Electric car fails to spark in Derry

Then Mayor of Derry, Maurice Devenney, pictured with environment Minister, Alex Atwood at the launch fo the Electric car charging point in the Diamond, Derry. (1105SL05) Photo: Stephen latimer
Then Mayor of Derry, Maurice Devenney, pictured with environment Minister, Alex Atwood at the launch fo the Electric car charging point in the Diamond, Derry. (1105SL05) Photo: Stephen latimer
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Only one of Derry’s seven charging points for electric cars was used over the summer months, it’s been revealed.

New figures released by the Department of Regional Development (DRD) - who launched the ecar project in conjunction with the north’s Department of the Environment in April of this year - show that the charging point at The Diamond was used on three occasions between July and September.

And DRD have also revealed that none of the city’s six further charging points - at Bishop Street, Carlisle Road, Strand Road, Victoria Market, Templemore Sports Complex and Waterside Railway Station - were used over the same time period.

Andrew Adams of the ecar project team yesterday told the ‘Journal’ low usage is inevitable in the project’s initial stage.

“We are still at a very early stage and a low uptake is to be expected.

“As the range of electric cars available improves and as the ecar infrastructure becomes more complete, we would expect both the sales to rise and use of charging points to increase.”

He says a major ecar conference planned in the north for March of 2013, coupled with the launch of further rapid charging points and further improvements to the ecar infrastructure, should see more people switching to ecars. The ecar project is aimed at preparing the north for a future where cars run on batteries instead of fossil fuels and was launched earlier this year thanks to grants aid from the UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles of close to £1million.

At present an electric car currently costs between £28,000 and £30,000 but the government is offering grants of up to £5,000 towards their purchase while financial help is also available to individuals and businesses to install their own charging stations. Critics have questioned the validity of such electric car schemes, with the Taxpayers’ Alliance labelling the project in the UK a “green vanity project.”

Currently there are 41 public charging points cross the north, and a further 4 rapid charge points.

Motorists can avail of around 90miles driving - at a cost of around £2 - from the rapid charge points, while the charging posts take around six hours to fully charge an ecar. Ecar drivers are also exempt from road tax - and of course do not have to pay fuel costs.

The new figures, released in the Assembly in response to a question by Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan, show that the rapid charge point in Newry, used 28 times between July and September, is the most frequently used charging point in the north.