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Test run On the road with a plug-in car

It is ideal for short distances and has an engine with rapid acceleration that purrs like a cat. These qualities make the electro vehicle perfect for Switzerland's postmen and women. swissinfo.ch accompanied Anita Arpagaus on her round through the hilly outskirts of the capital Bern.

Stop. Get out. Put the newspaper in the letterbox. Get back in. Accelerate.... The electric engine powers the Renault and takes it quickly and smoothly to the next letterbox. No need to re-start the engine, just tap the accelerator and the vehicles moves on. This saves times and makes the job easier.

"This e-car is just great," says Arpagaus, "I wouldn't want to use a petrol-powered car again."

But the design of the electro-car betrays its origins as a more conventional vehicle: from the outside, it looks as if it has a petrol tank. But lift the lid, and there's no cap; it is blocked off. Instead, there is a socket on the bonnet.

The only obvious difference from a conventional vehicle is the battery gauge on the dashboard.

It has one drawback though, according to Arpagaus: it doesn't go very far before it needs re-charging. The makers claim that a full battery lasts for 130km, but the hills and constant stop-starting mean Arpagaus can't travel for more than 50km.

Swiss Post have used ten e-cars since 2012 and they intend to test them for seven years, describing the experience so far as "really positive".

(Pictures: Thomas Kern, swissinfo.ch, Original text in German: Andreas Keiser, swissinfo.ch)

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