Driving stealthEthical Transport News & Features
Like a lot of men — and women — I like cars. I don’t own one at present and am happy with my City Car Club membership, but I may need to buy one next year. My check list is simple: it has to look good and it has to be electric.
Tesla Model S
So let’s start with the Tesla S. It’s fully electric, has a rapid one-hour charge time and gets from 0-60 in around 4 seconds. On the outside it’s nearly as sexy as an Aston and the interior’s beautiful, with a full touchscreen display that’s bigger than an iPad and connects to the internet. But more importantly, this car’s a great drive. On the downside, prices start at around £60k and the one I borrowed, the P85+, costs closer to £100k. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful car with a 300-mile range on a full charge. Genius.
With the government schemes, company tax benefits, congestion charge exemption and no gas tank, for me this car absolutely rocks!
For full spec and pricing, visit teslamotors.com.
Now I think I may have got my quest back to front — or have I? Next was the Vauxhall Ampera, an extended range vehicle. This means that when the 60-mile battery range runs out, the petrol kicks in and you can go for another 240 miles without filling up. You can charge the Ampera overnight (for eight hours) at home.
The accelerator’s nice and responsive and, while the touchscreen may not be as thrilling as the one in the Tesla Model S, the rest of the four-seater interior is great — provided the questionable graphics on the door panels are optional.
You get the same tax benefits and congestion charge exemption, and for around £35k this is a great car. My friend Oliver Heath has had one for ages, and here’s what he had to say about it.
‘I’m full of admiration for my extended range electric Vauxhall Ampera — a transitional car for transitional times. Until we have affordable long-range batteries and a charging network equivalent to that of our traditional fuel infrastructure, we need reassurances that our travel needs will be met.
‘With 95% of my journeys being under 40 miles, the Ampera has reduced our reliance on petrol massively, saving money and time at the petrol station. Instead, we power up from photovolatic panels on the roof of our home — to drive smoothly and silently through town and countryside.
‘Acceleration and braking style feedback (in real time and at the end of each journey) helps me to improve safety and the efficiency of my journey, and keeps me away from the petrol station. If all that isn’t enough, it’s a sleek, sexily designed aerodynamic ride. Right now I couldn’t ask for more.’
As you can probably tell, Oliver had a far better eduction than I did — but I think we’re saying the same thing. However, we do now have the long-range Tesla batteries — and, personally, I would ask for more.
For full spec and pricing, visit vauxhall.co.uk.
Last but definitely not least is the new Nissan Leaf. It’s fully electric with an 80-mile range and, again, an overnight charge was easy for me at home. Alternatively there are loads of charging points around if you want to own a piece of what will inevitably be the future of driving.
I found the last Leaf design horrible, but this new sleek and sexy thing works for me. The interior is pleasing to the eye and touch — and for a fraction of the cost of my beloved Tesla, I would have one of these any day of the week.
When a BMW driver cut me up, I chased him down and then proceeded to leave him standing at the next set of lights! I was 21 miles from home with 20 miles left from my charge; if I hadn’t made it back I’d be too humiliated to be able to recommend this car. Priced at around £20k, we’ll be seeing more and more of these great vehicles on the road. Happy days!
For full spec and pricing, visit nissan.co.uk.
Go green and be proud you’re doing more than all the gas-guzzlers out there.