Why are we so good at getting EVs all wrong?

E-scooters might be the bete noire of the mainstream media, but they’re a contender for the title of EV with greatest mass appeal. Strange then that they are effectively illegal.

And while E-bikes are popular – not least because they’re easy-to-charge congestion-busters – they’re subject to restrictions and receive no subsidies from government; No VAT relief and no plug-in grant.

The only EVs eligible for tax relief and grants are electric cars, motorbikes and lorries – an approach that seems back to front.

If the government is ignoring e-scooters and e-bikes in order to shore up a car industry that’s battling to reinvent itself, they’re missing an opportunity. After all, an electric car doesn’t occupy less road space than a conventional car. And neither does it create less road danger than a conventional car. Rather than give tax breaks to electric cars that maintain the status quo, there’s an opportunity to redefine personal transport for a new era.

Cars must adapt to survive

Transport planners in the Netherlands long ago realised that cars are not for cities and cities are not for cars. Here in the UK we remain very much under their spell. While it’s true that our public transport and cycle infrastructure systems are deficient, there’s something of the Emperor’s New Clothes about today’s cars. A child trying to cycle to school in safety is likely to notice how a 2-ton vehicle is ridiculously over-engineered – especially considering 25 per cent of car trips are under 1 mile, and 71% less than 5 miles. Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing a drop in driving licence applications from a a younger generation that doesn’t equate car ownership with independence in the same way as previous generations

The Citroen Ami is a light electric car that can be bought for as little as £20 per month with deposit. It’s a two-seater that’s no jack of all trades, but rather a master of one: A rational choice for those that must have a car in a town or city. And for those who need more than its 28mph top speed and 40-mile range  there’s soon to be the bubble car-inspired Micro Microlino.

If you have young children, there’s a good chance you already own a product from the same company – the beautifully-engineered three-wheeled Micro scooters that are many kids’ introduction to personal transport.


The diminutive EV draws heavily from the bubble cars of the 1960s – and for good reason. If cars must operate within towns and cities, it’s clear they must be clean, limited in performance and lightweight –  the electric Microlino weighs a little over 500kg and is described as the ideal mix between a car and motorbike.

When bigger isn’t better

When the German-British statistician and economist Ernst Schumacher  said “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction“, he was making the case for human-scale, decentralised and appropriate technologies. It’s a shame car makers did not take note.

Cars are getting heavier. An appetite for creature comforts like air conditioning and electric windows has helped pile on the pounds, but it’s the car occupant safety features that have seen the family runabout become ever more tank-like. Everybody wants to remain safe on the roads, but the heavier and faster the next car, the more robust your own vehicle needs to be. You need only look at how the original mini, or Fiat 500 or VW Golf have become bloated in their middle age. Unfortunately, the real losers are those outside the cars.

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover  and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.




  1. Gavin


    A warped example of capitalism at play. The Government WANT us to buy new, expensive cars; even with the subsidy they’re getting a big tax take…. follow the money. It’s sad 🙁

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