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Eric Shackle Writes: Self-powered Electric Car Is A World First

In a world facing up to climate change and troubled by soaring oil prices more and more plug-in cars are being designed and built, as ace journalist Eric Shackle reveals.

To read more of Eric’s astonishingly varied and invariably entertaining columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/eric_shackle_writes/

A strange-looking vehicle is tipped to attract world attention when it's unveiled at the Paris Motor Show (Oct. 4-9). It's the first solar and electric autonomous car in the history of the automobile, French carmaker Venturi claims.

Dubbed the Eclectic, it's a revolutionary vehicle powered by the sun's rays or, when there's no sun, by a wind turbine (an optional extra).

"Eclectic... opens up a new era in the field of mobility," says Venturi, which plans to market the car next year.

"Reserved for daily driving in urban areas, its low energy consumption makes it the most economical environmental vehicle ever built."

A British filmmaker named Danny, who drives his own electric car in London, shot a news-breaking video http://www.dannyscontentment.net/ showing the Eclectic prototype on a test run in Monte Carlo, the city in which it was built.

Until it's unveiled officially, the Eclectic is still a concept vehicle. It was featured in the movie "Babylon A.D.," where it was seen as a police car of the future.

But there are still problems to be overcome before the car will be allowed on British roads. One critic, Auto IT, commented: "Great video and great to hear that the Eclectic might come to London. Photovoltaics will work in overcast conditions - they just don't generate as much juice. More importantly, the Eclectic will need some mudguards to be legal on UK roads (and to stop the rear passengers getting a faceful of puddle). Doors might be an idea too."

Electric cars are making more impact in Europe and Asia than in America and Australia, where few people have even seen one. The latest electric cars have lighter batteries and greater range than previous models, a trend that is sure to continue.

In the US, General Motors' keenly-awaited Chevrolet Volt, "a new plug-in electric car that could save a struggling GM" to quote Time magazine http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1841374,00.html?imw=Y will not be available until the end of 2010.

Australia expects to have its first plug-in electric car by the end of next year, when Mitsubishi intends marketing its baby i MiEV in that country.

Electric cars are no novelty on the roads of India, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Germany, Norway, the UK and other countries where they are made.

India is turning out thousands of electric cars, including the Tara Tiny, http://specials.rediff.com/money/2008/mar/17tara1.htm "the world's cheapest car," that sells for just under one lakh (100,000 rupees, or US$2,146).

Ten electric cars already on the market are illustrated and described here. http://chisblassternardone.blogspot.com/2008/09/10-electric-cars-you-can-buy-today.html

In South Korea, CT&T http://www.ctnt.co.kr/eng/ exports electric vehicles to Canada , USA, Indonesia and China. Millions of TV viewers worldwide saw the Korean cars in use at the Beijing Olympics.

CT&T is about to build a large plant in Fiji, http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/news/stories/200807/s2300794.htm?tab=pacific for the local market and for possible export to Australia and New Zealand.

The giant South Korean firm Hyundai plans to launch its first LPG/electric vehicle http://www.physorg.com/news134846723.html next July, and is thinking of marketing it in China and Australia.

In India, the G-Wiz is manufactured by the Reva Electric Car Company http://www.revaindia.com/ Reva was formed in 1995 to manufacture environmentally friendly, cost effective electric city cars. Designed in California, the car was developed and tested in India and launched there in May 2001.

The car is designed as a nimble, no-frills electric vehicle for non-polluting urban travel. It can carry two adults and two small children, and is designed for inner city use.

GoinGreen http://www.goingreen.co.uk/store began importing the car into the UK in 2003 and has since sold about 1,000 of them.

The latest model -- the G-Wiz i -- has a range of up to 48 miles, a top speed of 50mph, better braking, improved interior and a newly designed crash cell jointly developed with Lotus.

The three-wheeled German-built Twike (the name is a cross between Twin and Bike) is a light electric vehicle for two passengers. Buyers can select an all-electric version, or choose a model with pedals to save electricity, extend the range, and provide exercise for the driver (sometimes called the pilot).

"The combination of muscle power and electric motor, together with the joystick steering, imparts a completely new driving experience," says the Twike Web site. http://www.twike.com/

Dr. Andreas Schroer, in charge of the company's UK sales division, says: "The Twike transports its passengers into a new vehicle dimension. With a maximum range of 90 miles per charge and a top speed of 53mph a Twike easily meets your daily needs."

"At the same time the Twike is 10 times more efficient than a normal car. The futuristic joystick steering is easy and fun to use. The optional pedal drive adds to the fun and fitness of the passengers and saves even more energy."

Twikes were first made in Switzerland in 1996. Two years later, the FINE Mobile GmbH launched the German production line and finally became the exclusive producer.

London electric car owners don't have to worry about the soaring cost of liquid fuel., since they don't have to pay road tax or the London congestion charge of eight pounds a day - all-electric cars produce no carbon emissions.

Many UK councils also offer free parking for electric car users. In parts of Central London electric vehicles can park for free, and some places even offer free charging. EDF Energy is installing 250 on-street charging points nationally.

You can see many of the latest electric cars by visiting GreenMotor.co.uk http://www.greenmotor.co.uk/search/label/electric%20cars and Channel 4's Top10. http://www.channel4.com/4car/gl/gallery/feature/24420/

Skeptics and conspiracy believers ask "Who killed the electric car?" in this now well-known video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsJAlrYjGz8


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