How you can get involved in the charging point rush

The latest news and views from the world of EV.

Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the newsletter that plugs you into electric motoring.

This morning the big news is Jaguar going fully electric. Also included is some tasty gossip on Apples continuing struggles and I’ve been told what EV models the UK government owns.

In my longer section, I’ve looked at how you could get involved and help grow charging point infrastructure.

If you do find The Fast Charge interesting, please do share it. Likewise, do drop me an email at tomrileylondon@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.

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In the news…

E-TYPE: The big news of the last few days is that Jaguar has announced it will become fully electric within four years. This will build on the already huge success of their I-Pace model. Though many have said this is a real challenge to Tesla, the company itself has claimed it will reposition Jaguar as a luxury brand competing with Rolls-Royce and Bentley - not so much everyday cars. The British Prime Minister said of the news it is “a significant step towards becoming a net zero business by 2039. A brilliant example of British engineering leading the industry to a cleaner future, as we build back greener.”

CHELSEA TRACTOR: Elsewhere in Jaguar’s announcement is the news that Land Rover brand will also move to become electric. Perhaps unsurprising seeing as most Land Rover’s are owned by the upper-middle classes who continue to fawn over EVs. The Land Rover and Range Rover brands will phase out diesel engines by 2026 and plan to have ditched the internal combustion engine entirely by 2036. The first all-electric Land Rover vehicle is due to be launched in 2024. Read more

GOVERNMENT CARS: Speaking of Jaguar, I recently asked the Department of Transport about their EV fleet. They told me it contained 18 battery electrics. I was intrigued to learn which models they had and they’ve now told me they own 2 Nissan Leaf’s and 16 Jaguar I-Pace’s. Both vehicles are made in Britain. 

NEW BOOST: Right at the end of last week, the UK confirmed its electric vehicle charging schemes would be opened to small business, leaseholders and those in rented accommodation to accelerate EV uptake. It’s worth up to £50 million. Alongside the announcement, the UK has also begun consulting on how to make the charging experience better. 

The consultation is being run by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) and wants views on their plans to introduce regulations that improve the consumer experience in the following 4 areas:

  • making it easier to pay

  • opening up chargepoint data

  • using a single payment metric

  • ensuring a reliable network.

They are also looking for people’s thoughts on:

  • accessibility for disabled consumers

  • weatherproofing and lighting

  • Signage.

If you’re in the UK, it is certainly worth a look and maybe a response. This will ultimately shape our future. Read here.

HYPERHUB: I was reading some news that the city of York is building a forecourt of ultra-rapid charging stations. That’s good news, but what amused me is what it’s being referred to… a ‘hyperhub’. Perhaps I’ve been under a rock for not hearing that before.

APP-LESS: It appears Apple is really struggling to get a foothold in electric vehicles. Most recently it’s been revealed that they had approached Nissan for a partnership. However, the proceedings didn’t advance far due to branding diversions. In an interview, Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer, said of working with tech companies: “we can do [a] partnership, but that is to adapt their services to our product, not vice versa.” Ouch.

FOLLOW THE SCIENCE: Andy Palmer, the former CEO of Aston Martin and chief operating officer of Nissan (who introduced us to the Leaf), has spoken out about the growth in EVs this week. In a column for the Financial Times, he argued that, like COVID, governments should follow the science when it comes to electric. Aka, to let researchers and scientists develop motoring rather than throwing everything at electric vehicles specifically. In his words “politicians must avoid putting all of their eggs into one glovebox.” His worries come from memories of about 20 years ago when the government of the time introduced incentives to buy diesel cars - which has ended up being not so smart.

How you can get involved in the charging point rush

Every day I read stories about how various countries are falling behind on growing their charging networks. I have written a few myself as well.

Only a few days I ago I argued that, without consistent funding, charging points might become scarce resources in neighbourhoods.

Though a number of people have suggested using regulations and utilising smart technology to better manager charging stations, I concluded that there was no great solution.

However, perhaps there is.

Rather than continue to complain over the next however-many-years about the lack of charging point infrastructure, perhaps the simple answer is we need to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves.

How hard can it be?

Well, I’ve done some initial research and there are a few ways you could get involved:

  1. Become a charging point installer

This is perhaps the easiest way to help grow the network in your country. However, it is still not for any old jack. While a search on a job board right now will reveal hundreds of roles going for charging point installers, you do need to be an electrician already.

From well-known super-brands like Tesla to local businesses, the demand for charging points is skyrocketing. If you do have a background in electrics, there are increasingly dozens of courses you can do to become further EV qualified.

Moreover, if getting your hands around some wires isn’t your jam, there are equally lots of roles going managing installations for businesses like PodPoint - who offer home, workplace and destination charging - or in the companies firing up charging points with smart tech and energy. My own brother is just about to join Octopus Energy’s EV team for example.

  1. Start your own network

Yes, this sounds extremely ambitious but nothing is impossible. While there are a few huge brands dominating the charging space at the moment - billion-dollar brands - it doesn’t mean it’s a closed market.

Scaling up charging networks quickly is no easy task and many manufacturers have caught on. Firms like Rolec - who produce charging point technology - are offering up services like VendElectric to businesses looking to start and manage their own networks. Probably most used right now by hotel or supermarket chains but could be used by new entrants.

As an example, when broadband started rolling out across the UK, in the beginning, it was basically BT or nothing. Nowadays, there are a range of brands in the market. It is likely the same will happen with charging points. I certainly predict in the long-term that, while brands like Shell will grow networks at pace, some of the points they own might ultimately get taken over by smaller players.

In the shorter term, many towns and villages are not going to be on the priority list of charging points - not least because local governments might be struggling for wonga. The good news is, it can cost only between £200-500 (with UK grant) to install a basic public charger (such as using a street light). Perhaps enterprising individuals will seek agreements to build their own micro-networks for these customers.

  1. Let out your driveway

Finally, perhaps the easiest way to get involved in the charging revolution is to offer up your driveway as a public point.

The private parking space industry in the UK is worth around £4 billion a year already. As EV’s become the norm, this industry will likely grow to encompass it. JustPark, the app that matches drivers to parking spaces let out by private owners, certainly believes so. They are currently hiring for a Director of Electric Charging. Their ambition is to become the largest British charging network.

There are other approaches in this area as well, such as Co-Charger, a new platform that lets your lease your charging point out to neighbours. And, obviously, major charging maps like Plugshare and ZapMap also provide a peer-to-peer service. However, many posts I’ve seen suggest nobody uses the latter.

Conclusion

There are definitely ways you can get involved and help ease the charging infrastructure woes. From the quick and easy sharing of your own charging point, to even trying to build your own network. It is possible!

I personally quite like the idea of starting a private network, where people can rent points over the long-term. Seriously, how hard could it be?

By Tom Riley