How much do you know about Taiwan? Probably not a lot. Yet I would be willing to bet that in your house, as in mine, there are many things such as cigarette lighters that are made there, masquerading under labels reading ‘Renault’ or ‘Volvo Trucks’ or ‘Property of HM Prison Service’. And here is another fact that might really surprise you: Taiwan is one of the world’s most up-and-coming manufacturers of electric cars!
Leading the Taiwanian’s sterling efforts is the excellent e-GO-E from the area of Taiwan known as REMEMBER TO CHECK TOWN NAME. More fascinatingly, this burgeoning Taiwanical vehicle has been developed with assistance from researchers at Central Midlands University in Leamington Spa. I was made aware of this after a chance conversation and some chance glasses of Scotch with e-Go-E’s European PR man who is not, as you might expect, Taiwanish himself but comes from the UK and was formerly with another well-known car manufacturer until a misunderstanding over expenses on a launch event led to a sudden reduction in his personal amount of employment and indeed prostitutes.
This chap owed me a favour, not least for my attempts to save his previous career by claiming more than two of the pre-booked ladies were mine, and so I made it clear to him that I would be delighted to borrow one of e-GO-E’s pre-production cars, currently undergoing demonstration work in the UK. I also made it clear that Leamington Spa was too far from my house and he would have to bring the car to me.
Just one week later, the PR man arrived silently at Over The Limit With Roy Lanchester Towers guiding one of his excellent e-GO-E machines onto the area where most of my drive used to be. As you would expect from a country as high-tech as Taiwan probably is, the e-GO-E – or, to give it its full name, the Aphos Dynamics e-GO-E Full Electric Vehicle System VM-series 4490M information pack – is crammed with modern features, all of which the PR man was eager to explain to me, rather over-looking the fact that it was almost noon, I had enjoyed a hearty slug of writing lubricant and was in no mood to watch, listen or stand up for any longer than necessary.
Having shooed him away to the nearest bus stop, I grabbed the ample press pack and settled down with a refreshing glass of reading wine to see what was what. Unfortunately, the bumf turned out to be almost entirely in Taiwanish which was rather a problem since my knowledge of far eastern languages extends only to the sounds and facial expressions which have seen me barred from my local Chinese takeaway. Nonetheless, I was able to look with interest at some of the charts, graphs and diagrams, from which I learnt that the e-GO-E is up to 37 percent better at some things and boasts at least 96 out of 100 or maybe 10, it was quite hard to read. I also gathered with some interest that this model has a roof mounted thing that might be a solar panel, some sort of thing you shouldn’t touch in the boot and, more significantly, a self-driving capability, which just goes to show how advanced the Taiwanesque have become these days.
The next morning I was up early enough to have missed the end of the dreaded school run traffic and was looking forward to giving the e-GO-E a good test run. From the outside this machine is reminiscent of a smoothed out Renault Scenic but from behind the wheel it is truly futuristic, by which I mean everything is white and confusing. Having finally located the start button, I gave it a firm press to be greeted not by engine noise but by a synthesized ‘welcome’ tone which I must confess was so deep and flatulent that this correspondent briefly feared he had repeated the unfortunate incident that is the reason he can no longer borrow press cars from Nissan. This was followed by a complete and glorious silence which lasted for the entire five minutes it took me to find the thing that puts the car into gear. After this, one simply depresses the accelerator and drives silently into one’s own garage door. One then spends a few moments attempting to understand what makes it go into reverse and with that one lurches forward into the bloody garage door again before one makes a quick telephone call to the PR man and with that one reverses silently down the drive, stopping only to see how much damage one has done to the bumper which one is pleased to notice is still mostly attached at one end.
Out on the open road the e-GO-E is, to put it quite simply, a delight to drive. Power is delivered smoothly, bumps are absorbed effortlessly, roundabouts are approached surprisingly quickly, sudden panicked braking manoeuvres are handled confidently, and unexpected kerb strikes are shrugged off almost completely. In fact, I was enjoying piloting this wonderful Taiwanomanic machine so much that I barely noticed the rapid descent of the electric fuel gauge until I was startled by a strident honking noise that definitely wasn’t me.
Happily, I was just approaching the perfect electric car charging station, by which I mean The Three Sheeves in Ramsdale. The landlord here is a good friend and he would happily let me use one of his plug sockets. Although he initially disagreed with both of these statements, Steve did eventually agree to let me run a cable through the window of the ladies toilet and top up my e-GO-E with the precious electrical petrol we sometimes call electricity.
Of course, the downside of electrical power is that it does take rather a long time to get any meaningful level of digital juice into the robotic tank. Even after I had finished my third pint, the car was still barely 10 percent full. I was just saying to Steve that my next pint would have to be my last since I was driving when I remembered something marvelous – the e-GO-E’s self-driving function! Buoyed by this realisation, I ordered another drink and an early lunch, safe in the knowledge that my Taiwankerish car would take me home, safely and presumably legally! Praise be to the future!
Some time later I instructed Steve to send the bill for the electricity, the lunch and the pints and whiskeys to the e-GO-E PR chap (jokingly adding that he should mark it as ‘prostitutes’!) then settled back into my self-driving chariot and spent a mere 20 minutes working out how to put my home address into the sat-nav. With that done, I carefully reversed into a low wall, then even more carefully reversed out onto the road, put the car into ‘drive’, let it gain momentum down the hill out of the village and triumphantly removed my hands from the wheel.
I think it is a wonderful testament to the ingenuity and brilliance of Taiwan that they are able to come up with a car like the e-GO-E which is so capable of surviving an impact caused by the driver’s sudden realization that his car isn’t actually self-driving and also that he is going to be sick but can’t work out which of the buttons puts the window down. I have always been skeptical about electric cars but I can truly say that the superb e-GO-E has won me over. Indeed, for its quietness and smoothness, and for the ability of its airbags to save a man’s life even when he is vomiting, I would happily have one outside my house, although not the example I borrowed which will probably have to be written off for the interior staining alone!
Roy Lanchester is motoring correspondent for Practical Owls magazine and founder of the blog Over The Limit with Roy Lanchester. (blogmaker.com/freeblog/overthelimitwithroylanchester57)