The humble electric or hybrid car may be smart, but in its drive to be sustainable it has a frumpy design and pootles along the road without ever threatening the speed limit. Or so the stereotype would have us believe. Yet today, many electric cars and hybrids are blossoming into desirable and luxurious thoroughbreds.
Take the new Honda NSX. Yes, it can creep silently along the high street, but stamp on the gas and in three seconds it will be travelling at 60mph as it roars towards a top speed of 191mph. “In quiet mode, the hybrid supercar is almost serene, thanks to its electric bias,” says Tamara Warren, a reviewer for www.theverge.com. “But dial up the knob to turbo mode and the healthy growl of the 3.5-litre V6 engine reminds you this is a serious sports car.”
Hybrid cars have conventional engines that deliver impressive performance – although they still have some way to go in terms of energy storage and fuel efficiency. The Honda NSX, for example, reportedly only manages one mile in pure electric mode and clocks up 17mpg.
But electric vehicles are also surprising consumers – in a nice way – with their own improving performance, sumptuous styling and ever-growing battery life. Even tyres are being developed specifically for electric vehicles. Pirelli, for example, is using the latest nanotechnology to create tyres that can withstand the high acceleration of the new power units, while also making less noise when in contact with the road surface. A real benefit when the engine is silent.