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Electric car pilot scheme backed

November 4, 2009 11:45 PM

Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East Greg Stone has backed a pilot scheme which will introduce 4 electric Smart cars to the city for the public to use in a programme of "test drives" for the new technology.

The pilot scheme, run in conjunction with Newcastle University, Newcastle consultancy Future Transport Solutions, and One North East will give up to 500 people the chance to take part in an evaluation programme.

Members of the public are being invited to register their interest now in sampling the electric driving experience during a series of high-profile events which will take place over the next six months across North East England. Dates and locations will be confirmed in the coming months for events in key locations across the region. Anyone interested in taking part should follow the instructions at www.futuretransportsystems.co.uk/ev-test-drive.aspx and they will be added to the mailing list which will give details of how and when people can try out one of the Smart cars.

The cars' first placement is with Newcastle City Council, where they are supplementing its vehicle fleet and being allocated to staff making trips around the city, as an alternative to using fleet cars with conventional petrol or diesel engines. The city council is the first of a number of local authorities and other public and private sector fleet operators across the region which will have use of the vehicles and will provide important feedback on their performance.

The cars will be equipped with specialist equipment from Newcastle University's Transport Operations Research Group, which will help researchers to understand typical usage patterns and to help develop the region's strategy for long term transport sustainability.

This is the first trial of its type and will be a forerunner to a separate trial of 35 new electric passenger vehicles in the North East which will also be monitored by Newcastle University and will include the Nissan Leaf; Smith Electric Vehicles' people carrier, taxis and executive minibus and a new AVID Vehicles saloon car.