When the My Electric Avenue project launched in the UK back in June last year, many doubters thought we were aiming for the impossible. Persuading ten people in the same street to each take an electric vehicle to take part in an 18 month trial didn’t seem the easiest task. I think even we had moments of doubt that it could be achieved multiple times across the country.
However, since then we have been absolutely overwhelmed with the response. We had a target to achieve seven clusters of at least 10 people and if this had not been reached then the project would not have gone ahead. However, we are delighted to say that we’ve surpassed this. In total, 2,136 people registered an interest in taking part in the project and at the final count we have made it to 11 clusters with an amazing 111 participants between them.
So how did we do it?
Well the fact that the Nissan LEAF was £100 per month was a real hook for people and helped people to see what significant savings they could personally make over the length of the trial.
However, the thing that really made a significant impact was the commitment and enthusiasm and hard work from our cluster ‘Champions’ which really helped to achieve our target. The champions tended to be one person from each street who really embraced the idea and put their all into recruiting their neighbours. They held neighbourhood meetings, got involved in our test drive events and opened their doors to their neighbours, providing numerous cups of tea and a variety of cakes! It was down to their enthusiasm, their willingness to spend their free time knocking on doors and talking about the project with their friends and neighbours that has made the trial such a success. It would not have happened without them and we are very thankful to them all.
Once people were hooked, it was important to get them trialling the vehicles to see if the Nissan LEAF would work for them. We worked with project partner Fleetdrive Electric to offer test drives and also had the support of our local Nissan dealer Benfield Motors who very kindly provided support on a number of the test drive events with potential clusters and participants. It’s fair to say that once people had driven the cars, they didn’t need much more persuading!
Zero Carbon Futures is a partner in the MEA project and our role was to engage with potential participants in Northern Powergrid licenced areas to create clusters and to project manage the installation of the EV charging equipment and the ‘Esprit’ technology into people’s homes and the work based clusters. We took part in test drive events and ensured that we had a presence at other regional events to help promote the project and lead on cluster engagement for the north. A regional PR campaign also helped to broaden the interest in the project and secure clusters.
There are now clusters in Marlow, Chiswick, Lyndhurst, Chineham, Whiteley, South Gosforth, Wylam, and two in South Shields. There are also two work based clusters which are at Your Homes Newcastle and Slough Borough Council. So in the North East there are five clusters which is brilliant news for us, who are based in the region and have been working on electric vehicle projects for many years. It just goes to show how receptive the North is to the adoption of EVs.
So the next step for the project is for trial candidates to start using and more importantly charging their vehicles. Fleetdrive, a partner in the project, are managing the lease agreements for the trial participants and participants have started to receive their vehicles. Once this happens the next phase will be the monitoring of the Esprit technology’s performance will be carried out by project lead, EA Technology and participant’s acceptance of the technology will be collected and analysed by De Montford University.
We’re really pleased that we’ve got this far and we’re looking forward to working with the trial participants in the future to see how they all get on.
Further information about My Electric Avenue can be found at www.myelectricavenue.info.
Zero Carbon Futures is an electric vehicle consultancy which manages and delivers projects which help towns and cities increase EV uptake.