What is it?
Much more than it first appears. This is the Citroen C1 Evie, a pure electric car that has been produced by the British-based Electric Car Corporation. It runs on a 30kw electric engine powered by lithium-ion batteries that are placed where the conventional fuel tank is, and also under the bonnet along with the electric motor. This leaves the interior of the C1 Evie unchanged from a standard Citroen C1, making it the first pure-electric four-seater on sale in the UK.
Energy produced from friction under braking is also stored and used to aid the 60-mile range.
What’s it like?
Simple and effective. The Citroen C1 Evie is almost totally ordinary to drive and better for it. The only disconcerting aspect comes from the automatic braking - the C1 Evie is set up to apply light braking as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator in order to generate the most electricity possible from the regenerative energy system. The sudden loss of speed you get when the car isn’t under load takes some getting used to, but it’s not difficult to incorporate it into normal driving and is said to improve range by up to 15 per cent.
The rest of the driving experience is more familiar. Power is sent through a standard Citroen C1 five-speed manual ’box, which is modified to remain in third gear. But the large amounts of torque available from the electric motor mean that there is no problem with only having one gear ratio – in practice it’s no different to driving a standard automatic.
The extra weight the C1 gets from its 25 batteries is noticeable given the C1 Evie’s low power output, but the 0-30mph time is sprightly enough for urban driving, and that is really all the C1 Evie sets out to do.
If you do venture outside the city, then the top speed of 60mph could be a frustrating limitation, but that’s a compromise that most buyers accept when they opt for Watts over horses. Otherwise the difficulties involved in running a Citroen C1 Evie are few. A 60-mile range is plenty for most inner-city drives, a simple plug-and-go recharge system makes re-fuelling easy (a three-point mains plug socket is all you need, though you’ll still have to wait up to six hours), and safety is better than any competitor. The Evie is as easy to drive and use as the petrol-powered equivalent.
Should I buy one?
Given that your only other options are the extraordinarily undesirable and impractical G-Wiz, or the barely more acceptable NICE Mega City, the Citroen C1 Evie is a no-brainer.
The electric-car compromise is still there; the Evie is much more expensive to buy and lacks the performance and range of a petrol-powered city car, but the market for low-range all-electric city cars is a well-known and growing entity. The Electric Car Company has just made it an infinitely more palatable segment to shop in.
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