Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… Sheffield Council kicks off the pavement war, Ferrari reveals a new plug-in hybrid, and I share one reader’s theory on the semiconductor shortage.
As ever, do drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback, questions or comments.
In the news…
ACTION BEGINS: One of the biggest problems that the UK is going to face while switching to EVs is how people without driveways charge at home. Yes, most people are going to be using on-street chargepoints, however, for millions who often park in front of their houses, the allure of trailing a cable to your car will be hard to fight - it’s just so much easier. I have previously highlighted that councils may take action against motorists who use this practice in the future. And now, in one of the first examples seen across the UK, one council has. The council in question is Sheffield. They sent a letter to a new EV owner this month - who kindly supplied it to The Fast Charge - asking that they do not put cables over the footpath otherwise they would face “further action”. Sheffield Council argues in their warning letter that they are “very supportive of people switching to electric vehicles” and that they are “keen to increase EV charging infrastructure across the city”. But, a quick look on ZapMap shows there are only a handful of public chargepoints available to Sheffield residents. How can they send letters like this when the infrastructure just isn’t there yet? Surely something has to give on this topic soon.
GETTING CHEAPER: Electric cars will be as cheap as petrol vehicles by 2025 according to Transport Minister Rachel Maclean. At a parliamentary hearing this week she told MPs that decreasing costs and tax breaks would make EVs more affordable. This is great news as more and more people look at switching to EVs. However, The Times sketch writer Quentin Letts is not so impressed by Maclean. In a piece this week, Letts said she “spouts any old rubbish handed to her by her civil servants.” Whatever his warped view of Whitehall, it’s great that there’s a minister happy to argue for something many aren’t convinced by - many ministers would prefer to stay under the radar.
CAR CURBS: You’d think that the mass switch to electric cars would make environmental campaigners happy. Sadly, they are not. A new report this week by the think tank IPPR suggested a move to EVs will still leave a large transport problem. They have argued that, with a growing population, unless we reduce car ownership there could be 28% more vehicles on the road by 2050. This will lead to more congestion and more of us getting fat by sitting in traffic, apparently. The IPPR has argued that the government should instead spend money on bikes and e-scooters. Evidently, the writers of the IPPR report have never stepped outside the Shoreditch cafe from whence they came. Cars are critical for the majority of our country. Read more on the BBC.
BRITISH PRODUCTION: Yesterday, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders revealed that just 1 in 16 cars made in the UK is fully electric. This is no doubt why people like the Brussels Transport and Environment group claim Britain’s factories may be left behind Europe’s production levels. The silver lining is that when you include hybrid cars into the mix, they total 19% of UK production. Likewise, given the UK doesn’t have any operating gigafactories yet, it’s probably no surprise the number of EVs made here is low.
SELL OUT: Panasonic, the Japanese company, has sold its entire stake in Tesla for $3.6 billion. Panasonic is long-time partners with Tesla and supplies them with batteries. However, Panasonic has previously said it wanted to expand to supply other EV companies. Tesla has also moved away from solely relying on Panasonic and started working with other companies too. The shares Panasonic have sold were bought in 2010 for about $30 million. By my maths that gives them a tasty return of 11900%. Could be worse.
NEW CAR: Ferrari has unveiled a new plug-in hybrid supercar called the 296 GTB. It will be available from 2022 and has an all-electric range of 15 miles coupled with a twin-turbo V6 engine. This will produce 818 horsepower and a top speed of just over 200mph. The mock-up of it looks absolutely wet-your-pants gorgeous - somewhere between a Great White Shark and an F-35 fighter jet.
NEW CAR(S): Not so flash but Skoda announced this week that they too are bringing out some new vehicles. As well as the recent Enyaq - which has been very well-reviewed - they will bring out three more pure electric models by 2030. According to Skoda’s chief executive, they will be smaller and cheaper than the Enyaq - which has a starting price of around £30,000. By targeting customers looking for affordability, they hope to take between 50-70% of the market. Nothing wrong with ambition! Read more on AutoExpress.
PORSCHE TOYS: On Tuesday I revealed that Porsche has halted Taycan orders for around 300 brits in the last fortnight due to the chip shortage. I had quite a number of comments following this story with people’s suspicions as to why semiconductors are currently lacking. Many people seem to blame the bitcoin craze - as the mining equipment needed relies heavily on the same tech - whereas others more tamely suggested it’s just a case of poor supply management at a time when electronics are hugely in demand. Or as one reader wrote: “A lot of chips for vibrators were made, and now car manufacturers are whining to governments to get subsidies because they came to a wrong conclusion about the pandemic.” Whatever the reason, hopefully it buzzes off soon.
By Tom Riley