The Charge is gathering momentum
Clergy motoring specialists Newgate reports a marked increase in people choosing electric cars, with environmentally conscious Baptists at the forefront – and adds installing charging points on their premises presents a possible missional opportunity for churches
While Electric Vehicles (EVs) have long been viewed as a key element in the drive to slow climate change, there aren’t too many of them on the road. Yet.
Newgate Motoring Solutions has been supplying cars to clergy and teachers since 2000, and had only leased one electric vehicle prior to June this year. However, as 2020 draws to a close, that figure had risen exponentially. It’s a figure that includes several Baptists.
Advances in technology, more choice from manufacturers and crucially, improved affordability, are among the reasons for the change.
‘The tide is turning,’ said Nigel Williams, Newgate’s founder. ‘Up until this year they have been too expensive and there hasn’t been much uptake. Price was the biggest barrier to people choosing electric.
‘There was a sense the manufacturers needed to introduce more discounts to make them viable, and that is now beginning to happen. We’re certainly seeing more and more interest.’
Under the motoring scheme Nigel pioneered, Newgate acts as a credit broker, negotiating special discounts for clergy and teachers directly with selected motor manufacturers. Last year its cheapest EV was more than £400 per month, but it now offers EVs at prices comparable to petrol counterparts. The all-electric Renault Zoe is the current top deal at around £240, while electric options from manufacturers such as Peugeot, Volkswagen and Vauxhall are all under £300 per month.
Richard Wilson, Baptists Together Support Services Team Leader (pictured), plumped for the Zoe when the lease for his Golf GTE plug-in hybrid was due in the summer.
He said, ‘I’m delighted with my new Zoe which is a great car with excellent range. The lease is significantly cheaper than my old Golf and charging overnight on off peak electricity tariffs means that it’s only costing one or two pence per mile in “fuel”.
‘It’s great to know I am reducing my impact on the environment but it’s also fantastic value.’
Penny Marsh, Baptist minister at the Kent Thameside Church planting project, is another to have chosen an EV through Newgate this year.
Penny (pictured) said, ‘When circumstances changed this year and we realised we needed another car, we were pleased to be able to lease the fully electric Renault Zoe. As a family we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint where we can - we already have a plug-in hybrid and this takes our commitment to electric vehicles further. It is great car to drive - we are enjoying the range and performance.’
Electric Vehicle charging points - a missional opportunity?
An improving infrastructure is another factor increasing motorists’ confidence in EVs – people need to be confident there are sufficient charging points around their community and beyond when they consider going electric. There is already a growing network, but numbers nevertheless need to increase to keep pace with demand – a demand that’s set to swell further after the Government recently announced the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030.
Nigel points out this is an area churches could consider.
‘Installing a charging point at your premises will not only provide an extremely useful resource in your community, but it will also bring missional opportunities as people use it,’ he says.
‘We are already beginning to see this happen - Gloucester Cathedral has installed charging points on its grounds.
‘At some point in the future bi-directional chargers will hit the market – these have the capacity to send the power to both the car and the church building, or back to the grid. There’s a lot for churches to think about.’
Top image | Ralph Hutter | Unsplash
Richard and Penny photos | Newgate