AUTO BIOGRAPHY

PEUGEOT 106 ELECTRIC PRICE: APPROXIMATELY pounds 10,000 IN FRANCE (NOT YET AVAILABLE IN THE UK)

A well-known motoring enthusiasts' magazine sent a reporter to drive Peugeot's 106 electric car, and when the story appeared it expressed apparent disappointment that the machine didn't behave like a GTi. But though there certainly are electric vehicle projects attempting to handle long-ingrained public expectations of ever more ambitious performance (Lotus are building an electric Elise with the conventional model's acceleration, for instance), in general the point of most urban-based alternative fuel cars is that, well, that's not the point.

The Peugeot-Citroen group has been investigating electric vehicles since 1968, and publicly exhibited an electric version of its stylish 205 in 1984. Now it has 14 of its smallest current model, the 106, at work in Coventry, some run by the company itself, some by a variety of services including the Royal Mail, East Midlands Electricity and the local authority. In general, the fact that the car doesn't perform like a hot hatch doesn't seem to be inconveniencing the guinea- pig operators much, their priorities being reliability, ease of use, and eco-friendliness coupled with the all-round handling, refinement and safety characteristics of what Peugeot calls "a proper car". You can't, as yet, buy one of these machines from a Peugeot forecourt, because the agencies nationally don't have the servicing back up and parts availability to look after them. But the model appears in the Peugeot brochure in France, where the government gives you a grant to reward your public spiritedness. The outcome of the Coventry Electric Vehicle Project (and the political effectiveness of the Europe-wide electric- car lobby organisation, Zeus), will help companies like Peugeot decide whether or not to extend availability.

What's it like to drive? Nothing like a milk-float, if that's your worry. A couple of minutes into my outing with the 106 Electric, I waited endlessly at a T-junction on to a busy road because I couldn't believe real-car oomph would be there. Peugeot's alternative-fuel guru Graham Deeming urged me to go for it. Silently, the car surged out into the traffic stream, and though the take-off certainly doesn't put the tyres at any risk (the car takes around eight seconds to reach 30mph), it's a perfectly acceptable performance for built-up areas. The 106 happily keeps up with the traffic flow - though on dual carriageways and faster roads, it's wiser to cruise at 45mph than 50mph or above, because the battery drain rises sharply.

There are no gears and no clutch, you start it with a perfectly conventional twist of an ignition key, and then hear almost nothing but the hum of a fan cooling the 20 nickel-cadmium batteries distributed around the chassis. Reverse is a push-button on the fascia. The batteries make the car around a third heavier than a regular 106, which contributes to the rather weary feeling the car exudes when ascending a steep hill, and such restrictions as there are make you plan your driving manoeuvres a little further ahead - no bad habit to engender anyway. Otherwise driving it couldn't be easier, though you have to keep an eye on the energy meter that replaces the rev counter, which announces the percentage of charge you have left. The range can be 45 miles or so with unreconstructed petrol-car right-foot habits, 65 miles plus with gentler use. Then you just plug the car's charger into any mains supply.

I figured out that most of my dom- estic driving (school, shops, sociability) involves short enough journeys for the 106 Electric to handle with ease, and the uncanny quietness is a big plus in the driving-stress department, coupled with the generally uncompetitive mode that you have to get into when driving this car, or its leisurely momentum would drive you nuts. The current major electric-car snag is cost, because low production runs mean the electronics are virtually hand-made, and nickel-cadmium battery prices are so high that it only makes sense to lease them for their eight-year lifespan, not buy them outright. But driving the Peugeot 106 Electric was an agreeable surprise. Only wider use, stimulated by financial support for pioneering punters, will bring prices down. Maybe they should lend a fleet to the Cabinet.

GOING PLACES

Almost silent, modest acceleration and top speed (0-30mph in eight seconds, maximum speed 56mph), severe power drop on steep hills, but simple to drive, like an automatic without a shift.

STAYING ALIVE/HANGING OUT

Standard Peugeot 106 chassis, but with uprated springs to cope with extra weight. Nip and eagerness of the regular 106 a little dampened by the heavy battery load, but power steering is standard; road feel a bit knobbly, stability generally good; driver/passenger airbags potentially optional, not anti-lock brakes.

CREATURE COMFORTS

Cramped even by supermini standards, though headroom okay; 106's reasonable boot-room reduced by rear batteries; power steering, central locking, no electric windows; heater unit petrol- powered from small auxiliary tank.

TURKEY QUOTIENT

Slow on hills, limited range, length of recharge time (currently up to six hours, but fast-chargers on the way).

STAR QUALITY

Silence, simplicity, no emissions (unless, of course, you count what the electric power-stations put out).

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower