HIS FIRST car was the “mighty” Morris Minor and now some 40 years later, Denis McCarthy is cruising the streets of Kilmallock in the town’s first electric car.
The 76-year-old purchased the snazzy motor at Pat Tiernan Motors in the city last week, and since then both he and his motor have been garnering quite a bit of attention in the historic town.
“They are all still looking at it and examining it,” smiled Denis, who believes he is the first man in Kilmallock if not in the south of the county to have in his possession an electric car.
“I haven’t heard of anyone in Kilmallock having one and I don’t know of anyone else – but I believe there are a couple of them around the city,” he added.
The former ESB employee – he was with them for 45 years – decided to go electric after researching the benefits of the fuel-free vehicle.
He test drove the Nissan Leaf, grew to like it and ended up taking it home.
While he was initially nervous about taking it out on the road, according to Denis he is quickly getting used to it.
“It suits me grand, tipping around. It will go for 140 miles when it’s fully charged. I would only be tipping in and out from Limerick. I have a daughter Bernadette married in Limerick, I play a bit of golf in Charleville and do the shopping.”
So is it a smooth drive?
“Oh Lord yes, there is no sound out of it. You just hear it turning over. It’s simple after a while to use, very simple. I had another Nissan and I traded it in,” he explained.
While the Leaf he points out, doesn’t stand out at first glance, there are tell-tale signs that it is different to petrol and diesel fuelled motors on closer inspection.
“When you really look at it, it would be different to other cars – some little features, they are a nice looking car,” he admitted.
Instead of having to stop at a petrol station for petrol, Denis charges his electric car with a charger.
While the nearest public charger is in Limerick city, Denis is able to charge his car at home overnight after having a charger installed at his house.
“You charge the battery. I charge it every night. If it was down very low it would take six hours to charge. I put it on the charger every night just to have it for the day. If I did 40 or 50 miles in the day it would be as much.”
While the Kilmallock man was 33 years old when he first started driving, it was a few years before he owned his own motor – a Morris Minor.
“In my young days the cars weren’t there and we certainly didn’t have the price of them”.
Four decades later and the pensioner is leading the way in terms of technology.
“I’m still experimenting with it,” he smiles.
In the past 12 months a total of 30 of the electric cars - which are just like an automatic car to drive - have been sold from Pat Tiernan Motors on the Ballysimon Road.
And while the uptake has been slower than initially anticipated, a recent price realignment has seen an upsurge in interest in recent times.
“Nissan have reduced the price a small bit and it definitely has caught the imagination of the public. It has now got to the situation where if you came in to order one today you would have to probably wait three months for it,” said Paul Lynch, sales manager of Pat Tiernan Motors.
“There are between seven and eight charge points in Limerick. There is one definitely planned for Kilmallock,” he added.