Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… Sir Jony Ive is designing an EV (but it’s not Apple’s), searches for EVs are up during the fuel crisis and the Citroen AMI comes to the UK.
As ever, if you have any questions or thoughts, please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the last week…
FUELS UP: I feel like over the last few weeks all I’ve done is written about the increasing perils around our energy system. And now a week later another crisis: fuel. However, though the lack of petrol at pumps has caused, I’m sure, a great many stresses for people all over the country, it has at least made EV’s look very attractive – after all, people like to avoid pain! According to Google’s search console, the number of people researching EVs online has risen over 1,500% during the fuel crisis. In the news today, Auto Trader has revealed that searches for used electric vehicles on its website jumped by more than 60% over the weekend. Crucially, though, while I’m sure this crisis will make a lot of consumers think again about ‘range anxiety’ in the context of ICE vehicles, I’m certain in boardrooms across the nation (and beyond) people are now firmly thinking EVs are the way to go – they are now definitely much less risk and cheaper in the long-run. Fuel pump operators seem to certainly agree. Only this week the Motor Fuel Group opened its first EV charging hub near Putney. I might just have to check that out soon. Elsewhere on this subject, I love this article by the Daily Mail highlighting how EV drivers are acting smug during the fuel crisis. Newsflash: we are!
NEW CHAPTER: Rolls Royce yesterday published a super-strange press release suggesting that it is heading into its ‘next chapter’ of history. In the release, the carmaker called for people to reflect on electrification and its own journey within it. The press notice advises people to return on 29 September at 1 pm to find out about their next steps – presumably that they are going all-electric, which given their cars are deadly silent anyway would make a lot of sense. You can read the press release in full here.
NEW SPAC: Polestar, the EV maker owned by Volvo and Geely, has announced that it is listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange through a special purpose acquisition company. The listing values the firm at around $20 billion. Alongside this news, Polestar will receive around £440m more investment from Volvo, £600m by the newly formed Gores Guggenheim SPAC and about £180m from private sources. This new wave of cash will help Polestar launch up to three new cars by 2024 as well as increase production to a targeted 290,000 vehicles by 2025.
NORTH STAR: Speaking of Polestar, there’s a rather honest interview with its UK boss Jonathan Goodman in Autocar this week. In it, Goodman speaks of the challenges of running a car company in 2021 but also of their future. They’ve come a long way in a year! Read it.
BATTERY TECH: Last week it was revealed that two firms based in Britain (Mahle Powertrain and Allotrope Energy) have been developing a battery that can be charged up super-quickly. Their new tech, though a great leap forward, will only likely be used in the near term for EVs with a short-range – such as delivery mopeds. Though it’s a great start. Currently, a standard electric moped would take some 30 minutes to charge up (if not much longer). The new tech coming out of Woking and Northampton could cut that down to 90 seconds. Read more.
PRANCING APPLES: Sir Jonathan Ive (or ‘Jony’), whose designs made Apple products like the iPod, iPhone and Macbook iconic, is going to be working with Ferrari to develop their first electric car. According to the FT, Ferrari’s owners have signed a “long-term, multiyear collaboration” with LoveFrom, the design firm founded by Ive in 2019 after he left Apple – albeit, Apple are one of his clients. Read more.
OH, JEFFERY: On his journey to the big Apple, PM Boris made a plea to Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos to push for Rivian – the EV start-up he’s backed – to build a factory in the UK. It has previously been reported that Rivian might build a plant in Somerset. Read more.
SUPERMARKET SWEEP: Electrifying.com – the EV blog that always pops up in government videos – has published the results of a survey that says Tesco is the best place to charge your car (at a supermarket). This style of charging up on the move has become popular for many. The survey wasn’t a poll of people but an analysis of store locations versus charging provisions. It’s probably no surprise that Tesco won this battle, it has really hit the ground running with a partnership with VW and PodPoint to install free posts. Read more.
LITTLE CAR: The Citroen AMI, the tiny little quadricycle, is due to go on sale in the UK next year. Reservations have now opened and, apparently, 12,000 UK people have placed a £250 deposit to get one. In truth, it is a rather fun looking little car – maybe it will take off? Or maybe it will follow the woes of every small car maker in the UK. To me, it’s the sort of car that would make a lot more sense as part of a shared fleet. Read more. Reserve yours.
INTERESTING FIGURES: City AM had an exclusive story in their paper on Monday suggesting that electric car sales have risen by 186% during the pandemic – it was picked up in a few other outlets too. That’s a fab statistic. However, without wanting to seem like a negative Nancy, I’m not so sure about the data behind it. The research was conducted by UHY Hacker Young, an accounting firm and seems to be quite ‘flexible’. For example, the top of the list they produced for the fastest-growing country for EVs was Vietnam – where only 900 EVs were sold last year.
EV DOC: The producers of Channel 4’s Dispatches programme have been making posts on EV forums looking to hear about people’s experience of charging stations. “What is the charging point you know of that has been out of service for the longest time? Have you ever run out of charge due to a charging station not working?” are questions they’ve asked. Alongside this, they’ve also asked to hear from PHEV owners – it sounds like to criticise them. As well as an interview, they’re looking to run “some scientific tests analysing exhaust pipe emissions.” I suppose we’ll see the fruits from their labours sometime in the upcoming weeks. If you have a story about a charging station or PHEV, you can email the team here > email@example.com
By Tom Riley