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Why this doctor dreamed of an electric car

Buying an electric car was my pledge to a brighter, greener, future

So I gave in and bought an electric car. I had given the matter an uncharacteristic amount of thought, and I had needed to buy a car anyway, so why the blazes not.

And as I have not spent a night away from my own house since March the idea of buying a method of transport was a kind of pledge to the future, like planting bulbs or doing a rain dance. And not only was it a pledge to the future, but a pledge to a greener future, where we will do things differently, and with more respect for the environment.

I could just about do without a car. I envy city dwelling friends who manage to get by with public transport and taxis. I live about half a mile from the school, and a further half mile onto work, and I could walk it or cycle it, but the schoolbag is heavy, it has been raining for weeks and I am still dragged out on an occasional house call, so we take the car.

I live about half a mile from the school, and a further half mile onto work, and I could walk it or cycle it, but the schoolbag is heavy, it has been raining for weeks and I am still dragged out on an occasional house call, so we take the car

It is an elderly Audi A3, christened the “Firebolt” (after Harry Potter’s fastest broomstick) in its heady youth. It is a fairly green thing to do, to keep a car on the road without changing it regularly and, of course, as a car is extremely recyclable the poor old Firebolt will go for scrappage. I would rather not think about it.

I tried a few electric cars before settling on a Peugeot 2008. Some of them were just too space age for me. I dislike a touchscreen in a car. It is enough to be driving these days without playing with a big mobile phone. I like a button which I can find by muscle memory, while I keep a wary eye on the dodgy looking white van which apparently has no indicators.

The smaller version of the 2008, the e208 is a gorgeous little thing, which brought me back to the days when I drove a Peugeot 205, the property of the Tyrone and Fermanagh psychiatric services, a car of renowned sprightliness, with a habit of jumping over hills with all four wheels off the ground. The only snag was it was a bit small at the back for long teenage legs so I went up a grade. Any electric car has ferocious poke and has to be damped down, or there would be no talking to it.

Of course, there is no point in going electric until you know where the power is coming from. I had a look at my electricity bill when it came and sure enough there was the breakdown, in tiny writing on the other side of the page. It did not make for pretty reading.

Some of the electricity was renewable, but much of it was not, and a small percentage came from peat. So I was burning up our precious carbon sinks, at great cost to the taxpayer and damage to the environment, to power the house.

A quick Google found several 100 per cent renewable energy suppliers, who were quite a bit cheaper than my one. The MRN number and the meter reading were on the bill, the bank account details were handy and in a few seconds I had switched. The office premises, I was pleased to see, is completely powered by renewable sources and has been for years.

I suppose I am lucky enough, living in the Midwest, with a dirty big motorway only a couple of miles away. If I want to take a spin to Galway or Dublin I am within striking distance in even a half charged car. If I drive around the small towns and small roads the breaking of the car will charge it up. If I have to pull up and recharge on the road, I have any number of things to read, watch or listen to.

I hope I am never so busy that I can’t spare 20 minutes to rearrange my thoughts while it is charging, or get in a few extra steps. The car itself looks lovely and a friend of mine who knows these things tells me that if I put a bungee around my left foot, I will get over the initial habit of breaking suddenly that afflicts anyone who switches to automatic, which sounds even more dangerous.

As there are only 27 moving parts servicing is not much of an issue. If it lasts as long as the Firebolt cars will probably be obsolete, or I will, by the time it needs to be changed. The only problem I have now is to come up with a new name for it, but the Nimbus 2008 is a frontrunner.

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