1 in 5 Californian EV owners return to petrol

The latest news from the world of EVs.

Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the electric motoring newsletter.

In today’s email… Uber makes a smart move teaming up with Arrival, plus 1 in 5 EV owners in California have switched back to petrol. Why?

Do drop me an email at tomrileylondon@gmail.com if you have any feedback, questions or comments.

In the news…

GRAND DESIGNS: Uber and the automotive start-up Arrival have begun working together to produce an EV specifically for ride-hailing. Arrival so far has designed buses and vans but are yet to create an actual car. They also are yet to produce on mass. Apparently, no money has changed hands as part of the arrangement but it could be lucrative for both. In many ways, it’s astounding no carmaker has thought to do this before. Uber has millions of drivers around the world and they’re all driving vehicles not designed as taxis. It’s thought the new car will be designed to be more comfortable for drivers and use tough easy-to-clean materials. Other features could include a front passenger seat that can fold away to fit more luggage, a panoramic glass roof and full integration with Uber’s app - so journey lengths could be matched to a car’s battery status. Production is due to begin in 2023. Read more on The Guardian.

SUS MUSK: Speaking of grand designs, over the weekend on Twitter, one user posted a list of companies who have said they’re making electric cars. That included Apple, Xiaomi, Sony, LG and Huawei. Musk responded to the tweet yesterday saying “Prototypes are easy, production is hard.” This isn’t the first time he’s said something like this. Musk has long struggled at Tesla with production while only in the last year seemingly getting a lid on it. Admittedly, it is in Elon’s interests for these other companies to fail, but you do have to agree with him that the number of EV entrants is probably not sustainable.

LUXURY VOLTS: Bentley’s Chief Executive, Adrian Hallmark, has told Car Magazine that the company’s first EV - due to be in production by 2025 - will use Audi’s Artemis platform. Artemis is a project started by the Volkswagen group for Audi which will create a highly efficient electric car by 2024. While Bentley hasn’t confirmed what model its first EV will be, Hallmark did respond to the question by saying “if you're not in SUVs, you're nowhere.” So, I suspect it might be an SUV. Before the full battery electric Bentley, its plug-in hybrid models will be available in the UK later this Summer.

PAID TO CHARGE: Over the weekend The Sunday Times had an interesting article about how EV owners are benefiting from off-peak cheap electricity to charge their cars. In some instances, the article explained how motorists were essentially getting given free miles as energy providers needed to delve out surplus electricity. The provider praised by The Sunday Times was Octopus Energy, who apparently some 50,000 EV owners signed up to its tariff. This sort of story is a great way to reinforce that electric cars are cheap to run. However, judging by the comments on the article, many are still very concerned about the high price and range of EV’s. Read the article here

SWITCH BACK: Despite being widely regarded as the beacon for righteousness, clean living and the future, California has revealed a trend that, though small, could be worrying. According to new research published by nature.com, and undertaken by UC Davis's Institute of Transportation Studies, roughly one in five people who bought an EV between 2015 and 2019 switched back to petrol-powered vehicles. The survey was based on 1,727 motorists. The root cause is a poor charging network. Apparently, most who gave up on an EV didn’t have proper or any charging abilities at home. This meant they often had to rely on the public network in the US, which is quite poor, or use a plug socket - which can take days to charge a car. Likewise, the study also found if a household had two cars, they were more likely to keep an EV compared to those whose sole car was an EV - perhaps because of the reliability. Though this research was done in America, it has some interesting lessons for us in the UK, especially when it comes to our public charging network - a third of British households don’t have a driveway.

SILLY SCOOTERS: According to a report in The Times today, ministers will not make a decision on whether e-scooters can be legalised until March next year. A decision was due to be made in August this year; however, due to London’s trial not starting yet, it’s all been pushed back. What this means is cities like London continue to be flooded by privately bought e-scooters which are illegal on public roads. In the vacuum that is being left by the government, companies like Pure Electric, which is probably the UK’s most popular e-scooter maker, are hoovering up sales and have rapidly expanded.

By Tom Riley