BBC Journalist Heather Dewar and Peoples Ford learn what local businesses are doing to help ensure they have appositive impact on the environment. All with the help of the Mustang Mach-E. Read what Heather discovered in the below.
We headed out on 'The Drive’ to find out what people across Scotland’s Central Belt thought about sustainability, the car and ‘going electric’. More pertinently, what the business leaders of today are doing to tackle climate change and encourage the green economy.
I spend an inordinate amount of time on the road. As a sport journalist and busy mum of two, my car has become a vital part of my day-to-day routine. Without it, I’m pretty much redundant.
My main issue with going fully electric had always been a purely practical one. How could I possibly get to work - a round trip of 100 miles - on a single charge, with potential detours along the way? Like many others, I work in an industry which waits for no-one and where ‘time’ is a huge factor in my daily schedule. To put it simply, not arriving is just not an option. The story won't wait for me.
The good news is that as the electric revolution gathers pace, changes are now being made to mitigate concerns about range. Demand for electric has sky-rocketed in the last year, and manufacturers such as Ford are doing more and more to provide sustainable cars of the future. The Ford Mustang Mach-E is a glorious example of this. Gorgeous to look at and excellent to drive, this is a car that delivers on both style and substance. But how would it cope on long journeys? Say, a trip across Scotland with numerous pit-stops along the way? Promising a range of up to 379 miles on a single charge, we decided to put it to the test.
The journalist in me was desperate to give it a go! Armed with a camera crew and a ton of expectation, we plotted a route from Ayr to St Andrews. On the way, we wanted to interview business leaders and entrepreneurs who ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to making change. What would they think of the Ford Mach-E and how were they, personally, adapting their businesses to the challenges facing our environment?
Starting our trip in Ayr, we discovered the enterprising Catherine Lawson of Barefaced Foods and Bakery. Set in a small industrial unit, the bakery doubles up as a cafe serving plant-based foods, with vegan-options galore. It’s a hugely ambitious business, driven by Catherine, who found her passion in food after burning out in education. After 25 years as a teacher, she decided it was time for a change, and looked into ways of creating a sustainable business that was not only environmentally friendly, but which fed the growing demand and popularity for vegan and plant-based products. It burgeoned during lockdown, with her lovingly created ‘Buddha bowls’ selling by the dozen for home-delivery. Her bakery soon followed, and business continues to boom.
Loaded with plant-based delicacies, we left the bakery and headed north towards Falkirk. We’d heard about the founder of Black Professionals Scotland and were keen to hear his thoughts on sustainability. We met Enoch Adeyemi near The Kelpies, the largest equine sculptures in the world. At 30 metres high, the two horse heads are a true feat of engineering. Shimmering in the distance, there seemed to be real symmetry in our location - the stallion design on the Mustang Mach-E shining brightly beside us as another powerful reminder of innovation and design.
For Enoch, belief in the next generation is crucial. He founded Black Professionals Scotland in order to give young people better opportunities in the workplace. Arriving in Scotland with no role or job to speak of, he enrolled at Stirling University to get a Master's degree in 2006, before becoming an accountant, pursuing a degree from Harvard University and becoming a successful entrepreneur.
‘With regards to sustainability, if we don’t consider the future, we all suffer. It’s really important - so we have to question what it is what can we do in our every day life, to teach our children about sustainability. Every little change makes a huge impact. There’s no final point to being green - it's going to be a journey, a process. It’s really important we get it right so our children can live in a better world.’
Motivated by Enoch’s passion for the environment, we set off for Lindores Abbey - a distillery in Fife that has been transformed into a sustainable business for the future.
Driving there, the Mustang Mach-E really came into its own. With three driving modes to choose from in the car, I elected to go with 'Untamed’ for my journey north. The car purred along nicely while taking in some serious motorway driving, with a smooth, yet exciting ride. The car feels sporty while still being an SUV, and you really do feel like you’re driving something special when taking it to its full capacity. The Sync 4 A infotainment system is superb, with the 15.5 inch screen both intuitive and easy to use. It synched up perfectly with my iPhone and boasts an array of great features - from driver profile personalisation, to trip planner and remote vehicle control. The system is constantly updating in the cloud and can be linked up with the Ford Pass App which means you can control some features from the comfort of your own home.
In terms of technology, the car has autonomous driving functionality, active park assist, pre-collision assist, a blind-spot information system and - handily - evasive steering. Nearing Newburgh where the roads become more narrow, this steering - which corrects your position- was brilliant when navigating the tight roads, and added an extra layer of security to the all-round driving experience.
It really does have everything you could possibly want from a car at the top of its game. And talking top of its game - it wasn’t long before we caught sight of our next destination. Set back from the road and exuding innovation, Lindores Abbey was easy to find among the beautiful country roads around us.
Started by Helen MacKenzie Smith and her husband Drew, the distillery has quickly become a hit in the world of whisky. It also tells a wonderful tale of times gone by - with a beautifully designed interior that retains the historical significance of the abbey while touching on the uber-modern. The spaces inside are packed with wood, while the bar upstairs is flooded with light and space. The distillery itself is home to impressive stills and wooden casks that are repurposed for designing furniture. Helen showed us around the stunning rooms, where passion and vision have come together to create a wonderfully ethereal space.
‘We employ a lot of people from the local community but it was important when we built here we kept things as local as possible - we used a local designer, local woodworker, local craftsmen and so on. It’s important we bring in business to the area that then spends in the community - it's a whole position for us. We try to remain as sustainable as we can. So we have a great tree-planting policy, we are using two local barley suppliers so the footprint isn’t far, we use a bottling plant so we’re bottling on site, a local farmer is building for us so we don’t have to take casks off site, we don’t use extraneous packaging. We are really trying to be more sustainable. It’s now in the pipeline to have some electric charging points - it's very important we do that.'
We left Lindores Abbey utterly inspired by the team’s commitment to sustainability and growth. Our final port of call was in St Andrews, the home of golf, where we were met on the beach by popular Yoga Teacher Finlay Wilson. Finlay became an overnight sensation on social media after appearing in a video doing yoga in a kilt. The clip amassed millions of hits and lead to calendars, a book and TV appearances across the country. Behind it all, however, is an enormous passion for the environment. He uses the rugged Scottish landscape as his backdrop and works WITH the countryside around him to create jaw-dropping films. He’s also the communications officer for an environmental charity.
‘I always look for sustainability as much as possible. I drive an electric car and I make sure it's run on renewable energy - that’s really important to me, to know that if I’m making these movements around the country, I don’t need to worry about their impact or emissions. We have the ability to be fossil fuel- free now and I think we can really seize on that. We’re going to see big changes in the near future.
Saying goodbye to our kilted yogi, there was time to reflect on the journey we had made across the Central Belt. We had met some incredible entrepreneurs and influencers along the way and had the opportunity to experience a truly electric drive, courtesy of the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Economically, the trip was a roaring success, with free charging available on stops across the country. The comfort provided by the vegan-leather seats was a joy and an added sense of luxury, while the space in both the boot and the ‘frunk’ allowed for plenty of storage for kit up front.
The car itself is a brilliant choice for both commuters and those who need to travel, and it’s absolutely perfect for families. Would I buy one? One hundred per-cent. In fact, one of the entrepreneurs is already in the process of doing so. Sometimes, we need to take a little step outside of our comfort zone to see what modern technology can do for us. With time, we will likely ALL be going electric, but if we can start making changes now, we can hope to see, first-hand, the positive benefits to the environment. So don’t be afraid of going electric. Take the leap, and you won’t be disappointed.
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