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‘I’ve never been a car person ‒ but EVs have changed my view’

What’s it really like driving an electric car? We quiz real London drivers on what they love (and don’t love) about their EVs

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ABOUT THIS PROJECTPlug It In is a new initiative by the Evening Standard to jump-start the electric vehicle conversation among Londoners and help shape a greener global future. Plug It In is supported by commercial partners, which share the project's aims, but our journalism remains editorially independent.
ABOUT THIS PROJECTPlug It In is a new initiative by the Evening Standard to jump-start the electric vehicle conversation among Londoners and help shape a greener global future. Plug It In is supported by commercial partners, which share the project's aims, but our journalism remains editorially independent.

Riddell with his Jaguar iPace, which he drove from John O’Groats to Land’s End as part of the Great British EV rally

/ Niall Riddell
14 September 2022

Niall Riddell, 42, runs an e-mobility start-up. He gets his EVs through a subscription service ‒ and is currently loving his Jaguar iPace

What was your main motivation for getting an electric car?

Three things motivated me to get an electric car: cleaner air, superior performance and ‒ as I work in the electric vehicle industry ‒ the experiences of driving an EV first-hand.

What car do you own?

Actually I don’t own ‒ I rent! I’ve been a subscriber to an Elmo car for the past three years, and had three very different cars. My first was a second-hand, first-generation Nissan Leaf, which had a 30kWh battery and a range of just 90 miles. I had to turn the heating off in winter to complete my Teddington to Reading commute!

After lockdown, I upgraded to a Renault Zoe, which has all the modern tech, a 52kWh battery and a range of nearly 200 miles, and we recently upgraded for the summer to a Jaguar iPace. Now we have an 85kWh battery and an effective range (with sensible driving) of 235miles.

My dream EV is the original Tesla Roadster: an icon of its time.

How have you found your current car?

I’ve never been a car person ‒ it was always just a device to get from A to B ‒ but electric cars have changed my view. A number of colleagues commented on the superior handling performance of the iPace and I have been blown away by the driving experience. Certainly not the most efficient car and a little bit big for tootling around in south-west London but a great performer on country roads and the highway.

How is the cost-of-living crisis affecting the costs?

Charging a car remains cheaper than fueling an ICE vehicle, particularly when you take control of your charging with a smart charger and choose to charge overnight. But given tightening budgets across many families, I anticipate that we will see a natural slow-down in the purchase of new cars. The second-hand electric car market is starting to warm up now, so I expect to see a lot of interest in second-hand electric cars in the coming month.

How does it compare to driving an ICE car?

The best thing is easily the superior driving experience. It is so much more stress-free and relaxed. What makes it tough are the complexities of charging an electric vehicle. If we are not careful we will end up with a two-speed society where those with driveways can get EV’s and those without really struggle to adopt electric. We need the ability to travel across multiple different networks with peace of mind that you can have a common experience at all of them (and most importantly “get a charge”).

Any perks we should know about?

One of the best perks that all employees of companies should consider is a scheme called salary sacrifice, where you get a tax break on the leasing of a car. Your business needs to set it up and there are criteria to be met but the benefits can be significant. With emerging companies such as “The Electric Car Scheme”, it’s possible for even the smallest of businesses to set such a scheme up.

Why drive an EV in London?

London is a big city with excellent public transport. On many occasions you do not need a car. But if you do need to drive then an electric car ensures that others who live here benefit from the reduced environmental impact and the cleaner air that electric cars contribute to. London has taken a very forward-thinking stance on EV and the lessons being learnt in the capital can also be deployed across the country ‒ central to these is the shift in knowledge and mindset as drivers become more experienced with EV.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about getting an EV but wasn’t sure?

Try a subscription. Companies such as Elmo and Voltric help drivers get into their first EV. Run an EV for a month to see how it fits into your lifestyle. Make sure to go out and public charge when you don’t have to ‒ this way you can have a stress-free experience and understand the nuances of public charging. Then if you don’t like it, you can hand it back after a month. But I’m pretty certain you’ll come back to electric for the better driving experience.

Niall Riddell is CEO of Paua, the EV fuel card that helps users and businesses find, charge, and pay with ease.

For more on the Evening Standard’s campaign for electric cars, see standard.co.uk/plugitin