If I can turn electric, so can you!

Gary Howard

I am a man of a certain age and have, throughout my professional career, driven between 20,000 to 30,000 miles per year. That career has, so far, lasted 40 years and to my shame, I like many others, have not thought about the damage I was doing to the planet or for that matter the people breathing in my toxic fumes. I thought of my car as a tool of the trade and essential to me doing my job, how can I possibly change to electric?

by Gary howard

The enforced lockdowns of the pandemic changed our approach to work and life, suddenly we are faced with the prospect of going nowhere, not even into the office let alone an hour-long meeting at the other end of the country. We had to adapt to the change and find new ways of doing what was previously taken for granted. Don’t get me wrong, I still much prefer a face-to-face chat over a call on Teams, life would become dull if I didn’t have the
constant creative input of my colleagues and friends, but we now work smarter, combining virtual meetings with in-person.

But I still drive a lot and now the car is fully electric having switched from a two-litre petrol hybrid in March 2022, to be honest with you I wasn’t sure that in doing so, I had made a terrible mistake.

I am a die-hard company car driver, who for 40 years has lived with the convenience of knowing that a petrol station is just around the corner. I can hop in the car with hardly any petrol in it, safe in the knowledge that I can fill up soon, with no need to plan my journey, change my driving style or extend my journey time to include charging time.

I am too old and too long in the tooth to change my ways. I am a company car driver through and through, I eat my sandwich along the way, I am on first-name terms with Radio 5 presenters and can hold my own during the music quiz, I am even called Gary for goodness’ sake! So why would I put myself through the trauma of switching to electric?


My first 30 days!

I chose my partner well; I had been with Octopus Energy for some time and loved the experience. Much of my education on the best ways to save our ailing planet came from them with a good deal of David Attenborough thrown in. I enjoyed the customer service experience, the ease of managing my bills and the genuine belief that they put their customers and the planet before profit.

I already had an at-home charging point (supplied by Octopus) for my Hybrid, and I loved the fact that I could delay charging during the quiet (less expensive) period during the night.

They guided me through the process from start to finish. I opted for the Tesla 3 Long Range, as you will have gathered, range anxiety was my greatest fear, a fear that soon disappeared.

Before the car arrived, my usual trip to the dealership was replaced by several easy-to-view, easy-to-understand video tutorials. All of this built the excitement and reminded me of the experience of ordering anything from Apple, the brand experience was exceptional.

My new “spaceship” arrived at the beginning of March 2022 and as I sat in the somewhat alien driver’s position of this highly technical but equally simplistic non-motor car.


My non-motor car experience.

The next morning, I sat staring at a steering wheel and an iPad (I know that it’s not an iPad and simply a digital tablet, but I still call a vacuum cleaner a Hoover). Although I had diligently watched the videos, I still longed for someone to tell me what to do, especially as the normal array of buttons had been replaced by various “apps” on a screen and as voice recognition software, I could simply talk to the thing!

It all became second nature very soon after delivery, instead of pressing buttons much of my time was talking to my new toy much like Kit in Nightrider! (Definitely aged me with that reference) and I have never had a car that was so easy to drive.


My first trip

Bury St Edmunds to York (370-mile round trip)

The first big test! I had a car full of passengers as it was my daughter’s graduation. This was the acid test, not of the capability of the car necessarily but my range anxiety! How much will the heavier payload (an odd way to describe me, my wife and our two children) affect the millage or for that matter the Air Con and other drains on my precious battery?

I charged overnight, Intelligent Octopus gives me six hours of smart charging every night at a super low rate! I didn’t have too much time to spare on the journey up so would have to keep my booster charge for the journey home. I was amazed, the cynic in me expected my millage percentage to drop faster than the miles covered but if I kept my foot off the accelerator, the charge matched the expectations of the journey planner on the Sat nav! By the time I had arrived, I had 140 miles left on the clock.


My first experience of charging!

Ok, the experience of Tesla supercharging may be a little different than other brands but many others provide a similar experience. My car is registered through my Tesla app and therefore I simply had to drive up the services at Ferrybridge, plug in and wait. 20 minutes later, £18.45, 41 kwh = 150 extra miles and I was on my way!

Ok, my trip to York was predominately motorway as was my subsequent trip to Barnsley. We stayed at the Tankersley Manor Hotel on the outskirts of Barnsley ahead of a family celebration. Now Barnsley is a 326-mile round trip and even with my newfound confidence, I would need to charge on the way home but no. At this lovely, quaint and old hotel on the almost rural edges of Barnsley, two Tesla supercharges were awaiting me!


The moral of this story!

Even if you are a long in the tooth, stuck in your ways petrol head that believes that the charging infrastructure in the UK is not widespread enough to cope with long distance motoring, think again. It is not the nightmare you may think, or for that matter, been told. If I can do it, so can you!

The harsh truth, the immediate imperative is that we must act now. My company Precision has switched all their fleet traffic to Electric vehicles and signed up for the salary sacrifice scheme being operated by Octopus EV. Our business gained carbon neutral status in 2021 and this year won the accolade of being the greenest business in Suffolk. None of which has impacted our profitability, in fact, quite the opposite.

The facts are:

  • A new battery-electric car has just a third of the lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of an equivalent new petrol car, even when considering battery production and disposal.
  • 99% of car journeys in England are under 100 miles. This means most drivers’ needs are easily met by an EV. For those travelling further, there are over 20 models available with a quoted 200- plus mile range. There are also some new electric cars coming soon with a range of over 300 miles.
  • Research has found that the UK has one of the most extensive rapid charging networks in Europe. Industry statistics show that there are over 31,000 public charge points available across the UK, a significant increase from 7,211 in 2017. There are also more than 5,800 rapid chargers.

So, want to join me feeling smug as we speed past petrol station after petrol station, safe in the knowledge that I have taken small personal steps to extend the lifetime of our planet and not kicked the can down the road for my children and grandchildren to pick up!