Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the G-Wiz Electric Car Works

G-Wiz Specifications
Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Both of the above are quadricycles. Which one's safer?
Both of the above are quadricycles. Which one's safer?

The G-Wiz is actually known as a "quadricycle" in Britain -- the contraption weighs about 880 pounds (400 kg) without the battery and produces less than 15 kW of power, so according to the European Commission, it's not a car. Although it's legal to drive a G-Wiz on any road in the United Kingdom, GoinGreen stresses that the vehicle was "designed as a low speed urban runabout and commuter car," and they "do not recommend it is used on motorways and fast roads."

There are three different G-Wiz models available. Re­va no longer produces the original two versions, the G-Wiz dc and the G-Wiz ac, but GoinGreen still offers used models on its Web site. The newest version, the G-Wiz i, has improved safety standards and will be available in February 2008.

Despite the different names and varying safety packages, each type has the same general technical specifications. A G-Wiz is a two door, "2 + 2" seating arrangement, which means two adults can fit up front and two children can squeeze in the back. Eight six-volt lead-acid batteries, located under the front seats, power the tiny quadricycle's electric motor, which is located in the back. You can charge the battery of the G-Wiz by simply plugging a charge cable into the side of the vehicle and any electric outlet, the same way you would charge your cell phone. (GoinGreen does recommend protecting a typical household outlet with an RCD (Residual Current Device), or a surge protector). Two and a half hours will charge the battery 80 percent, while an eight-hour charge will give the car its full charge. Using electricity, especially from a renewable source, can save you money and help the environment -- a years worth of power would cost about $100 -- but the downside is the life of the battery. A replacement pack of eight batteries costs £1,595, or more than $3,000, and the batteries last between two and three years. This is the main reason why many people are looking toward fuel cells, which are charged quickly and don't need replacing.

The range of a G-Wiz is only about 50 miles per battery charge, but as mentioned before, the quadricycle wasn't built for long drives through the English countryside. The top speed of the vehicles range between 40 and 50 miles per hour (64-80 km/h) -- very slow compared to most other cars on the road, but this emphasizes why the G-Wiz is for an urban environment. The speed limits in London, for example, are typically no faster than 40 mph (64 km/h), and data downloaded from G-Wizzes driving around the city showed that customers recorded an average speed of 10 mph (16 km/h). London does happen to have the slowest traffic in Europe -- UK traffic information service reported that all traffic, G-Wiz or not, moves at an average of 12 mph (19 km/h) in England's capital.

So the G-Wiz can save you money -- but will it save you from a head-on collision with a delivery truck? Read the next page to find out.

More to Explore