No champagne, no speeches but mud, stones, rain and, above all, armoured vehicles: welcome to the traditional “after” organised by Renault Trucks Defense on the Monday following the end of the Eurosatory land, airland and security show in Paris which ended on 17 June. The principle of the affair is simple: for a few hours, RTD allows a handful of journalists to actually drive around in its vehicles. This year RTD had taken out a VAB Mk3, a Sherpa Light, a Dagger, a Bastion, and, for the first time, the VAB Mk3 ELECTER demonstrator unveiled at the show.
The backdrop was the Frileuse Camp in Beynes (north-west of Paris), the headquarters of the V/1 group of the mobile gendarmerie mobile and the training and instruction centre of the renowned gendarmerie special force, the GIGN. Gravel pits, narrow and muddy unpaved roads, ruts that were so deep they seemed impossible to cross… each “ride” not only shook us about about but also allowed us to appreciate the capabilities of each vehicle (and the skill of the drivers) when it came to crossing ditches, speed, road handling, etc.
The VAB Mk3 ELECTER, equipped with parallel hybrid propulsion inspired by those that power Volvo buses, was logically the centre of attention. The demonstrator is impressive because once its electric engine is switched on the vehicle becomes almost silent. It can run for 13km in this silent, stealth mode and allows the crew to talk quietly about their mission without the need to raise their voices over the roar of an engine.
In hybrid mode, the 230 Hp (170 kW) of the electric propulsion is instantly added to the 340 Hp of the diesel engine allowing the vehicle to handle the most serious obstacles. Having seen it in action I can attest that in hybrid mode the ELECTER handled a 40% slope without any problem at all. Finally, another essential aspect is that the VAB Mk3 ELECTER is equipped with a 70 kW generator that can supply electricity for a platoon, thus putting an end to the need for towing a cumbersome and vulnerable generator.