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Jamais Cascio, 11 Apr 05

gwiz.gifThe G-Wiz, an Indian-made small electric car now available in the UK, is a test of the idea that a low-speed, short-range, low-cost vehicle will work in an urban setting. With a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour and maximum range of 40 miles, the only real use of the G-Wiz will be as a short-commute intra-city personal vehicle; the exemption from the "congestion charge" and free central London parking make the G-Wiz ideal for use in London. The G-Wiz costs only £7,599 (£6,999 under current promotion), although a variety of styling features can bump the price up considerably. GoinGreen, the UK retailer, claims to "carbon balance" the manufacturing, shipping and first 16,000 miles of driving.

In principle, a vehicle like this is well-suited for dense urban settings, functioning as a low-cost transport for goods too bulky to be readily carried on public transit. This is a niche occupied by small gasoline vehicles like the Smart; the G-Wiz trades reduced convenience for even lower cost. As of Spring 2005, about 200 G-Wiz cars are on the road in London, although a recent flurry of attention should push that number up.

revanxg.jpgBeyond the green cred, the really interesting aspect of the G-Wiz is that it's a vehicle designed and built in Bangalore, India, and now being sold in the UK and Malta, and soon in Japan. REVA Electric Car has sold about a thousand vehicles in India, and has recently expanded its capacity to build upwards of 6,000 annually. The newly-unveiled next-generation REVA, which extends the electric car's range to 120 miles and its speed to over 70 miles per hour, should greatly expand the vehicle's potential utility.

This is the inevitable next step for leapfrogging -- innovative designs and ideas from the leapfrog nations making their way to the developed world. As innovation increasingly becomes a driver for development, we'll see this happening more and more often. We're still trying to come up with a pithy expression to capture this leapfrog-back effect, though -- any ideas?

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This kind of vehicle combined with car sharing could really make things better for big cities.

Car sharing companies could have a lineup of vehicle available going from bicycles up to small electric cars to Toyota Prius to Ford Escape Hybrid. Just use what you need for the job.

Posted by: Mikhail Capone on 11 Apr 05

How 'bout 'bleap-frogging'?

Posted by: Erik Ehlert on 11 Apr 05

Some ideas for terms:

Boomerang effect (or maybe Boomeranging)
Echo effect (Echoing)

Or any permuations of these.

Posted by: Bolo on 11 Apr 05

It's like the Volkswagon Bug for the Post-Oil Era...

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 12 Apr 05

It's like the Volkswagon Bug for the Post-Oil Era...

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 12 Apr 05

That car is soo small if they hit me while I was walking most likely they would die and I would spend a few weeks getting bodyrepair;/

Posted by: wintermane on 12 Apr 05

Linux developers call it "backporting", I think. It's when you port a feature from a new version on to the older ones.

Retrofitted leapfrogging?


Posted by: Lucas Gonzalez on 12 Apr 05


Posted by: wintermane on 12 Apr 05

This car can pay for itself in under a year.

If we assume 5 days a week for 48 weeks a year.

congestion charge now at £8 a day = £1920

parking in Central London at £30 a day = £7200

total saving = £9120

I've seen two of these parked in a row outside a company building in Central London with a note under both windscreens reminding traffic wardens that as electric vehicles they are entitled to free parking. I suspect they were both company rather than individual purchases.

Unfortunately I suspect the vehicle is more likely to be adopted by people as an alternative to public transport, rather than people giving up larger petrol or diesel cars.

Posted by: Alternative Energy Blog on 12 Apr 05

Will you be getting on, James?

Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 12 Apr 05

Lucas Gonzalez:

I like backporting. Much catchier than any of my suggestions.

Posted by: Bolo on 13 Apr 05

Here's the problem:

If you ever wanted to leave the city you'd need this AND a regular as car. Most people can't afford that.

Posted by: Jesse on 13 Apr 05

But if you only need a regular car once in a while, you can rent one for those occasions.  Same as needing a truck with a lift gate for moving; you don't buy one for commuting, you rent one when you need one (and maybe even lease one even if you do use one every day).

Posted by: Engineer-Poet on 13 Apr 05

The big breakthrough with all electric vehicles will only come when there is a good solution to the physical problem of actually charging the things.
All very well for people with off-street parking, but how (and it's a *big* how) do you charge a car overnight if you live in a block of flats or a multi-occpancy house where the parking space might be several metres away?
Some serious thought needs to go into this undiscussed topic.

Posted by: Michael on 14 Apr 05

I'm from India and I've several REVAs on the roads and they make great urban vehicles.Great to see the REVA in it's latest Avatar as the G-WIZ

Posted by: Akshay on 17 Apr 05



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