Having been awarded a BBNP Sustainable Development Fund grant a few weeks ago, we have now set up a not-for-profit company “Eco Travel Network Ltd” (ETN) which will purchase, own and insure an electric vehicle fleet and lease them to member (tourist accommodation) businesses for them to use themselves, advertise their business and, most importantly, rent out to their visiting customers to explore the area instead of using their cars. This allows the individual businesses to generate revenue to offset the vehicle leasing cost.

As far as we know, this will be the first ever eco-vehicle tourist rental scheme operating in the UK.

Timescales to launch the scheme this summer were always tight and very sadly, due to supply problems, we are not going to be able to get the set of product standard b-bugs built and running for July 1st which was our target for the 2012 tourist season. The buggy element of the plan will now have to wait until 2013 but is still very much part of our thinking. .

But the exciting news is that, in the past week, we have managed to set up an alternative fleet of vehicles for rental this summer – they are Renault Twizys – funky electric, open-sided, tandem-style quadricycles launched by Renault UK in April. They have a 50 mile range and a top speed of 50 mph.

Renault Electric UK is helping sponsor the vehicles and they are being supplied by our local Renault dealer, Callow Marsh, in Hereford.

The first of the fleet, “Thierry”, arrived yesterday and we enjoyed driving him the 40 miles home from Hereford in this glorious sunshine. He managed the distance with energy to spare (driven at a cautious 30mph) but happily zipped up to 50 mph on short bursts of the A road.

Thanks to the efforts of Callow Marsh Renault, Thierry is with us in time to appear at the Hay Festival as part of a promotional launch of the Eco Travel Network. 

Meanwhile the prototype trial b-bugs,  Boris and Blodwen, have reluctantly been returned to Dragon Electric Vehicles for a period of rest and recuperation but I’m sure they will be seeing action again in the near future judging by the level of interest they attract wherever they go.

Certainly, the Eco Travel Network hopes to expand its membership and fleet over time to include a wide variety of lightweight vehicles including, we hope b-bugs.

From now onwards, you can follow the project’s ongoing progress in its new guise as the Eco Travel Network and/or come and visit the Brecon Beacons this summer and try a Twizy. We will be publishing the list of accommodation providers who will be offering Twizys for hire in the next month on the Eco Travel Network site.

About Alison Kidd

Research Psychologist
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