France connects, Norway reacts, Hyundai retracts

The latest round-up of EV news

Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the newsletter that will plug you into electric motoring news. My name is Tom Riley and I’ll be your host.

I’m afraid there is no big read today, this is on account of me working on some longer investigations which I hope to share in the coming weeks. But no matter, that’s not stopped the world of EV moving forth since Friday.

From children in freezing cold Norway mocking Will Ferrell, to politicians in the very hot Australia mocking everyone else. There’s certainly international variety in EV news.

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In the news…

FRENCH CONNECTION: EV’s are becoming increasingly popular in France. Last year saw sales take 5.8% of the market. Not huge but it seems a lot more than the infrastructure is ready for. In July last year, the number of charging points across France was 29,854; but fresh analysis suggests six months later this only rose to 30,838 - an increase of just 984. In response, the French government has claimed 100,000 charging points will be installed by the end of 2021. Read a bit more.

FANTASTIC 4: Elsewhere in France, Renault is ignoring concerns. After only just announcing the electrification of their classic Renault 5 hatchback, now they will also revive their Renault 4 as part of a plan to reignite their prospects. It will be available in 2025 and aimed at urban use, perhaps even for last-mile deliveries given the original 4’s ‘workhorse’ heritage in rural France. The mock-up (below) does look very pretty, almost like a Volkswagen Scirocco.

HEY SIRI: Despite for weeks saying they were close to a deal, Hyundai - who own a large portion and are affiliated with Kia - said yesterday that it was “not having talks with Apple on developing autonomous vehicles”. This news has sent shares in both down and questions now remain over what Apple will do. They continue to be very quiet about it despite it being no secret they want a driverless car. Perhaps next century they will finally be ready.

BIG COIN: Tesla announced yesterday that it bought about $1.5bn (£1.1bn) of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in January and expects to start accepting it as payment in future. The news caused the price of Bitcoin to jump 17% to $44,220, a record high. Musk has long spoken positively of crypto - adding ‘#Bitcoin’ to his Twitter bio in the last few days - and regularly posts memes about joke crypto Dogecoin - which has also seen its price rise substantially recently. Woof.

NORWAY REACT: General Motors unveiled its EV challenge to Norway in an advert at the Super Bowl last Sunday. The advert features Will Ferrell saying he wants to ‘crush’ Norway for out EVing America. In the advert, he ends up in Sweden after getting lost. In response to the advert, various organisations in Norway have reacted with some quite funny videos lightly mocking Ferrell and the US. The best ones include some small children from tourist board Visit Norway giving Ferrell a geography lesson:

And also the University of Agder in Southern Norway mocking America for its lack of progress (not just on EVs). 

GONE FERRELL: However, it’s not just Norway who have mocked GM’s advert, it seems Will Ferrell himself is doing so too. Shortly after the advert was aired, a video of Ferrell driving his own car, a Tesla Model S, went viral on Twitter. As one Twitter user puts it: “it’s like a Samsung advert being shot on an iPhone”.

UPSIDE DOWN: Despite being on fire most of the time due to ever hot climates, the Australian government has resisted much action to protect itself from climate change. On Friday they kept their record by unveiling a new paper on their approach to electric cars. In essence, the approach is, there is no approach. It’s the view of the Aussie politicians that people need to make their own decisions on new technology rather than being forced into it. It is hard to fathom a more benign perspective given since 2019 eleven million hectares of their country burnt to a crisp. Read more here.

DRIVE LESS: Speaking of flammable places, new research in California has suggested that EV owners are driving about half as many miles as their petrol equivalents. The analysis could mean that EVs are only complementing petrol vehicles or that they are not yet owned by the wider car community - who might have to drive more each day. The study was completed by the University of Chicago and the University of California. They did the research by analysing residential meter usage for car owners over a number of years. You can read more here.

By Tom Riley