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The Sun uses 5 month old video to blast EVs
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
Top stories in today’s edition… the government expands the Local EV Infrastructure pilot, can we learn from Biden, and The Sun uses a five-month-old video to blast electric cars.
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.
Can we learn from Biden’s EV positivity
Background: Last week over in the US, the Biden government revealed an array of announcements about how the country is working to build a “convenient, reliable, and Made-in-America” EV charging network.
And? Yes, I know this email is for UK news but, bear with me, as I think there is definitely something we can learn from Biden’s progress.
Context: Biden has previously committed $1 trillion to support infrastructure, including building 500,000 public chargers across the US – Biden wants at least 50% of new car sales by 2030 to be all-electric. FYI, there are some 280 million cars in America, so it’s likely that the 500,000 figure will end up being much higher – albeit, according to various websites, it seems up to 80% of Americans have access to off-street parking at home, which seems higher than over here.
New rules: The White House revealed a set of standards for EV chargers to create a more predictable and reliable experience. The standards were created as the government felt disparities had been created among EV charging stations in key areas, such as connector types, payment methods, data privacy, speed and power of chargers, reliability, and the overall user experience – a very similar narrative to the UK’s own EV infrastructure strategy in March 2022. The biggest changes are:
Reliability: The US is going to require that public chargers have a 97% uptime rate – over here, the government has previously suggested 99%.
Accessible: Charging networks need to open up their data about locations, price, availability, and accessibility so they can be listed through mapping applications - like over here.
Future-proofed: The government will ensure that all chargers going into the ground have the potential to be upgraded or have “forward-looking” capabilities, such as ‘plug and charge’.
Big expansion: As part of the White House announcement, much like in other parts of the world, Tesla has agreed to open its Supercharger network to non-EVs. Alongside this, major companies and networks made 10 individual announcements about installing more chargers – which will add some 100,000 devices in the US. Read the full White House factsheet here.
What should we learn then? The UK government already has made plans for similar rules and, elsewhere, many companies have revealed huge swathes of investment into Britain. For me, the interesting thing here is leadership.
Leadership? While in many ways the US is not being as ambitious with its EV timeline as we are, at least their most senior politician – the leader of the free world no less – doesn’t seem to go a week without backing the sector and claiming it’s a positive future for the US people. By comparison, could our Prime Minister be doing more?
What’s he doing: Since becoming PM, Rishi Sunak has had his hands full. Though, the feeling by some in the sector is maybe the government could be doing more to support the EV industry, particularly as it’s continued to be attacked in the media and the fact there’s now a Net Zero department. At least today, the Department for Transport revealed £56 million to expand the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure pilot.
However… elsewhere the ZEV mandate and the new charger regulations are still yet to be seen, the Treasury has previously set out a roadmap for EV taxes, and the Business Secretary refused to blink after, rightly or wrongly, Britishvolt went upside down. The only positive news, outside today’s LEVI funding, seems to have been the announcement about smart charging – which was again highlighted at a departmental level.
The future: With the Chancellor’s Budget coming up on 15 March, marking nearly one year to the day since the government first outlined its EV infrastructure strategy, that strikes me as a good time for Downing Street to make a large public display of affection for this sector. Fingers crossed.
Not so latest news…
Background… On the topic of negative stories, at the end of last week, The Sun published an article titled ‘Electric car driver blasts other motorists for stopping him charging up’. It’s based on a TikTok video posted by the user @iamdollar. In the video, the driver complains about his recent experiences and being unable to access his local charger.
But… were you to see this article, which I’m sure many Sun readers have, you would assume the video was quite recent. However, you would be wrong, the TikTok video was first uploaded on 21 September 2022 – five months ago.
Is this allowed? Surely pulling this content up to write a negative story, without clearly saying when the video was first posted, could be ‘misleading’ or ‘distorting’ information. What do you think?
Latest EV news…
DON’T PANIC: While we’re on the theme of critical EV headlines, Autocar’s Jim Holder wrote a column about this last week. In it, he strongly defends the progress being made in the industry and suggests the repeated complaints about charging capability by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders could be undermining the process. Instead, Jim suggests unity is needed across the sector to prevent a death spiral on the road to 2030. Read it here.
VISITOR PANIC: In not-so-collegial news, tourist leaders in the South West and Yorkshire have warned that a lack of chargers available to holidaymakers could put people off the idea of visiting. Martin Cox, vice president of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, has suggested that local chargers could be overrun if the supply does not pick up. Richard Toomer, executive director of the Tourism Alliance, also added: “Unless we grip the issue of a lack of charging infrastructure, we will continue to see huge queues on tourist routes, as is already happening at key times of the year.” In response, DfT said they’d already invested £2bn and that grants were available. Read more.
NEW MODEL: It’s been mooted by Tesla for a long time coming but, according to reports, Elon Musk will provide an update on the progress of its small ‘Model 2’ EV on 1 March during an investor event. Based on previous details, the EV will likely cost in the region of £25,000. Given the population for larger, more luxury EVs with high price tags must surely be getting smaller now – not to mention competitive – this shift could be a big and profitable move for Tesla. However, production isn’t expected to start until next year. Read more.
WHITE PAPER: The Evening Standard, which has long campaigned for cleaner air in the capital, has published a white paper about how to decarbonise London’s transport. It suggests a lot of the ideas already happening though it’s great to see the paper so prominently take this active position. Read it here.
NOT SO EASEE: The Norwegian charger manufacturer, Easee, who recently revealed they have installed half a million chargers, could be facing a sales ban in Sweden for not meeting safety requirements. It comes after the authority for Swedish electrical safety alleged there were deficiencies in their products which may make them unsafe. The authority will not make a final decision or recommendation of action until it’s engaged with Easee, which the company is doing. On their website, Easee writes: “We welcome the dialogue with the Swedish Elsäkerhetsverket and their focus on safety within smart electric car charging. We have now submitted responses and documentation to Elsäkerhetsverket – and are confident of meeting the current requirements for electric car chargers.” Read it here.
WEIRD GEAR: Chris Harris, the presenter of Top Gear, has written an opinion column for the BBC website where he’s claimed: “there is no such thing as a zero-emission vehicle”. In his article, Harris seems to have totally got the wrong end of the stick of what ZEV means, as he rather dubiously compares the fact that EVs emit loads in production, meaning they are only half as good as their petrol counterparts. Likewise, he complains the electricity needed has to come from “somewhere” – presumably meaning Chris hasn’t seen a wind farm before. He also started his piece by bemoaning the fact Toyota ‘caved in’ on hydrogen – which according to Harris “the world’s completely ignorant politicians have decided against”. Without being clichéd, is this what I pay my licence fee for? See it here.
SECOND HAND: Average used car prices have risen 0.7% in February compared to January, according to data from Auto Trader. However, the price of used EVs has continued to drop with prices down -9.1% - which is dragging down the whole market. The likely reason is the over-supply of EVs to the market, while demand has stayed the same. Read more.
LOSE WEIGHT: A senior executive at Dacia has suggested that greater emphasis needs to be put on efficiency and that there’s “no need for a big, heavy battery” in cars. Read more.
MUSCLE GAIN: Speaking of efficiency, at VW’s recent Tech Day, the carmaker revealed it would be developing innovations in its motor that could deliver up to 20% more efficiency. Excellent. Learn more.
NEW CAR: And while we’re talking about VW, it seems more detail about their upcoming ID.2 – which will be a £25,000 SUV – has started circulating. It’s likely the range will be 180 miles and be lined up to compete against the surprise hit MG4. See some images here.
SACRE BLEU: Renault’s CEO has criticised Tesla for cutting its car prices, saying it is destroying value for customers. It comes after Renault doubled its profit margin last year. Read more.
OFF PEAK: ubitricity, the UK’s largest EV charging network, announced last week it would be rolling out smart charging to over 65% of its network. This follows a trial that began with 300 chargers in Westminster at the end of last year and now reaches 4,000 devices. According to ubitricity, the average saving since the smart tariff was introduced is £4 per session – with 45% of drivers choosing to use it. The image below shows how it works. Read more.
USEFUL ADVICE: What’s that, another helpful article about electric cars from the Telegraph? Indeed, see here for a good explanation of EV battery health.
IRISH VOLTS: Northern Ireland has long been behind on installing public chargers after various administrative debacles in previous years. Though, good news, thanks to a new tie-up between Nicholl Oil and Everun, new chargers will be installed at Nicholl forecourts. The first 46 points will be installed between April and September this year beginning with forecourts in County Antrim and County Down. Both partners have plans to grow the network to over 100 points across the country. Read more.
By Tom Riley | Check my Linktree for LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter