A pretty-looking, single-seat electric car is to go on sale that is as small in size as it is low in price; the Zagato Volpe measures 2.13m by 1m and when it goes on sale it will cost £5,600.
As well as the fully electric version, the Volpe will be available as a petrol or LPG hybrid. The electric Volpe has a top speed of 30mph and a maximum range of 37 miles – the hybrid variants are able to travel up to 223 miles on a single tank of fuel.
A spokesperson for the ETA, a car breakdown company that covers both conventional and electric vehicles, said: “A retail price of £5,600 would make the Volpe no more expensive than many of the larger petrol scooters and it would be a drier, safer and greener way to travel around a city.”
What is a quadricycle?
With a weight of only 350kg, the electric Volpe is classified as a quadricycle rather than as a car. Sometimes referred to as a micro car, a quadricycle is a four-wheeled vehicle with an unladen mass not more than 400kg (excluding batteries if it is an electric vehicle) and whose maximum continuous rated power does not exceed 15 kW. The best known quadricycle in Britain is the G-Wiz.
Quadricycles do not have high top speeds and cannot travel as far on one charge or tank of fuel as a conventional city car, but they are ideally suited to the urban environment.
There is a perception that large, heavy cars such as 4X4s are safe, but they pose an increased risk to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers of lighter cars in the event of a collision. Quadricycles on the other hand are designed to operate in urban areas at low speeds. According to Government figures, Greater Manchester has an average traffic speed of 12.1mph, Leicester 13.6mph, London 14.6mph, West Yorkshire 14.6mph, Merseyside 14.9mph, South Yorkshire 15mph and the West Midlands 15.5mph (Road Statistics 2008: Traffic, Speeds and Congestion).