G-Wiz – there's nowhere to plug in Scotland's only electric car

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THE car was tootling along nicely, on a flat but curvy stretch of A-road a few miles south of the Lanarkshire town of Biggar.

But considerate driver that he is, Adrian Loening pulled over to the side to let the string of vehicles that had gathered in a procession behind to zoom past.

We had been travelling at around 40mph – not fast enough by far for the drivers behind – but a hill was looming ahead. "We will slow down to around 30mph," Loening said. "I don't think it's fair to hold everyone up. "

Off the procession went, accelerating up the incline, petrol and diesel burning and engines gunning. We were left with the sound of the future – silence. Loening was sat behind the wheel of a G-Wiz, the electric and blissfully quiet battery driven car now relatively common on the streets of London.

In Scotland, the engineer is believed to be the first private owner of the car that is starting an electric revolution in the UK. Plans for mass production electric vehicles acceptable to a wider public are some years away but the petite G-Wiz, of which 1,000 have been sold in the past three years in the London area, is in the vanguard of a move towards low pollution vehicles.

Loening, who lives in the village of Lamington and bought his G-Wiz second-hand from a London-based friend who was leaving for a job abroad, is proud to be a Scottish pioneer. The car is made in India by the company Reva and costs around 9,500 new.

He charges the vehicle overnight by plugging it into the mains at his cottage at a cost of around 80p. Then it is good for journeys of around 35 miles before it needs charging again. He says it has transformed the lives of himself and his wife Debbie since it arrived – on the back of a car transporter – in June.

"We use it to get to the shops at Biggar and to take our son to school," he says. "In fact, we probably now use it for around 50% of our car journeys.

"Of course it has its limitations – I have a diesel-powered Audi for longer journeys – but for local journeys it is both brilliant and fun.

"There are some who stare and you know they are thinking what on Earth is that. But when you explain what it is, everyone thinks it is a great idea."

Loening's G-Wiz is little bigger than an enclosed golf cart. It will fit a family of four at a pinch. "As long as the children have short legs," laughed Debbie.

But what it lacks in space, it gives back in running costs and environmental benefits. Loening estimates the cost of running his G-Wiz is a quarter of his conventional car and the road tax is zero. It also cuts missions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming from 160g per kilometre for the average vehicle, to 80g.

Last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown signalled his government's intention to encourage the take-up of electric cars by entering talks with US car giant General Motors, owners of Vauxhall. At the Motor Show in London, GM revealed that it was considering manufacturing its new Flextreme hybrid car in the UK if the Government agreed to set up a national network of publicly available plug-in points. The only public plug-in point in Scotland is at the Braehead shopping centre, west of Glasgow, part of a national trial scheme.

It restricts Loening's range to the outskirts of Edinburgh to the north and Moffat to the south. "I could probably make it to Straiton (on the southern Edinburgh bypass) and then get the park-and-ride into the city," he says. "I wouldn't be able to get it back again unless I could find somewhere to plug it in."

The Scottish Government will be holding a consultation exercise in the autumn to look at how to encourage the use of electric vehicles in Scotland, according to a spokesman.

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