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Co-Wheels plugs in with launch of new electric vehicles
Aberdeen's Co-Wheels car club has clocked up another milestone, becoming the first in Scotland to operate electric vehicles.
The social enterprise has taken delivery of three Nissan Leafs which members can use at a cheaper rate than fossil-fuelled vehicles, and re-charge across the city, and a Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
The launch followed the escapades of PlugIn Adventurers Chris Ramsay and Ross Mackay, who took one of the cars on a 1,500 mile trip from Aberdeen to Cardiff and back again in the course of four days, to prove that electric vehicles really are a viable option for long distance journeys and can be relied on for more than just the school run.
The pair are working with Co-Wheels and Aberdeen City Council to raise the profile of electric cars and dispel many of the myths which still surround the vehicles.
Co-Wheels has grown steadily in Aberdeen and has established a name for itself nationwide as a ground-breaking organisation. It was the first in the world to trial hydrogen-powered cars, recently became the first in the UK to make wheelchair accessible vehicles available for hire, and is now the first Scottish car club to operate electric vehicles.
It is ideally placed to do so. Aberdeen has been identified as a strategic hub in Scotland's Plugged in Places project and was allocated £120,000 of grant funding to purchase and install electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Finance and Resources Convener Councillor Willie Young said: "This is great news for Aberdeen and Co-Wheels, which is making access to vehicles cheaper and easier for city residents and businesses. The provision of electric vehicle charging points at key locations adds another green string to our bow and is a key element of making Aberdeen the Smarter City.
"We are already taking the environmental lead on transport issues. We're making great strides with our ambitious hydrogen bus project and will soon have the largest fleet of hydrogen buses in any European City. As one of the fastest-growing in the UK, Aberdeen's car club is a real success story and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow and lead the way.
"Aberdeen City Council is determined to define the image of an international 21st century energy city and to lead a leaner, cleaner industrial revolution. By installing these charging points, we are playing a very important part in making electric vehicles a more realistic option for city motorists and for those who want to travel into and through Aberdeen."
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: "Since its launch in 2012, the Aberdeen car club has been one of the fastest growing car clubs in the UK. I am delighted that funding from the Developing Car Clubs in Scotland programme has allowed the purchase of electric vehicles to be included in the fleet, in addition to the wheelchair accessible vehicle that was added earlier this year.
"Introducing electric vehicles into the fleet will allow car club members the opportunity to drive an electric vehicle and experience the benefits for themselves. This will improve air quality in the city as the vehicles have zero tail pipe emissions."
The Plugged in Places project seeks to implement the UK's first electric vehicle charging infrastructure and is funded by the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). Scotland is one of eight project areas across the UK and Transport Scotland is responsible for managing the Scottish project.
Co-Wheels co-ordinator Tony Archer said: "Today marks another first for car clubs and I'm delighted that Aberdeen is continuing to lead the way. The club is continuing to grown and I am certain that our new electric vehicles will prove popular with members, especially now that Ross and Chris have proved with their PlugIn Adventure just how reliable these vehicles are."
The British government has set targets to reduce the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2027 and by 80% by 2050. Transport is recognised as one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions, and electric vehicles are seen as being a large part of the solution due to their zero tailpipe emissions.
The Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) aims to encourage electric vehicle uptake with the "Plugged in Places" scheme, which has given grant funding to eight areas of the UK to fund the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Scotland is one of those areas, with Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government Transport Agency, running the project and also providing funding. Plugged in Places funding has also allowed the Energy Saving Trust in Scotland to offer funding to workplaces and home owners to install charging points.
The seven other "plugged in places" are East of England, Greater Manchester, London, Midlands, Milton Keynes, North East England and Northern Ireland.
Electric vehicle charging points are available to the public at the following locations in Aberdeen:
Rapid charger (can charge two vehicles simultaneously) Gallowgate car park, south side by exit, AB25 1DL and Sclattie Park car park, Bucksburn, AB21 9RG. Both are available 24 hours.
Fast charger (can charge two vehicles at once) Chapel Street car park, AB10 1ST (ground floor by exit) and Frederick Street car park, AB24 5HY (ground floor). Both are available 24 hours.
Standard charger (can charge two vehicles at once) Gallowgate car park, AB25 1DL (north side by entrance); West North Street car park, AB25 1DR (ground floor by entrance); Polmuir Road, AB11 7TH (at rear gates to Duthie Park); Kingswells Park and Ride, AB15 8PL (in upper car park). These are available 24 hours.
Standard charger (can charge two vehicles at once) Marischal College car park, AB10 1AB (ground floor by entrance). Available on Thursday nights from 6pm to 8pm, Saturday from 8am to 6pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.
More information is available on the Aberdeen City Council website at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/planning_environment/planning/transport/pla_electric_vehicle_charging.asp
For more information about Co-Wheels visit www.co-wheels.org.uk or call 08456 028030.