How deep is your love for EVs..?

By Ian Featherstone

Reading Gary’s earlier blog about converting old bangers into modern clean battery machines reminded me I had promised a few words on last week’s Ecovelocity show – me having a particular interest in proceedings as my job entails helping businesses reduce the environmental impact of their cars and vans and save cash on fuel and tax in the process.

There’s been lots of comment, quite a bit of it ill-informed, about the latest crop of electric cars so I popped along for a couple of hours to get a feel for the public mood. There’s lots of lively debate in the fleet business, and modest numbers of cars are appearing in fleets, often used as pool cars, exposing more drivers to the EV experience than many may imagine.

A positive impression started to form even before I arrived. I had to take a lengthy detour en- route due to the closure of Vauxhall bridge and while navigating round the back of the Battersea site I came across another partially lost visitor. It turned out he was visiting the show because his family were looking for a small electric family car to run themselves and the kids round in – blimey, a punter!

I wasn’t really sure what to expect but a quick tour of the show revealed an eclectic mix of all things battery powered from Segway to Ampera with all sorts of stuff in-between.  Sadly the Segway queue was long and I had arrived only a couple of hours before the show closed. Watching the novice riders provided a few minutes entertainment though, as they set off swinging like metronomes before relaxing just leaning forward!

I did manage a drive in an Ampera, however. It was not my first try, but last time the engine stubbornly refused to start despite being down to only a couple of miles range on the battery range indicator (why are they called wattometers?) and I really wanted to experience the noise level and quality in petrol driven mode.  Good news! The battery was at its minimum level so the engine would be firing up the the generator to drive the electric drive motor.

Setting off, the silence was deafening – it really wasn’t possible to feel or hear the engine running at all. Around the Battersea track the engine is running at its lowest set speed (the chap in the car told me there are three engine speeds (revs) depending on demand for power – speed, hill, acceleration etc). Interestingly, even round the slow flat Battersea circuit, slowing down using the re-generative braking allowed a surprising distance to be driven on the energy captured, so full time drivers will have endless fun seeing how far they can drive on electricity following a long hill descent!

Riding an electric mountain bike was a new experience – a cheaper way to get powered by electricity and more integrated than expected. I’ve been boring whoever has been polite (unfortunate) enough to listen ever since; the potential to get unfit people on two wheels and fitter ones riding further is surely immense.

All of which makes me wonder just how many of those who have been so negative about electric motoring have tried it? So open your mind, seek out an opportunity and give it a go. It will be a pleasant surprise at worst, and at best, if an EV fits into your lifestyle (and they’re certainly not for all) you will be hooked!

And the feedback from the exhibitors? Lots and lots of interested visitors of all ages wanting to learn more – job done I think.