T.E.N. Episode 8: Tesla Accident, UK EV Advisor, Self-Driving Leaf & Cockney Rhyming Slang

Welcome to episode eight 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 8 Show Notes

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

Accident at Tesla Factory

Two people are in hospital and one was discharged yesterday after an accident at at the Tesla factory in Fremont.

A brief official statement from Tesla confirmed that the accident happened when a failure in a low pressure aluminium casting press left three employees with burn injuries from hot metal. The accident occurred just after noon local time.

A large proportion of the Model S — from its chassis to its door panels — is built from Aluminium, so it’s unclear at present where in the production line the failure occurred. Tesla’s official statement, sent to us by Tesla Spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean, reads as follows:
“There was a failure in a low pressure aluminum casting press. Three employees were injured by hot metal from that press. We are making sure that they receive the best possible care.”
The Transport Evolved teams hopes that people involved recover as fast as possible and our thoughts go out to their families and loved ones.

Helping the UK Government

It’s no secret that EVs are having a harder time in the UK than the rest of Europe or the US. Our current Government – a coalition between our Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats doesn’t seem to want to push green energy and related technology all that much. But all that may be about to change.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, confirmed this week that Elon Musk, CEO and co-founder of Tesla Motors, has agreed to advise the UK Government on electric cars.

Here at Transport Evolved we have some conflicting feelings about this. While we are stoked that the Government is taking advice from someone who knows what they are talking about – a rarity in the UK – we worry that this may cause some conflict with other EV manufacturers. It’s not as if Elon is exactly unbiased when it comes to EVs.

Let’s just say he’s not exactly been positive about efforts from other companies.
One thing we are excited about is how he will deal with the hydrogen situation. The UK government is still seriously looking into a Hydrogen network in the UK and we hope that Elon will bring some reality to that discussion.

Elon famously being on record as saying that hydrogen is bull…

Serious Test for Leaf Self-Driving

We’ve talked about Nissan’s self-driving Leaf before. It’s funky, it’s cool, it has some amazing blue glowing lights. But it still is in production.

So what would you do if you had a prototype self-drive electric car? Well, if you’re Nissan, you apparently take the country’s Prime Minister out for a drive in it – on real roads!

This shows Nissan has major confidence in this technology! And with Carlos Ghosn saying that his original 2020 deadline for having cars with this technology on the road is now a ‘no later than’, we can’t help but think that Nissan is really upping its efforts in this field.

Falling Short of Target

In related news when it comes to Nissan and targets, this week Ghosn admitted that the Renault-Nissan alliance won’t have sold 1.5 million EVs by 2016 as they had originally hoped.

Talking to the Financial Times Ghosn said despite billions of dollars of investment, sales of electric vehicles weren’t as high as he’d hope. The reason? Slow infrastructure roll-out, not lack of consumer interest.

Dismissing claims that both Nissan and Renault electric cars are still too expensive for many buyers, Ghosn reiterated his belief that charging infrastructure has been the number one reason for poor sales with the amazing quote of, “I would not buy a gasoline car if there were no gasoline stations.”

Here at Transport Evolved, we do wonder though if this would have still been the case if Nissan and Renault had been using the same charging standards. That way, they’d only have one type of network to roll out.

Fifty Bags of Sand, Three Tons Twenty Down

It’s official! The Tesla Model S in the UK will cost at a cool Fifty thousand, two hundred and eighty pounds, on the road. This is after a generous five thousand pound government grant and inclusive of the usual licensing fees.

The starting price, far better than many EV fans had hoped, will get you a base-model sixty kilowatt-hour Tesla Model S, complete with massive nineteen inch wheels, solid black paint and textile seats as standard.

The base model spec will also come with an NEDC range of two-hundred and forty miles — two hundred is nearer the mark, we think — a top speed of one hundred and twenty miles per hour, and a nought to sixty time of five point nine seconds.

As with Tesla Model S ordering elsewhere in the world, you can customise your Model S to suit your very own tastes, adding features as you please. Eleven kilowatt-hour on-board charging will come as standard, while doubling the on-board charging capabilities will cost you one thousand, two hundred and fifty pounds. Supercharging capabilities — standard on the more expensive eighty-five kilowatt-hour version but extra for the base model, will add one thousand, nine hundred pounds to the price if you order it before you get the car, two thousand four hundred pounds if you order afterwards.

As for the top-spec, P eighty-five model, with all the bells, whistles and a claimed NEDC range of over three hundred and ten miles? That will set you back six figures. But then again, that will get you a pretty awesome ride.

And if you’re wondering about this title, that’s how much a Model S would cost you in cockney rhyming slang, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to do this whole segment in terms of monkeys, ponies and lady godivas… (even though we know our American viewers would love it…)

How Much Soul does the Kia Soul Have?

This week we were able to get our hands on an official press pack for the Kia Soul EV allowing us to finally get a look at the cars specs.

The Kia Soul EV will come with a 27 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, an 81.4 kilowatt motor and have a similar range to the Nissan LEAF. 0-62 mph is expected to take ‘less than 12 seconds.’ Like its gasoline sibling, the Soul EV will be front-wheel drive.

Not too bad… But not great. There were a few oddities in the pack too:

On paper, the Kia Soul has a claimed range of ‘more than 200 kilometres on a single charge.’ That’s equivalent to just under 125 miles per charge, but given Kia’s range estimates are likely to be based on Japanese test cycles rather than real-world range, we’d suggest that an expectation of 80 to 90 miles per charge is likely to be more achievable in the real world.

Kia also claim that the car’s CHAdeMO connector will charge the car from empty to full in at a 100kW rapid charging station in around 25 minutes. But the current CHAdeMO standard only goes up to 62.5kW.

Pricing has yet to be released, as has availability, but Kia has previously said that it expects the Kia Soul EV to be offered at a price point which reflects the car’s value, not one designed to stimulate sales. So… expensive.

Is Your Car Sick?

Getting the winter flu sucks. We all know that. But some clever people at MIT have found a way to use viruses to create some very clever batteries.

In a paper published in Nature Communications the team says they’ve been able to successfully use a genetically-modified variant of a virus to help build nanowires with phenomenal surface area. Y’see, the larger the surface area, the more energy the nanowires can transfer at any given moment, making them ideal for use as an electrode in an electric car battery.

Instead of using traditional manufacturing processes to build the nanowires — which require a great deal of heat and dangerous chemicals to produce — the MIT researchers found they could modify the virus to capture magnesium molecules from water, surrounding the virus to create long, nanowire structures with a heavily spiked surface. Being spiky instead of smooth, the nano wires have a much greater surface area, leading to the improvement in charge and discharge capabilities.

At the moment the researchers say there’s some way to go before the technology could be used in a commercial application, and hint that using viruses to build nanowires on an industrial scale may prove difficult. But this goes to show the level of research that is taking place in the field of batteries.

The future is going to be brilliant.

No Model S Recall Planned

Speaking at the New York Times’ DealBook conference in New York, which was also live-streamed on CNBC, Musk reiterated his belief that the luxury sedan was far safer than any other car on the market, referencing Tesla’s exemplary safety record to date.

Pointing out that fires occur in one in every 1,300 gasoline cars on average, Musk was keen to note that the three fires involving Teslas represent a one fire in every 8,000 cars.

“We’re about five times less likely to have a fire than an average gasoline car,” he said. “There’s definitely not going to be a recall… There’s no reason for a recall, I believe.”

Tesla Patent to the Rescue, If Needed

But, if it were to go that way, it seems like Tesla already has a plan.

In a patent filed on 5 December 2011 Tesla themselves laid out plans for a ‘Vehicle battery pack ballistic shield’ which would help with situations where the battery is impacted from below.
Without going into the ins and outs of the specifics in the patent, we believe this shows that Tesla has considered multiple options and many different scenarios when building the Model S. While these three fires have happened fairly close together, this seems more like coincidence than a design fault.

We think that it should be kept in mind that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not begun an official investigation into the Model S. And that in their own safety tests the Model S got record scores – making it one of the safest cars ever made.


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