100th edition of The Fast Charge email
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a weekly British EV newsletter.
This morning marks the 100th edition of The Fast Charge – which first went out on January 5th 2021, just over a month after the UK government announced it would be ending the sale of ICE vehicles from 2030. It’s absolutely flown by and, without being too soppy, I want to thank everyone who has read, shared and spoken to me over the past 18 months.
As many readers may know, this isn’t my full-time (or even part-time) job – I do it out of hours, often late at night or during lunchtime. Despite the sleep deprivation, I want to continue to the 200th edition and plan to keep it free. I have some great features upcoming, so please do stick with me and invite your colleagues or friends along too.
Anyway… in today’s edition… a new large charging network on the block, superfast electric cars, and a terrorist EV warning. I’ve also highlighted my top four ‘best of’ The Fast Charge emails.
As ever, if you have any thoughts or feedback, please do feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply reply to this email.
In the last week…
LAMPPOSTS ON: Have you heard of SureCharge? Until the weekend I’d not really noticed them at all, though the network powered by FM Conway, the large construction company, has quietly amassed more than 1,200+ lamppost chargers in the UK (mostly in London). So quick has their surge been that most of these devices are yet to be listed on Zap-Map. Once they are, SureCharge will likely become the sixth biggest UK network. The chargers cost 28p per kWh, 4 pence less than competitor ubitricity. And I find this interesting because their products are nearly identical, they are literally on the same street in some cases, how will the competition play out? Likewise, this weekend was the first time that, while staring and pondering this conundrum, I realised I was standing within 2 minutes of six different networks (ubitricity, SureCharge, Liberty Charge, Source London and ESB). This is something I’ll be touching on in an upcoming feature on ‘pricing’.
STOCK OFF: EO, a British-based maker of EV charging equipment, has apparently ditched a plan to float in the US via a special acquisition company – ‘Spacs’ became very popular in the EV space last year, though the appetite for them has since cooled dramatically. Instead, EO is raising private funds instead which their founder, Charlie Jardine, has said is “probably a blessing in disguise” as now they can execute a plan behind closed doors. Read more.
RULES COMPLAINTS: Speaking of charging equipment, later this week (30 June) the Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations 2021 will come into force. This will mean all new chargepoints need to have smart functionality – such as being able to switch off during high demand and turn back on during the night when there is less demand on the grid. These rules are necessary for the EV transition, however, some equipment manufacturers have complained that they haven’t been given enough time to comply. Some have suggested products could be withdrawn if enforcement is introduced. I’m sure in reality all will be fine, but you can be certain of similar stories arising when the government brings in its new consumer regulations later this Summer on public devices – as many will need to have contactless payment devices installed, as one example.
DRIVING OBSESSION: If 100 years ago an Englishman’s home was his castle, today it would probably be his car. I read in the always good Off to Lunch newsletter (written by Graham Ruddick) that Office for National Statistics data from last week showed road traffic was just above the level seen on the first Monday in February 2020 (101% of pre-covid levels). This wasn’t just driven by rail strikes too, as car usage has remained high the week before it as well. Now, while it would be ideal if all those cars driving about could be electric, actually it would be better for the environment and clean air if people just generally got out of cars. As a campaigner said to me at Fully Charged Live, one of the best EVs you can get is an e-bike. Rather poignantly, the FT yesterday published a Special Report looking at urban transport, the feature highlights European towns (including London) that are trying to reduce car usage in cities – London has set a target of 80% of journeys being taken on public transport, or on foot or bicycle by 2041. However, as evident by the ONS data, not even a pandemic has shaken our nation’s love of the car.
SUPER EV: Speaking of the FT, on the back of news recently of Ferrari’s electric plans, the paper has undertaken a deep dive into the electric supercar market. I’ll copy a gift link for the first clickers, however, the general conclusions across the board (even from Rimac founder, Mate Rimac) are: EVs are fashionable, so high-end customers are asking and interested in EVs. However, there are some who believe the push to electrification amongst supercars should be less so, given they don’t exactly cause high environmental impacts compared to daily use cars. Albeit everyone accepts this isn’t exactly equality in action for those that can’t afford luxury vehicles. Read more.
NOT READY: Only weeks after they were criticised by investors for not moving fast enough with the EV transition, Toyota announced last week it was recalling 2,700 of its first EV model, the bZ4X, as there were concerns the wheels might come off. The company said in a statement, “until the remedy is available, no one should drive these vehicles.” Read more. In nicer Toyota news, the company is partnering with US-based Redwood Materials so that its EV batteries can be recycled at the end of their lives – obviously, first they’ll need to make some EVs though.
NEW RECORD: Goodwood Festival of Speed has seen many iconic and superfast cars zoom up its circuit over the years, though this year a new track record was set by the McMurtry Spéirling electric hypercar. My words won’t give it justice but do watch this insane video of the run.
The superfast EV was driven by Max Chilton – bravo to his bravery. As one person who saw the run commented online said “There was a gasp first as it took a moment for our minds to believe our eyes, then came some laughter, some cheers, but in the seconds after it had bulleted past most of us turned to the person next to us with a confused stare, as if to say, ‘did that really just happen?’”. If you watch the video, even the track marshall seems stunned at the start. The vehicle itself is a lot smaller than you expect too. Copied below photo courtesy of Vcomm.
CAR UNVEILING: As mentioned in last week’s edition, Goodwood also saw the debut of the Polestar 5. The model will go on sale in 2024 and looks pretty neat, even in its camo clothing. Read more.
TERROR THREAT: The RAC picked up on a report published by the Law Commission yesterday that revealed the biggest concerns for remote driving on UK roads. Remote driving is whereby a car can be driven from a distance. According to the RAC, the report said, “a concern is that a driver might find it easier to use a vehicle as a terrorist weapon if they are remote. This is because they would not be involved in the crash and would be able to maintain some emotional distance from their victims. This suggests that employers may need to vet remote driving staff, both to maintain the integrity of their systems and to prevent terrorists from being attracted to the remote driver role.” I guess their worry is people using vans etc. which is a popular choice for ye olde terrorists. Not that I am a terrorist, but this does seem very niche. Read more.
FRESH CAR: VW has unveiled its ID. AERO, a sort of electric version of its popular sedan the Passat. The model will go on sale in the front half of 2024 in the UK. It should have a range of 385 miles, though a smaller range model will be on sale too. To me, the model looks ever so slightly like the Lucid Air, though I imagine will be much cheaper by comparison.
BATTERY SWAP: Since starting this newsletter I’ve found that stories about battery swapping as a potential solution for EV charging comes in waves. This week, it’s the turn of the Metro who have written a feature based on the new NIO battery swap site in Norway. Like many features before it, the Metro highlight how wonderful these stations would be, yet caveated that without battery standardisation that it’s never going to be something for the masses. Although, as a reminder, NIO has previously said it was discussing standardisation with other carmakers. Likewise, expect to hear about more battery swapping facilities by NIO in coming months and years as it expands into Europe. Read more.
RISING PRICES: With rising energy costs and increasing public charger prices, Bloomberg have suggested the price of topping up one of the UK’s most popular EVs, a Tesla Model 3, has ‘jumped’ by 37% since December – about £10+ in cash terms). Naturally, other EVs will also be facing similar costs. Read more.
BOLD TRADER: Great video by Rory Reid, ex-Top Gear and now frontman for Auto Trader, who provides a good overview of plug-in hybrids and why they may be ‘utterly pointless’, especially if you don’t have access to chargepoints. Refreshing to see such off-the-fence opinions by influential organisations - including fact-checking people in the comment section.
NEW TEST: Speaking of Top Gear, in the recent episode of the show, Freddie Flintoff tested the Rivian R1T pick-up truck. It looked pretty tasty and he seemed to be a big fan. You can see a clip of it here or watch on BBC iPlayer.
MON AMI: Fast Charge reader Tim went along to Company Car in Action at Millbrook Proving Ground recently (hosted by FleetNews). He kindly sent me some pictures, including this here of the £7,700 Citroen Ami. It’s such an utterly stupid EV, isn’t it? Yet there is something very Lego Death Star about it. Yes, I know it’s for children, but it also looks so much fun.
Best of The Fast Charge
To mark my 100th edition, I’ve gone back through and collated what I believe are my top four editions of The Fast Charge. They are not in any order.
1 ) In March I provided my top 10 takeaways on the government’s EV strategy
2 ) At the end of 2021, I made six predictions for 2022. I actually think I was surprisingly on the money.
3 ) In Summer last year, I pulled together a deep dive look at ultra-rapid charging and found that, even with all the power in the world, most devices may only provide peak speeds for a “matter of seconds or minutes”.
4 ) Early on in writing this newsletter, I stumbled on a small trial happening in Oxford to put EV cables through pavements in front of houses. I highlighted this along with comments from a handful of London councils, including Kensington & Chelsea who suggested they would never allow such an idea as their streets are “paved in attractive, high-quality York Stone.” Don’t you know? My story led to The Times picking up on the trial plus others.
By Tom Riley