There’s a fair few misconceptions and myths surrounding electric vehicles, and die-hard petrol-heads can be reluctant to trade theirs in for a swap.
SoGlos spoke to Cheltenham-based Cleevely EV about why they’ve embraced electric technology and just what makes electric vehicles the roadworthy choice of the future.
About the expert – Matt Cleevely, owner of Cleevely EV
Matt Cleevely is the owner of Cheltenham-headquartered Cleevely EV – an independent, family-run, electrical vehicle specialist set up in 2018.
Cleevely EV sells new and used electric vehicles. The team also carries out servicing and offers Tesla rental for those wanting to dip their toe in the electric vehicle waters.
Why did you launch Cleevely EV?
Cleevely EV was launched alongside our sister company, Cleevely Motors – a longstanding Cheltenham-based garage established in 1962.
With Cleevely EV, we wanted to give electric vehicle owners an alternative to returning to their main dealer for servicing and maintenance.
We also wanted to create an experience that would be so much better than our dreadful first experience of electric vehicles.
Back in 2015, when we wanted to buy a Nissan Leaf, we were repeatedly told by a sales manager that we didn’t need an electric car and would be better off with a diesel Micra.
He refused to listen to the fact that it wasn’t what we wanted and looking back, would have been a real mistake – particularly with current fuel prices.
The saga continued with problematic appointments to road test the Leaf. We’d find it wasn’t charged – even though the appointment was pre-booked; somebody had misplaced the charge cable; the list went on.
Our frustration at being treated so poorly founded our passionate desire to give customers the chance to see and experience electric vehicles in an enthusiastic and positive environment, and to help them understand electric vehicles from people who are already owners.
How has it been received?
Setting up Cleevely EV has far exceeded our expectations.
When we began in 2018, we were seeing one or two cars a week and now we see four or five each day. Due to our social media following, we have customers from all over the UK travelling to see us.
Along with ever-growing electric vehicle sales and Tesla rental options, we have added our own aftermarket part supply platform to other independent garages too.
We also have two mobile technicians on the road, covering all areas of the country, including travelling to Scotland six times a year for a full week of electric vehicle maintenance.
Interest and enthusiasm for electric vehicles is growing at speed!
What are the biggest myths you encounter around people’s preconceptions about electric vehicles?
There are many myths. The main ones tend to be that they don’t go far and that they take a long time to charge.
These are both valid to a degree, but when most vehicles’ average daily mileage is less than 20 miles per day, this is perfectly achievable – even in an older electric vehicle.
As for charging, this is dependent on how you plan to charge. If, like me, you’re able to charge your car at home on the drive overnight when you’re not using it, time is less of an issue.
If I’m out and about, I will often consider where I shop to utilise charging points at different destinations.
What’s the most common question asked by people new to electric vehicles?
How far does it go? The answer is an electric vehicle will go as far as you want it to, so long as you plan charging stops during longer journeys.
A short-range EV will do anywhere between 40 and 80 miles on a single charge. Mid-range can do 80 to 120 miles, and a longer range will do 150 miles plus.
People often ask how long it takes to charge. This depends on the size of the battery and power of the charger – there’s significant variety.
What is the typical worry?
The main one is that range will be an issue.
In combustion engine vehicles, drivers expect to see a mileage of about 200 miles. This reassures people, but quite often, depending on driving style, that estimated range quickly disappears. This is the same with an electric car – just the number of estimated miles is smaller.
Lack of charging is also a worry for people. Often, we hear the comment that the infrastructure is not ready for mass EV adoption.
There was a time, not so many years ago, when we didn’t have petrol stations in every town, or every supermarket – we would structure our journeys around stopping for fuel.
With electric, it’s pretty similar. But now, rather than structure the journey or visit to find a petrol station, you can coincide it with lunch at a pub that has charging points available, or visit a National Trust site with charge points. There are lots of charging points out there when you look a little closer.
What do you think is great about electric vehicles?
They’re easy and enjoyable to drive. You have no need to go to petrol stations.
They’re also cheaper to run in terms of fuel and maintenance costs and you’re able to use them in zero emission zones, which are being introduced more and more.
How have sales gone since launching CEV?
Sales have grown well. When we started in 2018, the momentum was growing until 2020 Covid-19 appeared. Since life started getting back to normal, sales have noticeably picked up.
People have become much more aware of their vehicle requirements over the course of the pandemic and we have noticed many people trading in their second car for an electric alternative to use for their shorter journeys and general run arounds locally.
What’s the most surprising thing about electric vehicles?
Probably the ease of driving and the speed. Many manufacturers also add a few toys for entertainment value whilst charging, which is fun.
The Honda E comes with a screen-based aquarium and fish, while the Tesla has options for car-e-oke and romance/camping mode with a screen-based fire image.
Do you have a favourite EV and why?
With a huge number of electric vehicles coming onto the market, the options are endless.
For fun – but only on a warm sunny day drive – the two-seater Renault Twizy is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Tesla’s a firm favourite because of how easy it is to use. It’s very comfortable and the reliability of charging is excellent.
As for a favourite tech-based electric car, it would be the Sono Sion, which has 248 solar cells integrated into the body of the car, so it can charge itself by the power of the sun. It’s incredible!
What are your predictions for the future?
Our hope would be that electric becomes the norm for cars.
Whenever the benefits of electric are mentioned, there is always the argument for hydrogen-powered vehicles, but our feeling on this is that hydrogen developments would be best for large vehicles, such as lorries and buses.
Where in the county do most of your customers come from?
We have noticed there is a lot of eco-consciousness in the Stroud district as well as the Cotswolds, with villagers using their electric vehicles to commute to surrounding cities.
Due to all the background work we do on social media, we are also well recognised outside of the county with people from all over the UK coming to see us.