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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The UK's first four-seat, all-electric production car goes on sale

The first all electric family car went on sale in the United Kingdom this weekend. Electric Car Corporation Plc have launched a lithium ion battery powered all electric version of the Citroen C1 called the C1 ev'ie. Unlike the previous largest selling electric vehicle in Britain, the Indian built Reva G-Wiz which was legally classed as a quadricycle, the C1 ev’ie is a proper car, all be it a mini car.

The Citroen C1 ev'ie is assembled in the UK from donor cars supplied with Citroen's blessing. The standard 1.0 liter 60 hp (50 Kw) petrol engine is deleted and replaced with a 30kw electric motor powered by 25 li-ion batteries mounted where the fuel tank used to be. The total pack capacity is not specified but with a range of 60 – 70 miles (96 – 112 km) we'd estimate battery capacity to be approx 16 kWh. ECC believe one of the keys to building a successful electric car is the battery management system (BMS) and they have developed what they describe as a sophisticated BMS that when coupled with regenerative braking can provide much greater range and longer battery life.

The C1 Evie is set up to apply light regenerative braking as soon as you take your foot off the throttle in order to generate the most electricity possible from the regenerative energy system. The standard 5 speed gearbox is retained but is modified to remain permanently in 3 gear. Reverse is taken care of by reversing the electric motor as is the case with most electric vehicles.

A full charge takes 6 hours from a domestic 13 amp socket at a cost of around 90p, which results in a fuel cost of less than 2p per mile. London is one of the most pro-Ev cities in the world with over 300 dedicated EV charging points already installed and plans to introduce over 25,000. Other EV incentives include no road tax, no London congestion charge and free parking on top of the already significant fuel savings of running an electric vehicle.

The vehicles top speed of 60 mph is just short of the speed limit on UK motorways but is more than enough for urban driving. The C1 EV, which is available in both 3 and 5 door versions, comes standard with the usual safety equipment such as ABS, airbag, side impact door protection, crumple zones etc and mod cons such as electric power steering and electric windows. If the price of £16,850 (US $25,100) is too steep ECC are also offering to rent or lease the vehicles.

Given unleaded fuel prices in the UK are currently around £1.00 per litre (US $5.65 US Gallon) even with the petrol C1 getting 43 MPG it still costs around US $0.13 per mile to run compared to $0.02 for the C1 ev'ie it seems clear that the premium over a standard £9495 (US $ 14,100) petrol powered C1 may still make financial sense.

ECC expects to build 500 C1's in the coming 12 months with production volume increasing to between 2,000 to 4,000 in 2010. They have also done a deal to supply cars to UK hire company “Green Motion”

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