Columbia ParCar Mega Test Drive

 

 

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Columbia ParCar Mega Test Drive

By Noel Adams

December 2, 2007

 

One vehicle that looked quite interesting at the EVS 23 ride and drive on December 2, 2007 was a small truck from Colombia Par Car. I found that there was no line for this vehicle so decided to take a test drive while I had the opportunity.

 

The Truck turned out to be the Mega, a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle which, like the Zenn, is based on a French micro-car. In this case, it is offered in the van configuration pictured or the truck configuration that I drove. This car really looks like a French micro-car and I could see this vehicle zipping around a picturesque French village.

 

I found the driverís seat puts you into a very upright position like you find in big trucks and I find this very comfortable. The really great thing about this truck is the visibility. I could see around this truck better than almost any vehicle I have ever driven.

 

I pulled slowly out onto the test track and hit the accelerator to merge into traffic. The accelerator pedal was very small and at first I had difficulty finding it.  It only took me a few minutes of driving to get used to the size and position of this pedal and after that I had no problems.    

 

Acceleration was nothing stellar but about normal for a NEV. The truck I was driving was actually a prototype and the speedometer read in kilometers per hour so I was soon up to 40kph. That is when I noticed a red exclamation point on the dashboard. Red exclamation points on the instrument panel are rarely good.  Then the speedometer dropped to zero although I was still going along with no problem.

 

This, I was told, was teething problems with the prototype. The red exclamation point indicated low battery although the battery was almost full, and they hadnít yet found out why the speedometer stopped working intermittently.

 

Steering was firm and not too heavy and responded well when maneuvering. The brakes were also quite heavy but felt very precise and brought me to a stop exactly where I expected. The truck also featured regenerative braking with was quite light and hardly noticeable when coming to a stop at a stop sign.

 

I donít see the Mega as being a NEV of choice as a second car, but as a working truck or van, particularly in campus type situations, it deserves serious consideration.  I really liked the seating position and the fact that I had a really clear view of the road.  The small accelerator pedal took a little getting used to and if you have large feet you might want to make sure you give this a test drive before buying since the small pedal might make driving awkward.

 

The ride was quite bumpy though not as bad as some NEVs that I have driven. There were plenty of rattles to this truck as well. Even with the gauge problems the car behaved well and the test drive was really too short. I actually enjoyed driving the Mega, it was a blast.