If you’d told me a few years ago that I would now be driving an electric car, I’d have laughed in your face. You see, I could rival Jeremy Clarkson in the petrol-head stakes. I love driving, I love cars and most of all I love Audis. I have had 15 of them. Then, last November, I bought an “EV” — an electric vehicle.
I’d love to be able to virtue signal and say that I bought my (what else?) Audi eTron GT to protect the environment. We’ve all got to get behind net zero, haven’t we?
In reality, I thought I might as well get used to an electric car before I was forced to — by 2030, sales of petrol or diesel cars will be banned in this country. In addition, if you lease your EV through your company, there are many tax advantages. My decision was one of rational economic choice.
Exciting as it has been to take my first test-drive towards this motoring revolution, I have also learnt a hard truth along the way: nobody really wants to hear about it. By all means drive an EV, but try not to annoy everyone else (including fellow EV drivers) while you’re doing it.
Here are my nine new rules of the road that will stop you becoming an e-car w***er.
1. Remember, electricity isn’t free. A friend in Essex tells me some other “friends” happen to keep “popping in” en route from London to their second home in Suffolk and asking their hosts if they wouldn’t mind awfully if they plugged in for a bit. No offer to read the smart meter and offer payment. No bottle of wine, no lifetime subscription to Reader’s Digest, no nothing. Just plain rude.
2. Don’t pretend you bought it for eco reasons. Admit it, you’re not Greta Thunberg. CCTV has caught your car half a dozen times over the past year in the parking lot at Heathrow, while you jet off on CO2-belching long-haul flights to exotic climes.
3. Don’t be a trip hazard If you don’t have off-street parking, watch what you’re doing with that charging cable or be prepared for legal action from a buggy-pusher, wheelchair user or slighty drunk neighbour on their way home at 1am. Don’t help turn your street into something from It’s A Knockout.
4. Don’t boast about your “range”. None of your fellow dinner-party guests will be impressed — and they won’t believe you. And quite rightly. My electric Audi eTron GT advertises a range of 298 miles. The most I’ve ever got out of it is 217 miles, and it’s usually more like 206. Perhaps they got a 90-year-old granny to drive it round the test track.
5. Charging stories are not electrifying. We’re not interested in your home charger, or whether Octopus Energy has cheap rates after midnight. Podpoint, schmodpoint. You think anyone cares how long it takes to charge your car to 80%? No one does.
6. And it’s not your car, is it? Any sensible EV driver will lease their vehicle. Battery technology will improve, range will improve: Mercedes have just announced an EV 620-mile range (year right). Buy one outright, and in two years it will be out of date and have zero-second-hand value. You have been warned.
7. Don’t hog the charger. Leaving your car charging for an hour or more while you tuck into a McDonald’s and peruse the local shops isn’t clever and it isn’t funny. Repeat after me: “It is not a parking space, it’s a charging point”. That said, never, ever unplug someone else’s car.
8. Go slow. EVs are, in general, rapid off the mark. A Nissan Leaf could outrun a petrol Porsche when the lights go green, but resist the temptation to floor it. There are enough boy-racers on the road already, and nobody likes a show-off.
9. Don’t get a Tesla. If I wanted to buy a computer on wheels, I would have. Yes, your charging network is great, but the build quality of your cars is, shall we say, variable. And the less money I put into Elon Musk’s pocket, the happier I am.