After originally forming as NI EV Owners in 2016, last year saw our group incorporate, transitioning to a not-for-profit community interest company, the EV Association Northern Ireland.

Last October we met with Simon Acton and Peter Bracken in Belfast on their way to COP26 and we chatted briefly about the possibility of getting together with the IEVOA members for a joint meeting. After an email from the new Chair, Kevin Dowling, and a follow-up conversation with Derek Reilly we settled on Sunday 24th July and chose the southbound services at Castlebellingham, a location that’s roughly half way between Belfast and Dublin.

Despite threatening skies, the rain stayed away and it was great to see such a variety of EVs turn up, including some of the newer models like the Kia EV6, Skoda Enyaq, VW ID.3  and Polestar 2, along with a group of Teslas and the much sought after Zoes, Ioniqs and Leafs.

It would be good to see Applegreen add to their charging offer here as the single ESB rapid at either side of the M1 feels inadequate, especially next to a row of 8 Tesla chargers that were being well used. Mind you, a single location with 9 DC chargers sounds like pure science fiction to us EV drivers in the north. We’re hoping that the next 18-24 months will see a change that will make it much more attractive for EV drivers to visit Northern Ireland.

We really enjoyed chatting with IEVOA members like Dr Steve Potter and his wife Mairead. I learned later that day that he was involved in setting up an electric vehicle club for the EV1 in California during the 90’s. I guess we’re all relative newbies after hearing that.

There was always a crowd around Eamon Stack’s car, as he demonstrated the Range Therapy extender battery fitted in the back of his Leaf. This custom setup with an additional onboard inverter was providing V2L duties, offering passers by a welcomed coffee and slice of toast. I know whose house I’m heading for when the zombie apocalypse breaks out.

The couple of hours flew by, as is always the case when you’ve met like-minded EV evangelists. Many thanks to Derek and all the IEVOA team for organising this get together and for all their hospitality on the day. We hope this is the first of many joint meetings as we all continue our transition to sustainable transport. Look us up at www.evani.uk (and on Facebook and Twitter) and let us know if you have a good suggestion for our next all Ireland EV Picnic!

Written by Mark McCall, Co-Founding Director & Chair of the EVANI (EV Association Northern Ireland).