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From the chair: June 2019

publication date: Jun 3, 2019
author/source: Robin Roberts

In a few days we will be holding our immensely popular and unique PR Driving Day. 


A lot has happened since the first one was held over three decades ago and while most of the changes we have witnessed each June usually mean new faces and some old ones missing, I have been wondering if the event as we know it will change very much in future.


Certainly, the cars have been changing to reflect manufacturing mergers, demises, and the dieselgate scandal as well as the more emotive emissions environment. 


With some exceptions the engines have become smaller, cleaner and more economical but the elephant in the paddock must be the growth in electric models.


We are seeing hybrids in ranges and the number of EV models is slowly developing, but what of the more distant future?


The first hydrogen cars are running on our roads but they are very few and far between, something akin to the time when evs were beginning to nose onto press fleets.


The issue, and it exists at our event, is where do you quickly charge an ev during a journey or a day’s event. Heavy demand puts a big strain on infrastructure and it requires investment. 

If we are to have more evs on fleets then we need the facilities to charge them, be that at home, office, hotels, airports, service stations etc..Without this investment then the testing regime as we know it is going to change.


One of our members has been considering what to do in this respect. Like many of us, the member does not have a quick-charge box but relies up to now on a trickle charger. However, more new models only support rapid charge and that means without a deep breath and pocket our member is going to have to carefully consider future bookings and will almost certainly not be testing the newest evs. 


That’s not good for the journalists or the industry. 


I have just completed an interview on a new charging system which is being rolled out, but its not cheap, and is tailor-made for individual locations. It does away with trailing leads but still demands some dedicated space.


Which brings me to another aspect of our infrastructure, the abuse of charging points. I am told, but never experienced it myself, that some ev drivers roll up to a motorway or parking location for an electric vehicle and its occupied by a pure petrol or diesel car and the driver is nowhere to be seen.


So, if we are to spend money on infrastructure, surely we have to also implement a very tough penalty regime to punish these abusers? A £100 Fixed Penalty Notice would be a good starting point, or graduate it by time, so the longer the abuse the more the offender pays.  We have to pay to charge, so how about paying not to charge?


Thewesterngroup hope you’ll be attending DD2019 at Castle Combe and dare I say it, on a charge for the PR of the Day and Car of the Day awards.

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