Transport Evolved Episode 188: Wanted: Time Machine

On today’s Transport Evolved: EV Networks prepare to charge for plugging in, BYD’s e6 gets dropped by Green Tomato Cars, Tesla Stock soars, the BMW i3 REx isn’t on the HOV-list yet and stickers are running out, and why Renault needs to make a Zoe GT.

These stories and more, on today’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Mark Chatterley and Seth Weintraub.

Award-winning journalist and blogger Seth Weintraub has many years of experience covering the tech world, and won backto back Neal Awards during his three plus years  covering Apple and Google at IDG’s Computerworld from 20072010.

Weintraub next covered all things Google for Fortune Magazine from 2010-2011 amassing a thick rolodex of Google contacts.

It turns out that his hobby 9to5Mac.com blog was always his favorite and in 2011 he went full time adding his Fortune Google followers to 9to5Google.com and adding the9to5Toys.com gear and deals site. His EV-centric site eletrek.co is required reading for in-depth analysis of the plug-in and green energy world.

For 15 years, Weintraub was a Global IT director and Web Developer for a number of companies with stints at multimedia and branding agencies in Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, Hong Kong, Madrid and London before becoming a publisher/blogger. Seth is a licensed single engin private pilot, certified open water diver and spent over a year traveling to 60 cities in 23 countries. Whatever free time exists is now guaranteed to his wife and two sons.

(For his social and contact details, ping visit his About.me page)

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

Introduction

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

Part 1

EV networks prepare to start charging in the U.K. and in Washington State, Green Tomato Cars cancels BYD deal, VW shares plug-in GTE pictures, and the XchangE reveals it’s built on the Model S.

[00:04:24]

Earlier this week, UK-based Chargemaster reiterated its plans to charge customers for using its public stations from April 1, just like the West Coast Electric Highway in Washington state. The former says it plans to offer a series of different ‘tariffs’ for customers, as well as pay-as-you-go options, but has yet to ‘finalise pricing’. Over in Washington state, WCEH operator Areovironment says it will charge either a $20 monthly ‘unlimited use’ tariff, or a $7.50 PAYG model.

What’s a fair charge for refilling your car, is this an inevitable switch, and are there other business models that would work too? Moreover, will it put people off buying an EV in the first place?

[00:12:55]

UK-based Green Tomato Cars, London’s third biggest minicab firm, cancelled its 50-car order for the BYD e6 electric car earlier this week. Both firms say they had mutually decided to end the order, and an all-new minicab firm has sprung up in London to make use of the 50-or-so BYD e6 cars originally ordered by GTC.

No official reasons have been given, and GTC says it will continue to buy and use green EVs and plug-ins, as well as trial a hydrogen-powered Hyundai. Was there something wrong with the BYD e6? Was the ordering process delayed? Were there quality control issues? Or did better-spec cars from Nissan put GTC off the Chinese automaker?

[00:18:40]

Ahead of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen has unveiled pictures and more details of its 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid. Designed to be the sporty, electrified Golf, it will go on sale alongside the all-electric eGolf in VW’s comprehensive Golf lineup. What do we think of this important car?

[00:23:40]

Staying with Geneva, concept-car genius Rinspeed revealed more details about its XchangE self-driving concept car, due to be unveiled next month in Geneva. We’ve covered this car before, but now we learn that it has been built on a Tesla Model S. Here’s what we think.

Ad Break: 

Since we’ve started using YouTube for our online streaming, we’re at a point where we can’t embed adverts into our regular live stream. However, we think it’s really worth going to www.auidblepodcast.com/transportevolved to join the fantastic Audible service. There are over 80,000 titles to choose from covering pretty much any topic you care to mention. Sign up, and you can hear your favourite stories being read to you by some of the best names in Entertainment!
 
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Part 2

Tesla Stock soars this week amidst good Q4 reports and Apple rumors, Maximum Bob becomes Via Motors’ chair, Volt owner gets their charge cord cut, Honda Insight, CR-Z Pulled from Europe, and half of Cadillac dealers say no to the ELR.

[00:29:45]

Tesla’s stock has had a truly impressive week, soaring to over $200 per share, more than ten-fold what it originally was at the time of Tesla’s IPO, and enough to let someone who invested just $10,000 back then buy a fully-kitted out Model S today. The share price, partly driven by rumors that Tesla and Apple were considering a merger, rose even higher after Tesla revealed really positive Q4, 2013 figures on Wednesday.  Is there no stopping Apple? What’s next for the hottest name in transport today?

[00:40:30]

‘Maximum’ Bob Lutz, considered to be the ‘Father of the Chevrolet Volt’ by many, has said some pretty nasty and pretty positive things about EVs in his life. For the past few years, he’s been involved with both VL Automotive — which converts the Fisker Karma into a ‘vette powered, gas-guzzling, non plug-in monster — and Via Motors — which converts Chevy trucks into V6 plug-in hybrids. This week, Lutz was promoted to chair of Via Motors, but what does that mean for the company moving forward? Do we need plug-in pickups, or will this company go the same way that all those other ‘conversion’ companies of yore?

[00:46:00]

Not everyone loves plug-in cars. Some people even actively hate them. But what would move someone to physically cut the charge cable of a Chevy Volt owner in Florida?  We fill you in on the details, and ask if this is something we need to be prepared for in the future?

[00:52:22]

When it comes to hybrid cars, the Toyota Prius wins the brand war almost every time, but Honda’s hybrid Insight and sporty CR-Z come a close second for many. This week however, Honda announced it was pulling the plug on these two hybrid models in Europe, citing tough competition from diesel engines. Is this an excuse, or a sad truth that is impeding hybrid and plug-in EV adoption rates in the EU?

[00:56:10]

The luxury, premium-market cousin of the Chevy Volt, the Cadillac ELR, is horribly overpriced for what it offers, causing many car buyers to ignore it and buy a Tesla Model S instead. They’re not alone: half of Cadillac dealers are refusing to even sell it. Here’s why.

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

BMW i3 EV gets listed on CARB HOV-lane exemption — but i3 REx not certified yet and Green HOV-lane stickers will probably run out by May. Peugeot promises hybrid air car for 2016, 2014 Nissan LEAF now available for order, we ask how safe H2 really is, and Mark explains why we need a Renault Zoe GT.

[00:58:15]

BMW has been promising us for months that its i3 REx (i3 BEVx) would be eligible for the green HOV-lane sticker in California, meaning single occupant drivers with the sticker can use HOV-lanes. Earlier this week however, the i3 BEV appeared on CARB’s official HOV-lane list, but not the i3 REx. As far as we can tell, the i3 REx hasn’t even been put forward for certification yet, there are an estimated eight weeks of limited-availability green HOV-lane stickers left, and neither BMW nor CARB are willing to talk. What’s going on?

[01:03:45]

Instead of following more conventional hybrid drivetrain technology (Peugeot does have electrified hybrids) Peugeot has now promised hybrid-air technology in its 2016 model year Peugeot 2008 crossover. Here’s how it will work, and why we’re not yet convinced of air-car feasibility in the future. 

[01:07:00]

Many automakers are looking towards hydrogen cars instead of plug-in cars as the future of transport. But, Propublica asks this week how safe hydrogen really is.  We think you should read it.

[01:10:00]

And finally…

Earlier this week, Mark and Nikki had a bit of fun taking out regular cars at a Renault Press-driving day. As part of our ruminations on the day, Mark decided that Renault needs to make a Zoe GT, with better torque and more performance. Do you agree?

READER FEEDBACK

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  • Guest

    Great show you guys, as always! In regards to the BMW REx engine, it’s made by Kymco in Taiwan to BMW spec. You can read more about it in Rider Magazine. Here is a quick overview. It’s not a two-stroke engine, like one would find in a lawnmower. That’s something that originated with Steve Juvertson’s Fox News interview last year. nnhttp://bit.ly/bmwscooterkymconnThe liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 647cc, chain-driven DOHC (shim over bucket) twin is most notable for its long, flat layout with a 70-degree inclined cylinder bank, which gives the scooters a low center of gravity. It also has crankpins that are offset 90 degrees (rather than the usual 180 or 360) and ignition at 270 degrees for a sporty feel and sound, with dual counterbalancers to cancel vibration. nnA centrifugal clutch engages the CVT, comprising two pulleys connected by a thick V-belt. As engine speed changes, one pulley widens and the other narrows, moving the belt toward or away from the center of each and raising or lowering the gear ratio. Weu2019ll have more details on maintenance later, but I did find out that the CVT belt needs attention and possible replacement at 20,000 kilometers, or 12,427 miles.

  • Guest

    Great show you guys, as always! In regards to the BMW REx engine, it’s made by Kymco in Taiwan to BMW spec. You can read more about it in Rider Magazine. Here is a quick overview. It’s not a two-stroke engine, like one would find in a lawnmower. That’s something that originated with Steve Juvertson’s Fox News interview last year. nnhttp://bit.ly/bmwscooterkymconnThe liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 647cc, chain-driven DOHC (shim over bucket) twin is most notable for its long, flat layout with a 70-degree inclined cylinder bank, which gives the scooters a low center of gravity. It also has crankpins that are offset 90 degrees (rather than the usual 180 or 360) and ignition at 270 degrees for a sporty feel and sound, with dual counterbalancers to cancel vibration. nnA centrifugal clutch engages the CVT, comprising two pulleys connected by a thick V-belt. As engine speed changes, one pulley widens and the other narrows, moving the belt toward or away from the center of each and raising or lowering the gear ratio. Weu2019ll have more details on maintenance later, but I did find out that the CVT belt needs attention and possible replacement at 20,000 kilometers, or 12,427 miles.