Elec­tric cars given boost from £5,000 Govern­ment sweet­ner

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - NEWS -

MY note last week on the cel­e­bra­tions next year to mark the 50th an­niver­sary of the Re­nault 4 – the best-sell­ing French car of all time and the world num­ber three of ob­so­lete mod­els – brought re­flec­tions from a French cof­fee re­tailer work­ing in York­shire.

Pa­trick Joseph wrote: “I al­ways read your ar­ti­cles with the Satur­day’s

with great in­ter­est, but I re­ally en­joyed read­ing to­day’s Re­nault 4L ar­ti­cle.

“Fun­nily enough I was telling some­one yes­ter­day I wouldn’t mind pick­ing up one of those, or per­haps a more ex­pen­sive CV. As a French­man in Leeds, hav­ing been raised around a gen­uine old 2CV, owned a Citroën DS, driv­ing sev­eral 4Ls while study­ing agri­cul­ture in Brit­tany, I have an emo­tional in­ter­est in all these old French clas­sics,” writes Pa­trick, who runs www. lecafeshop.co.uk

“My mum’s from Tarbes, and I lived there from 7 to 12, then moved to Ile de France, be­fore study­ing in Brit­tany for three years.

“My last stint in France was in Ville­franche sur Saone, just north of Lyon. Are you French?”

Sacre bleu, Pa­trick, but I am in­ter­ested in old French cars and have owned a cou­ple of Dyanes, a 2CV and the rearengined four-door Re­nault 4CV which pre­ceded the Re­nault 4.

The lat­ter was de­liv­ered to me by some friends liv­ing in the Cor­bieres, as the re­sult of a wine-loaded con­ver­sa­tion in a res­tau­rant in Tuchan.

I al­ways sus­pected they saw it as a free way of get­ting “home” for a week or so, as I paid all the costs.

The car was brush painted in yel­low with some blue on the face. Not what I’d en­vis­aged at all.

Vaux­hall says its Am­pera Ex­tended-Range Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle will cost £28,995 when it goes on sale in the UK in 2012. ELEC­TRIC car buy­ers are to get a £5,000 sweet­ener from the Govern­ment. It means that the Nis­san Leaf, an al­l­elec­tric fam­ily hatch­back, will be avail­able from £23,990 early next year.

The technology won it the Euro­pean Car of the Year ti­tle, but some ju­rors ques­tioned its limited range be­tween bat­tery charg­ings. Nis­san says it will cover more than 100 miles on “of­fi­cial fig­ures”. In other words, it could be far less, us­ing about £2 of elec­tric­ity. Busi­ness users pay no ben­e­fit in kind tax, sav­ing thou­sands of pounds a year. Leas­ing deals are also avail­able.

A year later the more prac­ti­cal Chevro­let Volt and Vaux­hall Am­pera will be avail­able. These sim­i­lar cars have an over­all range in ex­cess of some 360 miles, up to 50 of which can be cov­ered on elec­tric alone. Once the bat­tery reaches low ca­pac­ity,

Nis­san’s award-win­ning Leaf. a petrol-pow­ered generator kicks in to sus­tain bat­tery charge un­til the car can be plugged in and recharged.

Even with the petrol mo­tor run­ning, the elec­tric mo­tor con­tin­ues to drive the wheels, mak­ing it sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent to hy­brid elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Re­search by GM in Europe in­di­cates that more than 80 per cent of driv­ers could use the Volt for their daily driv­ing with­out hav­ing to use the petrol mo­tor, or cre­ate any ex­haust emis­sions. Un­like other plug-in elec­tric cars, the Volt can still be driven long dis­tances, or op­er­ate in ar­eas where it is im­pos­si­ble to recharge it. Vaux­hall says the Am­pera will cost £28,995 af­ter the grant.

A full charge for Am­pera’s bat­tery can be achieved in less than four hours with a do­mes­tic 240v elec­tric­ity socket at an av­er­age cost of about £1, depend­ing on tar­iff, says Vaux­hall.

All these elec­tric cars are ex­empt from UK road tax, travel free in the London con­ges­tion zone and, in the case of the Am­pera, are levied at five per cent com­pany car tax­a­tion. For a £150 re­fund­able reser­va­tion fee, po­ten­tial Am­pera buy­ers can reg­is­ter at www.vaux­hal­lam­pera.co.uk

Other cars el­i­gi­ble for a grant in­clude Toy­ota’s Plug-in Hy­brid, on trial in London. Prius Plug-in is equipped with a com­pact and pow­er­ful lithium-ion bat­tery that “en­ables the car to run on elec­tric power alone for up to 12.5 miles and at speeds up to 62mph” with zero fuel con­sump­tion. Oth­er­wise, it is rated at 108mpg and 59g/km CO2.

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