are expensive to manufacture. Some carmakers have, therefore, shied away from them entirely, sticking to traditional propulsion methods, while others have taken the plunge and created their own vehicles at great expense.
Others -- Peugeot Citroen and Mitsubishi in particular -- have combined their resources to create a single shared platform, in order to reduce costs. The result of this talent fusion is the Peugeot Ion, a car that can also be seen sporting Mitsubishi i-Miev and Citroen C-Zero badges.
We took the Peugeot incarnation of this electric city car for a few short trips, punctuated by several long stints of recharging, to see whether it's worth £33,000 -- or £28,000 after government subsidies.
The Ion is an odd-looking car. It's extremely tall and narrow, and looks as if it's been involved in some sort of horrific side impact with a pair of double-decker buses. Don't let its odd shape fool you, though. The Ion may be tall and narrow, but it affords its occupants plenty of space, like some sort of electrified Tardis on wheels.
There's bags of room for four passengers -- two in the front and two in the rear -- and there's absolutely no need to snuggle up to those sat next to you, unless they're particularly obese. Speaking of which, if you're extremely fat, you may want to stay away from the Ion, as its maximum payload is 330kg, which is around 52 stone. The world's heaviest man should stay clear of this motor.
The Ion is perfectly suited to extremely tall people, though -- its head room is like nothing we've ever seen in a car before. We'd have sacrificed some ceiling height for better aerodynamic efficiency, although anyone from the Amy Winehouse or Marge Simpson school of hair styling will absolutely adore this arrangement.
Boot space is fairly pathetic. The boot's volume is a mere 163 litres, which is only enough for a few days worth of shopping.
Handling and performance
Like most electric cars, the Ion is a remarkably refined drive. It pulls away with a silence that's initially quite disconcerting, but its smooth, effortless acceleration and quiet cabin create limousine levels of luxury.
Unfortunately, it's not particularly fast off the line. It seems to take an age to get from a dead stop to 15mph, but, once above this speed, torque from its 64bhp electric motor comes on in spades, helping the car accelerate briskly until the speedo hits about 40mph. After this point, the power delivery is more of a trickle than a torrent.
Peugeot claims the Ion will get you from 0-30mph in a fairly respectable 5.9 seconds or 0-62mph in 15.9 seconds. Its top speed of 81mph means you can venture onto the motorway without fear of being passed by lorries, although its height means it's quite badly affected by strong crosswinds.