Interview with Ade Thomas from World EV Day

Ahead of World EV Day 2022, YourParkingSpace has chatted to its founder


As part of a series of interviews with some of the most knowledgeable people in the electric vehicle space, we speak to Ade Thomas - founder of World EV Day - for his views on how the event has captured the imagination

Where do you think World EV Day has succeeded?

Really the best of World EV Day is that the global community runs with their own activity for the day. That can be in partnership with us, or they do their own thing.

A nice activity in partnership with World EV Day is DPD, the logistics firm, who will be inviting people to understand more about their electric van fleet on the day, to help people understand what electric vans do better.

But because the global community runs with it and does their own thing, there will be some really interesting things going on around the world that we won’t hear of until the day itself. 

For example, last year (World EV Day 2021) there was a big event where everyone dressed up in World EV Day t-shirts that they had printed out themselves, they jumped on their electric mopeds, and had an EV rally in India. There are all kinds of things going on. 

Major announcements are made on the day; last year there were announcements on EV charging from the UK Government, Nissan revealed the success of its Leaf… all kinds of interesting things, and we expect similar this year as well.

How much of the event is organised by your team?

It’s a globally desegregated day of campaigns, experiences, and announcements that the global mobility community run with and deploy themselves. It’s not in any way controlled by us in the centre, otherwise it would be a very small activity. It’s owned by the global community. And when a project is owned by a global community, in whatever sector it is, that’s when it’s a big success. 

World EV Day last year had a traditional media reach of over three billion, it had 312 million Twitter impressions and trended on the platform, it was LinkedIn’s 4th most visited company on the site for people searching for sustainability, so it’s a massive global campaign.

Do you know of any significant announcements that are due on this year’s event?

We have an idea of some, but many are embargoed, and others will come our way shortly. What I can tell you is that last year the UK government launched a charging infrastructure initiative, Nissan announced half a million production vehicles of the Leaf; in overview, people use World EV Day as a definitive hook for making major announcements.

Is it a truly global campaign event, or does it have focuses in certain regions?

The UK, Europe, North America, South Korea, Australia are interesting territories. World EV Day peaked in the UK and India, but also attracted significant interest in South Korea, the United State, Japan, Australia, China, and Germany.

What are the interesting developments in the EV and EV charging space that you are looking to over the coming year?

I look at the bigger picture. What excites me about World EV Day is it’s a day that is so large in terms of capturing the imagination - particularly the world’s social media and media, and increasingly, communities - it has such an impact that it genuinely shifts the dial on engagement around the transmission to electric mobility, and therefore more importantly to me, helps to decarbonise transport. 

Transport represents 30% of all carbon emissions, so when you have a day that genuinely has so much impact, you can be sure that it’s helping to decarbonise. 

I talk about World EV Day in some sense as a small part of what I call the “Ideas Infrastructure for Change”, and that leads through to actual infrastructure change, with real engagement at the OEM (manufacturer) level and charge point operator level.

Where did you become inspired to set up World EV Day? 

I’ve always been interested in sustainability, right back from my Cambridge University days where I studied a paper called War, Peace, and Global Security. A lot of that was military history, but a half of a third of that paper in the global security piece looked at climate change. 

Back in 1991, I thought if this climate change thing is supposed to be as problematic as they’re suggesting it might be, then we really need to address this. There’s always been a big focus for me, right through from my academic days to early career, where I started working on BBC Radio 4’s environment series Costing the Earth, which is still proudly part of the Radio 4 landscape today. So I’ve always been passionate about sustainability and environment. 

When lockdown and Covid hit, when the only tools at our disposal were social media and digital engagement, how do we engage an audience around the shift to e-mobility during that time? Essentially it was a lockdown project, and because we’d already worked with some very significant people in the e-mobility sector on the EV Summit side, it gave me the opportunity to get some very senior figures engaged with World EV Day. 

In its first year, it had a traditional media reach of one billion, and it was one of those ideas that was really of its moment, of its time. It really captured the imagination of the global mobility community. 

So right from year one it was a phenomenon, and certainly into year two. Last year the Prime Minister got involved, and the White House Climate Advisor got involved. You’ve got all those big numbers around global engagement, so hopefully this year, with even more interest in EVs out there in the world, it will be bigger and even more significant.

Do you think, based on the impact this event has had in past years, there has been a greater shift in attitudes from government, the public, OEMs, or a fairly balanced change? Is there an area that has significantly changed its perspective?

I think it’s a fairly balanced change. I asked a fairly established player in the sector recently where they thought change in the automotive sector came from, and they answered consumers and consumer attitudes. Whereas actually, where change in the automotive sector comes from, is government and policy. And what drives that engagement around automotive policy change is climate change, at the end of the day. 

It’s a concern about climate change and the need to decarbonise that has lead the UK Government to impose a 2030 deadline on the sale of new combustion engine vehicles, and the European Union in 2035. President Biden is making really positive interventions, the Australian Government is finally getting involved; there are some really significant changes happening, and it’s lead by policy, which is driven by a concern around climate change and the need to decarbonise.

Ade Thomas is a founder of Green.TV Media, a media business that has created World EV Day, EV Summit, Decarbonisation Summit, Ebike Summit, ElectricDrives, and EV Live.