New dawn for off-peak public charging
The latest news from the world of EVs
Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a weekly British EV newsletter.
Today’s edition is a bit snappier than usual but next week’s edition is shaping up to be a monster, so swings and roundabouts. Stories below include… off-peak lamppost charging, a grant update, plus a short summary of the Autumn Statement.
If you ever have any thoughts or feedback, my contact details are below, or simply reply to this email.
New taxes for EV switchers
Last week the government delivered a sobering fiscal statement about the UK’s economy and, for the EV sector, there were several items of note.
Up first, Chancellor Hunt announced that EVs would face vehicle excise duty (road tax) from 2025. Up second, it was revealed the UK’s Benefit-in-Kind rate for EVs would increase by 1% annually from 2025 to 2028 – it’s currently 2%. These were both largely expected – albeit, perhaps not BiK – and brought about as the Treasury seeks to prevent a gap in the UK’s finance emerging – as vehicle taxes account for a significant portion.
It’s fair to say the response to these changes haven’t been positive. Carmakers like Nissan, Ford, and Kia said the decision was “at odds with the country's net-zero ambitions.” And the representative bodies too were unhappy. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said it was a “sting in the tail”. The AA believe it will “slow the road to electrification.” And the EV Association for England said “no-one expects to be given a free ride, but to focus tax increases on the cleanest cars is a shock.” New AutoMotive commented “the Chancellor's approach is heavy-handed and risks choking off growth in EV sales.”
However, if I were to steal a line from New AutoMotive’s blog on this subject before the announcement, the changes are “born out of success”. There are now over a million EVs – over half of which are 100% electric – and the horse has well and truly bolted. Likewise, if we’re being fair, many of the early adopters are owned by people the Chancellor (and others) could perhaps reasonably describe as having the ‘broadest shoulders’.
This group has previously done very well from the Treasury too, with many having been able to install chargers at home – and been subsidised for doing so – as well as receiving large grants up to recently for clambering into their EVs.
Admittedly, this won’t be the case forever, as many of the cars early adopters have bought hopefully end up on the used market. In fact, a quick check of Auto Trader reveals a whopping 15,600+ EVs for sale. However, the vast majority of these second-hand cars are still priced over £20,000. This market probably is not being helped by the shortage of cars and due to available EV models being quite high-end.
My own position is that, while ideally these taxes might have phased in from 2030, and therefore it’s essential for all of us to growl at the Chancellor, we need to remember EVs still congest, cause wear and tear, plus continue to receive billions in charging funding. However, now the taxes are set, what we need is clarification on where the government’s promised regulations for public chargers are alongside more details on the ZEV mandate.
In the last week…
COP IN: A day before the Autumn Statement over at COP27, last week the UK signed a renewed Accelerating to Zero pledge. For the UK, the pledge reaffirms its position, and countries signing agree to work together to deliver a Paris-aligned ZEV transition globally - meaning having solely new EV sales target by 2040, and 2035 in leading markets. The declaration has 214 signatories. Read GOV.UK.
OFF-PEAK, ON-STREET: Over a third of motorists are estimated not to have access to a driveway, this potentially cuts millions of would-be (and present) EV drivers from accessing cheaper off-peak electric. It has always been the biggest bug-bear for those without off-street parking… until now. Char.gy, one of the largest lamppost charging networks in the UK (with over 1,200 devices), last week revealed a ‘night saver’ tariff - potentially kicking off a new dawn for similar networks to follow. The result means EV owners hitching up to their lamppost chargers overnight will get 29p per kWh between 00:00 am and 07:00 am. However, the new cost to use Char.gy’s devices outside these times – during the day – will be 65p per kWh. Char.gy CEO, Richard Stobart, said “we recognise the frustrating disparity between charging rates for motorists with driveways and those without. The introduction of our new Night Saver tariff aims to provide a solution by giving all EV motorists access to the most competitive rates.” While a few public charging networks have experimented with off-peak charging before, I expect we’ll see a growing trend towards this as energy efficiency remains a top priority. It will be interesting to hear how it works, especially as some households share lampposts. Read more.
POP POINT: On the topic of EV charging networks, all seems not well with Pod Point. According to an FT report, the listed business has had to issue a profit warning as homeowners are putting off buying home chargers due to delays getting their cars – due to supply issues. As a result, the company expects to make a £7 million loss this year. Read the FT story. Rather interestingly, I was looking at Pod Point’s stock price over the weekend – as it’s one of the few publicly listed charging companies in the world. Since it went public this time last year, the share price has fallen 65%. It did have a resurgence recently, but as one commentator said this may have been due to the company increasing prices at its Tesco chargers. See graph below.
MEGA SPOT: During the Summer, the Energy Superhub in Oxford was opened to much fanfare as the largest charging base in Europe – with the potential for more than 400 devices. However, it could soon have competition, as developers in Scotland are planning to build a huge 800 charger location at a campus in Edinburgh. The speed of the devices isn’t clear, but one suspects they will primarily be trickle chargers. Read more.
GRANT UPDATE: On the above superhub announcement, it’s interesting that yesterday there was a small update to the government grants for building chargepoints at residential car parks - which covers up to 75% of the cost of installing the infrastructure. The GOV.UK update said “the grant can only be used to retro-fit existing properties.” The same also applies to workplace installations. Curtailing new developers.
LOCAL YOKEL: More local EV disagreements last week as the leader of transport at Wandsworth Council – one of the UK’s hot spots for EV adoption – was criticised for saying “the biggest shift I’ve experienced since leading @wandbc Transport Committee is that we have set expectation that we are not here to help the car industry sell more EVs. We are here to reduce use of fossil fuelled private vehicles & enable healthier choices.” This is an interesting position. Not least as the last time I spoke to them the responsibility for EV infrastructure at Wandsworth was being run concurrently with other London Boroughs, including Richmond. Read more.
BEST AREA: Speaking of the most active authorities for EVs, government data analysed by Citroen UK a couple of weeks ago – which still seems to be bumbling around – highlighted the local areas with the highest growth in chargepoints since 2019. See the list here.
COST SAVINGS: The CEO of Ford, Jim Farley, made comments in the past week saying EVs take “40% less labour to make” than their internal combustion equivalents. While his comments are important for Ford staff, they also likely reflect growing worries by unions in the manufacturing sector that the EVs switch will mean job losses. Previously, this has been a concern for staff at many carmakers in Europe. Read more.
GOOD TIMES: Andersen, the premium home charger maker which went into administration recently before being bought by EVIOS, a British based charging company, seems to have a bright future ahead. Their new owner has pledged to invest £1.5 million into product development and enhanced customer service. Great news in difficult times. Read more.
REAL RELIABILITY: Over the past few weeks, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching on the topic of reliability. I have been struck by the number of people reaching out to discuss and share their great industry perspectives - thank you. In the interest of not letting these insights go to waste, next week’s edition is going to contain a lengthy report on whether 99% reliability is achievable. If you have something to add, please do get in touch!
GETTING UPGRADED: On the topic of reliability, a user on the Speak EV forum posted this photo last week at a bp pulse charger in Milton Keynes. It suggests the device has been put into “retirement” after 10 years but, most interestingly, that it will be replaced by “faster and future-proof” chargepoints. Is this the start of a wider trend? Stay tuned for the report next week.
DOWN UNDER: In a totally unconnected segway, it seems our Australian cousins have, as of last week, been blessed by the launch of bp pulse. Their Global CEO, Bernard Looney, flew to Melbourne for the opening of their first EV charging station. They plan to build 600 in total. Read more.
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