History has a way of repeating itself.
Just as the many tearful original EV1 lease drivers bade farewell to the electric car in the mock funeral that started Chris Paine’s docufilm Who Killed The Electric Car, a select group of electric car lease drivers in the U.K. gave a suitably British farewell to their car of the past year: a 2010 Mitsubishi i-Miev.
Among the regular car drivers and electric vehicle advocates who stumped up the £350 ($540) -a-month lease fee to take part in the trial two owners attracted more attention than most: Actor and EV advocate Robert Llewellyn and veteran of the British automotive press, Quentin Willson.
Robert Llewelyn’s enthusiasm for green vehicles is no secret. A true-blue EV fan, regular guest on TransportEvolved and the host of his own show on electric vehicles Fully Charged, Llewellyn had already recorded his own personal tribute to the electric car he has leased for a year.
But it is Quentin Willson's response we find most shocking. Until last year, he was a self-confessed gear-head, preferring the comfort of Range Rovers and the hum of the V8 to silent city cars.
Willson, who started his motoring career in the 1980s, is a former presenter on the BBC’s Top Gear program and now writes a regular column for the Sunday Mirror newspaper spoke candidly about his participation in the scheme in a YouTube video produced for Mitsubishi:
i-MiEV Police Vehicle
“Personally, I think that this has been one of the most interesting things that I’ve ever done in my automotive career because I approached this with a huge helping of cynicism. To be fair, I wasn’t quite convinced but twelve months, I am standing here feeling enormously sad because I have to give my electric car back. It’s been that good. In fact, it’s changed my life”
Along with the other participants speaking in Mitsubishi’s own video there was a pang of regret from every single driver who had taken part that they were handing the cars back.
Nearly every participant commented on the car’s speed and acceleration. Even the local police which had a specially kitted out vehicle, commented that the 2010 i-Miev complimented the fleet of the local city precinct.
In an echo back to those early pioneers of the EV1 and RAV4 EV, many drivers openly wished they could keep their i-Miev forever, trading in their gasoline car instead.
Unlike the early EV1s and RAV4s, the 25 returned i-Mievs have a better fate: They are to be distributed throughout the U.K. Mitsubishi Dealer Network as test-drive vehicles for the general public.
To hear a stalwart of the internal combustion engine speak so passionately about an electric city car that looks a little like it wandered straight from some Japanese Anime is refreshing. Just days after another high-profile gear-head, Jay Leno, took delivery of his own plug-in car the i-Miev video shows us the dawn of the electric car may finally be upon us.
We can’t wait.