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Getting electric car take-up to the next level

Irish eyes seem to be looking on admiringly at electric cars. An astonishing 20,000 applications were received to test-drive 24 EVs as part of a trial by the country’s Energy Supply Board (ESB). If this doesn’t necessarily indicate impeccable green credentials across the board, it certainly does show that the economics and style of electric vehicles has put them firmly on lots of peoples’ radars.

But of course such a surge of interest was also based in part on the opportunity to use free charge points in Ireland, and we all like something for nothing. So working out how to get significant spikes in interest in the lowest-carbon vehicles everywhere is something currently on the agendas of lots of companies, as well as national and local authorities.

Cross-incentives across energy supply and vehicle choice is one interesting option, and one that is being rolled out by Ecotricity. The company has launched a ‘Green Electricity + Car’ tariff, which in effect offers 1,000 free miles for EV users. The offer coincides with a link-up between the company and Volkswagen, who is launching their first all-electric car, the e-up, on these shores. Partnership working in this area is definitely something that you should expect to see more of over the coming years.

Taking the ‘try before you buy’ approach that seemed to appeal so much to Irish drivers is one way of generating interest in EVs – but what about the chance to use one just when you need it? This is the plan in London – with an electric car hire scheme along the lines of the successful ‘Boris Bike’ cycle scheme set to hit the city’s streets. The scheme will be run by Bolloré, who currently run a car-share scheme in Paris which has over 12,000 users a day.

The plan currently has no name, but some details around it are out, notably that 3,000 cars are expected to be available to Londoners by 2016, serviced by 6,000 charge points. The cost is likely to be £10 an hour, and for those that want all their motoring needs on a plate, the key card system will even remember your favourite radio station when you start up.

Exposing people to EVs is essential if they are to become a natural choice for motorists – and developments like these certainly offer the potential to do just that.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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