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Vince Rawle, Programme Director
I’ve always been a motoring enthusiast and over the years I’ve owned well over 30 cars and motorbikes. Having hung up the racing leathers a while ago in the interests of self-preservation and having given up sports cars in favour of massage seats and a cossetting ride that is better suited to my advancing years and rickety back, my motoring interest had started to wain and driving became more functional than enjoyable.
Since working with Smart DCC as a client, I have become increasingly aware of my impact on the environment and the need to for us all to change the way we do things, and with weekly trips up and down the country from my base in the Cotswolds to the new DCC Office in Manchester, it seemed like a good time to look at embracing electric vehicles. Slightly uncomfortable with being a (relatively) early adopter, I proceeded some trepidation, deciding to purchase an Electric Vehicle as a company car for work use, and maintaining a ‘normal’ combustion engine car for personal use due to the more unplanned nature of my social life and my scepticism of the infrastructure supporting electric vehicles in the UK.
The experiment has worked better than I could have expected. The car is magnificent in every way, and whilst it might not have the handling or top speed of a performance car, the instant and very rapid acceleration is intoxicating and makes driving incredibly simple. The whole driving experience is very different, with one-pedal driving being a particularly enjoyable perk once you’ve acclimatised. The charging experience has been very straight forward, with charging stations installed at the DCC office in Manchester and a charger installed at home in Gloucestershire, there has been very little need to test out the national charging infrastructure.
There is of course the significant financial benefits of owning an Electric Vehicle, but this is just one of the reasons I am now a total convert. The environmental considerations are the primary benefit and whilst I never thought I’d say this, I genuinely prefer the driving experience. So convinced am I by my six months of EV ownership, that my personal car is going up for sale and within the next couple of months I will be fully electrified!
I am expecting there to be some bumps in the road! Range anxiety is a real thing, and there will I’m sure be occasions when I need to plan ahead and adjust what I’m doing to accommodate an immature charging network and range-restricted batteries. But these occasions will be few and far between, and the benefits far outweigh this slight negative. When I first decided to purchase an electric vehicle, I set up a blog as I felt that others in a similar situation would benefit from reading about my experience and understanding some of the pitfalls. But here’s the thing…after some initial teething issues in the first couple of weeks (all my fault for not having understood some basics) I have had nothing to blog about – it’s just like owning any other car, just easier, cheaper, and better for the environment!
Ross Catley, Chief Technology Officer
For me, I bought a PHEV as a stepping stone before going fully electric to understand how charging works, and what electric driving is like. I’m hoping to go fully electric in the Autumn when I come to change the mini, but the things I love about it are:
Charging is pretty straightforward – although interoperability is desperately needed in the market. I currently have a card to allow me to use the Polar network, and I also have access to the Podpoint network, but haven’t currently setup on Ecotricity. The problem is, every network is independent and works differently. However, home charging is a breeze – I have a 7KW charger at home, and its routine now to park and plug in. The car is full in a couple of hours (a PHEV battery is much smaller – a full EV could take 10-15 hours from empty to fully charge at that rate).
There are a few downsides – the range in winter reduces. Although the stated mileage on battery is 20 miles (which is fine for our needs of school and shopping runs), it is actually 16-17 miles in summer and 11-12 miles in winter. Batteries store different amounts of energy according to the temperature. I haven’t yet used fast charging (PHEVs generally don’t support it as you can fall back to petrol when the battery runs out), but this gives you 80-100 miles in around 20 minutes. This is OK, but still slower than filling at a petrol station.