End of the road

05.12.15: THE BODY of the maverick billionaire Clive Ellis, the self-styled inventor of the 'car for life', was last night pulled from the River Thames near Richmond.

Police are treating his death as suspicious, prompting renewed speculation about his frequently fiery clashes with the mainstream motor industry.

Ellis, 49, launched the new car in a blaze of publicity six weeks ago, claiming that Eterna, a petrol-electric hybrid, had far better fuel economy than any of its rivals, lower running costs and "durability such that it need never be replaced". At the launch of the car, where Ellis made a rare personal appearance, he said: "What you see here is the last car your readers will ever buy. The rest of the motor industry may as well pack up now and go home."

These claims were initially met with universal scepticism. However, closer scrutiny of the prototype Eterna is said to have lent them some credence, and speculation is rife about the manner in which Ellis died.

Certainly, his passing is unlikely to be mourned by rival manufacturers. With its green credentials and the chance to pay a one-off price for a lifetime's motoring, Eterna would doubtless have had mass appeal. DL