The town of Northampton has joined the Green revolution by implementing a new scheme that allows motorists to hire electric cars in a similar manner to the way citizens hire bikes in the town’s Cycle CoNNect scheme. The town’s county council launched the electric car hire ‘E-car’ club in November 2014 and has three electric cars available for people to rent. It is hoped these zero emissions vehicles will prove popular. All you have to do is sign up and pay £45 for a day or £5.50 for an hour. You can pick them up and return the vehicles to the charging points located at Albion Palace.
An electric car like this will be available to hire in Northampton. Source: Google Images
Christopher Morris is the co-founder and managing director of E-Car, a company that also has schemes in towns such as Milton Keynes, and he said that the aim is to have a positive environmental effect while improving local mobility. Morris also noted that company research revealed a high level of public transport usage in Northampton. He believes town residents use up to 20% of their household income on transport and thinks the company scheme can have a positive impact on the town.
He went on to describe the partnerships the company has formed with the county council, British Gas and Royal & Derngate and mentioned the fact that the company is in discussions with other local businesses. He believes E-Car could bring up to 50 cars to the county of Northamptonshire over the next 12 months and described his excitement at what the company could achieve in the area.
E-Car uses Nissan Leaf electric cars which retail at around £15,500. They have a range of up to 100 miles on a single charge and can be charged at three-pin plugs in standard sockets in your house or at specified charging points. A full charge from your household socket will cost £2.50 and takes 3 hours. You will have to pay a fee of £50 to sign up for E-Car which can be done online or through the company’s app. You then receive a card which allows you to unplug the electric car and drive it. In order to be eligible for the scheme, you must be 19 years of age or over and have held a full driver’s license for a year.
According to Michael Clarke, the cabinet minister for transport, highways and the environment for Northamptonshire County Council, the E-Car scheme is innovative and provides a cheap source of transport for shorter journeys. He said the council is dedicated to reducing the county’s carbon footprint and is keen to play a significant role in replacing traditional cars with vehicles that use renewable energy sources for fuel.
A council spokesman said that the Royal & Derngate theatre was ideal location for the scheme because it was near the town centre, bus station, train station and the new student accommodation at St. John’s. The spokesman also praised the theatre for being a key part of the project from the start. He concluded by saying there would hopefully be hubs in other accessible areas if the project is a success.
The Head of Energy Technology & Innovation at British Gas, Martin Orrill, described the scheme as a major milestone in creating a low carbon county. He said the company is a partner of Northamptonshire and is proud to play its part in a scheme with benefits such as reduced traffic noise, lower ownership costs, less congestion and better air quality. He said the charging point that has been installed is as simple to use as a mobile phone charger so motorists will find charging their cars to be a pleasant experience. He concluded by describing the scheme as an exciting new way to boost low carbon transport in Northamptonshire and said British Gas is delighted to support it.