Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the electric motoring newsletter. My name is Tom Riley.
Some interesting news today, not least that Shell has tried to hide behind a charging price increase by offering motorists a free sausage roll! I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in that marking meeting.
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In the news…
PRICE INCREASE: Shell has annoyed EV drivers by raising its standard charging price up to 41p per kWh. That’s an increase from 39p per kWh. While it may seem small, this could add about £1 to charging costs for juicing a 50kWh battery - and that’s without adding VAT too. Quite amusingly, Shell has tried to ease this price increase by offering its users a free sausage roll or cheese and onion slice! Shell Recharge now has over 100 electric vehicle charging points in the UK and aims to grow to over 5,000 by 2025. Shell also recently bought on-street charging company Ubitricity, the UK’s largest network. At a time when the Government is keen to transition people to electric, small move likes this will only reinforce negative views about EVs.
RAGING BULL: The startup EV company Arrival - based on Her Majesty’s shores - yesterday became the largest ever public listing by a UK company. And, that’s despite it never having built a production vehicle. But, no matter, when its shares began trading in New York yesterday it was valued at around £10 billion. Obviously, while this is suspect and people are crying ‘BUBBLE’, the company does have great potential. It is pioneering an approach to manufacturing - using small facilities and IKEA style building - so it can launch factories in six months within urban areas, rather than the automotive standard of 2+ years. Not to mention, firms like UPS have already put huge 20,000 quantity orders in for their new vans. However, admittedly these recent EV valuations do feel a bit like this scene from The Big Short:
VOLT POLITICS: Yesterday, Ed Miliband, former Labour leader and currently the shadow business secretary, announced a Labour policy to expand the use of electric cars through interest-free loans and state subsidies for the building of factories. The plan to grow factories was backed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Loans for consumers have long been advocated by groups and it’s currently a policy Scotland is using. Some people have mocked Miliband for not owning an EV himself despite advocating for them. I think that’s unfair. Yes, Mr Miliband is incredibly awkward - and some of his media performances yesterday were just that - but you can promote EVs without needing to make love to a Tesla. If we start ridiculing people for going green, we’ll continue to sow division between fossils and electrics.
HELP CONSUMERS: In similar news, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders have also called for greater support for private retail uptake of electric vehicles. It comes as new figures show businesses are twice as likely as consumers to make the switch from petrol or diesel. SMMT want to encourage further uptake by consumers through better incentives and a bigger public charging network. Read more.
PRIVATE CHARGING: Speaking of EV startups, the billion-dollar truck and van manufacturer, Rivian, are planning to build their private charging network similar to Teslas superchargers. It will be called the ‘Rivian Adventure Network’ and promises 600 supercharging stations offering 3,500 chargers by 2023 on routes across the United States and Canada. Let’s hope this trend does not reach the UK. As Which? pointed out only last week, brand-specific networks are bad for connectivity and restrict use by their very nature.
UNHAPPY MAKERS: At the SMMT Electrified conference, car manufacturers have made their displeasure at the government’s change in grants well known. “The issue for me is consistency,” said Polestar’s UK Chief Executive. “Seems counterintuitive to the bold statements they’ve made ahead of COP26,” claimed BMW’s CEO. Meanwhile, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, compared the government’s policy to a game of snakes and ladders. Read more here.
JUST CHARGE: the popular mobile app Just Park - which allows users to book or let out parking from driveways to multistoreys - is slowly working towards becoming the UK’s biggest charging network. The company has so far installed over 500 charging points at its user’s properties as demand for them by parking motorists rises. At the start of this year, the company started recruiting for a Director of EV charging. Just Park are now further bolstering their team by recruiting for an EV Project Manager and a Head of Strategy. Also in this space is peer-to-peer network Co-Charger.
FAKE GUCCI: In this next edition of ‘manufacturers being compared against Tesla’, news from Asia that China's biggest carmaker, Geely, is launching a premium electric car brand called Zeekr which it hopes will take on Elon Musk. In normal instances, I wouldn’t think much of this claim. However, the prototype Geely has released is a spitting image of the Tesla Model 3. This news must be a concern to Tesla - China is a huge market for them - shown by Musk’s recent lavishing of praise on Bejing through their state-owned channels. "The Chinese economy I think can do extremely well over the next decade and will become the biggest economy in the world. And it's also committed to a sustainable energy future.” Musk told China Central Television this week. Money talks!
By Tom Riley