The second EcoVelocity show started today, and if it seems to have come around quickly that’s because it has. Last year’s event, in the grounds of Battersea power station, happened in September but the 2012 repeat has arrived months early, and it’s moved to the Excel centre on the other side of London too.
Comparisons with the British Motor Show, which twice filled this venue, would be misplaced, however. EcoVelocity is only camped out in a corner of the sprawling Excel, sharing space with the Grand Designs home improvement show.
Inside the expo, Grand Designs feels buzzy and busy. A bit too busy, actually – verging on suffocating. It’s thronged with young couples and families, all gawping at dining tables fashioned from reclaimed railway sleepers, toilets formed from resin-encased pebbles, and countless different styles of heated towel rail.
EcoVelocity is clearly considered part of the same event – nobody checks my ticket as I stumble from between stands selling granite worktops and cheese and into the car show. The contrast is stark – EcoVelocity feels only marginally more lively than the carpark. But at least I can breathe.
The event is not so deserted that I haven’t missed my chance to drive a Citroen DS5, however. One of the attractions of EcoVelocity is the opportunity to test drive the cars along several miles of real Docklands roads, but when I inquire about a stint in the big Citroen I’m told it’s booked until 4pm.
I check my watch – it’s just after midday. I glance around the hall, trying to imagine filling four hours, and decide it’s not going to happen.
The problem isn’t so much the show, but me. I’ve obviously spent too much time with green cars, as I’ve seen almost all of the cars on show before.
But if you have a life less suffused with EVs and hybrids, there are some interesting cars to come and see and – if you get there early enough – take for a spin. The Volt, Ampera and Leaf are worth driving – they are the future after all – and the Opel RAKe concept is a joy even if you aren’t allowed to touch it. Lots of visitors seemed smitten by the eccentric DS5, and even its Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 ugly sister has a beguiling charm.
Startup carmaker Mia has a big presence, too. The little loaf-shaped electric car with its arrowhead seating formation still looks appealing – especially in pimped MiaParis specification with glossy metallic black paint, lovely 16-inch dished alloys and tan leather everywhere. And, unfortunately, a ludicrous £28,500 price tag.
Like the overpriced Mia, I’m not too sure that the EcoVelocity show has a long and prosperous future ahead of it. But for now, the event provides a welcome opportunity to see a roster of eco cars all under one roof. It’s on at the Excel until 13 May.