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Radio 2 DJ Scott Mills misses holiday after getting locked in electric car for five hours

March 1, 2023

By Paul Homewood


h/t Ian Magness


This is a new one on me!




Scott Mills has revealed that he had to cancel a holiday after being locked in his electric car for five hours.

The BBC Radio 2 DJ shared the unfortunate anecdote with listeners during Monday’s (27 February) instalment of his radio show.

Mills had set off on Friday, with his fiancé, Sam Vaughan, intending to spend the weekend together in Amsterdam.

However, a flat car battery meant that Mills and Vaughan were stuck inside his car near the BBC’s Wogan House studios.

“I’ve had quite the weekend,” he said. “I said goodbye to you on Friday. Me and Sam agreed to head to the airport in my electric car at 4pm. Flight is at 8pm.

“Get in the car. Car doesn’t start. In fact, nothing works. I go to get out of the car. I can’t get out. Sam tries his door. Nothing. Also cannot leave the car.”

According to Mills, he had charged the car’s main battery beforehand, but had allowed a secondary battery to run empty.

“So we are locked in the car outside Wogan House for five hours until the recovery people arrived and towed it away,” he recalled.

The DJ added that one of the car windows had been open when the battery died, and Vaughan was able to “squeeze out and find a loo”.

“Missed the flight, didn’t go,” he concluded. “If you want to laugh, please go right ahead because everyone I’ve told the story so far has.”

I’ve not heard of this secondary battery before.

While we can laugh at the DJ for being stupid enough to buy an EV, something like this could have serious consequences. What, for instance, would happen if the car broke down on a motorway?

  1. March 1, 2023 11:41 am

    “Me and Sam”. The correct use of the English language is obviously not a qualification for a BBC radio presenter. What a surprise – NOT.
    Always nice to see a virtue signaller hoist on their own petard 🤣🤣🤣

    • Slingshot permalink
      March 1, 2023 9:03 pm

      In this case, “his” own petard, unless both men are virtue signallers, in which case their petard would be correct.

      • devonblueboy permalink
        March 2, 2023 6:34 am

        Not being aware of his preferred pronouns (😂), I was using their in the singular sense. Which I think is acceptable?

  2. javs permalink
    March 1, 2023 11:41 am

    Locked out.

    James May’s Tesla Model S has failed!

    • Dave Ward permalink
      March 1, 2023 1:04 pm

      And that is a perfect example of modern technology gone mad! James’s suggestion STILL involves a fair bit of buggering about to get to his extra charge port, when all that’s needed is (probably?) a software change to keep the DC-DC charger running all the time the car is plugged into a mains charger.

      • Cheshire Red permalink
        March 1, 2023 1:29 pm

        I’m not sure you should be referencing ‘buggering about’ in this thread, Dave.

        A lurking Guardian reader could have you over for hate speech, which would be a real pain in the a rse.

  3. March 1, 2023 11:47 am

    Sounds a bit bogus to me. – Most likely user error, as allways.

    • Realist permalink
      March 1, 2023 12:06 pm

      A flat battery can stop you opening the doors from the outside in newer cars (even normal ones with petrol and diesel engines). But that is extremely dangerous if true that a flat battery stops opening the doors from the inside. Or do electric cars not have door handles?

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 1, 2023 1:49 pm

        Open the pod doors Hal.
        I can’t do that Dave.

        The car obviously decided to engage the childproof locks to protect the world from its occupants. I’m sure the burghers of Amsterdam were relieved.

  4. March 1, 2023 11:57 am

    Apparently he did not think to charge the car????? Think I would skip the radio show…..

    • C Buck permalink
      March 1, 2023 7:03 pm

      Please reread the article.

  5. March 1, 2023 12:03 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    “I’m sorry Dave, but I can’t let you do that.”
    –HAL 9000 (2001)

    • March 1, 2023 3:01 pm

      How wonderfully apt and also bringing back happy memories 👍

  6. Harry Passfield permalink
    March 1, 2023 12:08 pm

    If they managed to squeeze through a window, and given he must have a mobile, how on earth did he miss a flight? I’d have given the keys to Wogan House security and called a cab.

    • teaef permalink
      March 1, 2023 7:09 pm

      He did not squeeze out.

      • teaef permalink
        March 1, 2023 7:16 pm

        The other ‘he’ did.

  7. Dave Ward permalink
    March 1, 2023 12:15 pm

    The “secondary” battery is normal, and provides power for the usual car functions, as it would on a conventional car. It should (and clearly didn’t in this instance) be kept charged up by a DC-DC converter from the main traction battery. It’s particularly concerning that this case appears to show that there isn’t even a simple mechanical connection to the door lock – child safety locks on the rear doors excluded. I can use the “Keyfob Plip” to lock all the doors of my motorhome while inside (for safety at night, obviously) but any one of them can be then opened from inside without first disabling the central locking…

    • dearieme permalink
      March 1, 2023 3:04 pm

      ” It should (and clearly didn’t in this instance) be kept charged up by a DC-DC converter from the main traction battery”: it’s my understanding that there are plenty of EVs where the main battery is not set up to charge the 12V battery.

      God knows why. Maybe it saves tuppence.

  8. 1saveenergy permalink
    March 1, 2023 12:17 pm

    Self locking doors & electric windows just add to the thrill & excitement if you are in a flood or a burning car !! ( electric or ICE )

    • gezza1298 permalink
      March 2, 2023 10:48 am

      Or broken down on a dumb ‘smart’ death motorway.

  9. Nigel Sherratt permalink
    March 1, 2023 12:19 pm

    Teslas have an emergency door opening handle. Surprising if the others don’t. Perhaps only we engineering types ‘on the spectrum’ read instructions.

  10. DMS permalink
    March 1, 2023 12:22 pm

    This has happened to my daughter-in-law 3 times in the past year. The secondary battery on the Hyundai Ioniq is not charged from the main battery, and the car dies without warning. It borders on insane that you can be locked in.

    • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
      March 1, 2023 12:58 pm

      ‘something like this could have serious consequences’
      For example a medical condition, diabetes and didn’t have enough medication.
      Shoulda got a motorbike.

    • Beagle permalink
      March 1, 2023 1:45 pm

      I have an Hyundai Ioniq plug in hybrid. The main drive battery should charge the auxiliary battery when needed. My auxiliary battery went flat after about 6 months. Took it to the garage and they checked it and said they had “reset the switch.” The manual said there was a switch that the dealer would set before it went on the road and I suspect they hadn’t done it. I trawled through all the information contained in the on board computer and did eventually find the said switch. Also one of the 3 blue charging indicator lights on the top of the dashboard (I think the left one, when sat in the car) will be flashing if it has had to top up the auxiliary battery.

      • Tammly permalink
        March 1, 2023 4:07 pm

        (when sitting in the car)

      • Slingshot permalink
        March 1, 2023 9:17 pm

        Yes, indeed – sitting.

  11. M Fraser permalink
    March 1, 2023 12:39 pm

    Or set alight!!!!

  12. Dave Ward permalink
    March 1, 2023 1:14 pm

    A secondary battery will also be present on a petrol/diesel hybrid where the function of a conventional starter motor is replaced by the drive motor via the transmission. Alternatively – as used by Suzuki and others on “Mild Hybrids” – there is a small 36 or 48 volt lithium battery linked to a combined starter/generator, and a standard 12 volt battery which runs all the other stuff. Apparently, even non-hybrid cars can have multiple batteries. My local garage was dealing with a Mercedes estate (about 10 years old) which had no less than THREE of them – or so they told me…

    • Realist permalink
      March 1, 2023 1:49 pm

      Even in newer normal cars, the battery is hidden somewhere in the boot rather than actually near the engine where it should be just in case you need to do a jump start (automatics cannot be started otherwise). At least proper cars with manual transmissions can be bump started.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        March 1, 2023 1:57 pm

        I regret the loss of starting handles

      • gezza1298 permalink
        March 2, 2023 10:55 am

        What the battery in the boot cars should have is terminals under the bonnet for jump starting. I know some do. Notwithstanding that, my battery under the bonnet C-max is impossible to jump start as you can’t get at the rear negative terminal because it is under the windscreen overhang, and there isn’t any other place you can earth on the body. For some dumb reason they put the battery at the back when it would have been better to put the rarely touched air filter there.

    • Mikehig permalink
      March 1, 2023 2:06 pm

      One of the lurking problems with hybrids is that, if the traction battery fails, it is impossible to start the car. Although small compared to a full EV, these batteries are extremely expensive to replace and, afaik, these cars only have the standard manufacturer’s warranty.

      • Beagle permalink
        March 1, 2023 2:44 pm

        Yes 8 years on the battery.

  13. MrGrimNasty permalink
    March 1, 2023 1:48 pm

    This isn’t an EV issue, it’s just the over complicated computer controlled issue with most modern cars. He probably needs to read the user manual as there is probable an emergency release.

    • dearieme permalink
      March 1, 2023 3:12 pm

      That’s like suggesting reading War and Peace. Our user manual is huge, and that’s for an 18 year old diesel.

      It’s not just the size of the manual that’s the problem it’s the fact that it’s ill organised and badly written.

      Anyway the point of car design is that it should work for the ordinary ignoramus. It’s no bloody good if it works only if said twerp has devoted hours to reading the manual. That’s a sign of bad engineering.

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        March 2, 2023 2:44 am

        Agree about car manuals. Other issue is that all manuals I have seen attempt to cover a number of variants. This makes the manual far thicker and far more difficult to navigate than one for the particular model you purchased.

        I can’t believe that the manufacturers can’t use computerised printing to produce a manual for the very car version you purchased. It might add 0.05% to the cost of putting your car on the road.

      • gezza1298 permalink
        March 2, 2023 10:57 am

        Agreed, Mr Brumby. I took a pen and highlighter to my manual to leave just the bits that were actually there.

  14. Realist permalink
    March 1, 2023 1:51 pm

    In a normal car, you just open the door from the inside using the interior door handle unless you have activated the child lock on the rear doors.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      March 1, 2023 1:59 pm

      With keep fit windows you’ve no problem, whether doors open or not

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      March 1, 2023 2:33 pm

      Not when there’s no mechanical connection you don’t. Handle sends signal to computer, computer sends signal to latch. Don’t work if the battery is dead. On less sophisticated cars there is a rod connecting the handle to the latch which works regardless of the battery.
      There is probably a mechanical override but if you haven’t read the manual….

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        March 2, 2023 8:08 am

        Yes but one of them got outside. Surely if you have a key you can then open the doors from the outside? Otherwise what do you do if the batteries die?

    • catweazle666 permalink
      March 1, 2023 3:09 pm

      Indeed, Realist.

      And my Mercedes have a manual key built into the electric key fob that can be deployed to open the door when the battery is flat.

      • March 1, 2023 3:12 pm

        Same as BMW, both large & small (MINI)

      • Realist permalink
        March 1, 2023 3:28 pm

        Most cars still have a manual key for at least opening the door. But some might still depend on there being life in the vehicle battery. I had that once with a Pathfinder. After playing with airbags to get enough room for something to pull the interior door handle, that still worked.

      • Gerald permalink
        March 1, 2023 6:20 pm

        How does that help if you are inside the car?

      • Realist permalink
        March 1, 2023 7:06 pm

        The manual key is for opening the door from the OUTSIDE. If you are IN the car, just use the door handle, but it seems electric cars don’t have these.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        March 2, 2023 8:09 am

        Yes and one of them got outside!

      • gezza1298 permalink
        March 2, 2023 11:00 am

        My 2009 C-Max only has one exterior keyhole on the driver’s door. Once in you can open the other doors from the inside except the boot.

  15. Ben Vorlich permalink
    March 1, 2023 1:55 pm

    Joking apart had that happened in the sun in July it would have been a very serious situation in some circumstances.

    • March 1, 2023 7:01 pm

      The other guy was able to crawl out the open window. Nobody was stuck. Just another clueless wokester and/or attention-seeking self-promoter.

  16. March 1, 2023 2:16 pm

    What, for instance, would happen if the car broke down on a motorway?

    Get out of the way of other vehicles *immediately*, or else…

  17. March 1, 2023 2:52 pm

    You do wonder why the interior door handles didn’t work, as that’s dangerous. You need to be able to get out under any circumstances, which I would have thought would be a legal requirement!
    [Another tip, for automatic cars: if you break down because of a battery failure, DO NOT put it into PARK, but just neutral. Once it’s in Park, the likelihood of getting it out again is low to none, as the drive wheels are likely locked possibly preventing being towed, especially if it’s a 4WD.]

  18. Gamecock permalink
    March 1, 2023 3:13 pm

    ‘The DJ added that one of the car windows had been open when the battery died, and Vaughan was able to “squeeze out and find a loo”.’

    Did he climb back in when he returned?

  19. Harry Passfield permalink
    March 1, 2023 3:29 pm

    My Audi has a dead-locking mode (press lock twice on fob) and if you’re in the car when this is engaged a msg is displayed to warn you. Apparently there have been occasions when children have been left in dead-locked cars which they can’t get out of in an emergency. It was meant to stop thieves breaking a window so as to open a door from within.

  20. Mark Hodgson permalink
    March 1, 2023 7:47 pm

    He chooses to drive an electric car, and chooses to fly to Amsterdam for a weekend. How BBC.

    • Up2snuff permalink
      March 4, 2023 10:48 am

      Mark, exactly, good spot & well-phrased! Mills should have listened to Ed Reardon’s Week (cannot remember the series or episode number) on BBC R4 where the usually impoverished Ed suddenly has the funds to buy an electric car. Same thing happened to Ed. A warning missed.

  21. John Hultquist permalink
    March 1, 2023 8:21 pm

    In the USA, note the date:
    Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) No. 401; Internal trunk release, that requires all new passenger cars with trunks be equipped with a release latch inside the trunk compartment beginning September 1, 2001.
    This was done when an average of just 10 to 20 people died each year when they could not get out of the trunk space.
    Have we made no progress, even reverted?

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 2, 2023 10:48 am

      I forwarded this article to a Tesla owning friend. He replied that, yes, it is feasible he could be locked inside. He has been concerned about it.

      “Maybe I should buy a breaker bar.”

      How odd you must have an inside trunk release, but not an inside cabin door release. You just can’t count on government to save you.

      • March 2, 2023 11:19 am

        Very cheap escape tools are available, which combine a spring-loaded punch to shatter the side windows and a seatbelt cutter, should that become jammed.

        A £10 insurance policy.

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 2, 2023 8:39 pm

        Thx. I just looked at Amazon. They have a mess of them cheap. Their “choice” is two for ten bucks.

        I sent link to my Tesla friend.

  22. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    March 2, 2023 12:00 am

    Off topic but good news :-
    Once more the Government demonstrates a total lack of grip concerning long term, realistic energy policy regarding the country’s heating provision.
    It is hinting a U-turn on its proposed ban on the sale of new gas boilers by 2035, as energy experts have warned that heat pump costs will not become cheaper. However, the technology has remained prohibitively expensive for millions of households, with average costs of installation being quoted between £10,000 and up to £13,000 according to some estimates.

    Yet only two years back –
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

    “As we clean up the way we heat our homes over the next decade, we are backing our brilliant innovators to make clean technology like heat pumps as cheap to buy and run as gas boilers – supporting thousands of green jobs.

    Our new grants will help homeowners make the switch sooner, without costing them extra, so that going green is the better choice when their boiler needs an upgrade.”

    Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

    “Recent volatile global gas prices have highlighted the need to double down on our efforts to reduce Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels and move away from gas boilers over the coming decade to protect consumers in long term.

    As the technology improves and costs plummet over the next decade, we expect low carbon heating systems will become the obvious, affordable choice for consumers. Through our new grant scheme, we will ensure people are able to choose a more efficient alternative in the meantime.”

    These people seek election to make important leadership decisions that affect millions of people’s lives.
    Is it not time they scrap the ludicrous concept that human activity is heating up planet earth ?

    • Martin Brumby permalink
      March 2, 2023 2:56 am

      It certainly isn’t “thousands of Green jobs” that are needed.

      Just one. A ‘Lord High Executioner’ as W.S. Gilbert put it. He would be able to sort out all this GangGreen nonsense in a week, because all the fanboys, fangirls and fanbitofboths would have a Damascene conversion to reality 10 minutes after he started work.

      It might be appropriate to start with Bliar.

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        March 2, 2023 3:06 am

        Thinking about it, “The Lord High Executioner Show” would be the television sensation of the millenium.

        ‘A lorra, lorra laffs’ as Cilla might have put if.

      • devonblueboy permalink
        March 2, 2023 7:00 am

        Yes please. Is he free to start work tomorrow?

    • Rowland P permalink
      March 2, 2023 11:16 pm

      Time to vote for an alternative to the LibLabConSNPGreen Party. The Heritage Party needs you; it is anti Net Zero etc and much else besides. Breath of fresh air!

  23. Micky R permalink
    March 2, 2023 7:53 am

    Deadlock and a faulty keyfob can create a similar trapping on a range of vehicles.

    Similarly, who hasn’t walked away from a car, deadlocked it using the keyfob out of habit, but forgetting that nearest and dearest were still in the car? As long as they sit very still then the alarm won’t go off; if it does then they can enjoy being stared at passers by.

  24. Oliver King permalink
    March 2, 2023 5:11 pm

    As mentioned below electric cars have a standard 12v battery like ICE cars. If you let the main battery run down to zero regularly you can damage the second battery.
    In this case it is likely that Mills has damaged the second battery by not charging properly on numerous occasions. This could prevent ancillary functions working even when the main battery is charged.
    I don’t know what car he had but Teslas have manual door release so you can’t get stuck inside.

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