The price isn’t right

With­out gov­ern­ment in­cen­tives, Aus­tralians won’t see some of the world’s clean­est cars

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - KARLA PIN­COTT­cott@cars­

GREEN talk is cheap, but elec­tric ve­hi­cles are still too ex­pen­sive for Aus­tralia, says the lo­cal arm of Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes spokesman David Mc­Carthy says the maker would love to bring in some of the elec­tric cars that starred at the re­cent Miche­lin Chal­lenge Biben­dum in Ber­lin – but would get no gov­ern­ment help. Price is the main bar­rier to bring­ing the cars here,’’ he says.

Most coun­tries where elec­tric ve­hi­cles are sold have a pur­chase in­cen­tive, and there’s no sign of that hap­pen­ing here.

Per­haps some of the tax taken on lux­ury cars and GST on ev­ery ve­hi­cle should be put back on the ta­ble to get peo­ple to change. Other­wise all the gov­ern­ment talk of be­ing green is cheap, while elec­tric cars still aren’t.’’

The Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell at Chal­lenge Biben­dum is a solid ar­gu­ment for en­cour­ag­ing the tech­nol­ogy.

Who would have thought a de­liv­ery van could be ex­cit­ing? A drive of the elec­tric work­horse got us all glowing with the prospect of re­plac­ing a city’s herd of CO -belch­ing light haulers with al­ter­na­tives that use no fuel and have no emis­sions.

A Mercedes en­gi­neer at Biben­dum told Cars­guide a right-hand drive ver­sion would fol­low the fleet of left-hand drive ve­hi­cles rolling out in Europe.

Op­er­a­tors would ap­pre­ci­ate the low load floor, any owner would wel­come the mi­nus­cule fuel bill and the driver com­forts would make the city cir­cuit bear­able.

But the Vito wasn’t the only sen­si­ble star at the world’s lead­ing green car fest, which ran the full range from real-world to re­ally weird. Among the 300-plus ve­hi­cles at the Chal­lenge Biben­dum were sev­eral that would work well in Aus­tralia.

Prime can­di­dates in­cluded Peu­geot’s lit­tle elec­tric i0n city car with its 150km range and the 308 sedan us­ing new e-HDi diesel hy­brid tech­nol­ogy, shared with the sib­ling Citroen C-Zero.

And Volvo is lit­er­ally plug­ging away, with the elec­tric C30 and plug-in hy­brid V60 look­ing like sen­si­ble ur­ban so­lu­tions.

Among the cu­riosi­ties was the Elemo SAM, a flimsy elec­tric three­wheeler in which the driver and pas­sen­ger sit in tan­dem. For the un­lucky rear-seater, this means a con­tor­tion to get into the SAM and then hav­ing the front seat slid back be­tween your splayed legs. Women with skirts need not ap­ply and even those with pants could find it con­fronting.

Among the in­sect-like in­ven­tions that are slowly build­ing colonies in Euro­pean are the Twike, which is both twee and ter­ri­fy­ing. The Taz­zari Zero is a car­toon-like ur­ban EV’’. And the un­manned Ligier mini peo­ple-mover is a glimpse into the hor­ror of a world where the driver no longer even ex­ists.

Clean scene: The Vito E-Cell de­liv­ery van; (be­low) Ligier’s driver­less peo­ple­mover

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