The car of the future

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Not convinced by electric cars? The Chevrolet Volt may just change your mind. The pioneering electric vehicle can travel up to 300 miles, has won a host of awards including 2012 European Car of the Year and counts President Obama in its fan club. TAMSIN COCKS spoke to Adam Brand, Sales Manager of W H Brand, to find out why a silent car was making so much noise and why businesses should take note…

An electric car that boasts a range of 300 miles is enough to make most ears prick up. Until now, range anxiety has been one of the biggest turn-offs for potential customers to the electric vehicle market, but the Chevrolet Volt has managed to alleviate these concerns with pioneering new technology that gives it a virtually unlimited range.

The Volt is run on electricity 100 percent of the time, but it is only the first 50 miles that are powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Once the charge has depleted, a petrol-powered generator kicks in extending the vehicle’s range up to 300 miles. To most people this may well sound like a plug-in hybrid, but the Volt is actually billed as an E-REV, or extended range electric vehicle. Adam Brand was keen to explain the difference: ‘It’s not a hybrid at all. In a hybrid, you’re using a certain amount of electric and your engine at the same time. With the Volt, you’ve got a range of up to 50 miles on pure electric. Going beyond that, you’ve got a generator on board to extend your journey as far as you want to go, as long as you keep adding fuel to the generator. But actually, research has shown that most people’s average journey is well under 50 miles anyway, therefore most of your driving will be on a pure electric charge without using fuel at all.’

The Volt falls into the zero road tax category. The company car tax is also exceptionally low because the emissions figure is just 27g per kilometer

Being able to neutralise the fear of running out of juice is a massive selling point for the Volt, as it gives people both peace of mind and flexibility. But while the hybrid has the benefit of being able to run like a ‘normal’ car it also happily qualifies for a range of tax breaks that apply to low emission vehicles, which are particularly beneficial to businesses as Adam explains: ‘There are quite a few financial benefits. Firstly, the Volt falls into the zero road tax category. The company car tax is also exceptionally low because the emissions figure is just 27g per kilometer. And for people buying them for business, there are massive tax savings as well because you can set it 100 percent against your company tax.

‘Obviously there are huge fuel savings too, for example if it’s a local company doing more local runs you can just drive on the electrical all the time. A full charge is costing you around a…

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