Ditch the Diesel! GENEO converts to Electric Vehicles
GENEO directors, Mark Radley, Tim King and Bob Newton were keen to ditch their diesel cars, having accrued a lot of miles since GENEO began in 2008. Particularly over the past 3 years, we have all become very aware of the harmful effects of diesel emissions on air quality, respiratory illnesses and lung disease. Research also suggests a link between the emissions from combustion engines with several other health conditions. In addition to their contribution to global climate change, emissions from diesel engines can also contribute to local ground-level ozone, which is damaging to trees and crops. With this grim research before us, we made the decision to ditch the diesel and lease electric vehicles, while taking the train wherever possible. Of course, electric vehicles are no solution to road congestion, while issues surrounding batteries remain (although research and development looks promising in this regard!). However, converting to electric vehicles has drastically reduced our CO2 and particulate matter emissions, particularly as the three directors have renewable energy at home to charge their cars. This represents a positive contribution to our GENEO Zero initiative and supports 'Clean Air for Leamington', which is working to reduce air pollution in Leamington Spa, where air quality regularly exceeds the safe limits recommended by the World Health Organisation. We will be encouraging more employees to switch to electric cars in future.
Range Anxiety is Real! The Tribulations of Electric Vehicles on Long Journeys
When Mark got his first electric vehicle in 2019, he was very naïve about the whole process. During a marathon 13-hour drive to Edinburgh, he painfully discovered that the advertised range of 220 miles translated to less than 140 miles if travelling at 70 mph with the heating on during November. The infrastructure was even more rudimentary at that time and, arriving at one faulty EV charger after another on the M6, he experienced his first taste of range anxiety. Could he make it to the next services? What if that one was out of order too? Would he ever make it to Edinburgh? Breaking down into hysterical laughter as he mentally urged the car to make the last 1,000 metres to the charge point with one mile left was enough to convince him that we needed a different car!
We have all learned to love our electric vehicles!
Three years on, and with a better understanding of the charging network, how to maximise our range: blankets NOT heating, and a very modest speed, we have all learned to love our electric vehicles and, despite the odd inconvenience, we definitely feel that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
The Camaraderie of Electric Vehicle Drivers
There is, I notice, a lot of camaraderie between drivers of electric vehicles. It feels a bit like comparing notes on a new baby, or favourite football team. While the Tesla drivers often remain in their cars, content in the knowledge that there are always loads of functioning chargers, non-Tesla EV drivers are out of their cars exchanging hints, tips and occasional frustrations. I would say it is normally men doing this, but perhaps this is because the majority of EV drivers are still men. As a driver of an all electric Renault Zoe, I can understand the reluctance of many women to embrace EVs if they drive long distances. Charge points are often unreliable and it can feel a bit intimidating fumbling around trying to make them work in the middle of the night, sometimes in poorly lit locations. Wouldn't it be great to set up 24-hour cafe shacks next to the chargers, where barristas are also trained to deal with EV charger issues?
Not 'smug'! Just trying to do the best we can
In the media, and directly to my face, I have encountered hostility for driving an electric car. One journalist described how he hates the 'smugocracy' of EV drivers and claimed that electric cars cause as much pollution as combustion engines via power stations. Others point out the as yet unresolved battery issues and ask what the point is. My response to this is that we are just trying to do the best we can: to help reduce local air pollution and its harmful effects on people's health and the environment. CO2 emissions from electric vehicles is still a fraction of that from engines using fossil fuels, even when charged using the standard electricity grid. Many of us already use renewable energy and, as we increase renewables further, even those emissions will be reduced. Are electric vehicles the perfect solution to our transport and pollution problems? No, but, right now, for those of us whose work takes them away from home, we feel that ditching diesel for electric cars is one of the best things we are able to do to reduce air pollution until a better solution arrives.