Jeremy squashes a Leaf

Spend zillions  of pounds and decades of research developing Britain’s first fully electric car and you can be guaranteed of one fact: Jeremy Clarkson will take the mickey out of it.

The Nissan Leaf, soon to be produced in Sunderland, was given the usual Clarkson treatment on Top Gear last weekend. He deliberately ran down the battery so that viewers could be treated to amusing scenes of the car being pushed to a recharging point and listen to his opinions on the hopelessness of battery powered cars while he waited hours for the top-up.

By choosing to drive in an area with few recharging points the programme made the car look an impractical proposition with a cripplingly short range.

It failed to mention Nissan’s point that 70 per cent of drivers travel fewer than 100 miles a day, so that most can easily top-up the battery very cheaply overnight at home.

Nevertheless Clarkson and his happy team of overgrown schoolboys vividly illustrated some important points: at £30,000 it’s expensive to buy, the 100-mile range is unpredictable and depending on how often and how quickly the £7,000 battery is charged it has a limited life. In other words, think before you buy one.

Nissan predictably took umbrage, but surely it could not have imagined that Britain’s best loved, environment-hating petrol-head was ever going to be kind to the Leaf.

The programme gave the Leaf the oxygen of publicity, generating discussion and support from lots of pro-environment types who would be proud to drive a zero-emissions car.  It’s not true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but on balance I reckon Jolly Jeremy’s rough treatment has done Nissan a favour.

– GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media Ltd.