From both the outside and inside, there's little to distinguish the petrol slurping Mazda 2 from Energetique's electric evMe. So we took a look underneath its skin to see what makes it hum.
Don't forget to check out our in-depth preview-cum-review of the evMe.
Externally there's not much to differentiate the donor Mazda 2 from the electrified evMe. In this pic — although not on the car we drove — all the Mazda badges are replaced with the Greek letter omega, which is the symbol for the base unit of electrical resistance, the ohm. On the rump there's an evMe sticker, an absent tailpipe and, umm, that's about it.
Underneath what we would normally call the fuel cap is a cable for charging the car. From a standard 10-amp outlet the evMe takes 15 hours to fully recharge. A 15-amp socket will take 10 hours, while dual-15-amp sockets will take just five hours. Clearly the city is the evMe's natural habitat, and leaving the car plugged in overnight is a good recommendation.
Underneath this plastic shroud is an electric motor that boasts more power and torque than the Mazda 2's 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine — 85kW versus 76kW, and 223Nm versus 137Nm.
Sitting at the bottom is the electric motor. The red box to its left houses the DC to DC converter, which allows the car's lithium polymer battery pack, rated at between 350V and 400V, to charge the standard 12V battery (above and to the right in a seductive black), which powers the car's electrical components (lights, sound system, windows, mirrors and so forth).
That large green box houses some of the evMe's 96-cell lithium polymer battery pack. The red box wedged between it and the 12V battery is the home of the evMe's motor controller, essentially the digital brain that dictates whether the electric motor is drawing energy from the battery pack, recharging it or having a siesta.
This stack of lithium polymer batteries is sitting on the dock o' the (garage) bay waiting for wiring and installation. The majority of the battery pack lives underneath the rear seats, where the fuel tank would normally reside.
It's nowhere near as slick as the displays in the Toyota Prius, Lexus RX400h or Honda Insight, but this multi-line screen tells you all you need to know. When you're cruising or stomping on the brakes, the car's regenerative braking mode will kick in and the current reading will turn negative to indicate that juice is flowing from the engine back to the battery pack. A positive reading, meanwhile, shows that you're using up valuable battery power.
Unlike most petrol and diesel cars, but like the Tesla Roadster, the evMe has just one forward gear and one reverse gear.
In case technicians need to work on the car or emergency workers need to use the jaws of life, there's an emergency isolation switch that will decouple the battery pack from the engine.
With just a single forward gear, the evMe accumulates speed in a steady and progressive manner without the usual surge through the gears that we're used to in petrol and diesel cars.
Utility-wise the evMe should be identical to the Mazda 2. Boot space is the same and the rear seats still fold down with a 60/40 split.
There's that evMe sticker we mentioned earlier. Just out of shot is the non-existent tailpipe.