Making the switch: NHS worker test drives an EV

Scope 3 commuting emissions are a serious issue for employers across the UK – particularly those whose employees don’t have the luxury of working from home.

The NHS’ ‘Delivering Net Zero’ document cites 4% of the NHS’ total emissions are generated by the commute. These regular journeys, although critical to ensuring the UK’s patients get the care they need, are exacerbating the effects of climate change.
Deputy Ward Manager, Ally Williams, works at the Ida Darwin Hospital in Cambridge, which is part of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Trust. She lives 6 miles away from the hospital, working a variety of shift patterns. She decided to take the all-electric Fiat 500e for an extended test drive courtesy of Motorvogue.

Why did you decide to test drive an all-electric vehicle?

For the most part, I try to cycle to work but changing shift patterns mean it’s sometimes safer and more convenient to drive, particularly when I’m working night shifts.
I do consider myself an environmentally conscious person and I’m concerned about the impact my journeys have in terms of emissions. I’ve never driven an electric car before but I’m open to the idea, particularly as they become more affordable.

What were your first impressions of the car?

Initially, it was a bit of a culture shock – I drive a manual diesel car so moving to an all-electric automatic took a few miles to get used to. The fact it was so much quieter felt very alien at first but the car itself was pretty standard and what you would expect from a traditional Fiat 500 – apart from the charging cables and connections in the boot.

The driving experience was really good. I’m not sure what I expected but it was actually pretty nippy. It was fun to drive and I can imagine it would be a great city car.

How did you find the range and charging?

Admittedly running out of charge on the side of the road was one of my biggest concerns! We spent the day driving around the Norfolk countryside and being that it was fairly rural, I was worried if we’d find a charging point when we needed one.
I’d told one of my colleagues I was test driving an EV and they recommended the PlugShare app. This allows you to search for charging stations compatible with your EV, see different station ratings and use the EV trip planner. It also details where you can charge for free which is a pretty cool feature if you’re on a budget.

It turned out most of the larger supermarkets we passed had at least a couple of EV charging stations, all of which were available. The good thing about this car is it only needs five minutes of charging to achieve a range of up to 30 miles – essentially as long as it would take to put fuel in at a petrol station. That means if you were in a rush or were within 30 miles from home, you could quickly top it up and move on.
There were 3 different driving modes ‘Normal’, ‘Range’ and ‘Sherpa’, all of which do different things to recharge the batteries or conserve power. I tried all the modes out of curiosity but spent the majority of the time driving in normal mode. The only time I noticed a dramatic reduction in charge was when I really had my foot down on the dual carriageway.

Despite coming prepared I needn’t have worried. The car had a 199-mile range and I’d picked it up on 80%. This was plenty for the journey and one charge would probably last me well over a week driving to and from work.

Would you consider buying an all-electric vehicle?

Yes, I would. It certainly feels like EVs are becoming increasingly more affordable with a wide variety of models and finance packages available. It’s not like you have to drop £80k on a Tesla anymore to make the switch to electric.
The struggle for me would be charging the vehicle at home. I live in a middle terrace with no dedicated parking. The front faces a busy main road with parking on a private road behind the back. My garden is fairly long which would make charging awkward – and even then, there’s no guarantee I could park near my house.

However, there are a number of EV charging points within 5 minutes of work and the surrounding hospitals that would be practical whilst on shift. I also live next to a major supermarket so this is something I’d have to make use of if I was at home.
I know EV charging points now come as standard for new builds and there are other provisions for street charging. It makes sense that these are going to become increasingly commonplace as more people switch to electric – and with the ban on petrol and diesel cars in the not-too-distant future, I guess they’ll have to!

All in all, there is a lot to consider but for the types of journeys I make, an EV like this one would be a practical and environmental solution.

 

Are you ready to make the switch? Take an extended test drive of an EV to get a feel for the financial and environmental savings you could make when you do. Motorvogue has an extensive range of electric models to fit your lifestyle. Reach out to Chris Mayes for more details.

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Author Erin Heenan

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