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The rolling geeks

It was a week when the electric car came into its own. We enjoyed a couple of decent drives in the all new Electric Renault range (see pages 6 and 7) and then like topping on a good cake, we went off to Vault 2, Captain of the Galleys, Vittoriosa Waterfront, for the launch of a most unusual and electrifying concept to allow up to four adults to hire a fully ensured electric buggy to gently and elegantly meander round the Three Cities at no more than 25km/h.

The whole route is 18km long and it can be followed on GPS. Actually, if one is a stranger to the Three Cities it should be followed on GPS. Instructions and commentary are currently given in eight languages and we found the whole exercise to be more than adequately interesting.

It was the brain child of Dawn Cutajar and Kris Rycken who formed Xception Malta Ltd and set the wheels in motion.

Most people will know that electric cars are eco-friendly and absolutely silent, unless various noises have been introduced to give some sort of warning of approach and departure. With only two pedals, and in this case a very basic means of selecting either forward or backward gear, the whole exercise in this minimalist mode is pure simplicity to control.

The vehicles are Chinese with an extraordinarily strong chassis and a support over the front occupants heads that should act as a rollover bar as well as the means of attaching side screens in times of inclement weather. The rear two passengers sit on a bench seat facing aft and the bench can be converted into luggage space or a picnic table should the desire for sensible refreshments overcome the crew.

Quite apart from the potential this vehicle has within the tourist sector, it can also be the ideal means of shoving around the urban scene, especially if the owner wants it for use in any one of our ‘flatter’ towns.

The normal range between charges is 60km when being used by strangers. That being so 75-80ks is quite realistic in private ownership using 25km/h as the optimum speed. It must be stressed that these buggies with the geeks have been especially limited to 25km/h for safety reasons.

The 5.4 kw engine is powered by eight 6V batteries. The car, fully road homologated, down to lights and flashing indicators, only weighs 600kg.

The test cars were provided with onboard telematics by local company Handson Systems which carried out the difficult task of setting the whole lot to work in an electric car.

The company also set up a system that allows each car to be totally monitored when out and about and if any-thing goes wrong an SOS button enables the occupants to communicate problems or ask for assistance via a small microphone and speaker.

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