"See Europe in a sustainable form of transport without sacrificing the fun and performance. Smooth, comfortable, quick acceleration, and without the guilt of adding more emissions to the continent."
That was the promise of ESCP's Energy Society in London, launching an event to promote and gain support for a tour of all ESCP's campuses planned for March 2016, when they plan to drive from ESCP's campus in London to its campuses in Berlin, Torino, Madrid and, finally, Paris.
On Saturday 21st March teams of students and alumni from the MSc in Energy Management (MEM) programme at ESCP Business School held the launch event for the ESCP Electric Vehicle European Tour. The event began with a drive around some major London landmarks, learning in the process about driving and charging electric vehicles (EVs) and raising awareness about the benefits in terms of comfort and convenience, as well as the environmental benefits: the UK could save some 40% of energy imports from a switch to EVs.
The initiative brought together students & alumni from various ESCP programmes including the MEM, Master in Management (MIM) and Master In European Business (MEB). In addition, the Energy Society's social media campaign to raise awareness of the event (which encompassed Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter) generated a high level of interest from external companies and organisations which promote EVs as a form of sustainable and reliable transport.
On the day, the drivers collected two Nissan Leaf electric cars from Green Motion Car Rental Company on Edgware Road, one of the only electric car hire companies they found in London that could provide an EV for the day. After an introduction to driving an EV, which is similar to an automatic car fuelled by petrol or diesel, they made their way to the starting point of the trip - ESCP London Campus in West Hampstead. They were greeted by the rest of the team and supporters, complete with croissants and ESCP goody bags. After pictures were taken, the teams set off in their cars to their first London landmark, Buckingham Palace, where they stopped to take some quick photos. They were then off to the next stop: Big Ben in Westminster.
"Trying to find a place to stop and take a picture was difficult, so we did a few laps of Parliament Square which allowed us to get a better glimpse of the clock tower and to show off our shiny new electric Nissan Leaf vehicles," said student Ben Pullen.
"MEB alumnus Valerio Scupola greeted us at Parliament Square. It was already 11:45, and we were running a bit late as we had scheduled lunch at 12:30 in Southwark with guests who had signed up and additional ones who had seen the tweets on Twitter."
The teams had chosen their lunch stop at the Refinery in Southwark, five minutes away from one of the many charging stations around London listed on Source London's Charging Network website. A Source Card was in the car hire package, giving access to more than 1,300 charging points in London for free (normal cost £5/year). They decided to charge one of the cars to gain the experience of plugging it in, but it was not really necessary, as demonstrated by the second car which they did not charge and lasted for the rest of the day.
Ben said: "As the car was charging we were also refuelling ourselves with tasty food at The Refinery. We were joined at lunch by Afeez Alad-Kolawole, Founder & CEO of Try My EV, whose aim is to get more people to drive EVs. He had seen our live tweets and came along. Try My EV provides a platform for people interested in driving or buying an EV to find existing owners with whom to share experiences or get a test drive. Afeez provided us with advice and food for thought on which vehicles to use for the full EV trip in 2016. We discussed the incredible acceleration speed of the Tesla Model S and the pros and cons of using the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, and BMW i3 models.
"After refuelling we were full of energy and ready to take on the second part of the London Launch Event - The Millennium Dome and the Thames Barrier. However, after some discussion at lunch we decided to take a detour and drive to one of the highest points in London, the Greenwich Observatory. And, boy, were we happy we did: what a splendid view of London, including Canary Wharf, the Millennium Dome, and the old British Naval College! During this stop we were greeted by many interested park walkers who wanted to find out more about the EV cars we were driving."
Skand Narang said: "The reaction was highly positive and we would have liked to have given everyone a test drive. One family remarked at the silence and acceleration of the cars saying, 'Woooo, it's just like flying". We could have done with a flying car at this point as we only had a few hours before the networking and celebration drinks at The Alice House pub in West Hampstead."
The time well-spent in Greenwich meant that they no longer had time to visit both of the scheduled next stops, and settled for a drive to the Millennium Dome, leaving the Thames Barrier for a future trip.
The journey back from east to north-west London took the teams through parts of the city they had never seen before: the Blackwall Tunnel, the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, and the streets of Hackney, Highbury and Islington. Ben said "For such an international group of students and alumni it was the perfect way to see London, mixing popular tourist sites with urban back streets.
"We all felt happy with our day touring London in a car that was a new type of vehicle for most of us. We had learnt what it felt like to drive an EV, and begun to raise awareness that these cars really can function perfectly well for our daily lives and working needs. We gained enormous confidence in our European Tour plan.
"We also proved that people can be environmentally conscious without sacrificing fun and high performance. Actually we preferred the EV car experience: it was smoother, quieter, and cleaner to drive."
The two cars arrived safely at the Alice House pub in West Hampstead where they were greeted by a welcoming crowd from the ESCP community.
The Energy Society plans to run another mini-event in Paris, before the full ESCP EV Tour in March 2016 when students and alumni will drive to all five ESCP campuses in London, Berlin, Torino, Madrid, and Paris, taking in eight countries in a planned seven- to ten-day trip (depending on car used).
Please support them in their ambitious adventure! It will be a lot of fun, but it also serves to raise enormous awareness of the benefits of transferring from petrol and diesel to electric cars. They are looking for financial donations, as well as loans of cars from manufacturers, dealers or hire firms wishing to promote the benefits of using EVs by demonstrating they are suited to a trip around Europe.
To offer your support or to find out more about the event, please contact Ben Pullen.
In the cars were:
Beah El Chemor (Swapped with Valerio Scupola at lunch time)
Jennifer Frauke Diedrichs
You can view pictures from this event via the ESCP Flickr account.