CES 2022: As I’m sure many of us ended up reading about, last week was the annual CES conference – a place where companies demonstrate their technological achievements. The event this year was certainly not short of the ‘wow’ factor, especially around cars. From a BMW that can change colour – by using the same tech as an Amazon Kindle (see GIF below) – new partnerships between big tech like Google and Amazon with manufacturers – meaning better infotainment systems in cars – and breakthrough battery ranges being announced by Mercedes with its Vision EQXX. It wasn’t just cars though, we also got a glimpse of the growing (and fast-developing) industry around it. From better digital processors, the ability to prove car ownership via NFT certificates, and home chargers that are superfast and smart. The latter is probably the most exciting, especially in the context of the ongoing energy crisis. I think certainly by the end of this year we’ll all be talking a lot more about Vehicle-to-Grid and DC level chargers at home. However, this may come with risks for us in the UK (read my article from last year to learn why).
EV BOOM: Last week the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that over 190,000 battery electric cars were sold in 2021. This accounts for 11.6% of total sales for the year. In comparison, 108,000 were sold in 2020. SMMT said this was an “undeniable bright spot” in the face of a poor year for new car deliveries. These latest stats are in-line with the view that total EV sales will double during 2022. Read more.
ELECTRIC CONCRETE: I have for a long time been an advocate for the opportunities that might come from wireless charging and I was interested to read a story last week that the building materials maker, Holcim, has partnered with Magment. Magment is a start-up that is developing a concrete mix that can be used to wirelessly charge vehicles. It’s thought that, initially, this might be for forklift trucks moving around warehouses etc. but cars are certainly on the agenda as well. Read more.
HONEST REVIEW: A really nice, truthful write-up was published in The Guardian by journalist Ros Coward about her experience with EV ownership on Saturday. It acknowledged the pitfalls of the networks at the moment – rightly observing that range anxiety does not exist, but ‘charger not working’ anxiety does. Also the struggles of living in an urban environment and having to consider charging/navigating lamp post chargers and getting ICEd due to bad council policies. Read more.
VAT REVIEW: The tax office, HMRC, has announced that it’s reviewing the situation where an employee is reimbursed by the employer for the actual cost of electricity used in charging an electric vehicle for business purposes. They are doing this is to determine what evidence can be provided, to allow the employer to claim the related VAT. As long-time readers will recall, VAT remains an area of great complication in the EV space. If you’re a business with EVs or have employees charging on your site for business purposes, you should read the review.
RECYCLING PLANT: Veolia, a waste management company, is planning to build the first large scale battery recycling plant in the UK. The proposed site in Minworth, near Birmingham, is aiming to process 20% of the UK’s end of life EV batteries by 2024. It’s expected by Veolia that there will be 350,000 tonnes of battery waste from old EVs by 2040. Given they are material rich (e.g. cobalt, lithium, nickel), this could be a very valuable business. The new plant will initially discharge and dismantle batteries before the mechanical and chemical separation recycling processes will be completed. The move mirrors what other companies are doing moving into the ‘urban mining’ space. Over in the US, the most well-known EV battery recycling group is Redwood Materials who already have partnerships with Amazon and Ford. Read more.
EV-SPIRACIES: EVs have been a large part of my life for the last year, and I speak to many people each week who just don’t get them. They normally ask me the usual questions about lacking range, high prices, energy usage, charging stations, hydrogen etc. However, I believe to ensure EV’s succeed we cannot mock these arguments or the people making them. It’s disappointing sometimes that one of the industry’s most well-known voices, Robert Llewellyn, seems to get his tone wrong in interviews (like recently on LBC). I mention this as a few days ago Matthew Lynn, a Telegraph financial columnist amongst other things, received some 2,000 comments on an article he wrote about EVs. The column highlighted how, with all the money pouring into the sector, there will inevitably going to be some bust-ups and lost dollars, but we’ll be left with new innovation and better consumer choices. Good things. Whereas the Telegraph commenters, a barometer for middle England, ridiculed such suggestions for the reasons above. What this shows to me is, this year particularly, those of us already embracing EVs perhaps should take a turn to listen to concerns rather than to get emotionally charged. This will be especially important this year as, dare I say it, a Conservative leadership election can’t be ruled out. Who knows how a Boris replacement might be persuaded on clean transport by thousands of loud voices? Clean air initiatives are certainly already causing problems for local politicians, such as Manchester’s Andy Burnham.
An example comment from the Telegraph column