Louisa Pearson: 'At least if the battery gives up the ghost it'll be someone else's problem'

IF ONLY I had a spare £28,350. No, scratch that. If only I had a spare £23,350, I'd spend it on a Nissan Leaf. I'd momentarily forgotten about the £5,000 discount the government is dangling before our eyes to make 2011 the year motoring goes electric.

Actually, do you mind if we rewind yet again? I've just looked at some photos of the Nissan Leaf and it looks like a very dull family car. Worthy on the inside does not have to mean worthy on the outside, surely? The Citroen CZero, on the other hand, has a cheeky Jetsons-esque space-age appearance. If its doors worked like the DeLorian in Back To The Future it'd be perfect. It's only available to lease rather than buy from 2011 but at least that way if the battery gives up the ghost it'll be someone else's problem.

In reality, the CZero's 415 a month lease is way beyond my bank balance, as is the cost of the other cars in the discount scheme, including the Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall Ampera. Can you see what they did with the names? How clever. The prices are high because it's new technology and until lots of us buy electric cars those prices won't come down.

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Last year, 55 electric vehicles were purchased by trailblazing Brits. I'm assuming that figure doesn't include milk floats but perhaps one shouldn't presume. WWF Scotland recently produced a report on electric vehicles which said the C02 emissions are approximately 50 per cent less than from the average internal combustion engine car.

The report continues: "For the transport sector to make a proportionate contribution towards Scotland's 2020 target of at least a 42 per cent reduction in emissions, we will need at least 290,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads of Scotland by this date."

That's quite a challenge. But let's not forget another option - electric scooters, which are perfect for city dwellers who don't need to travel any faster than 30mph. Edinburgh-based Charge (www.charge.uk.com) sells scooters that do between 30 and 100 miles on an 8p charge and that start at 1,200 plus VAT.

On to the key questions - how far can you drive an electric car before the battery conks out and how long does it take to charge? Let's take the smart fortwo electric drive as an example. It has a range of 135km and if you're travelling 50km a day, recharge time is three to four hours. You just plug it in to an ordinary socket. Which is fine, if you have a garage or driveway, but not if you're one of the 54 to 78 per cent of people in Aberdeen, Glasgow or Edinburgh who don't have off-street parking.

What I didn't expect to discover when I started writing this column is that my Californian cousin once removed, Paul Pearson, has moved from special effects into custom EV production (www.electriccustomcars.com). It might not be the most practical option for the Borders highways and byways, but I'm wondering what his mates rates are on the Lola EV Sports Roadster. It's a canary yellow convertible and it looks considerably more exciting than any of the cars on the 5k discount list. Failing that, maybe he could convert my Micra to electric and pimp it up at the same time. Living in electric dreams? I will be once the prices come down or the family favour comes through.

• This article was first published in the Scotland on Sunday on January 16, 2011