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UK: Buzzing over the country’s first electric car club

THERE was an unnerving silence inside the Nissan Leaf, despite there being four of us inside it.

It was silent, not because we’d had a falling out, but because there was no engine noise. And we were creeping backwards, out of the parking bays in Glyn Square in Wolverton and heading towards the grid roads.

The electric car is one of three to be introduced to the Wolverton area as part of the country’s first E-Car Club – a car rental scheme using only electric cars.

Marketing and Community Engagement Manager for the E-Car Club, Charlie Quigley, said: “It’s the UK’s first entirely electric car rental club. It provides flexibility for our customers to gain access to the car when they need it without owning one. You can book it for an hour, up to a couple of days.

“The reason we chose Milton Keynes is because of how it was set up – designed on car ownership. We chose Wolverton in particular because of the poor public transport system there. Wolverton and Milton Keynes both showed high demand for it.”

With a one-off payment of £50, you become a member of the E-Car Club. After that, you don’t pay a penny until you use the car, and that comes in at around £6.50 per hour.

Charlie said: “It is ideal for people who only use a car occasionally, for students who go away to university and then come home and need a way of getting about for a few hours.

“It’s not really intended for people to use it on long journies because of the range the car has.

“If you have an aggressive style and like putting your foot down, the mileage will obviously decrease, as will using the heating or air conditioning.

“The range on it is around 75-80 miles before it requires a full charge.”

And that can take up to eight hours – so don’t expect to rent it for a trip to East Midlands airport for a pick-up unless you intend on spending the night.

But what it does mean is that there’s a cheap, environmentally-friendly option of getting around, without the hassle of car maintenance.

While the cockpit may have looked like it came out of a Blade Runner props room, the car was surprisingly easy to understand – certainly no more difficult than when you step into any car for the first time.

The whole process of taking the car out for a spin feels a bit like a step forward into the future.

First of all, you need to book in advance, be it online or on your smart phone, to take the car out. ‘In advance’ can be as long as a few months or as little as two minutes depending on the car’s availability.



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