14 April 2012

1985: The Sinclair C5

Above and below: details from the original C5 advertising, 1985.

Sir Clive Sinclair in his C5, 1985.

Practical personal transport - powered by electricity, ran the C5 advertising blurb.

It's a world first. It needs no petrol, just an overnight charge from a mains socket. Press a button to start, squeeze a lever to stop - there's no gearchange, no clutch.

Anyone can drive it on the roads, from the age of fourteen upwards. You don't need a licence. You pay no road tax.

The C5 was 1744 mm (5'9'') long, 795 mm ( 2'7'') high, and 744 mm (2'5'') wide.

Again according to the advertising blurb, it had a range of up to 20 miles (depending on use) and was listed as having a max speed (electric drive) of 24 kph (15 mph). It cost £399 and was advertised under the slogan A Whole New Way To Get About.

Environmental issues were high on the agenda in the 1980s, so, what was the problem with the environmentally friendly C5? Well, it was small - could it be easily seen from other vehicles? As the driver was quite near to the ground, wouldn't he/she be breathing in other drivers' exhaust fumes? These were two head scratchers that I heard in connection with the C5, and were genuine concerns. Some people were simply out to ridicule it.

Unlike that other 1985 launch, Microsoft Windows, the C5 was soon a thing of the past.

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