T.E.N. Electric Car News March 7, 2014. Ep24: EV Sales, Charging Costs, New EVs and Awards

Welcome to episode twenty four 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 LEAFs great sales, the ZE range’s lacklustre sales, possible future upgrades for ZE cars, Chargemaster/POLAR charging costs, the e-NV200, car of the year awards, a Model X test mule and how PlayStation gamers get to drive the ZEOD RC car at Le Mans.

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.


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 24 Show Notes

More People Going LEAF

Sales of the Nissan LEAF for February this year were up by nearly one hundred and twenty per cent. This year Nissan sold one thousand four hundred and twenty five LEAFS compared to last year’s seven hundred and seventy two.

To put this number into context, more Nissan LEAFs were sold than Nissan Cubes, three seventy Zeds, G – T – Rs, and both the NV and NV two hundred trucks.

This spike in sales goes a long way to showing why Nissan announced back in January that it was planning to increase U.S. production of the LEAF to as many as forty or fifty thousand cars per year.

It all seems to be going very well for the LEAF.

ZE Slump?

But in related news, according to InsideEvs, sales figures for Renault’s Z.E. range were forty six per cent down in January. This may be expected due to the removal of the Fluence from Renault’s official electric car lineup last November. But looking into the figures a bit more closely shows that sales of the two-seat Twizy and the Renault Kangoo Z.E. van are also down by thirty eight per cent and seventy two per cent respectively.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. Sales of the Zoe hatchback are two hundred and sixty three per cent higher this year than they were last. But, to temper any joy in this fact, we must remind you that the Zoe wasn’t available in many markets until the middle of last year so a big increase was inevitable.

Renault Upgrades?

But it could be that Renault has some plans to help sales of their ZE range along. According to WhatCar? Renault’s EV boss Beatrice Foucher is open to the idea of offering existing EV customers battery pack upgrades at some point in the future, extending their car’s usefulness well beyond the current normal lifespan of a car.

Because the battery packs are leased rather than sold, Renault is in a unique position. As battery technology improves, so too can the battery packs Renault puts in customers cars, improving range, reducing weight and ultimately giving the customer a better car than they originally had.

Replacing a car’s battery pack with a newer, improved one isn’t just a drop-in replacement, though. As Foucher told What Car?, other parts of the car would need to be upgraded to make use of the improved battery. The control system would need to be updated to know that there was more capacity in the battery. It is also possible some of the electric systems would need to be changed too. But an upgrade is totally possible!

Which makes owning a Renault ZE quick exciting, if you ask me.

Charging for Charging

A couple of weeks ago we told you about the UK charging company ChargeMaster and their POLAR network and how they planned to start charging for charging come 1 April. At the time they had released no information on how much they would be charging or what their different tariffs would be.

This week this changed when they announced three different tariffs to serve anyone from the occasional user to someone who relies on their network for all their electricity. However they have very quickly come under fire from EV drives who say that all of their tariffs are far too expensive.

In some situations EV drivers could face paying the same kind of prices as those who drive internal combustion engined cars, and that is with UK petrol prices being around six pound per gallon. The whole costs are too complicated to go into here as along with different prices for slow, fast and rapid charging one tariff charges a standing fee monthly, one annually and one just requires online registration.

It is worth keeping in mind that on the Washington portion of the West Coast Electric Highway drivers are set to pay nineteen dollars ninety nine per month for unlimited use or seven dollars fifty per quick charge.

LEAF rental scheme may end

In related news Hertz on Demand vehicle rental – who have been operating a LEAF rental scheme in Milton Keynes – has said that it may end its trial early due to these costs being introduced by Chargemaster.

The introduction of these fees, they say, make their trial financially unviable. The trial was initially meant to run until July this year, but it looks like it may come to an end at the end of this month.

In the rental scheme people could rent a Nissan Leaf from five pounds per hour. Inside the car was a card that allowed access to all POLAR/Chargemaster charging stations in the city and around the rest of the country.

It will be a big shame if this trial comes to an end early. Does it signal a possible trend that may happen when charging for charging is so expensive?

Other Methods for Charging

But are there other ways in which the electricity can be paid for to ensure that making the switch to EVs is as simple as possible? US company Volta seems to think so. They are attaching electric vehicle charging stations to large advertising boards. The income from selling the high visibility ads on these boards goes – in part – to paying for the small cost of electricity from drivers plugging in.

The advertising boards are large and aimed at passers by, rather than to the driver of the electric cars directly. Blink tried something similar before it went bankrupt, but their ads were displayed on small screens or the charging stations themselves to be seen by the driver. Essentially they had charging stations with advertising slots on them – Volta has advertising billboards with charging stations attached to them.

This is a really simple and nice idea and we wish it all the best.

e-NV200 Electric Van Unveiled

After years of testing with various businesses such as IKEA, British Gas, Coca-Cola and FedEx, Nissan has finally unveiled its production-spec all-electric e-NV200 van at the Geneva Motor Show this week.

Available either as a commercial panel van or a five-seat minivan, the e-NV200 is based upon Nissan’s gasoline-powered NV200 van, but, says Nissan, has been extensively reengineered to ensure maximum efficiency as an electric vehicle.

Using the same drivetrain as the Leaf – twenty four kilowatt hour battery with an eighty kilowatt motor – the van outperforms its petrol version in naught to sixty time and we believe it will have a real world range of about sixty to eighty miles. Perfect for inner-city deliveries.

Interestingly, it seems that the seven-seat variant available in the NV200 hasn’t made it over to the electric version, but with no third row of seats the e-NV200 could still be a perfect fit for busy soccer parents with three kids, a lot of shopping, and a family pet to fit in.

Unlike the Renault Kangoo ZE, which has a similar setup – albeit with Renault’s drivetrain – the e-NV200 can be rapid charged using CHAdeMO.

Many Cars of the Year

In 2011 the Nissan LEAF won the title of European Car of the Year. The following year, the Chevrolet Volt and its European sibling, the Vauxhall or Opel Ampera got the awarded. And this year both the the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S made it to the shortlist. Brilliant. One of them had to win, didn’t they?

Well, no. Despite the best efforts of both cars to impress the judges, the Peugeot 308 has just been crowned 2014 European Car of the Year. Yes… A fairly standard internal combustion engined car.

It seems that having two electric cars on the shortlist split the vote.

But maybe the BMW i3 will have another shot at it. On the second press day of the Geneva Motor Show, the three finalists each for World Green Car of the Year were announced and the BMW i3 is among them. Fingers crossed for the i3!

Is it a Model S? A Model X? A Test Mule?

This week some pictures emerged of a very interesting looking Model S with various external doodads and doohickies stuck to it and a weight strapped to the top. But what could it be?

A bit of investigating here and some photos from the EV community there and it seems this is a Model X test mule. Basically a modified Model S to test some aspect of the Model X make up in the real world. The weight having been added to the roof to raise the centre of gravity of the car to simulate the Model X.

I still get excited when I see any EV out and about. I’m not sure what my reaction would be if I saw a special, trussed up test mule. Permanent massive EV grin!

Who said gaming is a waste of time

And Finally…

A second driver to come from Nissan’s GT Academy program, that takes the best players from the PlayStation racing simulator Gran Turismo and puts them into real-world racing training, has been confirmed as a driver for the Nissan ZEOD RC in Le Mans this year.

The ZEOD RC is a hybrid racing car with Delta Wing styling. It is powered by a 3-cylinder turbo engine that is paired with two electric motors. Altogether they can push the car to speeds in excess of three hundred kilometers per hour (that’s more than one hundred and eight five miles per hour). The car uses regenerative braking to charge up the lithium ion batteries while racing.

Nissan is hoping the car will be able to do one whole lap of Le Mans on pure electrical power, a feat never achieved before.

The best thing about this story – two of the people driving this car use to just play racing games at home. See, mum! This is what could have happened if you didn’t force me to ‘go outside to get some fresh air’.



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