The following excerpts (edited for brevity) are from a colleague of mine, James Allen. He recently had the pleasure(?) of taking an electric vehicle for a road trip. This is real-world EV experience…
‘It quickly became apparent that charging the [BMW i3] wasn’t as straightforward as we had naively expected when we picked it up.
‘We had already worked out that charging it at home was impossible. With no driveway, the cable provided was nowhere near long enough to reach the street. And it also didn’t work when plugged into a normal domestic extension cable.
‘And now, driving first through and then out of London, we were discovering that charging the car on the go was far from straightforward, too.
‘Once we did miraculously come across a charging point, the problems continued. Some chargers required the purchase of an extra cable. Others only worked with a registered card. Unlike when you fill a car up with petrol, we were learning that you couldn’t just plug in and use your contactless to pay for the power.
‘So as we drove that Friday night we quickly fell victim to “range anxiety”.
‘And so it was we found ourselves crawling into Fleet, at last, we found a charging point that was both available and able to take a debit card.
‘In fact, that first charge at Fleet connected it to a rapid 50kw CCS Combo EV Charger, which took about 45mins for the battery to hit about 80% of capacity.
‘Since then we have encountered a range of other issues trying to charge the car…
‘…such as not being able to access a street-side charger because someone’s parked in an electric vehicle bay, despite not actually using the charge point.
‘Or parking alongside a charging point that, we find, is actually only reserved for e-taxis, not cars.
‘Or still not having the right cable to fit into the charger… or, despite registering with a handful of charging companies, the right card.
‘Or the charging company’s mobile app suggesting the charging point is working when it’s not. Or the app simply not working at all.
‘So it’s clear it hasn’t been the easiest transition in moving from a combustion engine vehicle to an EV. The learning curve for new users is steep and painful.
‘But despite all this, one thing stands true. I love the car. I love how it drives. It’s smooth, with punchy acceleration. I love how quiet it is.
‘I hope never to own a petrol or diesel vehicle again.’
Today, that’s what using an EV in the real world is like. It’s a little stressful, a little anxiety-inducing, a little bit harder than having a car you can fill with petrol or diesel.
But as James notes, these are fantastic cars in general. And eventually we will all be driving around in them. Maybe not as soon as people think though.
The fact is however they are great cars. I’ve been in an i3 before, and they are like no other car I’ve been in. Tesla as well, magnificent cars from a technology perspective. And I was one of the first people in the UK to see, touch and feel the Jaguar iPace in all its final glory — also a fine look at our future of cars.
However there’s a problem with all of them. And it’s got nothing really to do with the cars themselves (almost). The problem with EV ownership first and foremost is the charging infrastructure.
The company that’s going to change the EV industry
How many times have you forgot to put the bins out on bin night? How many times have you left the house without your wallet? Or how many times have you forgot to plug your phone in overnight?
We all know what that’s like. You wake up the next morning grab the phone, head off and then that first look at the battery percentage tells the horror story. You’ve got all day to make it with just 20% of battery left.
You end up in ‘Ultra Power Saving Mode’ or a variation of. You can accept calls, and make them, but nothing else. No internet, no games, no background apps, no Google Maps. The screen goes to its maximum darkness and every other function goes ‘dark’.
So how do you reckon you’ll go when you go to jump in the EV on a cold winter morning for the commute into work to find you’ve forgot to put the car on charge? You look at the battery range to find it’s about 10% left. Just enough to get you to work, not enough to get home.
Then what? Well the smart thing to conserve power would be to turn off auxiliary functions, like the heater, the radio, the navigation and screens. Set things into ‘dark’ mode. It also doesn’t help that batteries are a little less efficient in the cold as well.
Now you could plug the car into the charger at work. Except there isn’t one. There’s chargers on the street a couple of kilometres into town, but there’s only three and you can’t park at them all day.
The fact is, you’re screwed.
You see using an EV today might be a bit of a pain in the backside, but that’s set to change very quickly. And there’s a car company that’s going to change the EV industry for the better. Ironically it’s the one that made the existing car industry worse that’s going to change things most radically.
By the way it’s not Tesla. In fact the company that’s going to change the EV industry could crush Tesla Inc [NASDAQ:TSLA]. If the EV market develops as I expect then I continue to hold the view that owning Tesla stock is the worst investment in the auto industry you could possibly make.
And the company that I believe will crush Tesla is Volkswagen [DE:VOW]. The Volkswagen Group has control over the production of car brands including Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Bentley Bugatti, Lamborghini, Ducati and Porsche.
After the VW ‘dieselgate’ scandal they were forced into a penalty of around US$2.8 billion. But they also committed to spending around US$18 billion in rectifying emissions problems. One of the by-products of this is an organisation (100% owned by Volkswagen) called Electrify America that started in 2016.
Electrify America is spending US$2 billion on charging infrastructure in the US. By the middle of this year they plan to have 3,000 charging stations online in the US.
And VW are now also about to release a car that could be the start of a wave of VW Group EVs that will smash Tesla to bits.
Changing the EV game in four minutes
The Porsche Taycan is an EV aimed directly at Tesla’s Model S and Model X buyers. The Taycan will have a range of around 250 miles, it will be a Porsche, and it will be around $90,000 at its entry variant.
But the real kicker is the charging. You see Porsche says the Taycan will be able to add around 60 miles (96.5km) of charge to its battery in just four minutes. That’s because it has the capacity to absorb charging rates as much as three times higher than Teslas.
Also Porsche (read: Volkswagen) will let owners of the Taycan charge for free at Electrify America charging points for three years and at Porsche dealers that will have their own form of ‘superchargers’ ready for use.
Now think about that — forget to charge the Porsche overnight? No drama. Give it four minutes and bang on another 60 miles in the blink of an eye. All of a sudden, charging an EV is closer to the time it takes to pump a tank of petrol in a car with a combustion engine.
Of course this is a Porsche and not everyone can afford a Porsche. But remember, this really is the Volkswagen Group. A company that sold around 10.7 million new vehicles across its brands in 2017. This is a company that know how to make cars and sell a lot of them.
Like with the Taycan, demand has been far more than expected. So instead of initially planning to make 20,000 Taycans, Porsche has doubled that to 40,000 and they’ll do it, with ease. No delays, no missed targets, no setting up a ramshackle tent made from spare parts in the parking lot…
The Taycan, Porsche, Volkswagen and the wider VW Group are going to come to dominate the EV market. And BMW, Daimler-Benz and the other big German carmakers should be giving Tesla nightmares.
The EV game is set to change and it’s the founders of ‘dieselgate’ that are going to get it done.
In our view not only does that make VW stock far more exciting than Tesla’s, it makes VW perhaps one of the most undervalued car companies in the world right now.
Editor, Secret Crypto Network-
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