18 November 2019

Chris Salmon, sgfleet commercial director, decided to try out an electric vehicle for his commute from Hampshire to Stoke-on-Trent. Since a lot of people were curious about how it went, here’s the story in Chris’s own words and his inimitable tongue-in-cheek way.

Q. What made you decide to try out an EV?

CS – Having always been a fan of new technology, I was keen to see if an all-electric car would work for me – bearing in mind my commute is 280 miles!

Until the Tesla released the Long Range Model S, I wasn’t convinced there was a car that could cope with my commuting needs but I was keen to give this one a try and see if it could work for me.

The attractive BIK rates had nothing to do with it, I assure you!

Q. Which car were you driving?

CS – Tesla Model S – unfortunately, the Long Range wasn’t available but I was lucky enough to get a Model S 75D to try for a few days.

Q. What was its official range?

CS – The official range was 224 miles, which I knew wouldn’t be enough for a full commute but, as we have charging facilities at the office, I was pretty confident everything would work out.

Q. What were your apprehensions other than range?

CS – Nothing, the range was my only concern but bear in mind that I currently drive a diesel-fuelled vehicle that gives me around 700 miles on a full tank and I get twitchy when it tells me I have 100 miles left!

Q. How was the driving experience?

CS – Driving the car was a fabulous experience. In the 15+ years I've worked in the fleet industry, I have driven literally hundreds of cars but the Tesla was by far and away the most enjoyable. It’s more like a computer on wheels than a car!

The acceleration is fabulous and the hidden menus are great fun – my kids especially liked the farting option!

Unfortunately for me, driving the car wasn’t the challenge – it was charging and the battery range. On the first day I had the car, I went to my local shopping centre for a couple of hours and decided to charge the car while we were shopping. Two hours of charging, and it added around 40 miles, which left me quite underwhelmed.

That wasn’t the only issue, though. As I had the Tesla on demo, I didn’t have the app so it proved difficult to get the public charging cable out of the car – rather embarrassing, I can assure you!

The next challenge came when I did my commute. In the morning, when I left home, I had 220 miles available but by the time I reached Warwick services (200 miles away) I was down to 15 miles. So, I decided to stop for an hour and make use of the Superchargers there, which were considerably better than the ones in the shopping centre.

I managed to get circa 75 miles added in an hour. Following that, I headed to the office, safe in the knowledge I could charge all day while I worked.

But guess what… we had a power cut as I was heading in and none of our chargers worked – nooo!!!!

I completed my working day and knew I would have to plan to stop on the way home. I planned 2 stops at Warwick services and then Sutton Scotney but this meant an extra 2 hours on my journey home.

To put that in perspective, I left home at 5.30am and arrived in the office at 9.15, left the office at 5pm and arrived home at 9.30. Fully accepting there were mitigating factors here, but right now it does seem a fully electric car isn’t quite right for me.

Q. Would you recommend EVs in general and the Tesla Model S in particular?

CS – EVs, in general, yes, and, despite the ‘special circumstances’ I experienced with the Tesla, I would say a big yes to that too. I would love to have one but I would absolutely recommend trying one on your commute and usual working patterns first.

If you live close to your place of work and spend most of your day travelling to the same place, I would say go for it but if, like me, you have a long commute and can find yourself all over the country at short notice, I would consider all options first.

Further reading

If Chris’s story has inspired you to use electric vehicles for your company fleet, our fleet management and leasing services might be of interest. We also offer employee benefits solutions and driver services, so call us on 0844 854 5100 to learn more. You can also send an email to CSalmon@sgfleet.com.

Red Tesla Model S Parked in Drive