Italian Styling for Electric City Runabout
By Andy Bannister
Electric city cars up to now have mainly been fairly nasty little devices which look like they’ve been cobbled together in a dark shed with no regard for what the hapless driver will look like behind the wheel.
Things are set to be shaken up a bit in London, world sales capital for these odd vehicles, with the launch of the little MyCar, styled by the legendary Italian stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro, and built in Hong Kong.
Making its debut at this week‘s British International Motor Show, it is imported by NICE Car Company, who already successfully selling an electric vehicle based on a French Aixam microcar.
The MyCar name is pretty horrible – it sounds like it should be in a kids’ TV commercial driven by Barbie. Given the diminutive size and shape of the car it’s true that, sprayed pink, it looks like it could still fulfil that function. Equally, in most of its palette of bright colours it would look nicely at home on a golf course or theme park.
What city buyers will get is a two-seater that runs exclusively on electricity. It has a top speed of 40mph and a range of around 40 miles in normal urban driving, which should be enough for the short distances most cars in the British capital drive.
Running costs vary depending upon when and where you recharge it, but it is possible to run it for as little as two pence (four US cents) per mile.
In London, one of the most taxed cities on earth, the MyCar will be exempt from the infamous daily London Congestion Charge, which is why electric cars are such big business in the capital but almost unknown in the rest of the UK.
Other benefits include parking concessions and no road tax, as the MyCar doesn’t emit any CO2 when it’s driving.The MyCar does, however, need an overnight recharge of up to eight hours using mains electricity, so obviously these vehicles aren’t as entirely carbon neutral as is sometimes made out.
Electric cars are not cheap to buy, and the MyCar will be no exception. Prices for the standard model will start of £9,000 ($18,000). Even in rip-off Britain that is over half as much again as a perfectly decent, if basic, “proper” hatchback from a mainstream manufacturer.
Options for the MyCar include seven colour choices, 15-inch alloy wheels, a glass or removable fibreglass roof, a leather interior and even cooled and heated seats, which could push the price of a loaded model into heady territory.
Still, if it ousts the hideous little Indian-built G-Wiz from its spot as the top-selling electric car in London that would be a price worth paying.
NICE, founded in 2006 and a company with big ambitions, is also showing the Ze-0 hatch, described as “the world’s first affordable, 5 seat, five-door electric car”. The Chinese-made Ze-0, is said to bring all the benefits of electric motoring without compromising safety, specification or styling, and will cost from £14,000 ($28,000) when it goes on sale later in the year.
The company is also toying with importing an electric version of the Fiat 500 and is currently gauging interest from would-be punters on its Motor Show stand, as the car is unlikely to come cheap. More prosaically, it also offers electric scooters and various converted electric Fiat and Piaggio commercial vehicles.
Meanwhile, the competition is hotting up for NICE, with Norway’s Think also launching its electric car in the UK at the London Motor Show.
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