Quentin Willson on Electric cars – “The technology works, it’s here, it’s now.”

According to the RAC Foundation 55% of all new vehicle registrations in the UK are made by businesses, with the company car still seen as the most appealing of all employment benefits.  Also, 1 in 10 vehicles on the road is a Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)  A van under 3.5 tonnes, for example the ubiquitous Ford Transit.

With so many fleet vehicles on the road, encouraging further uptake of electric cars and vans within businesses is essential, however, it is not without its difficulties as one business’ needs can be quite different to that of private buyer.

To help answer fleet managers and business owners questions, Green Fleet Magazine has held regional events showcasing the cars and vans currently available along with presentations highlighting the benefits of switching to EVs.

One such event was held in Nottingham, a winner of the  Go Ultra Low City Scheme and a recipient of £6.1m to improve infrastructure and uptake in the city.

I attended to hear how businesses needs can be met by the current batch of vehicles and how they were keen to overcome problems such charging staff vehicles at home and acceptance by unions.

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Caroline Nicholls, of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles with host Quentin Willson.

The host for the day was Motoring journalist and well-known petrol head Quentin Willson, who opened with a revelation for the eager audience:

“Most of you will be thinking, what am I doing here, talking about and celebrating daft cars.  What you might not know is I have had a secret life for the last 6 to 7 years driving electric cars.

In the Wilson house, when I ask the kids what car should we go to school in, they respond – in the electric car. (currently a Citroen C-Zero.)  It works and has worked for me for the last 7 years.  I have had a mix of cars Vauxhall Amperas, Nissan LEAFs and Mitsubishi I-MIEV.

It all started when Jeremy Clarkson said electric cars will never work and electric cars were driven by people with facial hair and body hygiene issues. He took on this determined campaign to discredit them and rubbish them.

That was 5 years ago with the BBC following the lead…..and this set back the cause some 3 to 5 years.

The public disinterest in them was caused by that bow wave, that tsunami of vilification. But reality has taken over and we have seen a massive take up and massive success due a number of factors, oil prices, energy security and air-pollution.

The technology works, it’s here, it’s now. Our mission is to disseminate that positive energy into the wider motoring population. It seems that latent fear of change, the unbelievable disregard for this new, very clean and economical form of propulsion still lingers so all of us have to spread the word.

All these urban myths, stereotypes we took on board from motoring press and general media, that did not want change, have been robustly disproved.


Delegates were able to test-drive a number of vehicles on display, namely the BMW i3, Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 in both van and people carrier variants along with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.  A special surprise was the arrival of the LDV all-electric EV80 Van.  Equal in size and payload to a Ford Transit, yet cleaner and greener.

In summing up the day, Willson said:

“Today, we truly stand on the brink of an EV revolution. Nottingham clearly has a vision that can make them the envy of the rest of the UK, and today’s event has been a great start to what is sure to become a new-look city. And only with your help [the delegates] can this change really happen.”

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The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.