Charging networks may ‘struggle’ after April warns energy analyst
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a weekly British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… EV road tax to be announced Thursday, a warning from analysts Cornwall Insight about the sustainability of charging networks after April, and three newspapers criticise the state of Britain’s EV industry. Fingers crossed next week’s email is more positive.
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In the coming week…
TAXES COMING: On Thursday the Chancellor will stand up to deliver what’s being described as a grim fiscal statement. Though there are denials of Austerity 2.0, it will almost certainly include new taxes. And based on the numerous policy ‘trails’ coming out of the Treasury, it seems all but set that Jeremy Hunt will announce a timeline for road tax on EV owners. This is all to help fill the rumoured £54 billion hole in the UK’s finances. Treasury sources have said there are “no plans to introduce road pricing at this stage”, but based on previous reports it’s expected Hunt will say EV drivers will be subject to taxes from 2025. There remains no further detail on how it’ll be implemented though it seems likely to be a fee system similar to the current Vehicle Excise Duty. As Michael Peters from Sway Mobility flagged to me, this is how states in the US have imposed EV taxes too. Read more.
Side note… if you want to learn more about ‘Treasury pitch rolling’, my Pagefield colleague Giles Winn – former Special Adviser to Chancellor Philip Hammond – wrote about it in The Times yesterday. Read here.
In the last week…
NETWORK WORRY: The energy analysts, Cornwall Insight, have warned that when the government’s Energy Bills Relief Scheme (EBRS) ends in April, which has allowed some chargepoint operators to lower prices (notably, Osprey and Source London), some of them may “struggle to maintain and build their networks” in the face of a continued uncertain energy market. The report at the end of last week seems to have been directed more so at rapid networks. Cornwall Insight noted that while the EBRS scheme was offering support, it is limited. They have described a sort of chicken and egg problem for networks, whereby to keep going they require revenue from drivers using their networks, however, high pricing from energy costs can impact that. Read more.
INSTA COST: On the topic of price rises, last week one of the UK’s largest rapid charging networks, InstaVolt, increased its prices to 75p per kWh. This will impact all 884 of their chargers. As a comparison, this time last year it was 40p per kWh – so nearly double. In total, InstaVolt has increased its prices five times in the past 12 months. Read more.
WATT WOES: In a rather frightening and seemingly uncoordinated series of feature articles, The Times, The Guardian, and even the Daily Telegraph have all published significant criticism about the ‘slow-motion car crash’ of the UK’s ambitions to have an electric car revolution. The crux of all three articles is the failure of Britain to secure battery gigafactories – there are three planned in the UK – compared to our European neighbours which are delivering (or have built) 41. It’s all come to a head because of Britishvolt’s cataclysmic failure to deliver – which has seemingly shaken the automotive industry of hope for the UK.
WATT NEXT? As I’ve written previously, BMW, Arrival, and Ford are all looking outside Britain for production – according to SMMT, UK production of cars has tumbled from 1.7m per year to just 866,000 this year. In the face of cheap Chinese imports and US/European subsidies on offer, the UK looks like it’ll struggle to compete - especially as we head into a recession. However, as even the Daily Telegraph insists, “there is still time to reverse the trend.” If the UK truly wants to be a player in EV production rather than an imported state, either this government of the future one needs to commit big money. Read The Guardian view, a Times feature on Ford, and the best-written Daily Telegraph article I’ve read in years.
Side note... Perhaps the new higher rate ‘windfall tax’ on energy companies (allegedly going from 25-35%) is one way Jeremy Hunt will induce renewed inward investment.
USED CARS: According to the latest quarterly data by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the market for trading second-hand EVs grew 44% to 16,775 transactions – that brings it to 48,032 for the year to date. The trend is a great and important one – as the availability of used EVs will be critical in the years ahead – though there’s a long way to go, as it still only represents under 4% of the total used market. Read more.
CLIMATE GOALS: For the past week COP27 has been in full flow. As I said in the last newsletter, I’ve not seen anything substantial on EVs. Unlike at Glasgow in 2021, the Egyptian organisers have not dedicated a day to transport. This has meant discussions on transport have been intertwined into sessions throughout the conference. There’s also another factor – the host itself. For Egypt, unlike in Europe, the decarbonisation of transport is worthwhile, but not necessarily important. Egypt’s neighbours are also not what you might call forthcoming supporters – they mostly make-up members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) like Saudi Arabia and Libya.
The influence of those states cannot be overstated. Then there’s the Suez Canal, a huge revenue raiser for Egypt which sees between 5-10% of the world’s oil products pass through it. It’s so important, that there is even a special type of oil tanker called the ‘Suezmax’. Overall, then, if you were Egyptian, would you be overly enthusiastic about clean energy? It’s no surprise to me that this year there’s been huge talk about hydrogen and carbon capture technology compared to Glasgow. It could be worse, though. Next year COP28 is being held in the UAE, a country that wants to be the last in the world to take oil out of the ground. Burn, baby, burn.
HUGE EV: The luxury car specialist, Clive Sutton, has brought the first GMC Hummer electric pickup to the UK. The absolute tank of an EV first launched in 2020 in America. It boasts 350 miles of range, 1,000 horsepower, and can hit 60mph in 3.3 seconds. The Hummer has some interesting quirks, such as coming with a special ‘crabwalk’ capability where it can traverse diagonally (video here) and has 18 cameras around its side. The car costs £320,000 and I’m told already has a buyer. See a video overview below.
WIGHT PROBLEM: Interesting story from the Isle of Wight. The council there has promised by the Summer just gone to have installed chargepoints at 13 car parks. However, they have been “seemingly abandoned” according to the local outlet On The Wight. In response, the council said their contractors (Joju) are working to install chargers but are facing “widespread charge point stock shortages and other issues.” Are there shortages slowing installations elsewhere? Get in touch.
HUB OUT: A local report that a council in Slough has pulled £5m of funding for a new EV hub over concerns about greenbelt policies and worries about using public money. Read more.
NEW PARTNERSHIP (1): The taxi firm Addison Lee has joined forces with EV charging aggregator Bonnet. The tie-up will provide Addison Lee partner drivers with access to more than 1,000 rapid chargers across the capital. Drivers will receive a £5 credit each month in the first four months. Read more.
NEW PARTNERSHIP (2): Charge Amps, an EV charging solutions provider HQed in Sweden, has announced a partnership with the chargepoint management software Monta. This will mean connectors belonging to UK-based Charge Amps customers will be able to monetise their chargers for leasing out to guests, customers or friends. Through Monta, users can set a tariff for the energy used.
HIGH COST: The electric car subscription scheme, Onto, has increased its delivery, collection, and swap pricing. From 1 December, delivery or collection will increase from £99.50 to £129.50. Meanwhile, swapping a car will increase from £49.50 to £79.50. Onto has made this decision due to “increased logistics and supply chain costs.” By comparison, the delivery and collection fee for Onto’s competitor, elmo, stands at £119. Subscriptions are certainly becoming an expensive way to get into an EV.
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