As close followers of the b-bug project know, we have been trying to find ways to take the b-bugs from a free research trial of just 2 vehicles in 2011 to a viable b-bug rental scheme for the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The biggest hurdle to date has been finding self-drive hire insurance for the buggies. We have discovered that most insurance brokers avoid self-drive hire insurance (for any kind of vehicle) and an even tinier number of brokers recognise the concept of a road-legal electric buggy! The latter is not so surprising given that the b-bugs are currently unique vehicles. We are delighted to report that Zurich Municipal has come to our rescue and Jon Taylor has been enormously helpful in finding a solution for us that we now need to work within.
We are now exploring the formation of a not-for-profit b-bug co-operative (“BBC”) whose aim will be to promote sustainable tourism travel in our National Park.
The BBC will manage a group insurance and maintenance policy for a small fleet of b-bugs (in Year 1) which will be manufactured and maintained by Dragon Electric Vehicles. The idea is that individual tourist businesses in our area can opt to join the co-operative and effectively lease a b-bug to host and use themselves, to “livery up” (if they choose) to promote their business and eco-credentials and (obviously) to rent out to their customers to cover (hopefully) their leasing costs.
We’d see how this worked in Year 1 (2012) with a view to expanding the scheme if it is successful.
We are confident that we will be able to re-activate and expand our informal electric charge point network of local pubs, cafes, attractions and activity centres. The b-bugs only need a 13amp socket and a full re-charge costs abut 40p of electricity. Last summer, the b-bug charge points benefited from becoming interesting destinations in their own right for the b-buggers.
If you are a tourist business based in this area and think you might like to be involved in 2012, do get in touch with us.