William and Kate go fully electric for climate event

The latest news from the world of EVs

Hello and welcome back to The Fast Charge, a British EV newsletter. 

In today’s edition… Prince William installs a chargepoint, the Model Y is launched, and Britishvolt eyes a London float.

As ever, if you have any questions or thoughts, please do contact me at tomrileylondon@gmail.com.

In the last week…

Y SO SHOCKED? That’s right, after many months of patiently waiting, last Friday Tesla made the Model Y available for UK buyers. Obviously, without being smug, you would have been ready for this news had you read my email last month. However, whereas I’d previously said that I thought the Y would end up topping all sales charts, now I’m not so sure. I do believe the Model Y will ultimately become one of the most popular EVs in this country. But, given the impending cost of living crisis (and maybe dare I say it recession?), additionally, there is another fact that many potential EV buyers probably have by this point already signed up for Model 3’s or one of the many other high-end EVs to have hit the market over the last year.

Y SO EXPENSIVE? There is another problem with the Model Y. The price. At the moment the cheapest Model Y you can buy is the Long-Range model. It costs £54,990. That’s a lot of money for something aimed at a middle class audience – it is also way off qualifying for a grant. But what really kicks is that Tesla, in true US multinational style, seems to have got to the price level by just taking the dollar sign off and putting on a pound sign – do these people not have currency exchanges, or are we meant to be Dogecoining? The US price for the Long-Range model is $54,990. In the UK, that would be about £40,000! This means UK Model Y customers are paying a £15,000 premium straight to papa Musk. This isn’t first time Tesla (or an American firm) has pulled this ruse. I’d love to know why we keep accepting it as a default.

Y SO UPSET? Speaking of being upset in relation to Tesla. Readers may recall about a month ago when I covered a bit of Model Y gossip in relation to the Tesla Owners UK. According to multiple sources, I was told the official owners club president, Will Fealey, had annoyed Tesla HQ so much by bringing a Model Y over from Germany to Fully Charged Outside – scuppering their own plans – that they were planning to alter their relationship with him as a result. Alas, a day before Tesla opened up sales for its Model Y, a desperate and seemingly out-of-the-loop Fealey resorted to tweeting @ Elon for an answer. Rather ironically, on the Tesla Owners UK website, one of the perks of signing up is having “Your voice heard by Tesla”.

FORD EVs: Good news this week as Ford is to invest £230m in its Halewood plant at Merseyside to make EV parts, helping safeguard 500 jobs. The investment will mean the plant will run for many years longer than expected. There had been speculation about the future of the Halewood factory complex as Ford moves towards EVs. It appears part of the investment will come from the government which Ford explained was part of the decision. Read more.

BMW RETURNS: I can remember when I started this newsletter in January and the Financial Times seemed to be unsure about EVs – they literally made a spreadsheet to watch EV stock prices go down – but now they’ve gone into full reverse, J-turned and are charging up. A long way of saying that yet again this week they’ve pulled together a great in-depth feature looking at BMW’s EV efforts. It starts by explaining how they pioneered the ‘i' series (i3 notably) but that it was too soon. And now, after losing great engineers and designers, they have been put on the back foot. BMW is hoping to change that, though. Not only have they now properly canned the i3, but their flagship iX and i4 vehicles will be available in November. An interesting read.

GIGAFACTORY: Britishvolt, the UK start-up aiming to build a gigafactory in Northumberland, has decided to pick London over its stock market listing rather than New York. The Chairman, Peter Rolton, said “You know what, we’re a British company and our preference would be the London Stock Exchange… It’s the right home for us.” However, he didn’t rule out a US company chewing them up via a SPAC offering. Read more.

ELECTRONICS: The makers of the Apple iPhone, Foxconn, have revealed a trio of prototype electric cars (an SUV, a saloon and a bus). They are not linked to Apple, though seemed to have been produced in partnership with Italian company Pininfarnia as their logo appears on the front wing of the saloon. On the inside, the prototypes carry some huge range. The SUV has about 435 miles whereas the saloon has around 466. And, yes, these could be available in Europe one day. Read more.

ONE DRIVES AN EV: It doesn’t seem long ago that Her Majesty was boasting about driving a hybrid, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have gone fully electric. At the Earthshot Prize ceremony over the weekend – an award launched last year by the Royals to search for ways to tackle the problems facing the planet – William and Kate arrived via an Audi RS e-tron (video below). It’s probably the best looking EV you can buy right now. At the same event, Prince William also revealed that he’d had a chargepoint installed at Kensington Palace. I’m quite interested to know which charger they got – an FOI beckons! Read more.

By Tom Riley