Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ford Comuta

We're approaching the age of mainstream electric cars that aren't crap. It's no longer the case that amp enthusiasts have to be condemned to an agonising death in a G-Wiz or an embarrassingly slow chug in an Aixam. If you want to be sensible, you can buy a Nissan Leaf. To have a bit of fun, get yourself a Tesla Roadster. Fun and sensible? That's the Fisker Karma. (OK, the Karma's a hybrid, but it's got electrickery coursing through it, and you'll have the fun of making Prius drivers look like the tedious dickheads they are.)

But electric cars are nothing new; Ford's Comuta dates back to 1967. As you can see in the pictures, it was just about big enough for four people, in the same kind of way that a Mini was. It would do 40mph and the range was 40 miles, but remember that this was over four decades ago, and the name suggests what it was intended for: short urban commutes. It was small enough to park end-on to kerbs (see, Smart, that wasn't anything new), and the hub-mounted propulsion cunningly informed modern designs around the same theme.

Despite excitable predictions that the Comuta and its brethren would be the future of British motoring, it never came to pass. People just liked big petrol cars too much. Ford only built two Comutas, one of which survives in London's Science Museum; a fascinating glimpse of what could have been (i.e. a nation of people silently and slowly driving around in refrigerators).

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