Five Key Takeaways from Fully Charged Live
So I spent the weekend at Fully Charged Live – and it’s safe to say, I’m feeling more charged than a Duracell battery. I experienced an autonomous drive in a Tesla, saw a fully electric DeLorean, rode my first electric scooter and soaked up a whole load of industry learnings.
For someone who works in tech, loves cars and is wholeheartedly curious about buying an EV, Fully Charged Live was one of those rare events you get to attend where business really meets pleasure. So here are five of my top takeaways, downloaded as punter, from the show:
- It’s all about EV for the masses – This was no normal car show. Nor was is it an elitist tech one. Its primary purpose was all about commoditising EVs and making them accessible to the masses. It’s why the first thing you saw when walking through the entrance were the words “EV Everywhere” (on the front stand belonging to OVO Energy) and the second, the freshly unveiled Peugeot e-208 prototype (which promises to offer a 340km range and 3D i-Cockpit with jazzy piano keys, all at an affordable price). This really helped to hit home the key message of the show before you’d stepped ten yards into it – EVs are fully available to the masses today and the future is very much now, so what are we all waiting for?
- There are plenty of EV myths still to be dispelled – To answer the question above, what most are seemingly waiting for is a whole host of EV myths to be busted – and there are plenty. “The UK charging infrastructure isn’t ready!” “What if my car breaks when its wet!” (this seemed particularly apt given all the rain this weekend) “The range just isn’t long enough for me!” “Batteries need to replaced far too often!” These are just some of the daft uncertainties that Fully Charged Live seemed resolute on providing compelling answers to (following the same school of thought as Audi with its e-Tron ad earlier this year). The reality is that across the board, we still have a long way to go here and there is a huge education piece that needs to happen. And that’s precisely why there couldn’t be a more exciting time to work in automotive communications – after all, it’s our job to help debunk outdated views, present clarity where its most needed and encourage people to see a future that is already available to them if they so choose.
- “Just do the maths” – whilst not quite as catchy as Nike’s “Just Do It” tag line, the unofficial slogan of Fully Charged Live seemed to be “just do the maths.” It’s a phrase I heard over and over again at the show (including once on a panel – a special shout out to Graeme Cooper at the National Grid), usually leaving the mouth of an EV owner who was trying to explain why it just makes sense, economically, to go electric. If a primary reason to get an EV may have once been to save the planet, Fully Charged Live helped to show that today, its just as much about saving coin. Government incentives, low running costs, great energy deals and rising resale values have all had a role to play here.
- We need emotion – It was an ever so slightly surreal experience having petrol guzzling race cars, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, you name it, quite literally circle Fully Charged Live all weekend. Like most, I took some time out to watch and listen to them absolutely hoon it down the Silverstone straight – and it got me thinking about emotion. Because that’s what cars ultimately sell on. Unfortunately for many petrol lovers, going electric means losing the visceral engine growls that they want. Thankfully though, Fully Charged Live offered more than a glimmer of hope to anybody worried that EVs lack emotion, purely by being home to a whole host of electric vehicles that you could forgive for being silent – be they super cars, future concepts, drag racers, or electric classics that have been beautifully converted (the electric VW Beetle stole my heart and made me wonder when e-Herbie will be commissioned – anyone for anyone?)
- Imagining the future is fun – who really knows what the world will look in ten and twenty years. It’s difficult to predict (the crowd in the autonomous driving talk certainly seemed split). But it’s safe to say that those leading the way and disrupting their respective industries were all present. Away from the presentations and keynotes, in one weekend I was able to speak to speak with Aston Martin’s John Caresson what super cars of the future should and could sound like (all whilst stood next to the Rapid E – what a car), with Novo’s Robbie Spearon where responsibility lies if an autonomous car crashes, with Riversimple’s Bill Winemanon on how to eliminate the environmental impact of personal transport and why electric might not actually be the answer, and with Connected Kerb’s Paul Ayres on what smart city applications of the future will look like. All of these names, and plenty more, are doing more than their fair share in shaping the future, making it that little bit better and greener for everyone. Give me another trade show that offers all of that and I’ll meet you there.
To round this off, I’d like to give a huge hats off to Robert Llewellyn, Jonny Smith and the wider Fully Charged Live team for putting on such a stellar display and roll on the inevitable fully charged, connected, self-driving future that we’re all rapidly accelerating towards. If I wasn’t excited about it before (I was), I certainly am now (that little bit more).