Transport Evolved Episode 165: Healthy Sporty Growl

Transport Evolved Episode 173: Yes, Prime Minister

On today’s Transport EvolvedWe drive the BMW i3, Tesla plans a Giga Factory, and Top Gear goes crazy for plugs.

These, and many other stories, on this week’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Mark Chatterley, and Tom Saxton.

You can watch on the Live page, or listen live with Mixlr.

Click beyond the break to see our full show notes, including timings of each story in the show.


Please note: 
Time stamps are given below in this font in the format [hh:mm:ss]

Welcome to the show! Today, Nikki and Mark are joined by Plug-in America’s Chief Science Officer, Tom Saxton.

All out geek, plug-in advocate and programmer, Tom has been driving plug-in cars for many years and currently has a fleet consisting of a Tesla Roadster, Toyota RAV4 EV, and a Nissan LEAF. Along with his wife Cathy, Tom is often found at EV events in Washington State, where they are active members of the local EVA. Tom is also the Chief Science officer for Plug-in America, and has been responsible for undertaking many useful surveys of plug-in cars and their drivers, covering reliability, battery degradation and range studies. Tom is also heavily involved in the Open Vehicle Monitoring System project, bringing telematics solutions to EVs without them.

When they’re not writing computer programs or driving EVs, Tom and Cathy are heavily involved with Robotics, taking part in everything from coaching local robotics classes through to competition Robotics.

(You can chat with Tom on Twitter or  Facebook, and read his blog here.)

Part 1

BMWi3 first-drive report, Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi team up, Nissan unveils the BladeGlider Concept vehicle and Elon Musk Becomes UK Governmental EV advisor


On Friday, Nikki was among a team of UK journalists to get the chance to put the BMW i3 through its paces on the UK roads in and around London. Driving from central London to Brands Hatch racetrack and back, she got the chance to test the BMW i3’s legendary one-pedal driving setup, and its 0-62 mph sub 8-second sprint. But what did she really think of it?


The Renault-Nissan alliance is known for having the largest range of electric cars on offer today. But last week, the two conjoined companies announced a new extensive partnership with Japanese automaker Mitsubishi. Part of the project will involve developing an all-new small electric car for the glob lam market. Could Renault and Nissan save Mitsubishi’s plug-in reputation? 


In related news, Nissan unveiled its own ‘skunkworks’ project on Friday: a deltoid-wing all-electric three-seat sports coupe, which it is calling the BladeGlider Concept


A few weeks ago when we were at the official launch of the UK Tesla Store at the Westfield Shopping Mall in White City, London, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted that he — or a delegate — could help the UK government to better understand the EV market. On Friday, Musk was announced as the UK government’s new electric mobility advisor. But will his role as EV advisor to the UK government conflict with his role as CEO of Tesla Motors? In other words, is Elon the right choice?

Ad Break:  Chronovirus


It was supposed to be just another cargo run, but for Ken Mallory and the three-person crew of the Raven, an anomaly in deep space changes everything. An unexplained turbulence shakes the small ship like never before, allowing a deadly virus aboard. One by one the infected crew is thrown back in time to relive a near-death experience, only this time death may be closer than they remember.

Be sure to check out this excellent and chilling short story by Aaron Croccoalso available as an audiobook from InEar Entertainment.

Part 2

Another Tesla Model S catches fire — and the owner speaks up, What’s going on with Nissan LEAFs and UK Quick Charge stations, top speed on the Autobahn, and Tesla’s Q3 profits


A third Tesla Model S hit the headlines this week after hitting debris on the road and eventually catching on fire.  As the owner reports, the car warned him there was something wrong with it fairly soon after the accident, giving him time to pull over at the side of the road before the fire began.

Like previous fires, the blaze remained confined to the front of the vehicle, but is it time for Tesla to up its safety for under-vehicle protection? What will Tesla do — or what can it do — to ensure the Model S is less at risk from debris-strikes, and are other Plug-in cars at risk?


A few weeks ago UK Nissan LEAF owners begun reporting that their LEAFs wouldn’t charge beyond 80 percent full at public CHAdeMO quick charging stations, such as those forming part of Ecotricity’s Electric Highway.  After some extensive research — and some chatting with Nissan — we’ve got some answers as to what’s going on, as well as how you can get your car to charge, no matter what.


As Elon Musk noted last month in Berlin, driving a Tesla Model S on the Autobahn at top speed is a lot of fun, while Tesla’s soon-to-be-released free autobahn tuneup should make top-speed Tesla driving even more satisfying.

But how quickly can a Tesla Model S go from 60 mph all the way up to its electronically-limited top speed of 132 mph? As a very lucky Copenhagen resident found out this week when he borrowed a friend’s Tesla Model S to make the trip to Berlin and back, the answer is about 20 seconds, giving a 0-top speed time of 25 seconds.


In related news, Tesla published its Q3 financial report last week, showing a rise in revenue, a rise in sales, and a rise in production. Although Tesla’s stock fell after the results were published — illustrating perhaps that the stock has been overly priced for some time — Tesla’s official Q3 report also gave us some interesting snippets into Tesla’s future, including the news that Superchargers make a huge difference to how people view Tesla, and that European Model S buyers are speccing their cars with expensive options.

Ad Break: Audible


This week, we’re recommending Impulse by Steven Gould

By heading to and signing up for the service, you can get this book for free, and support Transport Evolved at the same time. We thank you for your support of the show.

Part 3:

Tesla plans a ‘Giga Factory’ for EV battery packs, Musk hints that Tesla may eventually use  BMW i8 to get U.S. debut at LA Auto Show, and Top Gear — yes, Top Gear — goes crazy for EVs


In releasing its Q3 profits earlier last week, Tesla also let slip some of its plans for the future. One of them, CEO Elon Musk divulged, could be a monster battery cell factory called a ‘Giga Factory.’ Powered by renewable energy and with the lowest possible carbon footprint, Musk said the facility would not only dwarf every other battery production facility in the world, but would be greener, and higher tech. It would also recycle old Tesla battery packs on site to keep costs and pollution down.


In related news, in a recent interview with Betty Liu from Bloomberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted that one day, Tesla could sell through dealers as well as its own-branded Telsa Stores. Explaining that Tesla is a bit like Apple, Musk said that there could be a possibility for selling to third party dealers, but hinted that like Apple, customers would want to go to Tesla Stores in preference to anywhere else. In the same video, and just because we’re geeks, Liu got to see inside Musk’s 7-bedroom, 11-bathroom mansion, which the Tesla CEO recently purchased after years of renting. We also learned what Musk likes to do at the weekend: play computer games, just like the Transport Evolved hosts.


BMW has announced that the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car will make its official U.S. debut at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, which will take place from the 20th November. That’s great news for EV fans, some of whom have even spied the i8 out and about in California without its camouflage on ahead of its official launch. 


And Finally…

Top Gear is known for its hatred of plug-in cars, especially ones which are purely electric. But unlike the original UK version, the U.S. version — with different hosts who appear to be a little less laddish and a whole-lot more sensible — aired an hour-long electric car special this week which showed EVs in a positive light. 

Has hell frozen over? Will the UK version of the show follow suit? Or are we forever stuck with dino-burning Clarkson, May and Hammond?



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