‘We're EV owners and drivers ourselves’ — How a Gloucestershire EV dealership is helping drivers switch

While going electric will reduce your carbon footprint and save you money, there's plenty to consider when it comes to buying a used EV. Cheltenham-based Cleevely EV talks SoGlos through the benefits of EV ownership and settles the score on some common misconceptions.

By Jake Chown  |  Published
Founded in 2018, Cheltenham-based Cleevely EV provides expert advice, sales and repair services to equip motorists with everything they need to go electric.

Making the switch to owning an electric vehicle can seem daunting for drivers who aren't sure about their benefits and functionality — that's why Matt Cleevely, owner of Cheltenham's Cleevely Motors, sought to change things.

Following a less-than-satisfactory experience when buying his first EV to replace a family car six years ago, he founded sister company Cleevely EV to provide expert advice, sales and repair services to equip motorists with everything they need to make the change. He speaks to SoGlos about his journey and answers some of the most commonly asked questions about buying and owning a used EV.

Matt, can you give us a bit of background about Cleevely Motors before you branched out into the world of electric vehicles? 

Cleevely Motors was started in 1962 by my grandfather John, who was an engineer at Dowty, but was fixing cars on the side and decided to create a business out of it.

My father, uncle and aunty were working in the business when I joined as a freshly-qualified apprentice in 1999 (25 years this August!).

I have worked on all makes, models and ages of car throughout my career — and I have trained in all emerging technologies throughout, so EV training was a continuation of that, but I didn’t expect to enjoy the driving experience so much and fall in love with the technology!

What made you decide to pursue a future in EV sales and servicing? 

I chose to buy an EV to use as a family car and the whole buying experience via two local main dealers — who are supposed to know and understand these cars — was horrendous.

The main dealer sales staff were not interested at all and I decided then that there needed to be an EV-knowledgeable business to promote the benefits of EV and support the people that have already adopted the technology. 

What would you say are the main advantages for drivers making the switch to electric? 

I find the driving experience far superior. Being automatic, EVs are very easy to drive, but the high-voltage motor will deliver 95 per cent of it’s torque instantly, so acceleration and performance is rapid and exhilarating.

Also, if you have a driveway and a charge point, then running costs of an EV are much lower than an equivalent ICE (internal combustion engine). The servicing requirements are lower and electricity is cheaper than fuel too. 

As an EV driver yourself, what would you say to Gloucestershire motorists who are worried about things like battery life and the availability of charging facilities? 

Battery life should not be a concern, we have seen very low levels of battery degradation and it is uncommon to have any failures, as a battery has no moving parts.

With battery charging, public charging in Gloucestershire is improving but still not ideal. Luckily, living in Gloucestershire, I never need to charge publicly here, as most EVs on the market now will have a 200-plus mile range, so plenty to carry out day trips, or even make charging a once-a-week event.

I think we, as a county, should be offering any space we have to private companies like Gridserve that will install charging ‘hubs’ that make charging convenient and quick. 

Is the degradation of battery life an important consideration for people buying a used EV? 

To put it simply, no. Battery degradation occurs, but engines wear too and there is no way of measuring that, unlike in an EV. Degradation is minimal due to improved technology in heating and cooling the batteries, we expect batteries to last 15 to 20 years before range is reduced to an unusable amount in most cars. 

What other differences are there to consider when it comes to servicing and repairing used EVs versus non-electric vehicles? 

A car is a car, regardless of powertrain, so it will still need to be serviced and maintained.

One myth I hear too often is that EVs don’t require servicing, which just isn’t true and it is very dangerous from a road safety point of view. An MOT test is a VERY basic safety check, so should never substitute servicing.

An EV service is the same as an ICE service, without the engine to look after — although there is still oil in an EV that should be replaced at certain intervals. An EV-knowledgeable garage should be sought out ideally, as companies that understand the cars know how to look after them the best.

What options are available for drivers who are looking to purchase an EV from Cleevely? 

After my own personal experience dealing with the main dealers, we created an EV showroom at our Lansdown Industrial Estate premises, where our friendly, EV-driving and knowledgeable sales team are happy to answer any questions that people may have about owning, using and driving EVs.

Our sales showroom has 12 to 15 EVs on-site at any time, of all makes and models and for all budgets. We also offer a vehicle sourcing service, so if we don't stock your required car, we will help find one for you through trusted partners. We keep our website updated regularly with all of our stock, as they move on quickly! 

Finally, what are your likes and dislikes when it comes to driving in Cheltenham? 

I live in Churchdown, so I drive in and out of the town daily and find heavy traffic queues on the Lansdown road frustrating, but Cheltenham drivers are generally very polite and courteous, so it is a pleasure — especially in an EV!

In partnership with Cleevely EV  |  cleevelyev.co.uk

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