T.E.N. Electric Car News Feb 21, 2014. Ep22: Mia troubles, Tesla dealers, Charging infrastructure

Welcome to episode twenty two 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: Mia Electric goes into receivership, Seattle protests at anti-Tesla bills, costs for charging in the UK and West coast US, BYD loses out on a 50-car taxi deal, Peugeot unveils hybrid air car, Tesla Quarter 4 review and Bob Lutz becomes Chair of Via Motors.

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 22 Show Notes

Momma Mia

Our non-EU viewers may not have heard of Mia Electric – a small electric vehicle manufacturer who created and sold a city EV. With either three or four seats, a central car driving position and tight turning circle you may start to see how this could be a good EV for those who only ever drive in one city of town.

‘Could’ being the defining word in that sentence. The car had a few things going against it. A very underpowered motor – 10 kilowatts to be exact – which resulted in a naught to sixty mile per hour time of… wait for it… thirty four seconds. Also working against it was its price. Twenty two thousand pounds, that’s after the UK Government five thousand pound grant.

They didn’t sell a lot of them. Which might explain why this week they went into receivership. They’re not out yet – and it is totally possible that the receivers may find a way to put Mia Electric on the road to recovery and a balance sheet in the black – but with stiff competition from major manufacturers who are also selling all-electric cars at around the same price with much greater power it will be a hard slog.

We’ll keep you up to date as we know more.

Putting Tesla on Hold

This week EV owners and advocates in Seattle held peaceful protests in an attempt to head off two bills — Senate Bill six two seven two and House Bill two five two four — which would put the brakes on Tesla or any other automaker that wanted to sell cars directly to consumers.

As with other stories we’ve covered recently, these bills are heavily backed by powerful auto-dealer associations, who view the direct-to-customer business model as a threat to their way of life.

Like previous bills we’ve seen in Texas and in Ohio these would make it impossible for any automaker to obtain a dealer license. Instead, it would require all automakers to sell their cars to consumers using independent third-party franchised dealerships.

When one of the biggest obstacles to EV uptake is the lack of knowledge sales staff have of these cars, this can only be a bad thing when it comes to the sales of EVs.

But – on the up side, if this can really be seen as an up side – unlike other bills this one would allow Tesla to retain its existing retail stores and service centres. It just stops the opening any more.

Yeah… Not much of an up side that.

Charging for… Err… Charging

ChargeMaster/POLAR – a UK charging infrastructure provider – posted on Facebook about how come first of April new tariffs for use will apply to all of their charging stations. Current subscribers to the network – who pay an annual fee of £10 and nothing to use the charging stations – will have the choice to renew under one of the new tariffs or let their membership lapse.

Information about what the tariffs are, how much they will be and how payment is handled has not been released, leaving anyone who regularly uses that network a little in the dark about the changeover that’s happening in five weeks.

One piece of information we can tell you is that none of these tariffs will charge based on how much power you use. In the UK only utility companies are allowed to charge per kilowatt hour. Unfortunately for any charging infrastructure company who isn’t also a utility company, paying per kilowatt hour is not only the most sensible way to charge but is also what a lot of studies suggest that EV drivers want.

This network, when first created in the UK, had a subscription tariff which more than annoyed EV drivers at the time. Originally their network had a ninety five pound joining fee, a monthly fee of nineteen pound fifty and a per use charge of ninety five pence. This was quickly changed after EV driver feedback – I think is the kind way to put it – suggested that no one would use it.

I wonder what the tariffs will be this time around

West Coast Cost

In related news, Washington State’s highly-praised West Coast Electric Highway will switch from a free-to-use business model to a pay-to-charge model on the first April. Like other charging networks it seems that the free-to-use business model, originally funded by a combination of state and federal money, was unsustainable when official governmental funding ended.

It is expected that the West Coast Electric Highway — currently administered by charging provider AeroVironment … capital A and V (really, what is it with eco companies and random capitals?) — will offer EV owners a choice of two different ways to pay for the electricity they use at its DC rapid charge stations.

The first option comes in the form of a twenty dollar monthly subscription, entitling drivers to unlimited use of the twelve rapid chargers along the Washington portion of the West Coast Electric Highway.

However, if you don’t use these chargers enough to warrant that kind of subscription, you will be able to pay a flat fee of seven dollars fifty per rapid charge. The main worry with this, though, is will it cause a charger use to become bottlenecked as drivers insist on staying connected to the rapid charger for as long as possible – regardless of how slow it is putting power into their car at the top end of the battery?

However, one thing is clear, it seems this company is able to let people know what the charging tariffs are going to be nine weeks in advance. Which is very good.

Bye Bye BYD

Green Tomato Cars, one of London’s best known private minicab companies, has pulled out of a 50-car deal with Chinese battery company turned automaker BYD

As The Telegraph reports, the two firms appear to have reached a mutual decision to end a deal originally signed in twenty twelve in which Green Tomato Cars — the second largest minicab operator in the UK’s capital city — would have operated fifty all-electric e6 Minicabs alongside its existing fleet of Toyota Priuses.

Hamish Phillips, Marketing Maestro at Green Tomato Cars, stated:

“We have an internal innovation project that looks specifically at developments in alternative fuel vehicles so we’re very aware that the market is maturing rapidly. At the moment we’re very interested in the Tesla Model S – it’s a beautiful car, and takes the electric vehicle to another level, beating many of its ICE equivalents.”

Having driven both the BYD e6 and the Tesla Model S, I know which one I would choose for a taxi fleet. One has lots of space and power and the other… well, doesn’t.

Driving On Air

French automaker Peugeot confirmed its plans to bring an all-new hybrid car to the marketplace which will have zero-emissions capability in and around town and the potential to dramatically reduce tailpipe emissions on the motorway. The technology will be officially unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, and is expected to be offered as an option on the B-segment Peugeot 2 double 0 8 by twenty sixteen.

Unlike other hybrid cars to date however, Peugeot’s new technology won’t use a conventional high-voltage battery pack or an electric motor. Instead, it plans to be one of the first automakers to mass-produce a hybrid air car.

Under normal highway driving, the car would be mainly powered by a small three cylinder gasoline engine, producing the same kind of emissions and gas mileage as any modern, lightweight three-banger. But at lower speeds, the engine stops powering the car and an air-powered hydraulic motor takes over, drawing its power from a compressed air tank located down the centre of the car where a traditional transmission tunnel would be.

What isn’t clear from the press releases thus far is if Peugeot plans to make its hybrid air technology a plug-in hybrid, or if the air tank will only be filled by the car when in motion.

What’s really cool about this is that without a battery or any rare-Earth metals, this car has the very real potential for being nice and cheap. I can’t wait to have a go in this!

Tesla Q4 Information

This week Tesla gave it’s official quarter four report for twenty thirteen. I’ll give you a quick rundown here but overall the numbers are very good:

Depending on the accounting method you use, Tesla either had a net income of forty six million dollars or lost sixteen million dollars. This difference is due to looking at the books using generally accepted accounting principles or non-generally accepted accounting principles. Which is a thing in accounting…

During Quarter four, Tesla managed to deliver a total of six thousand eight hundred and ninety two Model Ss worldwide, making a twenty thirteen sales total of twenty two thousand four hundred and seventy seven.

For twenty fourteen, Tesla says it aims to deliver thirty five thousand Model S cars globally, representing a fifty five percent increase in production over last year, with a production goal of around a thousand cars per week by the end of the year. Which is quite frankly amazing.

I’ll stop spouting numbers at you now, but if you want to know more, have a look at the story on our site.

Viva Via Motors

And finally…

Automotive giant Bob Lutz was appointed as Chair of Via Motors this week. Via Motors create range extended electric trucks – I kid you not. And their marketing is pure comedy gold. Seriously. We’ve had twirling aerial gymnasts at motor shows above their stands and electric horses running at TV screens in video adverts.

One major plus for these trucks is that they have power output, using the stored electricity in the battery to power tools and so on. Not a bad idea.


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