It has been roughly 30 years since the end of the Delorean production line in Northern Ireland and since then there has been no car production company based in Ireland. However, in Derrynargon, near Keadue, one man is on the verge of ending that wait.
Tom Finnegan has had an interest in cars for some time and what was once a keen interest is on the verge of producing a car that could revolutionise the way we view electric cars.
A car enthusiast, Tom previously owned a rallying school in Co Waterford and as he also has a science background he has combined two of his great interests to develop what could dramatically change the way we drive.
The dream of building an electric car is something that Tom acknowledged he has been thinking about for some time. In fact he has already successfully built an electric car which is loosely based on the Lotus 7.
Standing over his head-turning, yellow, electronic sports car, Tom said, “This car was handmade with ordinary tools. I have been thinking about the project for about 20 years and it has taken about four or five years to get to this stage. This particular car was built to get noticed,” he declared and there is no doubting it does just that.
A key to Tom’s production will be the materials used. Pointing to the chassis on his yellow electric sports car, Tom noted, “The material in the chassis is aluminium honeycomb composite. It is very light and will be used for the frame.”
Outlining the benefits of this material Tom stated, “It saves a lot in terms of weight which is important for electric cars.”
In recent years electric cars have become more commonplace but concerns about the strength of the batteries have meant the cars currently on the market aren’t always practical for long journeys.
However, Tom is now in the final stages of designing an electric car, named the ALEX eroadster (inset belowand right), that he proudly claims will travel for up to 300 kilometres without needing to be charged. To give an example of how this new car offers a significant improvement on what is currently available Tom pointed to the fact that the battery in the Nissan Leaf will travel for roughly 100 kilometres.
Tom’s view of electric cars is that this is something that is not a gimmick but rather the future of motoring without the reliance on petrol and diesel.
“It is the future,” he stressed. “It is so much more efficient and just as strong. It is an emerging technology, it is developing so fast, so many millions are being put into new electronic technology.”
Having designed the battery and motor for the new car, Tom joined forces with an EU programme entitled VITAL and from there he has been collaborating with DCU INVENT centre, Queens University and Dundalk IT.
Collaborators in Denmark have designed a lightweight chassis, which has performed very well in crash test by Euro NCAP.
As the inventor of the project, Tom then needed to join forces with a company who would be able to make his vision a reality and he believes he has found such a company in Swift Prototypes Ltd, run by the Matthews family in Dunleer, Co Meath.
It is in Dunleer that the various components will come together and Tom’s dream will become a reality.
As project manager Tom is eagerly looking forward to the next step that will see a prototype of the car completed by next May and he is confident his car will be on sale by the end of 2016 although the initial release may see the car priced above the cost of a typical family car.
While the switch of focus towards electric technology has yet to fully happen on a mainstream scale, Tom believes it will inevitably happen and is confident his car will be on sale as the wider public realise the potential an electric car offers.
“We are hoping to be in at the beginning of the rush and we think we have the timing right. When it is ready we will be beating everybody in terms of range and it will have great acceleration.
“There will be two electric motors powering the rear wheels and the batteries will be the latest up to date lithium ion batteries.”
To keep up to date with the progress of this development visit www.eroadster.com