Good morning and welcome back to The Fast Charge, the electric motoring newsletter.
Today is a normal newsletter. My expected report on the UK’s ultra-rapid charging network - which was due to be in this morning’s email - sadly has to be delayed. Just a case of dotting all the T’s and crossing all the I’s with those featured.
Elsewhere, a scratched Tesla, the Prince of Speed and Italian tunes all feature in the news.
Do drop me an email at email@example.com if you have any feedback, questions or comments.
In the news…
PEACE DISTURBED: I’d heard of people attacking electric vehicles in America, but last week I was shocked to see a Tesla on a walk that had been vandalised. Someone scratched into its bonnet the ‘peace’ sign. Presumably, they were mocking its green credentials. At least, I assume it wasn’t done by the owner given it was a brand spanking new Model 3 (with the special green license plate). I’d expect such behaviour in a rough part of London, but this Tesla is parked in Hammersmith just 50 meters from the River Cafe. Mad! What’s the world coming to?
ITALIAN SEND OFF: The problem with gimmicks is they’re either absolutely hilarious or seriously daft. In any case, they often wear off quickly. This should make them a huge risk for manufacturers but, then again, who wants a product that’s dull? Much like how Tesla has led the way with in-car easter eggs, Fiat has installed its own into the new 500 Electric Action. Whenever you start the car, up to 12mph the vehicle will play Italian music - Amarcord by Nino Rota - both to people inside and outside the vehicle. That’s instead of the silent whirr you normally get with an EV. It’s brilliant! What makes it even more hilarious is thinking of all the situations when it would be deeply inappropriate, like following a funeral procession or getting stuck in city traffic. The video below shows off the feature (be warned, it’s in Italian).
VW CHARGE: New data coming out this week will say that Volkswagen has already screamed past Tesla to become the number one EV maker in Europe. Schmidt Automotive Research found that VW has sold double the amount of EVs as its California competitor. This is in large part thanks to the ID.3 and incoming ID.4. VW also has a lot better infrastructure in Europe than Tesla. Perhaps Musk’s outfit will become more fringe as manufacturers warm up their factories to batteries. Read more.
PRINCE OF SPEED: The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, who is currently touring Scotland, visited the Knockhill Racing Circuit (near Dunfermline) over the weekend and had a go in an Extreme E pure-electric off-road racing car. The vehicle in question was the Odyssey 21 which has 550bhp. He seemed to have a right laugh bombing around the track. Apparently afterwards he said he wanted a job working in the sport. Watch here.
POWERFUL INCENTIVE: As the number of EVs on the roads is set to increase tenfold over the coming years, power distribution networks are figuring out the best way to manage the extra demand. At the moment, a lot of EV owners tend to plug in their vehicles between 5pm and 9pm, according to the UK Power Networks group, and this can put a heavy toll on electricity demand. Their plan is to offer an incentive to people to charge later in the evening and during the middle of the night - when demand is lower. The trial will begin with 25,000 motorists who will be offered financial incentives to switch. This might include being offered discount rates or smarter chargers.
RICH LIST: The Sunday Times Rich List was published at the weekend. It’s full of many usual names, however, one who got quite the spread including an interview was Denis Sverdlov, the founder of EV firm Arrival. He’s now worth over £6 billion despite his company not making a single production vehicle yet. The interview with Denis tries to delve into why Arrival has such a large valuation. He makes a good case, explaining the power of the micro-factories and pre-orders the company has from businesses such as UPS. However, it’s still pretty wild. Read it here.
YORKSHIRE SHOPPING: Asda has partnered with the charging company Engie to install 50kWh+ EV chargers at 19 Asda locations in West Yorkshire. They should be free and available 24/7. Asda isn’t the first supermarket to do this, Tesco’s partnership with PodPoint and Volkswagen has been hugely popular giving out their 500,000 free charge last month. Read more.
EV LOUNGE: Charging times are getting faster every day, but even the top-spec EVs at the moment will still require you to loiter somewhere for around 15 minutes while you top-up. That’s why an increasing number of companies are trying to reimagine the service station. We’ve already seen the example from Gridserve, who established the UK’s first sole EV charging forecourt earlier this year at Braintree. It includes a lounge, kid’s zone, Post Office, food and drink establishments, meeting rooms and even a gym. Well, it seems others have caught on. Audi has revealed that they’re looking at making their own forecourt to make the charging experience more ‘premium’. It will include lounge areas, restaurants and other amenities for the typical Audi buyer - perhaps some flat mirrors. Elsewhere in the world, a company in LA has had a similar idea too. However, they want to make their forecourt a drive-in cinema. Gone are the days of dirty tiled floors and Burger King!
FAST CHARGE: Ofgem has revealed that it will be making a £300m investment to help triple the number of ultra-rapid EV charging points across the country. The new funding will support the infrastructure needed to create 1,800 new charging points at motorway service areas as well as 1,750 in towns and cities. This is a huge amount of money that will hopefully help ease people’s range anxiety. Read more.
By Tom Riley