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Friday, April 17, 2009

Electric Cars - The Future of Motoring?

The UK news last night was reporting that drivers stand to receive around £5,000 to subsidise the purchase of an electric car as part of a new Government scheme to promote more environmentally friendly driving. The electric cars, with the "G-Wiz" being the electric car of choice in the UK are designed for "urban driving" and run solely on electricity.

Now, I have a few questions:
How much do these matchboxes cars cost?! I am all for going greener, but if I am only using the car for short journeys I don't want it to be at great expense!

Don't get me wrong, I think the idea is fantastic and I can immediately think of a few people I know who don't currently drive, as well as those who do not drive so well.....(prob more of the latter....) who would benefit greatly from having the chance to pootle around to do their few miles to the shops each week. But, if I had £5k+ to spend on a car, the electric car may not be the first car I would think of buying, but this could be due to the inner speed freak I have inside - but that is an altogether different story.

So, looking at these cars, a "G-Wiz" is the model of electric car that has appeared in the UK news this week. They come in 2 versions: The G-Wiz I has a top speed of 51mph and a 48 mile range and costs £7995. The higher spec G-Wiz L-ION has the same top speed of 51mph but a 75 mile range and comes in at £15,795 and has "improved acceleration and handling" according to one website. To recharge the cars there are currently special "pods" around London where you can simply plug your car in to re-charge. One website read states that it takes 8 hrs for a full charge which costs around 50p but you can reach 80% charge in about 2.5 hours.

Considering the mileage-charge ratio, these cars are evidently designed solely for short-hops type inner city travel than long road trips or country driving, as you won't want to be doing overnight battery charging every day. To consider a G-Wiz in London, there are also added government incentives: exemption from the congestion charge zone and greatly reduced car parking in some London boroughs. Bearing in mind how much this can add up to, you begin to think that if the price does not completely put you off, there are definite plus points to owning an electric car.

If I lived in the middle of London and was a car driver, I would consider a G-Wiz if only for the fact it would mean giving less money to the parking department of the local town hall as well as less money in the pocket of the London mayor! Forgive my slightly less than green credentials, but for me, this would be the attraction of an electric car.

If the government was going to give me £5k towards a purchase as well, the G-Wiz immediately becomes even more attractive. I would think it might even tempt people away from public transport and on to the roads too. Rather than coverting current car drivers from petrol to electricity we may find that we would then have more people on the roads in their G-Wiz as depending on your oyster car usage, it may also be on balance cheaper to jump in the car than it is to use public transport! This of course is probably not part of the eco-friendly objective but if you had access to more parking spaces than you had before that were cheaper to use with reduced parking and congestion charge exemption, who would not consider a G-Wiz over the Northern line?

Having looked a little more into the electric car and the G-Wiz I would say that after the initial shock at the price of a car that on appearance looks to be little more than a souped up mobility scooter, I would be a definite potential buyer if I lived in the middle of London. I would also think that a marketing drive aimed at those people who like me, resented the West London extension of the congestion charge zone, seeing it as a clear money making scheme to target the wealthy Kensington contingent, would be a definite winner over the "green" benefits.

I had considered a Smart car at one point when I did live in London but was put off by the bubble-like interiors as well as the cost, so there is no reason the G-Wiz can't also be a contender, and with £5k subsidy I am led to believe that I could have an electric car for £2995.

Overall, not bad at all I say, if the government make it as easy as it sounds. I am sure spec'ing it pink may cost a little more but hey ho...

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