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Electric Car Hire

Will you one day emerge bleary eyed from the terminal to a car park full of fully electric rental vehicles? Car Hire .net looks at the short term viability of the electric car programs being rolled out by the manor car rental companies worldwide by examining Sixt, and their new electric cars available in London.

Electric Car Hire UK is a reality now with Sixt pushing the 30 KW Citroen C1 Ev’ie in their Fulham and Chelsea branch in the heart of London. The cars have a lithium battery in the place where the conventional fuel tank would sit and even harness some of the friction when breaking to increase the charge range.

So this brings me to a range of pros and cons for the Sixt cars and using an eco friendly option for city driving.

Lets start with the cons…

Range: The car is only available in London city for a reason and that is the range. Even with the harness of breaking friction the car has a range of around 60 miles per charge so darting around the capital and possibly a short day rental are the options for the Citroen. Although all you need to a three point plug to recharge the car you will have to wait up to six hours for charge and I am not sure most hotels will be happy for you to sling an extension cable out to the car park. For your average tourist the limitations in range and charging questions may reduce the popularity of Sixt’s new cars to inquisitive locals looking for day around the city.

Speed: The engine even with the additional weight of the 25 batteries is still spritely for city driving admittedly. The car has no gears so driving is as easy as any other automatic car but the car is not great for motorway driving down to the top speed of only 60 miles per hour. With a 70 mile speed limit on motorways in the UK, you may think this is enough, but the practicalities of motorway driving dictate that you will need that additional speed at some point during the journey.

Cost: The cost to buy the electric version of the C1 over the petrol or diesel models is significant. If the base cost is much higher then the rental price charged is of course higher too.

Size: The Citroen C1 is considered to be in the mini class within car hire. It claims to fit four passengers but this may be a squeeze for four fully grown adults. Of course luggage space is of a premium too. At the moment fully electric cars tend to be in the small classes but recently a fully electric Rolls Royce Phantom was put forward so I think size may not be a problem in the future!

And the pros…

No congestion charge: I said they were good for city driving and the first big pro is not having to pay the daily charge for congestion in London. The car will already be registered as a fully electric car with the DVLA (government) so when the congestion cameras get you there is no bill waiting back at the rental counter.

Free charge points: They are being rolled out slowly but show 54 charge points in the London area with some incurring a fee but many being public points for your use. You can get up to 4 hours of charge from these points.

Free Parking: Now this is isn’t without cost as you have to register with many councils in London for around £75 per year to get free parking for electric vehicles. Sixt doesn’t mention it so I would presume it isn’t available on their rental fleet but still a pro for electric cars in London.


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