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Why a French company is betting this odd electric vehicle will catch on

Meet the Viseo. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)
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Wth the exception of Teslas, cars that rely on alternative sources of energy tend to look a bit goofy. The Toyota Prius has the uncouth styling of a washing machine. The Chevrolet Spark EV looks to be a cousin of a clown car. But no matter how unusual any of these look, none can compare to an electric car that’s now prowling parking lots in France.

That’s Viseo. And the French company behind it isn’t hiding its “uniqueness.” Iris, its maker, describes the Viseo as having “technical peculiarities.”

Its chief quirk — and selling point — is its ability to give the driver a bird’s-eye view of the road. The Viseo can be rolling along at 15 mph and suddenly have its cockpit ascend to a height of 11 feet above the ground.

Iris is catering to security services at shopping centers, airports and theme parks. The thinking is these employees will benefit from the perspective. (And hopefully not be embarrassed to drive it.)

It also hopes to sell to police departments, and homeowners who want someone to peek over their hedges or walls while they’re away on vacation. (Of course, you could probably just give your security guard a way to get inside your starter castle’s walls.)

So far, the response to Viseo has been tepid. A spokesman tells me they’ve sold several. It’s likely that the $50,000 price tag could be a factor in that.

Viseo is next planning a four-wheel drive version of Viseo and hopes to be selling 1,000 Viseos a year by 2020.