Banning the G-Wiz sums up Labour
I mean come off it. Are we men or mice in this country? I have just overtaken two girls in the cleanest, greenest, sweetest four-wheeled self-propelled invention to hit the London streets since the first horseless carriage arrived at the end of the 19th century.
This machine is so simple and yet so revolutionary that it restores one’s faith in scientific progress. Not since the windmills sprouted on the roofs of Notting Hill has there been a gizmo so deliriously trendy and yet so gentle to the upper air.
I am talking about the G-Wiz electric car. In case you have yet to spot one of these mobile rabbit hutches, they are manufactured in India out of plastic and rubber bands, and since they are powered by a battery they emit no more CO2 than a small dandelion. They are at once as green, and as hopeful for the future of capitalism, as a dollar bill.
You simply recharge them overnight like a mobile phone, and then you can pootle around town with the blissful satisfaction that you are not only saving money – at 1.3p per mile, the G-Wiz’s efficiency is only exceeded by the bicycle.
You are saving time, since you can park almost anywhere you like. You can stick its little rump at right-angles to the kerb, and because it is electric you don’t even have to pay to put it on a meter, and indeed you can hug yourself as you watch the traffic wardens sniffing around the car like baffled hyenas.
Above all, my friends, if you drive a G-Wiz you are saving the planet. It is a joyful contraption; it costs less than £7,000; it is eco-friendly, and gaining rapidly in popularity; and how, therefore, do you think it is viewed by the emanations of the British state?
They want to ban it, of course. No, wait. It’s even wetter than that. They want Brussels to ban it for them! Some brainbox at the Department of Transport has spotted one of the 750 G-Wiz machines now on the streets of London, and has sucked his teeth. Hmm, he has said to himself. That looks too good to be true.
So they have done some tests, and “proved” that the G-Wiz would not be safe in a violent collision with an Eddie Stobart pantechnicon. How about that, eh? Unsafe? Of course it’s unsafe. You don’t have to use a test-crash dummy to see that. Just look at the thing.
To call it a golf cart would be an insult to the relatively cheetah-like qualities of the average golf cart. It has less grunt than a Flymo. It’s a Fisher-Price toy of a car, a glorified Airfix model, and that is why it is so light, and that is why it can be driven by a battery at a roistering top speed of 42mph, and that is why it is no more noxious to the atmosphere than a baby’s breath.
As I have lately discovered in my capacity as ace test-driver for GQ magazine, it is a wonderful machine, and it is almost as if the Government cannot bear the populace to have their hands on anything so wonderful and cheap and simple.
Transport minister Stephen Ladyman yesterday denounced the G-Wiz, and said it was not in conformity with EU regulations. This is not a car at all, he said. It must be reclassified as a quadricycle, and he wants Brussels to kick it off our streets.
Well, folks, how pathetic is that? It’s as though we have got into some weird S & M relationship with the EU, in which ministers go around asking for correction. After years of ritual humiliation at the hands of Madame de Bruxelles, the fabled dominatrix, the man in Whitehall has become addicted to discipline.
Oooh, yes, they say. Tell us we’ve been naughty. Tell us we were wrong to let it on our streets. Tell us we should have classified it as a quadricycle! Madame de Bruxelles will obligingly crack her whip, and what is the result? The EU’s vehicle homologation committee will meet. It will decide that, if the G-Wiz is to be classified as a car, it will need to undergo complete rigidification of the chassis. It will be fitted with airbags and side impact protection systems, and special pedestrian-friendly bumpers, and at the end of this horrifying surgical procedure – a kind of reverse liposuction – it will have doubled in weight, just as every other car on the roads is now far heavier than they were 10 years ago.
And these absurd and pointless safety measures will in turn generate two absurdities. The new obese G-Wiz would still be crushed like a beer can on collision with a cement mixer, and yet it will be so laden with safety equipment that it will be far more dangerous, on impact, to pedestrians.
Worse still, of course, it will be far harder and more expensive – and much less green – to make it move by battery alone. In fact, the whole concept will be more or less wrecked. That is why Mr Ladyman – Girly-man, more like! – should stop this drivelling appeal to Brussels to ban a brilliant invention.
He should listen to Oliver Letwin’s excellent speech on Tuesday, in which he explained the Tory view of the relation between the citizen and the state. It is not just about taxing less, and running the economy efficiently – vital though those goals are. It’s about seeing the catastrophic fiscal impact of having a bossy, regulatory approach, by which new laws and new interdictions endlessly necessitate the creation of new taxpayer-funded officials to enforce those laws.
It’s therefore about treating people like grown-ups, and letting them take their own risks, without endlessly and expensively substituting the judgment and protection of the state. You have only to take one look at the plucky little G-Wiz to see that is no less (and no more) dangerous than a bicycle. We don’t need the Department of Transport to tell us that, and we certainly don’t need Brussels.
The customer can see that it is vulnerable; but he also knows that the G-Wiz fleet has travelled 20 million miles without a bad accident and with negligible CO2. Let him weigh it up himself.