From GMIT to the Fields of Athenry….in Silence!

Karen Smyth, Marketing Officer, GMIT

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) has a 100% electric Mitsubishi iMiEV on trial! Students and researchers in the School of Engineering are currently using the car to record and analyse data on electric vehicles as the car is being driven by the staff of the college.

ESB ecar outside GMIT

My experience with the ecar

As Marketing Officer for GMIT, I jumped at the chance to use the car for a few days last week.  I commute from Athenry to GMIT every day (a return trip of about 44kms), and was interested to see how the ecar would perform.

From the moment I started driving it, I loved it.  It is a luxury to have such a smooth, automatic vehicle, and the silence of the car is lovely.  There is also really good acceleration, which I didn’t expect.

GMIT ecar at Athenry Castle

On my first return journey, I used the Motorway and found the ecar as comfortable as my normal car, if not more so!  The second return journey was on a “back road” and it was quite noticeable that the car was operating more efficiently on this journey.  I look forward to the comparison of data on the two journeys from GMIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Centre for the Integration of Sustainable Energy Technologies (CISET).

Attention-grabbing iMiEV

Then came the weekend.  The ecar definitely attracts attention when you are out and about.  Such was the interest in the ecar from my neighbours that I arranged to do a “show and tell” on Sunday morning.  It was supposed to be for the neighbour’s kids, but almost as many parents came as children!

The kids were really interested in how the ecar charges, and couldn’t believe how quiet it was when driving.  The parents, naturally, had questions about the cost of charging, exactly how long it would take to charge, what other car models are available, and how much the they cost to buy. What started out as a simple demonstration, turned into an hour-long e-car experience!
Luckily, my neighbour and friend Sharon Carroll, who is Galway City Council’s Environmental Officer, was able to help me answer questions about the electric vehicles and the environment, while I brought passengers on a short journey to experience travelling in an electric car.

Neighbours standing at the iMiEV

In general, people were gobsmacked at the low running cost of the car, with it only costing €1.50-€3 for an overnight charge at home.  Parents were a little apprehensive about the silence of the car from a pedestrian point of view, but I could see that it will just take a little time. Many ecars now also come with an external noise to warn pedestrians of the car’s approach.

The key question: Would I get an ecar?

So, would I trade in my 1 litre Yaris for an ecar?  Definitely!  I think it would be an ideal second car for our family, as I have a very predictable commute to work.  The potential cost savings are what really appeal to me – the pleasure of driving such a smooth, quiet car is a very welcome added bonus.

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Comments: 7

  1. Paddy Carroll October 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm Reply

    Nice writeup. Hope you post the data you analyse on electric vehicles – would be very interested in the findings.

    • GMIT
      GMIT October 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm Reply

      Hi Paddy, thanks a million for your feedback. Once the research is complete, I will ask ESB ecars to put it on their blog, and we also plan to publish the findings on our website http://www.gmit.ie. It will be interesting to see what the data says about my driving style!

  2. Richard Cahill October 8, 2013 at 4:36 pm Reply

    Hi, I have been reading the various bits on this blog and associated publications. My big question is as a rural dweller with 5 kids between college and second level I’m covering on average 30K miles per year in a people carrier. The e-car seems to make sense €5,800 diesel compared to €3.60 based on one fuel cost figure published on the GMIT blogs (€1.80 for 240Km). Any way it would appear that a saving of in the order of €5,000.00 is not unreasonable… before allowing a sinking fund for replacing a battery and the cost of financing the project.
    How many miles / Km have been put on the GMIT car and where is the battery efficiency at, is the decrease in efficiency a near straight line graph or like life full of ups and downs?
    Based on the 4.5 children per adult female in the photo I suspect your driving style involves escapism, I know mine does, I also see you are a 2 e-car family.

    • ESBecars
      ESBecars October 9, 2013 at 4:23 pm Reply

      Hi Richard, the car that GMIT have on trial is a pre-production model of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. This car has a smaller battery than many modern electric cars (16kWh as compared to 24kWh) and the pre-production model has under half the range of a typical electric vehicle. A better comparison for your question may be our Nissan LEAF e-taxi. This car has been on the road since 2011. It recently covered about 60,000km in an 18 month period as a taxi, in addition to the mileage already on the car prior to this trial. A recent service of this car shows a 5 out of 5 star rating for battery health and capacity from Nissan.
      Studies have shown that battery life of electric vehicles can be as long as 20 years before reaching a 75% capacity.

    • GMIT
      GMIT October 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm Reply

      Hi Richard, I will leave the technical response to Dr. Tom Roche from GMIT, but can answer how the car worked for me. We have two young children so the iMiev worked well for us, although you couldn’t fit more than two child seats in the back. I would imagine you might need a bigger model for five children, especially as they are older. And yes, you are right – my driving style does involve escapism. That is why the silence of the ecar is so appealing!!

    • GMIT
      GMIT October 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm Reply

      Hi Richard, from a technical perspective, whilst we are just in the test phase of the car, the current cost figure is about one tenth the price of a fossil fuel car per km. So if 5800 euro for diesel then that is 580 for charge. However 30 k is a lot of miles per year which suggests a daily commute in excess of the range of this pre-production model (70km) and of course this depends on usage pattern, access to charging points etc. The car is also a bit small for five children.
      However there are a large range of EVs available with a longer range (200km for example in the nissan leaf). The jury is out on the battery life at the moment however there have been significant leaps in the past few years. If the trend continues then battery life should be very good in the medium term. However we have no data to prove this at the moment.

  3. Anthony Jackson February 27, 2014 at 11:45 am Reply

    I love the idea of getting a review of a product from someone trialing it. For me it cuts out any spin from the manufacturers or salespeople. Enjoy the rest of the trial.

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