FEATURE: The car which costs £50 A YEAR to run

Taking a closer look: Gavin Minns checks out how it looks under the bonnet.
Taking a closer look: Gavin Minns checks out how it looks under the bonnet.
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SOME passers-by might have been forgiven for thinking the driver behind the wheel of Ford’s latest car might have turned off the ignition.

But no, the car isn’t rolling with its handbrake off – it’s really that quiet.

Eco-friendly: The electric car could cost residents at Unity Gardens in Long Sutton as little as �50 a year to run.

Eco-friendly: The electric car could cost residents at Unity Gardens in Long Sutton as little as �50 a year to run.

It’s the latest eco-friendly technology to be found in Long Sutton after car manufacturer Ford loaned a Tourneo electric car to residents living in Unity Gardens.

Those living in the six earth-bunded bungalows have been living the good life since moving in two years ago.

They are in credit with their electricity bills from the solar panels on the roofs, grow their own vegetables in an on-site allotment and harvest rainwater. However, keeping up their environmentally-conscious lifestyle has proved challenging away from home.

So when Ford came along with an offer to lend them an electric car for the day, they jumped at the chance to take it for a spin.

With their excess electricity production, Unity Gardens residents could power the car an estimated 50 times, leaving them with an average cost of just £46.50 a year.

It proved a great help for Clive Gillett (50) and Claire Lovett (35) as they carried out day-to-day tasks.

The couple ventured out on the school run with Maisie (8) and Charlotte (5), to the recycling centre in Spalding and other small runs around the district.

Clive, who normally drives a Vauxhall Astra, said: “I’ve never driven an automatic before and it was quite good when I got the hang of it.

“It has a fast pick-up and a range of 80 miles.

“People were having a good look at us because it’s deathly silent.

“I’m just really pleased to have the opportunity to drive an electric car. It hasn’t taken off yet but it will do.”

Claire said she would use their car more if it was electric.

“At the moment I would be worried about budgeting; you have a budget for how much petrol you use, “ she said. “With this car you don’t have that.”

However, the couple were quick to emphasise it was more suited to short, predictable journeys.

At a glance, the car looks no different to anything else you might see on the road. It takes about eight hours to fully charge and can be plugged in to anywhere with an electricity supply.

Clive had the Tourneo charging through sockets in his shed. When plugged in, it looks as if it is refuelled as a normal car would be.

Neighbour Gavin Minns (30) was first in the car, which he swapped for his Vauxhall Vectra for an evening. However, he won’t be making the move permanently anytime soon.

He said: “I drive an average of 100 miles a day so the car would not be suitable for me.

“If I knew what journeys I was going to do it might be different.”

Unity Gardens architect Jerry Harrall said he put Ford in touch with the Unity Gardens Residents’ Association after being asked to take part in the trial himself.

He said: “I felt there would be more to be gained if it was passed on.

“The idea was to see a collective group of households’ response so Ford could get a better spread of feedback.”

Mr Harrall is convinced electric cars will be the main stream vehicles in the future and calls the “logical development”.

He says Unity Gardens is the prime example: “The moment our dwellings start to generate more of their own energy, they can start legitimately providing their own vehicle fuel.”