Green car saves the planet, but probably not you

Top Gear magazine has uncovered an interesting loophole affecting the G-Whiz electric car: because it’s not legally a car, it doesn’t undergo the same crash testing as “real” cars. Here’s what happens if you prang it:

G-Whiz pranged

(Sorry if you’ve seen this already – it was new to me) 

17 thoughts on “Green car saves the planet, but probably not you

  1. mupwangle says:

    >>GoinGreen, the company that sells the Indian-made G-Wiz in Britain, responded that: ‘The G-Wiz is designed and used as a low-speed urban commuter vehicle…’ The company’s ‘safe driving tips’ section on its website also advises G-Wiz drivers to ‘avoid fast roads’.

    The crash test was only at 40mph. OK, so usually you don’t get close to this speed in the city but a head on crash at 20mph would have the same effect. Imagine hitting an emergency vehicle!

    There is no reason that they can’t make these strong. It’s just that they don’t legally have to.

  2. tm says:

    >There is no reason that they can’t make these strong. It’s just that they don’t legally have to.

    And that strong metal weights a lot more than weak metal (either that or it’s really expensive strong metal), so if they do make it strong it’s both more expensive and whatever performance it has disappears.

  3. mupwangle says:

    There are plenty of ways to make stuff strong and light. Unfortunately the people that buy these things aren’t willing to pay for it.

  4. Gary says:

    I don’t think it’s so much unwillingness to pay as lack of awareness. It looks like a car so people assume it’s as tough as a car. It isn’t.

    There’s no great deception going on here – it’s not as if the company is doing anything wrong; it’s entirely within the law – but given the choice between congestion charge exemption and a safe car, I’d choose safe.

    Dunno if they mention it on the top gear site but in the piece by Paul Horrell in the mag (great writer, btw), he notes that there’s even less structural protection in the back. An impact with kids sitting in the back seat wouldn’t be pleasant. As Mupwangle’s pointed out, the crash test was 40mph, so it’s not unreasonable to say that’s what’ll happen if two G-Wizzes hit each other at 20mph. If you’re doing 20 and you’re hit by a truck doing 20, on the other hand, the damage will be much worse – solid cars, trucks etc won’t collapse the way a G-Wiz does, so the damage to the wee electric car will be much worse.

  5. Gary says:

    On a related note, Top Gear makes a good point about the various government and local government bodies that are trying to persuade you to use these things (in terms both of publicity and of financial incentives): given that with real cars the government’s always banging on about safety, and local government’s installing cameras and traffic calming on safety grounds, surely they have a moral duty to warn prospective go-kart purchasers of the safety implications?

    At least with bikes and motorbikes people are aware of the dangers…

  6. Gary says:

    Sorry, me again. Mupwangle, you’ll remember this one: sitting at traffic lights, stationary, and a bloke went into the back of us at 40. Going by that crash test, had we been in a G-Wiz we’d all be toast. Or pate, at least.

  7. tm says:

    >plenty of ways to make stuff strong and light.

    There aren’t that many ways to make it *that* strong and *that* light that don’t also involve ramping the price up to totally un-economic. And, of course, you don’t actually need to ramp the price up very much to do that anyway.

  8. mupwangle says:

    But the G-Whiz is about £7k. You can buy a car for less than £6k that meets basic safety standards. (Those standards being that being in a car is not intrinsically more dangerous than juggling with lions)

  9. Stephen says:

    It looks like a car….

    ROTFL! It looks like one of those Little Tykes toy cars that three-year-olds propel around the playground by foot.

  10. Gary says:

    You can buy a car for less than £6k that meets basic safety standards.

    The bulk of the cost, I’m sure, is in the powerplant. Although given they’re made in india and shipped over here, and there are obvious environmental implications to the manufacture and disposal of electric cars, I do wonder just how green it really is. The current top gear’s worth a read actually, it’s pretty even-handed about the green side of motoring and makes some fair points (eg when you look at whole-life CO2, a british-built, reasonably efficient car is greener than a foreign-made hybrid).

  11. mupwangle says:

    It’s a common criticism of the Prius that it the manufacture of its batteries involves transporting it roughly twice round the world – which is hardly carbon neutral.

  12. Rossy Saldhana says:

    It’s a wrong notion to think G-Wiz saves the planet and not you!! For once let’s think beyond ourselves. It saves a lot of time, space and money. And its not that G-Wiz falls short of safety standards. G-Wiz has received full EU approval as a quadricycle. (Which means it meets all European automotive, mechanical and electrical standards governing safety) Now that more and more people are opting for G-Wiz, the expectations are going high. And the ‘Go-green’ vehicle looks stand still. According to me it’s quite a nice vehicle for city needs. So, for once let’s stop the illusion.

  13. Gary says:

    Hi Rossy. I agree to a point, and that point is that obviously there’s a huge difference between the safety standards required of a car and those required of a quadricycle – and I do think most people see the G-Wiz as a car. Having experienced some nasty shunts caused by other drivers, I wouldn’t want to be in one in those circumstances. Wouldn’t want to be on a motorbike either, but at least with motorbikes it’s pretty obvious that they’re very different beasts to cars. I’m not sure that applies to the G-WIz, because it looks like and is priced like a cuter Smart car – which *is* a car, legally speaking, and therefore has to meet much tougher safety standards.

    I think putting it through NCAP is a good thing, because ultimately it’s going to be mixing it with cars, trucks etc etc etc. Since NCAP began publicising car results safety levels have soared, and making people more aware of safety issues affecting quadricycles should have that effect too – as well as making owners more aware of the risks of their chosen mode of transport.

  14. mupwangle says:

    If you are not looking at the green credentials then a Smart Fortwo is a better prospect then. Not been rated by euroncap yet (i don’t think) but it’s been put through Mercedes’ own crash tests and they claim an equivalent to a NCAP 4*.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *