NIO retreats from UK as team is made redundant
The latest news from the world of EVs
Good morning, I’m Tom Riley and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… The Chinese EV car giant NIO last week made most of its UK team redundant, as the firm focuses on other locations before launching in Britain.
Elsewhere… Prices go up at Gridserve, Tesla releases its Cybertruck (though no UK launch confirmed) and Octopus EV secures £550 million.
Also, two quick parish updates. Firstly, it was tremendous to see my Tesla gigafactory story appear in Business Leader’s Off to Lunch email and also Manchester’s The Mill newsletter last week. Awesome.
Secondly, a quick heads up, next week’s newsletter might not be published at the normal Tuesday time - prepare for a day delay. In the interim… if you have any thoughts, feedback, or ideas, please do get in touch. To do so, simply reply to this email.
NIO retreats from the UK as its team is made redundant
Background: The Chinese EV manufacturer NIO, who first started ramping up its UK team in January this year, has made many of its team redundant as the carmaker looks to “improve efficiency and reduce costs.” As a reminder, NIO develops premium EVs and its unique selling point is its battery swap stations, which means a car can be back on the road with a fresh battery in under five minutes. NIO has more than 2,217 swap stations globally, but just a handful in Europe.
Summary: In a LinkedIn post, Gavin Stokes, who was Head of European Operations at NIO and the first employee in the UK, wrote: “I looked forward to a lengthy tenure in developing swapping and charging infrastructure and ultimately being able to drive NIO vehicles in the UK. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, we will now not get the opportunity to deliver the results we have worked so hard for as today we are made redundant.”
Details: It seems the news came out the blue for the UK team, with at least 12 people being let go. Not to mention, it seems as if many other commercial partners, who would be involved in developing battery swap infrastructure, such as landlords and energy companies, have been impacted by this news.
According to reports… earlier this year, NIO had planned to make its market launch – including a battery swap site – in the UK next year. But, in August, the carmaker pushed their launch back even further suggesting 2025, saying the brand needed to offer a “fantastic” experience (aka. have lots of swap stations up and running).
Reconfirmed: Shortly after the news was revealed last week, NIO seemed to quickly squash rumours they were pulling out of the UK. First off, they published a press release saying they’d reached 30 swap stations in Europe. The release included references to the UK market. And then, secondly, an article appeared on Car Dealer with comments from Matt Galvin, who is NIO’s remaining UK managing director. Matt said, “Preparations for the entry into the UK market will continue, with the launch date under regular review.”
So what’s going on? I got in touch with NIO to ask about the redundancies. A spokesperson didn’t deny them saying: “This decision was part of a global strategy to improve efficiency and reduce costs. All aspects of the company's development are proceeding as planned with additional efforts in the immediate future aimed at tackling the highly competitive Chinese market and European regions where it is already fully operational.”
Meanwhile… Last week, NIO signed a new partnership with fellow Chinese giant Geely to enable them to cooperate on battery swapping. Geely owns brands such as Volvo and Polestar. Read more about that tie-up here. For now, though, it seems the UK is on ice for swap stations.
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Top EV picks last week…
🔌 The association EVA England yesterday appointed two new directors to its Board. They include Dr Victoria Edmonds, former head of the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, and Dhara Vyas, Deputy CEO of Energy UK. Great additions.
🙁 Taxi firm Addison Lee has u-turned on plans to go all-electric this year blaming the lack of “trickle” chargers on streets and suggesting more rapid chargers were needed to deliver on their ambition. The CEO said: “The electric solution is brilliant if you have got overnight charging. Most of our drivers do not.” Read more.
💸 Yesterday, it was announced that Octopus EV has secured £550 million in debt funding – bringing the total amount raised by the company to £1.2 billion. The firm has surged on the back of its salary sacrifice programme, used by 4,000 companies, delivering tax benefits for drivers. Read more. Readers may recall I revealed Octopus was hunting for more cash in July. This was a month after it had secured £150m in June. See here.
⚒️ According to campaign group Transport & Environment, European carmakers have only secured a sixth of the raw materials they will need by 2030. Read more.
🚢 The Guardian has uncovered that the EU has come up with a ‘Plan B’ to cushion the impact of 10% tariffs on imports and exports of EVs still due to come in from January 2024. Read more.
📊 Last month more than 24,000 EVs were registered in the UK, though 77.4% were by fleets and businesses, according to the latest SMMT figures. Overall EVs had a 15.6% market share last month. Read more.
⚡ Rapid charging costs seem to be at a high. This past week, Gridserve raised their cost from 69p to 79p per kWh. The firm shared a statement in response, saying “We do our best to mitigate these issues through clever solutions and innovative technology, but this comes at a cost.” Read it here.
💷 Speaking of high prices, on Twitter Andrew Till, also known as Mr EV on YouTube, summarised all the latest rapid charging costs (image below).
📈 It also led me to discover this utterly fantastic website to compare the prices of public EV networks.
🚗 Charging network Zest has been awarded contracts to build more than 50 rapid chargers in London as part of the Mayor’s EV Infrastructure Delivery project. Read more.
😮 Last week, Tesla’s long-anticipated Cybertruck was launched to the world – as you may have noticed with a torrent of articles and videos. Sadly, the £66,000 truck isn’t available in the UK as of yet, but it may be soon. Carwow has a good video review. My take is, while I know lots of people will bawk at the Cybertruck. To me, what is brilliant about it is the very fact it’s been made. In contrast, every other carmaker tends to play it fairly safe. For everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Cybertruck, please do check out the superb EV Universe deep dive by my friend Jaan.
⛽ Speaking of those who stay the course rather than embrace the exciting, Toyota, according to the FT, is looking at manufacturing a new EV model in the UK, but also building hydrogen fuel cells after the government pushback. These could be used in larger Toyota vehicles or shipping. Quelle surprise. Read more (paywall).
🌞 Finally, over the weekend, I tested out the recently arrived Fisker Ocean – the EV conjured up by a startup from California. I thought the different gizmos and gadgets on it were epic, but I’ve never tested a car where the carmaker’s aide has had to say so many times, “Yeah the software isn’t ready for that yet”. In any case, watch my TikTok highlighting the seven weird things about it here. Even though, in the comments, someone wrote: “Why is Will from the inbetweeners narrating this”. I feel violated.
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