Will the Government have to revise the dates planned for banning ICE cars?

Shutterstock/ALDECA studio

The road map to replacing old fashioned carbon emitting cars with electric vehicles is well developed – at least in theory. All the major car makers (and even some of the smaller ones) are publicly committed to electric.

But actually buying a new electric car? That’s another matter entirely.

Volkswagen, the largest car manufacturer in the world, recently announced it had sold out of electric vehicles in the US and Europe for the rest of 2022. Ford’s E-Transit sold out before it had even started making them.

Even the most basic (lower specification) version of Tesla’s Model 3 vehicle will now not be delivered for over a year, despite the company being capable of the largest production volumes in the world – a recent halt in production in China notwithstanding.

Turn the clock back to 2019, just when the electric vehicle revolution was really getting going in terms of sales figures, and Tesla had stockpiles of cars in the UK they could deliver to customers within days. Now, even though they can produce vastly more vehicles, you will likely wait a long time for delivery of a new one.

For now, then, motorists who aspire to own a brand new electric vehicle will struggle to move forward. So too will those governments who have plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. In Norway for example, a ban is due to come into force in 2025; in the UK, it is 2030.

These targets rely in large part on the usual cycle of vehicle replacement. And for old vehicles to be replaced by new ones, the supply needs to be at a level that can replenish those being scrapped, as well as allowing for some growth in demand.

At the moment, there are simply not enough electric vehicles being made to meet that demand. I am involved in ongoing research looking into how and when various firms are replacing their old internal combustion engine vehicles with electric ones – and one of the major barriers seems to be sourcing them. Government targets for roads full of electric vehicles may soon seem hopelessly unrealistic.

End of the road?

So what has gone wrong? To begin with, in the early days of electric vehicles, manufacturers were playing their cards safe. This was a new and unknown world for them, and it wasn’t clear if other competing technologies (such as hydrogen power) might be more popular with consumers. But batteries won out, and consumer demand – helped along by those plans to ban petrol and diesel – soared.

Current issues have been brought on in part by COVID-19 affecting global supply chains and a shortage of semiconductors, a vital component of modern vehicles.

In spring 2022, Tesla had to close its Shanghai factory for three weeks due to lockdowns in China. Before that, it was producing around 2,000 cars per day for the Asian and European markets, so may have lost production of around 42,000 vehicles.

This equates to around three months’ supply for a market like the UK. And just when it got the factory back open, it had to reduce production due to supply chain issues.

This is because Tesla doesn’t make all the parts to build the cars in the one factory (although it produces more than the industry average), so as the factories that supply Tesla also shut due to lockdowns, the necessary parts do not arrive. CEO Elon Musk has now suggested his company may stop taking orders, telling the Financial Times: “The frustration we’re seeing from customers is being unable to get them a car.”

He added: “We are actually probably going to stop taking orders beyond a certain period of time because some of the timing is a year away.”

Again, it is certainly not just Tesla that is affected. Semiconductor issues are ongoing, and many vehicles are being shipped without features, or parked in fields waiting for parts.

These backlogs will take a long time to clear, and will be a major headache for everyone concerned. Manufacturers and customers will be frustrated, while politicians relying on electric vehicles for the future of transport policy may need to adjust their expectations and demands.

Most importantly, the current situation is a terrible blow for global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and deal with climate change.

Pushing back important targets on road vehicles could be catastrophic for the planet, but we still need vehicles. We may now have to shift towards using fewer cars through more ride-sharing, or look to alternative forms of transport, and even converting older cars to electric. If we don’t, the drive to net-zero could soon be running on empty.The Conversation

Tom Stacey, Senior Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management, Anglia Ruskin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Just Stop Oil: protests will be even more disruptive if they kick off panic buying

The Conversation
No fuel in Southend on Sea

Protesters from the climate activist groups Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion have blocked at least 11 fuel depots across England and disrupted supplies (though it’s always tough to quantify exactly how much disruption there has been).

Petrol stations also experienced delays back in September 2021, partly due to a lack of drivers and resulting panic buying. These two events are caused by two completely different phenomenon on the extremes of supply and demand and go to show just how fragile the modern supply chain is, and how disruption can affect the day to day lives of millions.

Oil is a finite resource that can mostly only be produced at a fixed rate. Governments can and do stockpile reserves to balance seasonal demand spikes and unplanned disruptions such as extreme weather or conflict. However, stockpiling only really helps what we call the “upstream” supply chain, which takes oil from the wells to refineries. What is known as the “downstream” supply chain links the refineries to the pumps, and it is here that the UK’s shortages have occurred.

Petrol companies can only supply at a broadly linear rate, allowing for spikes (or falls) in demand or supply of a few percent. Shortages at the beginning of the 2021 event were within these limits. However, rumours of supply constraints (partly due to a lack of truck drivers to deliver the fuel) and recent memories of food shortages at the start of the pandemic, led to people panic buying. This created queues, which created more hype, leading to more people wanting to fill up before they thought the queues would get worse, and this led to genuine shortages – perhaps an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The driver shortage hasn’t really gone away, yet between late 2021 and mid 2022, there were no more shortages. The queues at the pumps were almost entirely due to human behaviour.

Why is it different now?

This time round, the shortages are again in the downstream supply chain, but are caused by protesters physically blockading refineries, preventing the tankers from replenishing filling stations. Refined petrol and diesel are still transported to fuel stations via lorries, so if you block the lorries leaving, the fuel won’t be delivered.

So the causes are very different, but the current protests may yet led to a similar demand-led shortages if panic buying ensues.

A better parallel might be the events of September 2000 when fuel price protesters blocked refineries, leading to fuel running out for a number of weeks. Blocking deliveries for even a few days will often cause up to two weeks shortages if they lead to panic buying – which leaves a situation where lower than normal filling station tanks need even more replenishing, and thus requiring higher than normal levels of deliveries to correct. The road fuel supply chain is like many modern industries that practise “just-in-time” operations, meaning that very little stock is kept where the consumer buys them, and the system relies on constant replenishment.

Since fuel is delivered by humans, it is hard to catch up quicker than normal. People can only work at a set rate before needing breaks, and it takes time to train and deploy extra workers, it is something that is just not cost effective to do in order to deal with extraordinary circumstances.

What can we do to prevent the problems?

As shortages at the pumps can be caused by two entirely phenomena in the supply chain, preventing them requires two different approaches, both of which are essentially out of the control of supply chain planners. Excessive demand-based shortages can be easily prevented by not panic buying, though this is easier said than done as it involves trying to influence mass consumer behaviour at short notice.

Supply-based shortages, such as the current Stop Oil blockades, can in theory be controlled more easily by governments. After all, this type of protest action is not legal and protesters can be moved on, even if by that point the disruption is often already done.

In recent trials of protesters from the campaign group Insulate Britain, a judge said that, even though the protesters had broken the law, he and large parts of society had sympathy for their environmental causes. Ultimately the protesters have a point: we do need to stop using oil to power road vehicles, and move to battery electric vehicles.

Tom Stacey, Senior Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management, Anglia Ruskin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Fuel protests in 2000

Tesla Model 3 & Model Y Buyers guide. Discounts & when is the right time to buy for the best price?

Two Black Tesla cars
Tesla Model Y (left) and Model 3 (right)

The hottest property in EVs (Electric Vehicles) right now is almost certainly the duo of medium sized saloon and SUV from Tesla known as the Model 3 and Model Y respectively. The Model 3 has been available new in the UK since 2019, and the Model Y crossover SUV since 2022. With so many variations and updates, which is the best choice and with Tesla being notorious for not doing discounts on new cars are there any secrets to get a better price?

History of the Models

Tesla’s offerings in the UK actually date back to the late noughties where Tesla sold their original Roadster (which was actually made in the UK by Lotus in Norfolk) to a select few buyers via their sales operation in Heathrow. A few of these very expensive and utterly impractical sports cars remain and are set to be future classics.

An orange Tesla Roadster
Tesla’s Roadster

Following the Roadster were the Model S and Model X which are large saloons and SUVs, and we’ll cover those in more detail in the future guide. However, by far the most popular Tesla cars are the 3 and Y (fun fact: the 3 was originally meant to be called the Model E, so that Tesla’s lineup spelt S E X, however Ford already owned the trademark to Model E!)

Changes and what you need to know

The Model 3 arrived in the UK in June 2019 and started with the Standard Range Plus Rear wheel drive model which was just under £37,000 with the Government Grant of £5000 taken off the price. Next up was the all-wheel drive Long Range version at £45,000 and the range topping Performance with its incredible 3.2 second 0-60 time and a range of (officially) 329 miles. These were briefly available for £49,950 after grant, but are £10,000 more now in 2022 making those early Performance cars a bargain relatively speaking. Regarding range, having owned a 2019 ‘P’ first hand, the range is more like 250 miles in the real world. One thing that is worth knowing about 2019 Model 3 Performance cars is the availability of what is called a ‘stealth’ Performance. This is because the Performance model was originally a software change that lowered the 0-60 time from 4.1 seconds to 3.1 and added something called ‘track mode’ which unlocked tweaking of traction control and torque bias, and also a ‘Performance Pack’. The latter added physically lowered suspension, metal pedals, rear spoiler, bigger brakes and 20″ wheels. In 2019, this pack was bundled with the speed increase so you get some cars that were specced without the hardware. The upshot is that some Performance Model 3s (the stealth) look like a Long Range, but the in-car display will always tell you if the car is a Performance, and the badge on the back of the car will have a red underline. These stealth cars tend to be quite popular in the used car market.

Tesla routinely update their cars and there are wiki pages that will tell you all the minuscule updates they have if you want to get in-depth with it. Tesla as a brand has a loyal following and many owners go to great depths to find out exactly what Tesla change. For the sake of this buyers guide and for Model 3s, we can split the main differences into three main groups:

Model 3 by year

The original cars as described above are 2019 cars – they were all built in the USA and are most noticeable by the chrome outline around the windows. These early cars were cheaper than later ones and as far as how the software feels when you use the car and its capabilities, they are essentially the same as current models. Some owners criticise the build quality of these cars, but on the whole they are quite reliable and still have unmatched performance and range for the sector. Because they are such good cars, they have depreciated very little, and in fact early Performances have likely appreciated from their original price, being worth in the region of £51-55k at the time of writing.

Late 2020 saw the introduction of a 2021 Model Year car which heralded significant changes and also the introduction of a new factory where they were built – the Gigafactory in Shanghai, China. These 2021 MY cars were originally built only in the USA (with much improved build quality), but anything from January 2021 onwards will be made in China. The changes are widespread – Standard Range Plus cars will have more range and a different battery which is more robust and long lasting, Long Range and Performance keep the older battery design but still get more range. Inside, the car has a more attractive and high quality interior with standard wireless chargers, USB-C ports to charge your phone and standard USB storage device in the glovebox to record the inbuilt dash cam and ‘Sentry’ CCTV system. One of the most popular changes was the addition of a powered boot (trunk) which is more convenient when loading and unloading. You can tell these cars by the black coloured window surrounds and the fact they make a noise when driving on the outside. The final version is the 2022 MY cars and these have less changes, but you’ll notice that the Standard Range Plus no longer exists, and the base model is just called ‘Model 3’. All versions have a new battery and even more range – the entry level has a 60KwH battery and LR and P are 82KwH (which is huge for this size car and unparalleled). Range when driving is 305 miles for the standard, rising to 374 for the Long Range – again, the real world it is 10-20% less. In terms of convenience features for the driver and passengers, all models get a ‘cold weather feature’ which has heated steering wheel, all five seats and the windscreen wipers, and the main screen and computer are now powered by an AMD Ryzen chip which is comparable to a gaming PC and allows you to play all manner of video games on the car (early cars still have games too).

Sonic the Hedgehog on a Tesla screen
Your Tesla will come with all sorts of video games!

The Model Y

The Model Y is in fact very similar to the Model 3 and shares around 75% of its parts with its smaller sibling. The line-up is the same (albeit the Standard Range is not available in the UK and Europe), so starts with a Long Range and the range topper is a Performance – with its 3.5 second 0-60 time, this a very very fast SUV, bettered only by its big brother the Model X. Being slightly bigger, slightly higher, and with a hatchback, it is very popular with families and those looking to buy an SUV. Whilst the range of electric SUVs is increasing, Tesla’s Y still offers unparalleled range, performance, space and smart driving features compared to anything else. The huge popularity of the Model Y across the world means that demand outstrips supply, and that leads us onto the final part of this guide:

Can you get a Tesla cheaper?

The short answer to this is possibly, but it’s not simple. Tesla themselves don’t negotiate on price on new orders placed on their website. The Tesla website is the only place you can buy a new car – if you go into a Tesla showroom, they will just direct you to order on their iMacs in store for full price. In 2022, there are no discounts on Model Y and used cars on Autotrader are selling for more than new.

However, in the past, Tesla have discounted Model 3s, either new, ex-demo, or used cars which owners have traded in. You can find these cars on Tesla’s website at this link (for new) or here for used cars. In the past, we have seen new cars with a £300-£2000 discount, especially if you can take delivery quickly at a quarter end. Used cars from Tesla really vary – sometimes they are very good value, yet sometimes they cost more than a new one, however, Tesla usually add Enhanced Autopilot (a £3400 option) and extra warranty to these cars meaning sometimes they can have more warranty than a new car from Tesla. Your best bet if you want a Tesla for a discount is to keep an eye on both these pages as they change daily and sometimes hourly. Good luck finding a bargain!

A screenshot of Tesla.com showing cars for sale
Discounted Model 3s on the Tesla.com website

Tesla Used (CPO) Model 3

Tesla New Inventory Model 3

Paint Protection Film for Electric Cars – Is it worth it?

A Tesla Model S – a lot of car to hit with stones!

As it says on the right hand side of this page (or down at the bottom if you’re on mobile) I hate stone chips on cars. I mean, really, they are inevitable – after all, you’re driving something at speeds up to 70 MPH on roads that, if you look carefully are covered in little stones, bits of grit and random things (I once got the end of dinner fork stuck in a tyre, much to the bemusement of the tyre fitter at Costco!) All of these can get kicked up by the vehicle in front and pinged at your car and it’s unavoidable that some will hit the paint work and chip little bits of paint off, normally leaving an unsightly black mark instead of paint. If left, these marks can rust if they happen on a metal panel.

A Mk 4 Ford Escort – not much to stone chip!

The problem is exacerbated by two things – firstly there is more traffic on the roads than ever before, all kicking up these delightful little missiles at your pride and joy, and secondly, modern cars (post 2000) tend to have fully painted/colour coded front ends leaving a wider potential landing zone for these aforementioned missiles. I think my old Ford Escort I drove when I was 17 had two chips on the front end at 50,000 miles!

How do you prevent paint damage?

So if you don’t want to have the front end of your car peppered with chips by the time it has done 50,000 miles, you can have it resprayed, but that will cost around £1000 in the UK for a bonnet and bumper partial respray, and you run the risk of the paint not matching, or being a poor finish. Plus you have to spend the first 50,000 miles looking at the ever increasing range of pimples on your car. The alternative is PPF or Paint Protection Film – this clear, highly robust plastic film covers your car’s paintwork and adds a physical barrier to the paint meaning that most rocks will bounce off and not be able to chip the paint underneath. It is also incredible at preventing scratches and can even prevent people keying your paintwork. Even if they do manage to cut through the film, the chances are that the paint underneath will be fine when you remove the film. That’s the other benefit – if you do manage to damage the film, then individual panels can be peeled off and replaced by a trained installer.

Professional PPF install

What does it cost, and where can you get it done?

PPF on whole panels such as bonnets (hoods) and bumpers needs to be installed by a professional. However small elements to cover headlights, lower sills and doors, and even the boot (trunk) lip where you load objects in and out of the car are able to be installed by a competent DIY enthusiast. EV Protect sell small kits that help protect vulnerable areas such as the Tesla rear sill/rocker panel (which gets horribly chipped up) on eBay and many hundreds of owners have reported that they helped protect their Tesla’s paint and prevent chips. Click this link to browse their products. £45 will stop this damage, but you’ll ideally need to apply it before it gets chipped.

damaged Tesla paint
Paint damage on a Tesla Model 3 at 8000 miles

If you want a full car covered in PPF, or even just a bumper or front end, then I would suggest you visit a professional for a quote and to see vehicles that have been protected. Mint Condition UK in Chelmsford, Essex have protected many cars for me over the years, from a Lotus Elise, to Tesla Model 3, S and Y. Prices will range from £500 – £4000 depending on what finish you require (gloss, matte, even colour changing!) and how much coverage you require. Their website is here and they can provide you a bespoke quotation.

What about Ceramic Coating?

I need to be very clear here that ceramic coatings or nano/glass coatings that are often sold by car dealers will not prevent chips and scratches. These coatings help to improve the gloss of a car and certainly make it easier to wash, but they provide a bonded coating that is a few microns thick and will eventually wear off. PPF is a physical and very tough adhesive film and protects the paint underneath by completely sealing it away. If you want to keep your paint factory fresh, you need PPF, after all, it is only factory paint once!

PPF fitted to a Tesla (red outline to show the area)

Road use charging – the only sane way to replace lost fuel duty for EVs?

It was inevitable really wasn’t it? The £35bn black hole in the UK government’s finances through the loss of road fuel tax revenue and a CO2 based Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) scheme that was designed to push the move to low and zero carbon vehicles has left the treasury wondering how the heck it’s going to pay for everything. Although EV’s are more expensive on the whole, so they get more VAT revenue which is usefully forgotten in the report issued today by UK Govt.

Cars and a Van on a road
A long road to travel…

So, how do the Whitehall mandarins get back this c. £35bn per year in future to help pay for all the COVID related debt (and lets remember that fuel duty revenue dropped significantly as no-one was going anywhere in the lockdowns and the pump prices plummeted too due to lack of demand)? I think it was always obvious that it would be via road pricing – its the only fair way really, and all of those who (like me) have been riding the free buffet of EV ownership for nearly ten years paying 5% VAT on our fuel and zero tax may feel a bit hard done by – “we sacrificed our range-confidence for the environment!” Fuel duty, like it or hate it, is a virtually perfect tax – if you do more miles, you use more fuel and you pay more towards the upkeep of shared resources like roads, or the NHS bills for lung disease patients in hospitals. Bigger vehicle? More fuel, more tax. VED adds a balancing power to this so if you have a tiny car, you pay less again than those in the big cars that might wear the roads more. HGVs pay a phenomenal rate of VED too.

The question is, how do we ensure that you pay an equal or less amount for the road pricing /new VED scheme and it be as fair as what is arguably a pretty fair taxation system? …and how do the current government, faced with having to make people pay more tax generally when all their bills are going up? I’d hate to work in Govt, I really would.

In my mind, the best way would be reinstate VED regardless of fuel type – it is bonkers frankly that an over 2 tonne Tesla Model X pays zero VED – its a big, heavy thing, and a luxury. It also goes way less far on its energy than a Model 3 – a 75KwH Model X has a range around 150 miles, a Model 3 with the same battery could touch 300 on a good day. So lets bring back £300+ of VED for the Model Xs and Mercedes EQCs and return £7bn according the report above in 2023. Won’t this put people off EVs? Well, the horse has already bolted here, so you won’t slow the uptake as all manufacturers know this is their future – its led as much by the industry now as consumers. If you really want to put off buying a petrol/diesel then slap £200 on top again – the Lambo buyers can afford it, trust me.

Road workers painting "Thank you NHS" on a road
Should NHS workers be exempt?

The rest is easy to restore, but contentious. You don’t want to disadvantage those who have to use their cars but are on a lower income (teachers/NHS/social care staff etc). So if we say that tolls in cities are to become a thing, then don’t charge residents who have to have to use these roads everyday (a la Dart Charge local resident zone). It would be difficult, if not impossible to set up ANPR on every single little rural road, so my suggestion would be not to charge for them which would keep things more affordable for those in rural areas who are again reliant on motor vehicles to get around. Motorways are already camera covered, and major trunk roads like the A12 near where I live. These roads would be easy to charge for use of, and to stop people trying to avoid them and making the local roads congested, you could reduce or remove the charges in off-peak periods. It’s amazing the behavioural change you can see when people think they’ll save a few bob by being savvy.

Road charges are inevitable, and when you think about it, it is quite a fair system. As always, the devil is in the detail and not only that, huge changes like this will inevitably cause backlash from the public. It was tried in 2007 and 1.8 million people signed a petition to prevent it. The thing is, rather than a blanket charge of £1.30 a mile (which would be £2 odd now), which for many people would have cost the same as their VED for a year in a single 100 mile trip, we can be more intelligent about it now. Our ANPR system is more developed and its easy to track vehicles accurately now too as many have factory tracking systems fitted. Also, let’s not forget you’re not paying £500+ per year in fuel duty if you have an EV and charge it at home. It’s also high time that the UK removed VAT on public charging – VAT is a tax for non-essential luxury goods – fuel is not that. Even the 5% rate for energy goes against the spirit of things. Even more in the light of the energy crisis.

So yes, it might not look fair to many, but what is the better solution that isn’t over complex, or would cost billions to set up? I can’t think of one, but we need to make sure that we don’t end with something that disadvantages those who cannot pay or are unable to use public transport. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe wide-scale private car ownership (when we don’t use them 90% of the time) is the right option either, but that’s for a longer blog post!