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All Systems Go for First Electric Car Club in Wales

March 19, 2013
Vicky Moller from the Cilgwyn Community Group

Vicky Moller from the Cilgwyn Community Group

The first community electric car club in Wales is gearing up for its official launch next month thanks to a grant of nearly £25,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Village SOS programme. Vicky Moller from the Cilgwyn Community Group in Pembrokeshire looks forward to the launch and discusses the benefits of the project . . .

In rural communities such as ours, car use and ownership is embarrassingly excessive. Those without cars simply can’t get to things. We have a bus within 2 miles and shops within 3 but the bus doesn’t run in the evenings so I can’t get to evening meetings. Young people pressurise their elders into being part time chauffeurs or live on the phone seeking lifts.

The electric car project is amusing and exciting people locally. It looks as if it could topple a load of fixed ideas such as that only the very wealthy can afford top of the range electric cars.

Our first car arrives in eight days and we have a public meet the car and presentation day on April the 7th. The car is a new Nissan Leaf and has a solar panel on the roof to contribute to the power.  It can be charged from a domestic plug with an official range of about 100 miles per charge. Fast charging is already available in places like Haverfordwest and is expected to be installed shortly in other towns and routes locally.

The New Nissan Leaf Electric Car will be officially unveiled in Cilgwyn on April 7th

The New Nissan Leaf Electric Car will be officially unveiled in Cilgwyn on April 7th 2013

We believe this project could really take off in Wales. The Electric Car Club allows a community full use of a car, making top quality green cars affordable. As car ownership and driving costs go up, car clubs and electricity as a fuel will come into their own in future.

We have a great alliance between the technically minded car loving young men in the community, some older fluffy environmental types (like me) and people who just like good ideas and sharing in the community. The first car will arrive in time for the public meeting and will be available to people in Cilgwyn and Newport in Pembrokeshire. The second will arrive shortly afterwards, with other vehicles expected to follow in response to the demand.

The club could be a wakeup call for local people to see why we need a generous source of renewable electricity close at hand. The group aims to associate charging with spare renewable power. In Cilgwyn it will take advantage of spare wind power, especially at night. In Newport it will use spare solar power from the hall in the daytime. Electric cars really have just one main advantage. We can make electricity, we can’t make fossil fuels. That is an argument stopper and a key to veering off the climate destruction path.

The electric car can be easily charged at home and through using renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro and solar.

The electric car can be easily charged at home AND by using renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro and solar power

A software programme will allow people to book the car either online or on their phone. The programme will work out what they owe and the car will be opened by their smartcard.  Onboard telemetrics will feedback each customer’s driving style to protect the battery life. There is an introductory price of £2 per hour and 5p mile.  The goal is to create full use so that these low prices can be maintained, and the idea spread.

The additional advantages of being a member of the club is free membership of a national car club – allowing cars to be available to members throughout the UK, including free charging at public charge points.

This electric car club is the first in Wales and the second in the UK. The first started in October 2012 in Milton Keynes and they have been giving us vital tips. We know it’s the right direction of travel but we have yet to explore the route. We are very excited at the journey ahead.

For further information about the project, email cilgwyn@ecocymru.org or call 01239 820971.

For further information about the Big Lottery Fund and how you can apply for funding visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

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