Cars, new models, wind power

Island magic: Wind power only for Atlantic car fleet

  • 10 Renault battery vehicles for rent in Outer Hebrides
  • Renewable energy from wind turbines
  • Wind farm to power domestic electricity
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HIGH-TECH POWER FOR KILTED COMMUNITY: The Outer Hebrides, out in the Atlantic Ocean off the north-west coast of Scotland, are leading the world in the introduction of battery cars. Image courtesy Renault UK

The focus on battery cars globally has, so far, been on commuters and cities but Scotland, the northernmost country in the United Kingdom, has pressed the ‘remote’ button.

In co-operation with a 10-strong fleet of 100% electric Renault vehicles and a R480-million wind-turbine installation the remote Outer Hebrides islands north-west of the kilted community have taken the battery-car route.

The nine cars and one van will be powered almost entirely by renewable energy generated by the new Pentland Road Wind Farm and can be rented by residents and holidaymakers. Despite being in the North Atlantic, the islands are kept mild by the passing oceanic Gulf Stream than flows from South America and across the Equator.

R480m tag to develop wind farm

Nine Zoe hatchbacks and a Kangoo Van Z.E. have been introduced into the remote region through a unique partnership between E-Car Club and the wind-farm operators.

The joint venture across the town of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis has brought affordable zero-carbon transport to the area and, Renault says, underlines the suitability of battery vehicles in not only urban but also rural environments.

They can be rented hourly or daily.

LET YOUR KILTS BLOW HIGH: It's a line from a Scottish song but some remote islands are now relying on the wind to power their cars. Image courtesy Renault / Wikipedia
LET YOUR KILTS BLOW HIGH: It’s a line from a Scottish song but some remote islands are now relying on the wind to power their cars.
Image courtesy Renault / Wikipedia

E-Car Club – the UK’s first entirely electric pay-per-use car club – chose the Renault Zoe and Kangoo Van ZE for the island following success experienced at its other nationwide locations. The wind farm and its six turbines cost the equivalent of about R480-million and will supply the entire domestic load of the Outer Hebrides.

Renault UK’s Ben Fletcher said: “This deal underlines that Renault is a leader in the fast-growing EV sector and the rapidly-increasing popularity of our vehicles.”

Zoe rentals will cost the equivalent of R110/hour or R900/24 hours, the van R150/R1200.

‘OWNNG A CAR NOT ALWAYS JUSTIFIED’

In its drive to help combat congestion, reduce parking and enhance local mobility in an environmentally-friendly and affordable way, E-Car Club has over 20 locations across the UK with several more in the pipeline.

Chris Morris, MD of E-Car Club, said: “The islands are perfect for electric and the relatively short journeys on the islands. Owning a car in the Outer Hebrides can’t always be justified.”

Peter Crone, the wind farm’s director, added: “Local reaction to the wind farm has been excellent and the availability of shared electric cars adds another benefit for people in the region. I’m certain the vehicles will prove very popular.”

The Zoe is an all-electric, five-door family hatchback available in three trim levels that comes, Renault says, with a very high level of standard specification, including satnav and aircon.

BETTERY-CAR SALES RISING

It can charge from zero to 80% full in as little as 30 minutes and claimed maximum charge range is about 240km, though 160km in real driving. That drops to about 112km in the northern winter.

The automaker points out that the UK battery-car market up 54% year-to-date with sales of Renault electric vehicles there up by 92% to 1316 vehicles compared to the same period in 2014.

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