T.E.N. Episode 9: Tesla Air, Extended Warranties, Investigations & Motor Shows

Welcome to episode nine 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 9 Show Notes

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

Higher Rider

The Tesla Model S is an amazing car. Not only can its flagship P-eighty- Five Plus model travel more than two hundred and fifty miles on a single charge, but customers can specify Tesla’s Active Air Suspension system, which automatically lowers the car’s suspension at high speed for added stability and efficiency.

But after two independent instances in which a hunkered down Model S hit freeway debris, puncturing the car’s low-slung undercarriage, penetrating its massive battery pack and ultimately catching fire, Tesla quietly pushed a software update at the start of the week to all Model S cars, raising the minimum height of the active air suspension.

In an open letter on Tesla’s website earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained the modification was to reduce the chances of underbody impact damage, not improving safety. The theoretical probability of a fire injury was, he said, vanishingly small.

With A Fire Proof Warranty

But wait. There’s more! As well as confirming the reasons for the software update, Musk said that Tesla has extended its already comprehensive Model S warranty package to include fire damage.

In Musk’s own words, ‘Unless a Model S owner actively tries to destroy the car, they are covered.’

But who is investigating who?

Yup, there’s a third part to this story.

You see, Musk’s blog post on Tuesday said that while Tesla wasn’t worried about the fire and didn’t think there was an inherent design problem in its car, it had nevertheless asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to undertake a formal investigation into the two Tesla Fires which had occurred in the U.S.

That’s what She said…

Because NHTSA Administrator David Strickland version of events is ever so slightly different.

Talking to the Street Insider, Strickland said the government safety body instigated the investigation, not Tesla. Following standard procedure, it approached Tesla to notify the Californian automaker it was opening a formal investigation into the fires.

We’re not sure if Musk was just confused, or misunderstood how this whole NHTSA thing works. After all, it’s not like Tesla has ever had to deal with this before like most automakers, eh?

Look Ma! No Wires!

We all know gadgets get cooler without wires, but what about cars? Wireless inductive charging is one of those technologies which automakers and charging providers have been working hard to develop in the past few years, but until now the’ve had some pretty free reign over how their systems worked.

Now however, there’s a new standard for that, courtesy of the horrendously-named .

After three years of arguing, the SAE-appointed task force have agreed on the frequency used to charge vehicles — eighty-five kilohertz — and the three power levels that can be used: three point seven kilowatts, seven point seven kilowatts, and twenty-two kilowatts.

Given it’s take this task force three years to get this far, we think it’ll be a while before we see wireless charging in use. Besides, at a maximum power of 22 kilowatts, there are far quicker ways to refuel, aren’t there Tesla?

Growing LEAFs

After rising sales figures in recent months, Nissan has confirmed that it is about to ramp up production of the 2014 Nissan LEAF at its Smyrna, Tennessee facility.

The rise in production won’t happen overnight, but is expected to be in full swing by the Start of next year, perfect for post-holiday car buyers.

Nissan’s U.S. production rise will also help send more LEAFs north of the border to Canada, where sales are slowly picking up thanks to more and more Nissan dealers signing up to sell the LEAF. Makes a change from Maple Leafs, we guess.

… With Bigger Batteries

In related news, Pierre Loing, Nissan’s vice president of product and advanced planning and strategy told Plug-in Cars this week that the Japanese automaker is planning to future LEAF models with differing battery pack sizes.

Just like Tesla and Mitsubishi, future Nissan customers should be able to specify how big a battery pack they’d like in their car at point of order. The larger the battery pack, the longer the range — but the more expensive it’ll cost to buy.

Given Nissan engineers were recently caught testing a LEAF with two regular battery packs inside, we think this latest piece of news confirms a one hundred and fifty plus mile EV is on its way.

Ninety-Nine Percenter

Consumer Reports has already said multiple times how much it loves the Tesla Model S, awarding it the highest ever score of any vehicle it’s tested.

But it seems a massive ninety-nine percent of Tesla Model S owners agree, giving such glowing feedback that Consumer Reports has also given the luxury electric sedan a customer satisfaction score of ninety nine out of one hundred.

Achieving the highest ever customer satisfaction score we’ve ever seen, Tesla beat every other automaker of any type.

Serious Kudos, Tesla. We only hope other automakers take note… naming no names Renault… NIssan… Citroen…

Tokyo, LA, and Barcelona

This week has been a big week for EVs and the auto industry in general, because not one, not two, but three big events have been going on. You’d think someone would have thought to check their dairies before double booking but… meh.

First up, EVS27 — the Electric Vehicle Symposium — has been taking place in Barcelona, Spain. Lots of industry goodness has been going on, say those who went, with lots of insidery geekery, tech discussions and the chance to network. And according to our good friend Robert Llewellyn, the place was HEAVING with EV nerds. So next year, we’ve got to go.

A little further East, Japan held the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show, crammed packed full with EV goodness, and on the west coast of the U.S., the 2013 LA Auto Show held its preview and press days.

We’ve been trying to think about how we’d tell you about all the premieres and news, but with only ten minutes to go, we’re just going to have to do this.

Volkswagen unveiled the tiny, underpowered Twin Up Concept in Tokyo, with the drivetrain from the futuristic XL1 shoehorned inside. In LA, it showed us the production 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf for the first time.

Nissan gave us the world debut of the Blade Glider concept, told us the eNV200 van would go on sale in Japan next year, and promised bigger LEAF battery packs.

Honda gave us a weird twizy-like city EV… and a peeing statue… as well as the production plug-in NSX sports hybrid.

Yamaha debuted four electric motorcycles in Japan, as well as possible two-seat city EV based on the Gordon Murray T twenty-five.

And a whole load more vehicles and motorcycles and weird…looking… I don’t even know what THAT is…

Bye Bye George

George Blankenship, the sales guru behind GAP’s sales stores, the guy who helped Apple cultivate its Apple Store concept, and yes, the guy behind the Tesla Store, has officially announced his retirement from Tesla Motors.

It was a quiet announcement, but we wish Blankenship a happy retirement and all the best in his new position, which he announced on Linked In as “Director of Smiles for the Blankenship Family”

Here’s to many more smiles, George.

Ghosn Agrees, H2 is [badword]

And finally… Elon Musk is known for his vocal mistrust of hydrogen fuel cell cars, calling them b***sh**, but now fellow EV nut Carlos Ghosn has joined in a growing number of auto-industry folks happy to diss hydrogen.

Taking task with Toyota, who claims to have plans to mass-market Hydrogen by 2015, Ghosn said “I would be very curious and interested to see if competitors who say they are going to mass market the car in 2015. Where is the infrastructure? Who’s going to build it?”

Looks like the very thing Toyota said about EVs is about to kick it where the plug doesn’t go. Hydrogen or otherwise, which reminds me of something my dad used to say.

“Be kind to people on your way up, because you’ll meet them on the way down again.”


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