They're small, eccentric and as quiet as Paris in August. But Britain, obsessed as it is with speed cameras and petrol prices, has unexpectedly become the world capital of electric cars.
Next week two models will be launched at the London motor show, bringing to at least six the number of carmakers competing for a slice of the emerging "zero emission" market.
None of them knows how many people may be tempted to go electric,or how the motors will develop, but all are preparing for what is being called the "battle of the bubbles."
On the surface, relations between the micro carmakers are harmonious.
"There's room for everyone. We are all helping each other," said Julian Wilford, one of a team of ex-Lotus men that has developed the Mega City Nice car. Nice is short for No Internal Combustion Engine.
The congestion charge, high price of petrol, parking incentives that some councils give for electric cars and the government's road tax exemption all mean London is at the forefront of the electric car boom, he says.
But it's the mood as much as the incentives on offer that makes Britain attractive.
"People have talked about electric cars for years without anything happening, but now it is all changing," Wilford said.
"We find a lot of people who are really concerned about sustainability and who want genuinely different solutions. The mainstream car companies just can't deliver that," he said.
The Nice, built in France, can range about 80km on one charge, claims to reach nearly 64kph and believes it is the cheapest electric car to own and to run.
Also launching in London next week is the Smart EV. This is the battery version of the minuscule petrol car which has sold more than 40,000 models since 1998 and still attracts stares. But the maker says that its model is far higher up the evolutionary ladder.
"These [others] are not cars," said Jeremy Simpson of Daimler Chrysler, which owns Mercedes and Smart cars.
"They are officially classed as quadricycles. They don't have to meet the same standards as we do. People reject them because they are ... odd. Ours is iconic, a proper car," he said.
The electric Smart may be flea-like, but Mr Simpson says it does 0kph to 48kph in 6.5 seconds.
The snag is that the Smart EV won't actually be for sale. The company hopes to lease them mainly to large companies wanting to use them as pool cars.
But the talk in electric vehicle circles is of supercars now emerging in California. The founders of Google have invested heavily in the Silicon Valley startup Tesla Motors, which will soon launch its first model.