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T.E.N. Episode 17: Audi Plug Ins, BMW i3 Perks, Charging Reliability, Anti-Tesla Senators, Green Taxis and Detroit Shenanigans

Welcome to episode seventeen 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: Audi plug-in concept cars and R8 e-tron supercar, BMW i3 Californian ownership perks, rapid charger reliability, ditched Infiniti LE, private hire LEAFs, Anti-Tesla senators, and silk-oriented circus skills.

Shoot and Brake

This week marked the annual North American International Auto Show — or Detroit auto show if you prefer. And that means this week’s news has a little more than the usual smattering of show and concept cars. Some of which may make it into production, most of which won’t.

First up is Audi’s Allroad Shooting Brake, a three-door, rugged, go (almost) anywhere through-the-road plug-in hybrid.

With a large electric motor driving the rear wheels and a two-litre turbocharged Fuel Stratified Injection engine up front married to a smaller disc-shaped electric motor, this car is supposedly good for 31 miles of all electric range and a top speed of 81 miles per hour in EV mode. It can also manage the 0-62 mph sprint in under five seconds when working in sport mode — that’s when the gasoline engine plus both motors work together for maximum performance — and it can hit 155 mph in blended power mode.

And unlike the v8 plug-in  Audi Quatrro Laserlight Concept shown the week before in Las Vegas — which had friggin’ laserbeams for headlights — the Allroad Shooting Brake has a chance of entering production some time soon… or at least give us a good idea of what to expect in the future.

It’s ON!

Talking of the future — Audi’s R8 e-tron, the on again off-again supercar that featured in the last IronMan film as Tony Stark’s ride of choice — is apparently, finally going to make it to production.

That’s according to Audi’s Technical Chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, who confirmed at this week’s Detroit show that advances in battery chemistry — and some other tweaks — meant that the R8 e-tron was back in development at Audi HQ.

New specs are thought to include a range of more than 250 miles per charge, and hopefully a much more affordable sticker price than the oh-so-expensive prototypes Audi let journalists drive last year.

But given this project’s yo-yoing between the drawing board and the trash can, it’s too early to say if this time is for real.

The People’s Carrier

Staying in Detroit, Volkswagen announced this week that it was planning on bringing a production version of its plug-in CrossBlue SUV concept car to market by 2016.

Capable of seating seven, this car will offer the best of both worlds: plug-in capability for 14 miles or so of EV range, plus a turbocharged diesel engine for longer-distance trips.

Sure, it’s no Tesla Model X, but here at Transport Evolved we’re excited to see mainstream automakers slowly wake up to something we’ve known for a very long time: It’s possible to have a plug-in car that’s also an SUV.

And if you’ve got a large family, or kids and dogs, we know you’ll be watching this latest plug-in development from Volkswagen with interest.

White or Green?

Last week, Mark told you the news that owners of the 2014 BMW i3 REx — BMW’s range-extended version of the all-electric i3 hatchback — can’t apply for one of the unlimited-in-number white HOV lane access decal that owners of the all-electric i3 can. Instead, we explained, they’d be left fighting for one of a rapidly decreasing pool of number-limited Green HOV-lane access decals instead.

But thanks to our friends over at GreenCarReports who did some digging into the California rebates and perks for i3 owners, we’re now able to confirm just what you’ll get — or not — with each i3.

Buy an all-electric i3 and you can look forward to a seven-thousand, five hundred dollar Federal tax rebate at years’ end, plus a two thousand, five hundred dollar Californian purchase rebate towards the cost of your car. You’ll also be able to apply for one of the white HOV lane decals and know that you’ll get one.

Buy a range-extended i3 REx, and while you’ll still get the same seven and a half thousand dollar federal tax rebate, you’ll only get a fifteen hundred dollar purchase rebate from the state of California. And while you’ll be eligible to apply for a green HOV-lane decal, you’ll have to fight with the many other plug-in hybrid owners desperate to get one of the remaining unallocated decals from an original maximum quota of just 40,000.

No range-extender and guaranteed HOV lane access and a little more in the way of rebates, or no range anxiety, less rebates and the chance you’ll have to miss out on the HOV lane. Your call. Which would you do?

“Special” interests

Back in December, we were all happy and cheery about the defeat of an anti-Tesla amendment attached to the back of a completely unrelated bill in a clandestine attempt to prevent Tesla from selling its electric cars direct to consumers in the state.

But now we’ve heard about another attempt to make Tesla’s life difficult in Ohio, courtesy of this gentleman — Senator Tom Patton of Strongsville, Ohio. The republican Senator — who was the guy responsible for the original attempt to ban Tesla from selling in the state back in December — has introduced Senate Bill 260 to the Ohio house. Essentially seeking to do the same thing as last year’s failed attempt, the bill would make it illegal for the state to issue dealer licenses to dealerships who are in any way connected to the automaker whose cars they are wanting to sell.

The Ohio senate has yet to set a date for the discussion of the proposed bill, so we’re in a bit of a holding pattern, but there is one piece of news we think is pertinent at this point.

According to MediaTrackers, Sen. Patton has received more than $42,825 in campaign donations in the last nine years from pro-dealer entities like individual dealerships, auto dealer associations and individuals who work in the auto industry.

We’ll let you draw your own conclusions.


Being an electric car driver is great, isn’t it? Especially if you happen to own an EV which can rapid charge from empty to 80 percent full in less time than it takes to visit the loo and down a venti chai latte? Or rather, it is when charging stations actually work. Which, in my own experience, isn’t always guaranteed.

So when we heard that New Motion, an Ev Charging network from the Netherlands, has just announced its decision to temporarily switch off 35 of a total of 50 DC quick charge stations due to reliability issues, we weren’t that surprised.

The company claims the DBT-built rapid charge units are just so unreliable that it’s spending most of its time chasing around trying to fix them — not improving its existing network, so for the next few months it’s going to be replacing the faulty units with new, DC Quick charge units from a rival company that are more reliable.

There are fifteen DC Quick Chargers still in use on the network which — The New Motion says — aren’t made by DBT and have excellent reliability. There are also lower-power charging stations at most of the rapid charge sites, so people shouldn’t get stranded if they’re unaware of this drastic response to an unacceptable problem.

Let’s hope the network is back up to full power and in full swing very soon.

Infinite Wait

You’d think that with sales of its Nissan LEAF at an all-time high, Nissan’s luxury arm Infiniti would be gagging to jump on the electric bandwagon.

But as we reported this week, Infiniti’s attitude to electric cars just keeps getting colder and colder, with its past plans for a luxury LEAF-based Infiniti LE sedan now indefinitely on ice.

Talking with AutoCar at the twenty fourteen Detroit Auto Show, Infinit boss Johan de Nysschen said confirmed that Infiniti’s priorities lay elsewhere and that an electric car — or even a plug-in hybrid — won’t happen any time soon.

The former Audi North America boss is a known EV skeptic and once publicly called Chevy Volt buyers ‘idiots’ — but he seems to think that his primary job at Infiniti — to increase the brand’s profitability and market share, especially among China’s rapidly-growing, affluent, brand-conscious middle class — is somehow incompatible with building a high-performance, high-spec luxury plug -in.

Maybe he should take a look at Tesla. They seem to be doing pretty well.

Turning Over a New LEAF

This week, another all-electric private hire firm opened its car doors to customers for the first time. And, like other places we know around the UK and the world, this Chauffeur-driven private hire company is using top spec Nissan LEAFs as their car of choice.

But unlike other taxi and private hire firms with EVs, this one has a new twist: eConnect Cars was set up by someone you might not expect to be pro-EV: a former oil and gas executive.

Enter Alistair Clarke, a chartered accountant who has spent the past ten years working for FSTE 10 Oil and Gas company BG Group.

But after seeing first hand what the oil and gas industry are doing to our planet — not to mention the hard time it has finding new resources, Clarke decided to make the switch to electric, leave the fossil fuel industry for good, and go green.

We wish Alistair and his company all the best in London, and hope his service can help persuade some of London City’s biggest businesses that it’s time to dump the pump for good.

Via The Ceiling?

Our final story today is a little bizarre, but hey, it was Detroit this week and why people do weird stuff at auto shows is still a scientific unknown.

Enter Via Motors, the factory plug-in conversion specialists who build ultra-tough plug-in hybrid pickup trucks, full-size SUVs and vans for use in (mainly) commercial applications.

In addition to announcing the development of a solar-panel pickup cover for its Vtrux range, a cool in-car integration of Recargo’s PlugShare EV charging database and an eighty million dollar purchase agreement with Sun Country Highway to deploy one thousand VTrux Vans as shuttle busses to Best Western group hotels in Canada, Via’s booth in Detroit featured something else we can’t quite explain.

A silk aerialist. That’s someone who suspends themselves from the ceiling and does acrobatics with a piece of silk.  I know that’s technically not quite what it is, but I can’t help think of it as anything other than pole dancing meets trapeze.

Sorry, probably offended a whole load of people there… Hmm.

But the flying performance seems to have got more prominence on Via’s YouTube channel than two of the three announcements.


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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