Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson isn't known for being a fan of electric or hybrid vehicles.
Usually when we write about him on Green Car Reports it's to comment on the latest daft stunt or anti-electric piece on the program, but naturally, we're prepared to give credit where credit is due.
Actually, upon seeing Clarkson's latest invention, the P45 hybrid microcar, maybe credit isn't due after all. A quick look at it is enough to see why--if a Transformer had a child, this is what it might look like half way between changing from a robot to a car.
Several years ago, Clarkson tested the Peel P50 on the show--the world's smallest ever road-legal production car. In honor of the Peel, his contraption is named the P45, as it's slightly smaller.
The side-joke here being that in the U.K, a P45 is a tax document you're given when you leave employment. Or you're fired. Think of it as the "pink slip" and you'll understand the association.
Based on a small quad bike, with a 100cc two-stroke engine, its main benefit is its tiny size on the UK's crowded streets--as demonstrated by Clarkson as he pulls past a line of vehicles in traffic as you might on a motorcycle. That's something even Renault's tiny Twizy is too large to do.
The P45's engine isn't as clean as the Twizy though, which is where the hybrid element comes in. Later in the episode, not shown in the clip above, Clarkson demonstrates the "ease" by which you can run on electric power--after replacing the engine for an electric motor. He then rolls silently through a shopping mall and into shops.
A trip to the British library beckons, but while inside the battery runs out. A little editing trickery shows Jeremy noisily starting up the engine once more and zooming out...
This isn't the first time Top Gear has dabbled in hybrids, of course.
A few years back, the Top Gear boys went as far as building their own range-extended electric car. It had a few flaws--well, a lot of flaws, including barn-door aerodynamics and a range-extending engine that filled the cabin with smoke.
Perhaps they're not the most serious of segments, but Top Gear demonstrating hybrids has to be good for the cars' image.