Mini-budget accelerates EV charging projects
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a weekly British EV newsletter.
In today’s email… the impact of the mini-Budget on the EV sector, the rise of ‘minimobility’, and Aviva starts offering protection for chargepoint erections.
As a reminder, there will be no Fast Charge next week as I’m at the Tory conference. If you are heading off to Birmingham, do drop me a line.
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In the last week…
MINI BUDGET: Last Friday the Chancellor delivered a fiscal statement – the Growth Plan 2022. Though we knew several tax cuts were coming, I’m not sure anyone was quite ready for how radical it was. Certainly, in the days since many markets have been reacting as such. For what the mini-budget means more broadly plus all the key announcements, I have written analysis for my agency’s website here. But, in terms of what it means for the EV industry, here are my thoughts…
Growth is good: A Treasury that is actively looking to build growth in the UK is good news, and many of the announcements centred around encouraging businesses to do this – not to mention, support for energy costs during this Winter. One of the biggest policies revealed at the mini-budget is that 38 investment zones, which will be supported with tax and other incentives, will be created across the UK. Likewise, the Annual Investment Allowance is set at £1m from 2023, Corporation Tax will remain at 19%, and changes to financial regulations and the creation of a new technology investment scheme will mean billions more heading to pioneering businesses. That could make the landscape for investing into EV companies even better, maybe leading to more jobs, cars and chargers as a result.
Reforms are needed: Investment incentives are great, but they are pointless without the right supporting structures, and here the government has promised to cut red tape. In particular, the Local EV Infrastructure Fund and Rapid Charging Fund were highlighted as two infrastructure schemes (of about 130+) that would be accelerated as fast as possible. This may be through “planning reform, regulatory reform, improved processes or other options to speed up their development and construction, including through development consent processes.” Previously, some EV businesses I’ve spoken to have complained that bureaucracy, especially at local levels, could be getting in the way of growing the scale and pace of charging. Indeed, it was even something Norway’s EV Association suggested to me as a lesson our country could learn back in June. And only in the past week, BP’s head of future mobility said we needed more rapid chargers and added that “In China, we just opened an ultrafast charging location from start to finish in less than 30 days… In the UK and America, it can take up to two years.”
Speed not greed: If I were to build you a house and proposed to you I could finish it by next week, you’d be rightly worried because some things in life need to be done properly. And to me, the words ‘fast as possible’ near EV charging projects makes me worried. As we’ve seen already in this sector, when money is just thrown and no regulations are followed, we get poor reliability, chargers left to fester, rubbish consumer experience and location inequality. This matched against new investment incentives will surely risk the rise of more rushing without due diligence and new cowboy installers – both for public networks and at people’s homes. The very fact that it was BP – a company notorious for poor reliability across its chargers – coming out days before the Chancellor’s statement calling for red tape changes surely is an alarm bell. I’ve previously written about the rise of micro charging networks growing, and already in the UK, there are 9,154 residential chargepoint installers registered on GOV.UK – that’s increasing by about 2-3 each day. Pace is good, but it must be balanced with strong consumer standards, and so far the government is yet to deliver these.
What now? Next weekend Truss will face her Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. Here all corners of Westminster will convene, and it’ll be where the first whispers or moans of dissent arise about her economic plan. Much will depend on how it’s received by the party supporters – my inkling is they will rather love it, having only just voted her in. For team EV, a key person to watch now is Chris Skidmore MP, who is currently undertaking a review of net zero policies for the Prime Minister and the Business Secretary (Jacob Rees-Mogg). Skidmore’s review has been tasked with suggesting a way forward to meet the UK’s net zero targets which ‘maximises economic growth’ and increases ‘energy security and affordability for consumers and businesses.’ It’s hard to predict yet whether this review will mean going backwards or forwards, as Skidmore has said it will seek to “double down” on the energy transition, meanwhile, Rees-Moggs says, only a paragraph later, that we must make sure the transition is delivered “in a way that increases energy security and does not place undue burdens on businesses or consumers”. It’s also worth remembering, Skidmore and Truss are ideologically pretty close, having co-authored the now infamous 'Britannia Unchained’ in 2012 together. You can read more about his review here.
Tom investigates… next week, I’ll be attending several Conservative Environment Network events in Birmingham, including one about electric vehicles. Skidmore is expected to be in attendance, so I will see what intel I can gather on my travels and report back.
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MEGA FUNDING: Speaking of investment, it was announced over the weekend that the investing arm of the insurer (Aviva Investors) is giving Connected Kerb £110 million to build 190,000 on-street chargers by 2030. The first 4,000 of those are expected to be installed by the end of 2022. Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, said on the news: “Our partnership with Aviva Investors will turn EV charging on its head.” This funding and associated ambition is undoubtedly massive – 190,000 would be over half the total of chargers the government said we should have by 2030 in its EV strategy. Read more.
NEW COVER: Perhaps tied into the above news, Aviva also announced last week its first standalone insurance products for EV chargers. The firm says they are responding to demand from installers and operators. The two-insurance products Aviva is now offering are ‘Operational All Risks’ and ‘Erection All Risks’, which will cover fire, flooding, damage and breakdowns. And they’ll presumably be some protection for chargepoints too (Boom, Boom!). Read more.
HIGH PRICES: In less amusing news, research by the RAC has suggested that the cost of charging an EV publicly has risen by 42% since May. The average cost on a pay-as-you-go basis is now 63.29p per kWh. However, worth remembering charging at home is still insanely cheap. Read more.
LIDL RISE: The supermarket Lidl, that operates over 200 rapid chargepoints at its UK stores, has increased its price to 40p per kWh, up from 28p per kWh.
MON AMI: Citroen and ubitricity, the UK’s largest EV charging network, last week signed a ‘cooperation agreement to make e-mobility more accessible for drivers in European cities’. As part of this new agreement, buyers of the Citroen Ami will receive free charging on ubitricity’s 5,500+ lamppost chargers for three months. This is an interesting offer because the Ami already costs a tiny amount to lease (as little as about £20 per month with the right deposit), so it could encourage more people to try the Ami – which is a sort of quadricycle. Read more.
BON AMI: This Ami-ubitricity news comes as a fresh McKinsey report suggests ‘minimobility’ – small three and four-wheeled EVs – may be the next big thing after the popularity of e-scooters and e-bikes. The report they’ve done is US focused, but significantly interesting and suggests the market globally could be worth $100 billion by 2030. It captures a trend already happening in the UK, especially amongst urban cargo delivery (see Amazon Prime’s London delivery news from July). Likewise, this trend could be coming at the right time for urban centres. Only last week, a survey by Tier found Londoners felt there were too many cars on the roads of the capital – with only half feeling cycling is easy in the city. Read about that research here, but see the McKinsey report here.
PAVEMENT CHARGING: Speaking of on-street chargers, while many thousands are increasingly getting installed, I still regularly come across people trailing a cable across the pavement to charge their car. Councils are still wary of this method and encourage residents not to do it, especially as it’s against the Highways Act. One solution that’s been talked about before is that little ‘gullies’ could be built through pavements from homes, allowing cables to be neatly tucked away instead of tripping up OAPs and pushchairs. Recently, I’ve noted a company called Pavecross going live with their trademarked solution. Likewise, Oxford Council has this year spun off its “Gul-e” project as a company offering a similar service. I made a video about this trend for my TikTok channel – which has been viewed 700,000 times in 2 days and attracted an insane number of comments. Watch it here (or below).
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BIG MOVE: This last story is a bit nerdy but important. Last week, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) invited its suppliers to align to its ambition of being net zero across its operations, products and supply chain by 2039. What this means is that JLR is delivering on a promise to cut its ‘Scope 3 emissions’. These are emissions centred on sources of emissions that are more external to a specific organisation, such as those across the supply chain like transportation of goods. Meanwhile, Scope 1 and 2 emissions relate to those in the control of a company, such as energy supplies. It’s great to see JLR, a global brand, making this announcement as it's the significantly harder one to achieve – but ultimately more impactful. With COP27 in Egypt just around the corner, be ready for more announcements like this. Read more.
By Tom Riley | Check my Linktree for LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter