G-Wiz drivers: don't believe Boris

11 May 2007

People as eminent as Boris Johnson MP are parroting GoinGreen's defence that it’s not feasible to build a safe, affordable electric car, following the recent crash-test furore. Johnson is not the kind of person we would go for advice on, well, anything, but his argument nonetheless merits dissection. Is it inevitable that a car built to fit within the cost-beneficial “quadricycle” category has to be as sturdy as a wendy-house?

In short, no. The rival Mega City electric city car may be 20 percent more expensive than the G-Wiz and it may be six percent heavier (at 705kg versus 665kg including batteries) but it has passed the crash tests required of proper cars in Europe.

The Nice Car Company, UK importer of the French Mega City, was surprising, er, nice about its rivals’ woes. Spokesman Julian Wilford said, “I would point out that the Department for Transport has not stated that the G-Wiz has failed any tests. They said, ‘The vehicle tested passed all the European requirements applicable to quadricyles, but when it was subjected to the same impact test expected of normal cars serious safety concerns were highlighted.’”

Nice also notes that its own Mega City was voluntarily put through crash tests - passing was never a requirement for the vehicle to be approved for sale to the public.

The company also made some further arresting observations: “Transport for London’s own estimates are that every year some 1,000 premature deaths (and a similar number of hospital admissions) are caused by London’s poor air quality. It’s a sobering fact that we are about four times more likely to be killed in London by the effects of traffic pollution than directly in a road traffic accident and that we are about twenty times more likely to be killed by the effects of vehicles on London’s roads than by actually driving a car on London’s roads. Car occupant safety is only a small part of the road safety issue.”

No doubt Nice is keen for its own product not to be splattered by the tar and feathers currently hitting the G-Wiz.

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