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Fully Charged Live 2019

by Kevin Mak | Jun 12, 2019

Last weekend, I attended the second year of the Fully Charged Live show.  If you are not familiar with Fully Charged, it’s a series of light-hearted YouTube videos and podcasts hosted by Robert Llewellyn, a former actor in the UK 1990s television sitcom series, Red Dwarf.  He has been joined by Jonny Smith, the former presenter of Fifth Gear, which was the rival to the BBC’s Top Gear show, and Dr. Helen Czerski, oceanographer and research fellow at University College London.  Fully Charged looks at electric vehicles, how they can be charged with renewable energy, and development of new technologies that can support the EV market and new concepts in mobility.

Robert Llewellyn

Robert Llewellyn, Fully Charged (left) and Ben Anstey, Rivian (right) – Source: Fully Charged

Unlike the trade events I have attended, the Fully Charged Live show attracts more consumers.  The Silverstone pit lane and paddock “Wing” venue displayed a number of exhibits from electric vehicle manufacturers, energy providers for electric vehicle charging, home charging module vendors and specialist modifiers of classic cars to run on electric drivetrains.  Patreons to Fully Charged can pre-book test drives on various EVs, such as the BMW i3, Kia Niro Electric, as well as race against the clock on a test track in a Jaguar I-Pace.  The Peugeot e208 made its UK debut there.

The show also hosted a series of discussions with key influencers in electrification and renewable energy, covering such topics as buying and renting electric vehicles, retrofitting homes to generate renewable energy, the potential energy market in vehicle-to-grid charging, the threat of particulate pollution from brake and tyre wear, battery recycling, as well as the market potential of hydrogen, nuclear fusion, tidal and wave energy.

The show has demonstrated a number of standout facts that are emerging from automotive electrification:

Despite the current concerns over electrification (such as the cost premium) that have resulted in a lower sales level than combustion engine vehicles, consumer interest in electric vehicles is rapidly increasing.  Llewellyn noted how this year’s show has attracted a far greater audience than the first show last year.  While Fully Charged has a fan base of EV-owning “first adopters,” the vast majority of the show’s audience still do not own an EV – but are interested in purchasing or leasing one in the near future.

However, this interest has not evolved into EV sales – yet.  The low penetration in EVs is mainly due to the lack of availability in purchasing and leasing EVs.  There are too few models to choose from, although the coming Frankfurt Motor Show should address this with the launch of the affordable Volkswagen ID 3 and more premium brands offering high performance models, such as the Porsche Taycan, to challenge Tesla.  Furthermore, it is expected that with increasing economies of scale, such as from the ambitious EV plans by Volkswagen and that battery pack cost will soon be below the $100/kWh mark, that there will be greater affordability from future EV models and that cost parity with combustion engine equivalents will soon be approaching.

Battery cell production and the availability of battery materials is the key “bottle neck” affecting the availability of EVs.  While there are plentiful reserves of lithium to support the growing EV market, battery cell production is struggling to keep up.  The Tesla Gigafactory is one reason why many Model 3 deliveries (including my colleague’s car) were delayed.  Supplies to European car makers will soon come from new battery gigafactories, such as the CATL plant being built in Erfurt, Germany with an annual production capacity that’s three-times the size of Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

Many EV leasing companies were present at the show.  They argue that range anxiety is mostly a myth and that EV leases are being used to fulfil a gap in the market, such as the second car in the household for commuting and the long range premium EV for holiday rental.  Many company cars are already EVs in order to lower many companies’ tax liability.

Used EVs, while having a diminished battery capacity, are even experiencing increased residual values because demand is exceeding limited supply.  For example, there are no used mark 1 (B12G) Nissan Leafs with 24 kWh packs and less than 100 miles driving range available for sale in the UK at less than £10,000.  Some examples have even seen residual values increase by £2,000 over the previous year. 

Many consumers looking to own EVs are also concerned about other environmental issues, as the show also had discussions over the environmental impact over eating meat and the use of plastic.  There are concerns by British consumers over the cost of home installation of solar panels, following the loss of the feed-in tariff paid to consumers who generate renewable energy to feed into the national grid and the future imposition of sales tax on solar panels.  However, renewable energy vendors report that demand has not fallen because of these concerns and that many consumers are keen to use their renewable energy to lower the cost of EV ownership with V2G charging capability (Strategy Analytics customers can read Nuvve Enables V2G Platform For Electric Vehicles for further details).  Examples of home renewable energy charging EVs can be seen from the Fully Charged video when Llewellyn visited Orkney, Scotland.

If I intend to buy an EV, I would wait until the latest generation of EV models enter the market before taking the plunge.  My requirements will be for a compact model at the premium, high performance end of the market –namely, an electric version of what I currently own (BMW 120i) would be perfect, such as the Mercedes-Benz EQA.  A long driving range (300 miles) is a requirement, as I am getting used to the four hour drives to the north east of England for a rugby weekend away trip.  But I do not like the single touchscreen acting as both the instrument cluster and central information display on the Tesla Model 3 (Strategy Analytics customers can read User Experience Evaluation: Tesla Model 3 for further details).  While Tesla has conquered sales from rival premium brands, other brands are expected to launch their own EV models to win back customers and that the choice of EVs will be determined by many factors, not just the powertrain and cost.

Mercedes-Benz EQA

Mercedes-Benz EQA Concept – Source: Daimler

Another requirement of mine will be V2G charging, which, I hope the car maker and the dealer can coordinate – this will effectively lower my running costs and make EV ownership more affordable.  Ideal additions would also include the installation of solar panels at my house, as Tesla is currently offering, and the offer of more convenient wireless charging systems, which has been helped by the emergence of a unified technology provider, WiTricity (Strategy Analytics customers can read WiTricity Acquires HALO From Qualcomm: Becomes One-Stop Shop For Electric Vehicle Wireless Charging for further details). 

Kevin Mak is a Principal Analyst in the Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics, covering the Powertrain, Body, Chassis and Safety service.

The Strategy Analytics In-Vehicle User Experience service has carried out user experience surveys on electric vehicle ownership in China (User Experience of Pure EVs in China) and the mature markets of the UK and US (UX of Pure EVs: Can Incentives Overcome Pain Points?)  In a recent report, Interest in BEVs is Small but Mighty, consumers surveyed in China, Europe and the US showed considerable interest in EVs.  But such interest was mostly confined to mandated market regions, younger age groups, premium brands and technology “early adopters.”

Strategy Analytics also publishes the Hybrid Technologies Legislation/Support database twice a year and the OEM Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Strategies report every year, including the 2018 edition, OEM Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Strategies: Chinese and European Battery Gigafactories Will Meet Growing EV Demand.

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