"And now let us move on to what happens when you let a bunch of nitwits take charge of the greenhouse gas debate. The G-Wiz."
We think it would be fair to say that Jeremy Clarkson, Britain's most prominent motoring journalist, doesn't like the increasingly popular all-electric G-Wiz. But then Clarkson isn't known for his environmental sensibilities — he was recently in trouble for leaving huge track marks across the Makgadikgadi salt pans in Botswana after driving various off-road vehicles across it whilst filming a TV show, apparently causing damage that is expected to last for decades.
Apparently back from his 'ecotourism' escapades, Clarkson decided to road test the G-Wiz for the Times Newspaper. His review was, unsurprisingly, less than complimentary. After a protracted rant about why science isn't taught properly in schools any more, Jeremy goes on to pick the little EV apart, piece by piece. His main complaint being the size and speed of the thing:
"First things first. It is very small. And it is even smaller than that when you're inside. It is so small in fact that anyone over the age of four will find their left knee is jammed behind the windscreen washer switch, causing to it spray the windscreen constantly as you drive along. Actually, that's not true. You will only spray the windscreen until you get to a right-hand bend which, no matter how slowly you go, and believe me the G-Wiz goes very slowly indeed, will cause you to slide right across the car until you are sitting in the passenger seat. In many ways this is better. Because while you can still easily reach and operate all the controls, other road users will assume you're the passenger, and therefore that the stupid little car is not yours."
From our perspective, the speed of the G-Wiz is hardly an issue, given that it is intended solely as an urban runaround, and wouldn't last five seconds on the motorway anyway. Similarly, we suspect that the size is actually a bonus for many of the growing legion of G-Wiz drivers who need to find a place to park on the crowded streets of London. So while it may not appeal to folks with a taste for petrol-hungry, large cars, like Clarkson, it nevertheless has its place for spacially deprived and environmentally conscious urbanites.
Clarkson does bring up a serious point about the G-Wiz's safety record though, which was also mentioned in our comments section when we last wrote about its increasing popularity. Apparently because the G-Wiz is not technically classed as a car, but a quadracycle, it is not required to pass the usual safety tests that cars are. A recent Top Gear program put it through the rigors of the Euro NCAP safety test and it was found wanting on a number of accounts. This allegation, however, has got the folks at GoinGreen, the London distributor of the G-Wiz, fuming. They have issued a full response to Clarkson's review here, but this is what they had to say about the safety issue:
"The fact is that the G-Wiz is designed and used as a vehicle for congested urban roads. It has an exemplary safety record, with no reported serious injuries in over 20 million customer-driven miles, a record unmatched by most marques. He refered to a Euro NCAP crash test but failed to mention that 60% of the car models available in the UK do not show Euro NCAP ratings - a test designed for cars capable of high speeds and a test for which the G-Wiz as a quadricycle is neither designed for nor required to take."
Finally, Clarkson also weighed into the age-old 'electricity is made in power stations' argument, though unsurprisingly failed to offer any detailed analysis of what that actually means for electric vehicles. He didn't discuss the relative emissions of an electric vehicle charged from the conventional grid versus an internal combustion engine, nor did he discuss the fact that the majority of G-Wiz owners choose a green tariff to power their vehicle. For anyone wanting to look at the emissions implications of powering vehicles from grid supplied electricity, you could do a lot worse than check out this thread over at our forums.
Image courtesy of LiteGreen.com