Last week I went to the London Motor Show with my friends Will and Andy. I’d never been to a motor show before so I was looking forward to the experience. Despite not being all that ‘into’ cars, I still enjoy looking at the new designs and the future concepts that are often displayed. However I was surprised that there didn’t seem to be anything other than corporate lip service paid to questions about the environment. Was I foolish to have expected more?

Below are a few of the pictures I took. Some of the cars on show were awesome. The silver Mercedes with wing style doors was really beautiful. There were a number of small cars on show, but many of them were merely concept cars that won’t ever be put on a production line, and all of them were still petrol powered. Only Smart seemed to be seriously showing a truly eco-friendly car.

Why aren’t there more electric and flex-fuel cars on the market? I just don’t understand it. Car manufactorers would likely say it’s because consumers aren’t demanding them, yet we are quick enough to complain about paying nearly $12 a gallon (in the UK) at the pump.

Hiking the price of gasoline at the pump will do nothing to slow down consumer thirst. Mobility is a necessity so it matters little how expensive gasoline becomes, people will still pay for it. SUV’s are growing in popularity here in Europe, despite gas prices that would give any American a sobering wake up call about how ‘expensive’ their gasoline is.

So where are the electric cars I read about as a child? When I was at school electric cars were the future, yet here I am in my thirties and electric cars are still the future. What happened to the electric car?

I’m disappointed that it would seem none of the big manufacturer are seriously developing alternative fuel cars with a view to bringing them to the market in strength very soon. Yes there are some options for the eco-minded, but most of them are merely weak attempts at cashing in on the smallest of fuel savings or plain and simply the ugliest cars you have ever seen.

I’ve long admired the Smart Car, a Mercedes-Benz spin off company that have pioneered a serious small car market in Europe and now across the world. The Smart Roadster (pictured below) is a great car, fantastic fun to drive and staggeringly cheap to run and insure due to the fact that it has a tiny 700cc engine that means a tank of fuel will last many times longer than it might on even the current range of small cars on the market. The Roadster is light and nimble, packing 80 brake horse power with a top speed of 110mph, it’s no slouch either.

Perhaps my next car will be a used Roadster. Certainly when Mercedes-Benz gave me one for a weekend it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on four wheels. But perhaps despite the facts of global warming and the such, the Roadster was ahead of its time. Smart recently announced that this particular model will soon be discontinued, leaving me and other shaking our heads. I suppose when you’re an addict, kicking the habit is no easy road.

British Motor Show
Mercedes-Benz Smart
Who killed the electric car?
GM’s EV1. The cleanest car you’ll never see.
Watch an electric car whoop a Ferrari and a Porsche!
Learn about the Wrightspeed electric performance car
Ian Wright, creator of the X1 electric car, interviewed on Discovery