Can there be such a thing as an eco-car? Roger Saul thinks the answer’s a resounding yes
28-02-2011 | Can there be such a thing as an eco-car? Roger Saul thinks the answer's a resounding yes. The Mulberry fashion founder explains how his passion for motor racing and life as an organic farmer need not be mutually exclusive.
Celebrities and eco cars assembled at the world's first eco-car spectacular in September, to demonstrate that the future of motoring will be fast and green. Roger Saul teamed up with Grand Designs' star Kevin McCloud to bring the clean and silent motor show to London's iconic Mall. Roger explains why:
"Our aim was to get as much public awareness as possible that there is a viable alternative to the combustion engine; that electric vehicles are the future. We also wanted to engage with the car industry - one of our biggest fears was that they wouldn't take it seriously, but in the end we had a great reception across the board from the public, pundits, press and the motor industry.
"We brought together the vast majority of all eco cars, bikes and scooters available - from prototype to production - in the world. That in itself is a major feat. At the start of this journey, we had not realised how new and naive this industry is. Most of the eco cars you hear about are still prototypes.
Drivers for change
"It won't happen overnight, but sooner or later electric vehicles will be the mainstream. And we're at the start of the crucial transitional stage now. To change perceived wisdom you've got to be logical, ordered and present your case well. The technology is still at an early stage and a huge amount of development needs to happen; but it will come.
Reducing battery size, charging times and price will all have an impact. When the first production models come on the market in 2011 they're likely to cost more than their combustion powered relatives, but when you consider the running costs, the price comes down really quickly. When we drove from Brighton to London for the Spectacular the train cost £22 to get there, but the fuel cost only £1.14 to get back. I think many people will wait for the price to come down, but really committed people will make the leap now.
Spark of inspiration
"It all happened because I've raced since I was 20; racing and winning in different types of classic cars all over Europe. I finally realised that my eco organic footprint and my 'one mile a gallon' petrol footprint didn't match. Racing classic cars has been the love of my life and was hard to quit, so setting up the Spectacular has been a way to get some of the thrill back. There's nothing to match historic car racing, but the principle is still the same, and it's exciting to be behind the wheel of the world's most cutting edge electric vehicles.
"We want to spread the word across the UK and will launch a new electric race car series in 2011 called the EV Cup, which will feature celebrities and owners and drivers of in-production and prototype electric cars. The journey has only just begun."
Roger Saul, founder of the Mulberry designer label, moved from fashion to fork by creating the Sharpham Park organic food brand. Sharpham Park is an organic farm with its own flour mill near Glastonbury producing rare breed beef, hogget and venison plus a whole range of spelt products. Roger also owns Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet, Somerset's secret garden including the Sharpham Park organic farm shop, Harlequin cafe and Wellness centre. Roger has always been an avid historic motor car racer but has given up his much loved Alfa Romeo P3 and Mercedes Gullwing. But he hasn't given up on his love of speed and recently curated the world's first Eco-Car Spectacular for HRH Prince Charles' Start Campaign.