T.E.N. Episode 12: Driving games, Plug in Mustangs, Normal EVs, M4 Charging and Self-Drive cars

Welcome to episode twelve 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.

Weekly show about plug-in and electric vehicles. This week news about: A virtual Tesla car on the PLaystation, a possible plug in Mustang, the Leafs third birthday, news about Normal, Paul Scott accepts an award, the M4 in the UK becomes EV friendly, local Leaf production and self-driving seating plans.

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 12 Show Notes

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

Gran T(esla)urismo 6

The next generation of gaming consoles may have already been released, but there are still games coming out for the PS3 and Xbox 360. One of these, an exclusive to the PlayStation, is the latest installment of the excellent Gran Turismo series. The sixth, in fact.

This is a racing game that prides itself on realism. Each car is exquisitely rendered along with the tracks being accurate to within a virtual inch. Add in real-life aerodynamics, suspension, handling and all that geeky car stuff and you have a racing game fit for any car fan.

But why are we covering this? Well, in this version of the game car manufacturers were approached and asked to create a grand tourer concept coupe and one of those manufacturers was Tesla.

Enter the Tesla Vision Gran Turismo, with narrow, low-down, aggressive headlights, sweeping fenders and the classic GT stance, the Tesla Vision Gran Turismo is a race car through and through. The Tesla Vision Gran Turismo might be designed as a grand tourer, but we think its swept windshield, high wheel arches and heavily sloping bonnet owe more to the many classic Le Mans Prototype classics we’ve seen over the years.

Yeah… Nikki wrote that last bit. I just said the words.

Plug In Pony?

Due to go on sale in 2014 as a 2015 model year, the all-new Mustang does away with the retro-stylings of its previous model, but keeps its usual choice of 3.7 litre V6 or 5-litre V8 engines to power it.

But, to placate the more eco-minded buyers, you will be able to get the car with a four-cylinder, turbocharged EcoBoost option but – let’s be brutal here – it’s still going to drink gas like it’s iced-tea on a hot Alabama day!

But according to Australian news site GoAuto, the mighty Mustang could get a new lease of life… as an electric car.

Talking with GoAuto at the Mustang’s global launch last week, Bob Fascetti, Ford’s global power-train boss, said the automaker was looking at alternative drivetrain options for the next-generation Mustang, including diesel, hybrid and perhaps an electric model.

This isn’t as crazy as it sounds: Offering a plug-in Mustang alongside its other models allows Ford to improve its overall fuel economy figures. That’s because Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards in the U.S. set average fuel economy figures for an entire brand, not specific cars. Therefore, if Ford offers plug-in cars alongside its gasoline and diesel models, the entire average fuel economy across the fleet will improve, even if Ford still offers a gas-guzzling V8 Mustang.

Sneaky… but interesting.

Happy Birthday Nissan Leaf

When the Nissan Leaf turned one, all the plugs and sockets in this special video got together to sing it happy birthday in a very very scary ‘uncanny valley’ sort of way.

When the Nissan Leaf turned two, Nissan USA created a massive birthday card and wrote every Facebook birthday wish inside it and then mailed it to the Leaf Team in Tennessee.

When the Nissan Leaf turned three, Nissan did… well… not a lot. But we haven’t forgotten about you, Leafy. We didn’t forget your big day.

Having sold more than 87 thousand units worldwide and now being made in three different factories around the world, the Leaf is well on its way to becoming a big boy and being all grown up.

Maybe you could let us know how much you’ve enjoyed your Leaf over the past three years.

How Normal are you?

It could be argued that anyone who is driving an electric car at the moment isn’t ‘normal’. But in Normal, Illinois, seeing electric cars on the streets is totally… errr… what’s the word… normal.

The town is home to more than three hundred electric cars, equating to one electric car for every one hundred and eighty residents. This is far higher than the U.S. national average of one electric car for every two to three thousand residents, so how did Normal do it?

The answer is part legislation, part governmental support, a really great EV infrastructure and manufacturer investment.

Mitsubishi North America’s production facility has been based in Normal since the 1980s. And when times were tough for Mitsubishi back in 2011, pro-EV Major Chris Koos, along with Illinois governor Pat Quinn, worked hard to brand the town as an ‘EVTown.’ Part of this was the introduction of a massive incentive deal to encourage EV adoption in the area.

Using Federal grants, Normal purchased 48 level 2 stations which it placed throughout the town, as well as one CHAdeMO DC quick charge unit. Earlier this year, the city council voted 5-2 to approve a five-year lease of four Tesla Superchargers, making the town a stop-off point for any Tesla Model S owner, state resident or visitor.

So basically… if you’re ever in a town meeting where people are questioning the value of electric cars or their infrastructure, just tell them that they need to be more Normal!

Award Winning Work

I’m sure you all know who Paul Scott is, but for those who don’t here’s a quick rundown.

He’s a long-term EV advocate. He was featured in Who Killed the Electric Car?. He was an consulting producer on Revenge of the Electric Car. He used up some of his savings to speak with President Obama about EV issues… The President then snubbed him. He’s now in a documentary about that. He co-founded Plug In America… And… oh yeah, he sells the Nissan Leaf.

Basically he’s a giant in the EV world.

This week he accepted the 2013 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award this week on behalf of Nissan of Downtown Los Angeles. The award recognises “innovative spirit and value to California’s environment and economy.” And we can’t think of a better person to accept it.

So a big massive Well Done to Paul Scott and Nissan of Downtown LA.

The M4 is Made for EVs

The M4 has always had a special place in my heart – well, as much as any road can. It was the road that took me from my parent’s home to my university… where I started on my path to being a well-known and famous writer. It might still happen… maybe…

Stretching from London and finishing one hundred and ninety three miles later in Pont Abraham it’s a well used route for many who commute into London or those who escape to the countryside of Wales. But now there is something even more special about it.

This week saw the activation of a rapid charging station (both rapid DC and AC) which means that each and every service station along that motorway now has electric car rapid charging! Each charging location is within range of the next meaning that an electric car can travel the whole distance without conserving power in the usual ways.

I mean, this only happened this week, but twice I have had Nikki on the phone to me bragging about her heated trips in the fast lane.

The charging station was installed by Ecotricity, an energy supplier in the UK that specilises in green energy. It is free to use to anyone who has applied for a card online. So if you have an EV in the UK, get the card and get roadtripping.

Local Leafs

We’ve probably all heard the argument before: ‘Your electric car takes up far more carbon to create than my petrol one.’ And while there is some truth in that, the balance is changing all the time as manufacturers embrace the ‘eco’ and start to adapt their manufacturing processes and even where they source their parts.

One change that happened this week will be of interest to US Leaf drivers. Whereas the copper wire for the Leaf’s motor used to be shipped all the way from Japan, from now on Nissan USA will be sourcing the wire from a company based less than 300 miles away from the factory!

In total, the locally-sourced wire travels less than a tenth of the distance travelled by the Japanese-sourced wire before it’s installed in the LEAF. Just think of all the carbon that isn’t being expelled because of this simple change.

Way to go Nissan!

Rinspeed Self-Drive Concept

Here at Transport Evolved we love to follow the progression of self-driving cars. It seems every few weeks there is an announcement about one car or another that’s being converted to self-drive as a testbed for the technology. But while everyone is busy working on the ins and outs of the ‘how to make it actually work’, Rinspeed and looked into something slightly different: How we will use these cars when they’re available.

They have come up with the all-electric XchangE (capital X and E). While they haven’t gone into huge detail they have said that it features some very cool ‘business class style’ seats. These allow passengers to face each other as needed. The steering wheel can be moved into the centre of the dash so its out of the way.

All you need to do is sit back, relax and read, listen to music, surf the web, play games or watch movies in pure decadent comfort. It’s like flying, but being on the ground… in a car… without a pilot.

I for one can’t wait until I get to experience my first self-driving car. So come on everyone… hurry up.


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