BBC Autos

Alt-Green

Pariss picks up where Tesla left off

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.

 

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For Damien Biro, upsetting the status quo comes naturally. His grandfather and great-uncle invented the modern ballpoint pen in 1938, obsoleting the fountain pen overnight. Seventy-odd years later, 37-year-old Damien is set on changing the world in a somewhat different way: by building a better sports car.

Biro’s Pariss Electric Roadster has been making the rounds of European motor shows since 2012, and with each appearance, the car has reflected boosts to refinement, power, cruising range and projected price. On 4 April, Biro presented a running prototype of his diminutive Roadster at the annual Sustainable Luxury expo in the car’s namesake city. Refined and production-ready, the car – which is expected to command upwards of 80,000 euros (about $111,000) when deliveries commence next year – promises “French luxury packed with high technology”.

Built around a rigid carbon fibre composite monocoque structure (like its prime target, the Alfa Romeo 4C), the Pariss Roadster employs two electric motors – one driving the front wheels and a second spinning the rears – with a combined output of 242 horsepower. The car’s lithium iron phosphate batteries can recharge in five hours from a 220v outlet, and just 60min from a 440v socket. The chassis, tuned with assistance from Le Mans veteran Welter Racing, consists of double wishbones front and rear.

The body, also made of carbon fibre, is Biro’s own design. Love it or not, the Pariss Roadster is an original, something that cannot be said of another coming rival, the Lotus-derived Detroit Electric SP-01. Biro’s car is some 16in shorter end to end than a Mazda Miata. It features a rigid removable roof panel in place of a folding convertible top. Full LED headlamps and taillamps provide illumination.

Inside, an Alcantara-trimmed centre console features a tablet-style touchscreen display with high-speed 4G wireless connectivity. In addition to the usual diagnostic and infotainment functions, the system provides access to a 24-hour driver-assistance and concierge service – a feature, says Pariss, which is intended to ease range-related driver anxiety.

Biro claims the Roadster will sprint from zero to 62mph in just 3.7 seconds – a time that, perhaps coincidentally, matches that of the departed Tesla Roadster. But the Pariss has one trick feature the Tesla lacked: an optional range extender. Similar to the optional system in the BMW i3, the Parris Roadster uses a small gasoline generator to charge its batteries on the fly, boosting the car’s cruising range from an EV-acceptable 125 miles to a road-trip-ready 435 miles. The system adds 220lb to the Roadster’s 1,764lb curb weight.

So is the Pariss Roadster for real? One thing is clear: Biro’s company is no amateur operation. He crowd-funded the project with a cadre of private investors, and enlisted the services of more than a dozen A-list partners to build the car, including interior outfitting by upholstery specialist Sellerie’Cimes, composite-panel fabrication by Pirus and powertrain development by Bosch. And the car’s marquee attraction, that clever range-extender, was developed by US-based snowmobile and ATV maker Polaris.

The order books are open. Biro has so far taken deposits from 60 eager buyers. So far, the company has no plans to sell the car outside France.

Biro claims the Roadster will sprint from zero to 62mph in just 3.7 seconds – a time that, perhaps coincidentally, matches that of the departed Tesla Roadster.