Cleaner, greener and cheaper motoring is being launched at the heart of a Middlesbrough community.
From this week, the town’s Easterside estate will have its very own electric car for use by local residents.
The pioneering move is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK and was developed as part of the ground-breaking Eco Easterside project.
The flagship initiative – a Low Carbon Community Challenge Scheme – has been funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Easterside’s very own Peugeot iOn fully electric vehicle was bought from Simon Bailes Peugeot through a competitive tender at a cost of £23,000, all paid for through the government grant.
The car has a top speed of 90mph and a range of up to 120 miles on a single charge. The vehicle also benefits from regenerative braking which recharges the car as the brakes are applied.
The car will be managed on behalf of the Easterside Partnership by Commonwheels, a social enterprise which specialises in car clubs, while a garage has been made available by social housing provider Erimus.
Easterside’s Electric Car Club is the first community-based EV (Electric Vehicle) Club in the UK, with membership open to residents of the estate who are over 21 and have a clean full driving licence.
Smart technology means members can book online, and two charging points are being installed on the estate by Plugged In Places, a government scheme operated by One North East.
The Partnership, local rugby club and schools have corporate club membership, enabling named drivers to attend events, promoting the scheme and the area as a whole.
The formal unveiling of the car on Friday, June 17 will take place alongside a celebration of the construction of wind turbines at Easterside and St Thomas More Schools.
North East-based Commonwheels is the largest social enterprise car club operator in the UK, with operations ranging from Fife in Scotland down to Poole and Portsmouth on the south coast.
Director Michael Berriman said: “When we go into a new area, one of the first things we look for is a strong and stable community-based operation – and the Easterside Partnership is just that.
“Add into that invaluable support from support David Abrahams-Edley and the team at Middlesbrough Environment City and Brendan Prior at the Energy Saving Trust, and we have a really strong and sustainable partnership - and one we don’t often come across.
“Clubs like this are the future and Easterside is truly leading the way.”
Councillor Nicky Walker, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Transport, said: “Middlesbrough was awarded Beacon Status for its work on climate change and is one of only a handful of Environment Cities in the UK.
“That’s why it’s entirely fitting that the town – and Easterside in particular – should be the first in the country to introduce a community electric car in this way.
“It’s a terrific initiative and yet another example of Middlesbrough setting the pace in the technologies that will shape our future.
“This is a great example of partnership working, and will set the template for other schemes both on Teesside and around the country.
“I have no doubt that the people of Easterside and further afield will benefit from this initiative for many years to come.”