Plug in and Go
There is something very appealing about using a domestic 13-amp plug to refuel your car, instead of having to visit a filling station forecourt – convenience for one thing, cleanliness for another. With zero emissions – at least in the area where you drive, though not around the power station that supplies the energy – electric cars are commendably city-friendly. The snag has been that most are so downright unappealing to drive. As anyone who has been behind the wheel of an ugly little G-Wiz can testify, there is not much fun to be had in driving electric – until now. At last, there exists an electric car that comes tolerably close to providing a reasonably normal driving experience. Produced by the Electric Car Corporation, it is an adaptation of a Citroën C1, with the internal combustion engine removed and an electric motor and battery storage pack installed in its place. The result: a practical, civilised fourseater car with respectable safety credentials, and something that doesn’t resemble transport for Noddy and Big Ears.
Dubbed the C1 ev’ie, it has leisurely, but otherwise normal feeling acceleration, and a top speed of around 60mph. Costing only around 90p in electricity for a full re-charge that takes six hours and gives you a range of about 60 miles, means it is incredibly cheap to run. Not to buy, though. A diesel-engined Citroën C1 starts at £9,895, and a petrol version even less, so the electric C1 ev’ie looks outrageously expensive at nearly double the price. Driving it is a very odd experience initially. Moving off with zero engine noise, and only the thrum of the tyres to accompany you takes a bit of getting used to. You need to keep your wits about you because pedestrians simply don’t hear you coming, and are therefore prone to stepping into the road, right into your path. Apart from a rather leisurely rate of acceleration, the ev’ie behaves pretty much like a standard C1. You just find yourself obsessing over the battery-state gauge, neurotically watching how long you’ve got before the stored energy runs out.
One obvious drawback is the lack of public recharging points, but London Mayor Boris Johnson has already announced plans to introduce 25,000 ‘juice points’ (charging stations), for electric cars throughout the city, and the government has pledged to subsidise drivers who opt to drive electric. How quickly it will catch on remains to be seen, but you’d need to be an extremely determined eco-phile to stump up an extra £7,000 to buy a baby Citroën with much less performance and a fraction of the range of the same car with a diesel engine.
- Engine: 30kW electric motor and
- 25 lithium ion battery pack
- Gearbox: 1-speed automatic
- Max power: 51bhp
- Max speed: 60mph
- 0-62mph: 15.0secs
- Fuel consumption: 60 to 80miles range
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 0g/km
- Insurance group: tba
- Boot space: 139/712 litres