ESB ecars is recruiting members of the public to become ecar ambassadors and trial electric cars for up to a year in an initiative called The Great Electric Drive.
A team of 20 enthusiastic people with all kinds of interests and lifestyles in Ireland will be selected to trial electric cars and share their experience to help support the development of electric cars. ESB ecars is leading the Irish research which has been running since May 2010 and forms part of a pan-European project, Green eMotion, which aims to prepare the mass market for electric cars in Europe.
More than 45 trial participants from organisations such as ESB, AA Ireland, County Councils, Vodafone Ireland, Sligo IT, IBM, Intel as well as private motorists drove a Mitsubishi iMiEV for a trial period of one month or more.
The research from this trial is providing ESB ecars with important information about driving trends, charging patterns and consumer attitudes to electric motoring. The trial is also extremely important in testing the infrastructure and gaining a better understanding the characteristics of electric cars.
Similar to other European studies, the average distance that the trial participants have travelled to date is 70km per day which is well within the range of current electric cars (range of Nissan LEAF/Renault Fluence* is approximately 160km).
However there is a general view among participants that a range of over 200km would be more acceptable.
The findings to date also reveal that there is a greater interest in purchasing an electric car after having trialled it. More than 86% of participants would be very interested/interested in purchasing an electric car in contrast to a figure of only 62% showing an interest before the trial began.
After driving an electric car, participants are absolutely clear about whether an ecar fits their lifestyle while more than a third were undecided beforehand. Just 13% of participants had no interest in buying an electric car after taking part in the trial.
There was a positive shift in the participant’s expectations towards charging an electric car after the trial with 75% of participants finding it the same or more convenient than conventional refuelling. In fact, the convenience of electric car charging and not having to queue to pay for fuel was seen as a very positive aspect of the ecar experience.
All participants found a significantly marked difference between running an electric car compared to a conventional car, costing on average just one fifth the cost. One of the participant’s Conor Faughnan from AA Ireland spent €15.88 on charging his ecar for one month for 909km of driving.
Paul Mulvaney, ESB ecars managing director said research such as this into real-life experiences was invaluable as it highlighted the shift in a driver’s perception and attitude to electric cars.
“The majority of participants are surprised at the cost savings, convenience of home charging as well as the performance of the car. We expect that the ecar ambassadors selected to take part in the Great Electric Drive will have a similar, positive experience,” Mr Mulvaney added.
The selected ecar ambassadors will have the opportunity to drive one of the following electric car models - Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi iMiEV and a Renault Kangoo Z.E. commercial electric van.
Twenty people in total will participate in the year-long trial, four of which will trial an ecar for a year and sixteen people will trial the ecars for a period of three months each. Trial participants will be required to take part in surveys and share their electric driving experiences through a variety of media channels.
Year long trial
The results from the year long trial will provide further information and analysis about driving patterns, charging requirements and user behaviour. The trial also aims to promote further awareness about electric cars and show that sustainable transport is at a very promising stage of development in Ireland.
An advertising campaign has begun to promote awareness about The Great Electric Drive initiative, the increasing popularity of ecars as well as the growing network of charge points.
Members of the general public can enter by simply filling in the online form on www.esb.ie/thegreatelectricdrive or www.facebook.com/ESBecars.
The closing date for applications is midnight on Monday, July 16. The chosen ambassadors will be announced in August.
About ESB ecars
ESB ecars is responsible for the roll-out of a nationwide charging infrastructure as well as the supporting IT and Communications platforms. To date, the total number of charge points installed is 715 charge points which includes home, public and fast charge point types.
The government has set ambitious targets for the introduction of ecars in the coming years with 10% of all vehicles to be electric-run by 2020.
About Green eMotion
Green eMotion, the largest transport research project funded by the European Commission, has 43 partners from industry, the energy sector, electric vehicle manufacturers, municipalities, as well as universities and research institutions.
The aim of the project is to develop and demonstrate a commonly accepted, user-friendly framework for the deployment of electric cars. It has a total budget of €42 million, of which €24 million is funded by the European Commission.
The project commenced in March 2011 and will run for four years. For more information visit Green eMotion.
ESB ecars is organising an International Electric Vehicle (EV) summit in Dublin on July 11 called Fully Charged 2012. There is an impressive line up of speakers from US, Europe, China and Japan who are experts in this field.
In addition to the conference there is an exhibition with a display of electric cars as well as exhibitors from the EV industry. For the general public they have organised test drives around Dublin City on the same day.
The battery range of a Renault electric vehicle in the New European Driving Cycle is 185km for Fluence ZE. In real usage, all electric cars’ range will vary according to the typology of the route, the speed, the use of air-conditioning, the heater and driving style.
For instance, on a suburban road, you can expect a range of approximately 85kms for Fluence ZE during cold weather and 135kms for Fluence ZE during temperate weather.
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