Foolish Volkswagen, Ambitious Biden and Failing Morrison

The latest news from the world of EV

Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the electric motoring newsletter. My name is Tom Riley.

It is an extremely fast update today because I’ve been up and about doing the day job this morning - apologies for my tardiness! The next edition will be a bit more in-depth and include a feature on home charging points.

As ever, do drop me an email at tomrileylondon@gmail.com if you have any feedback, questions or comments.

In the news…

APRIL FOOLS: Yesterday was April 1st and I should have known better but for a brief couple of minutes I got absolutely punked by Scotland’s Press & Journal. They shared a story titled “It’s Electric Avenue for NC500: Visitors will have to hire plug-in cars to travel famous route”. The story itself told how the Scottish government had signed a deal with Tesla so that people doing the North Coast 500 - which goes around the Highlands - would need to hire Tesla otherwise be stopped by police. It seemed like the sort of mad policy a government might install without thinking properly. However, at the end of the article Press & Journal described the Teslas as needing to be blue or white (not red) and that, when the vehicles arrived in Scotland, they came with the Alba logo on it (Alba is the political party Alex Salmond just set up). Very amusing :)

HOW FOOLISH: Meanwhile… a joke that has NOT gone down well is VW’s now-notorious press release about changing their name in America to ‘Voltswagen’. The story arose a few days before April Fool’s day - I even wrote about it in Tuesday’s edition - however, despite initially claiming it was true to reporters, it has turned out to be false. VW are not changing their name and they have come under heavy fire for lying. At first, it seemed such a believable story. Given car brands are refocusing their strategies on EVs, it made sense for VW to do something like this. Especially given their recent investment announcements into EV production. And let’s not forget, the news didn’t even come out on April 1st. VW could now be investigated for misleading investors by the SEC - their stock price jumped on the news - and this does not help their long-suffering “we’re not liars we promise” narrative - following the emissions scandal. The funny thing is, if they had announced this change on April 1st it would not have been funny at all, it would have been a mockery of their potential consumers. However, the backlash they are getting now is actually hilarious. Read more.

JUST CHARGE: I mentioned in last week’s Fast Charge that the parking app Just Park was on a mission to become a major charging network. Well, I saw in a Wales Online article this week that they have been adding EV charger hosts at a rate of 120 per week. Wow!

UNITED STATES OF CHARGING: In his plan for jobs, President Biden has announced this week that he will establish grant and incentive programs for state and local governments and the private sector to build a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030. This is thought to be part of an enormous $2 trillion dollar infrastructure package. Read more on the White House website.

IN THE BUSH: This week the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, has come under fire from senator Rex Patrick - who was a member of a Senate inquiry investigating how best to support the rollout of EVs in Australia - for his “absolute failure” on delivering on the inquiry’s recommendations. This is not the first time Morrison has come under fire for the country’s lack of action supporting EVs. The opposition Labor Party in Auz announced on Tuesday that, if elected, it would introduce an exemption to the import tariff of EVs worth less than $77,565. They will also exempt them from the fringe benefits tax.

ELECTRIC SUCCESS: An AutoTrader poll of 2,000 people has revealed one in five (21%) are considering purchasing an electric or alternatively fuelled vehicle. Meanwhile, Auto Trader also found 60% of those who don’t currently own an alternatively fuelled vehicle said they expect to buy one within five years. Read more on Car Dealer.

SHOW ME: The Chinese company, Xiaomi (pronounced like shaw-mee), has said it will put $10bn into building a smart car over the next decade. The company already makes an array of electronics, from smartphones to electric scooters, so this isn’t a huge leap. It’s thought they will work with Great Wall Motors - love that name - who make the popular £3,200 Mini Hongguang EV. I’m sure this news has made a few necks at Apple sweaty - who are yet to make progress on building an EV.

SPAC CAR: BritishVolt, the company which is planning to build a huge battery factory in Northumberland, is looking to raise £350 million from investors before following others, like Arrival, and listing in America via a special purpose acquisition company transaction. I’m not massively financially astute but essentially this will allow BritishVolt to raise an insane amount of money despite not even putting a brick down yet. And people say bitcoin is hot air!

By Tom Riley