back to article G-Wiz electro-car fracas leaves Top Gear blubbing

Motoring buffs and greens have gone head to head during the past week as green-hating petrolhead Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear henchmen tangled with bicycling mediatart Boris Johnson. The vehicle at the centre of the brouhaha was the G-Wiz electric "car." The quotes aren't El Reg taking a position, as you'll see. Back on April 27 …


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  1. Steve Evans

    Bit of a pointless task

    Give that the G-Wiz is aimed as a toddle about for London, testing it in any impact >10mph is really far in excess of anything it's going to experience in its target area!

    However if I ever do see one on the M25 at 3am, it's nice to know I will be able to punt it into the scenery with little of no damage to the front of my gas gazzler!

  2. Morely Dotes

    Petrolheads? More like nancyboys

    If the _Top_Gear_ crew had a pair of cojones, they'd be getting their own G-Wiz and hotrodding it instead of trying to make out that they're safety-concious. I mean, be serious! They drive steel cages, while wearing fireproof long underwear, and being strapped into their impact-absorbing custom-build bucket seats. Where's the "manly man" appeal in that? It takes serious determination to get hurt in a car that's been redesigned and reengineered to protect the cowardly putz inside against even his own moronic actions (whilst simultaneously and deliberately poisoning every child on the planet, and possibly even making the planet ultimately uninhabitable).

    The simple fact is that, pound for pound, any decent electric car will leave any similar petrol-fueled car behind in a cloud of burnt rubber on the drag strip, and the _Top_Gear_ crew knows it. It's simple physics; electric motors develop maximum torque at stall (zero RPM), while the clattering collection of unlikely lumps of metal called an "internal combustion engine" needs to be revved up to at least a thousand RPM to get any decent torque. The petrolheads can't compete with that, and they know it.

    _Top_Gear_ is simply afraid.

    (I am Charter Member #100 in the US National Electric Drag Racing Association - we eat Dodge Vipers for hors d'oeuvres. Or however you spell that.)

  3. Chris Taylor

    Boris got it wrong though...

    In the Telegraph articule Boris praised the G-Wiz for its zero CO2 emissions.

    For a man with his intelligence, how could he fail to recognise that the G-Wiz creates similar amounts of CO2, just at a power station.

    Obvious I know, but just goes to show, everyone puts there own spin on stuff like this

  4. David Webb


    I'm trying to find the story from an IT angle and can't seem to find one. The G-Wiz is a danger to its driver and passengers. When you are on a bike you are much more aware of the dangers, mainly from idiot car drivers who tend not to bother looking for bikes.

    When you are in a car, even a G-Wiz (which apparently you cant have the headlights and the wipers on at the same time) you have a sense of security, the feeling that if you are involved in a crash the car is designed to offer some protection so that you may not die a horrible death.

    If you want to be able to use a G-Wiz and be part of the "look, i'm green and have a G-Wiz, it goes well with my 4x4" party, then at least support the requirement for the G-Wiz to be classed as a car, so that people who actually want to drive these things wont die when they hit the front of a milk float at 5mph.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Top Gear viewers of the world unite...

    And get your &*%%$££ heads checked by a psychiatrist. The Top Gear test surely just shows how a G-Wiz driver hit by a Top Gear viewer, (who will of course be driving in excess of the speed limit), would die quickly, rather than, as with most ordinary car drivers hit by Top Gear viewers, be disfigured and in need of round-the-clock care for the rest of their painful lives.

  6. Sceptical Bastard

    Multitasking and moon-faced bastards

    "...even a G-Wiz (which apparently you cant have the headlights and the wipers on at the same time)..."

    Must be the Gerald Ford school of engineering design. Even the Morris Marina could do that.

    As to Top Gear as an arbiter of road safety, wasn't this the show that strapped Richard Hammond into a barely controllable engine-on-wheels which crashed at 300mph? A shame it wasn't that moon-faced motormouth Clarkson...

  7. Robert Hill

    Top Gear afraid?

    Hardly an afraid bone in their bodies, as anyone who watches the show knows. These are the guys that ran afoul of the BBC managers for wanting to crash cars into safety barriers while they were in them. The managers MADE them doll up in safety straps and helmets - and Jeremy still broke his wrist on impact. And let's not forget Hampster's crashing a jet car at over 300 accident that not only nearly cost him his life, it almost left him a vegatable and has caused permanent brain differences. And if you have ever watched one of their "car vs. public transport" pieces, you will see Clarkson drive at insane speeds (Autobonn, etc.) on public motorways for 12+ hours straight - no helmet, no racing harness, no gimmicks, and even he admits its not very safe.

    Electric cars make no sense, at least until we have "safe" nuclear (pebble fission, or controlled fusion maybe) power plants, or have enough wind/sun/tidal generators to generate a significant amount of our power needs. Until then, the transmission losses of the energy through the electrical transmission wires, and the battery storage losses, are so high that you are actually using more energy to use "green" electric than if you had simply used an efficient petrol engine...perhaps a nice turbo diesel that gets 70 mpg.

  8. Keith Langmead

    Re: huh?

    Completely agree with David on this. When I'm out on my motorcycle I'm fully aware of the dangers posed by vehicles with 4 or more wheels, and the relative lack of protection provided by my leathers and helmet, and so ride accordingly. At the same time, unlike a car I've generally got better visibility and due to the bikes size more maneuverability since I can make complete use of the road lane.

    The G-Wiz on the other hand seems to have the same disadvantages without any of the advantages! The comment from Boris of "It's about treating people like grown-ups, and letting them take their own risks", is just rubbish. The thing is sold as a car, nothing more nothing less. Anyone buying one should realistically be able to assume that it conforms to the same minimum safety standard as a normal car, and I very much doubt more consumers would even think of checking to see if that were not true.

    Considering how eager this country seems to be to protect it's citizens from themselves normally, it amazes me that this hasn't been stopped. At the very least the government should insist that it be properly sold as a quadricycle rather than a car, otherwise the sellers should be charged with the appropriate penalty, be that false advertising, selling a product unsuitable for its purpose or whatever.

  9. Ken Rennoldson

    If you really want to cut down on emissions...

    ... fix a six inch spike to the centre of every steering wheel. Speeds (& hence emissions) would drop just a tad. And wouldn't all the drivers become courteous!

  10. The Mighty Spang

    ahh reminds me of my friends child

    only 2, obsessed with toy cars and smashing them into each other. but he will probably grow out of it.

  11. Nick

    Self-Recycling Vehicle.

    For anyone who's seen the pictures (and I have) they will know just how scary this car is in a collision. And yes granted, the electric wheeled coffin stands very little chance of hitting its proclaimed 40mph, but plenty of other vehicles will, and in a head-on, even at 20mph from each vehicle equates to a 40mph impact speed. Scary stuff, but at least if you do die in a crash like this, you'll be saving the world in the long run - you wont be using electricity, won't be consuming fossil fuels and won't be generating various noxious gases from your body.

    It doesn't have to be like this - just look at the SMART - yes, crashes always look nasty, but with its safety cell, it really is surprisingly strong! And reasonable on the environment as well.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just a point to make to a few people - 40mph, even in a 30mph limit is a realistic crash speed. That is - two cars coming at each other from opposite sides of the road one at 10mph one at 30mpg, no speeding involved just, for some reason, being on the wrong side of the road, this happens. You can't jump out of a G-Wizz, like you can from a push or motor bike*. You can't pencil roll if you are thrown from it*, because you won't be thrown from it, the seat belts see to that. It is utterly irresponsible to advertise these toys as cars that are road worthy.

    Also anyone who watches Top Gear and thinks "I'll drive like that on the road" needs his head seen to as much as anyone who hears Boris' latest gaffe and thinks "I'll vote tory because of that". Get things in perspective...

    * May not be of much use, but at least it's a possible option.

  13. Mark Allen

    London Driving

    So.... they want to use this plastic box in London? Home of the Chelsea Tractor and London Cabs?

    If this toy car breaks up like that at 40mph, what happens when someone in a Hummer bumps it at 5mph?

    (This is why I personally won't drive one of those tiny Smart cars. It's all about that other driver coming round the corner at speed....)

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Niall Wallace

    Low Speed <> emissions

    Driving an internal combustion engined vehicle slowly doesn't mean less emissions, there is an engine speed at which each and every engine is most efficient at. Most cars seem to hit this at around 55mph in 5th which is why its used as one of the benchmark points where fuel consumption is shown.

    I got stuck behind a slow driver doing 35mph on a coutnry road where there were few overtaking oportunities. I was stuck reving at 3000 rpm in 3rd, go into 4th and the engien was struggling to keep speed, drop to 2nd and I was soon back in 3rd. Bugger all chance of overtaking.

    The G-Wizz is more dangerous than a bicycle, Bicycles are more mavouverable, your much less likely to get stuck in one when side swiped by a hummer, no insteady your thrown across the road and udner various other vehicles until you stop. a little bit of road rash and a few lucky misses is probably much prefferable to having a solid steering column through your stomach whihc wouldnt' be a particularly fast death.

  16. Matthew

    if your green...

    If you want to go green then get a motor cycle.. or even better take the train and walk... i dont see the point of a crappy 'car' like this. There unsafe, un economical (when you think you have to use a real car anyway if you want to drive any distance outside the city).. Anyway since cows cause 70% of greenhouse gasses perhaps people should stop going to there local hamburger joint if they want to go green???

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "For a man with his intelligence, how could he fail to recognise that the G-Wiz creates similar amounts of CO2, just at a power station."

    Only if the country uses fossil fuel power stations, which is much more under government control than what kind of cars people drive.

    France went mostly nuclear as soon as it could (admittedly for security rather than environmental reasons) so people charging the G-Wiz in France really do have a very low CO2 emission car.

    If Britain goes for renewables and/or nuclear, then all the electric car drivers would instantly become carbon neutral, while the petrol car ones won't.

  18. John Smith


    What a total crock of Sh!t this article is.

    Top Gear do portray themselves as petrol heads, but they also run a motoring TV show, and as such are obliged to point out glaring safety issues like this.

    If the G-Wiz was marketting itself as a bike, then fine, compare it to a bike. But it's not; it looks, and is pretending to be a car. It's pretty reasonable that a car should be able to withstand a crash at a paltry 40mph.

    Also, anyone who feels that the Top Gear hosts are lacking in the pants area simply does not watch the show. I mean this season was halved because Hammond was in a dare-devil related coma!

  19. Danny

    It shoudn't just be about the environment

    Whether or not you think man is causing climate change, pure economics should be dictating the move away from petrol driven transport. Oil is a finite resource and most of us will live to see stock become so low (they are already running out) that it will not be feasable to burn it as fuel. People do not realise just how many products that we rely on need petrochemicals in both the manufacturing process and the products themselves. The G-Wiz is a good concept but badly designed. With some refinements it could actually make it as a good replacment for an around town car.

  20. Sam

    Interesting fact

    Boris and Ladyman have both been guests on the Top Gear "Star in a reasonably priced car" slot. Times are as follows:

    Dr Stephen Ladyman 1.48.8

    Boris Johnson: 1.56

    So Ladyman wins

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nancy Boys for Nanny State

    Interesting to see 'real men' go all limp-wristed over a tiny urban vehicle. And looking to the EU, scapegoat for all that is wrong in Britain, for support?

    Come on guys, has Hammond's accident got you walking around in nappies, sipping warm milk of an evening? I wonder if the Top Gear supporters realise how ridiculous and effeminate they appear. Put your handbags and babychams down lads, it's not that big a deal.

  22. jon

    re: co2

    are you forgetting that uranium mining is incredibly carbon intensive?

    Seems so.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuclear is not zero emmissions

    "France went mostly nuclear as soon as it could (admittedly for security rather than environmental reasons) so people charging the G-Wiz in France really do have a very low CO2 emission car."

    Nice idea but unfortunately bollocks.

    Nuclear energy produces loads of C02 emissions. Do you think all the buildings, machinery, and components required by those stations are manufactured, installed and maintained using nuclear-generated electricity too? And the uranium mining and refinement? Then there is the lifestyle energy consumption of all the people required to design and run the things. If all this was subtracted from the output of the stations, you might find the net gain marginal if even positive.

    Nuclear power stations are best viewed as big batteries, charged up with fossil fuels and consuming uranium during discharge. The same problem afflicts biofuel plants (and probably other "renewable" energy sources).

    Ultimately the only way to become less fossil fuel dependent is to live proper low energy, low consumption lifestyles, which is really uncomfortable and boring and won't win any votes.


  24. Frank Bough


    "For a man with his intelligence, how could he fail to recognise that the G-Wiz creates similar amounts of CO2, just at a power station."

    For a man of your intelligence, how could you fail to realise that a "car" with the low mass and low performance of a G-Wiz will NOT generate similar amounts of CO2? A Caterham or Lotus Elise won't generate as much CO2 as Range Rover either - mass is the key, as should be obvious to anyone with GCSE Physics.

    As for Top Gear well, it's an entertainment programme (depressingly, it's one of the most entertaining things on TV these days), and Clarkson plays up his Guardian-baiting image merely for comic effect. Don't buy into it, it'll make the Reg look just as ludicrous as the Guardian does these days.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Are you Littlejohn in disguise?

    All we needed was, "You couldn't make it up!" to complete the set.

    Still amusing though.

  26. Marvin the Martian

    20 plus 20 isnot 40

    Nick writes "at 20mph from each vehicle equates to a 40mph impact speed" which is not true.

    Kinetic energy (m*V^2) scales quadratically with speed, so a head-on 20mph-vs-20mph crash is half the energy of a 40mph-vs-0mph crash.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a small point

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people are unaware of where the largest proportion of car pollution comes from.

    It's not the petrol that they burn or the pollution created by the power stations that provide electricity for electric cars.

    It is the factory that simply produces the car itself.

    Even the most environmentally friendly factory will produces masses more pollution in the creation of one car than a 40 year old Leaded 4 star running car would produce in it's entire lifetime.

    Funny how the motor industry and the government never mention that small point

  28. John Latham

    CO2 figures

    Their own marketing...

    ...quotes an "independent" CO2 figure of 66g/km, for something with 2.2 kW (about the same power as an electric kettle?).

    Why anyone would want to drive such a miserable excuse for a vehicle is beyond me. The VW Lupo 3L had 88g/km, and that was a proper car:

    It was withdrawn because at the time low fuel consumption wasn't a big enough sell.


  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuclear is not zero emmissions[sic], but...

    Our friend makes a good point that there are CO2 emissions involved in creating Nuclear power plants - at least until Nuclear power is sufficiently geared up, but appears to have missed the point that there are similar emissions from creating any other kind of power plant. I rather suspect that wind energy, with its high tech oil based (carbon fibre is sourced from oil) hardware and low output per plant, is not at all clever in this respect.

    Actually getting real figures for the total environmental impact of any system is very difficult, which is why people (and Greenpeace are as guilty as any in this respect) would much rather estimate (ie make up) figures that suit the slant they want to deliver.

  30. Simon Oxlade

    A case of misleading marketing

    Shurely this is an arguement about how the G-Wizz is marketed, not about the size of Clarkson's balls or the responsibility of Top Gear?

    I cycle to work occasionally and my route takes me along a very busy main road where speed are at least 50MPH. It's terrifying - so I make myself as visible as possible and (generally) I have no problems.

    However having seen the crash photos from the G-Wizz test I'm pretty convinced that I'm actually safer on my bike.

    The thing looks like a (small) car, has door and lights and indicators, but clearly offers the crash protection of an mobility scooter. It is even advertised as an electric car - it only mentions 'quadricycle' once on the product page here: and even then there is no actual mention of what Quadricycle licencing actually means (essentially, if I put four wheels on my bike it would also be a quadricycle, but I wouldn't want to take it on the M4).

    If I buy a car I know that it has been crash tested, has seat belts, hazard lights, meets EU and UK safety criteria and will collapse in such a way that should I crash it will minimise the forces exerted on my body in an attempt to keep me as undamaged as possible. The Prius does this, the Smart does this, the G-Wiz does not. It should not be allowed to be marketed as a car - this is the point Top Gear was making and, I feel, that it is a very valid one.

    It certainly is not a petrol-head Vs Eco-Greenie arguement, it's a valid complaint that people are not being given the full facts about a product. Personally I'm a committed recycler and cyclist who happens to own a classic rally car with the carbon footprint of a small powerstation, so I'm not picking a side. I just feel the G-Wiz is pulling a bit of a fast one and the ASA/OFT should be involved.

  31. Sam

    RE:20 plus 20 isnot 40

    Marvin the martian wrote"

    Kinetic energy (m*V^2) scales quadratically with speed, so a head-on 20mph-vs-20mph crash is half the energy of a 40mph-vs-0mph crash."

    Not true, momentum is calculated as m*V - ie directly proportional to velocity.

    The severity of the impact depends on the differential change of momentum not the amount of energy expended.

    So a 40-0 crash is (for the sake of the argument) the same as a 20-20 crash

  32. Mr D

    Morely Dotes - Drag racing?

    I heard thats really difficult and indeed dangerous... Getting a flailing skirt caught on your high heels must end in some nasty falls!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    panicking troglodytes...

    <<So a 40-0 crash is (for the sake of the argument) the same as a 20-20 crash>>

    And velocity is determined by direction. So a 20-20 crash is only the equivalent of a 40-0 in the rare case that the collision is directly head on.

    The words "Scaremongering" and "monkeys" come to mind.

  34. Joel Mansford

    20+20 could be close to 40

    Sam, Marv...

    A 1ton car hitting a steel wall (which doesn't deform) at 20mph will have to absorb the same amount of energy as a 1ton car at 20mph hitting another 1ton car at 20mph simply because the energy is shared between the two cars equally and they have equal amounts of momentum.

    However a 665kg G-Wiz at 20Mph hitting a >2500kg Land Rover at 20mph is clearly going to come much worse off !

    Marv, the equation is 0.5* m* (v*v)

  35. Sam

    20+20 could be close to 40


    The point I was making is that the energy (as calculated by 0.5mv^2) does not factor into calculating impact forces. The starting point is always momentum. This is why light, which has zero mass, can apply an impact force as it does have momentum.

    Basic physics (obviously standards are still slipping)

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just wondering

    A G-wiz hits a Range Rover 4 times its weight head on, both travelling at 30 mph. Being 4 times heavier the range rover would lose 1/4 of it's momentum and thus have a speed of 22.5 mph after the collision.

    So would I be right in thinking the G-Wiz is now doing 22.5 mph in reverse or the same as driving into a wall at 52.5 mph?

  37. Michael Chester

    20+20 could be close to 40...

    A half ton (for the sake of easy maths :P ) GWiz hitting a wall that will not move or deform at 40m/s (for the sake of SI units to make the calculation easier) will experience a momentum change (and therefore impluse) of 20Ns.

    Two half ton cars moving at 20m/s that collide head on will end up somewhere between stopping completely and bouncing back at the original speeds (but opposite velocities) depending on the elasticity of the collision, meaning an impuls of between 10 and 20 Ns, however the energy transferred overall is still the same, so the enegy that does not go into bouncing the car away from the collision instead goes to wrapping it around your body.

    With a heavier car involved in the collision the amount of energy going in to deformation is likely to be larger due to the higher energies, and there is the added sudden acceleration due to the smaller car being pushed backwards.

    Oh, and to be pedantic, energy does factor in to impact forces, assuming that the collisions are totally elastic, as the conservation of energy and conservation of momentum will result in a defined momentum change in each object and hence a defined force. Also for an instantaneous impact it is more accurate to talk about impulse than force.

  38. Norman Bowring

    Tales my father told me!!

    Defensive driving - why do we need it?

    "He was right, dead right, as he drove along - but he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong!!"

    When I was of an age to learn to drive, my father constantly drummed the fore-going into my feeble brain. I did the same with my own children when they were learners too!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think the point is realy that people think they are safe in these things. I go out on my motorbike, knowing how safe I am and looking after myself. I am far more defensive in my driving on my Bike than in my car (Not to say that I am unsafe in my car), knowing full well that the consiqueces of a crash are far higher. The same gose for people on Quad bikes.

    However people in these ugly electric monstrocatys act (And are encoraged to act) loke thy are driving any other car. As for "Well you never get above 5 MPH" Thats rubish. You may not during the day, but go out at 10pm and there is plenty of room to get up to 40 in alot of places. Remeber, most of the people driving these things are not just getting in to London at 8.30 and leaving at 5.30, they live there, so will be out at all times... The roads are not full of cars 24/7/365.

  40. Ishkandar

    Top Gear crashing cars

    The Brits were driving around in cars about 2000 years ago. They were made of (mostly) recyclable material and powered by two horses. Perhaps Top Gear would like to crash one of them on to a barrier.

    WARNING !! Please do keep an eye out for the RSPCA chappies, though. They take a dim view of people doing nasty things to animals like horses !!

  41. call me scruffy

    Leave it alone...

    YES the G-wiz is so quiet that it's a threat to pedestrians and cyclists

    YES any meeting between the G-wiz and a heavier, comfortable, metalic vehicle (which is called a "Car") will end very badly indeed for the G-wiz

    YES any muppet driving these might believe that they are actually driving a real car.

    YES they're only going to be bought by the trendy liberal eco nutters.

    But look at the plus side... this will deal with all the cretins who've been so smug that they didn't fall for that old robbin reliant gag... AND it'll clean up the genepool into the bargain. Far from banning these things I'd gladly go permenant and pay real tax if only it'd subsidise chavs buying these things.

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