OK, so electric cars aren't a panacea for all the ills of car culture, but they are certainly a step in the right direction. They are more efficient than their fossil-fuel powered counterparts, they release no emissions whilst being driven, and they have the potential to be supplied by renewable energy sources. We previously reported here on the launch of an all-electric version of the tiny little Smart car that is already so common in European cities in its petrol-driven version. Anyone hoping to drive the Smart EV anytime soon will have been disappointed by the fact that only 200 of the things are initially going to be released, and then only to commercial fleets. However, there is a glimmer of hope for the rest of us. The Smart website now boasts a section on the Smart EV and there are some tantalising hints that they are planning a release to the general public some time in the future:
Although the smart ev won't be available to the public just yet, it's definitely something we're working on. What's more, towards the end of 2006, some London-based smart owners will be able to try it out as a courtesy car when they bring their current smart in for service. We'll be interested to hear what you think.
Whilst there's no timetable set out for a more general release, the website does have a form to register your interest. Now if enough people were to put their name down to receive updates, perhaps this would send a message to the manufacturers that there is a genuine market out there. We can but hope. As an aside, it's nice to see that Smart will only lease the first batch of cars to companies who agree to buy 100% green power for them: "When we say zero emissions, we really mean it!"
Meanwhile Going Green, the London-based electric car dealership we reported on here, here and here, is looking for owner's of their G-Wiz (or Reva) to act as demonstrators — taking potential customers for a test-drive and sharing their experiences. I quite like the idea of being taken for a test drive by someone who actually owns one of these cars themselves - beats the usual slick sales-drive. Hopefully, as more and more people get first-hand experience of electric vehicles, and they realise that they are a viable alternative to petrol powered cars right now, the pressure will build on manufacturers to make more models available. Let's just hope that as electric cars become a more common sight on our roads, as it looks like they are doing, they replace other cars rather than coaxing people off public transport and/or bicycles.
[Written by: Sami Grover]