Sunday, February 24, 2013

Where's Wally? - Looking for EV's in Portugal

Renault Twizy in Óbidos, Portugal

One thing is compiling numbers of electric car sales, another is to see them live in the middle of traffic and see how and where they interact with the remaining vehicles, so i've written this post to illustrate how EV's stand in Portugal, my home country.

Renault Twizy - Last year's best seller, this quirky vehicle draws as much attention as a Lambo, so it's easy to say that this isn't for everyone, and with a limited range of 80 - 100 kms it's clear where it is aimed: Megacities, in this case, Lisbon, where they start to appear here and there. Outside the nation's capital i've seen four red Twizy's parked just outside Óbidos, an historic village 90 kms north of Lisbon, belonging to a company called Zero CO2 Tours, a rental company focused in promoting the surrounding area through tours and other services using EV's. Interesting, eh?

Police Leaf and its civilian brother
Nissan Leaf - With more than 120 units sold, this is the most widespread electric car in Portugal and the only to be seen outside major cities. Supported by the government at the time of launch with some units, like the one on the picture above, being bought by public institutions, this was the model that suffered the most with the end in 2012 of the 5.000 € electric car subsidy, this is why most Leaf's here are from 2011. On a side note, this is a car favored by females, as most drivers i saw in them were women.

Oh the irony: One 2011 electric car in front of a 1900's electric tram

Mitsubishi I-Miev family(1) - The japanese firm did a lot to publicize EV's to private buyers in early 2011, reason why these are seen in cities where greenies and new tech addicts live. The age and driving habits vary a lot with these models, for example i saw a retired men driving one at 40 kms/h in a clear two lane street in Aveiro, but in Coimbra i also saw a college guy driving a C-Zero like a hooligan and passing everyone it could in a crowded street, back then i remember thinking: "This guy must be thinking he's driving a Porsche 911".

Two Smart ED's parked outside a Mercedes exposition center

Smart Fortwo ED - The only electric car to register a sales growth in 2012, the tiny Smart ED is bought mainly by companies willing to have a green halo or municipalities. At first seen only in Lisbon, now is starting to spread to big cities in the north like Oporto or Braga.

Others - The remaining models sold have symbolic presence, the few Chevy Volts, Opel Amperas and Prii Plug-In i saw were demonstration cars, so Plug-In Hybrids still have a long way to go to make their presence felt here.

(1) - Includes Peugeot iOn and Citröen C-Zero

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