Energy crunch hits charging networks
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… battery swapping is definitely on the way, the energy crisis hits EV drivers, and the makers of AK47s are developing an EV.
As ever, if you have any questions or thoughts, please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the last week…
BATTERY SWAPPING: A very interesting development happened in the last couple of days. Shell has signed a strategic partnership with the Chinese manufacturer NIO. As part of the plan, NIO and Shell plan to install 100 battery swapping stations in China by 2025 and start to construct and operate pilot stations in Europe from 2022. NIO cars will also get access to Shell chargepoints. As a reminder, previously NIO has said they are going to build 3,700 more battery swapping stations for their vehicles by 2025. These stations take 3 minutes to recharge EVs. These will not all be in China, 1,000 will be built around the world (including Europe). This is on the surface exciting, but I do wonder how they will integrate with other cars, or whether the plan is to use the service you must have a NIO car – taking a sort of Apple approach by creating a closed consumer ecosystem etc. I wonder what this will mean for governments who are worried about China. Read more.
PRICE CRUNCH: As energy costs are rising all over the world, some charging networks have been squeezed leading to new price rises. Most notable is BP Pulse, one of the largest but least effective networks, who last week rose its prices (the second time in a year). Using a rapid BP Pulse charger as a guest will now cost 50p per kWh, compared to a previous price of 42p. The biggest rises at BP Pulse almost certainly impact those who are paid subscribers or registered. As an example, where at the beginning of the year using a BP 50kW charger would cost 15p for subscribers and 25p for those registered. The new cost will be 32p and 38p respectively. Elsewhere, Instavolt is also increasing its prices from 40p to 45p per kWh at its rapid chargers. I’m sure if the energy squeeze continues, we may see further rises. Read more.
NETWORK REBRAND: As we’re often reading, we may reach a point whereby our demand for chargers is one day unmatched by the number of connectors. However, an opportunity to solve this lies in utilising the home chargepoint network – there are estimated to be almost ten times more private connectors than public ones. There are a couple of businesses operating in this space. The newest has been Co-Charger, a network focussed on neighbourhood charging, and also Bookmycharge, a shared network aimed at destination points. Well, in the last week, Bookmycharge has just revamped its website and app. The new look and user experience is vastly improved – very nice. Check it out here.
SHOOTING FOR EVs: That’s right, the Russian arms dealer Kalashnikov, maker of AK47s, is moving into the EV space. It has emerged that they are patenting a vehicle as well as an open-sided three-wheeler. The main vehicle is apparently going to be called the UV-4. I wonder where the demand for this direction has come from? Hey ho. But it has made me wonder if one day we’ll see members of the Taliban on the back of an EV. I digress. Read more.
OMICRON: A very small word on this new variant. Naturally, like most people, I hope our Christmas hols are not again harpooned. However, what does it mean for EVs? Well, as we’ve seen over the last couple of years, any new restrictions here or abroad could significantly impact the motor industry. For example, should China quarantine entire cities again, that may impact output. Likewise, over here, any new restrictions or outbreaks may impact factories. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, but it’s possible to see things like factory output and consumer (buying) confidence take a hit with a possible new ‘wave’.
BATTERY PLANT: It seems despite encountering a lot of red-tape, and apparently being unable to benefit from nearly $1 billion in relief due to failing a certain state aid condition, Tesla Germany may be on the cusp of opening its German Gigafactory in December. This will then lead to some 1,000 cars rolling off the line in January as part of a slow phase-in. While sounding perfectly normal, it’s astounding the scale and professionalism this company, still seen by many as an upstart, now has. They seem well on track to deliver 1 million cars this year. Read more.
LOCKOUT: Elsewhere in the world of Tesla, my youngest (11-year-old) brother tipped me off to an interesting story from a couple of weeks ago that I’d totally missed. It seems a couple of weeks ago (19-20 November) that many Tesla drivers were unable to access their cars due to a server outage – as many people use their phones as a key. While many may think ill of those who do this rather than use an actual key, I’m very much on the other side of the fence. When I’ve used hire cars before, for example, my phone has often been the key. Likewise, you do everything else on the smartphone, so why shouldn’t it unlock your car. Anyhow, I suppose it’s great as long as the tech is working. In response to the issue, Elon Musk apologised on Twitter saying “Looks like we may have accidentally increased verbosity of network traffic. Apologies, we will take measures to ensure this doesn't happen again." Read more.
NEW INVESTMENT: Nissan announced yesterday that it is investing almost £13.2bn into electrification over the next five years, including at its plant in Sunderland, in its battle with other carmakers to dominate the EV space. The manufacturers added that as part of its plan it will introduce 23 “electrified” vehicle models by 2030, with 15 of them fully electric. The remainder would be hybrids. Read more.
NEW ROUND: Ionity, the ultra-rapid ‘premium’ charging network operator that has about 16 locations across the UK, has just secured some $783 million of new investment from Blackrock to expand by nearly four times. Ionity has previously been backed and is in part owned by Daimler and Volkswagen. They have faced criticism for high prices and poor service, most notably recently from the CEO of Volkswagen himself, Herbert Diess, who complained in a social media post it was “anything but a premium charging experience”. Perhaps the future looks brighter! Read more.
By Tom Riley