Two medical practices in Warwickshire are taking part in an innovative project that will test the efficiency of electric cars in rural areas.
Warwickshire County Council, as part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is leading the Warwickshire General Practice Electric Vehicle (GPEV) initiative over the next 18 months with project management being supplied by South Warwickshire-based Greenwatt Technology.
GPs from Bidford-on-Avon Health Centre and Brookside Surgery in Stretton-on-Dunsmore will be the first to use Peugeot iOn electric cars when making local home visits, delivering prescriptions and providing on-call services.
The 100 per cent electric cars, which have been supplied by Peugeot on a sponsored lease, have been fitted with tracking devices to enable their journey experience to be recorded throughout the project, with data being analysed by Coventry University providing valuable data for the practices.
The data will then be analysed to see if electric vehicles are really suited to the needs of GPs, health centres and similar rural businesses. It is the first time such a study has been carried out in the UK.
Dedicated charging points have been installed by British Gas, with installation support from 365 Technical Plant Services, to provide quick, easy and safe charging for the electric cars at each practice. Funding for the project has been provided jointly by British Gas and through the Government’s ‘Plugged in Places’ scheme.
Dr Tim Shackley from Bidford-on-Avon Health Centre said: “As a rural GP Practice, we make many short journeys to visit our patients usually when we are on call and often when the need is urgent.
“There is always a doctor on call and it is hoped that the new ‘on call doctor car’ will improve the service we offer. We already run a prescription delivery service and the new car will be used for that purpose as well. Electric vehicles could suit our purposes very well – and hopefully prove commercially attractive too!
“We see ourselves at the heart of our community – and the electric vehicle project should provide us all with a useful demonstration of this new, alternative form of transport.”
Cllr Alan Cockburn, County Council Portfolio Holder Sustainable Communities Warwickshire and LEP board member, said it would be interesting to discover the results of electric vehicles making multiple local trips in rural areas.
He said: “This is an interesting and worthwhile project for LEP to be involved in because it is important that we carry out research into low and zero emission vehicles in rural areas which has not been done before in the UK.
“This pilot scheme will monitor the electric vehicles and charging points at GPs and the beneficial low running costs involved.
“It will enable us to collate research to demonstrate the extent of how low carbon technologies are the way forward in rural communities. GPs, like any other rural business, will consider the cost of investing in electric cars along with the environmental and financial benefits from this low impact transport mode.
“We are also looking at the wider low carbon transport agenda throughout Warwickshire – and have already installed electric charging points at the Stratford Park-and-Ride site – and are ready for the Stratford Parkway Station which opens later in the year.”
Peugeot, which has its UK headquarters in Coventry, and whose company is rated as the leading low CO2 automotive producer, has already over 100 electric vehicles on the road in the UK.
Its iOn electric car is available to lease from £249 per month and operates using the energy that is much cheaper than conventional fuel or free if using solar energy recovery.
Tim Zimmerman, Managing Director of Peugeot UK, said: “The Peugeot lease offer with the iOn provides a complete package to make the cost-effective motoring experience a genuine alternative to the conventional.
“In a climate where fuel costs continue to rise unacceptably this brings a fiscal solution to maintaining the needs of serving the local community.”