A Tesla owners account of volunteering at the first major electric car show in the UK: Fully Charged Live
Jon Launder wrote a blog for One Home about his family's experience of owning their first electric car and how great it is to charge his car using solar power from their roof. Here, Jon writes about what it is like to be involved in the electric car community and the fun he and other visitors had at the Fully Charged Live show.
Tesla Owners Group: Buying into more than just an electric vehicle
I bought my first electric car in February 2018, a second-hand Tesla Model S. A large part of the Tesla owning experience is the online community who sometimes fanatically extol the virtues of the car mindless of all else. I have long eschewed social media and it was the advent of owning a Tesla and needing advice and guidance that led me to join both Facebook and Twitter within days of ownership, something I’d managed to avoid for many years!
The car comes with a manual of course, which can be accessed from the giant centre touchscreen or downloaded to your computer. Like most car manuals it covers 90% of what you need to know but there’s so much else to it, not covered by the manual. These are the little things, often in the tips and tricks category and because the car regularly receives over the air software updates, new features are sometimes discovered by the community long before they arrive in the manuals.
Fairly early on I asked a simple question and as well as getting just the answer I needed I also received an invite to join the Tesla Owners Group UK (TOGUK). TOGUK is an officially certified group run by Tesla Owners for Tesla Owners on Facebook with around 3,500 members. To join you must own or have on order a Tesla product: either car, Solar Roof or Powerwall battery. As with any online community, there is a wide array of people and differing opinions, but in general, they are all enthusiastic about the brand, their product and selfless in helping those in need and new members.
Rallying to Volunteer at Silverstone
When Robert Llewellan’s ‘Fully Charged Live’ was announced it caused much excitement amongst the group so the group president and moderators got in touch with the organisers. Upon learning that there was a 2½ mile journey from the car park to the exhibition centre they offered to help ferry show goers in their Teslas. When put to the forum there was resounding support and despite becoming unpaid taxi’s and still having to purchase show tickets, over 100 owners descended upon the venue for the weekend from all over the country. There was a messenger group setup for information exchange leading up to and during the weekend as well as a Glympse group that shared everyone’s live location. This way we could all see the cars descending on the show from far and wide and when people were charging or stopping which, built up the excitement nicely.
Charging the electric car from solar power and the network
On the Saturday of the show my wife and I left pretty early for the 120-mile drive from Kent to Silverstone Circuit. The Tesla had been charging all week purely from the sun in ECO+ mode and I have to admit feeling pretty smug about it. Our route took us around the top half the M25 to the M1, we skipped breakfast at home and instead chose to top up both ourselves and the car at South Mimms as that would be a good point for a loo break regardless. The car didn’t need the top up but by doing so it would give us extra capacity to do more taxi runs when we got to Silverstone. The traffic flowed smoothly and all the motorway driving was handled by Autopilot with ease. As we neared our destination we saw more EVs than we’d ever seen before and our excitement grew.
There was a queue to come off the A43 and one in five cars was electrified, the show attendance surpassed expectations and therefore the queue took a good 40 minutes for us to arrive at the circuit. Annoyingly the last and longest section we needn’t have queued at all as we could have used the VIP entrance but we didn’t learn this trick until we checked the messenger group after arrival.
We proudly displayed our show supporters rear view mirror hanger and were directed to the car park pick up points where a queue of people awaited and Teslas were already steadily picking people up. We collected 3 excited passengers none of whom had ever ridden in a Tesla before and had a great chat about the expectations of the show, EVs, the Tesla in general. Our grateful passengers were dropped off at the Silverstone Exhibition Wing and we began our return trip to pick up more. Originally, we had planned to drop off my wife but not normally a very social person she enjoyed the chat so much she wanted to meet the next bunch. We repeated another half dozen runs and a surprising number of show goers had never been in an EV before and were amazed that we were doing this as owners with our own cars and not Tesla employees.
TOGUK had their own stand in the outside exhibition area and we parked our car in the show area. Although the car had a thorough wash, clean and wax for the trip it was clear judging by the gleaming Tesla examples around us that we simply had to get the cleaning cloths out to bring our car up to standard. This done, we went off to investigate the show. Being British we joined the orderly queue to gain entrance and was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people and excitement. We had a good look around the stands then visited the ‘green room’ VIP area where we spotted Robert Llewellan and Jonny Smith from Fully Charged and Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield from Transport Evolved. They looked mobbed but happy, so we left them to it without adding to the throng and continued our exploration of the show itself.
Electric Vans and Battery Storage
We had a good chat with the bespoke EV luggage manufacturer Oscar & Hamish as well Tesla, Powervault and Moixa about home solar battery storage as that’s next on my eco list. We had a good look around the Nissan e-NV200 electric van as a possible future replacement from my wife’s Mitsubishi L200 gardener’s pick-up and spoke to several energy companies to compare tariffs and offerings. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hear any of the talks on the day as the auditorium areas were full and the buzz of the show overwhelmed the audio. Safe in the knowledge it was all being filmed for later viewing online we came away and explored the outside areas instead before finally returning to our car and completing another half dozen or so taxi runs before heading home.
The Tesla satnav routed us home via the M40 as the M1 was congested. We stopped off at the Oxford services where we were greeted with the Tesla Supercharger station full of owners coming from the show. As we arrived another car left so we plugged in and went off to grab a meal at the services as we hadn’t managed to eat at the show. Just before we finished our dinner the mobile app pinged on my phone to notify me the car was nearly finished charging so we finished up and off we went to do battle with the busier M25 and ever slow Dartford crossing.
The Telsa taxi ride made my day
Originally, I only planned to visit the show on the Saturday, but I enjoyed the unpaid taxi element so much I contacted the TOGUK group to see if there was room for me to attend on the Sunday too. I was welcomed of course, put the car on charge overnight and left with a full battery early the next morning. My wife would be busy ferrying kids to football matches so left me to it. This time I pressed onto the Northampton Supercharger so I could fill up both myself and the car closer to the destination in order to do more taxi runs than the previous day. I also could take one more passenger each time as the Tesla Model S seats five comfortably.
A dozen taxi runs later, I joined the TOGUK stand gave the car a quick wipe down and introduced myself to the other members. I spent most of the Sunday at the stand happily discussing the car with show-goers, watching the Model X’s perform their synchronised dance and also managed to get in the auditorium for one of the live shows. Some Tesla owners unbelievably spent the entire day taxiing people. I had the pleasure of ferrying the lovely James of Lemon Tea Leaf YouTube fame, a lady to her husband’s helicopter, as well as many excited adults and children, many of whom stated the Telsa ride made their day. Tea and an energy top up at Oxford once again saw me arriving home tired but happy having had a great weekend and unsurprisingly the TOGUK messenger group buzzing with talk of next year.
Interested in buying an electric car?
If you would like to read more about the benefits of all electric vehicles then check out the One Home article on electric cars and plug-in hybrids.
Finally, Jon Launder and One Home are proud to support the Tesla Owners Group UK in supplying donated kid's Tesla Radio flyers to UK children's hospitals to help them and their families make a scary time a little less so. If you are thinking of buying a new Tesla then please use this referral code to order your car to receive £100 Supercharging credit for yourself and a mini Tesla donated to a UK hospital, thanks!
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