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Statistics

Engine: Electric motor with 47kW (63bhp) @ 3500-8000rpm, 133lb ft @ 0-2000rpm, lithium ion batteries with 16kWh capacity
Transmission: Rear-wheel drive
Performance: 15.9sec 0-62mph, 81mph, Og/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1120kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 3474/1792/1608
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 3 out of 53

Handling

Rated 3 out of 53

Performance

Rated 3 out of 53

Usability

Rated 3 out of 53

Feelgood factor

Rated 4 out of 54

Readers' rating

Rated 2 out of 52

Peugeot Ion (2010) electric CAR review

By Ben Pulman

First Drives

10 September 2010 10:29

This is Peugeot’s first electric car, the Ion…

Hang on! This Peugeot Ion looks a little familiar – isn’t it a Mitsubishi iMiEV?

Essentially, yes it is. Just as Peugeot (and Citroen) created re-nosed versions of Mitsubishi’s Outlander SUV, so the PSA twins now have their take on the electric iCar. But like the 4007 and C-Crosser 4x4s, PSA has also undertaken its own development work on the car to improve the aspects it didn’t like. And just as Mitsu adopted the Frenchie’s changes for its Outlander, a revised Euro version of the iMiEV will be revealed at the 2010 Paris motor show with all the bits Peugeot and Citroen have improved.

For a start – and all in the name of achieving a four star Euro NCAP rating – Peugeot-Citroen has fitted ESP, seat belts warning chimes, new front and rear bumpers, and has made changes to the car’s structure. There’s some trim and colour tweaks too, and there’s just a single D gearbox setting for forward drive, rather than the iMiEV’s three. And finally project leader on the Ion, Philippe Barriac, revealed that sensor tweaks to the regenerative braking system have improved the car’s by 30% range.

Does it cost the same as a Mitsubishi iMiEV then?

We just don’t know. While Mitsubishi might have just slashed thousands of pounds of the price of a iMiEV (bringing it down to a much more sensible and Nissan Leaf-matching £23,990) Peugeot won’t give us a price. We tried all kinds of tricks to get an answer out of the tight-lipped PR team, but Peugeot is insisting on leasing this car instead of selling it.

Thus you can lease an Ion for £415 a month on a four-year contract. Which seems like a lot, especially when you remember that the £415 figure includes the government’s £5k rebate. However, electric cars aren’t cheap and you do get a four-year/40,000 mile warranty, plus all your servicing. And if you want to buy it at the end of the scheme? Well Peugeot will tell you the price in 2014. But if you want to keep leasing the car after those first four years then you can sign up for another four years, with the same cover and a 80,000-mile limit, for a yet-to-be-confirmed £315-£345 per month.

A new type of car, a new way of driving it, and thus a new way of buying (leasing) is Peugeot’s way of thinking about it. And it points out that if you lived in London, and faced congestion and parking charges, having an electric car (which apparently costs just £2.50 per 120 miles) could save you £5150 per year. And that means it pays for itself.

Okay, but is it actually any good?

Let’s start with the limitations, one of which is the fact that underneath it’s a Mitsubishi iCar. And although the iCar is a great little city runabout, it’s a sub-£10k city car so the plastics and interior quality aren’t really worthy of the (lease) price. However, it will seat four people (there are only four seats) in reasonable comfort, and there’s lots of glass and lots of headroom so it doesn’t feel too cramped.

As for the electric part, Peugeot reckons you have a potential 93 mile range, which is way more than enough for the average daily journeys – the claims are 90% of trips are under 38 miles and 60% are under 20 miles. Meaning there’s more than enough juice for the average school run, shopping trip or commute to work. Just watch the range if you have the heating or air-con on – the former could zap 5-45% of your range, and the latter can swallow 5-25%, according to Peugeot. As for recharging, a household plug will have you at full capacity in six hours, while a quick charge facility could give you 50% in just 15 minutes.

Of course a straight comparison with a conventionally powered car won’t put it in the best light, but this is a specific car with a specific purpose, so although it’ll lean round corners and only do 80mph, that’s absolutely missing the point. Around town there’s enough initial grunt to keep up with traffic flow quite easily, it rides reasonably well despite the short wheelbase, and because it’s a Mitsubishi underneath it’s got the best steering I’ve experienced in a Peugeot in a long time.

Refinement is fine, too, even though the lack of engine noise (there’s a faint hum from under the bonnet) brings all the other road and tyres sounds into sharp focus. But the silence and novelty of electric cars is still new and it’s such a joy to quietly drive around that it just brings calm and serenity to your car. Of course, that might change when you’re stuck in traffic.

Verdict

The problem faced by the Ion (and the iMiEV and Citroen C-Zero) is that the Nissan Leaf is just around the corner – along with other electric Renault offerings – and offers something bigger and more conventional in terms of packaging, and it has a nicer interior.

It’s a stopgap, a quick solution that provides Peugeot with a perfectly decent electric car until it can build its own. Plus the company only hopes to sell 500 a year in the UK to begin with, and reckons it will easily do that to just councils and eco-conscious companies.


 

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Peugeot Ion (2010) electric CAR review

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lanimae

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lanimae says

RE: Peugeot Ion (2010) electric CAR review

Hmmm.... Peugeot can't get the electrics to work in the rest of theirs cars, why would you trust them to make an all electric car. It's one thing to have to have the blinker turn on when the radio goes off and for the wipers to go when the brake light goes on, but I don't want the motor to stop when I want to use the map light! Their handling is gone so there is now no reason to buy one:) 

27 September 2010 10:16

 

John0123

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John0123 says

RE: Peugeot Ion (2010) electric CAR review

People seem to have lost interest in this EV story. At the risk of having a conversation with myself, let me give reasons for pessimism and optimism regarding the future of EVs in the United States.

 

I'm pessimistic because I can easily see a lack of enthusiasm for them from many manufacturers and most dealers. Only if EVs can be marketed as expensive toys of the rich (what I might call "the BMW model"), will dealers embrace them (and their profit margins) eagerly. It will be hard for makers and dealers to abandon the "US buyers only want biiiggg cars" baloney. (But the election of George Bush proved that marketing can convince US "buyers" to accept anything. Thus, it shouldn't be hard to borrow some of VW's brilliant marketing from the 1950s and '60s.)

 

On the other hand, I'm optimistic because manufacturers (and progressive governments) will embrace EVs as a solution to several environmental and national security problems, particularly in the developing world. And the substantial involvement of the developing world and its many relatively unaffluent residents will allow considerable economies of scale and be a strong incentive to keep the prices down.

 

So under the latter scenario, if the affordable EVs are produced and used elsewhere in great numbers perhaps they will eventually find their way to the US.

23 September 2010 17:45

 

John0123

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John0123 says

RE: Peugeot Ion (2010) electric CAR review

Calvinchann, tens of millions of us in the US have houses with garages or carports. Not EVERYONE, but tens of millions.  Why raise false problems? Sure, ranchers and farmers won't have much use for EVs, either. But ranchers and farmers are a tiny sliver of the population compared to urban dwellers and suburban commuters. EVs will be useful to many, many people.

18 September 2010 21:14

 

calvinchann

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calvinchann says

RE: Peugeot Ion (2010) electric CAR review

It's all very well everyone going goo goo over EV's, but how many of us have a fixed parking spot at home where we could, if security wasn't also an issue, plug in overnight. EV's may be great, but a lot else has got to change as well.

18 September 2010 18:16

 

John0123

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John0123 says

RE: Peugeot Ion (2010) electric CAR review

I disagree with the EV naysayers. For the past 40 years, I have used one of our two cars primarily for commuting. That drive was 30 miles daily at the most and 5 miles at the least. I could have used an EV easily for that purpose and for short errands. In no way were my circumstances unique. Many of my suburban neighbors were much the same. Six-hour charging? I'm sure "topping-up" my EV would have taken one or two hours, on average.

13 September 2010 17:12

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