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PHOTO CAPTION: Ford Transit Connect electric van impressed Guardian correspondent.

Fossil Fuels Seen As Drag On Electric Car Acceptance

Charging electric vehicles overnight in England remains a challenge.

Published: 17-Apr-2011

Electric cars have taken their time to return to our roads. A century ago, they were serious rivals to petrol-fuelled vehicles, with early versions including a New York fleet of electric taxis built in 1897. However, the cheap power of petrol let the internal combustion engine monopolise road transport by the early 20th century.

Since then, the electric car has struggled to make a return, despite low emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Hopes have risen recently, after Audi, Honda, Nissan and others announced electric vehicle projects. Ford joined them last week by revealing European plans to launch three new vehicles: a battery-powered Transit Connect van and two hybrid versions of its Fusion range of cars and Escape range of SUVs. The hybrid vehicles have separate electric and petrol engines, with the latter taking over at higher speeds.

All three were presented to the press at the company's Aachen research centre in Germany and each demonstrated how the electric car has progressed as a rival to the power of petrol. The all-electric Transit Connect made the greatest impact. It does a nippy 75mph and although its acceleration is modest – 0-60mph in 12 seconds – it handles well. This is no mere jumped-up milk float.

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