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Redwood Materials takes majority stake in Yorkshire chemical company
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Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a weekly British EV newsletter.
Today’s edition is much shorter than usual, though still packs a punch. Within it, you will find… new statistics from DfT, fleets wanting faster charging, and Tesla owners trying to run over their children.
The main story of today is my discovery that the US battery recycling company, Redwood Materials, has taken a majority stake in a Yorkshire chemical firm – and seemingly consumed all its staff.
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Redwood Materials takes majority stake in Yorkshire chemical company
Redwood Materials, the US battery recycling firm set up by Tesla co-founder JB Staubel, has taken significant control (more than a 75% stake) in Inprotec Limited, a chemical engineering firm in Yorkshire. This was revealed in a notification to Inprotec’s Companies House page on 18 July.
It comes as Redwood Materials has been talking up building a battery recycling factory in Europe which would bring billions in new investment. At present, a plant in the UK has not been announced by Redwood, but it now seems extremely likely that Britain will play a role in its European plans. Redwood has partnerships with Panasonic, Ford, Amazon, VW, Audi and Toyota to recover and recycle their end-of-life batteries.
According to Inprotec’s LinkedIn page, the company “specialises in the design and supply of pyrometallurgical process plant, specifically for the recovery, upgrade and refining of precious metals and lead.” Pyrometallurgy relates to the recovery of metals at high temperatures, such as from lithium-ion batteries.
The company is based in Normanton, a small town in West Yorkshire near Wakefield. Several employees of Inprotec now list Redwood Materials as their employer on LinkedIn, including Inprotec’s founder Chris Oldroyd, who has taken on the role of Director of Mechanical Engineering with the US firm. Within the past week, two other LinkedIn users have posted news of joining Redwood Materials based in Normanton.
As I’ve previously highlighted, Redwood Materials first set up a UK limited company in July 2021, but they kept it pretty quiet. The recycling firm announced in February that it was expanding into Europe, they are currently HQed in Nevada.
This is great news, it’s just a shame it comes as one of Britain’s other battery hopes, Britishvolt, lost its CEO over the weekend. Orral Nadjari, who co-founded the firm that’s building a gigafactory in Northumberland, said it was the “right time” to leave. This news comes after leaked memos, reported in The Guardian, suggested Britishvolt was on “life support” and that construction was stalling. Hopefully, this won’t put Redwood off, as it could have been a nice tie-up. Albeit, there’s still Envision, who announced last October it would expand its battery plant in Sunderland.
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In the last week…
NEW STATS: Data released by the Department for Transport last week showed that just 2,869 on-street charging points have been installed under the government’s On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme – this funds up to 60% of capital costs (though has previously been 75%). In response to the new stats, the AA has called for an urgent increase saying “there are huge swathes of the country without any on-street charging and that needs to be rectified urgently.” They suggest too much focus has been placed on rapid networks and that many will instead “be crying for action closer to home.” The AA is also concerned that “rural areas could be left miles behind as on-street charging is often considered to be just an urban problem.” Check out the stats and read more.
On the topic of rural charging, I posted a video about this recently on my Fast Charge TikTok channel. I was surprised to receive over 150 comments in response.
NOISY EV: One reason many people are resistant to EVs is that they will miss the characteristics of internal combustion, like changing gears, hitting the revs and the associated noise. In response to this demand, Dodge revealed its new Charger Daytona SRT EV muscle car. As well as looking very like Robert Pattinson’s Batmobile, it comes with a loud fake exhaust noise – which sounds like young Simba trying to roar. It works, allegedly, like how an organ pushes sounds through an amplifier and tuning chamber. Dodge calls this the ‘Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust’, whatever fratzonic is. Watch a video of it (young Simba for comparison). You can expect the Dodge EV to be in production by 2024. Read more.
FORD CUTS: Ford has announced it will cull a total of 3,000 salaried and contract jobs across its business. Most of these will be in North America, though as a reminder Ford has two sites in the UK (Dagenham and Halewood). The reason for the cuts is that the CEO, Jim Farley, doesn’t believe the company has the right skills in the business for an electric future. He said more detail would be coming forward soon. Read more.
MOT CHECKS: “Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.” Last week there were two conflicting stories about EVs and their success rate in passing MOT tests. First up, a report in The Sun over the weekend suggests EVs are more likely to fail their MOT test than hybrid and petrol vehicles of the same age. This is based on research by BookMyGarage. But, also last week, Carwow analysed 50 million MoT tests using Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency data and found the opposite. They found hybrid and EVs are more likely to pass their MoT tests at the first attempt than their petrol and diesel counterparts. Though they suggested EVs are most likely to fail for defective tyres. Read The Sun and read Carwow.
NEW ROADSTER: Revealed at the start of last week, Polestar has confirmed it will produce a roadster – based on its O2 convertible concept – in 2026. The model will be called the Polestar 6 and will produce 874 horsepower, a 3.2 second 0-62 time, and 155mph top speed. The car itself looks gorgeous and has a face like a Bull Shark. The price is expected to be in the hundreds of thousands, so not for mere mortals, but that gives me hope for one feature shown off on the O2 concept back in March. I am of course referring to the ‘autonomous drone’ which releases from the car then films you from above. Read more or watch the original Polestar O2 concept launch (drone at 1min 40).
QUICK FLEET: Nearly three-quarters of large fleets want shorter charging times, according to a new survey published by Autofocus. Elsewhere in the survey, it found that 43% of vehicles make frequent national business journeys. This matched with extended charging durations, together with a lack of charging facilities, can cause excessive downtime. Read more.
BLACKOUTS: Over the past couple of weeks, there seems to be growing talk of energy rationing being introduced during Winter to prevent blackouts. But, is there a way we can prevent this? Well, two ideas featured very prominently in The Sunday Times over the weekend. One of which was to use EVs as battery storage – which can be made possible through vehicle-to-grid devices. This idea obviously isn’t new, V2G is something being trialled in various ways (see results of a recent Octopus and National Grid trial). However, only the Nissan Leaf is currently capable of such abilities at present, so it’s unlikely going to be useful this Winter. But, given there are 30,000 Leafs on British roads, and each one has a battery able to power 100 homes for an hour, surely if we are seriously worried we should not ignore the ability to store power for potentially 3 million homes? Perhaps bonkers, but maybe we need some sort of Dad’s Army-style Thunderbirds programme to call up these Leaf owners should our country become desperate.
TESLA LOONS: I can’t believe I’m typing this to you, but last week in America land there was a widely circulated video of a Tesla – using its Full Self Driving mode – crashing into several child-sized mannequins. Tesla owners were not happy with such defamation, so they took to refuting the claims by recording their children – THEIR OWN CHILDREN – standing in front of accelerating vehicles. I literally can’t fathom the smallness of a human brain that decides to make such a video. As a result, YouTube has deleted them and the USA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has had to warn drivers about using “children to test the performance of vehicle technology” as it’s “highly dangerous.” Read more.
EXTINCT POLICIES: Finally, more evidence if ever you needed that Extinction Rebellion has zero interest in living in the real world, over the weekend they tweeted that “Electric cars are a popular solution for those who don't want anything much to change. Beware of the EVangelists.” While I get why people have worries about them, transport is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases, so we should make effort to reduce that.
By Tom Riley