Sbarro Vessa Pilcar Carville , 1977


Carville Pilcar ou the electric car... simply !


The electric car is not born of recent environmental considerations. Far from it! In 1899, La Jamais contente (The never satisfied),the first car to have exceeded 100 km/h, was propelled by an electric motor. But the difficulty of storing electricity in batteries too cumbersome and often inefficient and expensive led to the marginalization of the electric car. Thus, in 1977, when the Pilcar was presented, the offer was restricted to golf cars with few interest. It is in this unfavorable context that Sbarro presents Pilcar, marketed under the brand Vessa, company owned by the Company for Electricity Romande, Clarens, Switzerland. Technically, the Pilcar is nothing new or revolutionary. His main interest is to have been sold! While production figures are low but not insignificant for a vehicle from a manufacturer artisanal (Sbarro) and a brand (Vessa) totally unknown. Between 1977 and 1980, will be sold 23 copies, plus 5 pick-up built in 1979-1980.

The Pilcar is a small town car, powered by an electric motor dc (84 volts 8/16 hp, 23 hp DIN), powered by 24 batteries Dynac Super 40 Wh/kg tubesheet planes, made by Leclanché. Autonomy is 100 km, which is a great performance. The body polyester (the specialty of Franco Sbarro) is based on a tubular frame. Unfortunately, although very compact, Pilcar see the increased weight of 500 kg batteries. The small electric car is 920 kg, therefore a weight at the time. The performance will feel the Pilcar managed to just over 100 km/h, more often in the order of 80 km/h (remember that it develops 23 hp, or the power of a 2CV of the time!). Recharging is simple: just plug in the car sector and wait for about 8 hours.

From March 1979, the Pilcar changes into Carville. The car was guaranteed one year or 20,000 km. Sbarro did only the construction. On its prospectus at the time, you can read it please contact the Société Romande d'Electricité for a command. The price in 1977 was 16,000 Swiss francs. The production will cease in 1980.


And after ?


The Carville-Pilcar has not revolutionized the electric car. It has long been forgotten. Perhaps because of too classic technical solutions. Yet the development and reliability seem serious. Perhaps it was inappropriate in his time? Too early and not quite known. In any case a nice small car that shows that Sbarro was already curious for unusual solutions, such as electricity in this case.



text Philippe Calvet, automatic translation (so be indulgent !)




electric 84 V
mid rear
23 BHP @ 4500 rpm
14 batteries Leclanché Super-Dynac 40 Wh/kg
lenght 3,06 m ; width 1,655 m ; height 1,39 m ; wheelbase 2,47 m ; tracks front 1,43 m ; rear 1,41 m
monocoque, polyester, tubular frame
165 SR 13
920 kg


Principales sources :

Auto Journal n°18 du 15 octobre 1977 / Site officiel Espera / L'Automobile magazine encart spécial Sbarro 1985 / Auto Journal spécial salon 77 & 78


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