T.E.N. Episode 6: Tesla Recommended & Roadtrips, Maple LEAFs, Self-Parking Jazz & Ford EV Recall

Welcome to episode six 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 6 Show Notes

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

All–Consuming Love

Published since nineteen thirty six, Consumer Reports is known for its strict policies on editorial independence, complete impartiality and lack of outside advertising, so when it says a product is good, it really means it.

You may remember earlier this year that the folks at Consumer Reports burst into rapturous ecstasy when reviewing Tesla’s all-electric Model S Sedan, giving it a score of ninety-nine out of one hundred, a score never-before awarded in the magazine’s seventy-seven year old history.

But now, after collating its Annual Auto Reliability Rankings, Consumer Reports can add another accolade to Tesla’s crown: it’s so reliable that it has been awarded the coveted Red Tick Recommendation.

Interestingly however, Consumer Reports notes that owners ot 2012 Tesla Model S Sedans seem to have less niggles than those with newer, 2013 models. But since most of the niggles revolve around small things like noises, squeaks and rattles rather than anything bigger, Consumer Reports was still happy to award the Model S the highly-prized recommendation.

….Or Terrifying Mediocrity?

Of course, Consumer Reports also ranked every other car on sale in the U.S., including many other plug-ins. Thankfully, the Nissan LEAF and most other plug-ins were awarded good scores for reliability, but Ford — whose entire range save for its F-150 Pickup with a three point seven litre gas-guzzling V Eight — scored below average.

In fact, the worst score of the year was awarded to the Ford C-Max Energi, which Consumer Reports branded the most unreliable car of this year.

All Gone!

Last week, we drove Volkswagen’s XL1 Plug-in diesel hybrid, the limited-production ultra-efficient two seater with more than a touch of 2150 about it.

At the time, we commented that its one hundred and eleven thousand euro price tag would make it little more than a collector’s item, but perhaps we were too quick to judge.
According to InAutoNews, Volkswagen has already sold out of its planned two-hundred and fifty car production run for the futuristic XL1, months before it has even manufactured the majority of cars.

With more customers than cars, you might think that Volkswagen could be prompted to make more, but instead the German automaker has said it will instead put all customers through a rigorous selection process, ultimately resulting in disappointed would-be buyers.

Will Volkswagen eventually make more? Who can say, but the XL1 has certainly created a stir for a car with barely more than 50 horsepower of combined electric and gasoline oomph.

And I would Drive 1,750 Miles

As any EV driver will tell you, making a road trip of more than a few hundred miles is fairly tedious, especially if your only recharging chances comes from slow overnight charging stations.

But now Tesla Model S drivers in the U.S. and Canada can travel the length of the Pacific west coast from San Diego in the south to Vancouver in the North for free, using Tesla’s recently completed west-coast supercharger corridor.

Consisting of sixteen Supercharger stations — although we think you can make the trip by using about half of them — the West coast Supercharger corridor makes it possible to travel from north to south — or vice versa — stopping every two hundred miles or so to recharge at Tesla’s 120 kilowatt supercharger stations.

Capable of refilling the Model S from empty to 50 percent full in 20 minutes, or adding 200 miles of range in just 30, Tesla’s superchargers are the fastest way to refuel an EV today, so it’s no wonder the two Tesla Model S cars which left on wednesday morning from San Diego on Tesla’s celebratory drive up the west coast Supercharger highway are already in within spitting distance of Oregon.

Meanwhile, on the east coast, Tesla is rapidly opening parts of its east-coast supercharger corridor, linking Boston in the north to Miami in the south. Within a few months, Tesla even says it’ll be possible to drive coast-to-coast in a Model S using just its Supercharger network.

Being married to an American, I’ve been promising myself I’d do a road-trip across the U.S. some time, perhaps in an RV. But now the Supercharger highway is connecting more and more of the U.S. to free, zero emissions motoring, I’m wondering if it’d be better to hire a Model S instead.

Whaddya think?

Maple LEAFs

As the arrogant worms once put it — Canada’s really big — and that’s been a problem for many would-be LEAF drivers north of the border who have wanted to get their hands on Nissan’s all-electric hatchback.

You see, until recently Nissan wasn’t sending that many LEAFs to Canada, but Nissan has just confirmed it plans to increase Canadian LEAF production for 2014, as well as adding a few extra tweaks to the cars to make them more suited to life north of the forty ninth parallel.

As with other 2014 LEAFs around the world, the changes to the new model year aren’t exactly large: there’ll be a backup camera included as standard across the range, as well as upgraded EV-IT functionality with voice destination entry and SMS readout. Like the 2013 model year in Canada, the 2014s will also come with a 6.6 kilowatt on-board charger and quick charge port — both of which are options on base model cars in the U.S. but standard in the colder climates of Canada.

2 Billion Cells

Question: How many electric cars can Tesla make with two billion of the one eight six five oh cells found in pretty much every laptop ever made?

Give up? With about seven thousand cells in every Model S battery pack, that’s about two hundred and eighty-five thousand, seven hundred cars. But why are we asking bizzare maths (or math) questions just before the weekend?

Well, two billion cells is how many battery cells electronics giant panasonic will be providing to Tesla in the coming four years after extending its existing supplier partnership with the Californian automaker earlier this week.

Unlike most electric automakers, who use custom-built high-capacity lithium-ion cells designed specifically for use in electric cars, Tesla chose to use the tiny capacity ‘consumer electronics’ battery cells to build high-performance high-capacity battery packs for its cars because the tiny round cells are extremely versatile and relatively cheap to buy.

With production goals of 40,000 cars by 2015, Tesla’s extended deal with Panasonic not only means the automaker won’t have to switch battery suppliers in order to keep up with demand, but will also be able to move on with plans to develop and produce the rest of the Tesla Family of electric cars we’re all so eager to see.

LEAF Golf Cart?

Imagine the scenario: You’re a Silicon Valley student who has a lovely blue Nissan LEAF, which by now is more than just a little common in the tech-obsessed hub of America.

So for a bit of a joke — perhaps after a night of just a little too much alcohol? — you decided to remove all four doors on your Lovely Nissan LEAF to turn it into a high speed golf cart. Except, as you’re students and filled with curiosity, you decide to go a little further and take the drivers’ door apart to figure out what’s inside.

No sane person would do that, right? Yeaaaah… they would.

Enter Tom Currier, a Standford student who decided with his friends to remove all four of his LEAF’s doors for the summer, planning to refit them in the fall when the weather got a little colder.
But with the aforementioned drivers’ door still requiring a little TLC to get it back to ‘as new’ condition, Currier’s car can now be seen parked up on Palo Alto’s main drag, El Camino Ree-aaal… minus a door.

Since the Bay area weather doesn’t get quite as cold or wet as we have here in the UK, we can understand the desire to go doorless. And I’ve forgotten how many things I took apart when I was a student to figure out how they worked…

But Tom, we think next time it might be a little easier to just buy a convertible…

Okay. Glad that’s cleared up.

Fit for Jazzy Parking

Here at Transport Evolved, we HATE parking our cars in big parking lots, especially if they’re the sort of large city-centre ones with barely enough room to get out of the car when you’ve actually parked it.

Never fear though! Not to be outdone by Nissan on the self-driving car front, Honda has just demonstrated networked self-parking EVs at the Intelligent transportation Systems World Congress in Tokyo, Japan.

Using the rear-view camera found as standard on the Honda Fit EV — Or Jazz EV for some of us — the parking system also makes use of the CCTV cameras found in pretty much every parking lot we’ve ever been to to create a virtual map of the car in three dimensional space. Using a two-way connection between the car and the parking lot, the EV is then silently and carefully guided into its parking space, as if by magic, without a driver at the wheel.

And as you’ll see it’s even possible to get two EVs moving together in some kind of weird, synchronised parking routine. It’s… almost hypnotic…

To give Honda its dues, this is the first time we’ve seen self-driving technology rely on external cameras to help keep costs down and introduce an element of central control to proceedings, but we have to admit it isn’t quite as impressive as the self-driving Nissan LEAF Nissan CEO Carlos Goshn demonstrated last month.

Although, the idea of synchronised EV parking could be a new RoboGames sport… Just saying…

Recall Safely Now, Please

Months — and we do mean months — after owners started to report their Ford Focus Electric would randomly tell drivers to “Stop Safely Now” after losing all drive power, Ford has begun an official recall to fix the problem.

First reported more than fourteen months ago, the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration begun an official investigation into the problem seven weeks ago, after twelve drivers complained about the problem and Ford’s lack of remedy. As eleven of those complainants said the issue occurred while their car was in motion, we’re guessing that particular call between Ford and the NHSTA wasn’t all that fun.

Anyway… thanks to Ford’s lacklustre attitude to EVs in general, just over two thousand cars are thought to be affected by the recall, which Ford primed Dealers for yesterday.

An official recall notice is expected any day, so if you own a Focus Electric, expect a letter through the post very shortly.


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