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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 10 March 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 10 MARCH 2018 21 AUTOMOTIVE The production model, called Enfield E8000, was designed by a small team led by Constantine Adraktas, the chairman and managing technical director of Enfield. Enfield E8000 – an electric car built in Syros Ironically, all of the 120 examples produced in Hermoupolis between 1973 and 1976 had to be exported to Britain in order to be sold to customers around the world. It is said that on the day the factory was closed down, a new order for 100 cars came from Europe, but it was too late – Goulandris had already made his decision. Up to this date, automotive journalists question Goulandris' controversial decision to manufacture the car in Syros, because it doesn't seem to be driven by logic. Some say that the Greek millionaire wanted a product that was made in Greece, but others support a different theory that wants oil companies, with whom Goulandris had a strong connection as a ship owner, to be responsible for the failure of this electric car. There are also claims that during the oil crisis most of the tankers were idle in the port of Piraeus in contrast with Goulandris' fleet of 60 tankers which were operating, sparking the conspiracy theories. Adraktas told Neos Kosmos “after we won the contract with the Electricity Council, Goulandris made a secret agreement with the oil companies not to produce the E8000 in exchange for lucrative long-term tanker contracts. I knew a deal was stuck between the ‘seven sisters’ which were continuously on my tail on TV as I was working out of the Goulandris shipping office in City Wall while that deal was made. One does not build a car factory in an island. It is economic lunacy but it was a diplomatic move to cover the above plot and kill the E8000 away from the UK press and TV. A few years before he died, Goulandris admitted to me in his Syros house that they made a mistake shutting down the production of the E8000 on the Isle of Wight, ‘your car’ as he called it.” Today there are a few surviving examples of the Enfield E8000 all around the world - there is even one still being used as a daily vehicle in Adelaide. In 2014, Michalis Stavropoulos, editorial director of the Greek automotive magazine 4Troxoi wrote, produced, and directed the film A Tale of Two Isles which sheds light on the forgotten story of this small car. During the making of the film, a well-preserved orange Enfield E8000 was returned to Hermoupolis where it is still on display as an important part of the history of the island. Lastly, in 2016, British motoring journalist Jonny Smith heavily modified his E8000 nicknamed ‘Flux Capacitor’, making it the fastest street- legal electric car in the world, and proving the capabilities of its original aerodynamic design. Regardless of the reason that led to the closing of EnfieldNeorion, we must acknowledge the big opportunity Greece had in the 70s to establish itself amongst motor vehicle manufacturing countries. Aside from Enfield-Neorion, numerous other companies like NAMCO, MEBEA and MAVA-Renault were producing their own vehicles, but somehow all of them gradually disappeared, mostly due to the goverment’s policies. Some say the death of the Greek automotive industry occurred due to the lack of political initiatives that would benefit a locally made vehicle over its competitors, whereas others blame the companies for their inability to compete at a higher level. Aristotle Onassis, owner of Olympic Airlines, showed interest in the electric cars of Enfield, which he was planning to use as rental cars in the airports.
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