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Electric-mobility: Turn up, plug in, join motoring’s social revolution

Meeting the experts and enthusiasts at an electric car convention, Matthew Bell asks if we should all be doing the Smart thing

As recently as five years ago, electric cars seemed like an eco pipe dream. They arrived promising a green revolution, but were expensive and flimsy, and looked unlikely to replace the combustion-engined car. But, as thousands of enthusiasts gathered yesterday for “smart times 13”, the world’s biggest micro-car convention, industry experts now say that electro-mobility is becoming the norm, not the exception.

Certainly, if the crowds at the Buochs military airport in Switzerland were anything to go by, this is no longer just for the avant garde. T-shirt-wearing men and women of all shapes and ages, including 300 Britons, had travelled from around the world to the Swiss lakes. They camped, they played volleyball, they ate candy floss, and they showed off their pimped rides.

“We may seem like geeks, but it’s fantastic fun,” said Briony Baker, who had driven with her husband, Robert, 60, from Chichester in West Sussex. “Our children think it’s a bit geeky, but what other manufacturer puts on an event like this?” The Bakers came in their rare Crossblade model, of which there are only 25 in Britain. (The lack of a windscreen and roof – or, indeed, any weather protection – could be a reason.) “We wear motorbike helmets. We had a lovely drive over the Alps.”
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