Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the British EV newsletter.
In today’s email: BP has risen its prices twice in 24 hours, Nissan reveals electric motorists are now driving further than petrolheads, and David Beckham enters the EV fray.
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In the news…
BP INCREASE: This week BP Pulse wrote to its users advising that it was raising its charging prices from 10 June. BP is one of the UK’s biggest networks and the 2nd biggest rapid charging network, so price increases will impact thousands of motorists. One of the increases that annoyed people was that the cost of using a 50kW rapid charger - which is the most common type of rapid charger BP Pulse operates. The 50kW price is going from 15p per kWh to 23p per kWh for subscribers. That’s a 50% increase for people who already pay £7.85 each month to get the best tariff prices. In comparison, the other prices only went up a few pennies each - that is still a lot!
BP INCREASE (AGAIN): It probably won’t take long for most people to realise that with these new prices there is little reason to be a subscriber. BP Pulse might have also realised their mistake because within 24 hours of their first email a second one arrived with the subject header ‘Correction’. In the second message, BP Pulse tells users that, actually, the cost for guests using their 50kW chargers is rising by 16%, rather than an initial 10%. For those using 150kW ultra-rapid charging, the price has also risen for registered users by 20%.
BP didn’t provide any explanation as to the sudden change other than writing: “These changes to our pricing will allow us to continue investing in our network and continue to be able to deliver the highest levels of service.”
CAR ENERGY: A new study has revealed that EV owners could stand to earn more than £700 per year by selling electricity back to the grid via their cars. The technology is called vehicle-to-grid (V2G for short) and was tested with more than 300 homes over three years. The project was code-named Project Sciurus (which is a squirrel). V2G systems work by simply reversing the flow of electricity from a car’s battery back through a charger. It sounds simple in practice, but the hardware involved is still very expensive when compared to a normal smart charger. However, it does show a great way for the UK to handle energy storage if prices can come down. The trial was run by firms OVO Energy, Cenex, Nissan and Indra. It was backed by the UK’s department for business and Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles. Read more.
CHARGE IT LIKE BECKHAM: The former England footballer and major A-list celebrity, David Beckham, has invested in EV firm Lunaz, a company that is electrifying classic cars, such as the original Bentley Continental. In return, Beckham will get a 10% stake. Retrofitting classic cars with electric motors is an increasing trend and Lunaz plans to rapidly expand - potentially creating some 500 jobs. However, amongst some diehard petrolheads, it’s very controversial. On his new investment, Beckham said: “Lunaz represents the very best of British ingenuity in both technology and design.” It’s great that an EV firm has managed to attract such a high profile celebrity - it will only further interest in EVs - however, I just hope EV firms don’t become the next ‘celebrity vineyard’. Read more on Autocar.
ELECTRIC RAILWAY: Network Rail has revealed its first charging points for travelling rail passengers. Some 56 chargers have been installed in a refurbished multi-storey at Leeds train station. They will enable people to park their cars, charge them up and continue their journey by train. Meaning when they return, they will have a fully charged car. The chargers - along with all the spaces at the car park - are pre-bookable. This installation is part of Network Rail’s commitment to building charging points at their managed car parks by March 2024. Read more on Network Rail.
TOTAL RECALL: Not a great week for Tesla. Not only has the company had to issue three separate recalls in the US for nearly 14,000 cars. But also Tesla orders in its key China market dropped to about 9,800 in May from more than 18,000 in April. The drop in sales has been blamed on poor quality control and competition from other car markers. The three recalls relate to issues with seat belts and loose bolts. Check you’re impacted here.
BUS STATION: First Bus has announced it will install a whopping 160 charging points and replace half its fleet with electric buses at its depot in Glasgow. This will make it the biggest charging hub in the UK. The work should be completed by 2023. The new electric buses will be able to last for 16 hours on urban routes and be rapidly recharged in just 4 hours at the new hub. Read more on the BBC.
GOING FURTHER: New research produced by Nissan has found that EV drivers in Europe drive up to 8,800 miles per year. That is 350 miles more than those in traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. The data came from a survey of 7,000 motorists across Europe including folk in the UK. This sort of information is a strong argument against the naysayers who suggest EVs aren’t cut out for normal motoring. It’s thought people are now going much further in EVs as charging infrastructure is drastically improving. Some 69% of respondents to the survey said they were happy with the number of charge points. Read more on Nissan’s website.
NOT SO NEW APP: I mentioned on Tuesday that American mobile charging start-up SparkCharge was due to announce a new product this week. They did. They used their ‘SparkDay’ to reveal new improvements to their core product (The Roadie) and also a new on-demand charging service. Essentially, allowing people to order a charger to their door. But, this isn’t actually a new service by SparkCharge. They have been trying to make it stick for a while - evidently, it might be struggling to attract users in the US. Maybe they would have better luck in the UK.
SCOOTER DAY 🛴: As a reminder, the long-awaited e-scooter trials start in London this Monday 7 June. Many other micromobility firms will be watching this trial with great interest. London is pretty much the last city to adopt e-scooters on its streets legally - there are thousands of illegal ones already. The apps to download in anticipation are Dott, Tier and Lime. I will be attempting to get hold of one on Monday to give it a road test for next Tuesday’s edition.
By Tom Riley