Jun 13, 2018 - 3min read
Last weekend, Team Tonik were at Fully Charged Live - the UK’s electric vehicle and renewable energy event of the year.
Fully Charged is the phenomenally popular YouTube show obsessed with electric vehicles such as cars, bikes, boats and planes, but also how we generate and even own the electricity to power these incredible machines. The host, Robert Llewellyn (of Red Dwarf and Scrapheap Challenge fame), explores the reality of renewable energy, and looks into the truth about conventional generation; demonstrating what the future could have in store for us all.
It was the perfect opportunity for our Managing Director, Chris Russell, to speak with Robert about Tonik’s ambition to help its members generate and store their own renewable energy, and use it to power their electric vehicles.
This was the show’s inaugural live event, and we were excited to be there!
We asked our Product Director, Steve Springett, for his top five things that really inspired him at Fully Charged Live, and what they taught us about the future of energy.
The atmosphere really was (and pun absolutely intended) electric! There were so many enthusiastic, excited people, and what was brilliant was that they all wanted the exact same thing: change. From tech giants to tech start-ups, from grandparents to grandkids, from supplier to grid operator, from petrolhead converts to renewable stalwarts…it was a huge mix of people, all cheering for the same cause. Beautiful.
There were over 50 electric vehicles at the show. It was like an EV rally; it was mind-blowing! Not only does the huge EV turnout highlight the pull of Fully Charged Live, but it made two things clear:
1) The sheer number and variety of EVs it’s now possible to buy. When Chris and I turned up in his Renault ZOE, instead of being the exception, it was like some kind of homecoming - there really were EVs absolutely everywhere. I won’t lie, pulling up alongside the new Jaguar I-Pace or any of the fleet of Tesla cars on show did lead to a little envy, but what great company to keep! What’s more, the Tesla Owners’ Club were offering to shuttle visitors from Silverstone’s front gate to the the event entrance - a great excuse to jump in the most-talked-about EV of all time!
2) What a job we’ve got on our hands to build the charging infrastructure to support an EV future. Whether it be streets lined with EVs parked outside homes, workplaces full of EV commuter cars, or installing domestic EV charging points, there’s a lot of work to be done…but if there’s one message to take away from Fully Charged Live, it’s “bring it on!”
Not only was I in awe of all the brand new EVs on show, I was also blown away by some of the classic car retrofits! Edd China’s - of Discovery Channel’s Wheeler Dealers - electric ice cream van; a Land Rover Defender with a Nissan battery in the middle; and the awesome electric bikes from Zero Motorcycles. The talent that goes into turning petrol or diesel-guzzlers into clean, mean EVs while preserving the incredible design heritage of our classic cars is truly inspiring.
Even though you can get a much more efficient EV by designing from the ground up, retrofits are a great way to spread the EV message and associated cool-factor… just like Prince Harry did a few weeks back as he drove away from his wedding in a Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero.
Chris delivered a superb session with Robert about what it takes to turn your home into a ‘Virtual Power Plant’ – solar, battery, and EV charging facilitated by an energy supplier who can knit together your products with the right tariffs to save you money and to help out the grid.
It’s a good job we were rocking our Tonik t-shirts - it made it much easier for people (and each other!) to spot and talk to us. We were absolutely overwhelmed by how many people came up to us eager to get renewable solutions as soon as possible, or for us to play that “facilitation” role to help them get more out of their current home set ups.
It was also great that people really got the connected, community elements of the Virtual Power Plant – it’s not about going “off grid” and leaving everyone else to cope with expensive energy supply and a grid under strain; it’s about being part of an ecosystem that’s better for all.
Like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams and, later, Wayne Campbell in Wayne’s World 2, the Fully Charged crew were taking a huge punt with their live event. They booked a massive venue, and invited a bunch of people along with whom they had previously only had a virtual relationship, through the Fully Charged YouTube episodes. But WOW, did it pay off! And in doing so, it proved the existence of immense demand for a more sustainable future.
But, as Robert Llewellyn says, the important takeaway wasn’t the the triumph of the event itself; it was what it symbolised. “The overriding feeling wasn't so much about the success of the event, or even the Fully Charged series,” said Robert. “It's about the possibilities of the technological revolution we are witnessing. More and more people are starting to get it, to understand the wider implications of the changes ahead.”
Hats off to the crew – Robert, Dan, Helen, Jonny and all the others behind the scenes - who made Fully Charged Live happen; it was awesome and inspiring to be part of. Here’s to next year’s - and the rumours of festival-style camping and live music!