Toyota Ireland provided self-charging hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle models for inclusion in the pilot scheme covering north west Donegal, Sligo, Cavan and Monaghan.
Local Link Donegal – the transport coordinator for the HSE – made a conscious decision to review all methods of transport being used throughout the organisation and establish a cleaner transport strategy.
As part of this review, Local Link teamed up with a number of partners – including Toyota Ireland, the Sustainable Energy Authority Of Ireland (SEAI), and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport – with the objective of benchmarking cleaner and innovative transport solutions for the future.
The pilot programme, which was launched in February, saw Toyota Ireland supply self-charging hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles for drivers to test in real world conditions. The aim was to establish what advantages they may have when compared to traditional diesel vehicles, in terms of fuel efficiency and emission reductions.
It was the first pilot of its kind in Ireland where Government agencies and private industry combined their expertise to help identify the building blocks for a cleaner transport strategy.
Data collected during the pilot established Local link Donegal could reduce its fleet Co2 emissions by 31t per annum by switching from diesel vehicles to hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as significantly reducing nitrous oxide emissions.
To make the programme as realistic as possible, the vehicles were tested in some of the country’s most challenging conditions.
A Local Link area serving Letterkenny University Hospital was chosen, which covers north-west Donegal, Sligo, Cavan and Monaghan – one of the largest routes in the country. Drivers on this route take over 1.2 million kilometers in journeys every year.
During the test period, the vehicles completed a combined distance in excess of 50,000km in varying driving conditions – including ice, snow, rain and extreme cold. They travelled both long and short journeys on all road types, from national motorways to mountainous country lanes and everything in between.
Toyota Ireland’s chief executive, Steve Tormey, said: “Toyota Ireland is delighted to be working with Local Link Donegal on this very important pilot programme.
"We have long believed in the ability of hybrid technology with regard to reducing emissions and these findings now confirm that hybrid electric cars are truly a better way, that hybrid is suitable for urban and rural conditions and that there is a real environmental benefit available to us in Ireland right now."
Fiona O’Shea from Local Link Donegal said that the partnership was established as part of its plan to reduce Local Link Donegal’s overall transport service emissions.
“The use of hybrid electric cars is integral to this. The positive findings of the pilot will inform a clear road map for cleaner transport alternatives in all our Local Link regions over the coming years,” she said.