What’s the best electric vehicle for teenagers?
The Opel Rocks-e can be driven by German teens at 15. But will they actually want to?
We all craved a certain amount of freedom and independence when we were teenagers, didn’t we? The sort of freedom that involved going round the corner and sitting on a bench with some friends, or in my case going into town on the bus to get some new library books.
Said freedom in the UK would either involve a second-hand bicycle inherited from a distant but slightly taller cousin, or of course a bus pass. If you were to have grown up in France you had all the glamorous possibility of a quadricycle. If you’ve never seen one before, imagine a Brabus mobility scooter with a 600cc engine and a sound system that accounts for half the car’s weight. Sadly, as with most things aimed at hip, cool youngsters, these quadricycles were invariably purloined by grim-faced pensioners with hip problems.
These microcars have actually long been an invention of the European Union, with a directive poofing them into existence in 1992, a decree that they should be classified alongside mopeds and have limited power and weight. Oh how the youths must have celebrated that night, with their particular choice of pilfered hooch raised in acclamation.
And then again just last year, when Opel announced that its knocked off Citroen Ami would launch in Germany and be called the Rocks-e. Those wags.
This aggressively youthful bare bones contraption is essentially a chair with a roof and some brightly coloured stickers that will take you 50 miles from where you started before you begin the glacial process of filling up the batteries to get back again. Still, it only costs €7,990 – which is what, about 63 years of doing a paper round? If such a job even exists anymore.
Much was made of the fact that 15-year-olds would be able to drive the car in Germany, but the bald statement doesn’t factor in that these are 15-year-olds we’re talking about here. Just because they can, doesn’t mean they will. As anyone who has ever tried to get a middle teen to do anything will attest.
Young people very rarely enjoy anything that’s specifically aimed at them, including youthfulness itself. Get behind the wheel of a garishly decorated two-seat electric car that’s very painfully limited to less than 30mph? The very existence of the Rocks-e is excruciatingly uncool.
The fact that the designers helpfully thought to include some shopping bag hooks in the cabin is further proof, if it were needed, that someone somewhere badly missed the point. The Opel publicity for the car claims that a “bright, pleasant atmosphere is provided by the standard panoramic glass roof, exceptional for a vehicle in this price category”. Oh, how I lusted as a teenager after an exceptionally good value panoramic glass roof.
So no, there isn’t a 15-year-old in any country who would wish to be spotted dead in an Opel Rocks-e. But I rather think that I’ve got to the age where I might fancy owning one myself. Oh dear.
Best EV for teenager – Opel Rocks-e
Price: €7,990 (Europe only, sorry)
Range: 47 miles
Engine: 12bhp e-motor
Top speed: 28mph
Boot space: There's a shelf on the dashboard
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