Fledgling EVs feed off the congestion zone

2 August 2007

The London congestion charge turns out not just to be an incentive scheme to put more Toyota and Lexus hybrids on London’s streets. A variety of electric vehicles from small, independent producers are starting to spring up, driven in part by a need not to fork out a crippling £8 for putting a tyre in the wrong part of town.

In recent weeks and months we've spotted a Modec electric van trundling slowly along with all the other traffic trapped on approach to the shirt-button-sized Trafalgar Square roundabout, giving plenty of time to inspect its stuff. (For those who don’t regularly travel by road in London, this roundabout is approached in five different directions, each of which gets precisely eight seconds of green light, which means that the traffic barely gets to move before the red light shows again. Which is great if you have nowhere pressing to get to.)

The Modec is bigger than pictures suggest and looks very well put together (although the innovation is all under the skin, obviously).

Modec sells its electric trucks from £31,000 and then leases the battery packs at around £400 per month, depending on mileage. Take more out of the batteries by deploying a lead foot and you’ll pay more. The company says its business model makes the van basically price competitive with a diesel equivalent, but customers then gain through zero road tax, zero operator licence and, in the capital, zero congestion charge.

An option for smaller loads is the Aixam Mega van, as used by upmarket sandwich chain Pret A Manger. It is running 11 of the older Aixam model, and the newer version – which looks to have more of a crumple zone up front – can be got from the Nice Car Company from £8,761 plus VAT. It looks cute in a kind of boiled-sweet way.

Finally, we’ve also finally spotted a Nice Mega City electric car, moving under its own power in the capital. True, it was parking outside the offices of a PR company in Soho, but everything has to start somewhere.

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