Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… Grant Shapps wears a polo shirt, Grant Shapps wears a racing suit, and has someone spotted a Ford prototype EV pick-up in the UK?
FYI, next Tuesday I’ll be doing a feature about plug-in hybrids and our charging infrastructure.
As ever, do drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback, questions or comments.
In the news…
GOVERNMENT PLAN: After many months of waiting, this week the Department for Transport finally revealed their grand plan to decarbonise how we will move about in future. Much of the report was a repeat of policies we’d already heard but there were some other new bits. Not least the plan that no new polluting vehicles - including HGVs - will be sold from 2040. There are also new plans to get our maritime and aviation industries to net zero. Likewise, there were new commitments to boost infrastructure, such as a fresh £90 million fund to launch shortly for local authorities. This is on top of the £20 million already in the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme this year.
GOVERNMENT PANNED: While the report was full of plenty to make your neighbourly Greenpeace activist excited in the groin department, DfT has still left a lot of details out. For example, the government hasn't provided much support for the millions of people without driveways yet (according to the report they won't look at this properly until at least 2022). Likewise, consumer protections - which the industry and owners have long cried out for - are still nowhere to be seen. All we have is a commitment that regulation in this area is coming ‘this year’. We need streamlined payment, better accessibility and enforced maintenance standards asap - not sure what we’re waiting for. And, finally, in DfT’s efforts to keep the suggestion of a future road pricing scheme vague, all they’ve done is given groups like the AA a chance to blow it out of proportion - which unsurprisingly is what they’ve done.
GOVERNMENT PANTS: On a lighter note, alongside the unveiling of the government report was a video by DfT’s Secretary of State Grant Shapps. It also featured Nicki Shields of Electrifying.com fame.
In the video, Shapps wears a blue Ralph Lauren polo shirt and drives his Tesla about. The video ends on a beach where Shapps talks to the camera like he’s doing the closing statement to a BBC One Documentary. Or perhaps a remake of Coldplay’s Yellow. In any case, I quite like this ‘presenter’ style approach from a minister. Normally they’re very stiff. And I see this morning Shapps has posted another similar video about Formula E. Someone give him a series, ah-ha!
EU GOVERNMENT: On the same day the UK published its decarbonisation plan, the EU also revealed its ambition to essentially phase out petrol and diesel cars from 2035 as part of a new emissions-cutting plan. This will mean selling fossil fuel-powered cars from 2030 is going to get extremely difficult. Good news for electrics! However, what I find interesting with this story is that DfT presumably knew the EU was going to unveil the emissions plan on Wednesday. So did the government purposely try to drown out their announcement by launching its plan on the same day? I’ll get my tin hat.
STOCK LISTING: The battery factory start-up Britishvolt, which is planning to build a gigafactory in the North East, is allegedly looking to list on the stock market. This will help them finance their project which is due to cost £2.3 billion. According to Bloomberg, they will make a decision over the next three months on whether to list in London or New York. If they dare pick America they should change their name.
FUTURE LANDS: Speaking of gigafactories, Coventry has submitted plans to build one which could create up to 6,000 jobs. This follows a whole host of other futuristic projects in and around the city, such as the world’s first VTOL airport. This is great news for the West Midlands and EV production in the UK. Read more on the BBC.
STOLEN (AGAIN): The writer and presenter Giles Coren revealed yesterday that his Jaguar I-Pace EV has been stolen (again). Previously, it was nicked from outside his home in Camden but he managed to get it back despite the police doing nothing. However, it seems the crooks have had another go. With all the new tech in these luxury EVs, it’s mad that they aren’t harder to steal or even shut down remotely. Read more on MailOnline.
PROTOTYPE PICK-UP? On the UK Electric Vehicle Owners Club Facebook group, one person this week shared footage of what seems to be a prototype Ford pick-up truck EV. Recently, Ford unveiled its F-150 Lightning in the US but said it wouldn’t be available in the UK. Ford has previously said they would develop a zero-emission British Ranger but this is surely sooner than expected? It could make sense given the number of EV pick-ups that are due to hit the European market - maybe Ford wants a slice of the pick-up mania which could hit us!
SMELLY FORD: Speaking of Ford, the carmaker has unveiled a new fragrance for electric cars. It’s called the Mach-Eau and smells like petrol. They have developed it because lots of people have told Ford they’ll miss the ‘gasoline’ aroma when they get an EV. Honestly, what a load of PR twaddle. What’s next? A special noise button to make conversations impossible? A smoke machine under the bonnet? Nobody misses these things. Read more.
EV EVENT: This weekend it’s meant to be the Big Lemon London to Brighton EV Rally. However, the organisers have sadly said that the event may not go ahead due to rising covid cases in Brighton - which seems a shame given that on Monday social distancing is over. They should know for definite if it has to be postponed tomorrow (Saturday). Read their announcement here.
KOREAN CALL: The UK boss of Kia, Paul Philpott, told Auto Express yesterday that he wanted to see the government foster greater investment into infrastructure across the UK for EVs. “It’s all very well having clusters of chargers on the M6 and M1, but what about people who want to buy and drive EVs in North Wales?” He said. It comes after he also revealed that Kia has had over 10,000 expressions of interest in the new EV6 model plus over 1,000 orders - despite no one actually seeing what it’s like to drive yet!
By Tom Riley