Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Test drive an electric car at ecar DRIVESHOWs touring Northern Ireland in February & March

Last March I test drove an electric car around Titanic Quarter as part of the eDRIVE roadshow. The Nissan Leaf was a stealthy drive.
Foot on the brake, press in the button on top of the stumpy gear stick and pull back into ‘drive’. Press down on the accelerator and the car silently glides forward. Step on it a bit more and the speed cranks up. Steadily. No jerking through the gears like an ordinary automatic. In fact, stamp on the accelerator and the car takes off – instant torque – down the road with an alarming sense of urgency. Yet inside the car, all is calm and quiet.

Donnelly Group had fitted a couple of cameras to the car, so some of my wittering - and gesticulating with both hands instead of holding the wheel - was preserved for posterity.

The Department for Regional Development together with the Department of the Environment have teamed up to take the ecar DRIVESHOW to another six venues across Northern Ireland. Each roadshow starts at 10am and finishes at noon with lunch provided.
  • 5 February in Enniskillen Castle
  • 12 February in Coleraine Council Civic Headquarters
  • 19 February in the Burnavon Arts and Cultural Centre, Cookstown
  • 26 February in the Omniplex at the Quays Shopping Centre, Armagh
  • 12 March in Larne Townhall
  • 26 March in the Guildhall, Derry/Londonderry
You can register your attendance … and don’t forget to bring both parts of your driving licence if you want a test drive.

There are an increasing number of charging points dotted across the island, and there are charge points in many DRD and some private car parks. In Lisburn there's a charge point in the DRD car park in Benson Street, and another at Dobbies Garden Centre.

Last week DRD, DETI and DOE ministers launched a competition to design an Electric Days Out app to “assist existing and future Electric Vehicle drivers to plan their journeys across Northern Ireland, particularly visitor attractions promoted by NI Environment Agency and NI Tourist Board.

Last March, I concluded the blog post about the test drive saying:
In my opinion, getting an electric car would have to be a lifestyle choice as well as a economic one.

I was impressed with the short test drive: the Nissan Leaf was a lovely car. I like the concept of an emission-free vehicle. I love the idea of never having to fill up at a petrol station. And since I’ve no sense of smell, I won’t even miss the pleasant whiff of petrol fumes. I commute nine miles in and back out of work each day, so range would fine. I could get to Ballymena and back on a single charge. However, a round trip to Coleraine or Cookstown would require recharging along the way. So it would be impractical to have an electric car as the only vehicle in the household. Which makes it an expensive dodgem.

As a small car fan, I can’t ever see myself forking out £20,000+ for a car that size. At current specs and prices, it will be a long time before there is a sub-£10,000 two or four seater electric car on the market. That would be the tipping point for me.

For some people the economics, the eco-credentials and the driving range will make sense.

For me, I think I’ll stick with my three-cylinder, low spec Aygo. Even if it is incredibly noisy inside the car compared with the tranquil Leaf.

The future’s electric. But not for a while.

Update - The Belfast Telegraph has uncovered an anomaly between some parking conditions and the time to charge particular cars.

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