Transition Project Manager, Alistair Macleod, shares his first experience of taking an electric E-CAR for a business meeting in Stirling with a colleague.

Previously a trip to Stirling for 2 people in a petrol car would not raise an issue but with the aim of reducing our carbon footprint as an organisation, I decided to take the plunge and try out one of the new E-Cars available within the St Andrews E-Car Club Network. The new Renault ZOE’s are rated as having a maximum 80 mile range, which would mean that the our 100 mile round trip journey to Stirling from St Andrews would require at least one charge – but where ?  Before we headed out I checked out the LIVE charging map  which shows active charge points. Unfortunately Stirling is one of very few major towns in the UK without an easily accessible public charge point, so instead we opted for a coffee stop and charge at the Stirling services station on the M9 (just outside of Stirling) that has an Ecotricity rapid charger (53kw) that would give us 80% recharge in around 30 minutes – easily enough to get us 4

What was surprising was that by driving just under 60mph we were well within maximum range of the vehicle. As we left Stirling there was still 26 miles in the battery, so, instead of Stirling services which would have added 10 minutes on to the journey, we headed further down the road to Kinross services on the M90 which was also part of Ecotricity’s Electric highway of rapid charge points. This was 20 miles away so by the time we reached the services we had 6 miles left in the battery. Phwew! Now to plug in.

Plugging into the AC rapid charger couldnt be easier- as 90% of UK charge points are free to use with the Charge-Your-Car swipe card which is kept in the glovebox of each E-Car. After a few seconds of plugging in, the charging post clicked into life and the soft hum of 43kw of electricity could be heard flowing so we retired for a quick coffee and some emails.  After 25 minutes we returned to the car to find is 80% charge (60 miles), more than enough for the 30 miles back to St Andrews, so off we went.

Apart from the slight anxiety at finding a charge point the whole experience was excellent as the cars are really responsive, extremely smooth and very quite. It is very different from having a petrol car though and planning a first trip as well as having a smart phone at the ready to search for charge points was also really useful. By sticking to the Charge your Cark network you will have a backbone of rapid chargers on hand to make longer journeys “do-able” with a little more time. So, Stirling by E-CAR is an easy drive with one stop for 20 minutes at Kinross services. With so much to see and do around there I will be going back.