We chat to Linda Pilkington Owner & Perfumer of Ormonde Jayne Perfumery, in Mayfair about being an electric car driver for more than 14 years
When did you first hear about electric cars?
14 years ago, my husband was reading an article in a Sunday newspaper previewing the new G-Wiz, a little car, made in India from plastic and frankly, it looked like something Noddy might drive. My husband said it would be perfect as Westminster City Council were planning for owners to be exempt from congestion charges and give them free parking.
What mode of transport were you using then?
At the time, I was either walking to work or taking the tube depending on the weather and how much time I had. I also had a car, a Peugeot 205, but she was 19 years old and on her last legs so I hardly used her. When I first opened our boutique in Old Bond Street, I would drive to our studio where we make our candles & perfumes, pick up the stock, then drive it to Old Bond Street, drop all the stock off at the boutique, and then drive home again, and then catch the tube back in to Old Bond Street. Completely impractical and very time consuming, but it was a way to save money rather than use parking meters at Old Bond Street all day.
How did you choose your G-Wiz
It was very easy; there was a choice of colours, but it’s not the sort of car you want to flaunt or put extras on, so I went for plain black.
How did you adapt to driving your electric car around London in the beginning?
The fun thing about the G Wiz company is that they don’t own garages, so if you are interested in buying a car, the G Wiz sales rep arranges to meet you in town, and bring the car to you for your test drive. In my case, the kind gentleman arranged to meet me not far from Park Lane. And after I had driven 5 minutes around Baker St & St Johns Wood, he thought it would be a great idea if I could tackle Hyde Park Corner. Driving down Park Lane and then around Hyde Park Corner frightened the living daylights out of me, because when you put your foot down on the accelerator, the surge of power is delayed. So, trying to negotiate the four lanes, and the horror of Hyde Park Corner, I did have a few people shaking their fists at me.
However, I got through it, and I thought that if could tackle Hyde Park Corner, then we had passed the initiation by fire, and that I could purchase her. Lucy, as she has known, has been mine for 14 years.
How easy is it to switch between your petrol family car & your electric car?
It’s not that easy, because our family car is a saloon and it’s about 2/3s longer. Without wishing to blow my own trumpet too much, I am an expert at parking & I can park any size vehicle. I can squeeze into spots nobody else would dare. I was taught how to park in Germany where it’s a point of national pride.
How have you used it for your company Ormonde Jayne in the past 14 years
Lucy has been an absolute treasure – after I drop off my children at school, I drive down to my lab in Camden to pick up any supplies, then I drive in Bond Street and I can park there all day for less than £4. On the way home I pick up groceries and then plug her in at night. The electricity costs about 50p. You couldn’t wish for a less stressful & easy commute in London or any city. Parking was entirely free up anywhere in London until 2 years ago, and now it costs £1.80 for four hours, cheaper than a cup of coffee.
Could you estimate how much your have spent on repairs over the 14 years?
I have a service contract that costs £600 a year, and there has been a couple of years where I didn’t bother because she is problem-free. I have changed all six batteries twice over the 14 years which costs £1700. She has saved me a fortune over the last 14 years and that I can’t begin to estimate.
How easy is it to charge your car around London?
When I bought the car in 2005, electric charging spots around London were very rare. I think there were around 30. But Lucy needs feeding just once a day, and I usually charge her at night time. It’s very low maintenance with a normal plug and takes about 4 hours. At the moment, we can’t access our driveway, so I have been parking her at a neighbour’s house under her fig tree, so she is covered in fig debris!
I have only run out of juice once, and I had to push her to the nearest house with a light on. Once I did break down and had to push her to the nearest house with a light on. Sharleen Spiteri, the lead singer from Texas opened the door was extremely kind. She let me revive Lucy & gave me a cup of tea.
How do you see your future with Lucy?
All good things come to an end. I was pregnant with my first child when I first bought Lucy, but now we have two strapping sons who are taller than me, and they have to bend their heads sideways to fit in. So, next year I’m changing my car as my husband has bought me an electric Mini, in racing green with go faster stripes.
Price: From £7,000
Motor: D/C electric
Performance: Top speed of around 42mph; 600mpg equivalent
20th September 2019