U.K., Swiss embassies run errands with new electric cars

May 28, 2010

The Swiss and United Kingdom embassies are showing off fancy new electric cars.

Both countries introduced new service cars that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 96 percent. The two REVA plug-in electric cars also will save the embassies some gas money, thanks to their energy efficiency.
 
“When I arrived here I saw that this was the first time I didn’t have a service car,” said Hans-Rudolf Hodel, Switzerland’s ambassador to Costa Rica. “And an embassy needs a service car. So then we needed to decide which car. And here we are in a country where they speak a lot about the environment and we thought we could give an example.”
 
Each country’s car has a design that helps promote the use of electric cars to Costa Ricans. Both cars have paint jobs representing each country’s respective flags and on the back of each car is information boasting about the cars’ efficiency.
 
The cars can reach up to 80 kilometers per hour and have a range of 80 kms without needing to be recharged. Charging the car takes about seven to eight hours. The spiffed-up embassy cars – with leather seats and fancier design – cost $15,000 each. The India-built cars normally cost a couple of thousand dollars less.
 
Kate Cruse, who’s in charge of sustainable operations at the British embassy, said these cars are already drawing attention. The British electric car replaced the embassy’s Toyota Prado sports utility vehicle. Erick de Lomas, the British embassy’s driver for 20 years, is finally having an easier time with downtown San José traffic. Cars are more willing to let him into lanes because they want a glimpse of the car, Cruse said.
 
“People really respond to it,” Kennedy said. “People wave at you on the street. Or kids wave at you. Or cars toot their horns.”
 
Costa Rica’s National Power and Light Company also bought 10 REVAs for their operations.
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