The French-born industrial designer Louis Lepoix was probably best known for his commercial vehicles and household products through his consultancy Form Technic International.
Lepoix Ding 1975
- YEAR REVEALED 1975
- PLACE OF ORIGIN Baden-Baden, West Germany
- HISTORICAL STATUS prototype
- ENGINE electric motor
- MAXIMUM POWER unknown
- LAYOUT rear-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
- BODYWORK doorless, two-seaterplus-standing-driver buggy
- TOP SPEED 16mph (26kph)
- NUMBER BUILT one
However, at the 1975 Frankfurt Motor Show he unveiled a pair of astonishing electric cars. The Lepoix Shopi was, at first glance, a three-wheeler, although it actually had two tiny front wheels set close together.
As the name implied, it was a 58in- (147cm) long, golf-cart-like runabout intended for trips to local stores and, because it used a 24-volt electric motor fed by batteries, it was a zero-emissions vehicle. However, while the Shopi was meant for mundane errands, the Lepoix Ding was outrageous and slightly baffling.
Its molded plastic body and side-by-side seating were identical to the Shopi’s but, instead of riding on a steel underframe, it was suspended from a stout, arched external chassis/rollcage, on the end of whose three “legs” was a bubbleformed wheel/tire. The two passengers sat in the center while the driver stood up behind them, controlling the Ding using a tiller.
It could buzz along much more swiftly than the Shopi, its electric motor allowing 16mph (26kph). Alas, neither made it, despite sales being scheduled for a 1977 start. Instead, these vehicles acted as statements of Lepoix’s passion for alternative fuel propulsion, alongside windmills and solar power. His output eventually ran to 3,000 designs-from cars to typewriters and parking meters.