Lightning Strikes

I’m really looking forward to my trip to the British Motorshow next week. It’s my bi-annual sojourn to the Excel centre in London with a friend and my eight-year-old son, where we can drool over exotic pieces of automotive pornography, raise incredulous eyebrows at the barking shape of Japanese Manga-style concept cars, tut wisely at the unimaginative design of Mazda’s next range of cars and secretly keep one eye on all the girls that adorn each manufacturer’s stand.

Of course, there’s always the entertainment too: the off-road centre, the general atmosphere, the worry that my boy will probably ask – really loudly – if the bus we use to get to the centre is the one that was blown up a few years back as he did the last time we visited, and the launch of new, weird and wacky cars to look forward to.

And one of the cars I’m curious to look at is the Lightning GT. Amidst a load of news stories announcing that Global Warming gives you kidney stones, the Lightning Car Company unveiled an electric supercar apparently capable of surpassing the performance of many leading players in the field. It will have a range of approximately two hundred miles after only ten minutes of recharging and uses Star Trek style nano-technology to make it all work.

The company is already taking orders for deliveries next year and promises that its Hi-Pa Drive and NanoSafe batteries do not compromise either the integrity or soul of a supercar, allowing both weight-distribution and performance to be equal to that of many petrol-powered rivals. They estimate that the car will produce the equivalent of more than 700bhp from its electric drive and that it will beat a Jaguar 4.2 XKR Convertible in the 0-60mph dash, whilst simultaneously being even cleaner and cheaper to run than Toyota’s much-heralded Prius.

Indeed, the car’s green credentials lend it to being exempt from London’s Congestion Charge scheme and any road tax whatsoever, whilst the simple construction of the Hi-Pa Drive and NanoSafe batteries mean that ongoing maintenance is minimal. The estimated cost per mile is just 2.2pence, which the Lightning Car Company estimated will save an owner over £17’000 per year compared to the direct competition.

Specification isn’t compromised, either. According to the company’s website, the Lightning GT will come equipped with every gizmo you could possibly want on a luxury car and even includes Air Conditioning, something that hybrid masters Toyota have struggled to make work successfully without starting a petrol engine. I just hope that it has a dashboard to rival Knight Rider.

But the big problem for me with this car is the noise that it will make. Supercars are supposed to be brash and loud. They are the epitome of decadence and, when you put your foot down, the noise they make is supposed to tell everybody around that you were brave enough to sleep with Satan’s whore.

If you have a Lamborghini in white or black you are deemed boring; it needs to be Lime Green and it shouts that you own Essex and three footballers. A Bugatti makes more noise than the moon crashing in to the sun and a Ferrari tells everybody that you’ve just finished shagging Abi Titmuss and her best mate on your yacht in the Mediterranean.

The silent wheeze of the Lightning GT as it whistles by you quieter than the wind will tell everybody that you are still a fan of Automan.

I’m not a lover of Global Warming theorists and don’t believe that all our trees are about to stop spewing oxygen into the atmosphere and I am a huge fan of cars, but equally I do think that if we can build nice friendly cars that don’t cause my kids to have asthma and won’t require the budget of Portugal to run them each week, then electric cars might just be the way forward.

So why are companies like LCC and Tesla building supercars? Only Leonardo DiCaprio will want one and they are utterly impractical to Kerry Katona and her brood when she’s doing the weekly trip to Iceland.

Supercars should be left to the rich, famous and Jeremy Clarkson. If somebody has got the technology that can make a car drive from Cambridge to Manchester for less than a fiver then put it in a nice family four-door saloon and price it reasonably.

As long as it doesn’t need a three-phase electricity supply to charge it, everyone will buy it. Even me.

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