Transport Evolved Episode 183. Special Interests

On today’s Transport Evolved: The 2014 North American International Auto Show report, more bad news for Tesla in Ohio, Nissan’s EV development splits, and DIY CHAdeMO charging is coming your way.

These stories an more, on today’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Mark Chatterley & Marc Kudling.

Click beyond the break to see our full show notes, including timings of each story in the show. 


Please note: 
Time stamps are given below in this font in the format [hh:mm:ss]

Welcome to the show! Today, Nikki and Mark are joined by EV journalist and industry insider Marc Kudling.

A long-time EV advocate — or as he prefers… “EV Promoter” — “Marc Kudling has been covering the plug-in world for many years, both as a freelance journalist and a PR advisor to some of the big names in the EV world.

As well as helping source someone looking to convert their Nissan LEAF to 11kW three-phase, Marc has also helped with the launch of Electrive.com, an english-language version of already popular Electrive.net.

(You can find Marc Kudling on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or G+. You can also find him at Electrive.com)

Part 1

A round-up from the 2014 NAIAS in Detroit, including Audi’s latest concept, the rebirth of the R8 e-tron, VW’s plug-in SUV, no plug-in for Infiniti, VL’s Tesla Conversion, and Via Motors’ weird booth display.


This week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Audi unveiled its latest plug-in concept car, the Audi All-wheel Shooting Brake. With a 2.0-litre turbocharged stratified fuel injection engine and a pair of electric motors (one of the rear wheels, one to act in concert with the front wheel) the car packs some impressive performance figures.

It’s also apparently fairly close to a production car we’ll see from Audi in the future. Are you excited?


At the same show, Audi confirmed that the R8 e-tron will be entering production after all, apparently with a better all-electric range of up to 250 miles per charge. Will this be the equivalent of the Tesla Model S, better, or worse? And will people buy it? We talk with one of the few people who has driven the two-motored prototype.


Audi isn’t the only automaker going for plug-in glory in Detroit. Volkswagen also confirmed its intention to turn a previous concept car into a full-blown production vehicle this week, with the announcement that it is readying a CrossBlue-based plug-in SUV for launch in the U.S. market some time by 2016.  With no plug-in seven-seat SUVs in the market at the moment, will VW capture a niche, or will Tesla’s upcoming Model X steal its limelight?


For the past few years, Nissan’s premium brand Infiniti has displayed some form of plug-in on its Detroit show stand. This year, there were none — and Infiniti’s boss Johan de Nysschen confirmed once and for all that any plans for the Infiniti LE, which had previously been marked as ‘delayed’ are now on hold indefinitely.

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Part 2

Pro-dealer Ohio Senator tries again to ban Tesla from selling cars in the state, Elon Musk says Tesla’s recall wasn’t a ‘recall,’confirms the Giga Factory, Nissan says its EV development will be split into three different parts, and crazy Bob Lutz fun in Detroit


Ohio Senator Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) was the senator behind amendment AM-0443, a pro-dealer, anti-Tesla proposal to an otherwise unrelated road safety bill. When the amendment was defeated in December last year, Sen. Patton decided to introduce a stand-alone bill with the same goal: prevent Tesla from selling cars directly to customers in Ohio.

In the past nine years, Sen. Patton has been given more than $42,825 by pro-dealer entities.

What’s going to happen next?


Staying with Tesla, Elon Musk, Tesla’s larger-than life CEO, didn’t host the company’s press conference this year in Detroit. Instead, Musk took to Twitter on Tuesday to say that Tesla’s recent official ‘recall’ of charging adapters for its Universal Charging Connector wasn’t actually a recall.


Musk also confirmed that Tesla’s GigaFactory — a facility for making and recycling Tesla battery packs — was now a go.


Speaking with Motor Authority at the Detroit Auto Show this week, Nissan’s chief designer Shiro Nakamura says the company’s EV development is about to split into three different branches to cater to three different groups.

i) Everyday vehicle development, including future versions of all Nissan’s ‘mainstream’ passenger vehicles.

ii) A sports devision, for producing sports cars, some of which may feature unconventional designs.

iii) A low-speed ‘city’ devision specialising in commuter vehicles (presumably like the Twizy)

What will the implications of this be, and is Nissan right to branch out in this way?


Also at the Detroit Auto Show, there was a little bit of fun from the VL booth, as the plug-in to gas-guzzler conversion company unveiled a new gasoline-powered concept car — based on the Fisker Karma. This one, with a retracting hard top, is likely to never make it to production, partly because of problems obtaining Fisker Karmas (that particular company being in the middle of a sworded bankruptcy case). But perhaps the funnies part of VL’s press conference came from former GM executive Bob Lutz, who made a throw-away comment that VL would also offer gasoline conversions of the Tesla Model S.

Here’s why we think it’s unlikely — and impractical anyway.


Staying with Lutz, another company he’s heavily involved with — ViaMotors — unveiled a couple of new things at this weeks’ show.

First up, it announced a solar-panel pickup bed cover for its Vtrux range of plug-in hybrid full-size pickups. Then, it announced a partnership between its Canadian distributor SunPower and Best Western hotels where its MiniVans would be used as passenger shuttle transport.

In addition, it also noted that its vehicles will now come with Recargo’s PlugShare smartphone app integrated into the vehicle’s iPad-based dashboard.

But perhaps the most noticeable part of ViaMotor’s booth was the high-flying silk artist who dangled herself high above the show floor. She was certainly skilled, but we can’t understand what she was supposed to be illustrating.

Ad Break: Chronovirus

Note: If you’re watching this show live, you won’t see this ad. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy the book…

It was supposed to be just another cargo run, but for Ken Mallory and the three-person crew of the Raven, an anomaly in deep space changes everything. An unexplained turbulence shakes the small ship like never before, allowing a deadly virus aboard. One by one the infected crew is thrown back in time to relive a near-death experience, only this time death may be closer than they remember. Be sure to check out this excellent and chilling short story by Aaron Croccoalso available as an audiobook from InEar Entertainment.

Part 3

Just what perks i3 owners in California will be entitled to, Toyota disses electric cars again, a charging network in The Netherlands switches off 35 unreliable DC rapid chargers, a DIY Chademo charger gets its first successful run, and how aerodynamic a Model S really is.


Last week’s news that the BMW i3 REx wouldn’t be eligible for California’s white HOV lane access stickers caused a bit of a ripple in the EV world. Thankfully, our friends over at GreenCarReports were on hand to explain just what perks and incentives i3 owners in California can look forward to.


At the moment, there are two different types of Automaker: ones that are committed to making electric cars, and ones that are making electric cars but feel that Hydrogen is a better future bet.

Nissan is the former. Toyota is the latter. And this week at the Detroit Auto Show, Toyota’s Bob Carter — Toyota’s senior VP for automotive operations — took a pot shot at not only Tesla, but every other plug-in car maker too. Which is kinda weird, since Toyota buys its drivetrains for its RAV4EV from Toyota…  Still…


The New Motion, a charging network for electric cars in the Netherlands, has made the tough decision this week to turn off thirty-five of its fifty DC quick charge stations because the DBT-made units were so troublesome. 

With other charging networks also having problems with reliability of their DC Quick Chargers, will we see this problem duplicated throughout the world? And who is to blame for poor hardware?


If you want a backup to all those unreliable DC Quick charging stations however, maybe you should look at this open source project — which has successfully charged a Nissan LEAF for the first time using an open-source Chademo charger. 


And finally…

Being a race-car driver has some perks, including taking your Tesla Model S sedan to the wind tunnel. Here’s what happened when Leilani Münter did exactly that with her Model S.


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