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DfT backtracks on car park charging rules
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Hello and welcome to the first 2022 edition of The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday and a happy new year! As you will have noticed, it is not Tuesday. Sadly, my writing was hindered by delayed travel arrangements on Monday evening. The email will return as normal on Tuesday next week.
Meanwhile, in today’s edition, an EV that can do 600 miles, a boost for lithium from Cornwall, and the Department for Transport has backtracked on car park charger requirements.
If you have any questions or feedback, please do contact me at email@example.com.
Over the festive season…
TESLA SALES: Despite all odds and almost doubling since a year ago, Tesla revealed on Sunday that it had delivered a huge 932,172 cars in 2021. That’s compared to circa. 500,000 in 2020. What’s most astounding is that 308,600 of those cars were delivered in the last quarter of 2021, almost 40,000 more than analysts expected. Read more.
CHIPS OFF: Tesla’s good news ties into a wider positive story from carmakers (and manufacturers of electronics more generally) that the supply chain crisis may be starting to ease up. Or at least, businesses are getting more inventive in solving the problem by using new types of semiconductors etc. However, one thing that might derail this bounce back at the start of this year is Omicron. Though milder, it’s continuing to create issues for companies across the spectrum as people isolate and impact output.
TESLA SLAVERY: In less good news for Tesla, the company has come under serious criticism for opening a new showroom in China’s Xinjiang region. That’s the region where the Chinese government have been accused of slavery and genocide against the Uyghur’s Muslim community. In a typical fashion, Tesla hasn’t responded. However, I don’t find this news surprising. Elon Musk has spent a lot of the last 12 months cosying up to China and I’m sure if they did pull back there will be serious consequences from Beijing. Read more.
CES CONFERENCE: Staring today is CES 2022, an annual conference in America that highlights the latest in consumer technology. On the agenda, this morning is a keynote by Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, and tomorrow will see the main stage roundtable on the future of transportation featuring the US Secretary of Transport, Pete Buttigieg. While you may believe this event is a fairly US focussed affair, you can bet your bottom dollar that some carmakers and associated companies will use it as a hook to drop new announcements – as an example, I’m sure we can expect to hear from quite a fired-up GM, especially in light of Tesla’s roaring success. CES website.
NEW MERC: Speaking of CES, one company that has used it to show off new technology is Mercedes. There’s been a great deal of media fanfare around a new EV concept from Mercedes-Benz called the Vision EQXX. The car is a saloon and boasts a whopping real-world range of 620 miles. That’s 167 more than its leading EV the EQS. According to Merc’s CTO, the new car will be ready to drive in just a few months. While the long-range certainly has a ‘wow’ factor, for me it’s the fact Mercedes, working with battery specialist CATL, have been able to squeeze the mileage out of a 100kWh battery. That’s something amazing and potentially a game-changer, as it means in theory you get that range in under 30 minutes. We must remember though that it’s just a prototype, and the proof is in the pudding. While we wait for the car to test, I do hope they sack their designer. Yes, it may be super-efficient but my god it’s ugly. Like as if an Aston Martin was mated to a Porsche. Read more.
PLAYSTATION EV: Elsewhere at CES 2022, Sony has announced greater plans to enter the EV market. During a keynote speech, they revealed they have created Sony Mobility, a new company to explore ways they can grow in the ever-expanding market, as well as unveiling a new prototype SUV. It’s early days so hard to see where or what Sony will do, though apparently their EVs will come with the ability to use a PlayStation console - this will be great for longer charging stops. To support the unveiling, Sony has published a ‘concept movie’. Watch below and read more here.
CHINA CUTS: Interesting news from Asia as China’s Ministery of Finance marked the start of the year by saying it will be cutting subsidies for EVs by 30% from this month. The entire subsidy will be gone by this time next year. It comes as, like in the UK, sales of EV’s have been rocketing – China is by volume the biggest global market for EVs with many carmakers focussing there. Read more.
CORNISH BATTERIES: The company British Lithium, a competitor of Cornish Lithium, has revealed that it’s been able to produce lithium carbonate at a pilot-scale (aka. small amounts). It’s a big leap. While Cornish Lithium is looking at using the geothermal waters for extraction, British Lithium has focussed on hard-rock extraction. To do this they’ve designed new processes and technology that is currently being patented. They will now continue to produce about 5 kilos per day with an overall ambition to produce 21,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium in future. Read more.
CONSUMER BOOST: A new poll of 3,300 drivers by Zap Map has found that nine in ten EV owners would not go back to petrol or diesel cars. Naturally, given Zap Map and its users are quite pro-EV this poll result is perhaps unsurprising, but it is at least a large vote of confidence in the sector and for those teetering on the edge. Read more.
NO INCENTIVE: Following the news last month that the EV grant is reducing from £2,500 to £1,500, Auto Trader has suggested that those in the UK could be left behind due to the dwindling incentives. Auto Trader’s Commercial Director said that using “sticks instead of carrots could have serious consequences for mass EV adoption.” Auto Trader has highlighted that other nations, such as France and Germany, have much better financial incentives to get EVs. In my view, while I believe it’s risky that lower-income buyers are being left out of the EV equation, hopefully by dropping the grant we will quickly see whether it’s impacting buying decisions or not. If it doesn’t, and wealthier buyers cover the cost, perhaps the grant should rise back up again later when (or if) it’s needed to support those who need it more. Read more.
DFT BACKTRACKS: While all of us were away between Christmas and New Year trying to work out which day it was, DfT very quietly backtracked on plans to require every shop, office and factory in England to install a charging point if they have a large car park. Under the original plans produced by DfT, every car park that could hold more than 20 cars would have to install at least one charger or more. However, following a consultation, it will now only apply to new or refurbished premises. The reason being is that the old rules could result in high costs for businesses. In any case, this is not good at all for EV drivers (or future drivers). If the government wants to lower grant incentives for drivers due to rising demand, fine. But we cannot get to 2030 with a charging network that is lacking in quantity and quality. Nudging regulations can work. Read more.
By Tom Riley