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Tesla staff shared private clips from customer cars
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello I’m Tom Riley and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
This is a shorter edition than normal as I’m frightfully knackered from the bank holiday weekend. Top stories in today’s newsletter… Tesla staff shared private recordings of customers, Arrival goes for another SPAC, and several important battery mineral stories.
Also, a special shout out to Dad Riley, who celebrates quite a milestone birthday today. He was subscriber number two and has read every single FC edition despite being a roaring petrolhead.
As ever, if you have any thoughts or comments, please do get in touch. My contact details are here or simply reply to this email.
Latest EV news…
SECRET RECORDING: An investigation by Reuters published last Thursday has revealed that between 2019 and 2022, groups of Tesla employees reportedly shared private images and videos recorded from cameras built into their customer cars. According to nine former employees and dozens of present ones, Tesla staff routinely shared ‘invasive’ images, including from people’s homes. In one instance – which admittedly is bizarre in itself – a man was seen approaching his Tesla completely naked. In another, staff shared a clip of a child being hit by a car. Many of the funnier recordings/images were sent by staff to other teams or private group chats, often they were made into memes. It seems related to the small print customers sign about privacy that gives Tesla the cover, and the carmaker has said everything is anonymised. It seems customers aren’t convinced, a class action lawsuit has already been filed in the US against Tesla. Read the Reuters report, or about the lawsuit.
NEW ROLE: Niche, but talking of Tesla, the carmaker nominated JB Straubel to its board last week. For those unaware, big JB was an original co-founder of the carmaker before he left to found battery recycling start-up Redwood Materials – which has a base near Leeds.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Arrival, the UK electric van start-up that has been beset by delays and running costs, has agreed to merge with a special purpose acquisition company. And if you’re thinking… hang on, didn’t they go public via a SPAC already? You’re right, back in 2021 they merged via a SPAC which valued them at $5.4bn at the time. This new reSPAC or, as the French might say ‘Encore une SPAC’, values them at just $524m. TechCrunch predicts we might see other companies follow this trend in 2023. Read more.
WIRELESS VOLTS: Talking of carmakers, Genesis is testing the use of wireless charging for its cars in Korea. It’s thought, if successful, this technology will be rolled out to other countries, either for installation at homes or as destination chargers. Read more.
FUNDING POT: London has been given £35.7m to invest into growing its charging network from the government’s LEVI fund. More than a third of all the UK’s chargers are already in London, and this will no doubt push the capital further ahead - though important to remember urban areas need many more public chargers. Read more.
NEW PLAYER: FreeWire, a US-founded charging network, is opening an office in Oxfordshire as it plans to enter the UK market. The business already works with bp elsewhere in Europe. Read more.
PEAK TIMES: Speaking of charging networks, ahead of the bank holiday weekend, Gridserve released details of when its motorway service chargers are most busy. They also trialed having people on hand at selected stations to help drivers. As it happens, I stopped at Cherwell Services over the break and was able to see some of the six new 350kW chargers Gridserve has just installed there. Great set-up.
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HEAVY CARS: Over the bank holiday weekend, it seems there have been quite a few stories about the possibility of old multi-storey car parks collapsing under the weight of EVs – which tend to be heavier than their combustion cousins. According to one structural engineer, new building measures countering this risk are expected to be published soon. This weekend isn’t the first time this story has appeared though, back in December the British Parking Association also shared a warning.
MINIERAL IMPORTANCE: The battery race is by no means a sexy topic compared to stories of new car models, but it’s much more important to green sector success than anything else. In the past week, there have been four must-read reports. Firstly, the FT published an in-depth look at the rise of Chinese billionaire Robin Zeng’s CATL group – a company that provides a third of the global EV battery materials. Secondly, a great Guardian feature on the opportunity and growth of battery recycling in the UK (and Europe). Thirdly, a BBC spotlight on Cornwall’s potential role in lithium mining. And, finally, a great look at how Tesla is upgrading its battery tech so they’re more efficient and less mineral reliant.
CHARGER CRIMS: According to a recent meeting at Hungerford Town Council, the area has seen a rise in gangs stealing home chargers and their cables. Apparently, these can be resold for nearly £200. Read more.
SECOND HAND: Used vehicle sellers want to see the government do more to support the purchase of second-hand EVs. The Vehicle Remarketing Association has claimed there is an ‘imbalance’ in government incentives. A scheme does currently exist in Scotland to offer £30k interest-free loans to motorists wanting a pre-owned EV – though it’s presently closed to new applicants. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the scheme has handed out £16.7m – so it must be in demand! Read more.
BIG RELASE: The long-awaited Polestar 4, an all-electric SUV, will be unveiled next Tuesday in Shanghai. SUVs are a popular EV category, so no doubt Polestar will want to impress. See images of it in camouflage here.
SAVE THE DATE: At the end of this month (28-30 April), the Fully Charged Show will be hosting its annual event at Farnborough. I’m heading up there for Friday (28th), so if you want to grab a coffee, please do slide into my DMs. Also, FYI, there is Fully Charged Live in Harrogate around mid-May (19-21). More details here.
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