The MonoTracer is what happens when you combine a car, a motorbike, and an airplane. Designed by Swiss company Peraves (founded in 1974 by Arnold Wegner), this car-bike-airplane hybrid of the future was actually built sometime in the early 1980s. However, this vehicle never got the popularity and recognition it deserved mainly due to the fact that the company mainly catered to affluent clients.
A recent (2013) video on the Financial Times Youtube channel featuring the E-Tracer Electric Vehicle though just might change Peraves fortunes as well as how we’ll commute in the future.
Peraves and the History of the MonoTracer Vehicle
Due to their unique design and costly price, the first of Peraves’ MonoTracer cabin motorcycles were considered niche vehicles. These had two wheels similar to motorcycles and were even powered by a BMW drivetrain and engine. However, the MonoTracers were more than just motorcycles. Instead of straddling the vehicle like a motorbike, the driver was able to sit comfortably (like he would inside a car) while being shielded from the elements by a DuPont Kevlar monocoque (an airplane structural design approach also used on performance cars like Bugatti’s Veyron). On the other hand, the E-Tracer Electric Vehicle uses the same design but forgoes the internal combustion engine in favor of an electric motor and batteries.
A 200hp Gen3 AC Propulsion induction motor and a 411.6V lithium polymer battery make up the E-Tracer Electric Vehicle’s drivetrain. Although this drivetrain could theoretically make the vehicle go over its current top speed, Peraves chose to limit it to 150 mph to ensure its clients’ safety as well as to reduce power consumption. Additionally, since the electric drivetrain has fewer moving parts, the E-Tracer can easily go from 0-62 mph in just under 5 seconds. Charging times usually differ with a 16kWh charge usually taking anywhere from 50 minutes to 5 hours depending on the charging station’s voltage output.
Is This Going to be the Vehicle of the Future?
If you’ve watched the Financial Times video, Rohit Jaggi talks about how hard it was to maneuver the E-Tracer. Though he was able to maneuver it properly, he did liken the experience with re-learning how to ride a bike. This shouldn’t be a reason for us to not consider the vehicle as a viable means of transport in the near future though. Other than possible issues with regard to maneuverability upon startup as well as its hefty price tag ($104320), Peraves has done a great job of making this vehicle environmentally friendly without sacrificing performance. Let’s also not forget that it has a bullet-proof Kevlar monocoque providing its driver and passenger with one of the safest rides on two wheels they’ll ever have. For these reasons, the E-Tracer deserves some major consideration to be a cog in the wheel that is to be our future public and private transportation system.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.