Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Hammond

WATCHING the ups and downs of the electric car world is fascinating. So far, my predictions seem to be about right.

Let's look at Renault: a few years ago we drove the electric version of the Kangoo van. Quiet, nippy and perfectly practical.

As we said at the time, electric delivery vans make sense because it is possible to predict almost to the mile how far you will need to drive them in any one day.

Then last year we drove the wacky Twizy. Not very practical but lots of fun and not too expensive to buy.

WORST The main thing about the little two seater is that you'd never be tempted to do anything overly ambitious like go on holiday in it.

It doesn't, in other words, try to be anything it can't be. Like a practical family car for example.

We've also driven the Renault Fluence, a largish family car that is one of the worst cars I've driven in years.

Because it wasn't designed from the ground up as an electric car the batteries have ended up being stored so high that the car has a raised centre of gravity and therefore handles like a wheelbarrow.

All the above is reflected in the sales figures: the Kangoo has sold 279 units, the Twizy 252 and the Fluence 64 - which is 64 more than it should have done. Pretty poor figures, but the electric vehicle that Renault might shift in reasonable numbers is the Zoe.

Why? Because for one thing the Zoe is not ridiculously expensive. The cheapest model is the PS13,650 entry-level Expression. That's after the government PS5,000 grant has been deducted from the total.

What's not included is the cost of leasing the batteries, for which owners will have to put aside PS70 per month. …