Moray car club launches ‘carbon neutral’ electric cars

In the space of less than seven years Park Carpool has evolved into a pioneering community-based car club showcasing more affordable and sustainable transport solutions, including two zero-emissions electric vehicles.

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Zero emissions ... the all-electric Renault Twizy with car club members Heather Ripley, seated, Neil Giddins, Duncan Easter, Martin Roche-Nishimori and Adriana Bijman

Now known as Moray Carshare, it is intended to serve residents of the IV36 postal code area of Morayshire and will be officially launched by local MSP Richard Lochhead in Forres on Saturday 22nd February.

Park Carpool started in 2007 with three cars and 15 members and at present nine cars serve 47 members with the latest acquisitions – an award-winning Nissan Leaf and diminutive two-seater Renault Twizy – promising state-of-the-art electric propulsion, lower running costs and a radically reduced ecological footprint.

The addition of the two electric cars has been facilitated by a grant from Developing Car Clubs Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Government. The convenience and viability of the electric= car project has also been enhanced by the installation of a charging station in The Park funded by Energy Savings Trust Scotland.

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An electric charging station at The Park enhances convenience

An added bonus is that the charging station is supplied by clean renewable energy generated by the four nearby wind turbines, with the possibility that a system of ‘smart’ charging could be developed to ensure that the electric cars are charged when the wind is blowing and the turbines spinning. It is hoped that this idea will be explored further by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh as part of the ORIGIN project, funded by the European Commission. (ORIGIN is a collaboration to orchestrate efficient and balanced use of locally generated energy from renewable solutions and is being validated in three eco-communities in different climactic settings.)

The grant from Developing Car Clubs Scotland has also secured two fuel-efficient petrol-powered economy cars that are proving highly popular with cost-conscious members.

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Neil Giddins maintains the car club fleet

Moray Carshare manager Gordon McAlpine said the aims of the car club are to provide appropriate and cost-effective transport for its members and to do so in ways that minimise negative impacts on the environment.

“We also see the Moray Carshare as an example of how we can create a sense of community and fun by sharing resources in a way that benefits all. People get to know each other through the car club.

“The benefits to members are that they save money compared with buying and maintaining their own car, while for some the main advantage is that they have convenient access to a car they could not afford – or justify – on their own.

“Other benefits are that increased awareness of the financial and environmental costs of using a car leads to more conscious choices of the most appropriate vehicle for a particular trip – the options include the electric cars which are ideal for shorter hauls, the two fuel-efficient new-generation runabouts, an estate car and another car with a more powerful engine and a tow hitch.”

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Duncan Easter plugs into the electric charging station

The car club is open to new members who hold a valid driver’s licence and agree to abide by the rules of operation, with bookings made via the Internet using an online booking system. Members pay a joining fee, a monthly fee and charges based on mileage and the number of hours the cars are used.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “Moray Carshare, formerly Findhorn Park Carpool, is one of Scotland’s longest standing car clubs and introducing EVs into the fleet will allow car club members the opportunity to drive an EV and experience the benefits for themselves. Electric vehicles can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve local air quality and reduce noise pollution.

“The Scottish Government is providing funding support for the car club network across Scotland to help further reduce carbon emissions and inspire individuals to make more sustainable transport choices.”

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Moray Carshare reflects the geographic spread of car club members

Richard Lochhead MSP, who is also Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said: “Utilising cleaner and greener means of travel is hugely important in reducing the impact that we make on our environment and projects like Moray Carshare make a significant contribution to that. That positive impact is not just from the active membership of the car club but also through the increased awareness in our community of the alternative travel arrangements that they help to promote.

“In addition to the Moray Carshare project there will soon be a public network of electric car charging points across Moray, which I believe will increase people’s confidence in using electric cars, knowing they can get their vehicle re-charged at a variety of locations.

“The mix of different projects supporting the use of electric vehicles will appeal to different people and help change people’s perceptions and lead to greener travel.”

Developing Car Clubs Scotland is funded by Transport Scotland and delivered by national transport NGO Carplus.

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The Twizy drawing on energy sourced from the Findhorn Wind Park

Chas Ball, Carplus Chief Executive, said: “The impressive rate at which the Scottish car club network has grown over the last few years highlights the important role played by the Scottish Government in facilitating the growth of this sector by funding support through the DCCS programme. Across Scotland there are now over 7,000 car club members with approximately 102 people joining a Scottish car club every month. We hope this car club will encourage further growth of car clubs in Scotland and the wider use of electric vehicles.”

Developing Car Clubs Scotland is keen to see the car club concept expanded both in cities and rural areas, and will monitor the running costs and experiences of participants.

Geoff Dalglish

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