When I was asked to trial an Ecar for four days I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The new eco friendly cars seem a little futuristic and something you’d expect to see as a new invention on Top Gear.
I mean, we’ve all see the charging points across town, but I know I’ve never paid much attention to them.
My first thoughts were - how difficult will it be to charge, what if I run out of electricity, and how much will it cost?
However I decided to throw caution to the wind and presented my self at the showroom based at Donnelly and Taggart in Campsie ready to collect the keys of my four door Nissan Leaf.
The Leaf, I was told is the family range of e-car.
On first inspection I could see it was certainly a roomy car with five doors and a huge boot.
Sales executive Terry Hampson was given the unenviable job of putting me through my paces in the car.
He explained as electric cars need no gearboxes, they are all automatics.
He also explained that the charge I have on the car will last for longer if I’m economical with my driving. That means treating the car with care and only having the lights and heat on when they are needed.
Charging couldn’t be easier either.
The car comes with two leads, one you can use to charge your car up at home, and one for use at one of the many charging points. It probably takes around eight hours to fully charge your car at home.
Alternatively you can use the garage at Glendermott Road where there is a rapid charger which will have your car fully charged in around 45 minutes.
I was a little worried about what would happen if I ran out of electricity.
“How many times have you run out of petrol?” Terry asked me. “Never I admitted,” so I guess it’s the same for electricity.
It was then my turn to have a go.
The biggest issue I had at the start was getting my head round driving an automatic car when I’ve had a manual for the past 20 years. But once you get your mind in tune with the fact you don’t need your left foot, the rest comes easily.
As I switched the car on, I immediately turned to Terry convinced I’d done something wrong.
“It’s fine,” he said. “The electric car is very quiet so it doesn’t sound the same as switching on other cars.”
And it was quiet, you could barely hear it at all. You’d hardly know it was even on.
What’s not to love about a Nissan Leaf? The interior is beautiful, it has built in sat nav, blue tooth and all the gadgets you need for hooking up your IPOD.
But what I loved most of all was the built in camera for reversing. Once you’ve reversed with one of these, you’ll never look back.
Before long I was cruising down the dual carriageway at Campsie in my Ecar.
My two kids were dying to get a go in it.
But seeing the damage they’ve done in my own car, they were told that for the next few days all crisp packets and fruit shoots were banned.
I only needed to charge the car once during the four days. I did this at the Rapid Charge Point on Glendermott Road.
It took 25 minutes to charge the car up to 75 miles. And best of all when you use the charge points around the town, it’s free.
The Leaf is a fantastically smooth drive.
The only issues I had were adjusting to the automatic drive. But by the time Friday came and I went back to my old car I had almost forgotten what it was like to drive a manual.
A number of grants are available to support the purchase and running costs of Ecar.
A grant can be accessed to reduce the initial costs of purchasing an ecar, as well as a grant of up to £1,500 to install a charging point in a workplace or in the home.
This grant was due to expire at the end of this month but has been extended and will now expire at the end of June 2014 This is the first project of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Having a charging point at the home would be the icing on the cake and essential for any Ecar owner.
The biggest plus is the zero cost for fuel. It does cost around £2 to fully charge your car at home, but use any of the points around town and it is free.
By the time my fourth day came around I was an expert in the E Car. And , it almost broke my heart to hand the keys back to Terry.
The Nissan Leaf is available from just £189 a month from Donnelly and Taggart. For family life, it is a car I’ll definitely be considering next time.