Driving to Madrid in a Kia EV6
We love hearing about all the exciting things you get up to in your EVs, and after Gareth Powell, Associate Director at The Construction Consultants, sent in some pictures of his recent road trip to Madrid, we just knew we had to find out more.
The Construction Consultants adopted our EV salary sacrifice scheme last year when they were looking for a low-cost (or no cost in our case!) employee car scheme.
Keep reading to hear about how Gareth went from proposing our scheme to his company to driving all the way to Madrid in his Kia EV6.
Gareth: I have a background in green technology, having designed and installed heat pumps. So I've been immersed in sustainable thinking and green issues for quite a while now. But what really convinced me to transition to an EV was during COVID lockdowns I was looking out of my window and saw my Land Rover just sitting there, depreciating every month, costing me money in servicing and maintenance.
Elise: I think COVID made us all think about the world around us a bit more, I know I did.
G: I also switched jobs to The Construction Consultants, joining as an Associate Director. We were looking for employee benefits that wouldn’t cost the business too much money, and healthcare was the obvious choice. However, we also wanted to offer a car leasing or company car scheme. Due to my sustainability background, I started looking into electric cars and stumbled upon the Octopus EV salary sacrifice scheme. I truly felt it fitted the bill of what we wanted, not only for my company but for myself as an individual. So, I put together a presentation and pitched it to the other directors. They were completely sold! It's been the easiest transition and I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t do it.
“I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t do it”
E: It’s great you could have such a big impact on your team and convince your company to be more green. As you’re such an advocate, is there anything else you’ve done to green up your life?
G: I switched my energy supplier to a green provider a few years ago. I calculated doing that alone saved over two tons of carbon in a year, which is the same weight as my old Land Rover! I realised that if that’s how much my little house was saving, imagine that multiplied by the size of the estate, by the city, by the size of England, etc.
E: That’s brilliant Gareth, it’s taking those small steps as an individual that really has an impact on our world. So how was driving to Madrid in your Kia EV6?
G: So for a little bit of background my son was teaching English in Spanish schools in Madrid for a year. Initially, we looked at flying him out there, but taking into account all his luggage for a 12-month trip it was quickly becoming very expensive. So, I thought, why not make it an adventure and drive there instead? We were due to leave in September and my EV wasn’t due till December so I was all prepared to go in the Land Rover. A couple of weeks before we were due to leave, Octopus called and said they had a Kia EV6 ready for delivery the following week. It was perfect timing.
E: That sounds so exciting. How did you find the journey with charging?
G: We allowed ourselves a week to travel down to Madrid as EV charging was all new to me and we wanted some sightseeing time. We started with a full charge from home and used the Electroverse app to find charging stations along the way. We also had 5,000 free miles of charging through Electroverse which really helped. We drove around 200-300 miles a day, and around 3 or 4 PM, we'd start looking for accommodation near Electroverse charging stations. Most of these stations were located next to Lidl stores which was convenient. We would grab dinner and charge the car at the same time. There were a couple of chargers that didn't work, but as long as we planned ahead and managed our charging levels there were no issues.
E: Sounds like by the end you had it down to a T! How much do you think you spent getting to Madrid?
G: I don’t think we paid anything on the way there, thanks to the free Electroverse miles and some other free charging in Bordeaux and Valencia. If we did pay, I reckon it would’ve been around £250.
E: That must’ve been a lot cheaper and more fun than the original flights you were looking at. How did you get free charging in Bordeaux and Valencia?
G: In Bordeaux, we found a 350 kWh high-power charger, and I thought, "Let's give it a go!". It was a voyage of discovery and exploration into how this all worked. When we arrived, some engineers were maintaining it and told us it wasn't working. They'd never seen an EV6 before, and they asked if I could wait 20 minutes to test the charger with my car. It was so interesting to watch them work and be part of their experiment.
E: And then there was the solar-powered charging in Valencia?
G: Obviously there’s loads of sunshine and open space in Valencia so when we were driving through, we stumbled upon a huge solar panel field next to a vineyard with a little restaurant. It was stunning. I hooked up the car and when I asked where to pay for the charging, they told me it was completely free for anyone using the vineyard or restaurant. So we enjoyed some lunch and charged up for free!
E: You can’t get much more green than that and it sounds like you’re loving life with your EV. What’s been the best thing about going electric for you?
G: Waking up in the morning to a fully charged EV powered by green electricity. I can even set it to pre-condition so it's warm when I get in. It's incredibly convenient. It did require a different mindset on how you use it, but you quickly get into the swing of it. I typically drive 200-300 miles a week and most of my charging happens at home on the Intelligent Octopus Go tariff. Which is ridiculously cheap. I schedule everything to run at night, like the washing machine, dishwasher, and car charging.
“The best thing waking up in the morning to a fully charged EV powered by green electricity”
E: It’s like charging your phone isn’t it? You just top it up whenever it’s convenient and running low rather than charging it from empty to full every time.
G: Exactly, what a good analogy. My car is also V2L, which means it can power external devices. During the summer, there’s a thing called Mello Festival near my home in Worcester. It’s just a big field with people chilling out and listening to music, it’s mellow. I parked my car in the middle and set up a big extension lead with 13 sockets. Everyone could charge their phones, we had fairy lights and a fridge keeping our beer cool. The car's battery only dropped from 80% to 65% as well. It's truly life-changing, but you've got to be brave enough to make that step and take the plunge.
“It's truly life-changing, but you've got to be brave enough to make that step and take the plunge.”
E: What an incredible journey and story. You've shown us that going green shouldn’t be a compromise - it can even be fun and adventurous. Thanks so much for sharing your electrifying adventures with us, Gareth.
By adopting our salary sacrifice scheme, The Construction Consultants are not only helping their employees go green but opening the door to new experiences with an EV. Our salary sacrifice scheme is a cost-free benefit that helps improve employee well-being and retention all whilst empowering you and your employees to be more sustainable.
Book a call today with a member of our team to get started on your journey. Or, if you're an employee, convince your company to offer EV salary sacrifice.