So my year of electric driving is coming to a close and the figures are in! We have driven the iMiEV over 9077 kms (and still have some driving to go) which is equivalent to almost three time around the Irish coastline. That was having the ecar on the road almost every day of the week. The cost of charging for those combined journeys – a diminutive total of €165 – if you can believe it. Not much more than a Ryanair flight (plus taxes and charges)! I calculated the cost based on all charging being carried out at home and didn’t take into account the free public charging – so the cost is likely to have been even less than estimated.
Over the course of the trial the ambassadors drove a collective 105,000 kms and saved 10 tonnes of C02 emissions. A rough estimation would put the amount of carbon savings from our household journeys alone at over one metric ton of C02. It’s easier to think of this as enough C02 to fill up 5 double-decker buses. My work involves promoting sustainable travel in schools on the Green-Schools travel programme and I work with schools across a geographical spread that can’t always be reached by public transport or by bike. So I’m really thrilled to have had such a dramatic impact on my emissions for the year for work and personal driving.
It was interesting to see that our own driving patterns and charging habits were similar to other ambassadors. We found ourselves forming the following e-driving habits over the course of the year.
- We home charged up to 90% of the time and only used the public charge points as a ‘boost’ to finish our journey
- Most of our home charging was done at night time using the cheaper night rate of electricity. We did occasionally charge during the day – but only if we had either forgotten to plug in at night or if we wanted to make a second journey during the day and had already used up the full range
- For public charging – we used fast charging 99% of the time – and over the course of the trial we only used two fast charge locations – the charge point at the Great Gas station in Donabate and on the Rathoath Road in Ashbourne, Co. Meath. Over the course of the trial we only used the other public charge points once or twice.
- We mostly drove in the ‘eco’ gear to get the best range from the car. I quickly found that I preferred to reduce the speed on the last 15 kms of a journey and get home rather than stop at a charge point for a boost!
A recap on other experiences of electric driving in North Co. Dublin during the year included the following:
- Just one instance of a fast charge point out of order in Donabate – this was serviced and fixed within two hours
- One instance of needing to make an unplanned charge – this was down to me get stupidly lost, forgetting both the gps and the phone all in one go and taking twice the km’s I had thought to get where I was going.
- One instance of not being able to charge at a public charge point in Airside Retail Park, Swords because a car was parked in the ecar charging space and by double parking the ecar the lead would not stretch to reach the charging outlet in the car.
I never experienced unsuspecting pedestrians walking out in front of the car even though there has been much talk about that possibility with ecars and think it would be a real shame to introduce a ‘fake’ engine noise over what is such a smooth and quiet drive.
I was taking a look at other countries that have heavily incentivised the use of ecars and are starting to see market penetration. Norway has one of the highest sales of ecars in Europe with electric cars making up 3% of all cars on the road in that country. The Norweigan government has set the goal to reach 50,000 zero emission vehicles by 2018 and has made all pure electric cars exempt from purchase taxes, annual road tax, all public parking fees, toll payments as well as allowing electric cars to use bus lanes.
If I was buying a new car, I would love to go electric. To date I have only ever bought second-hand vehicles so what kind of financial incentives would be needed to make someone like me consider the investment. The government grant of €5,000 would definitely go a long way but I think an interest free or very low interest loan scheme for new EV drivers would also drive a decision and help with the initial cash outlay. The additional incentives offered in Norway would also sweeten the deal given the ever rising cost in road tax and toll fees in this country. As someone who would prefer to have teeth pulled than search for parking in the city centre – dedicated, free on-street parking for EV drivers (not just at charging points) might even tip the scale and would be preferable to bus lane access! In any case I think we will be holding on to our home charging point for the moment while we consider the option of going electric. The savings we’ve made this year in fuel costs and C02 emissions have really opened our eyes.
I feel very privileged to have taken part in the first national trial and I’m ‘green with envy’ at next year’s ambassadors who will trial an even greater variety of ecars with a longer range and a growing number of public charge points around the country.