In the tree-lined splendour of suburban south-west London, residents anxious to maintain the area's Georgian and Victorian character are taking part in a green transport revolution. They might not realise it, because it's a very quiet revolution. It has got nothing to do with tearing up the genteel streets of Chiswick and Wandsworth to lay new tramlines, either.
When these home owners ask Refurb-A-Sash to come and measure up for authentic wooden replacement windows, the company's craftspeople will soon be arriving in electric Smart cars. The two battery-powered Smart Fortwos shortly to join the Refurb-A-Sash fleet can reach 30mph in 6.5 seconds and can travel noiselessly for up to 72 miles before they need recharging. With window expert, tape measure and appointment book on board, they're ideally suited to the company's key catchment areas of west and central London and north Surrey - most of which is within 10 miles of the firm's Twickenham joinery factory.
The only infrastructure that company owner Adrian Thompson has needed to install is an exterior 13-amp socket with rubber waterproofing. 'Running a zero-emission vehicle means we won't have to pay the congestion charge when it arrives in Kensington and Chelsea,' he says. 'But I don't think we'll save very much overall - it's not a pure cost-saving venture.