2023 in review: Five EV elephants that remain
The latest news from the world of EVs
Good morning, I’m Tom Riley and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
This is the penultimate edition where I’ve included my reflections on 2023, plus several EV stories that caught my eye.
On Thursday, I will be publishing the final edition of 2023 which will cover insights from numerous EV industry leaders about what we can expect next year. Stay tuned!
Finally, apologies that there was no email last week. I’ve been working on a special story that got delayed. Though… hint, hint… you may see it pop up during the festive period.
As ever, if you have any thoughts or feedback, please do get in touch. To do so, simply reply to this email.
2023 in review: A year of increasing challenge
Summary: As you can imagine, to write this newsletter, I speak to a lot of people in the EV sector, and I read countless stories. Sometimes they are positive, perhaps about an exciting new vehicle or technology, but increasingly this year they’ve been negative.
Context… Back in June, I wrote that the EV industry had ‘come out swinging’ against a growing number of such critical stories. But, in the face of media beasts and palm-tree-like political leadership, the past six months have done their best to throw momentum against the successes of electrification.
Difficult times… It’s been so much that, in several moments recently, I’ve heard people you would regard as this industry’s greatest cheerleaders admit behind closed doors how difficult the fight is getting. And with the government doing little to support net zero, the businesses in this battle have been left to drive it forward.
So, what can we learn from this year to keep pushing ahead? Last year, I’d have told you we have to make intelligent arguments to those who disagree and assist in alleviating people’s ‘fear, uncertainty, and doubt’. This approach will continue to be important. Alas, there is a bigger challenge for everyone in this sector next year: dealing with some of the elephants in the room.
Before 2023… the EV sector was broadly growing out of the spotlight, but as adoption has surged, this year the scrutiny has gotten far more intense. In a show of camaraderie, the industry has supported each other, even when competing on the same turf. And it’s been brilliant at creating a positive unity against those that would undermine it all.
However… next year we’ll see the impact of recent charge point regulations, the ZEV mandate kicking off, and a General Election - which will no doubt mean even further intense scrutiny of electrification.
Five elephants: For the sector to keep persuading consumers, businesses, and politicians of its suitability in 2024, it’s my view that we need to deal with some difficult truths about the EV transition, so that they do not drown out all the millions of positives. Here are the top five elephants in the room I see:
Prices for public charging have got far too high – with energy prices coming down everywhere else, why does it cost nearly £1 at so many networks? Even on-street driveway-mimicking chargers are now quite pricey.
Carmakers need to be doing better at supporting drivers with the switch – it’s not simply about shifting units. Everyone from dealers to OEMs can be doing a lot more to help people change their thinking. From my experience, some teams have a hilariously low level of understanding of living with an EV, which is causing issues down the road.
EV ownership continues to favour better off people – there is much work still to do on how EVs can be adopted seamlessly by those without driveways or high incomes. Even the taxes and incentives are unbalanced.
The recent battery strategy showed huge gaps in Britain’s efforts – we need to radically look at how we deal with our materials, reuse, and recycle them when they get here. To me, it’s an area we don’t talk about enough - because who cares about waste? Yet, questions about battery longevity remain regular by consumers.
Arguing EVs are affordable by promoting Chinese cars is wrong – not only is the country not a friend to the environment or perhaps humankind, but we’re also missing a huge economic opportunity by doing so: if they end up dominating our roads, we’ve failed.
Yes… Maybe there are some points here you disagree with, or you feel there is good reason for, such as margins on charging costs. And I get it. But, we need to be wary soon millions more across the country will be asking these things of us and our political representatives.
Finishing strong… Though 2023 has done its best to bash the EV sector up, it remains fighting, attracting huge capital investments, and hundreds of thousands continue to jump into them. In 2024, we need to keep this upward momentum going. And, in my view, it begins with dealing with difficult challenges, such as those above, and tackling them together. Onwards and upwards!
Looking forward, later this week I’ll be sharing the specific insights and predictions for the EV sector from senior leaders across the industry.
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Top EV news picks…
☝️ The UK has now officially passed the 50,000 charger milestone, and according to the government is on track to hit 300,000 points by 2030. See here.
🙈 Osprey was refused planning permission because local councillors believed a charging hub might become a “magnet for anti-social behaviour with people driving in and doing things they shouldn’t be.” A bonkers story and perhaps illustrates the challenge of nimbyism. Read more.
🙉 On this story, The Sun has published its own absolutely mad version, which has included an image of a scantily clad lady in heels leaning into a car, meanwhile, the subtitle underneath is: “Scared homeowners say they wouldn't let their own wives use the top-up point.” Who is editing these things haha.
🥳 Congratulations to Chris and Julie Ramsey who have completed their pole-to-pole journey in a Nissan Aryia after 10 months and 18,600 miles. It is not just the first EV to do this trip, but the first car in history. Read more.
🤺 EV charging companies in Europe have started ‘fighting’ over the best locations. Read more.
👍 A survey by EVA England found that 53% of drivers reported their experience of charging publicly over the last 12 months improved, meanwhile 91% said they have no intention of ever returning to petrol or diesel. Read more.
🔌 Generators powered by green hydrogen are powering new motorway EV chargers at Cairn Lodge Services. Read more.
💸 As many may have seen, at COP28 recently, the Department for Transport finally unleashed a £70 million pilot scheme for the Rapid Charging Fund, which will help boost the number of ultra-rapid chargers at motorways sites. On the day, the government also launched a 10-week consultation on how the RCF can be used – as there is a total of £1bn allocated. I’m told the industry was unimpressed with this announcement, with the fund essentially being kicked further down the road.
📡 You may recall Tesla hinting earlier this year at offering wireless charging in the future. Well, in a recent interview Jay Leno, Tesla’s chief designer confirmed it was coming. Read more.
📅 South Tyneside Council has agreed to a partnership with Connected Kerb which, it seems, will span the next 20 years. Under the new agreement, 2,000 new devices will be installed. Learn more.
✏️ The Guardian has continued to publish regular mythbusters about EV ownership, the latest is about the expense of EVs. Read more.
💷 From 8 January, drivers looking to charge at one of the 60 ScotRail stations will have to start paying 43p per kWh. Learn more.
👬 People may recall my recent reports about Elon Musk and Rishi Sunak’s bromance – and how it could lead to a gigafactory in the UK. Well, on Saturday, the two bros were both in Rome at the Atreju conservative political conference. See here.
📊 Investors’ Chronicle has done a good deep dive on Pod Point, whose experience on the stock market hasn’t exactly been rosy. They suggest it could still be a ‘winner’. Read more.
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