The Root

The official blog of Carrot Insurance

2 June 2016

The pop song recorded inside electric and plug-in cars


Multi-talented Cerys Matthews’ career and CV span all kinds of things. Probably known by most people primarily as the singer in the Welsh band Catatonia, with hits including ‘Mulder and Scully’ and ‘Road Rage’, she’s also sung with Tom Jones on a few tracks as well as with the Pet Shop Boys and Manic Street Preachers. After turning to a solo music career, Cerys has appeared on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in which she hung on until the penultimate day, and her presenting work includes a show on BBC Radio 6 Music, Glastonbury coverage and BBC’s The One Show.

Cerys is someone who highly values greener, environmentally friendly living, which has now led to her creating headlines in the car world.

For her latest song, ‘Float On Down to Monte Carlo’, Cerys ditched the traditional recording studio environment and opted to ambitiously attempt something rather unique. Along with her band members Neil Charles, Mason Neely and Byron Walker, the Welsh singer’s new song was recorded entirely from inside various pure electric (EV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).

Carrot Insurance telematics young drivers blog - Cerys Matthews band song recorded electric cars Go Ultra Low - featured

Recording (hopefully) chart music from inside moving cars seems like quite a difficult thing to do but Cerys was determined to demonstrate how quiet and relaxing pure EVs and PHEVs running in electric mode can be. The total absence of engine noise is a key part of the experience they offer, allowing these vehicles to do something that wouldn’t be possible with petrol or diesel power.

In the music video for Float On Down to Monte Carlo, Cerys and her musicians travel on a journey that starts off in noisy towns and cities, ending up in the peaceful countryside. “The inspiration for the song is the idea of being taken away from noisy and complicated everyday life to a place where you can hear yourself think and dream”, says Cerys, who is so passionate about the environmental and lifestyle benefits of electric cars that she’s hired six of them to transport people to and from her ‘Good Life Festival’ taking place this September.

Carrot Insurance telematics young drivers blog - Cerys Matthews band song recorded electric cars Go Ultra Low - article

Which cars was the song recorded in?

The band wasn’t able to fit inside a sleek Tesla saloon or an even more streamlined BMW i8, restricted to more practically-shaped green vehicles for obvious reasons. Here are the cars that were turned into mobile recording studios:

BMW 225xe Active Tourer: basically a four-wheel drive people-carrier with hybrid power, combining a 134bhp three-cylinder petrol engine with an 87bhp electric motor and lithium-ion battery. Claiming potential fuel economy of 141mpg and CO2 emissions of 46g/km, BMW reckons their practical PHEV takes just over 3 hours to charge in a normal mains power socket and allows up to 25 miles’ driving on pure electricity. Costing around £33,000, the government gives buyers £2,500 back under the latest version of the Plug-In Car Grant (PICG) scheme.

Carrot Insurance telematics young drivers blog - Cerys Matthews band song recorded electric cars Go Ultra Low - BMW 225xe

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: it’s easy to understand why this is one of the most popular plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on sale in the UK today, combining the spaciousness and high-up driving position of a SUV/4×4 along with a relaxed ride and green statistics. Okay, in real life the 165mpg figure is as dream-worthy as the BMW’s, but it’s a great car for motorists who live nearish London as it’s Congestion Charge exempt, road tax-free and can travel up to 32 miles on electricity, emitting 42g/km CO2 overall. Because of its emissions figure and range, the Mitsubishi also gets £2,500 subtracted from its £28,000-ish starting price.

Carrot Insurance telematics young drivers blog - Cerys Matthews band song recorded electric cars Go Ultra Low - Outlander PHEV

Kia Soul EV: unlike the preceding two vehicles, which are both plug-in hybrids combining both electric and petrol power, Kia’s Soul EV runs completely on electricity and has a range in the region of 120-132 miles before its battery needs recharging. Kia has kept things simple for the electric version of their supermini crossover, with the Soul EV only available in one trim. It costs £24,195 before the PICG knocks the maximum-available £4,500 off the price, thanks to the Korean car’s zero emissions.

Carrot Insurance telematics young drivers blog - Cerys Matthews band song recorded electric cars Go Ultra Low - Kia Soul EV

Nissan e-NV200 Combi: the Japanese brand’s people-carrier version of their popular electric van, which is becoming a money-saving for businesses and also organisations like Manchester Metropolitan University to use to make their fleets greener. This MPV is 100% electric, offers a range of up to 106 miles and provides loads of space for people or for all kinds of things, including a band and its instruments, like in Cerys’ case. Prices start at a relatively reasonable £18,800 but that’s before £4,500 is put back in your pocket by the PICG.

Carrot Insurance telematics young drivers blog - Cerys Matthews band song recorded electric cars Go Ultra Low - e-NV200 Combi

Cerys and her band have been helped on this refreshing project by the government and also the campaign called Go Ultra Low, which promotes ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEV) including pure EVs and plug-ins to the UK public and businesses. “A quiet, peaceful ride is one of the best things about driving an electric car. Combined with compelling financial savings and zero tailpipe emissions, it’s no wonder British motorists are turning to electric cars in record numbers”, comments Go Ultra Low’s head, Poppy Welch.

You can watch the fruits of Cerys’ in-car recording studio efforts here  and then let us know what you think by Twitter or Facebook. Having changed her tune from ‘Road Rage’ to electric motoring, Cerys is to be admired for her pioneering spirit.


Oliver Hammond

Written by Oliver Hammond

Oliver is an established freelance motoring writer, published journalist and automotive copywriter based in Manchester. He regularly reviews cars and covers events and launches as editor of petroleumvitae.com and his articles appear in various magazines each month. No relation to Richard from Top Gear, he’s got a weakness for luxo-barges, proper 4x4s and oddball cars.