EV maker Tesla — which recently became the world’s most valuable car company — has hit another milestone after installing its 2,000th rapid-charging “Supercharger” site worldwide, and it’s network of 18,000th Superchargers.
The news comes in the week after the company installed its 500th Supercharger in the UK and Ireland. The 150kW system, which is currently exclusive to Tesla drivers, can charge a Tesla’s battery to 80% in around 40 minutes. A new “V3 Supercharger” promises 250kW charging and battery warm-up before arrival at a Supercharger site, which could cut charging times in half, the company says.
Tesla now operates its charging network in 41 countries, 29 of which are in Europe. It’s been six years since the UK’s first Supercharger was installed at London’s Royal Victoria docks, during which time Tesla has introduced the UK to the Model X SUV, the Model 3 saloon with the Model Y compact SUV expected next year.
The Model 3 was the bestselling car in the UK in both April and May, although new car registrations as a whole plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Model Y, Tesla’s fourth mass-production car, has begun deliveries in the US and Canada but has not yet hit the roads of the UK. Tesla is buildig a new factory in Germany – Giga Factory Berlin. It is exoected to produce European and UK models of the 3 and Y some time end of next year.
Despite Tesla’s charging network being available exclusively to Tesla drivers, the network has won plaudits since its introduction — an Auto Express survey in April found that it was the best in the country in terms of charging costs, charging speed, ease of use and reliability. With a good number of Superchargers and “destination chargers” — available at hotels, restaurants and other venues — it is also proving convenient.
Unsurprisingly, the first superchargers sprung up in Los Angeles, Tesla’s physical and spiritual home, back in 2013. More were then added across the east and central US, before installations commenced across Scandinavia, central Europe and the UK in 2014 and 2015. There are now 520 supercharger sites across Europe, and Tesla says that over 1.4bn miles have been delivered to its European customers.
Of those 520 sites and 1.4bn miles, 63 sites and more than 170m miles were accounted for by the UK and Ireland. In 2019 alone Superchargers delivered 60 million miles worth of electricity to customers across the UK and Ireland, which Tesla says, in terms befitting its space-obsessed CEO, is enough to get to the International Space Station and back 100,000 times.
Tesla has been improving its coverage across the UK, recently adding more sites across London and Bristol. The country’s 500th Supercharger, installed last week, is located in Colchester, just off the A12. Tesla is now planning on rolling out further units of its V3 units.
The Tesla chargers make up only a small number of the total charging points available in the UK, however. According to the latest figures from Zap Map, there are now more than 18,600 charging points at 11,634 locations.
The numbers of electric vehicles are set to increase. Charging these rising numbers of EVs will have an impact on local electricity networks. Smart charging, as trialled by the original Electric Nation project, will help to move demand away from peak times. However vehicle to grid charging offers a lot more than just smart charging: it offers the ability for potentially millions of EVs to smart charge using renewable energy and act as battery storage facilities, and then put energy back into the grid if needed. This means that rather than EVs being seen as a problem in relation to grid capacity, they can be an important solution to help balance the grid.
If EV owners have solar panels at home then their cars could be charged from the sun, and spare renewable energy could be put back into the grid at peak times, which would mean that the grid uses less fossil fuel generation.
For these reasons, V2G is a great concept, but it hasn’t yet been trialled sufficiently on Britain’s electricity networks to enable it to be rolled out on a country-wide basis – hence the need for this trial.
The Electric Nation Smart Charging project v the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project
The original Electric Nation smart charging project was scoped in 2015/16. Since then the number of plug-in vehicles on UK roads has increased nearly five-fold and will shortly pass 250,000 – and this is at a time when we are also about to see a significant rise in a wide range of low carbon technologies deployed, as the UK moves towards Net Zero.
The aims of the project
- To explore and report on the impact of V2G charging on the low voltage (LV) electricity network, utilising end-user trial charging data and analysis.
- To demonstrate, via modelling, to what extent V2G can assist with management of LV network demand.
- To examine how sophisticated dynamic bi-directional energy services based on vehicle battery storage, from a variety of energy suppliers, may impact the LV infrastructure.
- Provide recommendations of policy and commercial frameworks on V2G services.
Why the project is innovative
This project will study the real-world effects of V2G charging and look to provide a smart solution to provide management. V2G is due to become a common feature on many more vehicles with the announcement that CCS charging protocol is aiming to offer this in 2025 (CHAdeMO charging protocol does this now) along with the UK’s leading work in this field accelerating the business case for many energy suppliers.
A considerable amount of research is being carried out in the area of V2G, however this is generally supplier or charger company-led and does not focus on the likely real-world situation for a DNO should many EV users utilise this technology. In contrast, the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project includes multiple trading stack providers to reflect that when V2G is ‘business as usual’, multiple energy supply strategies will be in play in any given part of the LV network.
The project will operate up to five different energy supplier strategies simultaneously using V2G to imitate a future world in which many streets have a number of EVs charging in this way, operated by different energy suppliers. CrowdCharge would also look to add in smart charging data to the modelling to explore the effect of a mix of V1G and V2G. Further demand management will be trialled across the whole system to explore how much intervention is required to keep within the limitations of the low voltage network.
Scale of the project
The project will engage and recruit between 90-110 participants to install V2G charging and control equipment in domestic properties across WPD’s four licence areas. The chargers will be split into various groups of similar size and assigned to the project’s energy suppliers (up to five). Each supplier will then use their group of chargers to test their various energy services utilising CrowdCharge’s demand management charger platform which provides optimised charging sessions. The effect of these services on the LV network will be modelled and reported on, including using this real-world V2G data in a network assessment tool.
The scale size of 90-110 chargers is large enough to provide a real-world data set of the effect on the LV network and subsequently a more holistic view of the impact of V2G on the LV network in varying locations across WPD’s licence areas. A smaller sample size is unlikely to include a sufficient range of charging/driving habits of the public, thus decreasing the learning potential. As V2G is only suitable for 2-3 vehicle models, the sample size can be smaller than the Electric Nation smart charging trial from a technical standpoint.
The project will take place across the whole of WPD’s four licence areas (West Midlands, East Midlands, South West and South Wales).
V2G is fundamentally different in nature to smart charging because energy can be cycled, whereas smart charging is limited to the amount of energy consumed by the EV, i.e. around 7-10KWh for a typical 28 mile a day vehicle. A vehicle charged with V2G could cycle up to 84KWh of energy in and out of the vehicle in more complex patterns trying to react to signals from the market actors. The strategies for using these services could vary significantly but also coincide, leading to unexpected peaks that could be more difficult to forecast. With the export feature this could lead to high voltage events should a national call for more energy coincide with low local load.
Electric Nation has shown that time of use tariffs may shift the evening peak and create a new peak later in the evening, leading to a need for management. Also, this would make it difficult to separate the shift in demand due to tariff or the call for Distribution Systems Operator (DSO) service – the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project will test a more integrated approach.
Also, when looking at the proposed services these are fairly simplistic, and they mirror how National Grid calls for flexibility – at the ends of the network with low diversity this approach is not likely to provide a complete solution. The Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project will look to test alternative approaches with the DSO taking control only when energy supplier trading encroaches safe limits for the network.
The business case for the project
As electric vehicle numbers increase (by 2030 it is estimated that around 25% of households will have a plug-in vehicle) it is anticipated that around 5,601 substations will be running at between 100-110% capacity by 2030 at a potential reinforcement cost of around £84 million.
To maintain safe network limits, it is expected that 20% of the EV chargers would be contracted by the DSO to provide V2G balancing. This would cost £3.8 million per year, instead of an £84 million one-off reinforcement investment.
Forecasting precise impacts presents a challenge with so many changing parameters (e.g. varying uptake of EVs, domestic batteries, heat pumps, solar PV). The CrowdCharge smart service has many potential advantages:
- It offers huge flexibility. Compared to traditional reinforcement, it can be activated at shorter notice – and can be targeted very precisely. The number of chargers under control can be increased (or reduced) depending on how demand patterns evolve for each part of the network
- It will help to defer (or in some cases avoid entirely) significant amounts of reinforcement
- The solution can respond to new technology, for example can equally be applied via the same platform to utilise static domestic batteries, should they offer equivalent capacity by 2030
- The platform data will provide a broader insight to network activity, informing other network activities (for example it may support voltage monitoring)
- The £84 million estimate for traditional reinforcement assumes a planned replacement, however due to the highly distributed and unpredictable nature of EV growth (alongside equally unpredictable LCT uptake) it may require a significant percentage of emergency reinforcement as limits are breached earlier than forecasted, and therefore costs could rise significantly. In addition, emergency repairs cause greater customer impacts.
Learn more abour V2G project
What is the duration of the project?
The project started in January 2020 and will conclude in July 2022, with a one year customer trial period starting in March 2021 until March 2022.
Recruitment starts June 2020, and charger installations will start from Autumn 2020.
Who is this aimed at?
Simple if you…
- Drive a Nissan EV with a battery capacity of 30kWh or more
- Live in the Midlands, South West or South Wales
then you could be eligible to trial a domestic Vehicle to Grid (V2G) smart EV charger worth £5,500.
By plugging in at specified times and putting energy back into the grid you could be rewarded, and the charger can be kept at the end of the trial for just £250.
Lear more or enrol at Electric Nation V2G site:
New company – Uniti Sweden AB – is developing an all-new electric three-seater Uniti One. Production was expected to begin in 2020 in a “pilot production plant” at Silverstone Park. Covid has reduced the production plans to a crawl.
The site is expected to serve as a template for franchise production model, with many production sites in various countries. Uniti spreads a vision of 50,000 units produced annually in the future.
The British-engineered compact EV was supposed arrive in Sweden and the UK first in mid-2020, with a choice of battery capacities and prices starting from £15,100 including government grant.
The entry-grade, 12kWh Uniti One will be capable of 93 miles between charges, while the optional 24kWh battery pack iextends that range to 186 miles. The larger battery can be charged from 20% to 80% in seventeen minutes on a 50kW CCS charger, while the 12kWh model takes just nine.
A 67bhp electric motor drives the rear wheels only, reaching 31mph in a claimed 4.1 seconds and 62mph in 9.9. Top speed is 75mph, with separate City and Boost drive modes to alternate between efficiency and sharpened response.
The three-seat EV, which weighs as little as 600kg, has a central driving position and room for two rear passengers. The steering wheel is flanked by two touchscreens, which are powered by Google’s Android Automotive software, and control the majority of the car’s functions. Drive, Neutral and Reverse gears are selected with individual buttons mounted on the dashboard. There is no key: the car is locked and started using a secure smartphone app.
An electrochromic sunroof, which can be adjusted from transparent to fully opaque, comes as standard, and automatically darkens when parked to keep the cabin cool. Other equipment includes rear LED lighting and LED daytime running lights, with full LED headlights an option.
The One has 155 litres of luggage space, which can be extended to 760 litres when the rear seats are folded flat.
The car can be ordered in a choice of Scandium, Graphite and Titanium colours.
Uniti aims to supply each market from within that market, using automated production centres and digital twinning technology supplied by Siemens. This would allow assembly line schematics to be shared anywhere in the world, to set up plants with enough capacity to fulfil the production demand of a particular market. The entire production line would be automated, with staff mainly focused on quality control at the end of the process. The proposed system would provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional manufacturing process, which relies heavily on transportation networks to distribute cars from a single central production facility.
While originally conceived as a quadricycle, the One is now classed as an M1 passenger car, and must pass safety tests. The company is working with Millbrook proving ground on virtual crash testing, in an effort to further reduce environmental impact. Currently there are several tests that can’t be simulated, and legislation would need to be changed before they could replace traditional crash tests.
Following the UK’s example, future proposed sites include Mexico, Australia, the US, India, Dubai and Georgia. Each will be operated on a franchise model.
The autonomous-capable car has been made with lightness as a priority. Horne explained that the One’s design is centred on maximising battery performance.
The company began taking €149 deposits last year, with 3000 orders placed ahead of the car’s official debut. One of those 3,000 deposits is from us.
The first customers will be offered the chance to take part in a beta testing scheme, in which they run the car and provide feedback to finalise its development.
The One is focused on the second family car market and is designed for the daily commute. Its small dimensions make it suited to city driving, while having more interior space than today’s city cars. The second Uniti model, already in the early planning stages, is proposed as a 2+2 car, with a high number of parts interchangeable with the One.
Uniti’s home market of Sweden and surrounding Nordic countries have been among the world’s quickest to adopt electric cars. Norway was the first to pledge a ban on petrol and diesel cars with the intention of having only electric vehicles on sale from 2025.
Uniti One target specifications:
- 149 miles of range
- top speed: 81 mph
- Rear wheel drive, Dual motors output of 120 kW
- 26 kWh battery pack, DC fast charging
- 25 min from 20-80% on standard charge
- 450 kg of curb weight, 900 kg gross weight
The car reminds us a little of the Commuter Cars – Tango EV from our past. See the Tango below with Mt Clooney:
With a growing number of EVs on the UK roads, the revolution of the private transportation sector is undeniable. Electric cars are here, and at their forefront are tech-focused, always-connected vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, an EV that ranked among the UK’s most popular new cars in 2019.
With this in mind, it’s essential that an always-connected and purpose-built insurance policy, specifically designed to cover these cars, exists. This is where UK-based insurance provider By Miles comes into the picture.
By Miles offers a unique, custom policy model for lower mileage EV drivers in the UK. The company has launched the world’s first connected car insurance policy which takes information about the distance driven directly from your Tesla or LEAF or i3 etc to work out how much premium to charge.
The policy by Miles needs to know your miles driven. Either this can be read from your car’s on-line account if you drive a Tesla or they send you a dongle to plugi nto the dashboard.
The company’s concept is simple: owners are charged by the mile, regardless of how they drive their vehicles.
Tesla owners that drive under 7,000 miles a year could end up paying significantly less with a By Miles custom-built Tesla policy, compared to a more traditional car insurance policy. Other EV drivers can still benefit from the EV per mile policy using the supplied dongle.
New car sales fell in April to the lowest number since WWII.
Last April 160,000 cars were sold, this April 4,321 cars sold.
And the best selling car was the Tesla Model 3 with 658 new customers. The second best selling car was the all electric Jaguar iPace with 367 units sold and the Nissan LEAF 7th with 72 sales.
The Tesla and Jag EVs sold more that the rest of the top 10 with 1,025 sales compared to all the rest with 900.
Dismal sales for all companies – especially the high volume brands VW, Ford, Toyota with virtually zero cars sold.
See this graph of last three years month sales. Full data on SMMT website. April 2020 is so small that you can hardly see it.
While car sales sink van sales are holding up much better. In April Mercedes shifted 814 new Sprinters, the best selling van of the 2,588 sold.
Interestingly at number 7 in the top 10 list is the all electric Nissan NV200 with 131 units. So Nissan sold more electric Van than Cars during April.
Don’t expect May to be much better.
UK new car car sales plunged 44pc in March as coronavirus drove away motorists and shut down the industry.
Just 255,000 vehicles were sold in the UK last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – down from 458,000 a year earlier.
Dealers had reported social distancing measures making it hard to sell cars even before the lockdown began on March 23, sending the economy into freefall and causing consumers to rethink major outlays.
Also consumers are still scared of diesels with sales down 62% Y on Y.
The only bright spot in the SMMT list is the pure electric and plug in hybrids with sales increase on 200% and 40% respectively. Together these segments shifted 18,500 units in the month.
Pure-EVs reached their highest ever total, with almost 11,700 registered during the month. The previous record was a little over 7,700, in September 2019.
Plug in Hybrid EVs also set a new record for units registered, though somewhat closer than EV figures. March 2020 saw just over 6,800 sold, whilst the previous record in March 2018 was almost 6,400.
As might be expected with such a large increase on EV units registered, market share for pure-electric models hit a new record too. March 2020’s figure saw 7.3% of all new models registered as plug-in models, and pure-electric market share was 4.6%. Put into perspective, the previous records were 6.3% (Dec 19) and 3.4% (Aug 19) respectively.
March is normally the biggest month for sales as buyers are attracted by the launch of a new registration plate number. Without the plate change the decline would have been even steeper, as many consumers agree deals further in advance than normal. The SMMT data shows it was the worst March in more than 20 years for registrations of new cars, a proxy for sales.
These large increases over February 2020 are expected to a degree, since March is a new-registration month, and the month prior to a new plate being launched is traditionally quiet as buyers wait. However, March 2020 has been stronger than many would have predicted.
Tesla 3 tops best sellers at #9
Although unclear, March looks as though an EV has made the top 10 monthly sales charts, for only the second time. Listed ninth, under ‘Other’ a little over 4,700 units were registered. This is likely to be Tesla’s Model 3, since the manufacturer is not currently a member of the SMMT.
Data from SMMT, Zap Map and Green Car