Plug-and-Drive Car Debuts on bidorbuy

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If your driving habits are anything close to average, you probably add 800 to 1000 kilometres to your odometer each month. Now imagine your monthly fuel bill peaking out at between R30 and R50 for all that driving.Pure fantasy? Not at all. And the proof is in the listing entitled Electric Battery Powered Car. This debutante on bidorbuy is a pure plug-and-drive vehicle: all it needs is to be plugged into the wall socket every now and then.

Most experts say that electric battery powered vehicles are not about to replace the internal combustion engines (the ones that are responsible for our sky-high petrol expenses) any time soon. Not if we are talking about big, fast cars that directly match what we have today, feature by feature.

However, things acquire a different aspect the moment we change our perspective to take into account these three basic considerations:

  • Our expenses. This takes spot number one because the matters of the pocket are closest to our hearts. No one will dispute that a R50 monthly car fuel bill in electricity compares very favourably with a R1000 monthly car fuel bill in petrol.
  • Our requirements. As the “fast lane for vehicles carrying three or more persons” Gauteng experiment confirmed, when South Africans drive to and from work, they are as a rule alone in the car. Plus, they often drive bumper-to-bumper. For that, we surely do not need big and fast cars.
  • Our planet. Yes, you guessed correctly: sooner or later, things were bound to come to that. And why not? Even those of us who are not particularly environmentally conscious are willing to do our bit for Mother Earth, providing others make it fairly easy for us to do so.

The plug-and-drive 2-seater from the bidorbuy listing should be available to South Africans from the beginning of the next year. It boasts the top speed of 70 kilometres per hour and maximum range of 100 to 120 kilometres, after which the battery must be charged for six to eight hours. Manufactured in China, the car will be sold under the brand name of Zen QT and marketed as a second car – though we can very well see young, single and cool city dwellers (yes, green motoring is cool!) going for them as the first and only car.

Zen QT plans to introduce more models of electric battery powered cars later on in 2009. Chinese manufacturers will supply a 4-seater and a three-wheel vehicle. Capable of doing between 100 and 120 kilometres per hour, the latter is a fast car – at least in electric battery powered cars terms. Then there is a luxury electric battery powered 2-seater from Korea which will, say the Zen QT people, revolutionize the way we perceive our cars. The owners will be able to configure the look of their vehicle in ways that go far beyond opening or closing the roof.

And who knows, perhaps South African authorities will follow in the footsteps of some other countries and offer incentives to people who opt out of petrol-powered cars. They say that driving an electric car in London means zero road tax, no congestion fee, and no parking fee either in designated areas. To popularise the battery-operated cars, India recently announced a subsidy on the base price, a value-added tax exemption, and a refund of road tax and registration charges.

Though, on second thoughts, South Africans might be wise to aim for something less ambitious and concentrate their hopes on having a regular and uninterrupted supply of electrical power.