The EV Musings Newsletter — Issue #26 — Free Rapid Chargers, fake EV articles, Uneducated Porsche Taycan driver.
This week saw the release of the long-awaited Charge Point Operator episode.
I’ve been wanting to speak to Charge Point Operators (CPOs) for a long time. Whenever the discussion turns to charging infrastructure there is always a chorus of people (myself often included) screaming ‘Why don’t they put more chargers in each location?’, ‘Why do they have stupid tariffs that vary from free to almost 70p/ kWh?’ ‘Why are so many chargers not working at any given time?’
There are numerous issues that we have as EV users when it comes to the charging infrastructure. But I found it hard to believe that the CPOs don’t realise these problems exist.
So I got a couple of them together and asked them.
Tom Callow from bp Chargemaster and Ian Johnston from Osprey Charging took time out to answer some fairly pointed question along the lines of the ones I’ve just mentioned.
The answers are very illuminating.
This Week’s Podcast.
On the show today we’ll be talking to charge point operators about the charging networks in the UK. We’ll be asking them about their various tariffs, their charger location strategy and what the SLAs are for fixing broken chargers. Also how many kWhs of energy do you think bp Chargemaster deliver in a year? The answer will shock you. A fascinating discussion with Ian Johnston of Osprey Charging and Tom Callow from bp Chargemaster.
Top Five EV/ Renewable Stories.
Bad reporting? Bad luck? Or just bad education?
The article linked below about a couple who own a Porsche Taycan and took 9 hours to travel 130 miles has gone viral on Twitter. Having read the article I am struck by the similarity to quite a lot of ‘EVs won’t work’ articles put forward by the mainstream media. As we pointed out in the episode we did on EVs in the Mainstream Media there are usually some commonalities between all these stories. Generally they start with comments along the lines of ‘We didn’t start out with a full battery’. Then there are mentions of ‘Chargers not working’, or ‘We couldn’t initiate the charge because we didn’t have the right RFID fob or account’. This article ticks most of the boxes when it comes to that. But what is more interesting in this article is that this is not some journalist who borrowed an EV for a couple of days to see how things worked. This was someone who had actually gone out and spent, literally, £80,000 on a vehicle but did not seem to have had the education needed to use it appropriately. For a start they talk about turning up at chargers and these chargers not working. Then they talk about having to wait for a 7kW charge. Then they mention not being able to use Tesla Superchargers. These are rookie mistakes caused by lack of education.
Any EV driver with a modicum of research will realise that — at this stage in the EV adoption curve — the need to inform yourself about the charging needs/ capabilities and availability for a long trip is paramount. Sure, they were unlucky in finding several chargers that weren’t working. But a quick look on Zap Map or Plugshare would have told them that in advance and allowed them to continue.
So this raises the question of how did this happen. Were the Taycan drivers poorly educated? (yes) But by whom? Should Porsche have told them details like this when they delivered the vehicle? Should they have done independent research prior to ordering one? Did the reporting of this story highlight bad points and bias the story a certain way? The answer to all these questions is probably ‘yes’.
EV ownership is still in the early adopter phase. Even though numbers are increasing we are not at the stage where any old member of the public can pick one up and drive it long distance with no knowledge or prep work.
That’s where this trip failed.
Free Chargers for your town? Yup.
I came across this video from friend of the podcast Andrew Till recently. In it he points out something that is not widely known about some charge point operators: They will install rapid chargers in your town for free. Osprey Charging and Instavolt are quite happy to work with landlords anywhere in the country to put together a charger offering. If you are a landlord (or know someone who is a landlord) of a location that would suit a charger, give them a call.
EVMANUK — another EV Vlogger — did exactly that for Skipton Council in Yorkshire. He put them in contact with Osprey Charging who installed a charger in a local council car park. That charger — and the installation — was paid for by Osprey who also pay Skipton Council a share of the profit on the charging itself.
With offerings like this there really is no excuse for people to say ‘We don’t have enough chargers in our area’. Remember — as per both Ian Johnston and Tom Callow in this week’s podcast episode — they are a landlord led operation. They cannot just install chargers wherever they want. They need agreements and contracts with landlords to be able to locate their chargers. The fact they can compensate the landlords at the same time is a bonus.
Fossil Fuel Interests Downplaying EV Benefits? No Way!
An interesting development late this week involving a study ‘proving’ that fossil fuel cars are less carbon intensive than EVs until EVs have done 48,000 miles.
The study — released by a company called Clarendon Communications — uses life cycle analysis figures released by Polestar for their EV and compares it against laboratory-tested tailpipe emissions for fossil fuel vehicles. So, to clarify, the TOTAL CO2 impact for an EV is compared against the tailpipe only impact from a fossil fuel car — as measured in a lab, not real world. Not the total CO2 impact of building the car, mining or drilling for the fossil fuel, refining it and transporting it to the petrol station.
Better people than I have debunked the figures.
But where this story gets interesting is that the report was backed by Aston Martin and Bosch. Aston Martin, remember, stopped development of electric cars in January of this year. So it was quite surprising to learn that Clarendon Communications has a very small footprint on the internet and listed on its website only two clients — Aston Martin and Bosch. What’s more interesting is that the Companies House register entry for Clarendon lists one director. That director is listed as sharing a surname and a residential address with Aston Martin’s head of corporate affairs.
So the head of Aston Martin’s Corporate Affairs is married to a woman who is the director of a company that produced a poorly sourced study accusing EVs of being less environmentally friendly than fossil fuel cars after Aston Martin stopped plans to produce electric cars.
Of course Aston Martin have denied that they had anything to do with this and stated “Aston Martin Lagonda have no formal links with Clarendon Communications, who are contracted to another report contributor to support on Public Affairs and Stakeholder Management.” They do, however, confirm the link between Clarendon and their head of corporate affairs.
But since this report was broken Clarendon have removed the names of both Bosch and Aston Martin as clients from their website.
Make of that what you will.
Can VW really challenge Tesla?
It is widely acknowledged that Tesla is the market leader when it comes to electric vehicles. It manufactures more vehicles, quicker, from more locations than any legacy automobile manufacturer.
But Volkswagen want to get in on that roller-coaster ride.
As one of the world’s largest legacy automobile manufacturers, VW feel that they are in an excellent position to challenge Tesla in the EV world — and challenge them they will.
VW have announced plans to spend around EUR 73 billion on electrification, hybrid powertrains and digital technology over the next five years. This is an attempt to take the fight to Tesla and become the world’s largest EV manufacturer.
VW have a couple of advantages when it comes to this. They are capitalised really well and can rely on support from German banks for funding. They also have many, many, more locations from which they can build their EVS. With the ID range of vehicles they have put in place a platform on which they can build a whole suite of electric cars. They also have a world-wide network of dealerships who can take these cars and sell them to the public.
Will it be enough to overtake Tesla? Only time will tell.
Cadillac going electric? Only if dealers want to.
News was released this week that Cadillac are willing to offer dealers a cash payment to leave the dealer network if they don’t want to be involved in the roll-out of Cadillac EVs.
The payments will be up to $500,000 and will break any contracts Cadillac have with their independent dealers. In essence it’s a way for Cadillac to rid themselves of the dead wood they have in their network — something they’ve been trying to do for a while.
Many Cadillac dealers don’t want to make the move to EVs because — once price parity is reached within the next few years — the profit on Cadillacs will disappear as most of the money is made on servicing and repairs. With EVs costing less to service and having fewer moving parts to break this will, effectively, strip many dealers of their income.
In light of that, half a million dollars to get out of the network might sound like something of a bargain.
A cool EV or renewable thing
EV and renewables advocates talk about second life batteries all the time. These are batteries which are taken from EVs and repurposed for things such as home storage. Ironically there is also another use for them: as vehicle batteries. A company called Muxsan creates ‘add-on’ battery extender packs to increase the range of smaller battery cars. In this case they use batteries salvaged from plug in hybrids which have been scrapped or written off. A typical example could be the Nissan Leaf 24kWh vehicle (with a range of around 80 miles) which can have an extender pack added and increase that to well over 120 miles. James Coates (from James and Kate) got together with Matt Cleevely from Cleevely EVs recently to add an extender pack to a Nissan Leaf.
This isn’t cheap (Muxsan charge between 3990 euros and 5990 euros depending on how big an extender battery you want (8.8kWh or 17.6 kWh)) and they recommend upgrading the on-board charger to enable quicker charging. But for those of you who love your Leaf and want it to go that little bit further this is something worth checking out. The new battery pack is located in the underboot area and will, obviously, decrease your boot space. It adds about 160kilos to the over all weight of the car but it does also have beneficial effects for existing battery life as it mitigates heat transfer in the main pack
Something To Think About.
Hopefully this week’s episode of the podcast has been as interesting for you as an EV driver as it was for me to put together. I think the CPOs are very much misunderstood when it comes to how and why they do the things they do. It’s important to realise that they also want the infrastructure to be as good and ubiquitous as EV drivers do. But, first and foremost, they are a business and need to ensure an ROI in the long term.
The infrastructure will be ready when the 2030 fossil fuel ban comes into effect. Things will progress every day between now and then.