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Demand for plug-in hybrids fall away as pure electrics grow
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… new figures show plug-in hybrid registrations down -25%, cheaper running costs continues to drive EV interest, and Rimac takes on new investment for hyper growth.
As ever, if you have any questions or comments, please do drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) or simply reply to this email.
In the last week…
NEW LEADER: Since last week in the UK, our nation has put its hands up to praise the Queen for the Platinum Jubilee. Meanwhile, yesterday in Westminster MPs came together to do the opposite for the Prime Minister. If you hadn’t seen, 148 Conservative MPs voted to say they had no confidence in Boris Johnson’s leadership. While he remains Tory leader for now, his future is now on extremely perilous ground. And this matters for the world of EVs, as it makes it supremely likely that come the next general election, Boris likely won’t be the Tory candidate. Now, whatever your politics, Boris has always been a pretty good friend of EVs – having said as far back as 2008 that they would replace the internal combustion engine. Change in political leadership will very likely mean changes for the UK’s rollout of EVs. Back in January, I wrote about the potential replacements of Tory leader and their views on EVs, but lest us not forget it could also be Sir Kier Starmer who becomes PM next, maybe even in a coalition. And while you might believe Labour will be more supportive of EVs than the Tories, don’t be so sure. Both London and Greater Manchester, represented by Labour Mayors, have struggled to make robust gains to tackle clean air – London’s ULEZ is pretty weak, and Manchester’s has been scaled back. So, I hope the EV lobby groups take note and are sharpening their tools, as the next 24 months could be the most critical time for solidifying clean transport in the UK yet.
NEW NUMBERS: Statistical news yesterday as the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) published its latest May figures for car registrations. The announcement revealed that the take-up of all-electric EVs increased by 17.7% compared to this time last year – and represented 12.4% of all new registrations (1 in 8). Overall, car registrations were down 20% providing a gloomy view of the automotive industry. Quite interestingly, though, the registration of plug-in hybrids was down -25% this month. This isn’t the first time this has happened; in March they were down -7.5% and in April it was -36.6% compared to the same time last year. As the chart below illustrates, plug-in registrations do seem to be slowing. Perhaps indicative that people are deciding to skip straight to battery electrics. Read more.
FRESH POLLING: A new survey conducted by Saga, the insurers, into EV take-up has revealed some interesting stuff. A poll of 1,529 car drivers found that 60% believe EVs are cheaper than petrol and diesel. They also found that fuel costs were the biggest reason for considering a switch to an EV – meaning costs, not the environment, remains the main driver of getting people into electrics. Elsewhere in the results, perhaps unsurprising to see that older people show more resistance to EVs. Likewise, 72% cited not considering an EV due to car prices, meanwhile 55% because there aren’t enough chargepoints (you could select multiple reasons). Alongside the publication, Saga also undertook research into the most EV friendly cities, with London coming first, Newcastle second and Glasgow third. Read more.
EV HUB: Speaking of clean cities, the charging network Fastned has just unveiled a new rapid hub in Greenwich. Like other Fastned sites, the hub comes with a colourful solar canopy. It has six bays all with 300kW power. This is the 11th location Fastned has opened in the UK. Read more.
LORDS DEBATE: In the House of Lords yesterday, despite all the drama happening in the Commons, following a question from Baroness Worthington, there was a short debate on EVs. Baroness Vere responded to questions about whether the government would introduce a loan scheme, about the price difference for those without off-street parking, and the tax rate for public versus private charging (relating to the VAT being 5% at home and 20% on the street). The responses didn’t contain anything new. You can watch some clips on the FairCharge twitter page. Interestingly, Tesla Owners UK responded to one of the videos about VAT suggesting Grant Shapps told them he would raise the issue with the Chancellor.
GREAT SCOT: Speaking of loans.. yesterday the Scottish Government announced it would be providing £30 million this financial year to grow the take-up of EVs, including with interest-free loans. The funding will go towards supporting car clubs as well as being prioritised for used EVs, businesses and people living in rural areas. Read more.
BIG COMMENTS: The CEO of Ford, Jim Farley, has said that he expects much of the auto industry to consolidate during the EV transition. He believes due to the huge amount of capital needed to make EVs work, many smaller enterprises will be acquired in the years ahead. The comments were made as part of an announcement Ford made about EV investment in America. Elsewhere, though, while it isn’t solely EV related, Farley also said in the past week one way Ford may cut costs will be to follow other carmakers in selling direct to consumers – rather than through franchised dealers. “We've got to go to 100% online. There's no inventory (at dealerships), it goes directly to the customer. And 100% remote pickup and delivery,” Farley said. Apparently, this will save Ford $2,000 a pop but naturally will have a big impact on dealers. It’s not evident this strategy will work for Ford but certainly putting car sales online has been a growing preference in the past few years. Though, I thought it was interesting that Carzam, a direct-to-consumer used car seller (much like Cazoo and Cinch), went bust in the past week.
GOOD COLUMN: Read a very poignant column in the FT last week by Robin Harding (Asia Editor) about China’s growth to become a huge exporter of cars against the rest of the world. Robin suggests, quite rightly, that if we allow China to extend its global manufacturing share of EVs this could cause trade tensions in the years ahead as the transition takes hold. It’s a debate of multiple angles, from mineral availability to cheap labour and tax breaks, but we do need to have it. Read the column here.
TESLA CUTS: Elon Musk suggested last week in a leaked email that the carmaker would cut 10% of jobs because of a “super bad feeling” about the US economy. He has since backtracked slightly saying headcount will increase over the next 12 months. He’s a peculiar fish. Read more.
OFF TARGET: The AA warned last week that the government needs to get a move on making sure allocated funding to build on-street EV chargers is used. According to recent analysis, funding for the installation of over 8,415 on-street chargepoints has been awarded but are yet to be started. The AA has said the government will likely miss its targets if it doesn’t get on with installations. This follows similar previous warnings about the chargepoint installations being too slow. Read more about the AA’s findings.
NEW INVESTMENT: The EV supercar business, Rimac, has raised $536 million big ones in a new funding round. The money, which has come from those including Softbank, Goldman Sachs and Porche (who already own 20% of the company) means the company will go from producing its hypercar to also being an EV components supplier – a refreshing move compared to other carmakers that have defaulted to launching millions of SUVs. Rimac merged with Bugatti last November and is led by Mate Rimac. Well done, Mate. Read more.
LEAKED DESIGN: The design of the upcoming Polestar 5, an electric saloon due to hit the market in 2024, has been revealed in a new filing to the EU Intellectual Property Office. See them here. It’s not as spicy looking as the original teaser image but still looks like another good look model, similar to the Polestar 2.
HELPFUL GUIDE: Pretty sure I hadn’t seen this guide before this week, but Money Saving Expert have a very good guide about EV ownership on their website. See it here.
By Tom Riley