T.E.N. Episode 21: BMW i3 Launch Model, Fox News, Koenigsegg Loves Tesla

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: Texas to Panama in a Model S, BMW 3-Series SpyShots, Fox Business’ poor EV reporting, BMW i3 Launch edition, how electric cars are good for you and the planet, Cadillac’s ideal ELR buyer, Koenigsegg’s secret love of the Tesla Model S, Georgia’s proposed axing of EV-friendly subsidies, and a fish that drives its own electric car.

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 21 Show Notes

South to Panama

Last week, Mark told you about a team from Tesla Motors who managed to set a new world record by driving from Los Angeles to New York in two Tesla Model S sedans in just seventy-six hours.

This week, I’m going to tell you about two guys who obviously thought that trip was just a little too easy — so they decided to drive from Texas to Panama Canal in a brand new Tesla Model S P85.

Louisiana residents Randy Denmon and Dean Lewis quietly left McAllen, Texas the same weekend that Tesla Motors was celebrating its record-breaking 76-hour coast-to-coast trip.

Heading south, they made good progress through Mexico, charging wherever they could courtesy of an estimated twenty different power adaptors the duo carried with them.

They managed the trip to the Panama Canal without having a single breakdown or flat, although the duo admitted that they had to directly wire their charging cable into 240-volt wiring on several occasions to get the charge they needed.

We’re not sure what we’re more impressed with: the fact they managed roads better suited to an SUV in a high-performance luxury plug-in — or the fact that they took a Tesla Model S all the way to the Panama Canal.

Either way, well done guys!

Hidden in Plain Sight

Normally when an automaker tests a prototype car on the roads they’ll cover it in camouflage vinyl wraps to keep sneaky automotive spy paparazzi from figuring out what’s being tested in secret.

But this week, photographs surfaced of a BMW 3-Series prototype plug-in hybrid cold weather testing in Scandinavia.  And the only camouflage it was wearing was a tiny black stripe on the front fenders, neatly hiding the charging socket.

We think this new 3-series probably uses the same seventy kilowatt electric motor driving rear wheels and four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine driving the front wheels as the X5 eDrive concept we saw last year at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

That should equate to an all-electric range of around 20 miles per charge and a naught to sixty time of around seven seconds.

It’s worth noting too that this car — should it ever reach the market — will be marketed under BMW’s main brand name, not the recently-launched i-brand used to sell its i3 city hatch and i8 plug-in hybrid sportscar.

We think that’s because the i3 and i8 are designed from the ground up to be primarily electric vehicles with range extension as required from a small, fuel-efficient on-board engine — while the 3-Series eDrive and X5 eDrive are primarily gasoline vehicles with small electric drivetrains to enable them to meet various zero emissions mandates worldwide and gain access to zero-emissions zones in major cities.

What do you think? Let us know.

Faux News

If you’ve been an EV fan for any length of time, you’re probably already aware of the phenomenon of EV-hating misinformation that is Fox News — or F-a-u-x news as some of our readers like to call it.

Over the years, we’ve heard a whole bunch of mistruths come form the mouths of Fox anchors and regulars, including a claim that the Chevy Volt’s battery range was just eleven miles, electric cars would need their battery packs replacing after a few years and one of our favorites, that they would increase divorce rates.

Now we’ve got a whole new cluster of howlers — this time from Fox Business regular Lauren Fix.

New York resident Fix is actually a pretty well known and respected car expert in certain areas having worked in the industry for many years. But her lack of EV-specific knowledge is appalling. In a segment on Fox Business earlier this week she claimed EVs lost half their usable range in cold weather, needed regular maintenance or the battery pack and power electronics would need replacing, and even suggested gasoline cars could be more efficient than electric ones.

No. In so many ways.

Sufficed to say, not a lot she said made sense or was even based in fact. But her misinformed segment did give us cause to debunk her myths over at transport evolved dot com. Go check it out.

Best for You, Best for the Planet

Despite what Ms Fix — and various other media types would have you believe, the social and environmental benefits of electric cars cannot be matched by any gasoline car.

That’s the opinion of the Automotive Science Group, whose 2014 Automotive Performance Index placed the twenty fourteen Nissan LEAF at the top of its rankings with the smallest life-cylce environmental footprint of any 2014 four-seat or larger car on sale in the U.S. today.

The study looks at the environmental impact of each car from its manufacture through to its recycling, as well as its sociological and health impact in addition to more conventional benchmarks like top speed, specification and safety.

As the ASG points out, even with the current U.S. electricity grid mix average — which varies state by state and region by region in its carbon footprint — owning a LEAF is environmentally beneficial compared to a gasoline car, and will only get more so as the U.S. electrical grid cleans up its energy mix.

The Nissan LEAF wasn’t the only plug-in car to do well in this year’s study from ASG. In fact while the LEAF won overall and in the mid-size class in terms of its life-cycle environmental footprint, the Ford Focus Electric won in the Compact Car Class. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S won for Best Environmental Performance in the full-size cars class for its zero-emissions drivetrain and eco-friendly manufacturing process.

Take that, gasoline!

Self-Made Man Choose The ELR

What type of person chooses to drive an EV? Someone who wants to save money? Someone who feels a duty to drive the cleanest car they can to preserve the planet for the next generation? Someone who wants to free us from foreign oil?

These are all pretty normal responses we’d get when asking friends and family the reasons people plug in — but now Cadillac wants a new type of person to plug in: the self-made business man.

In its latest advert for its range-extended Cadillac ELR EV, Caddy goes where no EV ad has gone before, suggesting that real Americans — the successful self-made workaholic types who are fiercely patriotic, hate taking vacations and think Europeans are weak — chose the ELR.

The character in the ad — played by actor Neil McDonough — is a no-compromise, over demanding sort who you’d probably not want as your boss. You know the sort: the type of guy who is happy to treat those below him with disdain, demands his steak ‘just so’ and doesn’t think twice about flying to the Hamptons for the weekend in his private Lear Jet.

While we’re glad to see EVs being marketed to a new market of buyers, we’re not sure how many folks really will choose the ELR over a Tesla Model S — especially since the Model S 85 kWH P85 isn’t that much more expensive than the ELR…

Do you think the advert will attract people to EVs — or put them off? Let us know.

Koenigsegg Digs Tesla

Christian von Koenigsegg, the guy who founded Koenigsegg, the Swedish firm responsible for some of the most lusted after gasoline hypercars on the market today, has a dirty, dirty secret.

He loves electric cars and says his recently purchased Tesla Model S is the best car you can buy for the money.

Yes folks, the man behind some of BBC Top Gear’s most favored dino-gulping cars is actually a closet EV fan. Moreover, he’s gone on the record to say that the Tesla Model S far outperforms the BMW M5 in terms of handling, acceleration and driver fun.

Speaking at a Swedish Tesla Owners event earlier this month, Koenigsegg shared his love for Tesla after finally receiving his Model S sedan, a car he had to wait more than eighteen months for.

And we’re guessing that Koenigsegg is the kind of guy who can have any car he wants to — including his company’s latest flagship model, which can rocket from 0-60 in under three seconds and has a top speed of 270 miles per hour.

Just goes to show how amazingly good a Tesla is, eh?

Hobson’s BMW

Forgive us for saying so, but BMW’s handling of its U.S. rollout for the i3 electric car just seems to be getting more and more ham fisted.

If it wasn’t enough that BMW had been keeping its loyal ‘electronauts’ in the dark for months concerning a ‘special electronaut edition’ of the i3 to then just reveal it would contain a few extra low-cost things like special floor mats to set it apart from the others, we learned this week that the only BMW i3 you’ll be able to get in the U.S. for the first three months following its launch will be the high-end, every-box-ticked model.

Called the ‘launch edition’ this hobson’s choice of i3 will at least come with the Tera world package, parking package, driving assist and tech package, heated front seats, DC fast charging and high end sound system. But it will also command a fifty-thousand, eight hundred and seventy-five dollar price tag for the all-electric and fifty-four thousand seven hundred and twenty five dollar price tag for the range-extended REx model.

BMW has said after the three months are up, you’ll be able to order any BMW i3 trim level you want — but we think BMW is playing a dangerous game with fans by making them buy the high-end model or wait three months more.

So in short, if you want a BMW i3 and you’re in the U.S., you’ll have to wait until June to get the car you want — or pay extra.

Are you getting an i3? We’d be interested to see which you choose — and why. Let us know in the comments.

Georgia on my Mind

Atlanta, Georgia is known for being one of the most rapidly-growing EV markets in North America, thanks to energetic salespeople, proximity to neighboring Tennessee where the Nissan LEAF is made, a large and booming tech industry — and some of the most generous state incentives towards EV buying in the entire union.

But as we heard this week, legislation proposed by Republican House Representative Chuck Martin could end the  five thousand dollar state incentive for plug-in car buyers, making Atlanta a far less EV-friendly place.

Interestingly, Representative Martin isn’t all anti-EV, having backed legislation that would help Tesla sell up to fifteen hundred cars in Georgia every year — up from the 150-car limit currently imposed on the Californian automaker via an exemption to the state’s auto dealer law.

Martin says he’s introduced the bill because the state is essentially subsidizing wealthier residents who can already afford to pay full list for an EV anyway. But with Atlanta being one of the fastest-growing EV markets in the U.S., we don’t think this legislation will get passed without a massive fight.

If you’re in Georgia, maybe it’s time to write to your local representatitve.

And finally…

Can fish drive cars? More specifically, can fish drive electric cars?

No, it’s not a joke. And it’s not a trick question. This is a fish, driving a toy electric car. And we think it’s awesome.

Here’s how it works. As he swims around in his little tank, an image capture device from Studio Diip captures his position using the company’s proprietary image capture technology.

Then, whichever direction the Fish swims, the car moves.

It’s totally geeky, and really rather clever. We like it.



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