Plug-in pioneers Renault will be powering the UK’s first 100 per cent electric city car club. E-Car Club, which launched in East London today before a nationwide roll-out, will allow businesses to reduce the cost and footprint of their fleets, make electric vehicles available to local communities, and tackle the growing problem of urban air pollution.
E-Car club already has a fleet of five electric Renaults, with more due to arrive soon. This means that members have the opportunity to drive Renault ZOE, the world’s first affordable, purpose-built all-electric supermini on a pay-per-use basis.
The East London launch builds on the success of two pilot projects: a community-led project in Milton Keynes which started in October 2012. AutoVolt Magazine spoke to E-Car Club about the installment of other venues where cars are made available to hire as a member of the club. With cars already available at Luton due to a partnership with Luton Borough Council and more on the way which will be located at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, Oxford and Maylands Business Park, the E-Car Club are aiming to grow and put cars where they are likely to be of benefit to users.
Ben Fletcher, EV Product Manager at Renault UK, said,
“Programmes like E-Car Club are essential because they actually get people behind the wheel. Once you’ve driven an electric vehicle, very few people want to go back because it’s very responsive, quiet, relaxing and well suited to city driving.
On top of that there are real gains to be made in terms of emissions, especially with particulates and smog. By having electric vehicles in the city you stop that kind of pollution at the tail pipe and so have a direct positive impact on air quality and public health.”
The government is committed to making the UK the electric car capital of Europe and the Committee on Climate Change has stated that the ‘car club’ business model could be instrumental in challenging preconceptions and driving the wider adoption of EVs.
Renault currently leads the market in Europe, selling over 34,000 electric vehicles since its first model, Kangoo Van Z.E., hit showrooms in late 2011. It boasts a market share of 47% so far this year.
Striking supermini ZOE is spearheading the marque’s dominance, and is priced from just £13,995 on-the-road after grant, plus battery hire from £70 per month.
The ‘Range OptimiZEr’ package of three major innovations (bi-modal regenerative braking, heat pump and Michelin EnergyTM E-V tyres) helps ZOE deliver the longest range of any purely electric vehicle in its class – a considerable 130 miles. In real world driving, this is likely to be circa 90 miles, depending on driving style, road and weather conditions, making ZOE a really practical proposition for E-Car Club’s users.
Those renting a ZOE from E-Car Club also won’t have to wait long for the car to charge; thanks to its Chameleon charger, charging can take as little as 30 minutes at a Rapid Charge station. Charging in one hour is possible at Fast Charge stations, and the car will charge in just 3-4 hours at a standard 7kW public charge point.
They will also be sure of where they’re going and fully entertained on the journey; ZOE’s R-Link comprises a seven-inch embedded tablet in the dashboard with touchscreen display, steering wheel-mounted controls and voice recognition. It also features a connected store giving access to specific apps and services, as well as email and tweets.
Finally, for added peace of mind, ZOE’s ‘Z.E. Voice’ warns pedestrians of the vehicle’s approach up to speeds of 18 mph – giving drivers greater confidence and helping ZOE stand out even more.
The E-Car Club was founded in 2011, with investment from Sustainable Venture Partners and the Technology Strategy Board, to offer easy, affordable access to low carbon transport for both businesses and communities. The mixed-use model brings together the needs of corporate customers that have costly and carbon-intensive fleet requirements, with those in the local community who want easy and affordable access to low carbon vehicles.
Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer, MP for Poplar and Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick, electric vehicle enthusiast Robert Llewellyn (best known as Kryten from Red Dwarf), and Babu Bhattacherjee, Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods at Poplar HARCA were among the guests joining local residents and members of the E-Car Club team for the launch.