Britain’s first low-carbon motor festival, EcoVelocity, proved a success for manufacturers with sales emerging as a direct result of the motor show held in the shadow of Battersea power station.
Sixteen mainstream manufacturers gave members of the public the opportunity to drive their greenest cars around an 800m course, with Vauxhall’s Ampera, a range extended hybrid, being by far the most popular car. Volvo had their range of DRIVe vehicles available, while Volkswagen demonstrated the new Touareg hybrid.
Peugeot showed the world’s first diesel hybrid, the refined and spacious 3008 HYbrid4 SUV, for the first time in the UK and Fiat showed off the 500 TwinAir next door to Ford’s ECOnetic range.
The soon to be British built Nissan LEAF proved popular, with the all-electric car being fully booked throughout the day, while the Midlands built Toyota Auris hybrid proved somewhat less revolutionary.
Bravest were Renault who turned up with pre-production versions of the very impressive Fluence Z.E. for the general public to try out. Going on sale in 2012, the Fluence was the only car that felt truly ‘normal’ and at an estimated £17,000 for a full five seater saloon car will open up the electric car market to many more people.
Mitsubishi and Kia had the foresight to bring dealers to the event, with Mitsubishi booking a number of dealer test drives of the i-MiEV while Kia, impressing all with the first UK showing of the new Rio alongside the dramatically improved Picanto, actually sold cars through their on-site dealer as a result of the short test drives on offer.
The Picanto also won the top green supermini prize in the What Car? Green Awards, while the Vauxhall Ampera won the overall prize. “The Vauxhall Ampera represents a massive step for alternative-fuel cars,” said What Car? editor Chas Hallett. “It offers all the benefits of owning an electric vehicle with virtually none of the drawbacks. It gives motorists the ability to dramatically reduce their emissions without changing their lifestyle, which is exactly what green cars need to do.”
Brahms Electric vehicles also revealed their Mercedes E-Class based electric hearse. “The hearse needs a smooth ride at speeds less than 30 miles an hour for relatively short journeys,” commented Steven Cousins, founder of Brahms. “This makes it ideally suited to electricity and the stage where today’s technology has reached.” Ironically, a few laps of the test drive circuit left the batteries dead, and the hearse had to be pushed to its resting place.
An estimated 7,000 test drives were taken at the Battersea based festival over the four days, with Giles Brown, EcoVelocity’s event organiser, saying “the objective was to raise the profile of the latest low and ultra-low carbon cars by providing a very hands on environment for visitors. The event culminated in a very busy ride-and-drive event. The currency exhibitors use to judge the event is with quality test drives and leads, not just footfall. It was abundantly clear that we delivered those in spades, with car makers providing, on average, 400 test drives during the show period.”
“For us it was a cost effective way to not only build awareness of but also to showcase and demonstrate our Hybrid technology,” added Toyota and Lexus BG’s Lance Bates. “It also gave the opportunity for visitors to the show to be among the first in the U.K to test drive the all new Yaris. Considering this was the first time the event has been staged we were pleased at the number of test drives achieved across both brands.”
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