Electric Vehicle Design Challenges the UK’s Love for Small Cars

It’s 4 p.m. on a wet Monday in southeast London, and we’re trying to parallel park uphill, a necessary if unpleasant rite of passage for any city driver. Our electric car, a bright red Ora Funky Cat, has been through a battery of such rites today — hauling furniture, ferrying passengers, avoiding pedestrians — and takes to London’s streets like it was made for them. On the slippery surface of a narrow road, the Ora EV excels: At just over 4 meters (13 feet), it’s easy to parallel park.

The Funky Cat is a head-turning EV with a fun design to match its name; there’s a hint of Porsche in the flared front fenders and squat haunches. The Asian-made car, which went on sale last fall, is also prowling around a sweet spot in the UK’s EV market: models small and light enough that a modest battery can push them a decent distance. Of the 72 electric cars available in the UK, nine have batteries with a capacity under 50 kWh. Just two EVs in the US do.