Written by Alison Fogg, Clean Technology Consultant
Fully Charged is the UK's TV show for electric vehicles and clean technology with over quarter of a million subscribers on YouTube. Robert Llewellyn and Dan Caesar took the show to a live event at Silverstone for the first time on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th June 2018. For those who didn't make it this year, these are a few highlights.
Fully Charged is the electric vehicle equivalent of BBC's Top Gear. After eight years and 300 episodes, the team has covered everything; from bikes to cars, from the Geneva Motor Show to Nemesis, solar panels and the first electric car produced by Founder of Ecotricity, Dale Vince.
Traffic Jam Heaven
Driving from Somerset to Towcester was a good clear run with no hold ups and a lovely drive through the English countryside. Approaching Silverstone, a Tesla Model S went past, followed by a Nissan Leaf and then an internal combustion engine car full of executives in casual gear. Were they all going to Silverstone?
We then hit a traffic jam. Normally traffic jams make me anxious but this one was exciting. Hundreds of electric cars were converging on Silverstone. BMW i3s, Honda hybrids. It felt like the crowds gathering at the start of the Glastonbury festival.
Any Doubts About the Public Appetite for Electric Vehicles were Blown Away
Weeks earlier, the Fully Charged team seemed to be worried about visitor numbers. Linked In messages kept arriving in my feed promoting ticket sales. Would many people turn up?
Then last Thursday, Robert Llewellyn did a quick YouTube broadcast warning us of the logistical challenge of getting from the car park to the venue. He explained that buses would take us to the main venue, as the racing track was not walkable. This was a good sign. They were now worried about queues and must have had a flurry of ticket sales.
But the thing that struck me most watching this YouTube broadcast was that people were really excited about the event. Comments like 'can't wait' and 'really looking forward to it' kept appearing. This was something much bigger. A sign of a fan base and mass consumer adoption.
Market Disruption of Electric Vehicles
Everyone working in renewable energy has been waiting for the market transition to clean technology to happen. The technology has advanced to such an extent that the explosive combination of clean energy and electric vehicles will start a massive disruption to our transport and energy system. For those who haven't seen it, do watch the Tony Seba video on clean disruption here where he illustrates that no technology has ever adopted linearly, they grow in steep S curves. With the advent of a new motoring era, we can expect to see many new surprises like Sweden's Uniti, the world's largest start-up crowdfunding electric vehicle story to date with $60 million in pre-orders and counting.
The big question is when will it start? China has already kicked off. Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany. But the UK is lagging behind. That's why Fully Charged Live was so important to witness. As the first major UK consumer show.
Tesla and the New Marketing Disruption
On arrival at Silverstone, the car park was full of electric vehicles or EVs. And while we were waiting to catch the bus, a stream of Tesla cars turned up. Knowing that Tesla had some cars on display, the Tesla Owners' UK Club had organised rides for people too. What a coup. Over 100 owners volunteered their time and cars to support the show.
Having worked in ad land on new car launches, traditional automotive marketing budgets are spent getting people into a dealership for a test drive on a Saturday morning. But why spend your marketing money doing that when the best customers are already lined up for you at a prestigious showground? Over 6,000 people attended the event on Saturday and the incumbent automotive industry weren't anywhere to be seen. Tesla left them standing at the start line.
Tesla isn't doing traditional TV ads either. So their marketing spend won't show up on Nielsen ad dynamics tables for media analysis. On May 30, 2018 Tesla launched this YouTube video for the Model X. A minute-long broadcast watched by fifty thousand Telsa fans all over the world in just two weeks!
And guess what was on display when we arrived at the event. Exactly the same flying Tesla car with its wings up. Brilliant. Tesla aren't just leading the world. They're changing it.
Fanatical Fans of Fully Charged
Inside the venue, the vast Theatre One was rammed with people waiting for the first session with Robert Llewellyn and Dale Vince. Seats were all taken and we only managed to squeeze past people to the back of the crowd. People were filming it on cameras like the launch of a new Apple product. Amplifying the message many times over. There were camera crews wandering round filming it as well. No doubt for a broadcast later on. Massive publicity for anyone who could get in on the act.
It is not surprising that the team at Fully Charged Live have a fan base. After eight years and 300 episodes, people love Robert Llewellyn and his team. What was surprising was how many people had got there so early. Theatre Two was also broadcasting the session to another packed audience.
Good Energy and the Greatest Green Electricity Racing Game
In the next room, Good Energy had an electric car racing track. A bank of adults and kids were steering their mini electric cars around the circuit having fun. What a great way to engage with the audience and teach them about green electricity with fantastic branding.
Showcasing New Electric Car Models and New Ideas for Innovation
Looking around I started to wonder where the automotive brands were. With their vast marketing budgets and creative skills, had any turned up? We went downstairs to the pit area to look at cars. Suddenly the innovation was on show. New car models and stands akin to the local food revolution. But there still wasn't anything significant from the major industry players. Zero electric bikes, an amazing car by Riversimple, classic car electric conversions, the Tesla estate. But still not a lot from VW, Honda or Renault. Just a few car models on display.
The lead designer from Riversimple was on hand to talk about his engineering thinking. Automotive geeks loved it. Get your kids to a show like this and they can talk first hand to the future designers of great British cars. And I think we met one on Saturday.
The car lines of Riversimple were beautiful. Cars doors like fly wings, a sleek two-seater cockpit and fish gills down the back. A classic little number. Then I saw the EV3.
The electric Morgan EV3 is on sale in early 2019 and already has 100 orders. Launched at the Geneva Motor Show, this take on the Morgan 3-Wheeler has a remodelled front end. British family owned cars with 100 years of racing history have gone electric. This will be another collector's classic.
There were many others stands and clean technology people to talk to including renewable energy suppliers. It was great to meet Jason Savidge from Stratford Energy, a leading solar PV installer.
Outside the halls, the Tesla Owners Club had booked a large area to showcase their cars. Early models now worth a lot of money were proudly on display. I hadn't thought of electric vehicles being the start of a new classic car collection so this was interesting too. Unfortunately, having gone to look at a Renault Zoe, the one on display was locked with no-one around. Renault what was that about?
The final highlight of the day was a ride back in a Telsa model S. The car's owner said he'd take it from 0 to 60 and back to 0 before we reached the nearby post. The car literally took off, but the braking stability was even more impressive.
So, thank you to Robert Llewellyn, Dan Caesar and the Fully Charged team for a great day out and for putting on such a fantastic show on electric cars for the public to enjoy. Thank you to all the clean tech enthusiasts who turned up in their numbers. And a final thank you to the electric vehicle and renewable energy players who were smart enough to book stands at the first show. I'm already looking forward to next year when the show will be even bigger and better. With the eyes of the world looking at Silverstone for the next iconic British design classic, this will be the place to be.
If you want to learn more about the many reasons too switch to an electric car then please check out the financial and performance benefits of Electric Cars article.