After many years of planning and lots of sustained effort from several members of the University and Transition, the official launch of Scotland’s first ALL electric vehicle car club occurred last week in St Andrews. The E-Car Club is the first of its kind north of the border and with a fleet of 10 electric vehicles available across the town has transformed the accessibility to low-carbon transport within St Andrews.
The partnership involving St Andrews University, the St Andrews Partnership, Renault cars and E-car Club allows members to join up for a one-off fee and use the cars from as little as £4.50 an hour- that’s it! No hidden costs! All insurance, maintenance, tax are included. Plus as the cars are electric- there are no trips to the petrol station!
Car clubs are becoming more prominent across the country as many people are realising their benefit not just from saving money but also from the reduced carbon footprint from not owning a car. Joining a car club makes sense if you drive less than 8,000 miles a year- as the cost of owning a car, servicing, tax, insurance and fuel can all add up to quite a hefty sum! And the flexibility of using a car (and paying for it) only when you need it- is very appealing for those who are trying to cut down their household bills.
Car Clubs also provide accessibility too- and the electric vehicles make trips and excursions around Fife and beyond much more palatable for those concerned about their carbon footprint. Although the running of an electric vehicle isn’t completely carbon neutral, as the electricity used to charge (from the national grid) still has a carbon footprint, there is a reduction of approximately 60% in CO2 emissions compared to a typical petrol or diesel car. This number should hopefully increase in the future as National power generation moves more towards renewables and further away from coal power stations. Further CO2 reductions can also be gained from car club members as not owning a car in the first place- as there is no embodied CO2 from it’s production either
The Fleet of electric vehicles in St Andrews consists of 8 Renault Zoe’s and 2 Renault Kangoo vans. On first look, the vehicles look just like normal everyday cars- but when you switch them on, there is a slightly unnerving sound the first time you use them…SILENCE! All that let’s you know that the “engine” is running is the “READY” sign on the dashboard. Once you get over this, the cars (which are automatic) are just as easy to drive as regular cars and accelerate just as well (if not better). All the controls and dials are the same, and there are real-time updates on your power consumption / driving range on the dashboard.
From a personal point of view, it is very nice to know that when you are driving an electric car, there is no exhaust, no fumes and no CO2 being directly emitted into the atmosphere. I myself am very conscious of my carbon footprint, but I also like to explore, see new places and go on trips nearby. The presence of the electric cars definitely puts my conscience at ease in this regard, knowing that I can go on trips and excursions without feeling bad for the impact that would have on the environment. Therefore I am excited to see the fleet of electric vehicles available in St Andrews.
The range of the cars can be a sticking point for some- getting between 60-90 miles of driving range on a single charge of the car’s batteries. However as more and more people invest in Electric Vehicle technology, the demand will drive down the cost of production for the lithium batteries so that future vehicles will have greater capacity and greater driving ranges. However despite this, the range of the cars should not be seen as a limitation, but as an opportunity to think differently about how we travel. As there are rapid charge points located in every service station across the UK and in major towns and tourist locations (which can charge the battery to 80% in just 30mins) a more flexible approach to driving long distances still allows one to make these journeys using an electric vehicle. Knowing that an Electric vehicle can significantly reduce our CO2 emissions and cost of running (as a full charge costs approx. £3.20 in electricity compared to £10.17 for the equivalent in petrol), it is definitely worth the change in mindset and being a little more flexible. N.B. The cost of charging at charge points around the UK is included in the price of membership with the E-Car Club. These figures are used solely for illustrating the cost saving benefits to private EV owners.
Joining the E-Car Club in St Andrews is very simple. Just logon to: http://e-carclub.org/ and click “Join Now”. Until July 31st there is a special half-price offer for joining of just £25, which includes 2 FREE hours of driving as well. Please make sure to use the promotion code: ESTA215 when filling out the online form. As long as you are 19 years of age, have been driving for 1 year, have a UK / EU / Internationally recognised driver’s license with no more than 6 points, you will be able to become a member.
Once you receive your membership card and pin number, you can phone up or book a car online using the website and within seconds you will be able to access the car and drive away. Wave your membership card over the gizmo on the dashboard to unlock the car, unplug it from its charging point, switch on, press the start button and you’re ready to drive off. And when you’re finished, just return the vehicle to the charging point, plug in, lock up and walk away.
No need to worry about range as the on-board computer will tell you the range is and where the nearest charger is.
We hope that many members of the community will make use of the electric vehicles available through the E-Car Club as it’s a great resource that is now available to the town. With transport resulting in approximately 30% of our annual CO2 emmissions, the success of this new scheme (we hope) will encourage further availability of similar schemes across Scotland and continue the movement towards further car club participation and electric vehicle use- thus making an important step towards reducing our CO2 emissions.