Islington Council have blocked their own charging points

The latest news from the world of EV

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

There’s been a lot of EV news during the last few days, notably that hybrids are proven to be the great pretenders and Volvo is going all electric.

In my longer read this morning, I’ve revealed a niche story that I couldn’t stop laughing at. In short, Islington Council built a number of new charging points and have blocked them off with a cycle lane. Morons!

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In the news…

GREAT INTEREST: Last week Hyundai revealed their new Ioniq 5 model. This week the company has announced it’s received a huge 236,000 “expressions of interest” from potential buyers. Apparently, that’s only in Europe as well.

GREEN CREDENTIALS: The consumer group Which? has conducted a study suggesting hybrids are not nearly as green as manufacturers lead us to believe. Based on their research, they found that on average a hybrid burnt 2.5 times more petrol or diesel than suggested in official figures. This increases to nearly 4 times as much for the worst-performing vehicle. This means hybrid owners could be paying an average of £462 more a year than they should on fuel - due to the inefficiencies. Natalie Hitchins of Which? told The Times: “It is clear that the standard set for calculating fuel consumption is flawed and should be reviewed.” As The Times editorial suggests, “anyone looking for a green alternative to an internal combustion engine vehicle would do better to switch straight to an electric car.” Read more

HIDDEN CABLES: Also in The Times this morning, news that a government-backed trial is ongoing in Oxford where the ‘city council’s trading company’ is looking at digging “discreet and safe channels” for charging cables. This is so a trip hazard is avoided. Apparently, a design has been trialled at 18 properties and will now be started elsewhere. Readers of The Fast Charge will recall we discussed this idea and the responses of councils to it last week. Hopefully with government backing council planners will take heed of the advice, though it will be interesting to see what administration one has to go through to get a channel. Dropping a kerb to your driveway - as a comparison - is already a long-drawn-out process and can cost around £1,000.

OIL IS BAD: According to new research by Transport & Environment (a European organisation), fossil fuel cars waste hundreds of times more raw material than their battery electric equivalents. Lucien Mathieu, an analyst at T&E and an author of the report told The Guardian: “over its lifetime, an average fossil-fuel car burns the equivalent of a stack of oil barrels 25 storeys high. If you take into account the recycling of battery materials, only around 30kg of metals would be lost – roughly the size of a football.” These facts will be very useful to persuade the acres of EV critics who claim they are no better than standard fuel cars.

TOP DOWN: Volkswagen is enjoying its place in the sun at the moment. It’s ID.3 electric car is one of the most popular on the market right now. It seems Volkswagen want to capitalise on this and are considering producing an ID.3 convertible. Volkswagen has a lot of experience in taking the roofs off cars, from the GTI to the Beetle (most famously modelled by Hitler). Perhaps their new car - if they make it - will be less controversial. Though, I’m not sure. Initial designs for the ID.3 convertible look like something out of Minority Report - which is ar too dystopian for me.

FROZEN FUEL: Yesterday Boris Johnson indicated strongly that in the upcoming Budget fuel duty - that is, duty on petrol and diesel - will be frozen. This is the tenth year since a freeze was first introduced. Coming out of a pandemic where our economy is in a state of who-the-hell-knows it would have been a huge blow to motorists in the UK who rely on driving around at great distances. However, surely it is time for the Chancellor to at least indicate when it will increase? After all, they will not only need to offset the savings and grants arising from higher usage of EVs soon but also perhaps use tax to encourage a switch. If they don’t announce a roadmap, it’s an interesting policy to make the year the UK is hosting the UN’s climate change conference. 

MODERN FAMILY: Volvo has just this morning announced that it will go fully electric by 2030. According to the BBC, they will invest heavily in online sales and simplifying their products. Volvo does already produce an EV - the Volvo XC40 - which has a range of over 250 miles, a 0-62 of 4.7 seconds and will charge up to 80% in 40 minutes. Importantly, though, the XC40 looks like a car a normal family might own. Volvo is due to announce a second EV later today based on a similar platform for the XC40. I wonder which carmaker will join the EV arms race next!

Islington Council: an example of bad EV planning

Perhaps not fresh news, but I have discovered that intelligence is few and far between at Islington Council.

Back in 2019, Islington Council announced - covered in The Evening Standard - that they installed 18 electric charging points on Liverpool Road. For those unfamiliar, this road runs parallel to the main high-street in Islington (Upper Street) and is quite residential. Islington - being in North London - is quite an eco-centric area (represented by Jeremy Corbyn MP don’t you know) and EVs are popular.

However, at the end of last year the council plus Transport for London, without any consultation, used an experimental traffic order to install a cycle lane on Liverpool Road. A similar approach was used across London to build new cycle lanes quickly, making many people very upset. Not least of which in Islington. Because the new cycle lane means most of the 18 lamp-post Ubitricity charging points they installed are now inaccessible. (refrain laughter).

I’m unsure how much the council spent on these charging points, but let’s assume that it wasn’t pennies. From installation to planning and council staffing - the sum for these projects can be quite large.

You can find the road quite easily on ZapMap - as all the charging points are neatly laid out in an ‘out of order’ line.

At first, I thought they can’t have been so thick, but a search on Google Streetview shows they have. Take a look at these I found:

According to an Islington Tribune article in October, the council is being taken to court over the decision to install these cycle lanes without permission. At the time, Islington Council’s environment chief Labour councillor, Rowena Champion, said: “Local ­people know their streets better than anyone, and we’re listening to their feedback...That is why the route is being implemented as an 18-month trial, giving local people the opportunity to have their say on whether it should remain in place permanently.”

At least she admits they don’t know the streets.

I’m unsure if Islington residents have been successful in their struggle, but seeing as the charging points are still listed as out of service on ZapMap, I assume not.

Surely someone needs to be held responsible here, not just for the money that could have been wasted, but the poor planning that went into it more generally. Let’s hope other councils don’t repeat this idiocy...

By Tom Riley