Tesla raises its car prices (again)
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… Tesla raises its prices (again), a pedestrian is killed by an e-scooter, York opens a HyperHub, and I give a quick recap of visiting the EV capital of the world.
Also, to flag, in upcoming editions I’m planning features around both charging pricing and urban commercial vehicles, so if you have any comments, insights or pointers on either, please do reach out!
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Following my trip to EVS35 in Oslo, I wanted to make a couple of quick shoutouts and observations from my trip – as sadly I was pushed for time in last week’s edition.
Firstly, a very big shout to Jaan Juurikas, who produces the EV Universe, for exploring the event with me over two days. At the event, it was also great to meet Michael Peters (of Sway Mobility), Momentum Dynamics, Felix Arthur, Munro Live, L-Charge, Paxter, the folk at the UK’s trade zone and, of course, the Norwegian EV Association (you can read my interview with them from last week here).
Lastly, without sounding like Donald Trump, my final observation from the trip can be summarised in one word: China. It was very noticeable how hard Chinese businesses are trying to inject into Norway’s EV space. I counted over ten Chinese stands, not including the bigger businesses, such as Nio, Xpeng and Ora Cat. I managed to get a test in the Xpeng P7, though rather awkwardly I was driven around by three members of the Xpeng team - as they drive on the wrong side in Norway. When I asked them if people would opt for Chinese cars, the mostly youngish crew seemed to think so, given they are cheaper than comparable models and have faster delivery compared to European producers.
When I spoke to Norway’s EV Association, this was a view they echoed and pointed to the fact that even Hongqi vehicles, the Chinese brand that originally produced cars for high-ranking members of China’s government (Hongqi means ‘red flag’) are selling well in Norway. In fact, I saw one in the flesh at Oslo airport (image below). It’s early days for Chinese carmakers in Norway, though will be an interesting one to watch as they have plans for wider European domination, including the UK.
In the last week…
PRICE PRESSURE: As inflation rises around the world and supply issues remain, it’s perhaps of no surprise that Tesla has risen its prices – not for the first time this year. Today, a standard rear-wheel Model 3 now costs £48,490. That’s up from £42,990 in November 2021 – a sizeable jump. When it first came to our shores, the base Model 3 cost a mere £38,900 – and came with the plug-in grant, that has since departed. The more recent Model Y, which only arrived in the UK this year, was originally on sale for £54,990. Now, the base model will cost £57,990. Tesla’s have previously been very popular cars in the UK, though with these incremental rises, I wonder if EV buyers will begin to switch elsewhere, especially given the Supercharger network, one of the main draws of Tesla ownership, continues to open up for other manufacturers.
CHARGING COSTS: It's not just carmakers under pressure, EV charging networks have been struggling with costs and many have already upped their prices. GeniePoint, which has a network of 900 chargers, is the latest, increasing their prices to 57p per kWh. This is up from 50p per kWh.
SWITCHING GEAR: In the face of all this economic doom, especially at the fuel pump, the government has rightly come under some criticism regarding its closing of the plug-in car grant scheme. As was clear from my interview with Norway’s EV Association, having incentives for people to get into EVs is a winning strategy. No matter, despite comments from the automotive industry raising concerns, it seems unlikely the government will go back now. So, what are they focussing on instead? Well, should you believe the press release, the Department for Transport is rather concerned about both growing the infrastructure and commercial electric fleets. A new evaluation report also out last week about the plug-in grants highlighted that stakeholders across the EV market ‘indicated that price has become a relatively less important driver of demand for electric cars over time, with charging becoming an increasingly prominent concern’. However, ‘price remains a more significant barrier to electric van uptake’. The report noted that the take-up of vans had not met the government’s projections. Notably, elsewhere during last week, albeit it went rather unnoticed, DfT released a ‘Future of Freight’ plan. While most of the document is a combination of previously announced policies, much of it does relate to electrification. What this says to me is that officials behind-the-scenes see commercial transport as a key way to reach net-zero but, importantly, have probably not paid enough attention to how they make it actually happen thus far.
PROCRASTINATING HORSE: Last week saw Ferrari announce its plans to electrify its vehicles. The CEO revealed during their Capital Markets Day that “by 2030 we are then targeting 20% of our offering to be ICE, 40% hybrid and 40% full electric.” The first all-electric Ferrari will arrive in 2025 in the form of an SUV. Despite a company with a reputation for speed, this announcement has been a long time coming, and I wonder if Ferrari is going to regret moving too slowly. Looking at the comments, the company is naturally still dedicated to an engine, though is there a risk they get caught out? Even their first all-electric being an SUV seems a bit unoriginal and safe, compared to other luxury carmakers like Bugatti, Bentley, Lotus, McLaren etc. However, while I believe Ferrari is misguided on their electrification strategy, I really admire the stance they’ve taken on autonomous cars – saying Ferrari will never aspire or bring in self-driving. The CEO told Bloomberg: “No customer is going to spend money for the computer in the car to enjoy the drive… the value of the man, of the human at the centre, is fundamental.” So, so true.
SCOOTER SCHOOL, pt.1: It has not been a good seven days for e-scooters. Sadly, at the start of last week, it was confirmed that 71-year-old Linda Davis was killed after being hit by a 14-year -old boy riding an e-scooter in Nottinghamshire. Linda is the first pedestrian to be killed by an e-scooter in the UK. This has acted as a somewhat call to arms about e-scooters from the POV of how do we control people riding these things? There was a good column in The Times by Martha Gill last Thursday calling for police action. As I wrote in this newsletter two weeks ago, I believe schools (and parents) need to play an urgent and critical role in preventing accidents before they become legalised – given the most popular times for crashes and age groups of those involved. A letter I wrote to The Times highlighting this was published (copy below).
SCOOTER SCHOOL, pt.2: It is a real issue. Linda was hit at 3.50pm on a school day. Elsewhere, I saw another story last week about a six-year-old girl, who suffered a broken leg, and a 10-year-old boy, who was cut and grazed, being struck by a teenager on an e-scooter. What time did this happen? 3.30pm outside a school.
SCOOTER SCHOOL, pt.3: The tragedy of Linda has probably been a long time coming as the government have left the market for private e-scooters untouched. A campaign has been founded called ‘Just Stick A Reg On It’ – which is calling for all e-scooters to have registration plates – by a father whose daughter, aged 5, was hit by an e-scooter and left with three broken ribs and a concussion. A worthy cause that very much needs to be taken seriously by the Secretary of State to ensure private e-scooters can play a valuable (and safe) role in the clean transport mix. For the time being, this industry continues to be growing. Amongst all the bike shops that are near where I live, there is now ‘Doctor Scooter’.
GOODWOOD SHOW: At the end of this week is Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex – a four-day celebration of motoring. I had the pleasure of attending last year where, at the event, they hosted an ‘Electric Avenue’ to display numerous EVs. This year the avenue returns, and it seems Polestar will reveal a prototype of its long-touted saloon model, the 5. I believe the car will be available from 2024. Read more.
BETTER BATTERY: The US start-up called ONE (meaning, Our Next Energy) has signed an agreement with BMW to integrate its battery tech into its iX model. This change will, according to the two companies, extend the vehicle range up to 600 miles – which is bonkers. Not only that, ONE’s battery tech is thought to use 20% less lithium, 60% less graphite and less nickel and cobalt. Witchcraft! Read more.
NEW HUB: Last week, York opened its ‘HyperHub’ at Monks Cross, a shopping centre outside the city. The new EV charging hub has four 175kW ultra-rapid chargers, four 50kW rapid chargers, with an adjacent area having 30 7kW chargepoints – making it one of the largest locations to juice up in Northern England. Much like other hubs, the Monks Cross centre has a solar canopy to generate renewable energy which is stored in nearby batteries (Tesla Powerpacks). York is due to open a second HyperHub in Poppleton - also outside the city - later in the Summer. Now time for other cities to follow suit. Read more.
TOP LOCATION: New analysis by Zap-Map has found Nottingham to have the most rapid and ultra-rapid chargers in the UK. The city has a comfortable lead with 122 fast chargers, though following closely behind is Milton Keynes (106), Leeds (77), Birmingham (73) and Coventry (71). However, rather surprisingly London doesn’t make the top 20 – despite London having a third of the nation’s total chargers within its boundaries. It’s not clear from their press release if they’ve been excluded on purpose, though I suspect so… Anyway, these findings follow a survey, also undertaken by Zap-Map, that showed the use of ultra-rapid chargers – those that provide 100kW or more of power – jumped from 16% to 27% last year. Read more.
NEW INVESTMENT: Speaking of rapid networks, one of the nation’s largest networks, InstaVolt, announced last week that it had secured £110 million of debt financing to expand. The banks involved were Santandar, Lloyds Bank, Investec, Natixis and NIBC. The funding comes three months after EQT Infrastructure acquired InstaVolt to help it build a nationwide network of 10,000 rapid EV chargers by 2032. Now, I’m not an economist, but my read of this huge deal is it’s not just about expanding, but also perhaps to ensure InstaVolt can see off a potential recession threat. Just my view. Read the news.
FRESH PAPER: A bit further back, but at the start of June, ubitricity, Britain’s largest charging network, released a whitepaper to explain how the transition to wide EV adoption can be achieved quicker, particularly through councils and the role they play. The paper includes comments from Megan Black, of Transport for Greater Manchester, Councillor Darren Rodwell, the Local Government Association transport spokesperson, and Councillor James Spencer, from Westminster Council – the local authority with the most EV chargers in the UK. You can download it here.
By Tom Riley