News / Electric cars are on their way

Jim Dickson checking out one of the new charging points in town - Photo: ShetNews

ELECTRIC cars could be whizzing along the roads of Shetland in the not too distant future if current trends continue.

Shetland Islands Council is soon to switch on five free-to-use charging points in Lerwick, paid for entirely by £40,000 from Transport Scotland to encourage the use of low emission vehicles.

The charging pods are being installed at the council’s offices at North Ness and Grantfield, the Fort Road car park, next to the Clickimin running track and the Lerwick health centre between its two car parks.

Charging will take between six to eight hours and will be free to use, with the Scottish government footing the electricity bill.

So far Shetland has few electric vehicles plying its highways.

The council and Scottish Natural Heritage operate Peugeot vans modified for £40,000 each, while Fetlar Development Company is due to take delivery of an electric minibus shortly.

The only known private owner of an electric car is retired former council harbourmaster Jim Dickson, who can regularly be seen behind the wheel of his £30,000 Nissan Leaf between Brae and Lerwick.


Dickson said that although the capital cost of electric vehicles was still beyond most people’s reach, despite a £5,000 government ‘plug-in grant’, running costs were extremely low.

He said a return journey from Brae to Lerwick cost him around £1.50 when he charged the car on the mains overnight, while fuelling up by plugging in to his small wind turbine cost him absolutely nothing.

His two year old Leaf has a range of 80 miles, however the latest model promoted on the company’s website manages up to 109 miles with one battery load and has come down in price for a basic model to £23,490.

“With improved battery technology the range of these vehicles is constantly improving,” Dickson said.

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“As Ford, Renault, Vauxhall and Mercedes are all coming out with their own models now, I am convinced that electric cars will become a more common sight on our roads.”

SIC team leader for transport operations David Polson said the Scottish government was encouraging businesses and voluntary organisations like local halls to install more charging points.

Full grant assistance to a maximum of £10,000 is available through the Energy Savings Trust, he said.

“A network of charging points is now in place around Lerwick with commissioning due soon – this should assist in allowing individuals and businesses to avail themselves of electric vehicles with greater confidence.”

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