monegasque firm’s electric engines on two international long-distance rallies: Shanghai to Paris in 2010 and, two years later, Mission Africa. Now President of Venturi North America, Xavier will be overseeing the organisation of the motorcycle world speed record this year.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
“Twenty years on, I’m still focused on the road ahead,” says Gildo Pastor, President of Venturi, “I’m as eager to learn, discover and be enterprising, as if I were just starting out. This 20th anniversary is an opportunity to glance in the rear-view mirror. On our own level, we have helped to accelerate development in the electric vehicle sector, by offering our expertise to some big names. With them, my approach has always been to extend the hand of collaboration in the service of innovation. In the history of Venturi, the victories, the moments of joy and immense pride also stand out for me. I’m already looking forward to the next twenty years.”
Click here to read the 2020 April edition of Europe Diplomatic Magazine