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UK: Nissan electric car trials to start within weeks

THE first Nissan Leafs will be on North East roads within weeks as part of a trial of electric vehicles.

The battery-powered family cars will join electric black cabs, Range Rovers and a minibus in a pilot project asking motorists to try them out for between six and 12 months.

Switch EV is a three-year £10m project testing out 35 different electric vehicles in real situations to see how they perform and how drivers react to them.

It is due to get moving in just a few weeks’ time, with experts from Newcastle University monitoring data from the cars.

As partners in the scheme, Nissan is providing 15 of its Leaf models, which will be built at the firm’s Sunderland plant from 2013 and will be available to buy next year.

Smith Electric Vehicles in Washington is contributing five black cab-style taxis, which will be tested out over one year, along with an electric minibus.

Liberty Electric Cars are providing electric Range Rovers, while Avid Vehicles will pitch in 11 small city electric cars.

John Austin, senior programme manager for Future Transport Systems, which is delivering the project, said: “It’s key that we understand how people react to electric vehicles and their take-up. We will be capturing data – how people react to the cars, how they feel before and after driving the cars.

“This will generate a lot of potential for economic growth and we hope it will have a lot of impact. We want to set this region up as a major hub for the development of electric vehicles. We’ve got the infrastructure set up, now we want the people of the North East to experience them.”

Individuals and firms from across the North East have been lined up to take part in the scheme and will be asked to write blogs about their experiences on the website

Drivers will use the North East’s network of charging points which is being rolled out as part of the Plugged in Places initiative. There are already 32 charging points in Newcastle, with 17 more due to go out shortly.

Meanwhile plans to roll out 30 recharging points for electric vehicles have been drawn up by Sunderland City Council.


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