A five-day rally covering the entire length of the UK aims to accelerate take-up of electric vehicles by showcasing the country’s charging infrastructure. By Bill Bain
BY successfully driving home the message that electric vehicles now enjoy an abundance of convenient charging points across the country, last year’s EV Rally Of Scotland was one of the most attention-grabbing events during COP26 in Glasgow.
And with the 1200-mile road trip definitively proving there’s a bright road ahead for EVs, organisers are now gearing up to take the event to the next level by rolling out the concept across the UK.
The highly-anticipated follow-up event in July, the Great British EV Rally (GBEVR), will once again be a live demonstration of the effectiveness of current charging infrastructure, with more than 50 drivers embarking on five-day, 1500-mile ‘moving showcase’ from John O’Groats to Lands’ End.
“What is key for this year’s event is to showcase the fact that electric vehicles are here, that they are not going away and that the charging infrastructure across the UK is great – and it’s only going to get better,” says event manager Colin Boyton.
“The current level of support for electric vehicles is down to the investment from government and also from industry, who are providing great support to the event. Just like the EV Rally of Scotland, the Great British EV Rally will showcase the vehicles and charging infrastructure, demonstrating to the public that there is an abundance of charge points.”
With last year’s event timed to coincide with COP26, Boyton feels it’s once again necessary to highlight the efficiency and cleanliness of EVs – and more relevant than ever, he feels, are the financial savings that can be made due to the soaring costs of fuel.
“What we’re trying to underline is that these cars and vans are more than capable of being your everyday work vehicle and good cash savings can be made before you even consider the environmental positives.”
With the public able to track drivers’ progress live on social media and gbevrally.co.uk, Boyton is excited about sharing the positives of EV ownership to an even larger audience than last year’s Scottish event.
It will also be an educational opportunity in more ways than one, with the drivers giving practical lessons in how EVs should be handled in order to gain maximum performance and battery endurance.
“We’re going to drill down a little further this time around than just showing the route and the stops, with the drivers also showing online viewers how these cars should be driven – that will focus on an individual drivers’ style and how that can effect the performance and the battery,” says Boyton.
“We also have an organisation on board that carried out extensive driver training, and we will be issuing messages to all the participants every morning, essentially saying: this is your day ahead folks, and when you get to these points you might want to consider driving like this because that’s going to maximise your performance. It’s a learning experience for everyone – those taking part and those watching from home.
“The idea is to get the drivers planning their days and routes. Between the destinations could be as much as 330 miles and although some of these cars we have on the rally are going to be able to complete that without actually having to charge, but we want the drivers to be ready for anything.”
Leaving John O’Groats on the morning of July 4, vans and cars will split into two individual groups with cars heading west along the north coast, while the vans – highlighting the potential of EVs as commercial vehicles – will head south using what is often-referred to as the ‘Electric A9’, before they eyeball each other from opposite ends of Loch Ness. After overnight stops in Oban (cars) and Dundee (commercials), the fleet will then move south of the border and take in cities and towns such as Rockingham, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Braintree, Bristol, London and Cardiff before finishing at Lands End on the fifth day.
“In essence, this is a John O’ Groats to Lands’ End rally, but we have been very fortunate to secure Castle & Gardens of Mey – former home of the Queen Mother – about even miles from John O Groats to gather before setting out on our adventure,” says Boyton. “Each of the participating vehicles will carry eye-catching branding and they will be driven by fleet professionals, key industry people, members of the media and even three Guinness World Record holders.”
Above, Colin Boyton
Technology will be key in not only keeping the drivers in close communication with each other and the event organisers, but also to keep the public engaged in the event with live updates.
Boyton said: “In terms of meeting participants on the rally, we really hope to engage the public in getting involved. The entire route itself and all the different checkpoints that the vehicles will be stopping at are available on the event website at gbevrally.co.uk and we will be actively involved on twitter and linkedin.
“Each team will have at least one vehicle fitted with technology to track the vehicles live, so everyone will be able to watch live progress as they move down the country.
“At each checkpoint the teams will exit the vehicle, take a picture of the car or the van, and then post it on social media with all the relevant hashtags and handles. That’s how the momentum of the event grew last year and with the involvement of the organisations we’ve got this year, we expect to make an even bigger impression.
“If you can’t join us at any of the checkpoints just keep an eye on the socials. We’re going to be very active and are looking forward to showing the entire UK how great this technology has become.”