Lookers Electric Journey with Amanda Stretton

Following on from our blog earlier this month which saw racing legend, broadcaster and journalist Amanda Stretton lead the Lookers charge to COP26, helping to raise awareness of the importance of electric driving.

Watch our short video of Amanda’s 800-mile journey in 16 of the latest all-electric vehicles.

Documenting the journey and the monumental task in her latest blog, Amanda said:

Last week, with many thanks to Lookers, I was fortunate enough to undertake an 800-mile Electric Vehicle journey from London to Glasgow, and have an exclusive look behind the scenes at some of the UK's leading clean energy plants - Shotwick Solar, Ely biomass and Whitelee wind farm.

But what also made this journey REALLY special was that I was privileged enough to drive, back-to-back, 16 of the latest EVs on the market in the space of five days.

Because of the super-tight filming schedule we were on, all the cars were supposed to be handed over to me fully charged but it goes without saying that obviously, they were not.

One was even handed over in Sport Mode with its heated seats on with about 50 miles range while in the middle of the Yorkshire dales, so I even had the real-life experience of trying to find a charge point in the middle of nowhere, late at night and in the pouring rain. (The enthusiastic driver did tell me that when he had picked it up, it did have 100%.)

Additionally, I only had about 5 minutes to acquaint myself with each car before we were back on the open road and off to the next location. There was a pretty eclectic mix too, from city car to family SUV to full-on luxury.

I got to drive the:

I think you would agree, a good representation of what is currently on the market. (I know, I know, there were some notable absences, so if Porsche, Hyundai or Tesla or anyone else would like me to drive their cars, please do drop me a message.)

To warn you now, I am not going to write a review of each car and that is mostly because they were all good. Some of them were REALLY good, and some just do exactly what you’d expect them to. There were one or two that were just ‘OK’, but maybe that is my high expectations and some may say exacting standards. I shall not dwell on this.

I will also put my hands up now and confess that I honestly didn’t know there was so much more for me to learn about actually using EVs, but it seems where was! And there were two major take outs from this whole exercise, and let me reassure you that neither were range anxiety and/or lack of charging.

Firstly I learnt that range is totally academic. When we talk about switching to an EV, this is often one of the first things people talk about. But what we should really be focusing on is how fast they can charge.

At the moment the more expensive the EV, the faster the charge it can take. You cannot take your Honda e and plug it into a 350kW charger. (It can only accept 50kW). So, if you are a driver who anticipates regularly doing longer journeys, a car with a range of ‘only’ 250 miles is actually perfectly adequate so long as it can also accept fast or super-fast DC charging. To put this in context, by the time I had gone to the loo, bought some lunch and eaten it, my car was at least 80% charged and I was ready to set off again. (A side benefit is that you also have a much tidier car at the end of your journey with fewer crumbs, general rubbish and spills to mop up. Did I mention exacting standards?)

The second thing was the importance of the user interface. An EV is less of a car, in the traditional meaning, and is now a piece of mobility software. We all know running an EV is much cheaper than an internal combustion engine, with fewer moving parts etc. But this is also precisely why the user interface is so important to get right. In some of the cars I drove, this was intuitive - they were so easy to use and navigate, it was like I had been driving them for months.

Others were not. Having to toggle between pages to move between my sat-nav (that to my mind really ought to show where all the chargers are on your plotted route regardless of whether my range is adequate to get me to my destination) and the radio and worse still to have to try and find the page to add my state of charge and my available range should really not be that complicated.

Of course, all of the cars had this information available, but the point is it was somewhere, deep amongst loads of pages and options. To my mind, this really whole thing should be much easier to use. How else can ease people out of their beloved old ICE and into an EV when using the latter is still in some cases so complicated? 

You can find out more information about my journey here, and a film will be coming out soon. Stay tuned! Thanks for reading.

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