Shell increases EV prices for second time in two months
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a weekly British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… Shell increases its pricing (again), the number of electric vans on British roads has risen by 89%, and is net zero now safe - given Truss’ implosion.
As ever, if you have any thoughts or feedback, my contact details are below or simply reply to this email.
WHAT’S HAPPENING: I was going to kick off this newsletter today by wondering what Jeremy Hunt’s views are on EVs, but given we’ve now had four chancellors in as many months, to be honest, I can’t be bothered – and neither should you. This is evidently a government taking a lot for granted. The only silver lining I foresee in all this U-turn nonsense is that the risk to net zero is now surely minimalised. Yes, it is true that there is still a review being undertaken by Chris Skidmore at the moment, which will report to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Business Secretary, this year, but as days go by I wonder… how long will Mogg be at BEIS? Can the government afford more policy moves? Will Truss U-turn to super eco Liz? In all cases, I cannot see a situation where support for net zero policies now changes radically. Only at the end of last week as well, the new Transport Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, rebutted an article in the i newspaper suggesting the 2030 EV targets would be watered down - as surely they don’t have the political capital for such a move?
BLEAK VIEW… looking at the U-turns and language of Jeremy Hunt yesterday, it seems to me likely that the Office of Budget Responsibility forecasts, due at the end of this month, will be very negative. This may lead to a further downward trend in confidence and people putting off making large purchases, such as switching to electric. It may already be happening, as a new RAC report has suggested that though more people want to switch to EVs, the number that sees themselves doing so soon has gone backwards. Perhaps Hunt may also have to explore squeezing the remaining spending that exists for EV policies, such as the van and taxi plug-in grants, plus potentially the vast sums for chargepoint rollouts. One to watch.
AN ALTERNATIVE… I’ve not really covered the views and policies of the Labour Party in this newsletter before, though it seems increasingly likely they could be ruling should Truss and the Tories pull the election button. As such, in a future edition, I will be pulling together an analysis of Labour’s views on EVs and what their policies are likely to be.
Latest EV news…
SUPER HIGH: Shell is increasing the cost to use its Recharge network from this Thursday 20 October. This means in only two months, Shell has increased its rapid charger prices by 44%. The fastest Shell chargers (ultra-rapids that deliver 150kW+) will now cost a dizzy £0.85p per kWh – as a reminder, at the end of July these were £0.59p. Likewise, their rapid chargers (50kW) have gone from £0.55 during the Summer to £0.79p per kWh from Thursday. Shell blames the increase on “political events”, which presumably means the war in Ukraine, though they don’t say so very clearly. Shell’s Recharge network is arguably not very big - they only have 119 rapid chargers - but they have a prominent reputation across the sector. Read more.
QUIET UPDATE: I didn’t catch this until yesterday but ubitricity, which operates the largest charging network in the UK with 5,600+ lamppost devices and is owned by Shell, has now set its tariffs at £0.49p per kWh – a 44% increase from the previous price of 34p. The prices were introduced at the start of October and ubitricity say they will be reviewed in November. Read more.
GOING: Back in the Summer, after a rather boozy meal, down the pub I asked a bewildered James May why on earth he still had a hydrogen car. He revealed that, as it happened, he’d not been out in his Toyota Mirai recently – one of only 209 sold in the UK – as the fuelling stations were out of H2. Well, the situation has now got worse for James, as according to Hydrogen Insight, Shell has closed all three of its hydrogen refuelling stations in the country – this means only 11 remain open. Read more.
GOING: It’s not looking good for Britishvolt, the company looking to build a battery gigafactory in the North East, as the firm revealed this week it needs £200m to last until next Summer – otherwise it may collapse within two months. The company is said to be in talks with seven ‘strategic investors’, including Tata Motors (who own Jaguar Land Rover) and Inobat, a Slovakian battery company. It would obviously be tremendously sad for the UK’s battery ambitions if it were to fail but, judging by everything that’s become public, it seems to have had serious managerial issues. Read more.
GOING: Speaking of bad news, it was reported over the weekend that BMW, which has a base near Oxford where they build the electric Mini Cooper, will be moving production to China. This is a blow to the UK and I’m surprised there’s not been more uproar about it. BMW will still make the petrol Mini in Oxford, but the electric is moving abroad. Read more.
GONE: The premium home EV charger manufacturer, Andersen, went into administration last week. For those unfamiliar, Andersen’s chargers are without doubt the prettiest looking on the market – the Waitrose of EV chargers, if you will. They apparently went bust after being caught out by the semiconductor crisis. Last week, the administrators said they would be “providing assistance to those employees who have been impacted by redundancy and will also be seeking purchasers for the Company's assets, including plant and machinery.” One of the administrators told me yesterday that they were moving forward with offers received from ‘parties’. Read more.
MOTOR SHOW: For the first time since 2018, the Paris Motor Show kicked off this week. However, it seems the event is a shadow of its former self. According to people there, very few manufacturers turned up – even Citroen gave it a miss. Though, Chinese manufacturers like BYD and Great Wall did turn up, further underlining their electrified surge towards Europe. Read Autocar’s summary of the event here.
NEW STAR: The long anticipated Polestar 3, an SUV, has officially launched in the UK with orders now being taken. The starting price for the 3 is £80,000, which is quite a lot of money for a small family-sized car. The range is 379 miles, which is more than a Tesla Model Y which will only do about 300 miles but, for a £22,000 saving, I think it’s worth losing the 70 miles – especially as it’ll never be that precise too. Read more.
GOOD STANDARDS: A great move as last week the British Standards Institute published a new accessibility standard that sets out how to make public charging inclusive for everyone. The standards were sponsored by the disability charity, Motability, in conjunction with the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles. The standards cover a variety of areas, including the physical aspects of the environment surrounding chargepoints (e.g. kerb height, ground type); the location, placement and spacing of chargepoints; the information, signals and indicators to be provided to users; and the factors to be taken into account in the design and specification of accessible chargepoints (e.g. height of chargepoint, cables and cable management systems, bollard spacing, colours used on screens, weight and force and ease of use of the equipment). You can read more about them here.
VAN MAN: The number of electric vans on UK roads has jumped up 89% since this time last year, according to the transport research group New AutoMotive. They still only made up 5% of overall van registrations in September 2022, but it’s moving very much in the right direction - electric cars were always going to be a quicker switch. On the figures, Ciara Cook, from New AutoMotive, said: “Electric vans continue to be registered at record levels, demonstrating the confidence businesses have in electric vans. With the government’s package for businesses now in place, [they] are considerably cheaper to run than their diesel counterparts.” Read more.
FRESH INVESTMENT: Speaking of commercial transport, Amazon is investing £300m to decarbonise its UK fleet, as part of a new £880m injection across Europe. The investment will be made over a five-year period and introduce fresh environmentally friendly technologies such as public charging infrastructure and EV options such as e-cargo bikes and electric vans. Read more.
GAME THEORY: Have you ever studied economics or seen a Beautiful Mind with Russel Crowe? If not, this story might go slightly over you. It seems a pair of economists have hypothesised a way of organising EV charging infrastructure using John Nash’s ‘game theory’ equilibrium. What does this mean in normal terms? In short, I believe what the economists have suggested is if there was a way for drivers to communicate their charging demands (e.g. on speed, price, location, timing) to networks, then there may be a way of organising the network to respond with the best option and to manage demand. To me, it seems like a hard prospect for accessing chargers across multiple networks, but under one roof it may be possible, and potentially already happens – route planning apps, like in a Tesla, already match up to chargers. Read the paper or a summary.
SAVE THE DATE: Fully Charged has confirmed dates for its live event in the UK during 2023. The ‘South’ version will be held on 28th, 29th & 30th April 2023 at Farnborough International. And the ‘North’ version will be held on 19th, 20th & 21st May 2023 at the Yorkshire Event Centre in Harrogate. Read more.
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