BMW and MINI electric kids car race

Last week we took you to the dog-eat-dog world of radio controlled car racing, with on-board footage and video race report, as organised by The Racing Bug. All fine and fun, but wouldn’t you rather actually be in the car, racing your opponents wheel to wheel for real? Yes, we thought so too, so we [...]

YW electric Grand Prix gets underway

Last week we took you to the dog-eat-dog world of radio controlled car racing, with on-board footage and video race report, as organised by The Racing Bug. All fine and fun, but wouldn’t you rather actually be in the car, racing your opponents wheel to wheel for real? Yes, we thought so too, so we took the electric BMW and MINI cars we had on loan out for a thrashing, to see which came out on top. We had to enlist our youngest ever road testers due to the diminutive interiors. So which car was fastest, which one handled better, which one triumphed in the desirability stakes? There was only one way to find out: standby for the first ever YW Electric Grand Prix !



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BMW and MINI launch electric kids car range

Great gift idea: buy the kids their own electric cars With Christmas knocking on our doors next month we thought it was time to consider what the kiddies out there might want to find around the tree. iPad, no – too young, Playstation – nah, too annoying. Electric car – yeah, just the ticket for [...]

MINI and BMW electric kids cars - with adult helmet to show scale

Great gift idea: buy the kids their own electric cars

With Christmas knocking on our doors next month we thought it was time to consider what the kiddies out there might want to find around the tree. iPad, no – too young, Playstation – nah, too annoying. Electric car – yeah, just the ticket for a few laps of the tree and drive!

Bring on the nice people at BMW and MINI who lent us some samples to play with. First up is a gorgeous electric MINI Cooper S convertible miniature; yours for a mere 249 Euros from www.mini.com/shop or 129 Euros in pedal car form. This deep metallic blue micro car is aimed at the 3-5 year old in your litter, comes with electric rechargeable pack and not much else. Unfortunately our particular sample got damaged en route, note to Santa: pack your sleigh a bit better pleeeeze. So ignore the crack on the rear left of the car, it certainly didn’t stop us bringing you this extreme car test.


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YW reflects on the luxury of silence that hybrids and electric cars promise

Lexus CT200h and why we like hybrids Hybrids, and particularly the Toyota Prius have had some vocal opponents in the media. Most have singled out it’s lack of dynamic abilities and questionable cradle to grave eco credentials. But have you ever stopped to consider the luxury of silence that a quiet car confers? Here are [...]

Hybrids contribute to the luxury of silence

Lexus CT200h and why we like hybrids

Hybrids, and particularly the Toyota Prius have had some vocal opponents in the media. Most have singled out it’s lack of dynamic abilities and questionable cradle to grave eco credentials. But have you ever stopped to consider the luxury of silence that a quiet car confers? Here are a few observations from the launch of Lexus’s latest hybrid, the CT200h, which would equally apply to electric cars.

Hybrids await at Lexus CT200h press launch near Paris

Picture the scene: a sumptuous hotel set in forested hills, pleasantly removed from the city bustle of Paris. A serene calmness accompanies this hilltop location belying it’s proximity to both Charles De Gaulle airport and the main autoroute to Lille. A semicircular arrangement of gleaming cars awaits journalists eager to sample Lexus’s latest mini-limousines. Above the twitter of birds you can hear the pleasant banter of scribes and their hosts exchanging technobabble worthy of a sub-atomic particle convention. But wait; there’s something missing. Where’s the coughing of combustion engines waking from their slumber? Where’s the thrum of jockeys blipping their mount’s throttles ready for the off? Where’s the distant scream of engines being let loose once released from the gaze of the PR’s and speed bumps of the hotel drive? Answer: these CT200h’s are hybrids, with electric motors to manoeuvre and assist departure and with them comes an intoxicating calm.


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Lexus CT200h – We drive this latest hybrid only model

Lexus launch the CT200h as a hybrid only model You are surfing the net for your next car: you need something small and efficient, environmentally proficient, yet sporty and luxurious to boot. Lexus claim to have filled this spot with their CT200h. Launched as a hybrid only, this mid-sized 5 door hatch wants to be [...]

Lexus CT200h - We drive this latest hybrid

Lexus launch the CT200h as a hybrid only model

You are surfing the net for your next car: you need something small and efficient, environmentally proficient, yet sporty and luxurious to boot. Lexus claim to have filled this spot with their CT200h. Launched as a hybrid only, this mid-sized 5 door hatch wants to be a sports car too. Warm-hatch would be a more accurate description, but with many positive qualities. Our top tester Timtim left the virtual world to taste the little Lexus for us.



I’m in Chantilly, near Paris; capital of the horse according to the local tourist flyer I’ve stumbled on in my hotel room. Outside the Mont Royal Hotel a cluster of new Lexus’s await testers from around the globe. Without a moment’s hesitation I pick a golden yellow sample. Hey, don’t want to disappoint the YW office, although to be honest it looks most exciting in white! All the engine options are identical so there’s no squabble with my scribbling brethren for the horniest lump in the beast. In fact by the sound of it none of them come with engines at all! As journo’s hit the engine start button and saunter off on an exploratory loop there’s a barrage of, err nothing, discreetly interrupted by tyre on tarmac and a few tweeting birds (the real kind). Rather than contemplating the deafening silence (what a stupid, though familiar expression) I’m watching the instruments. I’ve hit the start button and am only convinced that I’m up and running by the “Lexus Hybrid Drive” welcome screen as the instruments light up. I grab the chrome faced, switch sized gear lever. There’s only R, N, D and the more mysterious B to choose from. D will do, B is for user selected regenerative braking, and release the anachronistic foot brake. Shouldn’t the “P” switch below gear lever just double up as an electric foot/handbrake?


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Paris Motor Show 2010 – Audi e-tron Spyder Concept

This is not a just convertible e-tron, but a whole reconfiguration into a plug-in hybrid Look over to the left of the Audi Quattro Concept on the Audi stand and you’ll notice, what at first glance looks like the convertible version. A natural assumption when you see the similar nose, waistline and short overhangs of [...]

Paris Motor Show 2010 - Audi e-tron Spyder Concept

This is not a just convertible e-tron, but a whole reconfiguration into a plug-in hybrid

Look over to the left of the Audi Quattro Concept on the Audi stand and you’ll notice, what at first glance looks like the convertible version. A natural assumption when you see the similar nose, waistline and short overhangs of this silver spider. Audi are demonstrating and evolving their new design language, which started with the A5 coupe and it’s concept predecessor the Nuvolari quattro. Look under the striking silver skin and that’s where the similarities end. This Audi e-tron also looks just like an open air follow up to the e-tron supercar shown at the Geneva Show in March. The pivotal word in Audi’s description though is “hybrid”. Whereas the original e-tron was a pure electric car, this iteration is powered by Audi’s highly efficient new 3.0 TDi engine. Audi’s Le Mans success and everyone’s experience of driving many highly desirable cars powered by diesel makes this not such an unlikely powertrain. Here we are looking at the immediate future of sportscars; able to deliver shattering performance and still return favourable fuel consumption and emissions. Porsche got there first with the 918 Spyder concept and the rest of the world will be following along shortly. Sporting 600 miles+ range, 128 mpg and 59 g/km, Audi’s e-tron Spyder is not to be sniffed at! Combining the torque from TDi and front drive electric motors gives the concept massive torque, controllable in Quattro fashion. 1,002 Nm of torque should do rather nicely thank you.


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Paris Motor Show – Exagon Furtive eGT electric sportscar

France suprises with launch of new electric sportscar by Exagon Motors Most major motor shows throw up the odd surprise new car manufacturer. Often, resurrections of past iconic brands, Geneva delivered with the re-emergence of the Hispano-Suiza badge. Paris on the other hand, revealed a totally new name in Exagon Motors. Based in Magny-Cours, France, [...]

Paris Motor Show - Exagon Motors Furtive eGT

France suprises with launch of new electric sportscar by Exagon Motors

Most major motor shows throw up the odd surprise new car manufacturer. Often, resurrections of past iconic brands, Geneva delivered with the re-emergence of the Hispano-Suiza badge. Paris on the other hand, revealed a totally new name in Exagon Motors. Based in Magny-Cours, France, this new manufacturer emerges from the embryonic electric motor racing circus. Appropriately, they launched an electric sportscar, the Exagon Furtive eGT, with ambitious range and performance claims. Unusually, they offer pure electric drive, or an additional range-extender combustion engine in their 2+2 seater. They claim considerable technical support from their suppliers Siemens (motors) and Saft (Li-ion cells) and advanced technology.

Paris Motor Show 2010 - Exagon Furtive eGT

When you’ve never heard of a brand and come across it in a show, your first instinct is to judge it on looks alone. On this score, we found the profile view we first glimpsed rather alluring and competent, if not exactly visually challenging. The car rotated on its turntable to reveal its rump. Again elegant, exciting but unassuming, immediately digestible. But when the nose, from front ¾ swivelled into view, we found the design lost it’s integrity. Character in a car is welcome and distinguishes one from another, but we don’t think they have pulled it off with the snout.

Go back only a couple of years and a startup like this would be offering you a mouthwatering performance from a highly tuned mid-mounted V6, with fuel consumption to match. Now if it isn’t hybrid or pure-electric you’ll be wondering what planet they lived on. How times have changed…


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Paris Motor Show – Jaguar C-X75 gas turbine hybrid electric supercar

Jaguar wow press and public with a daring hybrid supercar concept built to celebrate their 75th year. Running gas turbines in road cars is not a new idea. Think back to the 50′s-60′s when Chrysler ran a fleet of turbine cars, and BRM fielded a Le Mans racer. These were short lived experimental projects that [...]

Paris Motor Show 2010 - Jaguar C-X75


Jaguar wow press and public with a daring hybrid supercar concept built to celebrate their 75th year.

Running gas turbines in road cars is not a new idea. Think back to the 50′s-60′s when Chrysler ran a fleet of turbine cars, and BRM fielded a Le Mans racer. These were short lived experimental projects that followed the motor show dream concepts of the time. Interesting ideas but flawed in many ways and connected mechanically to the drivetrain. Using gas turbines to generate electricity for electric drive motors solves the immediate problem of reducing the phenomenal RPM and throttling of a turbine down to the low rotation needed for your wheels and tyres. It also allows the turbine to run at optimum speed for the efficiency that eluded earlier iterations. If Jaguar have solved the remaining problems of heat and emissions, then we have the recipe for an interesting vehicle. 4 wheel drive, infinitely controllable for traction and yaw, electric drive supplemented by turbine generators, bring it on Jaguar. Lets hope this is not just pie in the sky and points the way to a new and exciting future for supercars.

Enough of the mechanics, this is a concept and concepts need to impress as well as show the way forward. Raiding the past to guarantee the pedigree of the brand is normal and acceptable, copying elements blindly to make life easy is plain tacky. Fortunately this concept walks the tightrope adeptly between cool and kitsch, looking forward whilst recalling past icons. Deliberate evocations of the glorious XJ13 present in the classic-yacht boat tail work well. It’s not all plain sailing though, as the nose needs to incorporate latest Jag styling cues. Forcing an upright squarish mouth onto an otherwise sleek flowing shape seems brutish and doesn’t integrate as well as the beautiful tapering tail.

Rather than verbally perambulate endlessly on design matters we encourage you to peruse the pics and judge for yourselves as this is inevitably a question of personal taste. On balance though we’ll give it an enthusiastic thumbs up!


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MINI Scooter E Concept revealed

Mini goes halves by showing electric scooter concept Mini’s have a strong personality and following – the envy of most manufacturers. Now they are tempting the two wheeled brigade to come over to the brand by dishing out some radical wheels in scooter form. These are billed as “Concepts”, served up in various flavours, looking [...]

MINI Scooter E Concept


Mini goes halves by showing electric scooter concept

Mini’s have a strong personality and following – the envy of most manufacturers. Now they are tempting the two wheeled brigade to come over to the brand by dishing out some radical wheels in scooter form. These are billed as “Concepts”, served up in various flavours, looking like ice cream tubbed up in chrome bowls sunk into a glitzy counter. Lemon and lime, pistachio and mint, vanilla with raspberry twist anyone? Scooters don’t come any fancier than this, but you’ll need a smattering of AC power to keep these slush puppies on the road.

MINI Scooter E Concept + iPhone dock

Electric scooters have been around for yonks; remember the “All Electric Winnie” from the ’70s? but the arrival of Li-ion battery technology changes the weight/performance balance. Talking of balance, there’s no word of how many greenbacks you’ll have to throw BMW’s way yet, as this scooter is pitched as a concept only. Adrian van Hooydonk, Mini’s design director, has made sure the Mini’s derivation is clear by borrowing instrument binnacle, headlight and wing mirror shapes. Not so Mini yet is the ignition key. It lacks one altogether and harnesses the processing power of your favourite mobile phone, or as we all know them: iPhone, to check ownership and double up as a social-media tool. Find friendly (or not) co-owners by being steered towards them by GPS technology! It makes perfect sense, so come on Mini, let’s hear you say production is imminent…


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MINI E gets real at home while COP15 woos EVs

As Copenhagen week(s) is still in full swing, car manufacturers are sprinkling a whole load of electric PR across the press. Inevitably some of it rubs off on us. Having just published our electric car timeline feature, we thought we’d hoover up this one as electric Minis sound like a tempting prospect. Of course you [...]

Mini E at 10 Downing Street with Gordon Brown

MINI E at 10 Downing Street with Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson


As Copenhagen week(s) is still in full swing, car manufacturers are sprinkling a whole load of electric PR across the press. Inevitably some of it rubs off on us. Having just published our electric car timeline feature, we thought we’d hoover up this one as electric Minis sound like a tempting prospect. Of course you need more than a cute car and a few batteries to get some headlines, so how about this: Gordon Brown gets one on his ministerial fleet. Strangely, this gets announced on the same day as our Boris (Mayor of London, Boris Johnson) chooses Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV to swan around the COP15 environmental summit in Copenhagen. Cast the net wider and you’ll find a whole host of car companies claiming to be THE green vehicle supplier of choice across in Denmark.
Denmark’s Crown Prince HRH Frederik and Fisker Karma

Denmark’s Crown Prince HRH Frederik and Fisker Karma

Clearly Fisker think a Prime minister is a bit lowly, and enlisted Crown Prince HRH Frederik of Denmark to fly the flag. Norwegian manufacturer THINK claims to have the largest EV fleet there. 60 Citroen EVs piled in from the UK. But maybe this is all a smokescreen to hide the disappointment that there’s only room for two in a MINI E ?! The back seat area, normally reserved for your offspring, is primed with 5088 lithium-ion cells to fuel you for a theoretical 150 miles. But whatever the advantages, when an Electric Smart can squeeze motive power into its diminutive body, you have to wonder what’s up?
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2009 IAA Frankfurt Auto / Motor Show – Tesla Model S and Roadster Sport

Tesla S all electric car: we’d like to call this the first showing of the new model S, however a closer peak at the show car reveals it is exactly that and no more, as doors were fixed shut, interior a mock up and the “chrome” finishing strips around windows etc were cracking under the [...]

Tesla S all-electric saloon

Tesla S all-electric saloon


Tesla S all electric car: we’d like to call this the first showing of the new model S, however a closer peak at the show car reveals it is exactly that and no more, as doors were fixed shut, interior a mock up and the “chrome” finishing strips around windows etc were cracking under the heat of the show’s spotlights. Still, it’s not scheduled to come out the factory doors ’till 2011, so the cake’s got time to bake. It is at least an elegant and realistic shape that has a great chance of breaking into the mainstream if it can pull off it’s range and power goals at an affordable price. Their website announces $50,000 price tag, 300 mile range, unnecessarily fast acceleration, and sufficiently high top speed. Remarkably there’s room for 5 adults + 2 kids, as well as a front and back trunk.

Tesla Roadster Sport

Tesla Roadster Sport


Next to it, a fetching yellow Roadster Sport, that is available now, is a useful reminder that the future model S is a realistic proposition; even if the Roadster’s price compared to a petrol engined Elise makes you gasp. Remember how expensive a large Plasma screen TV was 10 years ago? And now? The 700th electric Roadster was delivered at the Frankfurt show to a German law student.

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