The Western Group of Motoring Writers recently held its first face-to-face meeting for over a year courtesy of Honda UK and to whom we are very grateful. 

By the way, there was no truth in the rumour that Honda PR Emma Butler used the meeting as a rehearsal for her wedding at the same venue later in the month, well that’s what she told us in a carefully worded statement. 

After driving a selection of their current models and some from a few years back which are now included in their heritage fleet it was time to look ahead at the group meeting.

Those present decided we should investigate reinstating the annual PR Driving Day next year. There’s a lot of work to be done but an initial letter to our regular supporters to get feedback on a possible DD22 produced a very encouraging response and we will therefore take it further and look at a possible date. 

Once we have something firmed up we will tell you but sincerely hope we can return it for the benefit of our friends in the automotive industry and group members.

The arrival of the second electric age is changing our industry forever.

After a brief flirtation with electric cars some 190 years ago they were rapidly overtaken by petrol and diesel engines but the current is now flowing back down the wires. Sometimes it’s entirely on its but more likely the humming business shares platform space with the noisier internal combustion engines in hybrids, either “self-charging” or of the plug-in hybrid variety. 

While the hybrids really raise little concern but are sometimes exploited by drivers/ owners to get lower duty rates or congestion zone charges, it is the pure battery cars which can cause anxiety among writers and PR departments, notably their delivery drivers.

I think modern electric cars have come a long way from the first I drove over 20 years ago on a Ford event at Calcot Manor where the range was an optimistic 50 miles and where it actually ran out of oomph at about half that distance and then took ages to recharge. Since then, Renault has provided amusement in the quirky Twizy which is better than some might imagine.

More mainstream models are today slipping onto our roads with more noise around their importance than the actual cars themselves make in use. 

They are all coming at a cost and with a range of incentives from their makers and what seems to be evolving is their equipment. Now, in a car which is dependent on electricity for its movement and existance, we are seeing more and more power-gobbling gadgets and comfort features. 

Use the heated seats, heated steering wheel and air conditioning in addition to the lights and wipers and the true range of the EV is going to be dramatically reduced. 

To my knowledge there is no WLTP test for the range of an EV with all its ancilliary equipment switched on, but after testing some recent examples over a regular 100 miles trip I have seen that claimed distance disappearing at an alarming rate. 

It also means that the EV driver has to cultivate a different driving style which is best suited to the particular vehicle and generally that means avoid motorways, which in theory quicken a journey and prove safer but behind the wheel of an ev translate into range anxiety at speed as you watch the remaining charge needle relentless drop towards the red sector.

Journeys also have to change and what may have taken six or eight hours now get split by a one to two wait while the battery is recharged, sometimes in two bites. If you can fit the recharge into a meal-time that is the most filling way to go electric.

Thankfully, the recharging network is expanding and Volkswagen UK has done a brilliant job with their free boosters at Tesco stores but still more on-street/ workplace/ shopping centre/ home chargers are needed to satisfy demands.

In my experience it can be a bit hit and miss with the current network and Guy Martin did not hold back when he took an EV on a long run and found chargers not working or busy on main roads. He also baulked at the expense at some very rapid charging stations.

The Government has moved to ease electrical access for motorists and wants streamlined charging and payment introduced. While that may seem philanthopic it’s really self interest because Government wants to promote EV cars over ICEs to meet climate change targets and it needs to have revenue coming into coffers as traditional duties disappear from forecourts. 

So, for now, with the high cost of EVs staring in buyers faces, it’s going to be an uphill task to sell the cells to us.

Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts

Robin is the longest serving chairman of The Western Group. He’s been vice chairman or chairman for over ten years and oversees the annual Western Group PR Driving Day each summer assisted by the group committee and supported by group members.

He contributes to a number of outlets in Wales and the UK, including the Driving Force editorial syndication agency feeding the biggest regional news and feature publishers in Britain.

Robin specialises in the Welsh automotive sector and motor related businesses with interests in Wales and publishes which covers news, features, trade and motor sport in Wales.

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