Charge Your Car

Trial Urges Drivers to Switch to EV

Drivers in the region are being encouraged to make the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) by plugging into a trial that offers the chance to test drive an EV for six months.

The Switch EV trial is set to enter its final phase later this year and Future Transport Systems, the organisation which manages the scheme, is encouraging businesses and individuals to get involved - saving money and reducing CO2 emissions in the process.

The North East Switch EV project is one of the most significant and far reaching trials of new electric cars and is supported by the Technology Strategy Board. The project works closely with Charge Your Car, the North East’s Plugged in Places programme, by monitoring the usage and areas of demand for charging points across the region.

Switch EV aims to discover how electric cars are used, the infrastructure needed to support them and what incentives are needed to encourage people to use them.

The fourth and final phase of the trial, which first got underway in 2010, is due to begin in November. Those signed up will have the chance to get behind the wheel of a Peugeot iOn or a Nissan LEAF in return for valuable feedback on EV use and charging behaviour.

Businesses taking part will benefit from having a charging point installed at their premises free of charge, ensuring they are future proofed ahead of the expected surge in electric vehicles.

EVs, which have a range of around 90 miles, are ideal for commuting, business trips and a wide range of everyday uses.

Groundwork North East, an environmental regeneration charity working on behalf of communities across the region, is taking part in the current Switch EV trial. Over the past two months staff from the organisation have been using a Nissan LEAF as a pool car for meetings and delivering projects within the community.

Kate Culverhouse, managing director of Groundwork North East, said: “Many of our projects promote good environmental practice to both communities and businesses, so we’re always keen to improve our own environmental performance and minimise our impact. We also generate renewable electricity from our wind turbine on site which makes the case for electric vehicles even stronger.

“The team has found the vehicle to be very easy to drive and have been surprised at how good the performance of the vehicle is compared to traditional combustion engines. The range of the vehicle is ideal for our regional activity. Introducing EVs to our operations on a more permanent basis is definitely part of our long-term plans.”

By the end of the trial 145 businesses and individuals from throughout the region will have had access to an EV. To date, around 25 per cent of those involved have gone on to take on a longer-term lease on a vehicle or have purchased their own EV.

Liz Gray from Future Transport Systems, which is managing the trial, said: “EVs can offer huge benefits to businesses and individuals, both in reducing environmental impact and in saving fuel and maintenance costs.

“The number of people making a more permanent switch to EVs is testament to the fact that the ‘try before you buy’ approach really is important in highlighting the benefits of EVs. I hope that businesses and individuals take this opportunity to get involved by signing up to the final phase of the trial.”

Charge Your Car, which has been responsible for putting in place almost 400 charging points throughout the region to date, works closely with Switch EV, using data from the trial to make improvements to the network.

Josey Wardle, project manager for Charge Your Car, said: “Any business who would like to get involved in the Switch EV project is eligible to have an electric vehicle charging point installed free of charge. By working in partnership with Switch EV, we hope this offers a further incentive for North East businesses to get involved in the trial, reduce their carbon footprint and think about introducing green transport to their company.”

For more information about Switch EV and to register interest in taking part in the trial, visit the project website at www.switchev.co.uk

The Charge your Car scheme caters for regular and ad-hoc EV users via its membership scheme and innovative PAYG facility.

Grants are available through Charge your Car for individuals and organisations wishing to have a charging point installed at their homes or premises. For further information on the funding available visit www.leadthecharge.org.uk or call the Charge your Car team on tel: 0191 490 2474.

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