08:27 Friday 15th November 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[P]AUL STAINTON: We are increasingly told that electric cars are the future, and we’re all going to be driving one soon, aren’t we, swapping our gas-guzzling cars for a green silent version. Well, as you may have heard on the Bigger Breakfast Show last week, in Peterborough there are six new electric car charging points went up in the city centre to encourage us to ditch our gas-guzzlers. But we were keen to find out how difficult or easy it was to use an electric car and get across the county, so we sent our reporter Waseem Mirza on a challenge. Can he travel from Huntingdon to Peterborough, Cambridge and then back to Huntingdon in a reasonable time? Well, first of all he had to get a car. He did, from Simon Atack at Anvil ESI. But as you are about to hear, it didn’t go at all well for poor old Waseem.
SIMON ATACK: We’re here in the Peugeot iOn electric vehicle. It’s a 100% electric vehicle.
WASEEM MIRZA: OK. Well I’m very keen to find out how we do on this journey. We’re going to be going to Peterborough.
SIMON ATACK: Yes. We’re going from Huntingdon all the way up to Peterborough, to Queensgate, and then across to Cambridge again. So it’s going to be a little bit of a Cambridgeshire marathon.
WASEEM MIRZA: Let’s start off then. Away we go.
SIMON ATACK: (PING SOUNDS) The vehicle is now on.
WASEEM MIRZA: We’re actually on?
SIMON ATACK: We’re on. We’re all ready to go. It’s ready to drive.
WASEEM MIRZA: All I heard was that series of beeps, electronic beeps. That was it. There’s nothing. There’s silence. Absolutely not a dicky bird.
SIMON ATACK: Absolutely not a dicky bird.
WASEEM MIRZA: There’s no engine. The motor is on, so let’s see how we go.
SIMON ATACK: The manufacturer on this is claiming just over 90 miles to a single charge. We reckon when we’ve taken it out it’s been about 85 in terms of mileage on a charge. It all depends on your driving style very much. (BREAK)
WASEEM MIRZA: Seventy mph now. In fact, a moment ago we hit seventy. We’ve consistently gone above sixty on the motorway journey, so I’m quite pleased with that result. (BREAK) But that optimism was short lived, as we found out when we arrived at Peterborough city centre. (BREAK) So we’ve just arrived in Peterborough city centre now. We’ve gone over the iconic railway bridge with a view of Queensgate shopping centre ahead of us, and on the dashboard we’ve got thirty five miles of range left. And on the far left it’s a similar sort of looking petrol gauge if you like, and it shows we’ve only reached just over half.
SIMON ATACK: We’re now looking for the charging spaces in the Green car park.
WASEEM MIRZA: Oh there we go. Electric vehicle charging point. There’s a whole bank of them here. Lovely. OK. So we are going to get out of the car and you’re going to put the vehicle on charge. (BREAK) But after spending what seemed to be an hour trying to get one of the six new charging points to work, we quickly discover that the touchscreen panel used to control the charging is faulty, and there’s no-one available to help us out. (BREAK) Well we’ve attempted to park up here in Queensgate and use the charging point, but it’s not working. We’ve been told there’s a fault, and we’ve also been told that there’s nobody available this afternoon to come to our rescue. So we’re looking for an alternative charge point. I think we’ve found one. I’m looking on the internet. We’re off to City Road, so fingers crossed. (BREAK) This particular charge point is Chargemaster only, so it doesn’t accept any other kind of card. And off we go. We have got a short list. There are a couple of stores that we can try as well. With any luck one of those has got to work, surely. (BREAK) Well all attempts proved futile, except when a breakthrough came by way of a phone call from a colleague back at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, and it seemed to be good news. We found an EDF energy charge point here. It looks like you can only begin to charge if you’ve got a tag. OK. So we’ve arrived at Dobbies Garden centre in Peterborough, and we have struck lucky I think.
DOBBIES STAFF MEMBER: I believe you have.
WASEEM MIRZA: What have you got in your hand?
DOBBIES STAFF MEMBER: I’ve got a key fob for our electric charge point. Just pop this into the electric charge point and you’re all set to go.
WASEEM MIRZA: Excellent. Thank you very much indeed. (BREAK) After around 45 minutes we’ve returned back after a coffee break to find there’s enough charge to get us back to Huntingdon.
SIMON ATACK: Let’s have a look. We’ve got a little bit more charge on there, so coming up to about nearly three quarters full.
WASEEM MIRZA: Brilliant. So more than enough ..
SIMON ATACK: .. to get us all the way back.
WASEEM MIRZA: Excellent.
PAUL STAINTON: Waseem Mirza not quite making it where he wanted to go, but in the end he managed. He’s unlucky is our Waseem. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, something goes wrong, doesn’t it, with Waseem’s journeys or his job. But we love him for that. We absolutely love him for that. He’s like the kid out of Dick Emery, isn’t he? On that occasion that’s not his fault. Not quite Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was it? But there you go. We did ask the PR company charged with managing the launch of the new charge points in Peterborough to help us, but we were told no-one was available. The moral of the story is we’re going to have gas-guzzlers for quite a while until they sort it all out.