How you can try before you buy

“Our son-in-law sent us a Tesla wall charger, so we thought we better get a car to plug into it.”

As a reason to go green it’s not quite on the same level as saving the planet, but I get the impression Lorraine Bailey is just making excuses for her husband John, whose heart is already set on buying their first EV. So set, in fact, that the couple have come in John’s Jag all the way from Earley near Reading to the Holiday Inn, outside Sevenoaks, for a presentation on the benefits of running an electric car. Afterwards, there will be a chance to drive a Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Models S, X and 3, an Audi E-tron, a BMW i3s and a Renault Zoe.

The Baileys have been joined by 50 other folk – a mix of selfemployed people keen to know more about the business case for electric cars, private buyers on the edge of purchasing their first and the simply curious.

Among them is Marcus Kuzmiak, from Reading. “I am a data evangelist working in the renewables sector,” he tells me, without a trace of a smile. “I’ve lived car-free for 12 years but with the advent of electric cars I no longer intend to. My Tesla Model 3 arrives in 30 days. The EV culture, our responsibility to the planet… it all appeals to me.”

The presentation that he and everyone else has paid £20 each to experience today is being given by EVision Electric Vehicle Hire, an EV leasing and rental business. I’m expecting its green velvet glove to pack a hard-hitting sales punch…

Hugh Edeleanu, chairman of EVision, speaks first. The Cambridge-educated engineer says that climate change is really happening but like the cavalry coming over the hill, help is arriving in the form of new-generation EVs. “This year will be the tipping point,” he says. “Models with longer ranges and better technology are coming.”

He’s quick to point out, though, that most of today’s EVs also have perfectly good ranges and are very reliable. A hand shoots up from the audience: “Most?”

Edeleanu says the company doesn’t rent Nissan Leafs. “The model’s range is not good and it doesn’t have proper battery cooling.”

Steering the presentation back to a more positive note, he explains the pros and cons of all the various charging options and sets out the benefits of running an EV: cheaper than a fossil-fuelled car to run, safer to drive and kinder to the environment. But also, as of April, no benefit-in-kind charge for employees driving a company EV and only a small charge (1%) from 2021, rising by the same amount thereafter. Currently, the charge is 16%.