Northern Ireland

BBC reporter takes an Ecar test drive across Northern Ireland

Ecar at charging point
Image caption Charged up and ready to go in Newry

Well it's the big day, the day we take the electric car for an impossibly long trip as far around Northern Ireland as we can to test its range and the charging infrastructure.

We started in Newry at 8.30am. Well that's not strictly true, my producer John Campbell and I, actually started yesterday afternoon plotting a route using online maps and working out the distances between the charge points.

The weather was pretty shocking at first. That meant lights, wipers and the climate control to clear the windscreen. It's the latter that really drains the battery range.

Nevertheless we made decent progress, arriving in Armagh around an hour later having spent a bit of time stopping and starting for filming.

Our first charge was to be at the rapid charger at Dungannon, at the Maxol garage on the Moy Road. With about a few miles to go we still had around 44 miles of range left and there was a temptation to chance driving on to Enniskillen, our next charge point of call.


We decided not to risk it. If we had bypassed the rapid charge at Dungannon and gone straight to Enniskillen we probably would have made it, but it would have emptied the tank.

Image caption Twenty minutes on a rapid charger in Dungannon and we were ready to roll again

There are only standard charge points in Enniskillen so that would have meant a three hour charge before setting off again and that was time we just did not have.

So we stopped at Dungannon where, oddly, the maintenance man turned up just as we were plugging up. I'm sure it was a coincidence!

The rapid charger worked a treat. Twenty minutes there gave us 80% of the battery and enough juice to comfortably make Enniskillen. There was nowhere to wait really so we stood around in the garage having a chat with the owner and drinking takeaway coffee until it was time to hit the road again.

We had 16 miles of range left when we arrived in Enniskillen and we stopped in at the Belmore Court and Motel, one of the few commercial ventures, offering echarging to its guests.

I spoke to Terry McCartney there, he told me that he'd had the charge point since Christmas and in that time, not a single person had used it.

He said range and price issues would have to be addressed before it ecars become a viable alternative.

As I write this, I'm in the BBC's Enniskillen office waiting for the car to charge. Our plan is to head to Lifford in Co Donegal where there's a rapid charger - the infrastructure in the Irish Republic is compatible.

After that it's Derry and onwards until the available light for filming, or the car battery, runs out.

Join me on BBC Newsline on Friday to see how we finished up.

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