Far From the Mainstream: Aixam to Artega

Some of these little-known marques don’t justify an entire posting at DTW’s preciously-guarded webspace. 

2000 Aixam Luxe: source
2000 Aixam Luxe: source

So in this post we trot from Aixam who you may know to Artega, who you may not know. Autoscout have 934 separate items for Aixam, maker of small electric cars. The cheapest costs €500 and boasts 4 kW or 5 PS. These cars have a special place in rural France, so far as I have experienced it twenty-five years ago. Elderly people use them as a kind of proto-Dalek to trundle in a dry casing from village to village or perhaps from their home to the baker (if there still is a baker left in rural France).

As many Aixam models are somewhere between assistive technology and personal transportation I am not going to mock them as they serve a need which is obviously legitimate. People like their independence and if it takes a 5 kW vehicle to achieve that, that’s fine by me. This one (above) is for sale in Italy and none of the photos show the entire car. What I’d like to ask about these vehicles is why the designers can’t seem to make the most of the material used, plastic. Lots of plastic objects have a high-quality look to them but when scaled up to a car (and this includes the BMW Z1) something goes wrong with the radii. I am tempted to suggest that not enough work has been done to find a good expression for plastic at this scale.

Next we turn to find that the market for Ariel, our next brand, has a huge spread: from €1000 to €229,000 for a V8 special edition (price negotiable). A closer look reveals that car is from 2014 and is on sale in Belgium. Do items for north of €200,000 really belong in small ads listings? At the other end of the scale, your €1000 gets a 1992 car which supposedly runs on ethanol. According to the fount of all knowledge, Ariel only came into existence as a car company in 2001. That Ariel might very well be a motorbike. Or it might be another drunken listing as it says “Ariel Atom”. The Atom was not a motorbike. Who can say.

Artego Karo: source
Artego Karo: source. Not designed by Fisker.

Another mess of a listing: eleven Artega cars. Founded in 2006, the firm went on to close in 2012. It has reopened again making an electric hybrid and a “fun car” called the Karo. Yet the first listing is a 2002 Artego Scalo for €500 and it runs on ethanol. No image accompanies the text so I can’t say if it’s an overpriced toy or another error.

Autoscout really could do with pruning these sham listings.

Some casual research finds that Henrik Fisker had some involvement in the Artega production car and so I am not surprised to find Artega went belly up. Is there a man in car design who has laid hands on more doomed marques than good old Henrik Fisker? The word albatross comes to mind.

[I suppose I should attach a bit of a caveat to all this. Rooting around in these ads has produced a lot of noise as well as signal and a lot of questions. With a bit more time and a lot more patience some deeper and perhaps more factually sound research could be done on these cars. In that light, you might want to consider this as a set of preliminary notes rather than anything definitive.]

 

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

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