Electric Car Guide
You may have noticed that the world is going electric car mad, but if
you want to buy one, it’s not that easy; here’s our guide to the top ten choices that are either here now or coming soon. Despite lots of media announcements about various electric cars, there are only a handful that you can buy today. If you’re looking at buying one in the next year or two, the choice will get better. So here’s what you can buy now, and what’s coming in the near future.
01 ECC C1 ev’ie
The C1 ev’ie is based on a mainstream four-seater hatchback production car and you can buy it now. ECC (the Electric Car Company) takes a brand new Citroen C1, removes the engine, and replaces it with an electric motor and batteries. All the crash test credentials remain, along with the Citroen interior.
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. It’s good to drive but expensive at £18,550.
See our C1 ev’ie road test
Lots of people hate the G-Wiz as much as they hate Simon Cowell but you can’t argue with the success of either of them. There are more than 1000 of the plastic G-Wiz in London, making it the UK’s most prolific electric car. Cheap and nasty it may look and feel, but at £15,795 for the new lithium-ion model it’s certainly not cheap to buy. And that’s despite it being a quadricycle, so it’s not even a real car. It’s been the subject of safety scares in the past, but the latest version is improved.
The new battery technology of the G-Wiz L-ion extends the range to 75 miles. The vehicle can be fully charged in 6 hours from a domestic plug socket and will cost around 90p. Off peak charging cost equates to around 600 mpg equivalent.
If you don’t want to pay for the G-Wiz L-ion, you can still buy the G-Wiz i for £8,495 which has a lead-acid battery pack and a range of around 40 miles. Both versions can only manage 50 mph. Although zero emission at the ‘tailpipe’, emissions including those generated at the power station are claimed to be 63 g/km CO2.
03 Mega City
The Mega City is still a quadricycle like the G-Wiz, but is a step-up both in quality and looks. It’s based on a French vehicle that’s also available as a petrol or diesel. The electric version comes with a lead acid battery and is available as a 2 seater or a 2+2.
All models have a maximum speed of 40mph, a maximum range of 60 miles and a charge time of 5-8 hours. Prices are from £12,064 for the 2 seater, £12,564 for the City 2+2.
04 Tesla Roadster
OK so it’s in a slightly different performance and price bracket from the G-Wiz, but at least it’s an electric car that you can buy today – albeit at £94,000. Based on the Lotus Elise, but with an electric motor rather than a petrol engine, the Tesla Roadster reaches 60mph in 3.9 seconds and goes onto 125mph. It’s rear wheel-drive and mid-engined and drives as well as you’d expect, with phenomenal acceleration, however it’s heavier than an Elise so not as nimble. The Roadster S is even faster – and more expensive at £110,000.
See our road test
Coming in 2010
05 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
The i MiEV exists – we drove one well over a year ago – but it’s still not quite available to buy in the UK yet. However it is due in showrooms in late 2010. There will be a small number of i MiEVs on trial in the UK in the meantime. The i MiEV has four seats and is excellent to drive, with all elements such as steering, suspension and brakes working well. i MiEV’s on the current trial are being leased at a cost of £350 (including VAT) per month. Retail prices for 2010 have not been announced yet.
Coming in 2010?
06 TH!NK City
TH!NK, the Norwegian electric vehicle maker that has been producing EVs since 1991, is hopefully now back on track to bring its urban EV to market. After a history of promises and false starts, including being sold off from Ford, and then exiting court protection earlier this year, production of the TH!NK City is being re-started and the company says it is aiming for a rapid European and global expansion.
The TH!NK City has a 120 mile range and 60 mph performance. The company says it’s one of the few ready-to-market fully electric vehicles available in the world today and is the first vehicle of its type to be granted pan-European regulatory safety approval and CE certification. The Think City is available for sale in some European countries now, but 2010 is the earliest that the UK is likely to see it.
Coming in 2011
07 Nissan Leaf
Nissan claims that its Leaf will be the first family-sized electric hatchback available in the UK. Here at the end of 2011, its range is 100 miles and a full recharge takes eight hours from a normal mains socket. With a 400V supply, the car can be powered up to 80 per cent of its capacity in only half-an-hour.
See our drive of the prototype
Coming in 2011
08 Renault Fluence
Renault is planning to lead the electric vehicle market by bringing four EVs to showrooms, starting in 2011 with the the Fluence family saloon and the two-seater city car based on the Twizy Z.E. Concept. The other cars are a compact hatchback currently known as Zoe, and a Kangoo van. The cars will be recharged using standard charging or fast charging and, unlike partner Nissan, Renault is planning to use quickdrop battery stations, where drivers can swap batteries when they run low in just three minutes.
Coming in 2012
09 Smart fortwo ed
It’s been around as a trial for two years, with 100 cars leased to a very limited audience, but Smart now says it will actually be making the electric fortwo ed (electric drive). The ED can travel up to 72 miles between charges, which typically take around 8 hours for a full charge. It achieves the equivalent of 300 mpg and has an electronically-limited top speed of 60 mph.
Volume series production won’t start until 2012. In the meantime smart is inviting applications for up to 100 users to participate in new ‘electric drive’ research trials across the London South East and West Midlands regions, beginning in 2010. The research will be conducted using second-generation smart ED vehicles with new lithium-ion battery technology for a minimum of 12 months, and leases will be subsidised by public funds.
Not coming at all?
10 MINI E
There’s lots of talk about the MINI E at the moment but it’s just a trial and BMW says it has no plans to bring an electric MINI to market, which is a real shame as it’s a great car to drive, and of course it looks great, inside and out. However you can be sure that BMW will be learning from the trial and when it brings en electric car to market – by 2015 – it will be good. All the volunteers have now been picked for the initial trial, but there’s still a very small chance you could get hold of an electric MINI E for second stage testing if you live in the right area.
See our drive of the MINI E
Feature produced for Ashton Hayes Carbon Neutral Village