One small step – why I bought an electric car

Like most things in life, nothing’s as straightforward as it seems and buying my first electric vehicle (EV) proved to be a case in point.

The truth is I’d been wrestling for more than a year with the dilemma of “should I or shouldn’t I” until I could dither no longer.

Without doubt, the climate change crisis we’re all facing was an important consideration and I’ll come to that in a minute – but first I had to be realistic.

Could my lifestyle cope with the two big myths I’d read about surrounding owning an electric car: namely the ease of finding a rapid charging station and the attendant range anxiety. In short, just how practical would an EV be on a day to day basis?

Married with six grown-up children (four of my own and two stepsons) together with three grandchildren, I’m always ferrying someone – or something – about. Then there’s the golf clubs…so I had to have something that was spacious and user friendly.

My wife too had to embrace the whole thing. If she hated my new car then I was on the back foot from the start…and there’s plenty of anecdotes to suggest that women are much warier of EVs than men.

Finally, any car had to be compatible with my PR business. Increasingly, we have many clients who place sustainability at the top of their agenda so given I was in the market for a new car, buying a 5-litre gas guzzler wasn’t an option.

From afar I fell in love with the Jaguar I-PACE. I admit I was almost seduced by the lure of the Tesla brand but the car itself was just too techno and American for my taste. Similarly, the all-electric Audi and Polestar had their attractions, the KIA Niro too was a delight. But in truth, my mind was set on the Jag.

Another big consideration was I wanted to be sure that in the unlikely event of something going wrong with this perceived “new technology,” then I would be looked after. My first port of call for a test drive was Hendy in Christchurch. I’ve worked alongside the Hendy Group for more than 10 years and their integrity and customer service is second to none. In short, I can trust them and that gave me great comfort.

I had my first test drive with the I-PACE way back in March last year and I wasn’t disappointed. The demo (in black) looked wonderful, the drive was silky smooth, the performance was incredible and it was suitably spacious.  I was smitten.

Then, suddenly it was all change.

The first lockdown loomed and I was gripped by the numbness of uncertainty. I bottled it and put the order on ice.

Subconsciously though it appears my brain was in overdrive. In September we filmed a video for our client InstaVolt, the UK’s largest owner-operated EV rapid charge network.  We’ve been delivering the messaging for InstaVolt for four years so I personally know the issues surrounding the country’s EV charging infrastructure.  But filming for two days, and speaking to the owners of electric cars up and down the country, was a real seminal moment. To a man and woman they were all really positive about their EVs, chuffed to bits in fact. The twin demons of charging and range anxiety didn’t bother them at all.  So, being on the road filming the reality of living with an EV, demonstrated that with a little journey planning you were fine. My fears were allayed.

At this juncture, you will notice that I unashamedly promote InstaVolt in this blog. Sure they’re a client (and yes we deliver their PR!) but the simple truth is their chargers are accessible, reliable, rapid and so easy to use – contactless payment, tap and go. An EV driver’s dream. But don’t take my word for it: ZAP-MAP’s annual survey has just named InstaVolt as the UK’s favourite charging network for multiple brands for the third year running. Nice one.

Soon after filming, I watched David Attenborough: A life on our planet, on Netflix which brought into sharp focus the crisis facing our planet with carbon emissions playing a huge role in destroying our atmosphere and polluting the air we breathe. It was a revelation too to observe that due to the pandemic and less traffic on the road during the earlier lockdown our air was measurably cleaner. The link is inescapable. Then in November the UK Government announced the ban on the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

The overriding message I was receiving from every quarter was that we all had an individual responsibility to help make a change. So I decided to act. As someone famously once said :  “One small step…” and without an ounce of smugness that’s all I’m trying to do. Play my part.

I was emboldened by the fact that the incentives to buy an EV are compelling. There’s the tax breaks; the cost of charging an EV is so much cheaper than your regular car and Hendy offer their EV bundle which offers further costs savings.

More than that, I’m delighted to report that my enthusiasm for driving has been reignited. A wait of a couple of weeks ensured I got the spec I wanted – Firenze Red with black wheels – and I bought the car from Hendy online. Who’d have imagined that only a few years ago but it was simplicity itself.

I’m just over a month in and I’m having the time of my life. My home charger will soon be installed and that will ensure that my car will be fully charged overnight – just like my iPhone. My wife too loves the I-PACE and has found charging much less daunting than she imagined.

In closing, let me quote a well know motoring journalist – TV’s James May – and master of the understatement. He said: “Driving an EV is an almost magical experience.” I think he’s spot on.

Being in a moving car with no engine noise is a remarkable, almost spooky experience. I love it! When the time’s right for you to sit behind the wheel of your very own EV, I guarantee you will too.

 

Lee Peck

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