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Home » Buyers Guide » Low Emission Cars

Car club introduces plug-in electric car

22 June 2009
stretecar car club plug in hybrid

From next week, Streetcar is giving the general public the chance to drive one of Europe’s first plug-in electric hybrid cars.

In a joint initiative with Camden Council and Transport for London (TfL), the Amberjac conversion Prius (one of only 25 such cars in the world) will be added to Streetcar’s fleet of 1,200 pay-as you-go vehicles.

It will be operated from Camden’s Bloomsbury Car Park in Holborn.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Car clubs are a great way to be green and it’s even better news that Londoners will be able to use a cleaner car to make their trips. I want London to be at the forefront of the electric car revolution and initiatives such as this are an important stepping stone along the way.”

The car has a revolutionary plug-in facility, allowing its battery to be charged from a domestic outlet (preferably with renewable energy) or an on-street electric charging point. It has an electric only range of around 35 miles1 and with the majority of car club trips being under this mileage, Streetcar has estimated that over 66% of journeys in the car will release zero exhaust emissions. This will benefit local air quality.

Announcing this motoring first, Brett Akker, Streetcar’s co-founder, said: “Our 55,000 members are expected to rise to 250,000 by 2012, as more and more people recognise the environmental and cost benefits of joining a car club. Once they have made that decision, we want to offer them the best possible service – and, from next week, our members will be the first people in Europe to hire a car with this electric technology. 

Cllr, Chris Knight, Camden Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, said: “Camden Council is charged up about electric cars and the introduction of Europe’s first electric car club. More people sharing mean fewer cars on the road so less congestion and pollution – and that’s great news for the environment. Also as the credit crunch bites, the message is hitting home that using car clubs instead of owning a vehicle can bring big savings.”

The advantage of the plug-in hybrid over a pure electric car is versatility. Where an electric vehicle would simply run out of charge if a Streetcar member couldn’t recharge it; the plug-in simply switches to the regular combustion engine. This means it is suitable for short city driving and for longer trips.

And even when it does go beyond its electric only capacity, it still makes huge energy savings. At speeds of 50 to 60 mph, an average of over 100 mpg is possible as the plug-in uses stored electric energy from the battery system.

By comparison a standard hybrid has an electric only range of 1-2 miles before the conventional engine cuts in. It uses a battery working with the conventional engine to deliver only small efficiency at low speeds with the battery being recharged by the engine itself.

Regular Streetcar user, Philip Day, said: “ I have read so much about electric cars and am delighted that Streetcar will now give me the chance to actually try one out. It must be the way forward for motoring”.

With every Streetcar vehicles being used by 45 different drivers, this plug-in vehicle is the first super low-emission car to viably remove privately owned vehicles off the road.

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