The Irish city of Cork has put 76 electric vehicles into operation to replace internal combustion engines. Renault Kangoo Z.E., Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona are used by the city’s road and housing maintenance, park management and waste disposal staff.
Two of the vehicles will be available as pool vehicles for city hall employees. According to the city, Cork now has the largest zero-emission fleet in the country. The replacement of the fleet could be implemented within a few months, as the City of Cork only leased the vehicles and did not buy them. When the leasing contracts expired, it was easier to replace the vehicles with electrified models.
Prior to this, a field trial was run over several months to find out about the vehicles’ requirements and to prepare both the employees and themselves for the new company cars. “Initially, when I found out we were going to be driving electric cars, my main concern was that they would have to be plugged in every five minutes and you wouldn’t get very far,” said one of the test drivers. “But after driving them for a couple of weeks, that fear was soon alleviated. Most of the time you would be charging it once or twice a week and that’s about it.”
With the support of the Irish utility Bord Gais Energy, rapid charging stations for the new electric fleet were installed at the town hall, among other places. A further 30 charging stations are available to the public throughout the city through various providers.
In its decision to convert around a quarter of the total fleet to electric vehicles, the city is not only citing environmental reasons. “We have done this because it is the most cost-effective solution for our fleet, it’s technically viable, supports national policy and, in a city impacted by climate change, is the right and proper thing to do,” says project manager Fergus Gleeson. Combustion engines are still used in trucks and heavy commercial vehicles, but the fleet’s diesel consumption has already fallen by 20 per cent. Over the next five years, Cork calculated savings around 700,000 euros with the electric vehicles.
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