BUSINESS bosses heading to the major curtain raiser of the Lake District tourism season will get a chance to check out an electric car – and test drive one.
The bid to turn tourism on to e-cars and convert sceptics starts next month.
Five electric cars are being lined up to show to business people attending the Lakes Hospitality Show event at the Daffodil Hotel & Spa, Grasmere, on February 24-25.
The ‘ride and drive’ offer is from Cumbrian firm Solway Renewables, which has been leading the installation of e-charging points across the county.
Cumbria has been seen as a ‘black hole’ for e-cars due to a shortage of public places where users can plug-in then charge up their vehicles.
The Gazette reported last year that this leads to ‘battery anxiety’ – the fear batteries will run out.
While not a problem for people doing local runs, there has been concern that urban visitors expecting to find charging points for granted in Cumbria may grind to a halt.
Solway Renewables has been putting in dozens of charge points to build a network across Cumbria.
And a handful of forward-thinking tourism businesses has had them installed.
Other organisations have also been involved in the initiative, from Cumbria Tourism’s Go Lakes Travel project and partners like the Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria County Council.
Solway Renewables director Suzanne Burgess said: “We’re lucky enough to have a great network of electric car advocates and through those people we’ve been able to bring five cars to the trade show.
“What’s really important is that people attending the trade show can not only look at the cars but they are going to be able to get in the car and ride or drive in it. “One of the things we’ve been hearing a lot is the emergence of electric car tourism, but is there really an opportunity for this type of tourism in rural Cumbria?
"It’s always difficult to break the chicken and egg cycle of matching supply and demand.
“How can someone with an electric car visit Cumbria if they can’t be sure of a charge overnight and why would anyone put a charging point in if no one is going to visit?
“When tourist businesses understand what is available, they’ll perhaps see an opportunity to bring low emission vehicles into Cumbria,” she said.