Model of the car: Lepoix Ding, 1975

The French-born industrial designer Louis Lepoix was probably best known for his commercial vehicles and household products through his consultancy Form Technic International. 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.

1975 Lepoix Ding
It almost defies description, but the Lepoix Ding, with its battery power, really could be driven—by someone standing at the back using a tiller.

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.

“The author can only express his regret that the public was not ready for such a prodigy as the Lepoix Ding.”

Chris Rees In His Book Microcar Mania, 1995

Specification: model of the car Lepoix Ding

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