On the pace — Jaguar’s electric I-Pace scoops top honours in a first for the British automaker

Year of the nice guy

by Andy Bryenton

There’s an old saying that the good finish last and that it’s only an optimist who believes that ‘next year will be the year of the nice guy’. Well, when it comes to ecological credentials, it seems that year has finally dawned. A quick look at the Geneva Motor Show, the European Car of the Year, and our own local sales forecourts reveals that the electric revolution is gathering pace.

Some grumblers will call it nothing but ‘virtue signalling’ that some of the top carmakers in the world are trading in horsepower for voltage. However, you have to admit, machines like the showstopping Pininfarina Battista are both jaw-droppingly pretty and insanely fast. Did it steal the thunder of Bugatti’s Voiture Noir and the new mid-engined Aston Martin Vanquish Vision? Perhaps. There’s no denying that Aston’s Lagonda SUV concept was 100 per cent electric as well. Jaguar has scooped its first-ever European Car of the Year award. The only one to go to the Brit automaker, despite the E Type being utterly deserving if a couple of years too early. They’ve done so with the I-Pace, a tidy, unfussy design, which is still clearly a Jag, while clearly encapsulating modern style. It’s also purely electric. The march of the crossover SUV continues across all marques, makes and brands in the auto world, but this one is something different, and it delivers one of the key factors, which may be holding Kiwi early adopters back — range.

It’s the biggest issue on the minds of local electric vehicle fans. People want to get behind the wheel, and as both the Euro car of the year and the Geneva Motor Show have proven, we have more choices than ever. Most of our power in New Zealand comes from renewable sources, so driving electric is less a signal of eco-virtue than it is the genuine article. In a land with far-flung towns and urban centres connected with winding, isolated roads, range anxiety is real. Batteries continue to improve, and it’s when a trip from one town to another and back can be achieved without a lengthy recharge in the middle that the game will change in earnest.