By on June 24, 2009

After a few seconds in the Mindset, I was thinking: Whoa, this thing is fast. And Goddamn, it feels good. And then I remembered a movie I hadn’t thought of in a decade, and it struck me: this doesn’t seem like 2009, this is more like Gattaca. You know: the sci-fi movie starring the Studebaker Avanti, Rover P6 and Citroën DS Décapotable—all running with electric motors. They are breathtakingly, inimitably beautiful cars. In the movie, they only make a whirring noise. It’s all very 2030, and, somehow, it works. Of course, if you had an electric droptop DS at your disposal, then why would you drive a Swiss-made, electric Mindset? But I’m getting ahead of myself. So, what is this car about?

It’s about Murat Günak, former head designer at Peugeot, Mercedes and VW, the man who styled the 206, the SLK and the Passat CC. It’s about Günak’s ennui with conventional cars and his desire to make something forward-looking. The result is a daringly sensible oddball. Of a oddly daring sensible car. Anyway, I liken it to the Citroën DS when introduced in 1955. Of course, conservative, quick-to-judge carmudgeons may call it ugly. I think it’s fantastic.

First of all, the wheels. Twenty-two inches with rather narrow tires. (They’re as wide as those on the original Golf GTI, but look narrow in proportion to the gigantic wheels). Narrow, says Günak, is neat: less rolling resistance, less wind resistance, less macho affectations, less prone to aquaplaning, lower unsprung weight. When the wheels are big enough, the contact patch is still large enough to ensure good deceleration.

Then, the body. The sheetmetal’s supposed to remind one of a 1930ish commuter boat. More to the point, it looks like a fuselage on wheels, sporting an entirely appropriate low wind resistance (with a drag coefficient under 0.25). Stephan Hartmann, Mindet’s Chief Engineer, told me the Mindset’s looks are also a product of his goal of a relatively high ground clearance, high seating position, yet low center of gravity. They’ve achieved the latter (at a height of around 70 cm) by positioning the car’s Li-Ion batteries centrally, below the cabin.

And now for the driving experience, or rather, the passenger experience. The Mindset’s a prototype; Hartmann drove during a recent demonstration through Zurich. Weighing-in at around 800kg, the aluminum-spaceframed electric car serves-up 220NM (1760 lbs/162 lb·ft) of torque. There’s addictive, neck-pulling, instantaneous and linear acceleration. AutoBild claim (in German natürlich) that the Mindset out-accelerates the 911 Turbo—for a few seconds anyway. The EV mule feels like a sorted, mass-produced car, with none of the creaks and groans you normally get in a prototype hard-cornering over bumpy urban roads.

The Mindset’s interior is roomy, at the same time iPodesque modern and bench-seated old-fashioned. It has a flat floor, great visibility and custom leather upholstery and luggage. Many people dislike it; the Mindset guys know that it (as does the whole car) polarizes. Apart from the glare-prone LCD instrument panel, I’m a fan.

Who would buy such a car? Mindset says they’re looking at the well-to-do person who finds conventional sports cars and luxury cars gauche, slightly embarrassing and old-fashioned; for whom the Tesla is just an expensive Lotus-with-batteries; and who want a more economical, everyday package. This target group sounds like me—and maybe fifty-seven other guys. If this company gets their financing together and proves me wrong, I’ll be glad.

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36 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2010 Mindset EV...”

  • avatar

    So why is TTAC so quick to call “Bull Shit” on the Volt and Tesla, but then let this propaganda review go thru?

    I call BULL SHIT!! Another wet dream, or worse, some scam artist taking the investor money. What are the chances this thing can meet the crash standards? What laws of Physics have they bent or what new battery technology have they invented?


  • avatar

    I think Mr. Schwoerer’s summation sounds a sufficiently skeptical note.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Speaking only for myself, this is way more exciting in concept than either the Volt or Tesla. Execution is everything though, of course. Mindset obviously has a ways to go. Also note that unlike both Tesla and Volt, Mindset is not shying away from niche-ness. This is not a sportscar that will spawn a mass-market EV line (ala Tesla), nor an OEM life-saver like the Volt. This is pure European, low-production, niche weirdness. I like it a lot, although I wouldn’t necessarily invest in it.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    You need to look at the context of calling the Volt bs here. It’s really not about whether an electric car in general is technologically possible. Obviously they are, and they have been on the road for over 100 years.

    With the volt, the skepticism (or in my case outright prognostication that it’s not going to happen) comes from:
    1. GM pitching it as a mainstream, affordable family vehicle. Or in Bob Lutz’s words, a game changer.

    2. Technological sophistication of developing and mass producing an electric car with a seamless gasoline generator – all to be sold for an ever-increasing price.

    3. Constantly misleading facts and stars about the volt, including price, range, suppliers, and so on. If production numbers are not yet clear, then GM shouldn’t be putting hypothetical ones out there as true.

    4. The continual parading around of the Volt as though it is already a production vehicle. for several years, GM has been putting it in ads and claiming they have “zero fuel” cars when in fact it was a number of years before even their own optimistic on-sale date claim.

    As Edward says, and as Martin said originally in what I feel was a superb review, this is likely to be a pretty expensive, Europe-only niche vehicle. If Mindset was telling us this will be built in Lordstown, Ohio and that tens odd thousands of people per year would be replacin their Camry with one, I think reception here would be a lot less positive.

    Martin, from the pictures and your description alone this sounds like an interesting project. Little else can coMpare to the big Citroens for me, though – DS and variants, but also CX and even the XM. Great write up.

  • avatar

    So, what is the range and charge time?
    I’m very disappointed you did not ask that Robert.
    Oh Shit!, It’s a Citroen love fest

  • avatar

    There is a difference between reviewing a car and reviewing an automotive business plan.

    Tesla pulled a “Camaro” with its roadster, pounding its chest about how great the vaporware would be for years before anything was produced for consumption.

    That left TTAC with no car to review, only a questionable business plan. However, when TTAC finally got a ride in the Tesla I think the review was somewhat decent.

    The Mindset EV marketing is completely different. I’ve never heard of this company before this review; they haven’t bothered me with vaporware and business plans, they’ve just delivered a product for review.

    Anyway, this car is much cooler than the Tesla – it actually has design. Interestingly Mindset went with FWD in a premium sports car (watch the platform mule video), but with electric motors torque steer and weight distribution are probably non-issues.

    The Shooting Brake has officially survived the electric revolution.

  • avatar

    @ 1981.911.SC:

    As Mr. Berkowitz has addressed the difference between the Mindset and the Volt, I will address a couple of points between the Mindset and the Tesla.

    1. You posed this question: “What laws of Physics have they bent or what new battery technology have they invented?”

    Having looked at the Mindset Web site, I note that Mindset makes the claim that “two hours of electricity at the price of an espresso guarantee a minimum of 100 kilometres of emission-free driving.”

    While I’ll admit that there’s plenty of wiggle room on the recharge time (“two hours of electricity” doesn’t tell us much about the amperage required for this recharge), 100 kilometers on a full charge doesn’t seem unusual for a LiIon-powered EV.

    Tesla snapped my disbelief suspenders by initially claiming a range of around 250 miles without recharging.

    2. WRT crash standards, I didn’t see any claim on the Mindset Web site that this vehicle was designed to meet US crash standards. That being said, I also didn’t see any indication that Mindset planned to sell their eponymous vehicle in the US.

    Since Mindset is based in Switzerland, I would assume that the company’s vehicle is engineered to meet whatever crash standards apply to EVs in the EU. While it would be nice to see this vehicle meet US crash standards, I can’t see a failure to meet US standards as a problem, as long as Mindset’s vehicle meets the crash standards of its target market.

  • avatar

    It looks like the love child of a Mazda MX-3 and Studebaker Avanti.

    The review sounds promising. Rather than try and be all things to all people they have targeted it.

    I don’t get the appeal of the giant Dub wheels, they are more Hyphy than Hipster

  • avatar

    It looks cool. Better than most of what’s on the road. I love the fact that the eyes are almost round, instead of pokemonesque, or any of the other awful shapes that abound these days.

    As Mr. Schwoerer described, it has some very interesting design features. It’s about a G lighter than the Tesla,if memory serves, which suggests that it might have a better range, and/or fewer batteries, which could result in a much lower cost. If I wanted a battery EV–which I don’t–of what’s out there, this definitely appeals. This is neat.

    Too bad Mr. Schwoerer in this can’t race Capt. Mike in the PDQ, uh, PDK, whatever that thing is. Now THAT would be fun.

  • avatar

    The problem with the Volt was over-promising for something that has, so far, under-delivered and is, so far, an undelivered product.

    The Tesla overpromised and overpromoted itself… but at least it’s not complete vaporware. Personally… I still don’t see what the Tesla does that the Venturi Fetish didn’t do already several years ago. Admittedly, the Fetish was a much more expensive car, but it was built solely as a plaything for the rich… which, when you think about it, is what the Tesla is.

    This is an interesting car. very “niche”, but it has some ideas to it that would lend themselves well to a mass-market vehicle. I don’t see carriage-wheels coming back, though…

  • avatar

    My issue is with the size of the brakes; you’ve got these huge wheels then if you look real close you can see the (tiny) brake rotors.

  • avatar

    Gattaca was the best car movie ever. Uma Thurman in the DS convertible was mind blowing. I thought the cars were turbines, not electric, especially the Rover 2000

  • avatar

    Well… unlike with other road cars, the large wheels here serve a different purpose. Normally, with road cars, you put on bigger wheels to make way for bigger brakes. Here, the large diameter, narrow wheels are there simply to give a long and narrow contact patch for less rolling resistance.

  • avatar

    I quite like it a lot. Well, except for the headlights cribbed from a new MINI.

    It seems like it might work, if only for what everyone else has already said: a business model that isn’t ludicrously ambitious.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    But why whitewall tires??

  • avatar

    Let’s just hope they don’t do a GM – show off a sporty, cool-looking prototype and then a year later pull the sheet off something that looks like a warmed-over Cobalt.

  • avatar

    It’s ugly. Redesign the nose to the leading edge of the front wheel well and do SOMETHING with the rear wheel well. Then ditch the whitewalls.

    I like the interior.

    Adjust the shape, keep the price down, and I’ll be interested.

  • avatar

    The nose reminds me of a Karmann Ghia. Nice work.

    Oh and the brakes are plenty big enough, considering the thing only weighs 800kg.

  • avatar

    Gattaca was cool.

  • avatar

    I had heard of this before; I love the design, and admission that it’s creators don’t intend to save the world with it.

    @Paul Niedermeyer: I fail to see why anything shouldn’t have whitewalls.

  • avatar

    My issue is with the size of the brakes; you’ve got these huge wheels then if you look real close you can see the (tiny) brake rotors.

    Probably no need for big rotors. Electric motors are effective brakes that recharge the battery while at it.

  • avatar

    Somehow, the whitewalls work for me – another quirk on a quirky ride.

    Does that cool rear window lift up? (a’la 4th gen Camaro).

    I keep telling myself that in a few short years, we’ll have lots of cool, weird and high-tech cars to shop for – hope that’s the case.

  • avatar

    And then I remembered a movie I hadn’t thought of in a decade, and it struck me: this doesn’t seem like 2009, this is more like Gattaca.

    Gattica wasn’t the movie that came to mind when I saw the lead photo (the profile shot). The first thing that popped in my head was Back to the Future 3, where they’ve put wagon wheels on the Delorean.

  • avatar

    I like the wacky looks. At the same time I find huge wheels and tiny brakes look too weird. They should install 17-inch brakes, and then it would look much better.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Thanks everybody, for the kind words, and for the interesting questions.

    My approach was to write a subjective review that betrays my positive emotions about the Mindset’s concept; I’m glad most everybody understood I’m not saying this is *the* definitive car of the future.

    In a way, is right: there’s no guaranteeing that this car will ever be market-ready and that it will hold its promise. Mindset might run out of money. Or the car might turn out to be overweight once all crash test criteria are fulfilled. Or EVs as such might be a cul de sac. But I think I made it obvious enough that this car is no more than a prototype, and anybody knows there is a big difference between a mule and a horse.

    Re crash resistence, I think an aluminum space frame is a good approach for a smallish series.

    Re battery capacity, the testing event ran for several hours and yet I saw no evidence of nervousness among the Mindset people. Which doesn’t mean very much, I know. Official range is 100-200 km; rating according to ECE is 180KM.

    They plan to offer a range extender too. Loading time is 1-5 hours, depending on the employed loading device. Battery capacity is 20 kWh. The electric motor is a HSM (synchronous hybrid) made by Brusa.

    David — I’m a lousy racer, but at least I’ll be holding the handycam when Capt Mike, TTAC’s own Samir Syed and me hit the Nurburgring on July 6. If I survive Capt Mike’s Porsche-antics, I’ll post here.

  • avatar

    22s with whitewalls… that’s balls.

  • avatar
    John Holt

    “Forward looking” it may be, but it sure is fugly.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Count me another Gattaca fan. The DS and P6 remain two of the most gorgeous sedans ever built. What modern sedan can compare?

  • avatar

    Did anyone checked their site? They advertise it as a hybrid with on – board generator, seems very similar to Volt and not a pure EV. Love the design too, it’s quirky, but works, like some sort of Citroen.

    And yeah, Gattaca is one of the best movies out there!

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I received a call from Mindset, it seems I got the center of gravity wrong: it’s around 50 cm, not 70 cm. All the better! And the drag coefficient data is wrong/preliminary, I shouldn’t have mentioned it. My apologies to Mr Hartmann.

  • avatar

    But why whitewall tires??

    They’re going to cruise the Miracle Mile?

  • avatar

    A factory Donk? FFS. Lose the stupid wheels & whitewalls. Drop it about 3 inches, and then we’ll talk.

  • avatar

    Whitewalls are more visible from the side at night. My Honda is dark green, and I put white reflective tape on the hubcaps, and on the black plastic strip that runs along the side.

  • avatar

    I like the car, the rear wheel looks a bit cartoonish or like the 1st pic is a rendering.

    I don’t agree so much with the iPod interior, but somehow, I also dig it.

    The car reminds me a 55 Chevy Nomad, even the dashboard looks like the one on a tri-five Chevy.

  • avatar

    what a cool lookin ride!

  • avatar

    We could do worse. I like the concept. But what happens when you high center the beast and come to rest on the battery pack? ..smoke…sparks…china syndrome??

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