T.E.N. Future Transport News 5th September 2014: Tesla Gigafactory Site, Andy Palmer’s Departure, VW Golf GTE

Welcome to T.E.N! Short for Transport Evolved News, T.E.N. is recorded every Friday to help your weekend get off to a flying start by making sure you haven’t missed the big EV news stories of the week.

Weekly show about plug-in and electric vehicles. This week news about: Tesla’s confirmation of Reno Gigafactory; Tesla’s ongoing battle with auto dealers in Georgia; Andy Palmer leaves Nissan for Aston Martin; Blink charges by the kilowatt-hour; VW Launches the Golf GTE; the EVSE Ice Bucket Challenge; the Formula E Motor Show; three star e-NV200 crash test results; Google virtual Tesla Store tour.

Just ten minutes in length, T.E.N. delivers the EV news in a bite-sized format, and you’ll find links to all of the stories we cover in an accompanying article here on Transport Evolved.

Enjoy the show, don’t forget to leave us feedback in the comments below, feel free to link to our video, and remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

What follows, as always, is our raw script for the show today. (It’s why things are sometimes written out in words rather than numbers — and why we sometimes make some errors!) You’ll find it isn’t always quite identical to the video above, but we know some of you like to follow through and click on the stories as we discuss them. Enjoy! 

Nevada Hits the Jackpot

It’s official: after months of speculation, and a hard-won fight between the states of Nevada, California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona, Tesla has finally confirmed a site just outside Reno, Nevada will be the location of its first massive lithium-ion Gigafactory.

As you might remember, rumors that Tesla was working on the Reno site began earlier this summer, shortly followed by confirmation from the California automaker that Reno was among one of several potential sites.  Until yesterday however, the site was just one of several potential locations being simultaneously developed by Tesla in an attempt to avoid any delays in the building of the one thousand acre, 50 gigawatt-hour lithium-ion processing facility.

With the site now chosen, all Tesla has to do is build the facility and get it up and running in time for the debut of its twenty seventeen Tesla Model three — so expect Reno to get a rush of new residents as Tesla accelerates development the same way its Model S leaps from 0-60mph.

Tesla on its mind

Georgia has become the latest battleground in a seemingly never-ending war between Tesla and auto dealer associations keen to put a halt to Tesla’s direct-to-customer sales model.

Late last week, the Georgia Automotive Dealers’ Association petitioned state regulators to revoke Tesla’s existing sales licenses within the state, claiming that Tesla ‘improperly obtained’ its dealer licenses by exploiting a loophole designed for custom car builders who sell less than one hundred and fifty cars a year.

In response, Tesla says it hasn’t broken any rules, and it seems to be as happy to go to court if needs be as it has been in other states where its sales model has been questioned.  In one of the fastest-growing electric car markets in the U.S. however, we think Tesla has a good chance of winning this battle.

Palmer, Andy Palmer

He’s one of the most pro-electric car mainstream auto industry executives we’ve ever seen, has worked for Nissan since 1991, and one famously defended claims that electric cars were dirtier than petrol cars buy calling the accusations ‘bullshit’.

But in a surprise move this week, Nissan’s Executive Vice President Andy Palmer announced he would be living the Japanese automaker and heading to become CEO at prestige British automaker Aston Martin.

While he’s had many roles over the years within Nissan, first concentrating on its commercial vehicle segment, Andy Palmer became well-known to Nissan LEAF owners for his candor and willingness to discuss electric vehicle policy, design and when it happened, problems.

We wish Andy all the best in his new role and hope that he manages to sneak some all-electric fun into James Bond’s favourite brand.

Blink, by the (Kilowatt) hour

U.S.-based car charging group, owners of the Blink network of public charging stations, announced a switch over this week from charging customers per hour for the electricity they used at charging stations to per kilowatt-hour.

The switch — only possible in states where it is allowed to resell electricity — means that those with older electric cars with slower on-board chargers will find that using the Blink network to charge their car will cost less now than it once did, since they’re now being charged according to how much electricity they use rather than how long they’re plugged in.

Those in states where Blink isn’t allowed to charge per kilowatt-hour are getting a worse deal however, with some states like New Jersey prohibiting the resale of electricity per unit of energy.  In those states, a price increase in per-hour use will mean that electric car owners will end up paying more for recharging, so do check your local state rules before getting too excited.

German Power

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTE — VW’s first mass-market plug-in hybrid — had its European launch this week, along with its official German-market pricing.

At €36,900 including purchase tax, the Golf GTE costs just €2,000 more than its all-electric sibling, the e-Golf. But where the two cars differ is that while the e-Golf is a fabulous, competent all-electric commuter, the GTE has been engineered to give volkswagen fans a GTi feeling without the poor fuel consumption which comes with it.

Capable of 0-62 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds, the GTE features a one point four litre turbocharged stratified fuel injection engine married to a 75 kilowatt electric motor and a six-speed DSG gearbox.

I’ve just got back from a day of driving it in the Swiss Alps, so expect a first drive report early next week. In the meantime though, we’re curious what you think of its limited 30-mile electric only range and five hundred plus miles of total petrol plus electric capabilities — plus the news that it’s highly unlikely to make it to the U.S. market.

Ice Ice, baby

Unless you’ve been under a rock this summer, you’ll have heard of the Internet sensation that is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — but have you heard of the all-new EVSE Ice Bucket Challenge?

No, we hadn’t either — but Californian firm eMotorWerks held the inaugral EVSE ice bucket challenge this week by submerging one of its home charging stations into an aquarium of ice cold water in a publicity stunt designed to show how watertight and weatherproof it really was.

As you might expect, the charging station — which was charging a car throughout the process — passed with flying colours, but now the firm has challenged schneider and Bosch — two of its rivals —  to see if their home charging stations are as durable and reliable by filming their own equipment taking the same challenge. We’ll let you know if they do.

Motor Show Chic

FIA-approved race series Formula E might be just a week and a bit away from its inaugural race in Beijing China, but it’s still evolving the Formula E brand to make it an irresistible attraction to race car fans old and new alike.

And from March, if it isn’t enough to go to watch the qualifying and races at a city near you, you’ll be able to also take part in the Formula E Motor Show, a brand-new concept designed to get fans into electric and hybrid cars before and after they’ve watched the race.

Scheduled to run before and after the main formula E race in each location, the Formula E Motor Show will combine green car advocacy with the latest plug-in cars on the market today, so fans can try out an electric car for the first time after watching the electrifying excitement of the world’s biggest electric car race series.

Three Stars

Nissan’s e-NV200 evalia electric van might be one of the most practical and versatile commercial electric vehicles on the market today, but as EuroNCAP test results revealed this week, it isn’t one of the safest.

Undergoing the full suite of European crash tests, the e-NV200 Evalia — which is suited to life as a zero-emissions five-seat taxi cab — scored a total of just three out of five stars. While interior passenger protection was generally good, the e-NV200 lost out on the magic five stars due to its poor crash protection for pedestrians and a very minimal set of advanced safety features.

As you might expect, Nissan has remained pretty quiet about the issue, although we note its gasoline NV200 van scored the same last year in the 2013 crash tests, so here’s hoping Nissan improves things for the a next-generation vehicle, eh?

Virtual Tour

They’re popping up all over the world, are a great way to get up close and personal with a super-fast electric car, and are causing a bit of a stir among the traditional auto dealer industry.

But if you can’t make it to a mall-style Tesla Store — either because you’re too far away from one or you’re just too busy — you’ll be pleased you can now tour one virtually courtesy of Google Maps.

That’s because the Westlake Avenue store in Seattle has just been given the Google Virtual Tour treatment, including a full 360 degree walk-in experience. You can even get inside a Tesla Model S and pretend you’re about to buy one.

If you’re bored, can’t get to a real Tesla store or just like clicking on pretty pictures, it’s well worth a visit.


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