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AS the founder of Britain’s biggest car festival, Chris Evans is one of the country’s leading petrolheads.
Or, rather, was. The star has gone green — and now commutes using one of two electric cars.
The eco-conscious DJ, 55, uses a Skoda Enyaq and recently splashed out on his latest, slightly snazzier, toy, a BMW i Series. He prefers the Skoda.
With petrol prices sky-rocketing — and the PM currently engineering a controversial deal with Saudi Arabia — Chris says: “I was always very anti-electric cars. And then I tried one.
“You make peace with it straight away, it’s unbelievable. It’s so calming inside. It’s like when you stop smoking you think ‘how could I have ever smoked?’
“You start looking at the exhaust coming out the back of other cars like you do cigarettes coming out of someone’s mouth.
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“Now, I drive into a petrol forecourt and it’s like going into some old Greek ruin because it’s of no use to you.
“Suddenly the pillars look really old, and the petrol pumps look like they’re from a film from 50 years ago.
“You become obsessed, looking at these dirty exhaust fumes, thinking, ‘Why don’t you f***ing buy EV cars?!’ They’re the same price!
“And as far as the charging is concerned, it’s even more convenient — I don’t have a charging point at home, we just use an adapter that you plug into a normal plug.
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“And now I never have to stop my journey to go to a petrol station, ever.
"This whole range anxiety thing you overcome immediately — once you understand something, you don’t fear it any more.”
Chris and I were supposed to meet today to inspect a special-edition 1965 E VW Beetle. Alas it didn’t turn up.
Still, readers can win the car — which really does exist — by texting CAR to 81155, donating £10 to Comic Relief in the process.
In addition to reducing his carbon footprint, Chris continues to up his manual one.
Every day he parks four miles away from Virgin’s London Bridge offices, and runs the rest of the way in.
After a three-hour show — one that has seen him become a catalyst for growth across the whole station, reaching 2.2million listeners weekly — he muscles back to the (electric) car.
It’s not surprising he now boasts the body fat of a whippet. Albeit a tall, Lycra-wearing whippet.
Once a legendary boozer, the 24-hour benders and Groucho club sojourns, are behind him.
Family man Chris is a long-reformed character, physically and mentally.
In his 2015 autobiography, Call The Midlife, the star revealed he’d tried various forms of therapy to help him navigate turning 50.
You make peace with it straight away, it’s unbelievable. It’s so calming inside. It’s like when you stop smoking you think ‘how could I have ever smoked?’ You start looking at the exhaust coming out the back of other cars like you do cigarettes coming out of someone’s mouth.
Most recently, he reveals, he’s taken up yoga nidra — a practice also known as sleep yoga. (Although, frankly, listening to Chris’s relentless daily schedule is knackering in itself).
Yoga nidra originated in India in 700BC (thank you, Google), and is described as inducing a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping.
It consists of eight stages including “settling”, “internalisation”, “body rotation”, “breath awareness” and “externalisation”.
Devotees are “systematically guided” through each layer — or “kosha” — of being encouraged complete mental, muscular and emotional relaxation.
Chris adds: “Yoga nidra, or grounding yoga, balances my nervous system.
“If I come off the show and I’m buzzing, I can either crash or do 20 minutes of yoga nidra and balance out the nervous system again. It takes you out of your own mind — no one wants to be wired and tired.”
Thankfully the popular Virgin Radio DJ hasn’t become too clean-living — and this summer oversees his 10th CarFest.
Headliners include Rag 'N' Bone Man, Paloma Faith, James Blunt and Steps, with a wealth of stars from Rob Brydon to Gary Barlow and Bryan Adams giving up their time for the annual charity fundraiser.
In 2007 the former Big Breakfast host married stunning ex-golfer Natasha Shishmanian.
The couple have four children, Noah, 13, Eli, nine, and three-year-old twins Walt and Boo.
If I come off the show and I’m buzzing, I can either crash or do 20 minutes of yoga nidra and balance out the nervous system again. It takes you out of your own mind — no one wants to be wired and tired.
It’s clear he’s utterly devoted to his family.
Despite a hectic schedule of work, running, philanthropy, and more running — he’s training for a sixth marathon — he reckons the secret to a perfect work/life balance is ditching his mobile. Chris, who has raised almost £20million for charity since launching CarFest, first binned his phone in 2019.
Last week he was given one by a friend, “fed up with not being able to reach me”, and, after a cursory explore, has given it back.
Even Simon Cowell, who also famously threw away his mobile, recently succumbed and got a secret “bat phone”.
Chris, though, is not for turning.
He believes it has boosted his mental health by reducing anxiety — and, crucially, makes him a better dad.
“Every time I see you, you’re on your phone,” he half-scolds, half-sighs, as I put my phone down.
“Even if someone says they’re not going to check their phone for an hour, they’re still thinking about when that hour is up . . . so you’re still thinking about it.
“It’s the whole ‘don’t mention monkeys, don’t mention monkeys, don’t mention monkeys’ thing.
"It’s both a massive time thief and a massive focus one.
“I have less anxiety without one — it’s that ping of uncertainty. Phones give you a dopamine hit — chasing what you haven’t got.
“If you become overwhelmed with dopamine it neutralises itself in your head, so you have to have lots more for it to have the same effect.
"You then get a hangover from that — you have to suffer the pain from all that same dopamine hit.
Even if someone says they’re not going to check their phone for an hour, they’re still thinking about when that hour is up . . . so you’re still thinking about it. It’s the whole ‘don’t mention monkeys, don’t mention monkeys, don’t mention monkeys’ thing. It’s both a massive time thief and a massive focus one.
‘It scared me’
“Phones have changed so much [in the past three years], but you don’t realise it because you’ve become so accustomed to the micro-doses of the updates.
“So now your phone starts asking you for things all the time; it’s that old phrase ‘you think you’re searching Google, but Google is searching you’. And it’s the same with a phone. It’s you against Silicon Valley but Silicon Valley is hidden behind the screen. It scared the s*** out of me. No thank you.
“I’ve got my kids, I’ve got my job, I’ve got my running. I don’t have time. Phones teach you to do things with the least amount of effort as possible, but the real key to enjoying life is to do everything with attention, not without.
“And if you do everything with attention, it’s more fulfilling, and your life is easier to navigate. Plus it costs a lot less. Not having a phone makes youmore present as a parent — it makes you more present in everything.”
Two years ago a report stated the majority of British children own a mobile phone by age seven.
A more recent report claimed parents with mobiles had 20 per cent less conversation with their kids, and 39 per cent fewer non-verbal interactions. None of Chris and Natasha’s kids are allowed phones.
He adds: “Noah is the only kid in his year without a phone.
“He turned 13 a couple of weeks ago so we discussed it, and got him a device and let him download Whatsapp.
“But then immediately something happened — there was a bump in the road — and he came off it. It’s like stopping drinking. You can always start again but you can never undrink what you’ve drunk.
“Noah is different, and a better conversationalist for it. If you’re not on the phone as a kid, you’re a more present kid.
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“I don’t understand how kids learn things now because the phone doesn’t want you to stick on something for too long — it wants to give you another advert for the next thing.
“If you read a book, it stays in. I’m happier without.”
Win an electric Beetle
TO be in with a chance of winning the 1965 electric VW Beetle, and to make a voluntary £10 donation to Comic Relief, text CAR to 81155.
And for information about Comic Relief and its work, visit comicrelief.com.