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BBC testing EV practicality with road trip

Documentary series attempts all-electric European road trip to see whether electric vehicles are realistically useful for everyday folks.

The Electric Ride BBC team with its Think City car at London's Marble Arch. From left to right: Kevin Dawson, Richard Scrase, Peter Curran, and Rose De Larrabeiti.

A BBC documentary team will attempt a European road trip using an all-electric car as transportation, the BBC announced this week.

The tour started Tuesday in Denmark and will include ferry trips across the Danish islands, as well as drives across Norway, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. The trip is scheduled to end in London on July 7 at the Formula One (F1) Eco Rally. It also includes stops at Maranello, Italy and Stuttgart, Germany, home to Ferrari and Porsche, respectively.

British TV presenter Peter Curran will host the show called "BBC Electric Ride," and be lead driver. Also along for the ride will be Richard Scrase, a British journalist and producer who has been organizing the project and will post updates on the Electric Ride blog. Viewers can likely expect a pro-EV bent from Scrase, as he was editor of the UK Green Party's "Green World" Web site, for five years.

The team picked up its car in London on June 2. It's a Think City vehicle, the all-electric car that recently became available in Brazil and the New York City metropolitan area, and has been available in Europe for some time. The Think City has a top speed of 60 mph and a range of about 112 miles per charge. It can charge from zero to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes from a fast-charging 220-volt station.

"Our choice of car came down to practicalities. We chose the Think City because it is a ready-to-market fully electric vehicle, with a good driving range and respectable top speed," Kevin Dawson, BBC Electric Ride senior producer said in a statement.

In addition to Curran, Dawson, and Scrase, the team also includes BBC Producer Rose De Larrabeiti.

The BBC team members reported that Think gave them a list of tips on how to properly drive the car when they handed it over. Those tips included: traveling light, keeping the windows up to avoid drag, driving in economy mode to maximize regenerative breaking and make the battery last longer between charges, and throttling down before stopping at traffic lights.

"Listen to relaxing music to ensure a patient and efficient driving style," Think also reportedly told the team.

Part of the plan includes getting permission from the Danish ferry authority to plug-in and recharge the car's batteries while on ferry rides, as well on relying on the electric outlets of those places they visit along the way. Part of the problem with owning EVs in Europe, as in most areas of the world, is that there is no comprehensive EV-charging infrastructure.

The project, sponsored by BBC Radio 4, will broadcast radio updates starting June 19 at 10:30 a.m. GMT and go for four consecutive Saturdays, with Twitter, Facebook, an interactive map, and YouTube offerings for daily following.

Two YouTube videos are already posted, and the results of green techies interacting with host Peter Curran are amusing.

"Alright, so fire up the engine there," Curran enthusiastically shouts at a driver demonstrating an F1-style electric sports car at the Imperial College, London in the show's first YouTube video.

"Um, it's fired already. You can't hear it," the student informs him.