T.E.N. Episode 15 (Ten Forward): BMW i3 Pricing, Ending Tax Credits, B-Class ED, Ford Concepts, Successful Sales, and 2014 Predictions

Welcome to episode fifteen 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: BMW i3 Pricing, ending Motorcycle EV tax credits, Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED Spy Shots, Ford’s Solar concept car, the popularity of EVs in Norway, and predictions for 2014.

Priced Up

This year, BMW will finally start sales of its i3 all-electric and i3 REx range-extended EV in the U.S., bringing its stylish, futuristic looks to the plug-in marketplace.

Capable of providing seating for four, we’ve known for some time what U.S. buyers would be paying for entry-level i3 and i3 REx models, but now we know what all those extras will cost you, courtesy of the official price list quietly released by BMW just before the holiday season.

Interestingly, only two of the seven paint finishes are available as standard. The other five will add $550 to the cost of your car.

Then, you have to chose one of three trim levels — Mega, Giga, or Tera — with the Mega trim level being the base, standard cost option, and each trim level adding extra luxury — and higher cost — to your car.

U.S. model cars will come with heat-pump-based heating as standard, something only available in the UK as an optional extra, but other options — like rear view camera, parking assistance, rapid DC quick charging, heated front seats and advanced navigation — will cost you extra.

Tick every option box and you’ll be looking at a bill of $52,175 for the i3, and $56,025 for the i3 REx …. (before incentives)….

That might seem expensive, but we think BMW’s extensive options and price list will place the i3 nicely between the poplar and less-expensive Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt — and the highly-prized — but highly priced Tesla Model S.

What do you think?

Bye Bye Tax Credit

In case you didn’t know, we came to the end of twenty thirteen on Tuesday evening — it’s unlikely you missed that event with all the fireworks and the banging and the drunken singing and the bell ringing — but maybe you did…

Anyway, along with the end of another year, January first marked the end of two U.S. Federal EV incentives designed to encourage EV adoption. One — a tax credit for anyone installing a domestic charging station at home — means you’ll now have to pay full whack for your own home charging station. The other — up to two thousand, five hundred dollars off the price of a new electric motorcycle — will mean anyone buying an electric motorcycle this year won’t be able to claim back any tax rebates from the tax man at the end of the year, meaning their shiny new two-wheeler will cost a little more to buy.

Unless you’re buying a Brammo electric motorcycle — or rather one of last year’s 2013 model year bikes. In a clever move, the Oregon-based electric motorcycle manufacturer has announced its own discounting program designed to ensure customers won’t be put off buying their new ride because the two-wheeled plug-in Federal tax incentives have just ended.

Called a Retail Incentive, folks can look forward to $1,000  off the price of a two thousand thirteen brammo Enertia plus, or $2,000 off the price of the super-sexy, six-speed Brammo Empulse.

Brammo says the program will run until its twenty thirteen stock has been exhausted — but how long that will take — or what happens next — remains a mystery.

B-E-A Utiful?

We just love it when our viewers and readers tell us about pre-production and unusual EVs they’ve spotted in the wild, and this week has been no exception.

This is a Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. It’s based on the highly-popular European B-Class gasoline car, but will make its debut as a twenty fifteen model in the U.S. with an electric drivetrain the only option. And like the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, this premium family hatchback features a drivetrain and power system built for Mercedes by Tesla Motors.

And that means the same 10 kilowatt charging capabilities as standard as the Model S. Yummie.

The car itself isn’t due to go on sale until much later this year, yet ActiveE Driver George Betak snapped this photograph of a pre-production model grabbing a charge at Electronic Arts in Silicon Valley earlier this week.

Betak said this particular Benz — which we can clearly see is wearing a three-digit identification sticker on the rear window — looks ready enough to buy. And we’ve got to agree.

Why was a pre-production car at EA? Initially, we thought it was one of the executives having a play with a loaner car, but Scott Cronce, CTO of EA, tells us that as EA takes the Christmas and New Year break off, the car was most likely availing itself the opportunity for a charge while no-one was around.

A Mile An Hour?

Solar panels and electric cars work really well together. That’s something we can all agree on. In fact, it’s heavily documented that owning an electric car can halve the amount of time it takes a solar panel investment to pay off. But that’s solar panels on the roof of your home, not the roof of your car.

But Ford — who is unveiling its C-Max Solar Energi plug-in hybrid concept next week at CES twenty fourteen in Las Vegas — reckons solar panels on cars are about to take off in a big way.

To demonstrate, Ford has taken a standard C-Max Energi Plug-in hybrid and fitted it with one point five meters of solar panels, capable of producing a peak power output of around three hundred watts.

In ideal situations, that equates to about one mile of range from sunlight alone in a little over an hour, hardly practical enough to sort out most people’s daily commutes.

Yet Ford is so keen to make roof-mounted EV solar panels viable that it has teamed up with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Solar panel company SunPower to produce a car port containing many tiny Fresnel lenses — you know, those ridged ones that you sometimes see stuck on the back of RVs to stop you running over small children and dogs when you back up.

In this case, the Fresnel lens, atop the car port, focuses the solar energy onto the roof of the concept car, intensifying the amount of energy the solar panels can generate and making it possible for the car to collect enough power during daylight to fill its eight kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

Here’s where it gets even crazier…

In order to ensure the maximum solar energy is captured throughout the day, Ford’s concept car slowly moves in the opposite direction to the sun, keeping the solar energy focused on its solar panels for as long as possible.

Yes, this is probably the most bizarre application of self-driving technology we’ve ever seen…and we can’t help but wonder if solar panels on the roof make more sense… at least for now.

Plugged Out

Here in the UK we — like many other parts of the world — are struggling to get car buyers to make the switch from gasoline to electric. But over in Norway — where EV sales are positively booming thanks to massive government incentives — EV ownership is so popular that there just aren’t enough plugs to go around.

And who can blame Norwegians? EVs there are exempt from purchase tax, don’t have to pay for parking or charging in public spaces, and can even drive in bus lanes.

But as Quartz reported over the holidays, there are now so many electric cars in Norway’s capital city that they outnumber busses, are on every corner, and drivers have to queue to find a place to charge.

Charger Anxiety instead of range anxiety — the fear that someone else will be plugged in and charging when you need to use a station — is rife.

With more than fifteen thousand EVs on the road of Norway, the Norwegian government faces a tough decision within the next year, experts warn: put in more EV infrastructure, or cut the incentives which have made EVs so popular.

What they’ll do — and how it will impact EV sales — will be a closely-watched thing.

Predicting 2014

And so we’re onto our final segment of the show, the one I geeked out about at the start: What we think will be big this year.

For twenty fourteen, we think there are four big areas we’ll be covering, so here’s our breif rundown of each:


Last year, self-driving car technology really started to gain speed, at least in the prototype phase, so expect more and more self-driving goodness from all the major automakers as they scramble to head off Nissan’s apparent lead. We think Tesla will also demonstrate some form of technology towards the end of the year that hints at self-driving, although unlike its rivals, we think Tesla will only show us the tech when it’s ready for market.


Twenty thirteen was the year of the dying charging network, and we think twenty fourteen will blow that away with the birth of reliable, pay-as-you-go charging infrastructure and — we hope — the minimizing of those darned RFID smart cards.

But it’ll be a slow progress. Expect weaker charging networks to die off, and a few major companies to dominate the marketplace on each continent. We also think charging networks will start to struggle with the fight between CHAdemo, CCS, and whatever other charging standards someone is crazy enough to come up with.  Tesla meanwhile, will just keep on rolling out its Superchargers with minimal fuss, albeit slower than it would like to.


After three years of mediocre range for most EVs on the market, we think twenty fourteen will see early mid-cycle updates from most automakers offering perhaps as much as a ten or twenty percent increase in real-world range for twenty fifteen model years.

With Nissan already hinting at better battery tech, we think twenty fifteen model years will all have to achieve the magic 100 miles per charge if they’re electric only, while plug-in hybrids and range-extended models will all fight it out for the best possible range with the smaller battery packs they have.  We can’t wait… although we think Tesla will still beat everyone into submission…

Price war

Twenty thirteen marked the start of the EV price war, with most major EVs dropping massive chunks off their sticker prices in order to become more affordable.

We think this will continue in twenty fourteen, with the knock-on effect meaning you’ll soon be able to buy a brand new EV for less than a similarly-specced gasoline car. We also think we’ll be covering the growing market for used EV sales and aftermarket EV mods.

Strap in and buckle up, the EV world is about to get really fun!

That’s it!

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to join us next week for another episode of T.E.N. In the meantime, visit www dot Transport evolved dot com for all the EV news that’s fit to print, subscribe to our channel and other shows on YouTube, and join us live on Sunday where we’ll be discussing these stories and others on Transport Evolved.


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