Your eyes may well be mistaken: although the slender rear quarters of the Peugeot EX1 concept may suggest the vehicle has but three wheels, the electric concept car, which will debut at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, actually uses four.
At first glimpse, the EX1 appears to be simply an update of the three-wheeled 20Cup concept, which wooed crowds at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, but take a close look at that rear axle. Although the carbon-fiber body tapers to an extremely narrow track, Peugeot's fitted two rear wheels, firmly establishing the EX1 as an automobile -- at least in the eyes of most regulatory bodies.
Still, it's easy enough to see how the EX1 blurs the line between sport compact and sport bike. Apart from a pair of rear-hinged doors, both driver and passenger are completely open to the surrounding world. Don't look for protection from either a windshield or a top; seeing as there are none to be found on this concept, you'd best bring a full-face helmet (preferably not the Mega Man-esque design shown here) and proper rain gear along for the ride.
Up front, the EX1 showcases a nose inspired in part by Peugeot's latest design language, albeit it is pushed to a new extreme. A wide, flat hood helps emphasize the car's wild proportions, while the slender LED headlamps echo the leading edges of the front fenders. Interestingly, designers chose to skip a grille insert, leaving a pair of cooling fans relatively exposed.
Unlike the 20Cup, which utilized a hopped-up 170-horsepower I-4, the EX1 is a pure electric vehicle. Peugeot has yet to release any extensive details on the eco-friendly powertrain, but notes the EX1 makes use of two electric motors -- one at each axle -- that produce a combined 345 horsepower. Reportedly, the EX1 can exert more than 1G on its occupants during acceleration, and the car has reportedly broken an FIA record for standing-start acceleration for electric vehicles.
So, is a small, open-wheel, trike-like appliance in Peugeot's future plans? Not likely. In fact, the accompanying release notes the EX1 was built to commemorate the launch of the Peugeot iOn EV (a badge-engineered Mitsubishi i-MiEV), along with the company's 200th anniversary. Disappointing, perhaps, but it's certainly a better way to celebrate a birthday than the obligatory piece of cake...