Thame resident Laurence Archer was the lucky winner of Thame Green Living’s recent prize draw after completing the online survey to gauge local interest in an EV Hire Club. Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey – the extremely valuable results are being used to help determine the best model for a hire club for Thame and Haddenham.
Ross Batting from local hire company 3B Hire handed over the new VW Golf ID3 for Laurence to use over the early May Bank Holiday weekend and Laurence kindly told us all about the experience:
Was this your first experience driving an EV?
Laurence Archer (LA): I have been interested in electric cars for a couple of years so I was delighted to win the competition and get a chance to drive an EV for a weekend – thanks to 3B Hire for the loan of the VW ID3. I had been a passenger in an EV car before but never a driver. I found the car to be extremely intuitive to drive and I particularly liked the high seating position in the car as well as the low engine noise – which was almost non existent. The drive was smooth and the car was very light to handle even though the battery weight on the base of the car could be felt. The on-board computer gave all the right information including range and – as you would expect – connecting phones for calling and music was simple thanks to the Apple Play functionality.
How was your briefing from 3B Hire at drop off, and how satisfied were you with drop off and collection arrangements?
LA: On handover the instructions were clear and thorough, and having driven an automatic car for the last couple of years I found the controls easy to manage. Ross from 3B Hire explained things carefully including recharging the battery which was the most important part of the briefing. As per a normal rental car the formalities of checking the condition of the car was conducted quickly and efficiently. The car was immaculate and fully charged on delivery – and it was collected at the agreed time.
How easy was it to get used to all the controls?
LA: The controls were very simple and even easier than driving a normal automatic car. Just Drive or Reverse – very easy to put the car into gear and also no need to turn a key or press a button to get the car moving. The Drive function also had regenerative braking which meant energy through braking automatically returned to the battery and also will reduce impact on brake discs etc over the life of the car.
Did you make long journeys with the car or stay local?
LA: I used the bank holiday weekend to do a variety of journeys – we stayed local the first night before venturing to Bicester Village the following day. There are free charging points for EVs there so we went for some evening shopping and charged the car at the same time. The next days we were more adventurous and went to Birmingham one one day before going to north Essex the following day. The range on the car allowed a good distance to be travelled but you have to be organised to locate charge points.
What was your experience with any charging and tariffs?
LA: The first couple of days were brilliant as we benefited from free charging at Bicester Village and on our trip to Birmingham we found a pay-as-you-go charge point which was easy to plug in and pay using contact-less technology. We paid under £6 for the charge and that was enough for a return journey with plenty of charge remaining – very cost efficient. However this early success perhaps slanted our initial view of recharging as on our return we found the points around Thame (at the local hotels) difficult to operate and involved lots of different apps. In the end a stop at Tesco in Aylesbury before departure to Essex gave enough charge to make the journey. In Essex we charged at an Asda point and at a local hotel that had a quicker charger – it was fiddly to keep moving the car but it needed a large charge to enable the trip back to Thame. I’m sure this would get easier over time, as you get used to it. The costs of charging were much better value than fossil fuels but it took a few days for costs to come through on my bank statement.
Did you feel any ‘range anxiety’?
LA: On the trip back and forth to Essex I felt range anxiety as the journey was 105 miles each way and the charge seemed to decrease quite quickly – especially on the return journey – probably due to weather conditions. It was interesting to keep an eye out at service stations for EV charge points and for a non-Tesla car they seem to be quite few. I didn’t need to stop but if I did this could have significantly increased overall joinery time. The battery monitoring was accurate though an I made the journey with enough to spare – knowing the car I would be more comfortable driving the same distance again.
Would you consider renting or owning an EV as a result of your experience?
LA: I am definitely thinking of an EV car in the future – with the comfort of your own charge point I think range anxiety would decrease as would the complications for charging one locally. Not only is an EV a more environmentally friendly vehicle but the charge costs are significantly cheaper than fossil fuels. For longer journeys careful planning needs to be undertaken but for local trips an EV would be an excellent choice. The range on the VW ID3 was excellent and I would recommend anyone hires it to get a feel for how an EV could transform their life.
Would you recommend 3B Hire and/or the EV Hire Club (once established) to friends and family?
LA: I was very impressed with 3B Hire and would recommend them to everyone looking to hire an EV or other vehicle. The service was exemplary, communication precise and the vehicle was clean and very well maintained. I would also be very interested in the EV Hire Club – I think this is a brilliant initiative. I lived in Switzerland and was part of a car sharing club there and you were able to rent a range of cars for a few hours to a few weeks, it was a great cost effective way of having access to a vehicle.
Thank you Laurence for that very comprehensive review!
Thame Green Living are working with Zero Carbon Haddenham and 3B Hire to establish the right kind of club for local residents, with the goal to raise the profile of renting EVs as an alternative to owning petrol/diesel vehicles. By doing this, not only will it help improve local air quality and reduce carbon emissions, people will save money too. Keep posted for more news to follow in the coming weeks.