October 16th, 2012
03:54 AM GMT
Editor's note: The Outlook series spotlights a country to give a deeper understanding of the business, industry and consumer trends that fuel its economy. While exploring the current challenges and opportunities facing a country's economic progress, Outlook also seeks to provide an insight into its future development.
The Pastor family have been in Monaco for a century and over the years have helped develop a significant chunk of it. Nowadays as well as seeing the family name on bill boards and building sites you also have to look out for the far from conventional figure of Gildo Pastor who can occasionally be found hurtling round the principality's cobbled streets on his customized skate board.
With interests in property development, media and even a brewery, Pastor's is not your normal business portfolio. But it is a lifelong passion for cars that has increasingly become the focus of his attention.
A racing driver of no little skill - he still holds the world record for fastest speed on ice - Pastor has translated his love of all things fast and fabulous into one of Monaco's flagship businesses, Venturi – which makes electric powered vehicles.
"Twelve years ago when I bought Venturi the company wasn't doing well. I arrived and told everyone the future was going to be innovation,” Pastor told CNN.
“It was a big trauma to them when they realized they were going to produce electric cars. I have to say when the first car was shown to the press in 2004 it was going to be a shock. Can you imagine an electric sports car? It sounds very normal today but at the time these were two words that were not matching – sports and electric."
Since those early days the company has produced a series of electric powered vehicles for a variety of different markets. There are delivery vehicles, eco-vehicles to be used in Africa and even something being developed for scientists who work in freezing conditions.
Pastor believes that the physical constraints imposed by being based in a small place like Monaco means that his company will never be like GM or Toyota but insists it can forge an international reputation through innovation and technology.
The designer of one of Venturi’s models, the America, is Sacha Lakic.
"Designing a car I would never do anything by myself,” he told CNN at this year’s Paris Motor Show. “I'm working with engineers, marketing, people who do ergonomics. I have to make all this work together because the very first thing people will see is not the ergonomics or how the engine is working, it's the design and the overall styling of the car. I want Venturi cars to look like modern, sexy, exciting cars to drive."
Venturi are unlikely to produce more than 100 models. And while Pastor is ambitious for both his company and his country he is aware that for the time being at least, small is beautiful.
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