Back on the road again, wind billowing through my hair, car tyres devouring the miles with ease, en route to a secret filming location with the indomitable Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged fame. It felt good.
Ok, so I stretch the actual truth a little there in my opener. But I was in a car, on a road trip, heading down the M6 to a film studio ‘somewhere near Northampton’, to film a Fully Charged PLUS episode, with Dan Hollingworth from Ohme. Fully Charged PLUS is a new YouTube channel from Fully Charged, showcasing the latest and most exciting clean tech and electric vehicle technologies and developments from around the world. It was set to be a good day.
Correction. It was set to be a fantastic day. This was my first ‘proper’ excursion to do something not family related since March and you-know-what. As with so many of us, I have (thankfully) been able to work from home full-time, with zero trips to the ElectraLink office in London – my usual place of work – nor any of my usual excursions to networking events and conferences. I have particularly missed connecting with the electric vehicle world and its community. Social media is a fantastic communications medium, but there is nothing quite like meeting in person. Or in car.
Dan Hollingworth and I go back a long way. We were colleagues for many years at EA Technology, where we worked on the most exciting and transformative (even if I do say do myself) EV-grid integration projects like My Electric Avenue (2012-2015) and Electric Nation (2016 – 2019), paving the way for better understanding of the impact of clusters of EVs on the local electricity network, and trialling demand management, or smart charging, technologies to manage that impact. Suffice to say, since both respectively moving on to ventures new, myself to ElectraLink, the UK’s energy market data hub, and Dan to Ohme, I have missed our business road trips together.
Fully Charged had given us a time slot of 13.30 – 15.00. We arrived at the film studio, on a business park ‘somewhere near Northampton’, bob on time. Parking up I spotted three electric cars. And there were only five cars there. Will the sight of electric vehicles ever get old? I think not. Dan and I went through into a reception area, where we were greeted, at a respectable and social distance, by a remarkably cheerful gentleman. We signed in, temperatures taken, hands sanitised – and were taken through to a larger reception area with sofas and kitchenette. One side of this area was draped with glass, giving us a clear view of the warehouse like film studio. But what grabbed my attention was the kitchenette.
Named mugs were laid out, each accompanied by a small but beautifully presented bottle of hand sanitiser (the sort that doesn’t reek of alcohol, but rather is aromatically reminiscent of a meadow of flowers in the Austrian Tyrol), with chocolate bar languishing seductively nearby. I searched for my name… no sight. And so I was Jordan Brompton for the day, as she wasn’t able to make it for her filming slot. Such a shame – I am yet to meet Jordan in person! But thank you for unknowingly lending me your mug.
Kitchenette admiration over, attention was back on the job in hand. Chris Broadbent, Fully Charged’s Commercial Director, came through to greet Dan and me. I’ve met Chris a few times now, and my natural inclination is to go in for the hug. And then I remembered. So we elbow bumped instead. Then entrance Robert Llewellyn right. It’s always an absolute joy to see Robert. I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed by him a couple of times now. Socially distanced greetings over, we spent some time talking about the latest EV sector developments, including the rumours of plans afoot for more robust and ubiquitous motorway service area chargers, and of course, the latest and greatest technology and customer proposition developments within Ohme – a company that always has its eye on the next big thing to make charging for fleets and us everyday folk a seamless experience.
It was time to film. Dan had brought with him an Ohme charger and stand, so he and Chris lugged that from the car to the film studio. As luck would have it, there was a Hyundai Kona in studio situ, in to which the Ohme charger plugged. Robert voiced his admiration for the fact that the charger light (in car and on the charger itself) was actually on, indicating that the car was charging ‘for real’ – an exceptional occurrence under demo conditions, it would seem.
The plan… Robert would ask Dan a few questions about the Ohme technology and kit, and then I would step in and Robert would ask me about Ohme from a customer / user perspective.
The film studio is a big space – high ceilings, light, white, bright and airy. The sort of place where you imagine that you could hear a pin drop. A large screen hung on the back wall. Our ‘set’ with the Ohme charger and Kona was to the left of the room. Robert stood well back to the right, with Dan standing at the front and a little to the left of the Kona; one camera operator behind Dan, with another on Robert’s side of the filming equation. A (presumably) sound person was to the far left… Chris and I hung back. I was snapping away with my ‘phone, trying to capture the moment. And being very very quiet.
As you may imagine, Robert has a knack of putting people at total ease. It helps that Dan is, I would say, a natural at answering questions in an engaging, informed yet not-too-technical way. The focus, naturally, was the Ohme smart charger, how it works, how the app works, how it communicates with energy suppliers like Octopus Energy to offer customers maximum benefit in terms of charging when it’s cheapest and greenest to do so, and so on.
Dan’s stint in front of the cameral took about ten minutes. Then it was turn. My job was quite simple really. I shared my experience of charging using Ohme, and how it’s so easy to be in control of when my car is charged. I probably mentioned plunge pricing as well, which is when you actually get paid to charge your car, when most renewables are on the energy system – I do love a windy day. And then the tricky question hit me… Robert asked me how the battery optimisation option on the Ohme app works. I have no clue. In the blink of a non-technical eye, I decided that honesty was the best policy. As a customer, I don’t need to know how it works. I just know that if I choose ‘Optimize for Battery Life’ on the app, then it is good for the health of my car’s battery. I trust that that’s a good thing, otherwise Ohme would not have included it in their suite of marvellous charging schedule preferences.
Never one to miss a photo opportunity, Chris kindly took a few of myself with Robert and Dan, and Dan and Robert, and Robert and me… you get the picture.
The Fully Charged team were doing a few different shoots that day. Next up was Robert in the Hyundai Kona (turns out that it was Dan Caesar’s old car), doing a promotional piece for the forthcoming all-electric drive-in – the world’s first undercover, all-electric car drive-in film experience at Farnborough at the end of October. Wild electric horses would not keep me away from that one!
Plied with a can of pop and chocolate bars, Dan and I said our thanks and goodbyes. What a brilliant experience. And so utterly lovely to be out in the real world, with fantastic people, taking about our favourite subjects – electric cars and Ohme – all at a perfectly observed social distancing norm.
If your business is interested in showcasing your product to the Fully Charged audience on our Fully Charged PLUS channel please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author
Gill has over 20 years’ experience across sustainable energy, utility, and environmental technologies sectors, including eight years working on electric vehicle grid integration projects – most recently as DSO Lead at ElectraLink, the UK’s energy market data hub. A regular speaker and panellist on electric vehicles and data-driven transition to a low carbon, sustainable world, Gill has been a keen advocate for the uptake of electric vehicles since 2012. In February 2019, Gill founded EVclicks – a free online EV image library for use by schools, communities, projects and businesses in aid of the transition to zero emission transport (www.evclicks.co.uk). She is also an avid runner, and proud Mum to two young children. Gill is also a founding board member of Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England, offering a voice to EV drivers in England.