A COMPANY IN Louth is planning to become Ireland’s answer to Tesla Motors as it looks towards manufacturing an ambitious electric car.
Ireland hasn’t been at the forefront of the motor industry. While Ford had a significant presence in Cork with an assembly plant until the mid-1980s, our own offerings to the world of motoring have been limited.
The most famous of these was the failed Shamrock car, of which just a handful were produced of a planned 10,000 during the 1950s.
Now Swift Composite Prototypes (SCP) is looking to produce a small electric car,the ALEX eroadster, with the first models hitting the road by late 2016.
The company plans to manufacture the small, fully-electric car from light-weight composite materials, potentially giving it a much greater range than other electric cars in its class.
The manufacturers claim it will be “30% lighter than most similar sized cars, while being both stronger and safer at the same time”.
Solar panels will be fitted to the roof to give the car a small power boost.
Project manager Tom Finnegan said it is hoped a prototype will be built by mid-2016, but the car is very much in the design stage right now.
He has been developing the idea for some time, but it all came together in recent years with the help of the European Union’s Vital programme. As well as SCP, several universities are involved in the planning behind the eRoadster, ranging from Queens University Belfast to Dublin City University.
Finnegan said the vehicle will be made from as many parts sourced in Ireland as possible, but other bits and pieces such as batteries will need to be imported.
Electric cars, although becoming more common, are still in relative infancy and face problems involving the complex electronics involved and limitations of battery technology.
“The range has been a problem,” Finnegan said, “Even the cars that are fully electric, other than the Telsa, they just don’t give the range that allows people to be comfortable.” They’re worried about when they have to make a longer journey.
He added that the eRoadster draws influence from Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors – “We’ve taken our own approach to the whole concept, but we’ve followed the model of Tesla to some degree. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, so we have kept an eye on [the company]“.
It is hoped that by the end of 2016 one car a week will be manufactured, Finnegan said, and the company will then be able to look at ramping up production.
He added that the eventual cost of the car won’t be known until suppliers are finalised, but it is currently envisaged to be around €50,000.