Northern Ireland

BBC reporter takes an Ecar test drive across Northern Ireland

I was just putting the ecar charger away at the house when the man pulled up on the road outside.

He'd just had to stop, he said, to ask me in person what the Nissan Leaf was like.

We chatted about it for a few minutes in the driveway. He said he was interested in the concept, but wouldn't buy one until they came down in price went up in range.

Then he jumped into his pick-up and he was off.


I haven't done a story that has generated so much public interest in a very long time. I've spent all week talking about the car and the technology and not just on air.

In the office, in the village shop and on the road people have come up to ask me about my impressions of the vehicle and the charging infrastructure that supports it.

I've had constant interaction on Twitter and Facebook.

There are many upsides. It's cheap to run and apparently easy to maintain. Supporters of the technology say it's good for the environment.

Cynics list its expensive price tag - £30K for the one I have - and the fact that the electricity that charges it is generated in power stations fuelled by coal, oil and gas, all traditional fossil fuels.

Throw in the fact that it's technology that people aren't used to and you begin to understand the reluctance.

Image caption It helps if the ecar can be charged at your work


Having driven it for a week I think it's a great second car for a well-to-do urban family. You do need a driveway to facilitate night-time charging.

It's perfect for short range trips like the school run, or down to the shops. It might also work if you'd a longer commute, say 40 miles, and could plug it in at work before heading home.

Where it doesn't work is if you want to cover a lot of ground in it quickly and on a deadline.

The charging infrastructure is impressive. Forty or so chargers now, another 130 on the way by March 2013.

But there are too few rapid chargers, which will give you 80% battery power in 20 minutes. There are four at the minute and five more coming on stream.

There are too many standard chargers which take three hours. If I'm in a hurry I haven't that kind of time to spare.

The other thing to consider is what constant rapid charging will do to battery life. I'm no expert and time will probably tell.

All told it has been a great experiment. It has certainly got people talking and thinking about electric cars.

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