Model/Engine size: C1 ev’ie VT 3 door
Fuel economy combined: N/A
The ECC C1 ev’ie is a Citroen C1 with the petrol engine removed and replaced with an electric motor, and it’s available now, so it’s the first proper four-seat electric car available in the UK.
It also drives well. The city car feeling of the C1 is still present. And unlike some other electric competitors, it even has the interior of a normal car.
The driving experience is as you would expect from the increasing range of electric cars and electric prototypes. It’s easy to drive, with just one forward gear and no clutch. It’s quiet, and acceleration is good.
Again like most electric cars that are coming our way, when you lift off the accelerator, regenerative braking kicks in to assist with an increased range. This feels different from a conventional car of today, but this feeling is nowhere near as strong as in the MINI E .
Critically, the ev’ie feels very well put together. Although it’s almost a ‘real’ car, after it has left the Citroen factory, the engine and ancillaries have been whipped out, and an electric motor has been inserted. So the result could feel like a badly put-together kit car, but thankfully it doesn’t.
ECC (the Electric Car Corporation) is the first to take a mainstream model and convert it to electric. Assembled in the UK, ECC removes the engine and fuel tank and replaces them with a 51 bhp electric motor and advanced lithium-ion batteries. They’ve managed to fit everything into the space left by the components that they remove so there is no loss of practicality – you still have four seats and a boot.
The weight gain is relatively small at about 100 Kg more than the petrol version, and the same as the diesel. The top speed is a good 60 mph; the range is more of an issue at 60-70 miles. The batteries are expected to last around 7 years in normal usage and take about 6-7 hours to charge from a standard socket from empty to full.
A full overnight charge should cost less than £1, which is not bad for up to 60 miles of driving. This is equivalent to around 300mpg. The secret to electric cars is the battery management system, and ECC claims it has an effective and efficient system.
And of course if you’re in London, where most electric cars of this type will be used, you’ll be exempt from the congestion charge, and free parking is even on offer in many areas. You’ll be exempt from road tax wherever you live, and the ev’ie should enjoy low insurance.
There are currently more than 300 recharging points in London, and this is forecast to grow significantly. ECC can even provide you with your own recharging post, and they claim this is at a much lower price than competitors.
By using a mainstream model as the base, ECC benefits from the build quality of the C1 – and the same levels of safety, which is obviously much better than that of quadricycles such as the G Wiz . You get a four-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, along with airbags, central locking and a stereo.
The car even comes with a standard three-year Citroen warranty, with separate cover provided by ECC for the electric bits. Citroen will even sell you the car through some of its dealers. ECC will sell, rent, or lease you a car from their Mayfair HQ.
The downside is that you can compare directly between the cost of the standard model and the electric, and the difference is significant. Paying £18,550 for a C1 with a 70 mile range requires a certain mindset. This is around £9000 more than a standard Citroen C1. You do at least get a choice of specifications, with three and five doors available in VT and VTR trims.
If you want an electric city car, the ev’ie takes advantage of a mainstream donor car and doesn’t lose any of the practicality of the standard model thanks to clever packaging.
However the key advantage of the ev’ie is that you can buy one now, which at the moment is unique for a mainstream model with electric power. It’s a shame the government grants of between £2000-£5000 towards an electric car are not yet available, as this would make the purchase much more attractive.
Fuel economy extra urban: N/A
Fuel economy urban: N/A
CO2 emissions: Very low/potentially zero*
Green rating: VED band A – £0 a year
Weight: 890 Kg
Company car tax liability (2009/10): 9%
Price: From £18,550
Power: 51 bhp
Max speed: 60 mph
0-62 mph: N/A