Jun 282011

Could this be the new form of public transport? The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Low Carbon Communities Challenge has hand-picked Easterside in Middlesborough to pioneer a new way of allowing residents access to an electric car to save them buying their own or making needless trips in their gas-guzzlers.

The new scheme has launched a car club whereby out of 22 close-knit communities, the residents have access to the keys of a £23,000 Peugoet iOn, which they can rent for £3.50 an hour; less than the cost of a gallon of petrol. The residents, luckily, won’t have to pay insurance or road tax (even though it would be free anyway), nor petrol; as it is a fully electric car.

The scheme is one of the latest to be implemented in the Stockton and Darlington area, in a £400,000 drive to make Tees-side more of an eco-friendly area. There have been two streets fitted with low-energy street lights and on 20 houses, there have been solar panels fitted to decrease the drain on the national grid. Residents have also been offered monitors which explain how much power is being used and provide tips on how to reduce the electrical load on their house. Rainwater is also being collected to filter through onto nearby vegetable patches and wind turbines have been installed on the estate and a nearby school.

Peugeot Ion - Electric Car from £23,000

Peugeot Ion - Electric Car from £23,000

The Peugoet iOn is a fairly expensive car to buy although it does qualify for a governmental grant, but thankfully, the neighbours can help each other out and car share, which decreases the carbon footprint again, and share the cost of the hourly charge. Some of the residents don’t own a car or struggle with their mobility, and therefore the tight-knit community can help one another get to the shops, hospital appointments or a visit to Seaton Beach.

The Peugoet iOn is a quirky little car that measures 3.4 metres in length and runs on a 64bhp electric motor. It is an automatic and that feisty battery pack propels the Peugoet at full power from a standstill. The car is said to manage 93 miles before a recharge is needed, therefore, the residents of Easterside can easily get around the borough and back without worrying about where to charge it.

If the weather is warm, which in Tees-side it rarely is, then the air-conditioning will drop the range to 46 miles. In most cases, the residents will help out the elderly by running errands or taking them to North Tees Hospital in Stockton, and at £3.50 an hour, it’s suddenly a bargain compared to public transport which is available.

The iOn is rear-wheel drive, which means it can turn on a sixpence and less weight is over the front wheels so it turns in well and handles more fluidly than a super-mini. The Pug isn’t aimed at car-buyers as such, it’s more for government schemes, such as the Easterside one, or car-sharing companies. For now, it’s a hit with the residents in Middlesborough.

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