New EV chargepoint analysis + Is Redwood Materials planning a UK factory?
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a weekly British EV newsletter.
In today’s mega edition… I analyse the latest government EV charger data, including showing the fastest growing towns for chargepoints, the UK’s Top 40 places to charge up (compared to last year), and the rollout pace of each region. I’ve also used Zap-Map data to reveal Britain’s best and worst large rapid charging networks for reliability.
Elsewhere… as the government releases its critical minerals strategy, did you know Redwood Materials, the battery recycling business, quietly set-up a UK listed company a year ago as it plans European expansion?
As ever, if you have any thoughts or feedback, please do feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply reply to this email.
Latest EV chargepoint statistics
In the last week, the government published its latest quarterly statistics on EV chargepoints. It revealed that there are now 32,011 chargers in the UK, 5,974 of these are rapid devices.
This means that, as I said last week, rapid chargers saw their largest quarterly increase on record – adding 480 from April to June 2022. Across all power types, 1,721 chargers were added. This is lower than the two previous quarterly additions. This may be interpreted by some as that installations are stalling. While I agree the pace needs to be picked up, it is positive that 1 in 4 installations was rapid. Read the stats here.
Largest rapid charging networks ranked by reliability
All being well, this Summer the government will introduce new regulations that will require all rapid chargers (those with speeds of more than 50kW) to have 99% reliability. As of the latest government stats, there are reported to be about 6,000 rapid chargers around the country.
In anticipation of these reliability rules, I have analysed the eight biggest rapid charging networks (accounting for 75% of the UK’s rapid network) and ranked them based on how many ‘out of order’ chargepoints they had as of yesterday.
The clear winner was Tesla’s Supercharger network, which had zero out-of-service chargepoints across its 888 strong network. Though Tesla’s network is still largely private, it has begun in recent months opening up. Not to mention, Tesla remains one of the most popular EV brands in the UK. So its first place is not to be shunned and is a model for others to follow. Not far behind it, Gridserve, InstaVolt and Osprey only had between 1-2% of their chargers out of service. This morning Osprey have also become the first network to sign up to ChargeSafe. This is how it should be done.
In not-so-positive findings, Pod Point and BP Pulse both had about 10% of their chargepoints out-of-service when I conducted my count. Between them, this equates to about 120 devices being unusable. This isn’t positive, but if you really want to consider what’s negative, look no further than GeniePoint.
GeniePoint, which operates 560 rapid chargers in the UK (making them the fourth largest network), had 148 devices ‘out of order’ as of yesterday. That’s a quarter of all their chargers being reported broken. Within the M25, where GeniePoint has 40 rapid chargers, more than half of them (22) are reported as having issues.
With poor numbers like this, hopefully, the government will bring in enforcement measures to counteract, as this is critical infrastructure being left to fester. I contacted GeniePoint for a response but heard nothing back.
Naturally, these are just the eight largest networks. However, in good news, I found strong reliability performance across some of the smaller (but growing) rapid networks like ESB, Fastned and MFG EV Power. Although, Shell Recharge – which runs over 140 rapid devices – scored poorly with 30 sites listed with issues on Zap-Map.
Fastest Growing Towns (2021-22)
Based on the latest government chargepoint statistics, I have created a list of the 20 fastest-growing towns for EV chargers (covering the period of July 2021 to 2022).
Clearly, areas are going to have grown faster if they started from a small number of chargers last year, though it’s great to see the shift – especially in small towns. Though not listed, London still remained the area which saw the largest quantity increase of chargers – not surprising perhaps.
UK Top 40 Towns for EV Chargers
This is a leaderboard of the top 40 places for EV chargers. I’ve also included whether a town/area has changed its position on the leaderboard compared to where it was a year ago.
The biggest risers are Hackney, Birmingham and Brent. The biggest fallers are Hillingdon, Liverpool and North Lanarkshire. Westminster remains in first place on the board with a whopping 400+ lead on Wandsworth in second place.
Yorkshire matching London’s pace
Though London remains the capital of EV chargers in the UK, when I compared growth in chargepoints between the different regions over the past 12 months, I found that Yorkshire is growing at a similar pace to London – the latter just has a higher quantity.
The top five fastest growing regions are London (40%), Yorkshire (39.6%), West Midlands (35.5%), East Midlands (34.2%) and East of England (32.8%). The North East, Wales and South West all grew by 30%.
Meanwhile, the South East (24.7%), North West (23.7%) and Scotland (16.5%) were the slower regions. Though, could be worse. Northern Ireland’s total devices have retracted by -0.6% over the past year.
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Elsewhere in the last week…
RARE PAPER: Last Friday, BEIS published its Critical Minerals Strategy. Though that may sound sleepy, it’s arguably one of the most important documents to come out from the government for a long while. As the Secretary of State rightfully acknowledges: “Britain needs to move quickly to secure the rare earth minerals necessary to supply our future industries.” In summary, the government’s plan is to accelerate the UK’s domestic capabilities for minerals, collaborate with international partners, and enhance international markets. This debate may be one-sided though, as throughout the strategy it’s pointed out several times the dominance of China in owning many key critical mineral supply chains. The paper states, “we need to continue to engage with China to achieve our objectives, including to improve ESG performance in critical mineral supply chains while continuing to strive for diversified and resilient supply chains.” This puts into perspective some of the threats being made by Sunak/Truss towards China during the current Tory contest. Read the press release, or check out the full plan.
CIRCULAR MATERIALS: Speaking of critical minerals, I’ve not seen it reported anywhere before, but I have recently discovered that Redwood Materials, the battery recycling company founded by former senior Tesla executive JB Straubel, has had a UK-listed company since July 2021. JB Straubel is listed on Companies House as having significant control of the business. In March of this year, Alina Zagaytova, General Counsel for Redwood, was appointed to the business, joining CFO Jason Thompson. This update was around the same time that the business said it was expanding into Europe, though is yet to reveal in which country. In February, Straubel said Redwood was planning two factories in Europe with billions of investment. He added Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Germany and the UK were possibilities for sites. Two weeks ago (12 July) Redwood submitted a refreshed confirmation statement to Companies House, essentially meaning they are still an active company.
A site in the UK has not been announced yet but getting Redwood here would be a huge win for Britain, potentially leading to hundreds of jobs. The company, based in Nevada, is already partnered with Panasonic, Ford, Amazon, VW, Audi, and Toyota to recover and recycle their end-of-life batteries. Redwood’s UK address is listed as being in Cheltenham. It is the address of an accountancy firm Crowe UK – presumably who set the limited company up for them. Could this mean Redwood is planning a site in Gloucestershire (?) as Crowe has offices across the UK - they could have simply picked London. As a reminder, fellow American auto business Rivian has previously been wooed by the government to set-up shop in Somerset which is close by.
DIESS OUT: As many will have no doubt seen, Herbert Diess, the CEO of Volkswagen, is leaving the carmaker to be replaced by Porsche boss Oliver Blume. Diess has been head of Volkswagen since 2018 and has driven the auto business into the EV transition. On the consumer end, this endeavour seems to have largely been successful. However, Diess has been plagued with disagreements with German unions about how the company would ensure jobs continue under the EV strategy. Elsewhere, in what has always seemed to be an almost desperate attempt to mirror Elon Musk’s eccentricities, Diess has been involved in numerous controversies. Once mirroring a Nazi slogan saying ‘EBIT macht frei’ at a company event, and more recently saying the West should negotiate with Russia. Whatever the reason for him leaving, it shouldn’t mean the company is abandoning its EV strategy, as the incoming CEO has overseen launching the very popular Taycan for Porsche, now more popular than the 911 apparently. The FT have a good write-up of the Diess debacle, as do Autocar.
JET ZERO: As highlighted in last week’s newsletter, the government has now published its long-awaited net zero strategy for aviation. One of the key policy announcements was that the UK will bring in a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandate, this will require at least 10% of jet fuel to be made from sustainable sources by 2030. Read more.
LIVE PRICES: Spotted on Twitter. It seems Morrisons has revealed a new EV charging hub at one of its stores recently in Clacton-on-Sea (near Colchester). The new hub, by GeniePoint, includes live pricing for kWhs. I think this is the first such live pricing for EV charging, like petrol prices, in the UK. If you missed it, last week I wrote about EV charging costs.
LONG MERC: As I’m sure people have been able to tell by the mountain of reviews being posted online, Mercedes have just finished bringing their concept EQXX to the UK. The EV has a range of 1,000km (621 miles) but a battery pack smaller than 100kWh thanks to some insane engineering. Read more.
TORY CONTEST: During the Tory leadership debate on the BBC last night, the candidates were asked about the environment. They were positive towards the topic, with both suggesting fostering new innovation would help us tackle climate change. Liz Truss specifically picked out EVs as a route forward. A couple of weeks ago, at the start of the contest, I summarised all the candidates’ views on EVs. Since then the two front-runners have signed a pledge created by the Conservative Environment Network which includes “Cutting the cost of living by rolling out home insulation and electric vehicle charge points across the UK.”
ARMING UP: A university in Germany has partnered with Ford to create a trial for a robot charging station. The prototype the university has created is a retracting arm that can connect a cable to a car. This is an idea likely to be developed for those who have mobility impairments. Read more.
By Tom Riley