Over the last two years the Community Electric Car project ran by Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig has seen big changes. With electric cars rising in popularity and a stronger focus on our environmental impact in 2021, what is Carwyn & Carwen the electric cars’ legacy as the project comes to an end?
Since the project started in 2019 there has been a big increase in the number of electric vehicles registered in the UK, a growth of 66%. At the end of October 2021 there were more than 675,000 plug-in vehicles with nearly 345,000 BEVs and 325,000 PHEVs registered. 2020 saw the biggest annual increase in the number of registrations, with more than 175,000 electric vehicles registered. Despite the impact of Covid-19, 2020 was a huge growth year for plug-in vehicles.
Carwyn and Carwen started their journeys in Bethesda and Abergynolwyn, with the project focusing mainly on the community aspect of the car, rather than them being electric. And whilst the cars were used by local people for group shopping trips and hospital appointments, it became clear that the fact they were electric was just as important as the community aspect of the project! Carwen certainly left her mark in Bethesda as Partneriaeth Ogwen and Dyffryn Gwyrdd now have three electric vehicles that are used in the community.
Meleri Davies, Partneriaeth Ogwen’s Chief Officer said "Working with Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig on the electric car 'Carwen' project was a very useful experience. Creating a partnership of this kind fitted in perfectly with Parterniaeth Ogwen's vision of creating a sustainable community in the true sense - providing green services for everyone in our community. As a result of these partnerships we have developed a fleet of green vehicles in the Ogwen Valley and our work is going from strength to strength ".
Huw Davies, Dyffryn Gwyrdd project manager added; "Having Carwen on placement with the Partnership was an eye opener for us as a team of staff and volunteers and then for residents across the valley. We learned from the pioneers of the Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig team and that gave us the opportunity to share with newcomers to electric cars. We now have three electric vehicles at Partneriaeth Ogwen and regularly share our experiences with individuals and groups throughout Wales, and beyond ".
The coronavirus pandemic certainly had an impact on the project, but community spirit and resilience meant Carwyn and Carwen were not parked up for long. The cars were used to deliver hot meals, local produce and prescriptions to local people in the community. In 2020 the cars moved to Llanaelhaearn and Penygroes and continued to inspire these communities to see the potential for electric vehicles. Carwyn is currently located at Tŷ Doctor car park in Llanaelhaearn, and is in the perfect location to help the surgery during this challenging time. A member of staff from Tŷ Doctor has been using the car a few times a week to deliver prescriptions to people in the area.
Elfed Morgan from Tŷ Doctor explains “Carwyn the community electric car is a brilliant resource for us at the surgery. Not only does it allow us to travel in an environmentally friendly way, it also allows us to offer this service to our patients, who are more isolated now than ever.”
Whilst Carwyn will be staying in Llanaelhaearn until January 2022, Carwen has now said her final goodbye to Penygroes and Gwynedd. But yet again the cars certainly made an impact, with Siop Yr Orsaf in Penygroes expecting three electric vehicles soon! They have just received a new electric car called Arianrhod, with an electric van and people carrier arriving in the New Year!
Rhys Gwilym from Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig explains “It’s been fantastic to see the impact Carwyn and Carwen have had over the last two years. We started out with two cars, now there will be over six electric vehicles available in communities across Gwynedd! Not only are they a fantastic resource for their communities, but they’ll help contribute towards reducing our carbon footprint and normalise the use of electric vehicles in rural areas such as Gwynedd.”
Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig is administered by Menter Môn, and the Carwyn and Carwen project contributes to their wider aim of being a social enterprise contributing to a globally responsible Wales. With maximum community benefit a priority for all of Menter Môn's work the community electric car project has achieved this while protecting the environment.
Carwyn is staying in Llanaelhaearn until January 2022, so if you’re considering an electric car but would like to test one out first, why not hire Carwyn for the day! Book through the website www.gwynedd.book.co-wheels.org.uk and use the code AGW20 to get £20 off the registration fee!
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. It is also part funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Gwynedd Council.