MyEnergi on tour: Jordan Brompton and Robert Llewellyn meet on the ferry to Orkney, ahead of their dual role at the electric car event.

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted:  16 Aug 2017

Driving 1,200 miles to the northernmost tip of Scotland to prove a point has the makings of a Proclaimers follow-up, but it has brought more attention than a Grimsby-area green energy start-up could have ever hoped. David Laister reports.

If Government legislation wasn’t enough of a driver, Binbrook-based renewable applications innovator MyEnergi has been given a helping hand by Robert Llewellyn.

The Red Dwarf actor is an ambassador of new technology, fronting his own YouTube channel dedicated to electric-powered transport.

And he is now a proud recipient of a Zappi prototype from the Lincolnshire production facility, having met representatives on the way to a special event in Orkney, when both he and the team behind it decided to put their mileage where their mouths are.

As reported, MyEnergi launched the charging device concept this spring, building on proven technology from innovative director Lee Sutton that manages consumption to align with micro-generation in the home or low tariffs. It has already won awards and enters full production this month, with pre-sales in the boot.

Business development manager Jordan Brompton has been exhibiting the product at shows, and was a panellist at Orkney Renewable Energy Forum’s special electric vehicle event, held on the island county that is leading take-up in Scotland.

Visitors were encouraged to test drive models ahead of a talk from Mr Llewellyn and the panel question and answer session.

She said: “We met Robert on the ferry across, and he loved the product and said he wanted to buy one. We said we would sort one out, but he filmed it there and then. He has already mentioned us and featured it on one episode, and he has said it will appear again. We had 50 enquiries on the day it went out and sales have come from it.”

FULLY CHARGED: Zappi and business development manager Jordan Brompton make the cut on Robert Llewellyn’s YouTube channel.

Seen during his programme on the Tesla Model S, already viewed more than 200,000 times, he took his review model from London to the North Coast of Scotland, where he was joined in the ferry queue by Mrs Brompton. She, however, was in her early edition Nissan Leaf, having made it all the way from Cleethorpes with husband Mike.

“It is the company car, fully branded up, and it gives us great exposure,” she said. “It was quite a challenge. We only get 60 miles from it, whereas new models are getting 130 plus.

“We did, however, prove we could get there and back for free.”

Mr Sutton’s energy provider, Solarplicity, gives him free charging on the road, and while there were some close calls – unexpected diversions not helping – the Bromptons made it to the show.

“You just have to plan your routes better, and not just think about the final destination,” she said. “Also, you can never be completely stranded as you can use a three-pin plug if need be.”

Since the EV adventure, which clocked up 1,190 miles in total, Government has this past month announced the banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

“It is a massive help and I think it will be sooner,” she said. “Volvo has said 2019 to cease production of petrol and diesel cars, and I think many more will follow suit because the demand will be there.

“At the moment there is a lack of education, perceptions are wrong, I would urge people to test drive, and if you can get a Tesla, it really is the next level.

“Range is getting better and better, and the warranty on batteries is great – it is getting longer than a warranty on a new car.”

To swerve technology advance pitfalls, some manufacturers are offering upgrades too as part of the offer.

She cited one driver who, having clocked up 63,000 miles, has paid for half of his car just through petrol savings, and was delighted to appear on the panel to help “destroy myths like popping balloons. That’s why Robert is so amazing, he is so passionate about it,” she said. “He has been great, so nice, and willing to help a start-up. He appreciates we are a start-up and need that little bit of a push from someone like him.”

On the episode, Mr Llewellyn, who evangelises about the EV concept, positively purring over his Tesla, gives MyEnergi plenty of exposure, with lingering close ups on Zappi as he debunks concerns over range and charge time.

Describing the Zappi as “simple but quite brilliant,” he explains how “it only feeds in to your car what is being produced by your solar panels, so you are not using any electricity from the grid, guaranteeing you are charging your car with your own power, ie zero cost, you are not taking anything from the grid at all,”.

Unlike the early Leaf, he had the confidence of a 330 mile range, when he set off from the capital.

“I had to stop after 280 miles for myself, not the car,” he said. “It really does do that distance, and no human being should try and drive that far, it is five-and-a-half to six hours.

“There must be some salesmen who have to hammer up various motorways in diesel cars, but they must get lots of difficulty with their backs later.”

He also underlined a major factor – and despite supercharge points becoming more prevalent, the three pin plug is still an option – he said: “90 per cent of cars are not used for 90 per cent of the time. You can charge a car slowly”.

Zappi is now shortlisted for the Solar Power Portal Awards in Birmingham in October, where the presenter will be… Robert Llewellyn.

By then the 136 pre-orders should be charging nationwide, as the Church View base ramps up to meet a 50-a-day capacity. A ninth employee has been taken on and third party outsourcing for the main boards has also been investigated to ensure higher-than-anticipated sales can be accommodated on the back of the dynamic industry.

It has been boosted by OLEV approval too, which means customers can now claim £500 back from the Government on installation costs. “It can now cost between £50 to £100 if one of our approved installers fits it, so it was huge news for us,” she said.

“We are still on track for first dispatch this month. All the components have now arrived and the production equipment also.”