As city centres become more congested, and conventional fuel becomes more expensive, the demand for clean and economical urban travel is increasing. Reva's electric car is already on trial with GoinGreen, and the first of a 500 strong order will be shipped out this month. As the Reva is both tiny and non-polluting, it may yet become a common sight in European cities.

GoinGreen, a UK car rental and retail company that specialises in environmentally friendly vehicles, intends to rent Reva's cars out in city centres as a trendy form of cheap and environmentally friendly transport. The company is already running a small number of the vehicles in a pilot scheme in Leeds, with one being leased to the city council. Reva builds the vehicles at its manufacturing base in Bangalore, India.

The G-Wiz, as GoinGreen brands the Reva, is a small electric car with a range of 80 kilometres (50 miles) and a maximum speed of around 70 kilometres (40) per hour. It can be refuelled from a 13 amp electrical source. The car is fairly small, fitting 2 adults and 2 children, but easily manoeuvrable making it practical for city travel. GoinGreen rents the trial vehicles in Leeds for £1 per hour subject to a £15 minimum charge.

The development of an alternative fuel that can provide the range, speed, and flexibility of petrol while minimising pollution levels has been ongoing for many years. Several alternative fuels have been suggested as a replacement for petrol, but it seems that electric power could prove the most successful. The key challenge remains in creating an affordable electric engine that provides all the benefits of petrol. Reva's design could provide a useful stepping stone in the development of practical electric vehicles.

The GoinGreen order is only the start of Reva's European campaign. The manufacturer has set its sights on being a major player in the auto sector as city centres across Europe are becoming increasingly congested and therefore more polluted. Governments have begun to charge for access to urban areas, with alternative fuel vehicles often receiving some form of concession. The Reva benefits from being both compact and non-polluting, giving it a good chance of carving out a lucrative niche as a practical city centre car.

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