The UK market for electric vehicles has suddenly taken a big jump forward, with the early models such as the G-Wiz being joined by a number of models from mainstream motor manufacturers.
These are battery cell vehicles, which are recharged by plugging into the mains electricity, at home, workplace or a public charging station. The cost is only around 1p per mile, making them much more economical than any other kind of fuel. The only downside is that they cost more to purchase initially than cars with the traditional internal combustion engine.
Hybrid technology is the alternative to battery cell power: a combination of petrol and electric. The electric motor drives the car at very low speeds, such as in traffic jams, with the petrol engine taking over when you need more power.
Shown above is the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, which will be on sale from March, at a cost of £23,990. This price includes a £5000 discount funded by the government, to encourage drivers to make the switch to electric vehicles. The Nissan Leaf has a maximum speed of more than 90mph and it can travel up to 100 miles on a full charge.
Other benefits of driving an electric car include zero emissions, fuel economy, free or cheap parking, no Vehicle Exercise Duty and no congestion charge to pay in London.
The Citroen C-Zero shown on the right is also available early this year, and also qualifies for the £5000 government grant. It has a range of 93 miles and promises quick recharging.
Electric vehicles that qualify for the £5000 rebate:
Mitsubishi i-MiEV – available January 2011
Smart fortwo electric drive – available January 2011
Peugeot iOn – available January 2011
Nissan Leaf – available March 2011
Tata Vista – available March 2011
Citroen CZero – available early 2011
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid – available early 2012
Chevrolet Volt – available early 2012
Vauxhall Ampera – available early 2012
If you are wondering why we have a section on electric vehicles in a feature on motoring for disabled drivers and passengers, the simple answer is that environmental change will affect us all – and it is everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to improve the situation.
Depending on model, electric cars may also be easier to drive, and so suit some disabled users better.