Motoring Now electric cars get clean,greenandmean Runaroundsthat dontcostthe Earthandhave plentyofoomph Cheap as chips: the Citron evie costs 90p a day to run W HAT a difference a downturn makes. Only a year ago key car manufacturers were still competing to be the fastest, the most powerful or the biggest -- and no one seemed to care very much about the environment. Nothing, it seemed, could stand in the way of a headlong race towards petrol consumption and bhp. But now, hot on the heels of our collapsing financial markets, conspicuous consumption is seriously out of fashion. In its place, a shower of announcements about the car industrys latest electricity-powered vehicles, hoping, of course, to generate custom from both green-thinking and penny-pinching motorists. Plugging in a car and charging it up is a good deal cheaper and greener than filling the tank with petrol, they tell us. Encouraged by the promise of grants and boosted by Gordon Browns declaration that he wants us to be at the epicentre of a clean car industry, theres no stopping them. Even London Mayor Boris Johnson got in on the act recently, pledging 60m to create a network of juicing points to charge up electric vehicles on streets in the capital. Latest off the starting block is a clever new model from Citron, recently launched in London with massive fanfare. The C1 evie, developed and marketed by the newly formed Electric Car Company, claims to have a range of 70 miles and a top speed of 60mph -- all courtesy of a seven-hour charge from an ordinary domestic socket, just like the one youd use to charge your electric toothbrush. The British-owned firm, which has a factory in Flitwick, Bedfordshire, says a full charge -- enough for a days commute in and around London -- will cost no more than 90p. About 500 C1 evies will be produced over the next 12 months, rising to around 2,000-4,000 in 2010 with projected demand and Government support. According to David Martell, ECC chief execu- tive, this is our first serious alternative to a petrol or diesel car. It drives just like a regular car and has excellent capacity for use in any town or city, he says. The only cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky for the squeaky-clean evie is its price -- 16,850, which is almost twice the cost of the cheapest ordinary C1. But lets face it, you dont get something this new, and potentially life- changing, for nothing. So whats on the cards for British drivers? And what is the industry going to offer us next? Spurred on by the Government, which has revealed plans for incentives of up to 5,000 for consumers buying electric cars from 2011, the motor firms have been very busy indeed. Heres our pick of what you might be buying over the next few years. Some are on sale right now while others are still being fine-tuned by the boffins in green coats... VAUXHALL AMPERA STARTLING, near space-age looks, most of which will probably be ironed out when this car finally hits the road. Could help ailing Vauxhall if its built in the UK. On sale: 2011. Price: 25,000 est. RENAULT SUPERMINI THIS French car firm likes to surprise, so expect unusual looks when its electric super- mini is released. The Clio-based hatchback is just one of three electric cars due from Renault over the next three years. On sale: 2010. Price: 14,000 est. MITSUBISHI I MIEV THE most surprising thing about this cute-looking runa- round is how well it drives -- much like an ordinary car with loads of oomph. I test-drove one in London traffic and I loved it. On sale: October. Price: 20,000 est. TOYOTA PRIUS PHV. TOYOTA has been produc- ing cars that re-charge themselves for years, but youll be able to plug this one into a mains socket. The PHV will boast Toyotas usual high-build quality. Available: Early 2010 -- initially leased only to businesses. Price: to be announced. MEGA CITY THE company went into liquidation last year, but is now rescued and doing business a g a i n u n d e r Aixam Meg Cars. Its looks are not as alluring as those of some electric cars, but who said saving the world should be a fashion parade? On sale: Now. Price: 12,564 (for 2+2 model). G-WIZ L-ION STRICTLY a quadricycle rather than a car, but its already proving popular in London where i t c h e a t s t h e C-charge and sneaks up on unwary passers-by because its so quiet. Has a top speed of 51mph and a range of around 75 miles. Takes around six hours to charge. On sale: Now. Price: 15,795 (7,995 for less able G-Wiz i model with range of up to 48 miles). THINK CITY LIGHTLY dimpled, composite bodywork takes some getting used to, as do some of the more lurid col- ours. On sale in some EU coun- t r ie s b u t t he importers are wait- ing for an improvement in eco- nomic conditions here before committing to the UK market. On sale: Currently only available in Europe. Price: 15,000 est. SMART ED DEVELOPED by a d i v i s i o n o f Mercedes-Benz, this electric car is so good e v e n t h e London Met is currently testing one out on the beat. Right now this two-seater can only be leased but the firm hopes to have it on sale next year. With a range of up to 70 miles and a top speed of 60mph, its certainly quicker than a bobby on the beat. On sale: Currently only on business lease. Cost: 100 private leases available next year, 150 per month. aby o fd i v i s i o n Mercedes-Benz, electricthis isMetLondon beat.theonoutonetesting Right newcleveraisblockstartingtheoffLatest inlaunchedrecentlyCitron,frommodel evie,C1Thefanfare.massivewithLondon formednewlythebymarketedanddeveloped onethelikejustsocket,domesticordinary toothbrush.electricyourchargetouseyoud VAUXHALL AMPERA STARTLING looks,space-age whichofmost beprobablywill whenoutironed thehitsfinallycarthis inbuiltitsifVauxhallailinghelpCouldroad. RENAULT SUPERMINI THIS tolikesfirm sosurprise, unusualexpect itswhenlooks super-electric ishatchbackClio-basedThereleased.ismini near, looks,space-age whichofmost beprobablywill whenoutironed PRIUSTOYOTA PHV. TOYOTA has been produc- carsing youllbutyears,forthemselvesre-chargethat carFrench tolikesfirm itswhenlooks super-electric ishatchbackClio-basedThereleased.ismini to businesses. Price: to be announced. CITYMEGA THE liquidationinto isbutyear,last andrescuednow businessdoing u n d e ra g a i n alluringasnotarelooksItsCars.MegAixam IMITSUBISHI surprisingmost thisaboutthing much--drivesit carordinaryanlike test-droveIoomph.ofloadswith On sale: Now. Price: 12,564 (for 2+2 model). 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