Have you ever had the thought: “That will never happen to me?” Usually, it’s associated with safety or security risks. But I remember having the same kind of feeling about becoming an EV driver – it would never happen to me. Now I’m a convert. What happened in between?
This is Week 8 of our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps. We will have a guest blog each week until November’s UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps.
This week’s blog, on the step ‘Drive electric’, is from proud EV driver Shaun Williams, Sales & Marketing Director of St Albans-based EB Charging. EB Charging offers EV charging solutions, such as the new charging posts at Westminster Lodge.
“I’m a car person, I love driving!”
A few years ago – before I joined EB Charging – I worked with our Marketing Director, Dave, at a previous job. We were chatting about the fact I wanted to buy a new car. Dave had already pledged to stop flying in his commitment to doing his bit for the environment and had just returned from a trip to Spain, where he’d taken the train.
When I told Dave I was considering a big, fast German GT model, his response was exactly what I expected. He told me to buy an EV: “and not one of those hybrids. You want to get a full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).” In the same conversation, he also predicted that the date the UK would stop selling new petrol and diesel cars would be brought forward, which it has.
I gave the standard ‘petrol head’ response: “No way! I’m a car person, and I love driving.” I reminded him of his own car ownership history, which included some very fast cars with big engines. He said: “Well, nobody was aware of the environmental issues when I was driving those things.” He reminded me that now we know better, we have an obligation to do better. And in hindsight, my response was more than a bit hypocritical for someone working in the green energy supply and efficiency space.
Besides, I’d already had some previous EV experience which I had mixed feelings about. In my previous role, I’d driven a Mercedes plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) which had a large petrol engine and a small battery capable of around 16 miles on a full charge. The car itself was nice, but I remember thinking: “What’s the point of this? You can’t go anywhere using the battery, it just flicks over to the petrol engine when the journey has barely started.”
The personal benefits of that hybrid as a company car were fantastic: reduced benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax, reduced road tax, an initial purchase incentive and no congestion charge. But how could all that be justified for a car that did 16 miles using its battery and then swapped to a high-polluting petrol engine? To me, it felt like nothing more than a token gesture.
“You’ll have to get an EV now…”
Fast forward a few years, and a few more gas-guzzling cars later, and I accepted a new role with EB Charging. I knew that as soon as I saw Dave he was going to tell me, again, that I needed to buy a BEV.
After a meeting with the CEO in which he outlined our vision, values and strategy, we went outside to look at the EV charging system in the car park. Immediately, he pointed at my German oil burner and said: “You can’t drive that anymore.” As if on cue, Dave came out of the office and said: “You’ll have to get an EV now.”
And suddenly, my EV ownership was a case of when and not if. That night I remember sitting at home, thinking about all the reasons not to go electric:
- “I can’t switch to an EV, I drive too many miles.”
- “The range of the battery is too short for me to get anywhere.”
- “There aren’t enough chargers in the UK yet.”
- “EVs are too expensive.”
- “There is not enough choice in the EV market.”
- “They aren’t really that environmentally-friendly…”
I was getting range anxiety before I’d even bought the car! Now, I know that none of these things are true. They’re simply myths that need to be busted.
So, the next day, I started the process of finding myself an EV. It took a little research and a few phone calls, but I’m now the proud owner of a used Tesla Model S, and I love driving it as much as I loved driving my petrol cars.
Inevitably, the first person I saw when I got to the office with my new car was Dave. “Well done,” he said, “Now you just have to stop flying!”
There was only one response: “That will never happen to me.”
Where to start: find all the information you need
Interested in hearing more about Shaun’s journey to EV ownership? Check out this Radio Verulam interview [link to follow after broadcast], where he talks in more detail about buying, charging, and driving his electric car and becoming part of the EV community.
Go to the new resources page on the Sustainable St Albans website, to find video guides, local dealerships, a searchable database of EVs, and more.
Join in with #CountdownToCOP today
It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.
Join in today and use Shaun’s inspiring advice to choose the “Drive Electric” Step as your pledge.
You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages.
We will have a blog every Sunday until the international climate talks in November, COP26. Each blog will focus on one of the 16 steps. Look out for next week’s blog on Repair and Reuse by Philip le Riche.