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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Going green with the watt car

By David Miller
BBC News Online in Leeds

Electric cars
The cars are made in India and have a top speed of 40mph
I have driven smaller cars than the G-Wiz but not outside of the fairground.

Now all the fun of the dodgem cars can be yours in Leeds - minus the bumps - for just 1 an hour.

The city has been chosen for trials for this new way of getting around town.

A company called Goingreen is renting the electric cars as an environmentally-friendly alternative to petrol or diesel-powered transport.

India visit

The cars based at the company's offices near Leeds Parish Church are all imported from Bangalore in India where they have become a trendy means of transport.

They were spotted by Steven Cain, the former chief executive of television company Carlton Communications, who lives near Leeds.

He decided there must be a market for the G-Wiz in crowded European cities.

Running the Leeds office is 24-year-old Joe Byars who gave up a career in investment banking in London "for the chance of doing something different."

Inside of electric car
All the cars have leather seats and a radio

He said: "This is a fun, exciting project. Leeds is a great place to launch this kind of thing."

The G-Wiz has room for two adults and two small children plus a small amount of luggage space.

At first I felt a little vulnerable in something that makes a Smart car seem big.

But that soon passes and is replaced by the fun of being in a car that can nip through traffic almost without a sound.

Leeds Loop

Top speed is claimed to be 40mph, but I could have nudged a little more on a downhill stretch near Roundhay Park.

Generally it is easy enough to keep up with the traffic with just one pedal to get it to go and one to stop it.

But you soon learn to keep to the inside lane when going up uphill on a dual carriageway.

The G-Wiz can go 40 miles before it needs plugging to a 13 amp socket for a recharge.

Taking it back to Goingreen, I decided to go for another turn round the Leeds Loop just for the fun of it.

Between meetings

Mr Byars says design agencies and PR firms are showing interest in the G-Wiz as a quick and eye-catching way of visiting clients.

Leeds City Council's planning department already leases one for officers to use to get between meetings.

To rent every now and then you have to pay 10 to join the Goingreen "club".

After that, hiring one costs 1 an hour with a minimum charge of 15.

There is no petrol to buy and you have the satisfaction of knowing you are one car user who is not adding to the traffic fumes in Leeds.

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27 Mar 03  |  Business

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