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Batteries included; Wheel Scots.

Those bright sparks from the East are hoping to plug into a new market.

Honda is the latest car maker to announce plans for an electric vehicle.

And the first production car is expected to be unleashed on the unsuspecting Americans next year.

The company plan to lease the purpose-built electric vehicles to both private and fleet customers in California.

Depending on the results, electric cars could be on UK roads the following year.

Powered by superior nickel-metal hydride batteries, the new Honda has overcome previous problems with electric buggies. The new unit now offers double the range of conventional lead acid batteries.

And the newcomer is better equipped to perform equally comfortably in both town and motorway traffic .

Honda claim it will cover 125 miles on the one charge.

What's more it will cover 0-60mph in just under 19 seconds. And, when driven flat out you'll easily get a top speed of 80mph.

Capable of carrying four passengers, the car offers the same comfort and safety levels you would expect from the Japanese car giant.

Apart from the new battery technology, Honda have also developed regenerative braking.

This allows some of the energy that would otherwise be wasted - such as the heat when the brakes are applied - to be used for recharging the battery.

Nevertheless, the vehicle also comes equipped with a compact on-board charger, capable of being plugged into any 110 or 220 volt electricity supplies.

The cost of the car has still to be announced but Honda remain confident it won't be a major shocker.

Meanwhile Ford have asked Lucas Aerospace to design and build high pressure fuel- storage cylinders for two types of natural gas-powered vehicles.

Ford believe there is a massive growth potential in this market as car companies strive to find other fuel alternatives.

Alarming statistics

Britain's Knights of the Road answered over three million breakdowns last year. And the RAC believes nearly half of them could have been avoided.

The motoring giant revealed that regular car servicing would have saved drivers most of their hassle.

RAC patrols attended more incidents where flat or faulty car batteries were to blame. K-reg cars were the biggest culprits as batteries normally only have a three year lifespan.

The RAC also found that high tech security systems may keep crooks out - but also their owners. Lock-outs were common on modern cars, particularly as many drivers don't understand how to switch immobiliser and alarms off.

Look out for a big Stampede

Sangyong is stepping up the pressure in the poseur jeep stakes. A striking, new, off- roader is being launched early next year -in the pounds 16,000 plus market.

The Stampede will go head to head with the Vauxhall Frontera, Ford Maverick, and Nissan's Terrano.

Despite the sleek and polished lines, the newcomer is being aimed as much at the serious off- roaders as the fashion conscious.

Though it's hard to imagine any of the Cherokee or Discovery crowd pounding down to the Ssang Yong shops in their green wellies to do a swap and get it bogged down in the mud.

Battle will no doubt commence in supermarket car parks all over the nation ... watch this space.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Caven, Bill
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:May 15, 1996
Previous Article:MONEY; BIZBITES.
Next Article:pounds 20m a month!; Nick's quid's in.

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