Earth Notes: On the NICE "MEGA City" Electric Car: Review (2008)
2008/01/15: I took a quick test-drive in a NICE 2+2 "MEGA City" electric car. Its list price was a little under £11,000.
(2013/05/20: the original site seems to have long-since gone, so links removed.)
The MEGA City is about the size of an old-style Mini or a bit bigger. It could accommodate 4 adults at a squeeze. Or more pertinently for my family right now, two adults plus one child in a child seat, plus luggage or shopping.
The car's range is 40 miles or more on one charge with the current lead-acid batteries, which are good for about 5 years. Though lithium-chemistry replacements (possibly available a year or so from now) promise twice the distance, and no practical limit on the number of charge/discharge cycles.
Note that a full charge is more than a whole day's electricity at our home. So it should be budgeted for in CO2 terms, and preferably supplied from a 100% 'green'/renewable source.
In the UK, enough solar PV to charge this in one day in deepest mid-winter would be about 10kWp. That would cost over £50k to buy and install at 2008 prices! This car could possibly be charged overnight from local battery storage.
I wasn't very adventurous with my test-drive. Partly since it's a while since I've driven at all. Also because I'm used to manual (gear-stick change) cars, but this is configured as an automatic.
Apart from the lack of gear-stick, the other 'funny' was the lack of a starter. It's more-or-less a reflex, of course, to turn the key one notch further to start the car. Totally unnecessary for an electric!
The car is very quiet, like a super-quiet milk float, and seems responsive to my inexpert hands. I don't own a car, and simply hire something cheap and simple when I need to, eg on foreign business trips. The MEGA City is as nice as any of those. (Well, with the possible exception of the tank-like Volvo with heated seats that we got by accident in Finland because the guy in front of us had turned up at the airport without a credit-card!)
The brakes are regenerative, ie recharge the battery. I tried an emergency stop just like in a driving test anyhow, and the car seemed to stop pretty fast even in the rain. So I'm assuming that a mechanical brake is engaged when you slam your foot down.
The batteries in the MEGA City are maintenance-free sealed lead-acid. The idea of having to remember to check and top-up batteries does not appeal. Which is which in my off-grid system I use SLA (Sealed Lead-Acid) also.
You really wouldn't need to be a dedicated 'green' to use this vehicle as a runaround for shopping, shipping kids about, etc. It 'just works' as a small and efficient car.
|Maximum Speed||40mph (~60kph)|
|Maximum Range||50miles (~80km)|
|Typical Range||38miles (~60km)|
|Unladen Weight||645kg (including 236kg batteries)|
|Maximum Laden Weight||850kg|
|Electrical Consumption||~185Wh/mile (~116Wh/km)|
|Charge Time||8h (from empty)|
|Charge Power||1.5kW (from 240V AC mains)|