Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… wireless charging is here in Britain, PodPoint goes for an IPO, and did the motor industry lobby group SMMT publish inflated Tesla figures?
As ever, if you have any questions or thoughts, please do contact me at email@example.com.
In the last week…
FT SERIES: I mentioned last week that the FT was running a series on electric vehicles. All in all, it was mediocre in my view. In total there were four articles: Electric Vehicles: the revolution is finally here; How green is your electric vehicle; Pick-up trucks and climate politics: will American drivers go electric; and Battery technology gives China an opening in electric vehicles. The FT’s board also published an editorial about the impact on parts manufacturers and mechanics. If anything, it’s the most interesting point raised in the series – the other articles are just regurgitations of older news. The FT is right that with the number of moving parts going from about 2,000 in an ICE to 20 in an EV, the need for boiler suits and nude calendars is probably over. However, as they rightly point out, the need for electricians – to maintain infrastructure – and software engineers will no doubt increase.
WIRELESS CHARGING: The EV charging company Char.gy is working with DfT’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles and hiyacar to launch the first wireless charging trial open to the public (in Marlow, Buckinghamshire). The trial will mean 10 Renault Zoes (that can be rented from hiyacar) with aftermarket induction kits added to them that can use wireless bays. From the pictures, the cars look no different. If this works and is cheap it could really change how charging progresses. Not just commercial, but at people’s homes or even for people without driveways too. In a book I’m reading at the moment by Peter Thiel (of PayPal, Facebook and Palantir fame), he talks about how the businesses that take markets often have a ‘last mover advantage’. Aka, they make a product for a problem that is better than a product before it but can’t really be beaten by a new product later one – it just has a perfect product-market fit. In my mind, wireless charging is the business to bet on. If I were a company like PodPoint or MyEnergi, I would start creating an action plan now – never underestimate an underdog arriving. Read more.
RED NECK: After many threats going back to 2020 (see tweet), Elon Musk finally announced last week that he was moving Tesla’s headquarters to Texas. Although, Musk told his company’s annual meeting “This is not a matter of, sort of, Tesla leaving California,” saying Tesla plans to increase output from its main California factory and Nevada factory by 50%. Many in California have ridiculed the move and suggested that Texan’s will regret what they’ve wished for. As one LA Times columnist, Michael Hiltzik, wrote “state and local officials in Texas will discover that having Musk constantly in their faces isn’t the boon they thought it was. He’s about to become their problem.” Touchy, touchy. Read more.
BIG BATTERY: Speaking on Tesla, Harmony Energy Income Trust, a new British fund with a green focus, is looking to raise £230million in order to use Tesla’s megapack batteries to build storage units around the UK. This means they could store huge amounts of energy which is then sold back to the national grid during peak hours. During the current crisis, it seems a smart move and will likely be the direction many other companies turn to. Read more.
IPO POINT: Elsewhere in big money and high finance, the charging company PodPoint has announced plans to list on the London Stock Exchange. Even though the business has continued to make a loss – profits don’t come for a long time with a charging company – it will likely come with a high-ish valuation given it has installed nearly 90,000 home points and has big partnerships, such as with Tesco. Floating the company could mean a big payday for EDF, which backed the business early on. Read more.
NEW VANS: BP Pulse, the struggling EV charging network, has purchased a new fleet of EV vans – built by the Coventry-based London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC). They have taken up 30 of its VN5 vans – which have the front look of a London taxi. The vans aren’t totally pure, they do have a petrol extender. Anyhow, I just hope it ensures BP can fix more of their chargers. Read more.
YES, WATSON: The reverse car buying marketplace, Carwow, jumped on the latest fuel crisis by creating a new campaign to get more drivers into EV’s. The ad campaign features the website’s frontman, Mat Watson, who suggests to drivers ‘Don’t be fuelish, Go EV’. It comes as Carwow saw a 96% increase week-on-week of its EV advice hub over the start of October.
TOP MILESTONE: Xpeng, the Chinese automotive company (with a base in the US) that many have probably never heard of, has just celebrated selling its 100,000th electric car. That’s a biblical amount and the company now has its eyes set on Europe, starting with Norway. Read more.
THAT’S ZESTY: The government’s Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund has invested £30 million into a little-known start-up called Zest. Its plan is to develop a rapid charging network anywhere people park for more than 30 minutes – making it fully focussed on destination charging. The company will handle planning, installation and maintenance for businesses, parking operators and local authorities. Read more.
LATEST FIGURES: Last week saw the latest car registration figures released from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. While it showed that it had been the worst September on record, thanks to a squeezing semiconductor crisis, there was a glimmer of hope in the realm of electrics – which jumped 50% for battery electrics this September compared to a year earlier. SMMT also highlighted the fact that the Tesla Model 3 was the most popular model in September – this led to many stories in the media. However, a well-informed Fast Charge reader has pointed out to me that this is not quite true and that SMMT may have been a bit economical with the truth. Tesla’s ‘September’ Model 3 sales of 6,879 are not just for the month of September, they actually cover three months (a quarter) - a fact well-known in the industry. This means that the Model 3, though deservingly very popular, probably wasn’t the most ‘popular’ model in September. SMMT should maybe point this out to people in future – albeit, it’s been free publicity for Tesla.
By Tom Riley