Iconic chargepoints, subscriptions and a suspicious Herbert

The latest news from the world of EVs

Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter. 

As you will have noticed, this edition has arrived on a Tuesday not Sunday when I said it would. There are many reasons why this has happened - not least the fact I’m currently sofa surfing - but in any case: The Fast Charge will arrive in your inbox every Tuesday from now on.

In today’s edition… is the outburst by Herbert Diess suspicious, EV sales are rising again and EV subscriptions seem to be catching on.

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

In the news…

GUY MARTIN: I’ve not managed to watch all of it so far but there was a great programme on Channel 4 yesterday night where motoring nut Guy Martin is trying to make the world’s fastest electric car. I’m up to the point so far where it’s revealed he has a Honda-E - that his partner absolutely hates - and Guy meets Richard Morgan, the owner of Electric Classic Cars in Wales. Hopefully, it's a show that will persuade many that EVs are fun (and fast!). Watch the show on C4.

RED BOX: The government has revealed this morning that EV chargepoints across the UK could become as recognisable as the red post box or black cab. It follows their challenge earlier this year asking people to submit ideas for an iconic chargepoint design. DfT has now appointed both Royal College of Art (RCA) and PA Consulting to produce a prototype - in a contract worth £200,000 - to be revealed at COP26 in Glasgow later this year. The blueprint will be available to councils, authorities and businesses to use. Read more.

EV SALES: Last week the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed new car registration figures from July. It showed that, not for the first time, diesel power had been pipped to the post by electricity, solidifying its charge on the industry. Battery electrics made up 9% of registrations in July with plug-in hybrids at 8%. That’s nearly double what it was this time last year. Mild EV hybrids however have soared from 6% in July last year to nearly 14% this time around. It just shows how many are choosing to stick to fossil fuel as much as they can within the various green rules - such as the incoming ULEZ expansion. Read more.

USED CAR BONUS: Speaking of SMMT figures, these aren’t EV related but they have revealed this morning that used car sales have had one of their best quarters on record (they doubled in the last few months). This is thought to be because of pent-up demand during the pandemic plus new models being delayed - thanks to the chip crisis. Read more.

FRENCH CONNECTION: Renault announced yesterday that it has begun a new partnership with the Chinese company Geely. As part of the tie-up, both carmakers will share resources and technology to sell hybrid vehicles in Asia and to capitalise on China’s fast-growing EV market. Read more on the FT.

CHARGING APP: The danish EV business Monta, which lets businesses manage their chargepoints via an app, has launched in the UK this week. The app can connect owners to installers as well as help them manage their chargepoint day-to-day. It’s an interesting proposition to do all of this from one app, so I for one will certainly be taking a looksie. Learn more.

SUBSCRIBE EV: As I mentioned only recently, the EV subscription company Onto has picked up nearly $200m dollars in extra investment. This follows the company’s rapid growth with quite a unique solution - you can get an EV for as little as £300 a month. I myself use Onto and, though pricey, it is recommendable. However, it seems other carmakers have caught ‘onto’ their success. Hyundai will this month launch its own scheme where you can get an all-electric EV or hybrid for as little as £339 per month. Contracts will last from 3 to 24 months. Read more on Autocar.

SUPERCHARGE: Fans of Instavolt - probably the most reliable charging network at the moment - has revealed that all its new installations will be for even faster chargers. At the moment many of their points are for 50kW power and 120kW. However, this year they will also rollout chargepoints with up to 150kW of power. It’s nice to see an operator invest! Read more

UNHAPPY HERBIE: One person who might be jealous of Instavolt is Herbert Diess, the CEO of VW. In a much-circulated LinkedIn post, Herbert took aim recently at the “anything but a premium charging experience” that he experienced with Ionity… a company that VW jointly owns. His main criticism was on their reliability and lack of other facilities. His rant is translated as: “no toilet, no coffee, a column except for operation / defective, sad affair.”. There are two points I find interesting about this rant. Firstly, well done to VW’s CEO for acknowledging the state of charging networks. But, secondly, why has he decided to explode now? Maybe I’m reading into it too much, however, it just seems to be very formulated. We know Herbert wants to be a bit more like Musk/Tesla in terms of being ‘out there’. I do wonder if this is a subtle part of his rebrand or part of a wider plan. I was only recently watching an old episode of Yes Minister. In it, Minister Jim Hacker tells the media off-the-record that the EU wants to get rid of the British sausage - though he knows it not to be true. That way, he can claim victory days later when the EU backs down - which he knew would happen all along. Anyhow, perhaps I’ve gone a bit conspiracy theorist and he really is just a very upset EV owner who just so happens to be CEO of VW. But… we’ll see!

BP Pulse: Over the last month, I’ve noticed an increasing torrent of anger and annoyance at the chargepoint provider BP Pulse. Like many, I once thought they would be up there with the Tesla supercharger network, especially with their huge backing. However, it seems they’ve given up. They were recently rated 6th best in the UK which, for their size, is not great. I see regular reports of broken chargers, customer service queries going unanswered and even stories of sites being commissioned but yet not delivered… for 3 years! Therefore, next week, The Fast Charge’s first investigation (in this new weekly format) will be on BP Pulse and what’s going wrong. If you have any experiences (good or bad) of BP, do let me know!

By Tom Riley