ESB ecars is seeking 20 people to test out electric cars

7 Jun 2012

Actor Scott Kelly in Sherlock Holmes guise, with Paul Mulvaney, managing director of ESB ecars, launching the search for e-car ambassadors from across Ireland to take part in the Great Electric Drive

ESB ecars is seeking 20 members of the public to test drive electric vehicles, such as the Nissan LEAF, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Renault Kangoo van, for up to a year as part of a new initiative called the Great Electric Drive.

The aim is to research consumer attitudes towards electric motoring and to test out Ireland’s charging infrastructure.

People have until 16 July to apply online to become ecar ambassadors for ESB, according to Dervla O’Flaherty, who is marketing and communications manager at ESB ecars.

She said the aim is to recruit a broad mix of people from different parts of the country, as well as getting a good gender balance.

“People must be over 21, with a clean, full driving licence and they must be enthusiastic about being ecar ambassadors,” she said, adding that they must be willing to talk about their experiences of driving the electric vehicles through various media channels.

O’Flaherty said ESB ecars will install a charge point in each of the 20 participants’ homes, so the cars can be charged overnight. She said four people will get to try out the vehicles for a year, while another 16 people will each get the vehicles for three months. And she said the Renault Kangoo would be suitable for the commercial space.

ESB ecars has been carrying out its electric car research since 2010 as part of the pan-European project Green eMotion that is looking into Europe’s framework for future electromobility.

Check out this video of a Mitsubishi i-MiEV in action in Dublin City last year

On Irish soil, more than 45 people from entities and companies such as ESB, AA Ireland, county councils, Vodafone Ireland, Sligo IT, IBM, Intel, plus private motorists, have already trialled a Mitsubishi iMiEV for one month or more.

Based on people’s experiences, ESB garnered insights on charging and driving patterns and people’s attitudes to electric motoring.

O’Flaherty said the trials have also been important for testing the infrastructure that’s already in place in Ireland.

Charging trends

As for charging and costs, she said participants have not experienced a “noticeable” difference in their electricity bills.

“It’s important to say that this is with night-time charging of the vehicles. We find that people charge them on average between two to three times a week,” explained O’Flaherty.

The average range of Nissan LEAF and the Renault Fluence is around 160km.

Back in 2010, for instance, Conor Faughan from AA Roadwatch spent €15.88 on charging his ecar for one month for 909km of driving, according to ESB’s findings.

People want more charging range

As for the participants in general, ESB ecars found that:

  • The average distance that the trial participants have travelled to date is 70km per day.
  • A general view among test drivers was that a range of more than 200km would be better.
  • More than 86pc of participants said they would be very interested/interested in purchasing an electric car in contrast to a figure of only 62pc showing an interest before the trial began.
  • Thirteen per cent of participants said they had no interest in buying an electric car after taking part in the trials.

ESB ecars also reported a positive shift in people’s expectations towards charging an electric car after the trial, with 75pc of participants finding it the same or more convenient than conventional refuelling.

Paul Mulvaney, managing director ESB ecars, said the majority of participants are surprised at the cost savings, convenience of home charging, as well as the performance of the car.

People can enter online via ESB’s Facebook or ESB ecars channels up until 16 July. The chosen ambassadors will be announced in August.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic