ESB’s 32 ‘Great Electric Drive’ e-car ambassadors get ready to roll (video)

29 Apr 2014

Pictured: John Sweeney, head of Innovation at ESB, and e-car ambassador Farrah Deane from Cork

As 32 e-car ambassadors for 2014 get ready to hit the road, we spoke to ESB’s head of innovation John McSweeney as well as some of the lucky electrical motorists.

This is the second year of the Great Electric Drive, which gives 26 members of the public and six commercial organisations the opportunity to trial an electric car for up to four months each.

The ambassadors were selected from more than 20,000 applicants from all over Ireland.

Over the course of the Great Electric Drive, the ambassadors will drive a wide range of electric vehicles and get first-hand experience of the benefits of electric driving. The electric vehicles are being provided by major car companies and include the BMW i3, Citroen C-Zero, Mitsubishi iMiev, Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, Nissan Euro LEAF and Nissan e-NV200 commercial van, Renault ZOE the Renault Twizy and the Renault Kangoo ZE commercial van.

Six organisations have also been selected as commercial e-car ambassadors, including: Inland Fisheries Ireland; Parcel Zone (Dublin); Verve, the Live Agency; the Spelt Bakery (Kilkenny); Cork City Fire Brigade; and Mercury Engineering. All will drive an electric commercial vehicle during the trial.

150,000km target for 2014

“This year our aim is for the ambassadors to drive a total of 150,000 kilometres in their e-cars, which is 50,000 kilometres more than last year,” said the head of innovation at ESB John McSweeney.

“This will deliver a combined saving of almost €20,000 in fuel costs for the ambassadors and savings of up to 15 tonnes of CO2. The high performance and range capabilities of the latest electric vehicle models should really help the ambassadors achieve these goals.”

Each e-car ambassador will have a charge point installed in their home or workplace and will also be able to access a nationwide network of public charge points that have been rolled out by ESB across the country.

This includes the installation of fast chargers along the main inter urban routes, which is being co-funded by the EU TEN-T programme. Cross border compatibility will allow electric vehicle drivers access the public charging infrastructure in Northern Ireland.

The EU Green Transport Bill is supporting low emission vehicles usage to reduce transport carbon emissions at home and across Europe. In September, ESB will be undertaking a cross European drive from Cork to Brussels using charging infrastructure in four countries and demonstrating the rapidly developing capabilities of electric vehicles.

“The electrification of transport is a key component of Ireland’s emissions reduction strategy and reducing our dependency on imported fuels,” the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte said.

“I am delighted Ireland continues to lead the way in this area and welcome the very strong response to ESB’s Great Electric Drive from the general public.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years