Is an electric car practical for everyday life? The view from TV presenter Paul Ross
TV and radio presenter Paul Ross has become one of the latest people to drive an all-electric Nissan LEAF as part of the pioneering My Electric Avenue project, and he has shared his views with us about whether an electric car is a practical proposition for his life.
Paul is no stranger to the LEAF, having previously driven one provided by Fleetdrive Electric, a partner in My Electric Avenue, for a short period last year. However after just a few weeks with the new Nissan LEAF, driving it around 80 miles each day, he is amazed at how much money he is saving by running the car.
“I used to spend around £120 each week on petrol driving into London and back every day, plus the cost of the London Congestion Charge. I’ve worked out that it now costs around £7.50 per week to recharge the LEAF. It’s exempt from the Congestion Charge and of course there’s no road tax to pay. That means that I was spending around £7,500 per year on running costs for a petrol car, and I’m now spending no more than £500 on the LEAF – resulting in a saving of around £7,000 per year by driving an electric car. And it’s cheaper to service. It’s a no-brainer!”
Status symbol cars v electric cars – which wins?
Paul has also been studying the psychology surrounding cars. He comments: “Just a few years ago, the aspiration of many London drivers was to drive a fast, powerful car. Today people are more interested in my electric LEAF than the Bentley parked next to it. In fact I feel that my LEAF drives like a luxury car – but with an added ‘space age’ feel to it.”
Charging an electric car in half an hour
Paul recharges his LEAF at home and also at work. “There are charge points in the car park next to the BBC studios in London, as well as many on local streets. I’ve also tried the growing network of fast chargers that are being rolled out around the country – the ability to gain an 80% charge in just 30 minutes is amazing.”
Paul has never been a car fanatic, but he is now excited at the current growth in sales of electric cars. Based on his experiences and on the money he has saved, he can’t see why anyone who drives similar distances to himself, or people who primarily drive on the school run, wouldn’t consider an electric car.
Too good to be true
In summary, Paul says that running an electric car is “too good to be true”. With five seats and a large boot, it’s practical, and with pocketing thousands of pounds per year that would otherwise have been spent on petrol, he really can’t see any downsides. He also acknowledges that there are even more financial benefits for company car drivers.
Of course there is another reason why Paul is likely to approve of electric cars – drivers of EVs are likely to hear him on the radio more clearly in their virtually silent vehicles than people who have a noisy internal combustion engine under the bonnet…
My Electric Avenue is testing technology that helps to ensure that the lights won’t go out when electric cars become more commonplace on our streets. In some areas, the power required by charging a ‘cluster’ of electric cars at the same time may exceed that available from the local electricity network.
The Ofgem-funded £9m My Electric Avenue project, hosted by Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD), and led by EA Technology, is recruiting groups of neighbours in streets around the UK to drive a Nissan LEAF for 18 months to trial the new technology.
My Electric Avenue’s ‘technical’ trials are now fully subscribed, but to support their findings there are also ‘social’ trials, which involve participants such as Paul Ross driving a LEAF for 18 months, and you can still apply to take part in these trials; find out more at www.MyElectricAvenue.info
Paul Ross was interviewed by Paul Clarke, Editor of GreenCarGuide.co.uk