Plugged-In Grace Webb - Presenter and journalist
The love of motorsport and a career in education has formed the perfect basis for Grace Webb's rise to becoming a leading electric vehicle expert as part of Fifth Gear Recharged and Driving Electric.
Webb's interest in vehicles and engineering was sparked at a young age by her family, with ties to the racing circuit Donington Park, which her grandfather Tom Wheatcroft founded.
It meant there would always be races to watch and pictures and stories to tell whenever there was a visit to the grandparents.
Webb said: "I think it was inevitable that I would be immersed in motoring.
"Both my mum and dad are bikers, so that love of bikes comes from there."
Webb had done some presenting work for the motorcycle championship 'Thundersport GB' in 2012, but it wasn't until 2019, after six years as a teacher, before Webb was approached by the BBC to lead an educational children's television show all about vehicles, engineering and machinery.
It was Grace's Amazing Machines which also opened the door to electric vehicles.
Webb said: "As part of the show for Cbeebies we ended up documenting a lot of electric vehicles.
"The EV industry really fascinates me. The technology is moving so quickly and it doesn't take long for new concepts and innovations to come about."
"...E-bike acceleration is phenomenal…"
Webb is now the bike specialist for Fifth Gear Recharged, but it was that job with the BBC that first granted the opportunity to test these new vehicles out.
If you're curious and haven't driven an electric motorbike, Webb confirmed that the instant torque curve delivery electric car drivers will be familiar with works the same way for motorbikes.
Webb said: "I've managed to try some electric bikes on track so you can really open them up and see what they can do. The acceleration is phenomenal."
While smaller less powerful e-bikes can be charged at home using a regular three-pin domestic plug, the larger more powerful e-bikes can use the same smart home chargers that cars do.
Webb said: "The Easee has been great and so handy when I'm at home."
See why Grace chose the Easee One
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Grace's amazing EVs
One of the perks of being a motoring presenter is that you get to try out a lot of new electric cars and bikes.
There's one in particular that has impressed Webb the most so far.
She said: "I personally really like the Audi e-tron GT. I know that it gets compared a lot to the Porsche Taycan, which is also a very nice car. The difference for me was that with the Audi it felt very similar to their regular range of vehicles.
"I actually liked that the interior wasn't trying to be too futuristic. It's not jammed with a load of touchscreens.
"It's rapid and it charges really quickly, and the build quality really impressed me, but of course with all there comes the hefty price tag!"
For those less familiar with electric bikes, Webb recommends the Zero S/RS, which has been thoroughly tested on track to really put it through its paces.
Webb said: "The acceleration on the S/RS is so much fun and it handles amazingly.
"You'd think that the extra weight of the batteries would make it feel sluggish, but it's not the case at all.
"Zero is a manufacturer that has started with electric bikes and I think that's really helped the brand to have that blank slate and lack of expectation and association with the loud growling engine on something like a Harley."
A mixed bag with charging on the road
While the Easee One has been busy topping up all of the EVs Webb has on test week in and week out, the reality of her job means she's out on the road an awful lot.
That means relying on the public charging network and while Webb is clearly an advocate for EVs, it's certainly been a mixed bag so far with trying to charge on the move.
She said: "At the moment it's been 50/50 for me as to what you're going to get.
"While I think the number of chargers is in a good place, we're unfortunately still in a situation where the expectations for drivers aren't quite being met yet in terms of convenience.
"If you're at a supermarket or a hotel, I think it needs to get to the point where you know you can charge.
"Having that destination option with chargers that are reliable and working will really help alleviate some of that charging anxiety people are still feeling."
Webb said there's still that element when charging on the public networks that plans may have to change and your schedule will have to be more flexible.
Webb added: "Reliability is the main thing. Life is too busy for unreliability and I understand why that fear might hold someone back from making the switch to an EV.
"It's great that we have quite a lot of chargers across the country, but it's not as reliable as pulling up to get petrol and diesel. People need to know they can stop and it's going to work."
Luckily the industry is working towards improving the network further, with a government-mandated minimum standard of a 99% reliability rate.
Progress is being made and it will get to the point in the future where charging anxiety is a thing of the past.
That five-year delay to 2035
Webb believes it's inevitable that EV adoption will take a knock due to the Government's recent decision to push back the ban on new petrol and diesel sales in the UK from 2030 to 2035.
She said: "People will have another five years to make up their mind on EVs.
"I had a suspicion the Government would push the deadline back, just because of the frustrations that can be found on the public charging network.
"I'm not so sure I agree with the delay though. I think more could have been done to step in and help alleviate those worries around charging, rather than see that it's not ready and then just push things down the line."
The Media Backlash on EVs
Whenever Webb posts anything EV related it always creates a conversation. Most of the debate is around battery technology, production and the impact on the environment.
There are genuine concerns around the sustainability of EV production, as well as the materials that are needed to produce batteries and the way they are recycled too.
Webb said: "There is a lot of media coverage that isn't as balanced as it should be.
"The best way forward is to be honest and educate people about how it works and why EVs are better in the long run.
"People want and need more information about how EV batteries are made.
"There are of course bad things about EV production, but there are lots of positives about the technology too."
Webb sees many people "jumping to conclusions", but one of the ways she is hoping to address some myths and help inform further is where you can catch some more of her presenting content soon.
Webb will be presenting a new series for Motors.co.uk in the coming months that will see her doing more investigative documentary-style content about EVs, as well as challenges to see just what the zero-emissions technology is capable of.