T.E.N. Episode 20: Self-Drive Tech, Focus EV, New E-Tron

Welcome to episode twenty 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: The record breaking cross-US Model S trip, a new self-drive research project, Ford Focus price drop, Audi Q8 e-tron, NASA research into EV emissions, Elon Musk gets Edison Award and a new Renault concept car with a special companion.

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 20 Show Notes

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

Record Breaking Tesla Trip

Last week Nikki brought you news of the father and daughter team who traveled from New York to Los Angeles in their Model S. They took the trip at a leisurely pace, enjoying the trip and drive – because that’s the point of a road trip, isn’t it?

Not to be outdone by this Tesla sent team the opposite way across America to do the trip in as little time as possible. Taking just three days, four hours and thirty minutes to make the 3,464.5 mile trip the Tesla team consisted of fifteen drivers, two Model S and two ‘sleeper slash backup’ trucks.

Just over a day into the trip the team encountered their first and only vehicle breakdown – but it wasn’t one of the Model Ss. No. It was one of the petrol powered back up vans. Unable to get it fixed the team went on without it.

What bodes well for future trips as more SuperChargers roll out is that they weren’t able to take a direct route, having to follow the layout of the currently commissioned chargers. And what’s even better, these trips won’t cost a penny (or cent, if you will) as all SuperCharging is free to Model S drivers.

Testing Self-Driving

 A two year research project looking into the creation and application of self-driving technology started this week in Europe. Based at the MobileLifeCampus in Wolfsburg, Germany, the project, known as AdaptIVe (Automated Driving Applications and Technologies for Intelligent Vehicles) combines the knowledge and skills of 29 partners.

The project has a twenty five million euro budget from the European Commission and will last for forty two months. It will focus on “offering both partially automated and highly automated driving on motorways, in urban scenarios, and for close-distance manoeuvres.”

 Involved manufacturers include: BMW, Fiat, Daimler, Opel, Peugeot Citroën, Renault, Volvo and Ford.

With Nissan and Tesla, to name just two others, working on getting self-driving technology into the hands of consumers within the next 5 years or so, this project could inform which direction manufacturers take.

Focusing on Price

In what we assume is a bid to increase its two thousand and fourteen Focus Electric sales, Ford has launched a new finance package which drops the effective price of its first production electric hatchback to twenty nine thousand one hundred and seventy dollars before incentives.

It all starts with Ford offering Focus Electric customers in some areas a $6,000 cash sum towards the cost of buying their car. This is known as ‘cash on the hood.’ – Really, Nikki? Oh. Okay.

Throw in a zero percent, thirty-six month finance package and you have Ford’s new headline price for the Focus EV as just two hundred and twenty nine dollars per month, after Federal incentives but before local incentives.

This brings the Focus EV within spitting distance of the top-spec Leaf which is its closest competitor.

But will this price drop help sales of the car? Only time will tell.

More Audi E-Tron

If I were to talk about an all-electric SUV with a range of over three hundred miles and the possibility of four-wheel drive, you’d be forgiven in thinking that I was talking about the Model X. But no. Not this time. Ha! Got you!

I’m talking about the upcoming Audi Q8 e-tron – a car that autocar dot co dot uk sources say is in the works.

Audi has been running a bit hot and cold when it comes to electric cars over the past few years with the R8 e-tron getting everyone excited only to have our expectations dashed when we’re told its not going to happen. Again and again. Latest news on that, as brought to you by Nikki in TEN 16 is that it is on again! Woo!

The Q8 e-tron looks set to be based on the next generation Q7 SUV albeit with a few design changes to make it sleeker – and presumably more aerodynamic.

I look forward to seeing what happens with this one.

NASA Saves Our Planet

No one would have believed in the first years of the twentieth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than ours and yet as mortal as my own; that as we busied ourselves with our various concerns of range and econess that our emissions were scrutinised and studied.

Like every other U.S. governmental agency, NASA has been working hard to find ways of reducing its greenhouse emissions. To meet the Presidential goal of a 12.3 percent reduction in carbon emissions across all Governmental fleets by 2020.

A study undertaken by NASA at the Kennedy Space Centre has demonstrated that the reduction in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses from driving a plug-in car instead of a gasoline one is much larger than originally thought. Ten times better they say.

Even after accounting for the carbon emissions incurred in producing the electricity used to power the cars, the study highlighted a massive reduction in carbon emissions, accounting for a a fifteen thousand pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in just three months and  that’s with just ten employees.

I love NASA.

Tesla Vs Edison

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison weren’t the best of friends. You could say they had a friendly little rivalry going on, but the words ‘friendly’ and ‘little’ don’t really belong in that sentence. So we’ve found it a little amusing this week that Elon Musk – a massive fan of Tesla: Afterall he did name his company after the man – was revealed as the winner of the Edison Achievement Award.

The Edison Awards has recognised Elon Musk ‘for his continuous contribution to human-centered design, as well as his positive influence on creating entirely new market opportunities and inspiring future leaders and innovators worldwide.’ Which is hard to argue with really.

The award ceremony will be held in April in San Francisco.

EVs Blast Off in the UK

In official figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles in the UK for January has risen by twenty five percent on last year. This means their market share has improved by twelve point five percent! Fingers crossed this trend continues.

Just to be clear, ‘alternatively fuelled vehicles’ does include all pure battery electrics, plug-in hybrids and standard hybrids. But still. Those are some good numbers.

A Companion Just Like The Doctor

And finally…

At the Delhi Auto Expo this week, Renault introduced the KWID Concept, a compact five-seater with an unusual seating layout and style. Renault says they have made this car ‘ZE’ ready meaning that if it does go into production it could be fitted with Renault’s electric drivetrain easily.

But the coolest thing about this car? The ‘Flying Companion’. That’s a integrated quadcopter that lives in the roof of  the car. At a press of a button it will whiz up and zoom ahead of you as you drive along, reporting  back if it sees a change in condition. It can even be controlled manually by a passenger in the car allowing them to get images of the car on the move or the nice countryside being driven through.

We asked Transport Evolved readers and viewers what they would do with the Flying Companion. My favourite answers were finding that elusive free parking space and then guiding you there and becoming a scout if the Zombie Apocalypse ever happens. I like that we have geeky readers.


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