G-Wiz! Electric car goes up in smoke

A A A

The electric car's potential for saving the planet by reducing our dependence on oil and lowering carbon emissions has been dealt a blow with the news that a best-selling model may suddenly burst into flames.

A total of 629 G-Wiz cars – about two-thirds of the number on Britain's roads – have been recalled and repaired because their battery chargers may be prone to overheating. The alarm was raised when a parked car spontaneously combusted.

No one was hurt and, although just one car was involved in the incident in August, the Reva Electric Car Company decided to recall every G-Wiz fitted with the same charger.

Publicity about the recalls could stunt the growing popularity of the Indian-made three-door hatchback, which can be charged from a normal power socket and costs just 1p a mile to run. Its British retailer, GoinGreen, offsets the car's manufacture and use, allowing it to claim that the vehicle is completely "carbon neutral".

The 8ft-long G-Wiz, which costs £7,299, is far smaller than conventional cars and emits only two-thirds of the carbon dioxide produced by a similar, petrol-driven vehicle. It is exempted from road tax because of its environmental credentials, it is not subject to the £8-a-day congestion charge in London and can also be parked free in some areas. As a result, the car has proved a hit with hundreds of drivers in the capital, where most of the cars have been sold.

Several celebrities are G-Wiz owners, including Jonathan Ross, Jerry Hall and Kristin Scott Thomas, who said: "I love my G-Wiz. It is such fun to drive, easy to park, nippy. Children laugh when I pass by."

However, the car's reputation was dented in May when safety tests organised by BBC's Top Gear programme suggested that the G-Wiz offered poor protection in a crash and occupants could potentially receive fatal injuries at speeds of 40mph.

GoinGreen acknowledged that the G-Wiz was likely to perform worse than heavier cars in crash tests but pointed out that its lightness prevented pedestrians from being hurt as badly in any collision. In any case, it added, the G-Wiz had a top speed of 45mph and was designed for urban traffic where the likelihood of a high-speed impact was lower. The recall was announced in September and ended this week. The cars were collected and taken to GoinGreen's workshop in Southall, west London, where battery chargers containing faulty heat sensors were replaced with heat-sensitive cut-out switches and fire-retardant covers. The company's managing director, Keith Johnston, said: "The recall was undertaken as a precautionary measure following a single failure, where no one was injured. GoinGreen supports the action, which demonstrates the highest level of commitment to safety in electric vehicles."

The company pointed out that 275 other makes of car had been recalled by manufacturers this year, affecting hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

Mr Johnston also claimed that the G-Wiz was being unfairly singled out by what he called "a few petrolhead motoring journalists".

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test