REPRESENTATIVES from Larne Borough Council have seen first-hand the latest developments in electric-powered vehicle technology.
The delegates were joined hundreds of people from across the province at eDrive, Northern Ireland’s first electric vehicle (EV) conference and test drive event.
The three-day event at Titanic Belfast, jointly led by the Department for Regional Development and the Department of Environment, attracted interest from the business community, students private motorists.
It showcased the latest in EV recharging infrastructure in Northern Ireland, as well as the vehicles themselves.
Those present were also given an opportunity to test drive the vehicles.
As previously reported in the Times, Larne Council has been taking a lead in encouraging greater use of the technology by investing in a battery-driven e-vehicle for its street cleansing fleet.
It has also installed a number of charging points in the borough and has plans to add several more.
The council was one of just six authorities to sign up to the initial consortium which secured £850,000 funding from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) in the autumn of 2010 for a £2 million pilot scheme. OLEV has committed a further £425,000 to expand the programme.
By summer this year, it is estimated that most people in Northern Ireland will be no more than 10 miles away from one of 320 standard charge points or 30 miles away from a rapid charger.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said: “Two out of every three vehicle journeys made in Northern Ireland are less than five miles and with the range of e-cars easily in excess of over 100 miles many businesses and private motorists now have a choice when considering a replacement vehicle.”
In addition to low running costs, electric vehicles are exempt from road fund licence and are supported with a £5000 government grant to help with the initial purchase.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said transport is one of the highest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the province.
“The use of electric vehicles, ideally powered by electricity from renewable sources, is an excellent way to decarbonise transport and contribute to our climate change, air quality and noise objectives,” he added.
To find out more information about the e-car project in Northern Ireland, you can visit www.ecarni.com