Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a weekly British EV newsletter.
In this morning’s edition… the latest EV charging statistics, Lucid buying parts off Amazon, and mineral concerns for Europe.
If you have any questions or comments, please do drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) or simply reply to this email.
In the last week…
NEW STATS: Last Thursday, the government released the latest batch of EV charging statistics. The headline figures were that, as of April 2022, there were 30,290 public chargepoints available in the UK. Of these devices, 5,494 were rapid (meaning faster than 25kw). This means, in the first quarter of 2022, the UK added a grand sum of 1,915 chargers to the streets (of which 338 were rapid) which is a 7% increase. As I suggested would be the case two weeks ago, this pace is isn’t exactly speeding up compared to the recent quarters before it (as shown by the graph below). By my maths, if the government wants to reach its vision of 300,000 chargers by 2030, we need to add at least 8,500 a quarter. Time will tell if we can reach that scale and I’ll be investigating in the weeks ahead where that growth could come from (and how).
City dominates: One location that seems to be screaming ahead for chargepoints is London. In the last quarter, 45% of all newly registered devices were based in the city. In fact, since January London boroughs have added some 863 devices. That means London EV owners now have access to over 10,000 chargers (of which 736 are rapid). This means that a third of the nation’s EV connectors are in the capital. And, yes, you may be thinking ‘duh, Tom, nobody there has a driveway so obvs they’d have more chargers’ and I agree. But, it’s interesting for a critical reason I mentioned above… how has London scaled so much quicker than everywhere else?
Details, details: Arguably, it makes absolute sense that inner city Londoners, being mostly estranged oligarchs and white-collar professionals in flats, are spending their money on EVs. The expanded ULEZ, costs of fuel (according to new research, EVs cost £600 a year less to run than ICE vehicles) and other incentives still on the table for EVs make them worthwhile purchases. And not to mention, London is in dire need of cleaner air on the roads, so councils have been working hard to roll infrastructure out. However, at the same time, there are surely lessons that can be shared across the UK, as other parts of the country are lagging. One of the starkest differences in the new data I saw was that Westminster now has 1,292 EV chargers. That’s over 200 more than the entirety of the North East of England who only have 1,011 – talk about levelling up!
Not so rapid: Having said all of this, I think in this latest dataset more than any other previous, we can begin to see the different ‘regional installation behaviours’ (if you can call it that). Notably, despite London dominating installations of chargers, the city’s number of rapid devices only increased by 1.9% last quarter – the smallest amount around the UK. This is indicative of the fact London boroughs are focussing on on-street chargers, such as those in lamp posts, rather than larger out-of-town/neighbourhood EV hubs – which are much more expensive and laborious to install but in some ways more useful for those residents.
Regional pace: Based on a regional breakdown I’ve made of rapid charger installations (below), some areas certainly seems to be moving in the right direction. As the table shows, while London and Scotland may have started in a better place with rapid chargers, areas like the Midlands and East of England are now gaining pace. It’s therefore regions like the North East and Wales that are at risk of falling behind. Likewise, you’ll note I haven’t included Northern Ireland, and that’s because they are so far behind it’s embarrassing.
MR SERVICES: Speaking of regional rapid chargers… on Monday The Times shared an interesting interview with Gridserve’s CEO, Toddington Harper, famously named after the service station, and how the company is growing its network of EV hubs. The interesting part for me was Harper’s revelation that, rather than building chargepoints in locations where EV owners already are, Gridserve’s tactic is to do the opposite. “Norwich is very underserved for charging and just 1% in the area have an EV, significantly below the national average,” he said. “We can deliver greater impact here than in an area that is already well served. We change the paradigm. The area is immediately transformed. Our investors like that.” Read more.
FULLY CHARGED LIVE: This bank holiday weekend (29 April to 1 May) the Fully Charged team are hosting their major EV event at Farnborough International Exhibition Centre. Over the course of three days, 20,000 people are expected to go along. At the event, you can test drive cars, get up close to all sorts of EVs and learn about clean energy. I’m going to be there this Friday afternoon. Apart from a test drive in a Tesla Model Y, I’ll be pretty free, so hit me up if you’re going and want to get a coffee. You can still get tickets here.
GOING SOLO: Much like other automotive businesses such as Ford, it seems Renault is considering spinning off its EV wing through a new IPO. This will make a clear differentiation between its legacy and new models. It looks like later in 2023 is being targeted for the divorce. Read more.
EV SUMMIT: In a couple of weeks (9-12 May), the Financial Times is hosting a Summit on the ‘Future of the Car’. It’s being held in London but you are able to join virtually. In attendance will be an assortment of motoring industry CEOs. The key note speech is being delivered by Elon Musk. Expect to see numerous news items over those three days. Tickets are super expensive (£1,999 for in-person and £299 for digital). Get tickets.
MINIERAL WARNING: A new report commissioned by Eurometaux, an industry group that represents some of Europe’s biggest metal producers, including Glencore and Rio Tintohas, has warned that the area may suffer a severe shortage from materials needed for EVs, such as lithium, in years ahead. The study said Europe will need 35 times more lithium and seven to 26 times more rare earth metals by 2050. This is a concern because, according to producers, building up to scale with new mines etc. is especially difficult. One solution to this problem could be recycling which the study suggests could supply up to 75% of metal needs by 2050. Read more.
NEW MERC: Last week Mercedes revealed its latest EV model, the EQS SUV. It’s a car aimed at a luxury audience – you’d never guess looking at the dashboard – and has a range, depending on which model you buy, between 330 to 400 miles. Prices will be around £110,000 big ones. Carwow have a good write-up with all the stats and facts. For me, it looks slightly similar to the Nissan Aryia – which costs £50,000 less for a high-range model and supports good ol’ British jobs.
JAPANESE MERCEDES: Lexus has revealed an all-electric RZ model, which is the company’s first legit EV. Lexus, who are linked to Toyota, have thus far been slower than others to go down the battery electric road. But they are looking to change that and have committed to selling 100% electric by 2035. The new RZ sits on the same frame as Toyota’s bZ4X and will have a range of about 225 miles. Its looks are very classic Lexus/Toyota. Check it out.
COMING HOME: Lucid, the EV start-up run by British engineer Peter Rawlinson, is due to expand into Europe from June this year. It’s expected that UK buyers could place orders for its luxury Air model from later this year for deliveries in 2023. Naturally, that’s if they can ramp up production properly. According to reports last week, Lucid got so desperate with supply chain problems recently that they resorted to buying parts on Amazon to assemble their EVs. Read more.
By Tom Riley