EV owners’ rising energy costs could be saved exciting new tech

11th December 2023
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

Here’s a cheery thought for the end of 2023: 70 per cent of councils have no planned electric charging-point installations next year. Just 4,000 residential chargers were installed last year, but 40 per cent of the UK’s housing stock doesn’t have off-street parking, according to Vauxhall and its brilliant Electric Streets campaign. Ouch.


You might argue that the way we charge cars will change anyway, with batteries increasingly covering longer distances on one charge. Public charging forecourts and networks are rolling out more ultra-rapid chargers, capable to bunging a hundred miles on the battery display in the time it takes to queue for a coffee.

But there’s a crucial problem with public charging; so far, the Government has refused to scrap VAT on public energy. That means that at some charging points, especially the more powerful ones, it can cost drivers 75p per kWh to charge their cars. That’s an equivalent price to filing up with petrol at a motorway service station. I used one at that rate recently to charge a Mercedes EQS SUV and it cost me £90. If I had also already paid the inflated sticker price of an EV (in the case of the EQS SUV, that’s about £120,000), I’d be really quite annoyed, and wonder what the hell everyone was talking about when they rumbled on about lower running costs for electric cars.


The Government has said it won’t bring back any financial incentives to buy an EV, but this is one very useful campaign they should back. There are rumours it’s not legal anyway, because although the energy is being supplied in a public context, there is a private contract between the driver and the delivery of that supply. People with a better grasp of the detail of this argument are currently launching legal action which may hopefully force a reversal of policy, so stand by. As things stand, once again, those least able to afford the extra cost are the ones bearing the brunt: those with the money to buy a detached house with a driveway benefit from energy costs as low as 6p per kWh, while those renting, living in flats or terraced housing with no access to off-road parking are paying sometimes ten times that unit cost to charge on the public network.

Let’s hope Labour puts it on their to-do list should they get in, alongside their existing pledge to row back on Rishi Sunak’s 2035 cut-off date for the sale off new combustion-engined cars, and make the deadline 2030 again.


In better news, start-up company Allye Energy has been busy developing energy-storage systems using electric-car batteries. Storage capacity for all this electricity we’ll be generating in the future, in order to smooth out the peaks and troughs in the supply and demand, is a huge issue. Giving used car batteries a second life rather than deploying yet more energy to break them down and recycle them is what’s known in technical terms as a win-win. Critically, Allye’s master stroke is to use the entire car battery intact, including cables and the battery management system, rather than breaking it down. According to Jonathan Carrier, Allye’s CEO, the company delivers energy storage that is “two times cheaper and with 60 per cent lower embedded CO2 than comparable systems by repurposing EV batteries”. The energy storage system is made up of serval car batteries in this fashion, and Allye hopes to start series production later next year.

What I like most about this company though is the provenance of its founders: all have come from the car industry, with time spent at Ford, Aston Martin, Arrival, Fiat and McLaren. The prototype engineer even worked on the Bloodhound SSC land-speed record project. That gives me hope: skills and knowledge are transferable from internal combustion engines and headline-grabbing speed record attempts, to projects designed to help save the planet, and our pockets, at the same time. Clever people are clever people: give them a new moonshot and they’ll rush at it. Nowhere is that clearer than in the UK’s impressive automotive engineering industry. We must grant it Government support through the years of transition ahead, for it not only provides employment and GDP, but gives us a front seat at the world’s economic forum.

As I tell my kids: use it or lose it.

Top image courtesy of Getty Images.

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