Green energy firms mull GB News boycott

The latest news from the world of EVs

Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the electric motoring newsletter. 

In today’s super-fast edition… Apple hires a developer for its car project, a bus runs out of charge and clean energy firms mull boycotting GB News.

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In the news…

BUS PROBLEMS: It wasn’t a great week for the Carbon Battle Bus, an all-electric bus which is on a tour of the UK. It had travelled from London to Cornwall to coincide with the G7 Summit, however, it was unable to complete its journey after finding charging points did not work in Cornwall. The organisers, Planet Mark, said that this highlighted why more investment is needed into the UK’s charging network. The main issue for the bus wasn’t that it couldn’t find charging points - it actually went to five different spots - but the fact that none of the chargers worked. This isn’t just an isolated issue, in a survey by the EV Association earlier this year, public charging was rated, on average, at 2.16 out of 5. This was in part due to maintenance issues.

DEFEND HYDROGEN: Jaguar Land Rover has revealed it is developing a hydrogen fuel cell car based on the new Defender SUV and plans to begin testing the prototype next year. As every other carmaker is (publicly at least) rushing to battery electric vehicles, this approach by JLR is an interesting one. Hydrogen has always been recognised as a good idea but refuelling expenses and infrastructure has always let it down. It seems though that they might just be covering all bases. “We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world-class line-up of vehicles,” Ralph Clague, the head of hydrogen and fuel cells for Jaguar Land Rover said in a statement. Read more on TechCrunch.

APPLE DEVELOPER: Last week, there was news that Apple has hired the developer of the BMW i3 to work on its mysterious EV project. The developer in question is Ulrich Kranz. He is the co-founder of Canoo (an EV platform developer) and before that spent 30 years at BMW creating its i3 and i8 models. Maybe Apple’s car project is finally taking shape! 

EV CASUALTY: Lordstown Motors, an American EV start-up that has been developing an electric pick-up truck, lost two senior executives. They were Steve Burns, Lordstown’s founder, who resigned as chief executive, along with Julio Rodriguez, the finance director. They have left the company after it was shown they may run out of money. The company was one of the first to raise huge amounts of money through a SPAC filing (those utterly bonkers financial mechanisms for listing on the markets). It had been valued at nearly $1.6 billion. The company had said it could produce 600,000 EVs each year when fully running. Initially, it reportedly took $1.4 billion in pre-orders. However, it looks like it may not have a future at all. New management is being flooded to the company. If Lordstown goes under it will surely send a shiver down the spines of other EV start-ups, like Arrival. As Musk has long said: prototypes are easy, manufacturing is hard. Read more.

HUGE GROWTH: A new report has suggested that India may need 400,000 charging points by 2026 compared to the 1,800 it currently has now. That’s because the country is expecting to see a gigantic increase in EVs on its roads in that time - from 16,200 to 2 million. This is quite interesting because, unlike the UK where most people use cars, in India two-wheeled motoring is also very popular due to cost and accessibility. I wonder if these countries will also need chargers for multiple types of vehicles.

YOU’RE CANCELLED: On Sunday night at 8pm, GB News launched to the nation. Britain’s newest TV channel was started to highlight the real stories and opinions of the UK. As veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil said in his opening monologue about the channel “if it matters to you, it matters to us”. It seems a lot of people disagree with the patriotic agenda of GB News. This probably wasn’t helped on Sunday as, within an hour of going live, Nigel Farage was on screen. However, it was the news channel’s advertisements that seemed to prompt the most fury in people. A number of companies most people consider as ‘the good guys’ played adverts on GB News. This has led to a torrent of critical social media postings towards them. Notable amongst the online attacks were clean energy firms Octopus and OVO. Both are businesses pushing the green agenda. And a lot of GB News critics were very cross that they were, in essence, funding the ‘anti-woke’ news channel.

I personally don’t understand the constant need to ‘cancel’ stuff. These people just seem like wet flannels to me, but maybe I'm out of touch. In any case, surely companies doing a lot of good should be allowed to advertise to customers? It’s not like Octopus and OVO are secretly funding EDL, they’re advertising renewable energy to potential buyers. No matter what I think, it seems the social media abuse is working as both businesses are now mulling pulling their adverts from GB News.

This all feels a little overdramatic. I don’t think you have to be a young Guardian-reading woke urbanite in order to pursue green living. Especially as, from what I can make out, the EV revolution is mostly being led by middle-aged conservative (small c) people who likely read The Sunday Times. Maybe they need to be cancelled too?

By Tom Riley