Appropriately called the C-Zero, because of its zero CO2 emissions and zero engine noise, Citroen’s new electric city car, will be launched in the UK in the last quarter of 2010 and might just change the way we all feel about cars of this type.
The Citroen C-Zero is a full four seat car, with four ‘real’ seats, due to its 2.55m wheelbase and this also gives the car a useable 166 litre boot. Specification wise, it’s got loads of comfort and safety equipment, such as ABS Brakes, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Program, Electric Windows, Six Air-Bags and Air-Conditioning.
The C-Zero has a top speed of 80mph and 0-62mph takes around 15 seconds, so whilst it’s not fast, its plenty fast enough for most of us, for most of the time. A standard recharge cycle should see the C-Zero take you around 80 miles, which is, again more than enough miles for most of us to see us through to the next re-charge.
On the topic of charging, well it couldn’t be simpler, you’re C-Zero will simply plug into the mains, and a complete charge will take around 6 hours, but using an external station with a single-phase current of 125A at 400V, for power of up to 50kW, its claimed that you can charge the batteries up to 80% in just 30 minutes. You can’t help thinking however that “canny” users might just do the ‘plugging in at work, making the whole process even cheaper (after all, how many of us charge our mobiles or laptops up at work?)
Using the C-Zero is simplicity itself and turning the ignition key a beep confirms to the driver that the car is running. On the road, well, it drives like an ordinary car with an automatic gearbox and its only the lack of noise and the fact that the fuel gauge is replaced by a battery charge indicator that tells you, you are in a ‘non-conventional’ car.
There is no hiding the fact this car was designed for the city and for urban commuting, but even now, at this early stage of development of cars like this, they really can for many drivers, already be considered as a real viable alternative. Its range on a charge and its performance make it liveable with, whilst its capacity to carry 4 adults, make it ‘everyday’ useable.
Cost wise, its estimated its not going to be cheap, although it will benefit from a government subsidy, but even then, we expect it to cost a similar price to say a mid range saloon such as a Ford Focus and I guess thats around £18,000.
So how does it work? The C-Zero uses a permanent magnet synchronous motor delivering 47kW or 64bhp EEC from 3,000 to 6,000rpm. Maximum torque of 180Nm is available from 0 to 2,000rpm. Power is transmitted to the rear axle via a single-speed reduction gear.
The motor is powered by a latest-generation 330-volt lithium-ion battery system comprising 88 50Ah cells (for onboard energy of 16kWh), mounted in the centre of the vehicle. Lithium-ion technology keeps battery weight down compared with conventional technology, while offering equivalent performance. It is also resistant to partial re-charges, which have no impact on battery longevity.
The C-Zero is being developed jointly with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, so you can expect a Mitsubishi version on the shelves as well and I guess which one you choose will be down to levels of specification, the way it looks and of course, its price.
We applaud Citroen for the work they have done to give us more miles to the gallon from our normal cars and reduce CO2 emissions with cars such as the new C3 and DS3 which have versions producing less than 100g/km of CO2 however it would appear that alternative fuel sources are the way forward, albeit currently they all still have disadvantages as the C-Zero does, for whilst it might not chuck out emissions itself, its powered by electricity, which is generated by emission producing power stations and of course, there are serious questions over what’s involved in disposing of the cars batteries when they reach the end of their life.
So for those of you that want to move away from the conventional diesel or petrol powered cars, and assuming you don’t want to drive fast, or drive far, there will be a number of options of this type available to you, made by various car makers over the next 12 months or so. However, you will be paying more for them and unless you can find a way to charge them up from solar cells, or wind turbines, you will still be producing emissions, although it will be at arm’s length.
All that said, the C-Zero is a decent enough effort at making a ‘city car’ that’s happy to take a ride out into the country and if its abilities fit your needs and if you are happy to stump up the extra cash it will cost you to buy it, you can get one from late in 2010.