Wales launches first EV car club

The first ever electric car club scheme in Wales has launched, offering an all-electric, zero emission Nissan LEAF which the whole community will be able to benefit from.

The Big Lottery Fund's Village SOS programme awarded nearly £25,000 to the Cilgwyn Community Group near Newport, Pembrokeshire, to support the car club project, which allowed them to purchase a brand new Nissan LEAF electric vehicle.

The innovative new car sharing scheme aims to alleviate the need for second or unused cars by offering the community an electric car to use. Local residents will be able to book the Nissan LEAF online or over the telephone at an introductory price of £2.50 per hour and five pence per mile.

A software programme will work out what each customer owes and the car will be opened by using a smartcard. Onboard telemetrics will feedback each customer's driving style to protect the battery life. The enterprise will generate income from membership fees and mileage charges which will be re-invested into the project to make it self-sustaining.

The Nissan LEAF can be fully charged from a domestic plug socket in around 8 hours, and has an official range of 109 miles. Fast charging points are already available in nearby towns such as Haverfordwest, which charge the LEAF in around half the time. Other towns are expected to benefit from fast charging points in the near future, meaning that in a day, users will be able to travel a reasonable distance in the electric vehicle.

The group also aims to associate charging with spare renewable power. In Cilgwyn, it will take advantage of spare wind power from a turbine, especially at night. And in Newport, it will use spare solar power generated by panels on the roof of the Newport Memorial Hall. A second electric car is also due to arrive shortly, with other vehicles to follow if the demand overtakes availability.

Explaining the importance of the project, the Secretary of the Cilgwyn Community Group, Vicky Moller, says: "In rural communities such as ours, car use and car ownership is embarrassingly excessive. And the numbers of buses coming through Cilgwyn are dwindling. We are really excited and it's incredibly needed."

"The nearest town, Newport, is three miles away and the bus route is two miles distance and only runs hourly and not at all in the evenings or on Sundays. People are therefore deterred from travelling if they do not have anyone who can provide a lift. This project is a green solution to a problem and provides a cheaper and convenient car sharing service."

The new scheme accommodates for the majority of people's car requirements, allowing journeys to be made at short notice and affordably. There are no ongoing bills, no car tax or insurance and no MOT or servicing to worry about.

John Ironmonger

Author:John Ironmonger
Date Updated:12th Apr 2013

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