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Test-driving the Citroen C1 Ev'ie

The lure of the electric car is growing as people become aware of the cheap running costs says Dr Stefan Cembrowicz.

For an electric car, the Citroën has a surprising amount of room
For an electric car, the Citroën has a surprising amount of room

Electric cars are now coming onto the market, stimulated by government carbon saving subsidies and cheap running costs. Keen to experience an electric ride, I recently test-drove the Citroen C1 Ev'ie to evaluate it as a run-about for GPs who work in urban areas.

Many electric cars are currently built from scratch by enthusiastic start-up companies using undeveloped bodywork and running gear.

Based on success
The Ev'ie, by contrast, is based on Citroen's successful and well tried C1 city car.

The UK-based Electric Car Corporation buys new Citroen C1s, removes the petrol engine and its ancillaries, and inserts two lithium batteries and an electric motor.

Driving the Ev'ie is simple without the complexity of some hybrids. A gear lever engages forward or reverse, an extra dial shows the level of battery charge, and two pedals control acceleration and braking.

Switch on, handbrake off, and off you go. The car will hold four adult passengers, with its back seat accessible via surprisingly large rear doors and plenty of room for medical kit. The Ev'ie moves off silently and can creep or surge through the densest traffic smoothly and progressively.

Handling, as I would expect from any Citroen, is alive and responsive.

The electric motor and batteries add about 70kg to the weight of the car. This is about as much as an extra passenger but I was hardly aware of this extra mass on brisk cornering or when running over sleeping policemen.

Official performance figures are not available, but I was told that the acceleration is similar to the entry-level petrol model C1. Top speed is described as 60mph, but in my hour's test run around central London there was no chance to achieve more than 40mph down Park Lane.

Battery range
Gentle regenerative braking extends the battery range. We used 22 per cent of the indicated battery capacity and travelled a typical urban 9.5 miles in an hour.

Recharging the car's battery

The Ev'ie recharges in six hours for about 95p from any domestic socket, or in future, from one of London mayor Boris Johnson's 25,000 promised juice points. Some car parks provide free charging.

Certainly for London GPs who have to pay congestion charges, life will be difficult - unless you own one of these as all electrically propelled vehicles qualify for 100 per cent congestion charge discount.

The Citroen C1 Ev'ie is not cheap to buy at £21,000. However the emissions will still occur, but elsewhere, from the power station chimney.



  • A proper small car, with no exhaust pipe.
  • Adequate performance and range for five hours' city driving.
  • Incentives include free car tax, no London congestion charge, and free or heavily subsidised parking in London.
  • Just the job for those city centre home visits.


  • The electric conversion adds £10,000 to the cost, making it a pricey £21,000.
  • The supplier suggests that incentives and subsidies could save you £6,600 running costs per year (in London) against a similar-sized petrol car.
  • Replacing the battery costs over £3,000, but predicted battery life is seven years or 3,000 charges, adding about £1 per charge to your running costs.
  • Dr Stefan Cembrowicz is a GP in Bristol
  • Electric Car Corporation www.eccplc.com

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