My background is very undramatic. Middle child of three, grew up in the midlands, went to grammar school eventually dropped out and became a fringe dwelling hippy. Worked in all manner of jobs. First became an apprentice shoemaker and through a series of fortunate events ended up on stage, and through that, television.
I always had a passionate interest in engineering. Even though I was a third-rate mechanic, I did rebuild a couple of old cars. I was very slow and needed a lot of guidance.
My early exposure to electric vehicles and the people developing them was definitely down to working on Scrapheap Challenge. From 2001-04 I was regularly working in California. I think we can now understand, was the spawning ground for the revival of the electric car. I met a great many automotive engineers and scientists, software engineers, battery chemistry specialists all working on electric cars. I’m sure many of them went on to work at Tesla. However at the time this did seem like an obscure niche.
We are not only fascinated with EVs, but the whole community surrounding them. Everything from blogs/vlogs to full blown automaker start-ups. The Fully Charged Show is hosted on YouTube. Can you share how the idea for the show came about and why you started producing online content?
I have been an early adopter of new technology for most of my life. This is often a costly and fruitless activity, but you can learn from your many mistakes.
In the early 2000’s I was having a relatively successful career in the traditional television industry. However I always had a yearning to go it alone. I set up an ‘online broadcasting company’ with friends in 2000, way too soon. We made some‘comedy video clips,’ about a minute long. Each compressed to unwatchable which we hosted on a server in West London.
Grab your Electric Speed Shop Gear
The big problem we had, even though 99% of people had incredibly slow dial up connections, was the videos were too popular. It cost us money when people watched, we had to pay bandwidth charges and it was a total disaster.
When iTunes and YouTube happened everything changed overnight. I was ready and waiting with ideas and a basic ability to create them.
This change had much to do with technology. Even 5 years before YouTube the notion of making what is effectively a TV show was financially beyond anyone outside the industry. An edit suit could cost in excess of £150,000, broadcast quality video cameras around £40,000.
To be able to shoot on a phone, edit it on a lap top and distribute it free was disruptive. In 2008, I started with a series called Carpool. My reasoning was I could solo shoot, edit and upload. Thus it would cost next to nothing other than my time. I used a couple of cheap 2nd hand cameras I bought from the team on Scrapheap. Thankfully a lot of people found it and watched it. 140 episodes later I was exhausted.
Then, in 2010 and very much growing out of my experience on Carpool I started making Fully Charged.
The Fully Charged Show focuses not just on electric cars, but all types of transportation and renewable energy. Is there one particular electric vehicle that has you really excited for the future?
I’ve found that the longer I make Fully Charged, the less interested I am in cars. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the absolute backbone of the show but I’m more interested in the bigger picture. The massive shift we’re witnessing around the world as millions of people start to understand the true impact of using internal combustion engines and the massive benefits across the board from using electric motors and batteries.
All that said, the Rivian offerings are fairly mind blowing. I am a little excited about that, I’m also really impressed with what VW are doing. In the very near future we’ll hear about Honda.
Of all the electric cars you have covered and produced content on, is there one that sticks out as being your favorite? Why? One that was the absolute worst?
Worst is easy, the G-Wizz. That was very hard to love. Hard not to mention Tesla. My Model S has probably been the single car I’ve ever owned that consistently impressed me.
What’s in the future for you and The Fully Charged Show? Do you plan to keep growing in that specific niche or extend into other areas?
Whats in the future for The Electric Speed Shop? Read about us here!
We certainly experiment in wider topics than energy and transport (Vegan burgers). I think we’ll stick to the essential elements we’ve been covering. It’s such a massive topic we’re certainly not going to run out of stories.
Are you watching EV adoption globally? Which countries, in your opinion, are the most forward looking? Which do you think could be doing better?
I almost focus on the rest of the world more than the UK. Obviously Norway and California are the places I’ve been and seen the impact of massive levels of EV adoption. I’ve never been to China but clearly they are streets ahead and moving fast. I’m writing this in Australia; Which has a much higher adoption of renewable than many of us might assume, but very limited electric vehicles. I think that is likely to change.
However the ~UK is doing really well on two fronts, electric vehicle adoption and off shore wind.
What is, in your opinion, the largest hurdle for EVs to overcome? Do you think the negative “public opinion” is behind us?
I think negative public opinion is diminishing. The idea of owning or using an electric car is becoming mainstream much faster than the manufacturers anticipated. All I hear about now is waiting lists.
How can we talk about EVs and not talk about Tesla? Myview: Tesla is a huge success. The first American automaker in over roughly 100 years to succeed in mass producing cars. Elon Musk took the concept of electric cars and made it his own, pushing it what we know today. What are your thoughts on Tesla, how it started, and where it might be heading?
Impossible not to acknowledge Tesla. Also important to remember that regardless of the twitter gaffs and questionable reactions; Musk has stated time and time again that the overriding ambition he has is to end the age of fossils. As we literally fall through the door into the Anthropocene, like a drunk hooligan with no intention of changing, his voice has enormous weight. All other big car manufacturers will hesitate, delay, make excuses and cow tow to the massive power of the fossil lobby until they look at the sales figures coming out of Tesla and they literally shit themselves. They have to change fast or die.
It is very hard to imagine where we would be now had Mr Musk decided to just have hair transplants and live on a luxury yacht 20 years ago. We’d still have the G-Wizz I suppose.
Other than Tesla, are there another big automakers you think are going to have a big impact? Why? What about any other EV startup?
The big three. Who’ve really dragged their heels regarding EV’s, and in once case were happy to break the law to keep flogging diesels. These big three will, I think, make a massive impact in the next 12 months.
Honda, Toyota and VW. We will see new battery chemistry, lower prices and longer ranges. I now firmly believe none of them are mucking about making the odd compliance car. This is massive global manufacturers desperately trying to stay alive.
EV startups will come and go, often a flurry of activity and obsessive attention and then nothing. I’m very hopeful for Rivian and Bollinger, aiming at niche markets with hugely impressive offerings.
The Electric Speed Shop’s goal is to have a physical garage where we can convert combustion engine cars to electric as well as customize EVs. How familiar are you with other conversion shops, or projects? What are your thoughts on this as a method to keep classic cars or other sports cars running/ improve their performance and efficiency?
I think this area is fascinating. We’ve just done and episode about New Electric in Amsterdam, this is exactly what they’re doing. I think it will be a rapidly growing niche. The range of models suitable for converting is limited but I think it’s a brilliant idea.
Clearly companies like New Electric and Electric Classic Cars, EV West and many others around the world have a vital role in spreading their knowledge and equipment supplies.
The biggest hurdle right now for conversion shops (our opinion) is the availability of OEM parts. There are plenty of smaller companies who make motors and batteries, but many prefer to use salvaged Tesla components. Do you think any big OEM will eventually sell motors and batteries straight to consumers, similar to how you can buy a crate motor today?
If they have any business sense yes. We know Bosch have developed complete axle and drive systems clearly aimed at OEM’s but eminently usable in conversions.
If you could convert ANY car, which would you choose? Why?
Showing my age once again, a 1969 Fastback Mustang. I just love the look of that car. I drove a mint version in LA in 2001 and although it was a dreadful car to drive, noisy, hot, appalling road holding, comically high fuel consumption, I loved it.
Is there any conversion project that the Fully Charged Show has covered that you fell in love with?
Classic Electric Cars VW Beetle.
How can our readers find out more about you, Fully Charged and what your team has going on?
I can’t think of a better way than by going to: https://www.youtube.com/fullychargedshow
If you enjoyed this Q&A:
Please visit this link for more EV personality and EV conversion Q&A’s!
Please visit here to learn how you can support The Electric Speed Shop