Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the electric motoring newsletter. My name is Tom Riley.
There’s a fair amount of news in today’s edition. From the recent parliamentary report into low-emission vehicles to the Tesla factory rumours - and whether Grant Shapps could have met him?
As a heads up, next Tuesday there will be few news highlights in The Fast Charge. That’s because I’ll be publishing a beefy report into Britain’s ultra-rapid charging network. It follows many complaints I noticed from drivers about the speeds they’ve been getting. I’ve spoken to many operators and motorists about it so should be an interesting read!
Do drop me an email at email@example.com if you have any feedback, questions or comments.
In the news…
NOT BUYING IT: The Public Accounts Committee this week published a report into the government’s plan to decarbonise cars and get more people driving ultra-low emission vehicles. The committee, made up of MPs from all sides of the political spectrum, used words like “mountain to climb”, “no clear published plan” and “huge challenge” to describe what they thought the status of growth was. Or, more importantly, how well they feel the government is delivering ahead of the 2030 ban. They are right that the UK does have miles to go before the masses are going to jump into an EV, such as creating a better local network - currently 30% of charging points are in London - and ensuring vehicles themselves are affordable. However, the report equally contains a lot of hot air. There are very few mentions by PAC of the private sector’s involvement in the UK’s EVolution. When in reality, it’s the private market right now which is the most exciting. From vehicle start-ups like Arrival, Britishvolt and the number of people retraining as EV technicians. Granted, the government needs to keep writing cheques for now, but I believe they are pretty relaxed about buyers and businesses' enthusiasm for decarbonisation.
BUYING IT: According to new research published today by Ofgem, one in four consumers plan to buy an electric car in the next five years. While this is a great thumbs up, Ofgem did also find continued worry amongst some buyers. Over a third of respondents said they were unlikely to get an EV during the same period. This is due to prices being too high (claimed 59%), concerns about range (38%) and worries about having nowhere to charge their electric vehicle close to home (36%). The prices and range will change as people’s understanding along with technology improves. The latter, though, regarding where to charge is still a difficult nut to crack. Read the Ofgem press release here.
REMOTE CHARGERS: One of the biggest challenges to getting more of the country driving around in EVs is more rural charging points. Right now they are few and far between, certainly nowhere near enough for anyone to use day-to-day. Well, this week the company Connected Kerb, which builds charging points into street furniture and roads, has revealed it is providing a blueprint for the UK’s local authorities to bring EVs to hard-to-reach areas. Their work begins in Kent where they are installing 40 charging units in 20 poorly served areas. Read more on Autocar.
CAFFEINATED CHARGERS: Speaking of more installations, Costa Coffee this week announced they are installing rapid 120kWh charging points at up to 200 of its drive-through sites across the UK. The chargers will be installed by InstaVolt. Read more.
SMELLS MUSKY: There’s a lot of rumours going around that Tesla is considering building a car plant in the UK. It follows a brief trip Elon Musk’s jet made here last weekend. According to a Twitter bot that tracks it, he landed on Friday 14th at Luton Airport and then took off on Sunday the 16th. According to the Daily Telegraph, the government’s Office for Investment asked regional outlets to urgently submit proposals for potential locations for a plant last week, after the visit. And to further add fuel to this conspiracy, guess who I found was a mere 17 miles up the road the day Elon landed? Mr Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport (and Tesla owner). He was getting a tour on Friday at Cranfield Airbase. The route back to London goes straight past Luton. I’ll grab my tinfoil hat.
TWITCHY WHICH: I came across a video by a US Youtuber last week who has accused Which?, the UK consumer group, of bias against Tesla. His video revolves around Which’s article on the ‘Best electric cars for 2021’. The list doesn’t include a single Tesla model, despite them being one of the most popular models in the UK. However, the list does recommend such models as the Ford Focus Electric, which was a gimmick now out of production - apparently, there are barely any left. The Youtuber’s delivery is a bit OTT but I am quite keen to know why Tesla didn’t make the cut. I asked Which? why but they did not respond. How transparent.
TRUCK LOVE: This week Ford revealed the F-150 Lightning, a pure electric version of its popular pickup truck due out in 2022. It looks staggering - I always loved the look of the F-150 - and it comes with numerous toys. Such as a 0-60 time of 4 seconds and a minimum of 230 miles of range. Plus, the battery is so big it could power a home for 10 days. Or be used to power tools like a chainsaw. Woof! However, it’s not going to be offered in the UK. So, as far as I’m concerned, Ford can do one. I hope they get beaten by Rivian and Tesla’s Cybertruck. Bring back 1812. Read more on Autocar.
SUPER ELECTRIC: Lamborghini has announced plans to make only hybrid electric cars by 2024. They are investing £1.3 billion to start developing an all-electric supercar. The CEO of Lambo said that it would be a challenge to make an electric car: “We have to define what sportiness is in the new era, in the battery-electric era”. This is great news to read; however, as I also said when Ferrari announced they’d launch an electric model in 2025, are they waiting too late? Read more on The Guardian.
EV RALLY: I’ve only just discovered that this year on 18 July there’s an EV rally from London to Brighton. It’s called The Big Lemon and it’s a brand new event to demonstrate and celebrate the rapid development of electric vehicles and renewable energy. Pretty much any EV can enter - there are lots of categories - and entrants will be judged on energy used, carbon footprint and vehicle presentation. It looks mighty interesting. I wonder how hard it will be to make a custom EV before 18 July… Check out the event.
By Tom Riley