T.E.N. Episode 5: Tesla High-speed Tuning, UK store and SuperChargers, i3 UK Prices, Spark Sadness

Welcome to episode five of 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.

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.

As always, if you like your news delivered with a little more discussion and opinion thrown in, don’t forget to watch the original Transport Evolved show — live every Sunday at 7pm London time.

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!

T.E.N. Episode 5 Show Notes

Clicking on each story below will open up a new browser window to take you to the original story.


Picture this: You’re cruising down the Autobahn, through scenic countryside, without a care in the world. No speed limit to hold you back, you are just enjoying the ride of the Model S. But is that ride as good as it can be?

Well, according to Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, it isn’t quite there yet. Y’see, the Model S was never really tuned for constant, long-distance high speed driving – and we’re talking speeds in excess of 200kph (that’s 125mph).

While driving down an unrestricted section of the Autobahn on a recent trip to Germany, Musk noticed that his Model S didn’t handle high-speed lange changing as smoothly as he’d like. Being Elon Musk, he tasked a team of engineers to visit Germany from Tesla HQ in California in order to tune the Model S to handle as well at full speed as it does at more normal road speeds.

But wait! There’s more! This isn’t just a tuneup for Musk’s personal German Model S (if he even has one, of course.) No, this is a tuning session which will result in all Model S owners in Europe being given the option to have a free Autobahn Tuneup for their cars.

While the tuneup won’t make the Model S go any faster — there’s a finite limit to how fast that single-speed gearbox and electric motor can spin — Musk says it will make the Model S handle really sweetly at its current top speed of 135 mph.

Current top speed? Yes, we know we just said the car is limited right now to 135 mph, but we’re talking about Elon Musk here. Last night at the London Tesla Store opening, he hinted that the top speed could be improved in the future, but that further engineering tests were needed before safely doing so.

Can you think of any other automaker offering this kind of service? No, we can’t either, but the level of continual service and improvement Tesla offers its customers just seems to get better and better.

Max Power

In related news, the EU SuperCharger network is set to be even more super than its US counterpart. As EU Model Ss have a 11kW 3-phase onboard charger, rather than a 10kW single-phase one, the SuperChargers are able to provide up to 135kW of power to the cars. That’s 12.5 % faster than US SuperChargers.

All of this being provided through an adapted version of the Type 2 (sometimes known as ‘Mennekes’) connector. We just hope that this Tesla Type 2 becomes the standard and we can get all EU cars using SuperCharging. Given how reluctant the automotive industry can be to change however, it’s unlikely to happen soon. The best we can hope for right now is for some genius to come up with a SuperCharger to CHAdeMO/CCS adapter.

Hello, Europe!

There was a time when we thought Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid was cursed. Plagued by set-back after set-back, the car has been delayed and pushed back more times than we would like to recount. But this week it finally started sales in Europe, with early deliveries going to northern European and Scandinavian countries.

While we haven’t yet driven the Outlander plug-in hybrid, we can tell you it’s a lovely piece of technology on paper, packing a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with two, 50 kilowatt electric motors for true all-wheel drive electric capabilities.

It can also tow up to 1.5 metric tons — that’s around 3,306 pounds — making it one of the more versatile plug-in hybrids on the market.

But that grunt comes at a cost. It’s not the most aerodynamic car on sale, meaning it’s only expected to travel 30 or so miles on its 12 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion battery.

Mitsubishi claim that it is expected to return about 148 miles per imperial gallon (1.9 litres per 100km) in combined mode and 48.7 miles per imperial gallon when just using Dino-Juice. But… these figures do come from the overly optimistic European testing cycles, we’d expect real-world figures to be less.

How do you like your i3?

Have you been waiting for BMW to launch the i3 in your country? We know lots of our viewers have, so if you’re one of them and live in the UK, you’ll want to pay special attention to this next item.

Earlier this week, BMW released its price list for the i3 all-electric and i3REX range-extended EV. A Base model all-electric i3 will cost you £30,625 (‘on the road’ before incentive), while a Range-extending i-3 REX will start at £33,775.

But the really interesting bit comes next. Like Tesla, BMW has chose to quote prices for an entry-level, no-frills, base-model. Then customers simply add the features they want for their car. Since each item is separately itemised, the price you’ll end up paying literally depends on what features you want, and how much you’re willing to spend.

It’s Essentially like being the SubWay of electric cars… except where cheese is a sunroof, tomato is DC rapid charging and yummy yummy olives are the leather seats and wooden paneling.

We had a play and specced out a top-range car with all the bits and bobs and got somewhere near £47,000. Okay, so anyone doing that will be able to knock £5,000 off the price due to UK government grants, but £42,000 is certainly nearer to the price range you’d expect for a BMW.

The future is here

How often do you get to drive a €100,000 car of which there will only ever be 250 made?

No? We don’t get the chance much either, but this week, we did.

The Volkswagen XL1 is Vee Dub’s fuel-sipping diesel plug-in hybrid, capable of an astonishingly high 313 miles per UK gallon. It’s ultra-sleek, lightweight, and even has rear-view cameras instead of rear view mirrors to achieve a drag coefficient of just zero point one eight nine.

Driving it around a 30-mile course, we got to try it in all-electric mode (real world range reported to be about 30 miles) and diesel mode.

Futuristic, great to drive, and good fun, the XL1 isn’t going to be on your shopping list any time soon however. Aside from the price and limited production, the charging system isn’t on-board the car, meaning you can’t charge it up anywhere but your garage .

Bit of a design flaw, that….

West-side, Yo

We’ve had a busy week here at Transport Evolved. Not only did we get to drive the Volkswagen XL1 earlier this week, but we were lucky enough to get on the guest list for Tesla’s grand opening of first UK retail store, located at Westfield Shopping Mall in White City, ironically just down the road from where BBC Top Gear use to have it’s gasoline-worshiping offices at BBC TV Centre.

As the Tesla store itself isn’t all that big — although it does have a cool Tesla Model S Chassis on display next to a fully-finished Model S — the main event was held in Westfield Mall’s giant Atrium, where we were treated to some really sick beats, some canopaes, good drink, and of course, an appearance from Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Sadly, the sound system wasn’t all that great when the crowd swelled, so we missed some of what Musk had to say, but we live-blogged the event the best we could at Transport Evolved dot com if you’re interested.

To tease you, here are a few of the choice things we picked up.

The base-model Tesla Model S — which comes with a 60 kilowatt-hour battery pack and about 200 miles of range — is expected to cost in the region of £55,000 when it goes on sale here next year. When the Model X crossover SUV follows in a year or so, it will cost a little more thanks to dual electric motors and all-wheel drive capability. But, says Musk, not too much more.

Like Germany, the UK will get blanket Supercharger coverage in the coming year, which, Musk says, will mean everyone is within easy reach of a Supercharger station. We’re not sure quite how easy ‘easy’ is, but we’re very excited.

Musk even sneaked in a snippet about Tesla’s affordable car (possibly the Model E) expected some time in the next three years. Expected to cost about £30,000 — the equivalent Musk says of a £25,000 petrol car — the ‘affordable’ Tesla will offer great range and all the things you’d expect from Tesla in terms of service and quality. But what some folks didn’t pick up on — and we did — was the news that Tesla is planning to offer another, even cheaper car, in about six year’s time.

So, if you can’t afford a Model S or Model X right now, don’t despair: an affordable Tesla might be on its way to the market pretty soon.

Weak Spark

The Chevrolet Spark EV, GM’s first all-electric car since the much-missed EV, recently went on sale in the U.S. Despite its cute name and massive worldwide popularity in its gasoline form, Chevrolet might be backing down on original plans to offer it for sale in Canada and Europe.

Originally, GM had hinted that it was planning to offer the Spark EV for sale across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. But earlier this week, GM officials talking to GreenCarReports said that there were no plans at the current time to expand sales nationwide in the U.S., and that the Spark EV would only be available to select fleet buyers in Canada.

Worse still — and blaming a lack of interest from buyers — GM said its European launch plans for the Spark EV were on hold, saying that the EU market was still in its infancy.

Here at Transport Evolved, we’re gutted. The dino-burning version of the Spark has been around here in the UK for some time, and it’s a popular car we see a lot on the roads in and around our studio. With its small frame and funky looks, we think an electric version would have appealed to buyers — but now we’re worried we’ll never see it.

Remind me: Who killed the electric car again?


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