Have you ever watched Fully Charged? It's a YouTube show that, were there any justice in the world, would have prime-time BBC1 billing on a Sunday night. It's presented by Robert Llewellyn, and if you're unfamiliar with the name, you might recognise the voice. Calm, reassuring, ebullient. Can you place it? Perhaps you'd have better luck if Robert was sporting the geometric head that made him famous. He's Kryten, from Red Dwarf!
Fully Charged is all about green motoring, with a particular emphasis placed on the endless possibilities of electric cars. It's a gentle show, a refreshing antidote to the searingly cynical, tediously laddish and wilfully-ignorant drivel of TopGear. You watch an episode of TopGear and, no matter how hard you laugh, the best case scenario is that afterwards, you'll feel a little bit empty. At worst, you'll feel in desperate need of a long shower and a stiff drink.
An episode of Fully Charged, though, will leave you feeling bright, enthusiastic, optimistic; switched-on to the sheer possibilities of green motoring. TopGear is the televisual equivalent of an unflushed toilet. Fully Charged makes you realise that this is a genuinely exciting time to be alive.This Week On Fully Charged
The concept of “range anxiety” was recently exposed as mythical when Werner Hillebrand-Hansen undertook an 854 mile European road trip in a Renault Zoe. Having covered 854 miles, he proved once and for all that you can indeed rely on electric cars for longer journeys.
The UK's network of rapid charging points is growing, with key providers Ecotricity installing four new ones every week. Be that as it may, the focus is on motorways and urban areas. Rightfully so, as this is where you'll get the most traffic and the most demand, but what if you want to venture beyond the beaten track? What if, for example, you want to undertake a nice drive in the Welsh countryside?
That's what Fully Charged have investigated this week.The Fully Charged Welsh Electric Road Trip
Electric cars don't yet have the range we're used to with our fossil-burning cars, and the rapid charging infrastructure has not yet extended to the countryside. It's therefore not yet practical to embark upon a road trip in an electric car. Despite this, Robert Llewellyn decided to drive his Nissan LEAF a distance of 192 miles through rural, hilly Wales.
Did he manage it? Of course he did, thanks to a company called Zero Carbon Road Trips. They're organising a system of B&Bs that offer overnight charging for electric cars, the idea being that you plan your trips with nightly stops at these green hotspots. They also let you borrow a 100% electric Renault Twizy, allowing people to use the switched-on B&Bs as green base camps for further explorations.
In fact, the compact and manoeuvrable Renault Twizy, though designed for the city, takes very well to the winding, narrow country roads of Wales. It zips along the ancient paths making barely a sound, so hikers, picnickers and farmers aren't disturbed by noise pollution. So long as you stay within range of the charging base, there's no need to worry about flat batteries.Green Motoring On Green Power
Opponents of electric cars like to point out that, because they use power that's sometimes been drawn from non-renewable sources, they're not actually that green after all, and to pretend otherwise is hypocrisy. I don't think I need to point out the flaws in this argument, but in any case, it's an argument that cannot even be applied to the Fully Charged Welsh Electric Road Trip.
Robert stops to charge his electric car at a remote Welsh visitor centre, where all power is drawn from a nearby reservoir. He replenishes his juices using clean, renewable hydro electricity, and the resulting carbon footprint is microscopic.
It's pointed out that these reservoirs could potentially generate much, much more hydroelectric power. Why risk fracking when there's so much untapped potential in water?
Robert then pays a visit to the Centre For Alternative Technology (CAT). I've been there! It's fantastic. In fact, thinking about it now, I can still taste the dark chocolate gingerbread I had whilst there. It was wonderful.
The Fully Charged Welsh Electric Road Trip is a pleasant little adventure, well worth the 11 minutes or so it takes to watch it. In total, Robert covers a distance of 418 miles, with zero CO2 emissions and having spent absolutely nothing on fuel. Along the way, he learns that whilst the current developments in green motoring are certainly encouraging, there's so much potential out there that, I repeat, this is a genuinely exciting time to be alive.
Or you could watch the TopGear manchilds call each other names whilst they drive expensive, inefficient cars that have been crudely altered to resemble chip shops, or something. Your choice.