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ChargeUK: What the new EV association will do next
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… a summary of the new trade body for EV charging which launched last week, including inside detail of its priorities and next steps.
Elsewhere… one in five cars will be electric this year, the new boss of Britishvolt shares his six reasons why the company failed, and Chinese carmaker BYD debuts its hatchback in the UK.
Also, it was great to see so many of you on Friday! As ever, if you have any thoughts or comments, please do get in touch. My contact details are here or simply reply to this email.
New trade body for EV charging launches
Background: You may recall that about a month ago I revealed that public charging networks were coming together to form a new trade association. Well, last Friday it was officially launched.
Summary: The group is called ChargeUK, and it’s going to be the ‘voice of EV charging’ as we throttle up towards 2030 and beyond. There are 18 founding members which are… Be.EV , Believe, bp pulse, char.gy, ChargePoint, Connected Kerb, ESB, evyve, Fastned, Genie Point, Gridserve, Ionity, Mer, Osprey, Pod Point, PoGo Charge, RAW Charging, and Shell Recharge.
Leadership: The first Chair of ChargeUK is Ian Johnston, CEO of the rapid charging network Osprey. He was voted in at the group’s first AGM which was held in the margins of Fully Charged Live at Farnborough Airport. Throughout the day, Ian conducted a series of media appearances, the point that was really drilled home is that the collective members are investing £6 billion into growing the UK’s network and hope to double the number of chargers by the end of 2023.
Reaction: The Minister of Decarbonisation at DfT, Jesse Norman, commented on the launch of ChargeUK saying it: “Shows how industry working together, alongside the Government, can release private investment, improve delivery, raise standards and promote the use of electric vehicle charging infrastructure for drivers across the country.”
Priority areas: Outside these headline commitments, I got a chance to chat with Ian briefly about the new group. My first question was about what its top focus areas will be. Ian described four priorities (summarised below)…
“Barriers to deployment is of course a key one whether you're an AC charging network or a DC charging network.”
“I think we look forward to working with government on VAT and making sure that charging is equitable for all, whether you have access to a home driveway or not.”
“We look forward to working with government on the consumer regulations. How do we ensure that charge points are reliable, how do we ensure they're accessible? What are the right payment and roaming methods that should be employed?”
“Then there's a bigger piece around the incentive schemes that are in place at any one time, and that's all around creating the right market conditions to make the UK an attractive destination for the OEMs to send their vehicles to.”
Counterpoints: When I asked if there was anything the group all agreed on not wanting to see happen, Ian said: “We don’t want the ZEV mandate to be weakened any further. There's a lot of voices out there right now questioning whether the ban needs to be delayed or pushed back. I think what we're saying is, this industry is committing £6 billion to install the infrastructure that's needed, do not weaken the stance at all.”
Margin views: From speaking to a number of people close to the new group on Friday, everyone is thrilled that it’s launched – as they should be. And, as Jesse’s quote refers to, I’m told that the government is already positively engaged. However, I get the feeling that it’s Ofgem and the DNOs who are lined up in the crosshairs of ChargeUK and its members. They are seen as far too slow and distracted by the wider energy crisis.
Not involved: You may have noticed, two businesses that are not founding members of ChargeUK are InstaVolt and Tesla. They are the two largest operators of rapid chargers, collectively running a quarter of all high-speed devices in the UK.
Why did they not join up? My understanding is both were asked and declined. On Tesla, multiple sources suggested they’d rather keep one foot in the door and maintain their ‘outsider’ status. Meanwhile, InstaVolt claimed they had been in the dark about the new group and were investigating as a matter of urgency. When I asked ChargeUK about why these two hadn’t joined, Ian told me: “We've got great dialogue with everybody who you would regard as a major player in the UK. If their name is not on the list today, I'd hope that their name is on the list next time you look.”
Expanding wider: Speaking of membership, one debate for ChargeUK now it’s launched is… who else can join? While the initial members are all involved with public charging, several members told me a big question now is where the membership line will be drawn. This seems to be a particularly hot topic around charge point manufacturers. These companies (of which there is now a large number) play a huge role in charging – including with workplace and public offers – but they do not necessarily have to meet the same regulatory or consumer requirements set for charging network operators.
Next steps: Given the above debate, my understanding is it’s most likely that an ‘affiliate’ type membership will emerge soon, as well as working groups being set up to cover the different areas of the EV charging ecosystem. It’s likely some founding members will lead these strands. From talking to several businesses in the sector (who aren’t charging networks) many are keen to get involved, so this direction seems welcome.
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Latest EV news…
FAST GROWTH: In its latest Global EV Outlook, the International Energy Agency said that it expected sales of electric cars to grow by 35% this year, taking the overall market share to one in five. Read more.
EV MAKERS: Speaking of fast growth, some four in 10 cars built in the UK during March were ultra-low or zero-emission vehicles, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders latest figures. Read more.
M&A PLAYS: Outside his elevation to Chair of ChargeUK, Ian Johnston of Osprey also spoke to Bloomberg’s Hyperdrive last week about the company’s growth and the sector more widely. Busy guy! When asked about public charging being an increasingly competitive market, Ian had this to say on market consolidation which I found interesting: “There are a lot of new entrants to the market and there are billions of pounds being invested. But if you look at who is actually deploying charging infrastructure at volume, you’re seeing that landowners and retailers are picking one out of a small number of players in the same basket time and time again. I think you can expect to see some consolidation. Everyone’s looking for growth and M&A is a natural way to achieve that. At the other end of the scale, there’s a number of players that I don’t think will be here in a year’s time.” Read more (paywall).
TELL ME WHY: David Collard, whose firm bought Britishvolt earlier this year, did an interview last week with the Financial Review. In it he revealed the six reasons he believes the former management failed, and suggested why he will succeed. 1) Britishvolt had no binding offtake (buyer) agreement, but Collard does through his Recharge firm. 2) Britishvolt did not yet have proven technology, but Recharge does with its C4V technology. 3) Weak supply chain, meanwhile Collard has locked in a supply of raw materials from Australia. 4) Bad balance sheet, making attracting capital hard. Collard told Financial Review that a pension fund is supplying a £2.5 billion facility, while five investment banks have been shortlisted for a capital raise. Bridging finance of £60 million is in a final round of diligence. 5) Britishvolt didn’t have multiple product segments. 6) Britishvolt was too extravagant leading up to its collapse. Collard also said of dealing with Northumberland County Council “They just have a number of cooks in the kitchen.” Read here (should be able to access without signing up).
CLEAN FOOD: The delivery firm, Just Eat, announced last week that it would transition its corporate fleet to electric by 2025. Read more.
FARM CAR: Munro, who recently debuted their straight-up utility EV for going off-road, was on show at Fully Charged. As a reminder, this vehicle is produced in Scotland. It was my favourite car on display. See my video here.
NEW MOTOR: The Chinese carmaker BYD (which stands for ‘Build Your Dreams’) held the European debut of its ‘Dolphin’ (a hatchback) at Fully Charged on Friday. Also on show was the BYD Atto 3 (an SUV). The Dolphin is expected to cost around £32,000 and come with 260+ miles of range. It’ll likely compete with the MG 4 – though won’t be as cheap. Read some background on the Dolphin.
IM NEXT: Monta, the charging software firm, released a new product last week which, at private or workplace chargers, will enable drivers to virtually queue. Read more. To flag, I’ll be revisiting this storyline for a future feature of Fast Charge on how we share our public chargers.
NEW OFFER: Bonnet, the EV charging app, launched a new service for fleets last week called ‘Dash’. The new platform provides fleet managers a management tool where they can see advanced driver behaviours and handle invoicing. Read more.
NEW CHARGERS: Arnold Clark, the car dealer, has announced it will install 500 rapid chargers at its branches that will be available around the clock. Large branches will have eight 150kW devices, meanwhile smaller ones will get four to six devices. Read more.
MOOR CHARGERS: North Yorkshire Council has said it needs 724 public chargers by 2025, while currently having 225. To help, the area has secured £2.2m in funding. Read more.
NO VOLTS: The CEO of Formula 1, Stefano Domenicali, has said that the sport will “never go electric”. The rather direct statement was made to an Italian publication recently. Domenicali has said F1 will use synthetic fuels instead which will help it go zero-emission from 2026. Read more.
ANGRY DATA: An infuriating story in The Times over the weekend suggested the government should pull back on the 2030 deadline. It was based on an analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research but was funded by FairFuelUK – an organisation that you can probably guess is completely impartial in the EV debate. Read more (paywall). Or the report is here. Warning, it may make you angry. For some positivity, see this response by FairCharge’s Quentin Willson.
SUPER DUPER: On a lighter note, and not strictly EV related, there was a feature in the FT (paywall) over the weekend about ‘supercar spotters’ in London. It’s a strange hobby to me, but the reporter concluded this: “To catch a supercar is to touch a world of limitless potential, where success stories abound and raw ambition is rewarded. Behind every supercar is someone who “made it”; every rev is a roar of triumph.” I really liked that, though maybe in the future it won’t just be a ‘rev’ but also a ‘humm’.
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