Earth Notes: On the NICE "MEGA City" Electric Car: Review (2008)

Updated 2021-03-18 21:12 GMT.
Read about this early viable urban low-carbon family runaround electric vehicle (EV).
I took a quick test-drive in a NICE 2+2 "MEGA City" electric car . Its list price was a little under £11,000.

The MEGA City is about the size of an old-style Mini or a bit bigger. It could accommodate 4 adults at a squeeze. Or more pertinently for my family right now, two adults plus one child in a child seat, plus luggage or shopping.

dashboard dashboard

The car's range is 40 miles or more on one charge with the current lead-acid batteries, which are good for about 5 years. Though lithium-chemistry replacements (possibly available a year or so from now) promise twice the distance, and no practical limit on the number of charge/discharge cycles.

Note that a full charge is more than a whole day's electricity at our home. So it should be budgeted for in CO2 terms, and preferably supplied from a 100% 'green'/renewable source.

In the UK, enough solar PV to charge this in one day in deepest mid-winter would be about 10kWp. That would cost over £50k to buy and install at 2008 prices! This car could possibly be charged overnight from local battery storage.

Test Drive

MEGA City orange exterior

I wasn't very adventurous with my test-drive. Partly since it's a while since I've driven at all. Also because I'm used to manual (gear-stick change) cars, but this is configured as an automatic.

Apart from the lack of gear-stick, the other 'funny' was the lack of a starter. It's more-or-less a reflex, of course, to turn the key one notch further to start the car. Totally unnecessary for an electric!

The car is very quiet, like a super-quiet milk float, and seems responsive to my inexpert hands. I don't own a car, and simply hire something cheap and simple when I need to, eg on foreign business trips. The MEGA City is as nice as any of those. (Well, with the possible exception of the tank-like Volvo with heated seats that we got by accident in Finland because the guy in front of us had turned up at the airport without the right credit card!)

The brakes are regenerative, ie recharge the battery. I tried an emergency stop just like in a driving test anyhow, and the car seemed to stop pretty fast even in the rain. So I'm assuming that a mechanical brake is engaged when you slam your foot down.

Lead-Acid Batteries

The batteries in the MEGA City are maintenance-free sealed lead-acid. The idea of having to remember to check and top-up batteries does not appeal. Which is which in my off-grid system I use SLA (Sealed Lead-Acid) also.

You really wouldn't need to be a dedicated 'green' to use this vehicle as a runaround for shopping, shipping kids about, etc. It 'just works' as a small and efficient car.

Selected Specifications

ParameterValue
Maximum Speed40mph (~60kph)
Maximum Range50miles (~80km)
Typical Range38miles (~60km)
Unladen Weight645kg (including 236kg batteries)
Maximum Laden Weight850kg
Electrical Consumption~185Wh/mile (~116Wh/km)
Maximum Power4kW
Battery Capacity8.2kWh
Charge Time8h (from empty)
Charge Power1.5kW (from 240V AC mains)
'Fuel' Cost~1.5p/mile

Sources/Links

  • Archived parts of MEGA City Web site.
  • Gallery of MEGA City pictures from my test-drive.
  • California's PG&E ex-V2G experiments circa 2007.
  • Need EV insurance? Try PlugInsure.co.uk which claims to be a specialist.
  • One potential international car-charging standard as of 2010 is SAE J1772 ("SAE Surface Vehicle Recommended Practice J1772, SAE Electric Vehicle Conductive Charge Coupler"): a North American standard for electrical connectors for EVs maintained by the Society of Automotive Engineers, rated 120--240V AC at up to ~17kW.
  • Zerocarbonsta's Can the Grid take it? suggests that the 250bn miles/year driven in the UK in (30M!) cars each year might at 5 miles per kWh of electricity and thus 50TWh/y only add 12% to total grid demand. Especially at night that should be no trouble at all.
  • Without Hot Air's Performance data for a GWiz in London averaged 21kW per 100km or about 5km per kWh.
  • Overview of early electric cars (1895-1925): "One hundred years ago electric cars were a common sight on city streets in Europe and the United States. Many of them had a range comparable to that of today's EVs."