Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter.
In today’s edition… brand new ‘hyper charging’, the latest chargepoint figures, and Channel 5 are making a new documentary.
If you have any questions or comments, please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the last week…
NEW DATA: Last Thursday the Department for Transport released its latest EV charging statistics that cover the final quarter of 2021 (October, November, December). As a headline, the stats seem positive news. As of New Year’s Day, there were 28,375 public chargepoints in the UK, an increase of 9% by comparison to the previous quarter. This means, during 2021, the number of public chargers increased by 37% (or 7,600 in total). That means for every 25 EVs sold last year, one charger was installed (last year 190,000 EVs were sold in 2021 according to SMMT).
UK TOP 40: As part of some analysis I’ve done into the new figures, I’ve pulled together the UK’s top 40 locations to juice up an EV. There are two tables below, one that shows the top locations based on total devices in the area, and the other table is those with the highest number of chargers per 100,000 residents. These figures cover all power types. As you might expect, London boroughs dominate the top 10 - as many urbanites rely on public charging - but perhaps they richly deserve the top spot. In the far right column, I’ve included their position from a year before. Some huge upward swings!
Total devices top 40 chart
Per 100,000 top 40 chart
RAPID CHECK: When DfT’s stats came out last week, the Daily Mail ran a story suggesting that 25 electric cars to one charger being built is bad. But I actually think it seems pretty good. We have to remember many of those 25 will have home devices, and not all are going to need a public charger every day. However, what does matter I think is the speed of that 1 charger. DfT still, as part of its statistical breakdowns, differentiates between the number of slower chargers and those that are rapid (aka. provide a speed of 25kW or more). Rapid and fast chargers should really be the default in a lot of public places now - they are certainly what many motorists expect. Yes, there’s still acres of room for slow trickle devices (such as lamp posts etc.) but out on the road or even in urban areas, people don’t want to leave their cars deserted for hours, especially if they have large batteries. However, last year only 1,276 rapid devices were installed (a 33% increase). That means, for around every 150 EVs, only one 25kW+ device was installed. That brings the total to around 5,156 in the UK.
Net negative… I’ve been looking in-depth at the rapid charger figures for 2021 to 2022 and I’ve found some interesting things. Firstly, I’ve discovered a total of 17 towns that actually lost devices in their neighbourhoods last year, such as York (who had 14 and now have 13), Harrogate (that went from 14 down to 12), and Leicester (who went from having 3 to just a miserable 1 rapid device).
Not much better… While losing chargepoints is embarrassing, not adding any is still pretty woeful. I’ve noted around 103 towns – including some major cities like Bath, Middlesbrough, Salford, – plus huge London boroughs – Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Hackney, City of London and Ealing – who didn’t add a single rapid device during 2021. Now, arguably, this might mean they already had thousands of chargers in place. However, I can assure you looking at these figures, the number of rapid devices is mostly in the low 10s, with Ealing having the highest number of 36 devices pre-2021.
Silver lining… In more positive news, there are around 116 towns and cities that have increased the number of rapid devices in their vicinity by 50% or more. The biggest increase of rapid devices in 2021 belongs to Rugby, who went from having 3 to 27 – no doubt thanks to new Gridserve chargers and Tesla Superchargers being installed at the motorway services last year.
What this shows…Looking at these stats, it’s obvious that the South of the UK is moving out in front building the networks that future motorists will be looking for. London, the South East and South West still lead the way. However, there is an obvious outlier in Scotland, which have 707 rapid devices and increased the number 30% during 2021, topping the leaderboard when you look at devices per 100,000 people. As we push into 2022, maybe local authorities and the government need to start scrutinising a lot more where public funding for charging devices is going. While, according to a 2020 report, the UK is just about on track with its chargepoint growth, if the deployment is unbalanced this could really impact the future.
NEW EV SHOW: Last week, I spoke to a researcher at BriteSpark Films. It seems they are producing a new EV documentary for Channel 5 that should air in 2-3 months. From what I could draw out, it will involve Will Dron, Editor of Sunday Times Driving, Richard Ingram, Editor of Carbuyer, as well as other case studies and businesses. One company they are talking to is BP Pulse. It seems they have (or are) interviewing their external affairs guy Tom Callow. I expressed, hopefully on behalf of the whole EV community, that they should be called out for such a poor-quality service. In terms of the questions the researcher asked me, she was very keen to learn about my experience charging while in London, and that of the EV itself. I expressed that, the car itself was brilliant, but sometimes the chargepoints could be frustrating as they were left for weeks (sometimes months) unfixed. Based on the tone of the questions I received, I would suspect the documentary to be one of those ‘going green is good but huge challenges remain’ sort of programmes. Note, BriteSpark previously produced a show for Channel 4 Dispatches called ‘The Truth of Electric Cars’.
PRIME INTERVENTION: Britishvolt, the company building a Gigafactory in Blyth, received an offer of government funding last Friday that will support its mission to produce enough batteries for over 300,000 EVs per year. The press release from the government included a statement from the Prime Minister. This is very rare and I’m sure was a way for No10 to try to gain some ‘red wall’ love after the torrid few weeks it’s been facing. Read more.
BATTERY BROS: Speaking of batteries, elsewhere in Europe Volkswagen and Bosch have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore a joint venture dedicated to providing the continent with battery solutions. It’s believed the partnership may go on to help VW with its aim to build six gigafactories by 2030. Read more.
GOOD ADVICE: After what feels like many weeks where I complained about the Sunday Times and its angst with EVs, it’s now great to see them regularly provide helpful advice articles for would-be motorists. This week, they provided a run-down of how to get a chargepoint installed at home courtesy of Smart Home Charge’s Danny Morgan. Nice read.
CAUGHT ZAPPING: I read a rather amusing story last week, it seems a BMW dealership in Kent has been ‘hogging’ two free PodPoint chargepoints to keep its display cars topped up during the week. The result of this has meant other motorists at the shopping park, where the chargepoints are situated, have been unable to ‘get a look in’. The story has come about from a TikTok video taken by a worker who is based next to the chargers. I find this story quite amusing although it does show that if you give people an inch, they will literally take miles from you. In response, the dealership told KentOnline they had “no comment at this time”. Read more.
HACKED CHARGE: A team from the University of Texas Cyber Center recently tested 16 different types of EV charging stations. What they found were 13 severe vulnerabilities. The types of attacks that could occur based on their analysis could be split into three areas: an attack on the station, an attack against the user, and an against the power grid. All three are very serious and can be potentially very lucrative for hackers – particularly as increasingly our bank accounts and user data may become linked with our cars. The team have put forward several suggestions to counter the vulnerabilities in the US, but I very much hope we’re having the same conversations here. Read more.
SONIC SPEED: A company called Voltempo has launched what’s being promoted as the world’s fastest charging station. The new station delivers ‘HyperCharging’ and can max out at 1,000kW of power. That’s an outrageous speed that surely requires huge cooling units and expense, but it could well be where other rapid chargers will go. At the moment – and I’m happy to be corrected – I think only Rimac’s Nevera can accept the dizzy heights of 500kW of charge. Most new EVs can only accept between 100-150kW into the battery. Read more.
By Tom Riley