C & C Cars, St Austell
What has someone with a private hire firm in St Austell got to do with Cumbria taking part in the electric car revolution I hear you say. Well quite a lot really. Cornwall is very similar to Cumbria in a number of ways. It’s beautiful, remote, coastal, the transport infrastructure is pretty basic, the county depends on tourism for employment and prosperity – apart from the amount of sunshine there are lots of similarities between Cumbria and Cornwall!
When Michelle Williams owner of C & C Cars bought her first Nissan Leaf in 2013 to use as a private hire car – most people thought she was mad as a hatter! Perhaps she is, but she’s also a woman on a mission to prove that despite all odds – if you want to make something work you can. It all started with her Dad leaving a car magazine behind after a visit and partner Mark finding Renault Fluence featured in it. Not being able to buy the car with a battery was no good for a private hire firm so they looked at the Nissan Leaf and the rest as they say is history.
12 months later she’s got 5 Nissan Leafs used for private hire, no. 6 on order and a Nissan ENV200 van being converted into a 7 seater to replace her gas guzzling Ford Transit Minibus. She has taken 44,000 carbon free fares and run 180,000 miles in her super-efficient all electric fleet of Nissan Leafs. What’s even more astonishing is that she’s done this without any support from her local authority and without any access to publicly available charging points. Michelle’s a strong believer in a business standing on it’s own so although it would have been nice to have locally available chargers as a back-up she knew the business had to survive alone.
C & C Cars started off with a 16a charger (that’s a 6-8 hour charging time for a Nissan Leaf) and it was a matter of military planning to make sure the car (+ the others that she then bought) are back and charged to make sure the business runs smoothly – she’s added to the charging points as she’s expanded the fleet and now has 4 charging points at the office. With some help from Nissan UK, Michelle managed to get a rapid charger not too far away meaning that charging time for each car was reduced to 30 mins (to 80% of the battery) which is just as well because by the time the rapid charger had arrived Michelle had 4 Nissan leafs and the 5th was on order. The cars work all day every day averaging 600 miles but it’s not unknown for individual Leafs to travel 180 – 200 miles in a day. All the charging is done from the business and Michelle’s pretty savvy – all the cars have names and customers just love ringing and asking for the cars by name. In 12 months Michelle has cut her fuel bills by £40,000 and saved 203 tonnes of CO2.
Michelle says it’s helped to keep costs down so much they haven’t had to increase prices and local hotels are using her company as the taxi form of choice because it fits with their environmental credentials. Aside from that, C&C Cars is getting nationwide exposure – including in Cumbria! Congratulations Michelle a true inspiration.
Who is going to follow her lead in Cumbria – watch this space, we’ll be telling you more soon!