A multi-millionaire businessman has built himself Britain’s first electric supercar – with £400,000 of taxpayers’ money.
Dale Vince OBE has spent nearly £1million building the ‘Nemesis’ – an electricity-powered supercar which can accelerate from 0-100mph in a breathtaking 8.5 seconds.
The founder of Gloucestershire-based wind energy company Ecotricity wanted to build an electric car that could ”blow the socks off Jeremy Clarkson”.
But despite being worth £85million, the entrepreneur received £400,000 from the Government’s Technology Strategy Board to develop the vehicle.
Now now uses the 330bhp car – the first road-going British built electric supercar – as his daily runaround.
But taxpayers groups have criticised Mr Vince for using public money for ”personal benefit”.
Fiona McEvoy, campaign manager for The TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ”Whether or not people agree that public money should be spent developing these sorts of green technologies, it’s clear this man is deriving some personal benefit from this.
”It calls into question what these grants are for and whether they’re going to the right places.
”It looks totally inappropriate for a millionaire to be cruising around in a sports car funded, at least in part, by the rest of us.”
To build the Nemesis, 48-year-old Mr Vince commissioned a team of engineers who had been involved in various iconic British vehicles including the McLaren F1 supercar and DeLorean.
The crack team then set about turning a second-hand Lotus Exige bought off eBay into a green machine capable of beating some of the fastest combustion engined supercars.
Ecotricity re-built the Exige and fitted 96 lithium-ion polymer cells, a completely new transmission and two motors developing 330bhp.
It has so far reached a top speed of 135mph but Ecotricity says it should be capable of 170mph.
The company will attempt to break the 139mph record for an electric British car currently held by Don Wales in the Bluebird Electric at a later date.
Nemesis can run for between 100-150 miles between charges and can be charged from empty in under two hours from its fast charger or eight to nine hours from a regular mains supply.
Ecotricity claims ”no large car company could have developed anything like this so rapidly or for the sub-£1million budget it has cost.”
Mr Vince has hit back at claims he is wasting taxpayers’ money for his own pleasure, instead suggesting his ambitious project is good for British engineering.
He said: ”Our car is one of a whole range of eco vehicles being supported by the Government because they see the benefit for the UK in being at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution, and the potential to create a new industry and tens of thousands of new green jobs here in the UK.
”It’s perhaps worth pointing out that our car had about £400,000 worth of support from a programme of £25 million in total, and for that we’ve delivered the UK’s first designed and built electric supercar.”
The Nemesis has also been defended by TV star Robert Llewellyn who made his name as Kryton on the comedy Red Dwarf.
Llewellyn, who has test driven the car, said: ”What Mr Vince has done is create a car which proves a point, that electric cars work, that they can be a viable, sustainable alternative to the heavily subsidised, incredibly influential, constantly lobbying multi nationally powerful grouping we know and love as the oil industry.”
However, Tesla, an American car company, has already proved this with its Roadster model – also based on a Lotus platform.
The Californian car maker, which has received huge investments from the likes of Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, is already selling its models whereas there are no plans as yet to put the Nemesis into production.
Ecotricity says the technology developed for the Nemesis will be incorporated into its next projects – a 250mph-plus wind-powered electric supercar, and an electric tractor – but there are currently no details on these prospective models.