They're quiet, cause no pollution and are cheap to run. Trouble is, they're reminiscent of milk floats

James Ruppert presents a guide to electric vehicles

If you were told that there are vehicles available that will save pounds 100 in road tax, can be filled up for just a couple of pence, cause practically zero pollution, are quiet and need minimal maintenance, then you would want one of these motoring miracles; surely everyone would. John Dance runs Zero Emission Vehicles, sourcing battery cars from all over the world for sale in the UK. "After three years we've sold 60 vehicles. but it has been an uphill struggle all the way," he says.

Electric vehicles (EVs) immediately conjure up images of milkfloats. And although excellent at its job, a float is hardly the most exciting of automobiles. The fundamental drawback of an EV is poor power from the battery. Maximum range is about 50 to 60 miles, which means that an EV is only really suited to operating in a city.

The plus points are that electric motors need virtually no attention; off-peak electricity for recharging the battery is inexpensive; and for constant stop-start city driving, nothing is quieter or cleaner. But just about every other vehicle on the road is cheaper.

EVs are expensive. First there is the cost of converting an existing petrol-powered car, then the battery cost which hikes the purchase price up by at least 25 per cent above that of a conventional vehicle. Richard Fletcher, who runs EV convertors London Innovation, says: "These vehicles should cost less because they do less damage to the environment, but the incentives are just not there."

Mr Fletcher is not alone in lamenting the lack of official enthusiasm for EVs in the UK. Mr Dance has offered a range of vehicles to the electricity generating boards over the years, "but they wouldn't even come and have a look".

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not helped matters by imposing a pounds 35 road tax for the first time since 1980. It is a different matter in Europe, where there are huge subsidies and initiatives to encourage the use of EVs.

Buying an EV in the UK is not easy, but if you want to set the streets humming to the sound of an electric motor and make a stand for environmentally friendly motoring, here is our good EV guide.

London Innovation is honest about the limitations of EVs. "These are not motorway cars, but they are perfect for urban deliveries, and as second cars that are used for shopping, school runs and getting to the station on time," says Mr Fletcher. The company's most popular model is a converted Ford Fiesta which has a 60-mile range and a top speed of 60mph. Van or hatchback bodies cost about pounds 8,900. An electric Mini, surely the ultimate city car, starts at pounds 6,900.

John Bradshaw Limited in Peterborough offers an ugly but functional van based on an American design. It will travel for 50 miles at 30mph and has capacity to carry an impressive 1,500lb. Prices start at pounds 11,700 and the entire van will set you back almost pounds 18,000.

In nearby King's Lynn, importer Motokov UK brings over Elmos - converted Skoda Foreman pick-ups, similar to the Favorit hatchback. These have a 50-mile radius and a 50mph top speed and will carry 350kg, all for pounds 7,995.

Mr Dance recommends the Elcat-Cityvan, a Japanese Subaru Sumo converted to right-hand drive in Finland. For a range of up to 75 miles prices start at pounds 13,000, but there is a five-month wait.

Mr Dance also supplies a curious breed of purpose-built French microcars, Ligiers, which are converted in Germany, cost about pounds 7,000 and resemble overgrown pedal cars.

If your budget is tight, join the Battery Vehicle Society for pounds 11. The classified ads in its fanzine often contain members' home-built conversions for just a few hundred pounds.

And then there is always the option of telephoning your local dairy to find out if it is retiring any milk floats.

Zero Emission Vehicles: 01303 265559. London Innovation: 0171-607 8141. John Bradshaw Limited: 01780 782621. Motokov UK : 01533 761176. Battery Vehicle Society, 21 St Andrew's Drive, Buckley, Clywd CH7 2NF

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Functional/Full Life Cycle

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Func...

    SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

    £350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

    Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    £70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?