The little electric car that started a revolution
In early 2004, a tiny new car appeared on the streets of London, confusing and surprising everyone who saw it: more compact than a Smart, it had cheeky quirky styling that demanded attention, could turn around in the width of a narrow street, could squeeze into the tiniest parking space and travelled in silence.
The car attracted attention wherever it went. What was it? Who made it? Why is it so quiet? Was it electric? Suddenly, the media were falling over each other to report on a new type of vehicle: the G-Wiz electric car.
In a remarkably short period of time, the little G-Wiz went from being a complete unknown to a media sensation. TV celebrities, Hollywood stars, politicians and captains of industry were queuing up to buy them; fashion designers created special editions. Suddenly, the G-Wiz became cool.
Hundreds of people flocked to buy G-Wiz's. Some were attracted by the cheap running costs and exemption from London's 'Congestion Charge' tax and free parking. Others were attracted by its environmental credentials. Lots were bought by SUV owners, wanting a smaller car to use in the city.
REVA G-Wiz charging
on a London Street
Local government responded by installing charging points and offering free parking in many parts of the city. Enthusiastic owners went on to form their own club - the G-Wiz owners club - now one of the largest electric car owners clubs in the world, and the EV Network - the world's first National Charging Network for electric cars.
Other car makers watched in astonishment: why were people buying a small electric car over their own far superior models? Why was there a five month waiting list for the G-Wiz? It was the first indication that the general public was eager to buy electric cars.
Honda, Renault and Peugeot showed electric concept cars of similar dimensions to the G-Wiz. Norbert Reithofer, CEO at BMW started openly talking about BMW building "a G-Wiz competitor", explaining that this will be an important future market for BMW.
Few motoring journalists understand the G-Wiz, nor understand why it has been successful. Few cars have divided opinion or created as much debate as the G-Wiz. Few cars are likely ever to do so again.
Today, over six years after London saw its first G-Wiz, the car remains popular - visit a car park in the City of London or in Westminster, you'll see more G-Wiz's than any other single model of car. Many Londoners view the car with pride - it's 'their' car, created for their city.
A recent Frost and Sullivan survey into electric vehicles noted that when people find out about electric cars, their interest in buying one doubles. I carried out a survey with city car users as research for this book. In cities where the G-Wiz is common, people are twice as likely to consider buying an electric car in the future.
Each day, the G-Wiz demonstrates to millions of Londoners that electric cars are practical - the first time any electric car has done so in 100 years. It doing so it has become a milestone in the uptake of electric cars.
It's a legacy that will live on for a very long time.
The 2011 Electric Car Guide
The book is available from Amazon and all main bookshops
For a taster, why not read the first chapter of the book.