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Tonino Lamborghini NEV
The Tonino Lamborghini NEV impressed the editors of Golf Car Advisor with its comfort and performance. Pictured here is 'TXL' model with bucket seats.

A Lamborghini EV?

A preview of the newest entrant in the NEV marketplace.

By EV World

Yep! The son of the renowned Italian sports car maker has gotten into the EV business, specifically a neighborhood electric vehicle or NEV.

Currently available in two open-air models, plus a utility version, the new, Italian-built NEVs are the result of a trans-Atlantic collaborative effort on the part of Tonino Lamborghini, who has been building golf cars in Italy for many years, and Michael Jun, the president of Florida-based Leewood Incorporated, who is the sole distributor for the cars.

In a recent article in Golf Car Advisor, the editors came away very impressed with the top-of-the-line TLX model they test drove. They were especially impressed with the high-back leather bucket seats that "seem to conform to your body. No automobile has more comfortable seating, let alone a NEV," they wrote.

They were equally impressed with the acceleration, as one might expect from the descendant of one of the world's premier sports car builders. "The pick-up is breathtakingly impressive, like coming off the line in a 5-speed sports car with a high-geared rear end." It is talk like this that may just begin to change the image of NEVs as golf cars on steroids.

And as you might expect, Golf Car Advisor liked the way the car looks, as well.

"For starters there is the sleekly sporty yet luxurious styling," they enthused. Certainly not as radical a design as the GEM nor as revolutionary as the Th!nk neighbor, the Tonino Lamborghini seems to nicely bridge the gap between the familiar golf course conveyor and the still-uncertain world of the NEV. Like most other NEVs, it is capable of altering its nature with the flick of a switch. One moment it is a sedate 15mph greens roamer and the next it can do up to 25mph across the country club parking lot and down gated community streets.

Both models of the Tonino Lamborghini NEV are powered by a 48-volt CFR motors rated at just under 6 hp. The company commissioned Curtis to build a custom 400-amp controller that harnesses the power of six 8-volt Trojan 875 deep cycle batteries.

The vehicle frame is welded 40mm tubular D steel, which is undercoated for corrosion resistance. The body is fiberglass and treated aluminum. It measures 96 inches in length, 47 inches wide and 74 inches high; it weighs 1200 lbs.

To stop this half-ton of rubber, lead, metal and plastic, Tonino Lamborghini has given the car a phenomenal regenerative braking system. Golf Car Advisor reports that the instant you let off the accelerator, the car begins to slow as the re-gen system instantly starts converting momentum into electrical power to recharge the battery pack. The car is also equipped with a superb hydraulic braking system that can take it from 25 to 0 it in just 7 feet! Drivers had better be wearing their seat belts.

As with all NEVs, the Tonino Lamborghini meets US NHTSA CFR part 571.500 regulations, which includes automotive-grade safety glass, turn signals, windshield wipers, rear-view mirrors, headlights and seat belts. Speaking of windshield wipers, one interesting innovation found on the Tonino Lamborghini is the placement of the wipers up under the forward roof overhang where they are normally out of sight when not in use.

The TLS model boosts the same standard NEV equipment, but a more conventional bench seat and somewhat different styling on the front and rear. Carpeting is optional, as is the charger.

The MSRP for the TLS model with bench seats is $11,650 while the TLX (deluxe) model with leatherette bucket seats is $13,090, reports Wayne Zawisza, Leewood's manager of dealer development. A four-passenger version of both models will be available later this month.

Leewood is planning to eventually manufacture the vehicles in North America to help cut shipping costs and to allow more use of US-manufactured parts. According to Golf Car Advisor, Leewood also plans to offer an two-passenger coupe, as well as a SUV-style version later this year. The company is looking for dealers in select sections of the US, so direct your inquiries to leewoodsales@shaw.ca.

Times Article Viewed: 6995
Published: 14-Apr-2002

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