G-Wiz! Electric car goes up in smoke
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".
Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around
IPCC report: The financial markets are the only hope in the race to stop global warming
As Iraq runs dry, a plague of snakes is unleashed
Lynx to be reintroduced into wild in Britain after a 1,300-year absence
Malawi to burn its £5m ivory stockpile this week - and demonstrate its commitment to wildlife conservation
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Yorkshire man to win £10,000 off a £1 bet placed six years ago if Dan Jarvis becomes Labour Party leader
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 5 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...