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National electric in 1952, the Pegaso Z-601

Today the transition to electric dominates the entire automotive industry from top to bottom. However, electrification tests have been taking place for decades even in our country. Proof of this is the Pegaso Z-601 from 1952. A prototype electric truck product of an economic context as complex as that of post-war Spain.

In 1989 Pegaso conceived the Solo. A truck as a technological showcase designed by Francisco Podadera. Defined by its innovative appearance, the cabin design presented a clean and uniform appearance. Characteristics reaffirmed by the aerodynamics of its lenticular hubcaps as well as by the sliding doors or the integrated steering wheel. Solutions that gave this model the point of daring and daring necessary in any automobile test. However, the Solo never made it into series. Far from it, it was like a eye-catching statement of intent that even today is still the one that for many was the most futuristic model in the history of Pegaso.

However, the truth is that this statement could only be accepted when speaking of aesthetics. After all, there was no mechanical revolution behind Podadera's design. A very different event from what happened to him Pegaso Z-601 from 1952. Based on the popular Pegaso I "Cheeks”, But equipped with electric motors decades before the debate on the end of combustion as we now know it was presented. A whole display of unintentional futurism that, moreover, has its roots in a company that predates ENASA itself and its foundation by the National Institute of Industry in 1946.

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Francisco Podadera with the Pegaso / IVECO Solo

We refer to Vehicles Eléctricos Autarquía SA Business initiative by shares founded in 1943 under the direction of the military engineer Guillermo Menéndez. Beneficiary of several patents related to electric motors adapted to the automotive industry. Who designed and manufactured various models on their own chassis or those of Ford origin in order to be buses, vans or trucks. A really not crazy idea, since the limitations of the moment imposed very severe restrictions on the use of gasoline. After all, this situation appears even in the very name of the company.

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One of the models of Vehicles Eléctricos SA

An explicit reference to the economic system of that time. Partly chosen by the ultra-nationalist influence of the Falange, but above all imposed by the international context in which the Franco dictatorship found itself during the XNUMXs. First an ally of the Third Reich and then isolated for years until its alliance with the US against the Soviet Union returned it to global markets. A period of energy shortage that put on the table the importance of oil as an element of political pressure. Thus, everything was paved for the appearance of the Z-601. The electric Pegasus.

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PEGASO Z-601, IN THE SCOPE OF GUILLERMO MENÉNDEZ

When Guillermo Menéndez founded Vehicles Eléctricos Autarquía in Barcelona, ​​Spain was in the midst of the post-war period. A really difficult time. Not only because of the considerable demographic damage inflicted during the three years of war and subsequent exile, but also because of the persistent destruction of infrastructure and industrial endowments. Thus, During the XNUMXs, Spain experienced one of the most desperate moments in its entire economic history.. Also aggravated by a political regime closed to the outside world. Which only had Perón's Argentina as the only international ally until its repositioning at the beginning of the Cold War.

All this contributed to a significant shortage of resources, among which oil stood out. One of the most unknown elements but at the same time most important in the evolution of the Second World War, which arrived with a dropper in the autarkic Spain of the first Francoism. Perfect context to make a virtue of necessity developing electric vehicles as in France had done Peugeot with the VLV. However, the change of decade brought greater fluidity to the import of hydrocarbons. Situation that left the electric companies in the ditch due to the technical limitations that continued and to a large extent continue to have.

In fact, although Vehicles Eléctricos Autarquía was not dissolved until 1955, Guillermo Menéndez joined ENASA in 1951 to become responsible for electrical services. A career change that curiously coincides with the launch of the electric Pegaso, the Z-601, just a year later. Conceived on the chassis of a diesel Mufflers -model from 1949- but with a change in the cabin that reveals the fact that combustion has been left behind: the absence of the 13-blade grill necessary to ventilate its large six-cylinder engine.

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Pegaso and its trucks were key in the economic reconstruction of the country

ELECTRIC PEGASUS, FLEECE LIKE LIGHTNING

The Pegasus I "Cheeks”Of 1946 was the first ENASA truck. Based on the old Hispano-Suiza 66G, its rugged and reliable character earned it to be in production until 1959. Year in which it was definitely replaced by the Barajas. Of course, before selling more than 2.100 units that collaborated in the industrial reconstruction of the country with their PMA of 26.650 kilos. A not inconsiderable figure, as neither were the up to almost 50 liters that the 140CV petrol version could devour every hundred kilometers depending on the driving situation.

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A diesel mufflers -base of the electric Pegaso- and in the background a Barajas

For this reason, a year after the gasoline version appeared, the diesel arrived with more adjusted consumption. However, even driving one of these trucks presented shortage problems. Which is why the Z-601 Electric Pegasus was devised on a trial basis. Obviously, if today the autonomy and recharging of electrics are still problematic, it was even more so for this truck. With the batteries full after an undetermined but surely long cycle of time, this electric Pegaso was capable of covering 75 kilometers at 28 kms / hour maximum. Poor performance compared to its combustion relatives. Even more so if we take into account that even weighing almost three tons more, its PMA remained at 6 tons.

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Profile of the Pegaso Eléctrico in a 1:43 scale reproduction of the Salvat Group. Note the batteries between the axles

That is, while the combustion models could carry almost four times its weight, the electric Pegaso could only carry half of what it delivered empty. Seen like this, you might think that the Z-601 had no sense of purpose or objective advantage. However, in the world of motorsports everything has to be seen within a context and a function. In the case of this electric, its use was foreseen in docks, factories and urban distances. Situations in which autonomy was much less important than ease of use, cleanliness or lack of breakdowns. Advantages with which this electric Pegaso was advertised. United to "Possibility of making large tensile efforts" and "Longer repayment term, not less than 20 years."

All this thanks to its electrical equipment of French origin SOVEL. With five speeds, 14CV of permanent power and 48 lead batteries capable of completing 900 charge and discharge cycles. In addition, and as a sign of the reigning scarcity in those times, Pegaso announced as one of the advantages of the Z-601 the impossible of the “Fuel theft. Non-existent ”. A curious argument that, however, coincided with an improvement in the economic situation and therefore a neglect of these projects more driven by the need of the moment than by the vision of the future. For this reason, this Z-601 electric Pegaso was left in the prototype phase to finally go to scrapping. Yet another among all the pioneers who, decades ago, announced what is now a reality.

Images: Pruning Shear Design / IVECO / Salvat

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Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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