The future’s bright, the future’s green

Tara Greaves

Say electric vehicle and many people think milk float – unless, that is, they have taken a look at the latest cars and bikes on display at the Green Wheels event in Norwich.

A selection of vehicles, including biofuel and hybrid, are on display until the end of tomorrow at the Forum, alongside the spectacular Earth from the Air exhibition.

The event began yesterday, the day that transport secretary Douglas Alexander said Britain must look at ways to ensure that by 2030, UK cars emitting zero, or very little, carbon are commonplace.

On show yesterday for the first time in the UK, and for one day only, was the electric powered Tesla Roadster – a sports car that can go from 0-60mph in four seconds, with a top speed of more than 130mph.

Brian Randall, Tesla’s test and validation manager, said: “The company is based in California. It was started by a chap who wanted a sports car but an eco-friendly one.

“When he couldn’t find anyone to make him one he did what any good entrepreneur might do and decided to make his own.”

The $100,000 car will be made by Lotus at Hethel but will only be available in the US. It does not go into production until the end of the year, but 300 have already been ordered.

It has a range of 200 miles and buyers will be offered the option to purchase solar panels to fit on their garage to power it.

Also causing a stir was the Vectrix Motorbike, officially launched at the end of April in London, which has a maximum speed of 62mph, has a range of 68 miles and takes two hours to recharge.

Paul Craymer, from Vectrix, said: “There is a lead under the seat which goes into a normal household plug. It costs £6,930 on the road and has a four years warranty.”

Other cars on display include the Lotus Bioethanol Exige 265 E and EVE Hybrid, a Honda Civic and Toyota Prius.

Speaking in London, Mr Alexander said planned road pricing pilot schemes could be extended to “major towns and cities across England in the coming years”.

He expected the first business cases to address congestion, from authorities interested in taking forward local road pricing pilots, to be received this summer.

Mr Alexander said the Department for Transport would soon publish a report on how the rise in emissions from heavy and light goods vehicles could be dealt with.

He said the UK should adopt a target of cutting road vehicle emissions to an average 100g per kilometre, down from the current average for cars of around 160g, as a contribution to combating global warming.

The UEA-based CRed carbon reduction campaign, Carbon Connections and Lotus are offering one lucky visitor who makes an Earth from the Air pledge the chance to ride around the Hethel test track in an Exige.

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