Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
Today’s edition is a bit of a bumper! Over the weekend I attended Fully Charged Outside and I had the great pleasure to interview the mastermind behind it, Dan Caesar.
Elsewhere in EV news, the latest SMMT figures have been released, Shell is on the move and Ofgem wants to make vehicle-to-grid electricity easier.
As ever, if you have any questions or thoughts, please do contact me at email@example.com.
Meet Dan Caesar: the joint CEO of Fully Charged
As I stand on the first floor of Farnborough’s exhibition centre, it’s hard not to be distracted by the private jets taking off. Not only are they insanely loud, but there’s always something alluring about this inefficient transportation for the super-wealthy.
However, private jets are not welcome today at the UK’s biggest electric vehicle and clean energy event on the calendar, even if they are flying over while it happens.
The event itself is called Fully Charged Outside – or Fully Charged Live – and it’s the brainchild of Dan Caesar, joint CEO of the Fully Charged Show. I’ve sat down to chat with him midway through the weekend-long event.
“We forecast 15,000 visitors,” says Dan, “and we should beat that.”
“Tickets are flying off the shelf at the moment because there is a buzz about the show and people are sharing it on social media.”
You can’t disagree with Dan. From where we’re sat chatting, you can pretty much see the whole show in action. There are test drives happening, people on ebikes, talks and tents bursting with tech. And the number of people pouring into it is endless, even with no sunshine.
However, this isn’t necessarily a typical event. Since Dan and the team last hosted a Fully Charged Live event, a lot has happened – not least a global pandemic.
Notably, though, the government announced last year that the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars would cease from 2030. The impact of this has been a soaring interest and sales of EVs – all-electrics currently make up 10% of the market.
The result of this interest beyond the traditional environmentalists has made Fully Charged, the YouTube channel founded by Robert Llewellyn 11 years ago, no.1 for delivering news, reviews and advice on clean energy and transportation. Each month, its videos attract nearly 5 million views and currently boasts over 820,000 subscribers.
Fully Charged Outside is the embodiment of this changing shift in consumer and business interest. What started out in 2018 as a small event in Silverstone has doubled in size each year it’s run. Dan believes when Fully Charged Outside returns in April next year it will double again.
So how did this partnership between Robert, a well-known TV actor, and Dan Caesar, a laser focussed marketing bod, come to be?
According to Dan, the two didn’t meet for a long time as they both enjoyed their own careers.
Dan’s journey to Fully Charged started when he began working in publishing for different businesses in the late 1990s. That was until he reached his mid-twenties and decided he wasn’t quite enjoying his work. “I remember I was about 26 at the time and I said, ‘I like this but I’m not passionate about the subject’.”
From here, Dan moved into an area he did care about: promoting gas safety with CORGI. “It might not be everyone’s exciting thing,” says Dan letting out a small laugh, “but it gave me a purpose. I was more drawn to the cause.”
It was after a few years here that Dan’s career was put on a path towards cleaner living, soon he started working in the renewables sector. “I was always worried about the climate. I took that quite seriously for a long, long time.”
Just as the climate started getting the interest it deserved, Dan launched his own event called the ‘Renewables Roadshow’. It was a place for people in the industry to showcase their products, such as heat pumps. “Now [heat pumps] are quite popular but back then it was really early stage. A bit like what Robert was doing with the channel.”
It was around this time that Dan also bought his first electric car. “I did a spreadsheet,” says Dan, who used it to persuade himself and his wife that it made sense to purchase a BMW i3. “It does take a little while to take that buying decision.”
Joining Fully Charged
By this time, Dan was very involved in the green industry and it wasn’t long before he crossed paths with Robert and his Fully Charged YouTube channel.
“It’s quite embarrassing,” Dan tells me. “Obviously, Robert is well known for being in Red Dwarf and Scrapheap Challenge, and I watched neither of those things. I wasn’t a fanboy.”
What got Dan so interested in the channel, then?
“Robert is a great everyman. I spent so much time in the energy industry where it was all people in suits talking to each other and I thought, ‘there’s something missing here’.”
After Dan booked Robert to speak at an event he was running, his belief that Robert’s down-to-earth approach could speak to a wider audience was confirmed.
According to Dan, at the time they met, Robert was making no money from Fully Charged. “He was funding it all himself,” as he explains that most YouTubers make no money, “unless you do unboxing or Minecraft.”
This was where Dan said he could add value to Fully Charged given his business experience. Dan offered his services to Robert and a relationship was born.
Dan stresses, “Robert and I are not money-obsessed people.” He explains that they’re both “far more interested in the mission.” However, good intentions don’t grow a YouTube brand. So, alongside giving Robert some advice, the pair also devised the first Fully Charged Live event.
“I didn’t get paid at all initially,” says Dan with a smile, “it was just me in my garden office one day a week getting it going.” Dan adds that, as well as himself, he also relied on a network around him to help, including his wife.
The first event at Silverstone was a runaway success which “came out of nowhere.” By the second event, they’d outgrown Silverstone and had to move to Farnborough Airport this year.
The rest you could say is history. Since their partnership was born nearly five years ago, Fully Charged has gone from strength to strength. Its content is of TV quality and now boasts a team of presenters across the globe.
The green challenge
As the leading electric vehicle channel, I’m keen to understand what Dan makes of the industry today – especially given the huge criticism it still receives.
I ask Dan about the possibility to fuel cars with hydrogen. Dan himself was previously a director at Ceres Power, a fuel-cell developer.
“I’m very pro hydrogen,” explains Dan, “I just don’t think we should force things for applications they’re not going to work in.”
Dan believes, given the dropping cost of the lithium-ion battery and its rapid development in recent years, that the H2 fuel argument in personal cars is over. However, many at established businesses and in the mainstream media disagree on a battery future.
Dan believes the aggressive response is “perfectly natural if you’ve made your money out of one thing to want to protect that thing.” However, while establishment voices continue to disagree, Dan thinks it’s now “blindingly obvious to consumers that we’re going electric.”
The Fully Charged team call this worry by people about electrification ‘FUD’ – which stands for fear, uncertainty and doubt. Dan believes the show acts as a sort of “antidote” to FUD. He tells me later of the endless negative EV stories in the press, “if you’re looking for the problems, you will find them.”
At the same time, Dan does not curse the past. “The combustion engine has transformed the world, largely for the good. But it has some drawbacks. There’s a better technology here now, and that’s the reality.”
He does believe, though, that quite a few carmakers have been caught off-guard by the surging interest in EVs. But, also, the changing type of buyers.
“It’s a new breed of consumer,” Dan says of people buying EVs, “females are getting much more involved in the buying decision because EVs are linked to the home more closely.”
At this point, I do give Dan a bit of a look – not many brave the topic of gender these days – but he explains further, “it’s a gross generalisation, but women often run the home and the guy is in charge of the car.” This is what Dan believes is changing. He also thinks it’s going to happen a lot sooner than many people believe. His prediction is that “people will not want to buy ICE vehicles anymore by 2027 or 2028.”
It's at this point I turn the conversation to hybrids. These, alongside pure-EVs, have also been surging in sales – in fact, there are nearly double the number of hybrids to battery EVs being sold. What does Fully Charged make of that?
“Our position on that three years ago was: plug-in hybrids are a good gateway drug to go electric. Our position now is: why would you bother?”
But electric cars are just one part of Fully Charged and their mission to get people to ‘stop burning stuff’. The channel broadly divides up its content as “50% electric cars, 25% clean energy and 25% other electric vehicles.”
It’s Dan’s belief, however, that it is electric cars that will lead people to go greener. He explains: “if we’re going to go through this once in a century energy transfer, they are the superhero of that story because they get people excited. You’d never get excited about a boiler.” Although, Dan admits he might.
“People get excited by cars and then they start thinking ‘who supplies my energy’, ‘what kind of charger have I got’, and ‘I’ve got a battery on my driveway now, it would be interesting if I could use that energy for the house’.”
It’s this cross-section of products that Dan believes makes Fully Charged a great ‘umbrella’ for the green space. But he admits that its success means the show “isn’t just a YouTube channel anymore”.
The future for Fully Charged
By the sounds of it, Dan and Robert have built a small green empire not known since Babylon. Not only do they produce regular high-quality video content, but they also run huge live events plus have a production business. So, where does Fully Charged go next?
“The next step is to get onto another platform, a TV platform,” Dan reveals. “I’m going to put all my energy into that now.”
Dan’s confident that whereas the Fully Charged team “know the topic”, if Netflix, the BBC or Amazon ever wanted to do something similar, “their knowledge would be way back.”
To get the show on a TV platform would be an incredible and hard-earned achievement. Dan freely admits that it’s been tough work to get here, even more so for Robert. However, the adrenaline still seems to be pumping around them both.
“It’s not hard when you’re passionate about something,” Dan concludes, “it’s unbelievably fun.”
They certainly seem to be enjoying themselves, as do their fans. Long may they continue to teach and entertain us about living greener.
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Elsewhere in the news…
SALES GROWTH: The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has unveiled in its latest car registration figures that the number of cars sold has dropped significantly. This is due to diesel sales falling off a cliff. Meanwhile, battery-electric and hybrid vehicles have continued to rise exponentially. Compared to August last year, BEVs have increased in sales by 32% meanwhile plug-in hybrids have risen by a whopping 72%.
NEW LIFE: This week it is the Munich Motor Show - the first such motor show in a very, very long time. A lot of manufacturers are revealing new vehicle models. The most interesting so far has been the VW ‘ID. Life’. It’s set to sit below the ID.3 - so basically an ID.2. It should cost around £17,000 new and has a range of up to 250 miles. The car could also double up as a cinema, if you were that way inclined, as it has a retractable projector built into the front. Read more.
SAVE THE DAY: Thursday the 9th of September this week marks ‘World EV Day’. Make sure you save the date! I suspect many carmakers and other organisations will use the day to make various announcements. Apparently, Nissan might reveal a new commercial vehicle!
GRID TECH: Ofgem, the energy regulator, revealed plans at the weekend to make it easier for EV owners to sell the energy stored in their car batteries back to the power grid as part of a move to help make the switch away from fossil fuel cars more affordable. Part of the plan would mean EV owners could actually make money by selling electricity back to the grid at peak times. This tech can’t come soon enough, as it was also revealed, sadly, today that a coal factory has had to be turned back on to support our current energy needs due to low winds recently.
SHELL AMBITION: The energy giant Shell announced last week that it plans to install 50,000 more public chargepoints in the UK by 2025. Shell hopes to do the bulk of this via Ubitricity, a company it acquired earlier this year. Ubitricity installs chargepoints in lampposts often in urban areas. Read more.
By Tom Riley