Green Shoots: What it’s like to own an electric car in Harrogate
Last updated Dec 11, 2021
Ralph Armsby and his partner Judy Carrivick

Harrogate residents Ralph Armsby and his partner Judy Carrivick ditched their petrol car for an electric Kia e-Niro earlier this year.

They got the car on a four-year lease and pay around £450 a month plus £460 a year in insurance.

Because it’s a low emission vehicle they pay zero car tax, and when they charge it at home it ends up costing just over 1p a mile to drive.

Mr Armsby said switching to an EV was “a no-brainer” due to the environmental cost of driving a petrol car.

“We’re very aware of air pollution, not just from the car but it starts when they take the oil out of ground, to tankers driving around the UK.

“You should get something that is powered down a wire rather than being pumped out at stations all over the place.”

Mr Amsby said it’s important to check with Northern Powergrid that your home is able to install a charging point because there was a lack of fast public charging points in Harrogate.

It cost the couple around £600 to install one, which they plug into the car overnight whilst they sleep so they can wake up with a full charge.

If they decide to charge the car throughout the day, it works out at around 3p a mile.

Range anxiety

Mr Armsby said he sometimes suffers from “range anxiety”, the phenomenon where EV drivers are worried their car will run out of charge before they find somewhere to power it up. But on a full charge, their car can manage over 280 miles, depending on driving style.

They use an app called ZapMap to find public charging points. During a recent trip to Wales, they found towns much smaller than Harrogate were better equipped for EV drivers with more places to charge.

Harrogate has several public charging points, with 7kw, 24kw and 50kw connections.

The only fast 50kw charging points are at Harrogate Borough Council’s civic centre at Knapping Mount, where it costs more to charge than at home. There are also three fast charging points outside Lidl in Knaresborough.

If you charge your car at the civic centre it takes around half an hour to get a full charge.

Read more:

Mr Armsby said the council charging points were welcome, but Harrogate needed more and was poorly equipped for business travellers who might be using the convention centre.

He said:

“If you come here on a conference, you’ll be fighting for a space there.

“We desperately need more fast charging points.”

There are other slower charging 7kw charging points around the district, which are able to give an EV a short boost.

There are even now charging points at the almost 1,000-year-old Fountains Abbey. Mr Armsby said he has visited twice because he could charge his car outside the ruin.

In total, the Harrogate district has 53 EV charging points in 30 different locations, but some can only be used by Teslas.

Mr Armsby plugging in

Mr Armbsy said many more on-street charging facilities were needed in Harrogate so people can plug in whilst they shop.

He added:

“Other countries have had on-street charging and had it for years, we’re not world beating in the UK, we’re miles behind European countries.”

Joy to drive

The couple are retired and use their car mainly for leisure and shopping. 

Mr Armsby said:

“It’s a joy to drive, we’re fighting each other on who’s going to drive!”

Whilst electric vehicles still produce emissions through their tyres — and there are concerns over the mining of minerals to make the batteries — Mr Armbsy said he would never go back to driving a petrol car.

He said:

“Harrogate is quite polluted. Cold Bath Road, for example, is a rat run in the mornings with kids being dropped off in Range Rovers. It would be so much nicer on these roads if everyone was driving electric.”

Do you have an interesting project or passion that improves the environment and could feature in Green Shoots? Contact [email protected]