Electric Vehicles – The World Comes to London
The first ever London EV Show took place at the Business Design Centre in Islington between the 14th and 16th of December. Self-branded as a “hybrid” event, meaning that there would be a conference, exhibition and networking combined into one single event. This inaugural event brought decision and policy makers from around the globe together to discuss the electric vehicle roadmap for the upcoming months and years.
As you would expect, EVision Electric Vehicles were in attendance at the event, keeping our finger on the EV pulse. This is our review.
Making a Grand Entrance
The London EV Show was originally due to be held at the Olympia Centre, however, as with many events in 2021, the event was postponed for a week and had a change of venue. The new venue in Islington was not the easiest to find for the uninitiated, however, once I arrived I was greeted by an impressive sign covering the front of the building, making a show of how important an event this was.
It could be seen as you approached the grand entrance that this event would be a little different to any EVision had been to before. In front of the building were a number of electric vans, electric trucks and an electric digger. I would be returning to the forecourt for a closer inspection in due course, but for now my priority was to get through the Covid screening measures (which were excellent at the event), get my bag and lanyard and explore the event inside.
Scoping the Joint
Once through the atrium of the event centre I was greeted by two sides of the electric vehicle industry, the familiar and the new. To the left of me was the Tesla stand complete with two of the manufacturer’s saloon cars on display. The Teslas never fail to put a smile on my face, but I wanted to see something a little different. Looking to my right I would see that my desire would be satisfied.
My eyes were suddenly drawn to a stunning vehicle I had never heard of before, never mind seen. Having carried out some research it is clear that I would not be the only person being exposed to Gunsel for the first time. The Gunsel B9 (to be precise) is the first car manufactured in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus and the manufacturers are rightly proud of it. Just like Tesla, Gunsel is a company set up solely for the manufacture of electric vehicles. No petrol or diesel will touch any of their products.
The Gunsel B9 is a real eye-catcher and it was a privilege to be one of the first people in the world to see the car. The London EV Show was in fact the grand European unveiling. The shape of the B9 could be a bit of a marmite situation. People will either love it or hate it. I personally thought it looked lovely but could do with a bit more “bottom”. The frunk (or froot) contained extra storage space which helps to make up for the loss of boot space at the other end. Inside the car was absolutely stunning. If you had seen the inside of the B9 about 20 years ago you would have been expecting to take the car around Caloris Planitia rather than around the M25. It’s as futuristic as futuristic can be.
The performance of the Gunsel B9 really stands out. With a 52kWh battery the vehicle is surprisingly able to offer 350 miles of range on the WLTP scale. This is something I would normally expect from a vehicle with a 75kWh-ish battery. And as the battery is smaller, it charges quicker as well. Just 30 minutes on a DC charger will give you 80% of charge on the vehicle. The longevity of the battery is also impressive, retaining greater than 90% of its charging capability after 300,000 miles. So even if you were to drive 20,000 miles per year the battery would lose less than only 10% of its capacity after 15 years. How’s that for sustainability!!!
The B9 is being released in Cyprus first at the end of 2021 before being rolled out across Europe in 2022. The good thing about the manufacture taking place in Cyprus for UK enthusiasts is that the Cypriots also drive on the left side of the road, so the vehicles are made with the steering wheel on the more familiar right hand side. We don’t yet know what the price of this vehicle will be when it reaches UK shores, but it has been touted as amongst the more affordable options.
Lapping it all up
Having admired what was on offer just past the entrance it was time to make my way up the central staircase and into the main floor of the exhibition centre. A flurry of activity welcomed me into the epicentre with many companies displaying their wares. It was time to do an Eliud Kipchoge and lap the others in attendance to get a flavour on what was there to be seen.
Something that really stood out for me was that this exhibition was not primarily aimed at your man-on-the-street consumer. The displays were all solutions based (no Kia EV6, Jaguar I-Pace or Renault Zoe in sight. Even the Teslas on display seemed a bit out of place in retrospect). The event was about showing decision makers and business leaders what is available to help the transition to electrification.
Charging solutions were the most prominent on display with a huge range of solutions, from those suited to an electric fuelling court, roadside charging (including the very clever and beautiful charger inside a tree trunk which really caught my eye) all the way to the discreet charging box solutions for homes or businesses. I know from other events that some of those in attendance are central figures behind the rollout of roadside charging, such as the amazing Connected Kerb.
Ooh, That’s Different
Whenever I am at an event, particularly if I am in attendance as a delegate rather than as an exhibitor (when there is little time to explore) I like to try and find something I’ve not seen before. Whether that is a new car or whether it is a new piece of technology that I’ve not come across anywhere else. The London EV Show did not disappoint on this front.
One such innovation that caught my eye is one that is incredibly prevalent to the modern world and, unfortunately, for the foreseeable future. Griphero provides recycled gloves and glove dispensers for charge points. In a world more and more concerned about the transfer of viruses from the items that we touch, Griphero offers a solution. Not only that, but all the protection gloves are made from recycled plastic. This is something I highly approve of.
Another innovative group I came across is a startup company called Bonnet. This company provides an app which has two very important functions that are a godsend to EV drivers, particularly those who drive a lot and need to charge on the road. Firstly, the app will relay current information on chargers in real time to let you know which charge points are not working so you can plan accordingly. The app also consolidates all your charging RFID cards, payment apps etc into one single app. A monthly payment means that you don’t need to search around for one of your many apps or cards in order to work a charge point. Admittedly, the monthly price of the app payment feature is a lot if you are able to charge at home. However, you may like the convenience of using the app rather than carrying dozens of cards with you on your travels. The app would certainly be incredibly useful for those on the move a lot.
Electric Vans Everywhere
As well as an abundance of electric charge point solutions, there were also a large number of electric vans on display. One van really impressed me by having 300 miles of range. That was until I discovered that it was actually a range extender (I knew it was too good to be true). However, there was a fantastic selection of pure electric vans on display that put a smile on my face. Not just the standard vans either, there were also chiller vans, tipper vans, box vans, drop side vans and tail lift vans on display.
When we look towards a fully electric future it is important that the work vehicles are considered and developed equally as well as the consumer vehicles. Work vehicles are the backbone of the country and they must not be left behind. EVision are extremely passionate about supporting the British workforce and this is why we are always looking at different solutions for our customer needs. We already have the very popular Vauxhall Vivaro-E and Renault Kangoo vans on our inventory, and you can expect more to be added to our growing list of work vehicles soon.
City Solutions and Something of a Surprise
After looking at dozens of amazing innovations on the main floor, there was something on the ground floor that I had spied earlier and wanted to have a closer look at.
City business solutions are going to be a little different at times to business solutions that cover wider areas. It is for this reason that a number of companies have come up with smaller electric vehicles to suit city driving. Has anyone tried driving around Central London in a full-sized van? It’s not fun! The little EVs on display were both cute and extremely practical for the needs of smaller businesses. They will also be able to flit around the capital with greater ease.
The pleasant surprise of the day was actually just outside the entrance. It came in the form of a Volvo digger. When thinking of work vehicles we often think of trucks, vans, lorries etc. However, plant machinery such as diggers and dumpers also have to be considered and included. Electric diggers are not new to me personally, but it was the first time I have ever seen one at an EV event. Although we love our Teslas at EVision, the EV world has moved beyond being Elon Musk’s minion. All types of vehicle and machine, including those that have been overlooked in the past, are now making their way to the forefront. Every time I attend an electric vehicle event my confidence in the reality of a truly electric world builds each time.
Time to Confer About the Conference
Of course, it wasn’t just the exhibition and networking that was taking place at the London EV Show. There were also three days of some of the most influential people in the world when it comes to the future of electrification. Not only were there some of the highest members of the industry giving talks, there were a number of delegates representing the governments of other nations. The Transport Minister from New Zealand, The Minister of Transport and Logistic Services from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Ambassador of Costa Rica to the UK and Northern Ireland.
Of these highly venerable speakers it was the representative from Saudi Arabia that I was most pleased to see in attendance. The recent COP26 conference highlighted that the Saudis are still trying to hold onto their grip of the world fuel market due to their vast oil wealth. The willingness to be involved in further events such as the London EV Show tells me that maybe I had given up on them a little too quickly. There is a clear indication that Saudi Arabia is taking the electrification of the world seriously and wants to be a key player in making the change possible.
The London EV Show was an excellent event and had a slightly different focus on any event I have been to before. The innovation on display was incredibly heartwarming and positive for the future of electrification.
I imagine that conferences such as this will be more commonplace in the coming years as the world looks to completely eradicate the use of fossil fuels on our roads. You only need to look at the attendance list to see that the event was filled with people who can make the decisions at the highest level, as well as those who have the power to make it happen.
The 2022 event will be moving to the much larger venue of the ExCel in London and it will need the extra space. A lot of people will want to get involved to collaborate on making the world a better place. The Business Design Centre was an excellent host for the very first event, but you can tell that next year will be far bigger. I for one cannot wait to go back again to see what developments have been made and whereabouts we are on the road to electrification.