Topaz and Eircom to test out electric vans

4 May 2011

Eircom and Topaz have launched a pilot project, together with The Ecology Foundation, to test the viability of electric vans in a working fleet environment – a project that could pave the way for future sustainable technologies in commercial fleets used in Ireland.

The year-long study will assess the performance of electric vans by looking at electricity usage, cost, mileage and emissions while it will also include driver and forecourt surveys and the public’s response.

Three Eircom vans will be involved in the €800,000 project. Eircom has procured the world’s first fast chargeable (CHAdeMO protocol compliant) production vans. Each van will be charged by a combination of home charging and Topaz rapid charging facilities, which will be located at Topaz stations in Glasnevin, Newlands Cross and Templeville Road in Dublin.

Speaking at the launch of the project, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said the findings of the project would help fleet managers who are considering deploying electric vehicles.

“It will also demonstrate how forecourt operators like Topaz can engage with electric vehicle drivers. On a practical infrastructural level it will provide extra charging points which will be used by the participating Eircom drivers, other fleet drivers and of course the general public,” he said.

With the Government aiming to have 10pc of all cars on Irish roads electric by 2020, the project is funded by the Department of Transport’s National Sustainable Travel Office.

“Right now, a kilometre in an EV costs three cents while a kilometre in a diesel van costs nine cents. That’s a compelling argument in its own right, especially given current prices, but then you have the other benefits, such as much reduced emissions and lowering our dependence on imported fossil fuels,” said Topaz CEO Eddie O’Brien today.

Pointing to how Eircom has the largest transport fleet in Ireland, the company’s chief technology officer, Geoff Shakespeare, said it was important that large Irish companies such as Eircom look into sustainable technologies that can reduce the financial impact of fuel costs and promote a cleaner environment.

The Ecology Foundation (TEF), which conceived the idea, has been working with both Topaz and Eircom on strategies to reduce their emissions.

TEF will be responsible for gathering and analysing data and writing the reports charting the progress of the project.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic