Here, at last, is the electric city car done right. It’s good looking, works well, offers first-class crash protection and has a roomy cabin. Low-speed performance is brisk and the handling is predictable. In fact, the oddly named Citroën C1 Ev’ie (pronounced “Eevee”) behaves much like the gasoline-powered city car on which it is based.
The company that equips Ev’ie with its 30kW (51hp) electric motor and its 25 lithium ion battery cells (which replace the fuel tank and do not compromise cabin space) is British. The Electric Car Company was established a couple of years ago by David Martell, founder of the successful Trafficmaster firm. It has a “small but expandable” factory in Hertfordshire which has so far made 10 cars and can build about four a week. The plan is to expand to about 500 cars a year.
On the road, the car is simplicity itself to drive. Twist the key and watch the dash lights come alive. Move the simple central lever either forward (to go forward) or back, and then just squeeze the accelerator. The lever needs only two positions; there is no neutral.
Acceleration off the mark is quite strong, but when you lift off the motor’s polarity changes so that the engine provides retardation as it feeds charge back into the battery. ECC estimates that in city driving, power “earned” by braking adds around 15 miles to the 60 miles of a regular full charge.
ECC says it “regrets” the fact that the much-trumpeted £5,000 ($7,900) government subsidy of electric cars isn’t planned until 2011. In effect, the company is being penalized for its prompt action. But the reality is that, as the first “respectable” electric city car on the British market and one that brings some practically priceless benefits to inner Londoners, the Ev’ie is likely to be popular enough anyway.Steve Cropley/Autocar