Ten brand-new electric vehicles arrived in Stornaway this week, which will soon be available for the public to book for as little as an hour, or up to several days at a time at exceptionally affordable rates. What makes this scheme particularly unique is that the vast majority of the electricity used to power the fleet will be produced by the island’s wind turbines, making it one of the cleanest, greenest mobility solutions the UK has ever seen.
The scheme is a joint venture between Zero Carbon Marine Ltd (operators of the Pentland Road wind farm) and E-Car Club Ltd (who operate entirely-electric car clubs across the UK). On-island support will be provided by Car Hire Hebrides Ltd. The scheme is currently in a test phase but in the coming months, the cars will go live for the general public to collect from specific points across Lewis & Harris on a pay-as-you-go basis, with 24/7 access possible thanks to E-Car’s online booking system.
To celebrate the arrival of this pioneering scheme, representatives from E-Car and Zero Carbon Marine will be embarking on the ‘E-Car Challenge’ on Tuesday 6th October, where they will drive two cars from Vatersay South Beach to the lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis in one day. The challenge has been set out to highlight the versatility of the vehicles and to demonstrate the existing ‘rapid charge’ units already in operation on the Western Isles, which will charge the vehicles from flat to full in as little as 30 minutes. Following the ‘E-Car Challenge’ the official launch of the scheme will coincide with the inauguration of the Pentland Road wind farm on 9th October.
Peter Crone, Director of Zero Carbon Marine said:
“The Western Isles is blessed with vast and largely unexploited renewable energy resources. In time we believe that all of the energy requirements of the islands will be supplied from local generation. Now that the islands have become a net exporter of low carbon electricity, the logical next step is to start using that clean energy to decarbonise the transport sector.”
These are complementary technologies. Wind turbines provide a variable power supply, so the storage capability of the batteries in electric vehicles has the potential to help to smooth out this variability. Charging can be scheduled for periods of low electricity demand during the night and it is even possible to use the cars to supply power back to the grid at times of peak demand”
Chris Morris, Managing Director of E-Car Club added:
“This is an extremely exciting project to be involved in and a significant milestone both for E-Car and e-mobility in Scotland as a whole. Our model is already market-leading from an environmental and behavioural impact perspective, but the opportunity to power the vehicles almost exclusively from wind turbines makes the sustainability credentials of this scheme truly world class.
By providing vehicles which are accessible 24/7 and therefore reducing the need for private ownership from businesses and local residents, this scheme will significantly cut local emissions and improve parking and congestion issues whilst saving significant amounts of money for everybody that joins… our members have reported an annual average saving of £2000 per year compared to owning and running their own vehicles.”
The fleet will consist of one Renault Kangoo van and nine Renault ZOE hatchbacks, which can achieve around 70-90 miles on a single charge and feature climate control, cruise control and satellite navigation as standard. Hire costs for the ZOE’s will be just £5.50 per hour/ £45 per day, and the Kangoo will be £7.50 per hour/ £60 per day.
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