Event Journal: Planet Electric 2019

Neil Williams

01 Apr 2019

I recently drove 250 miles from Southern Sweden to Planet Electric in my 24 kW Nissan Leaf. The equivalent journey in the UK would be from Bristol to Newcastle. As I had already done several trips of that distance, I had an idea of what would be involved. But doing it in Sweden was new and driving an electric car to Norway was exciting given it has the most developed electric vehicle (EV) market in the world.

The journey played out as I anticipated and getting to Norway in the car was straightforward. The key to this type of car is not to overdo it. It’s important to pace yourself, not be in a hurry and, if you can, build in an overnight stop-off.

This journey reiterated my feeling that the map data for charging points in Sweden isn’t as good as it could be. In the UK, Zap-Map is a handy app that provides information about charging points and is produced by professionals. The equivalent service in Sweden, https://uppladdning.nu/, is very good but lacks the polish of Zap-Map. Maybe because it is run by volunteers?

At one of my charging stops I found new 300 kW connectors. However, the installation and commissioning was work in progress. This will be a huge improvement over the 50 kW chargers I am used to. It would reduce charging time from half an hour to about five minutes. This will completely transform long-distance drives for those who have compatible cars.

On the last leg of the journey, I decided I wasn’t going to drive into the centre of Oslo. I was going to park the car on the outskirts and take the train into the centre.

The railway station car park had more than its fair share of electric cars but, to my frustration, no charging points. This is the same situation in England, whereas in Scotland and Sweden the railway stations have charging points. It was naive of me to expect that Norway’s multi-modal transport would be advanced too.

Of course, you see a lot of electric cars in Norway. Given that close to 50% of new cars are electric it won’t be long before they are the de facto standard. However, EVs are still in the minority. Just over 10% of all cars on the road are electric.

Planet Electric was a two-day summit. However, I only attended the second day. There was a great vibe and I particularly liked the Nordic Innovation workshop which used a board game to get a roundtable discussion going around long-term predictions of what the market and environment might look like. I was delighted to meet many like-minded professionals and to strike up easy conversations. I have pencilled the event in the diary for 2020.

I enjoyed meeting Morten Rynning. He’s an experienced entrepreneur who has had success in a handful of start-ups. CityQ is his latest venture. The marketing collateral looks great and the cargo bike is in a vehicle category that intrigues me. I look forward to learning more about CityQ and helping the business develop where I can.

Post-event I had a walk around Oslo playing spot the EV taxi. I spotted a Tesla and a handful of hybrids. I was disappointed not to find more taxis that were EVs. At the end of the evening, I had a walk around the local taxi rank where all the taxis were idling, burning diesel. Anecdotally, I heard that some taxi drivers with Tesla cars have had problems with after-care service.