Transport Evolved Episode 190: A Fare Amount

On today’s Transport Evolved: Geneva Motor Show roundup, EV sales report for February, charging for free at your apartment, and being fleeced at public charging spots.

These stories and more, on today’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, John Voelcker, and Chelsea Sexton.

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


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

Welcome to the show! Today, Nikki is joined by editor of GreenCarReports, Classic Car aficionado and all-round nice guy John Voelcker, and former EV1 saleswoman, EV advocate, industry insider and teller of truths Chelsea Sexton.

A Stanford graduate, John has spend many years writing about and enjoying everything automotive. Currently a Senior Editor at HighGearMedia –– the company behind GreenCarReportsMotor Authority and The Car Connection – John can also be found contributing on Fox News, Tech Review, IEEE Spectrum, and He’s also an avid classic car fan, having authored and contributed to several books on classic british cars, and can often be found working on his own classic car collection and drooling over the Bring-a-Trailer listings.

One of the sales people for the original EV1 electric car, Chelsea rose to fame for her role in the Don’t Crush campaign back in the early noughties, which was captured in the film Who Killed the Electric Car? and of course its more triumphant sequel Revenge of the Electric Car, on which she was a consultant producer.

A tireless EV advocate and known for her direct approach and unwavering candor, Chelsea has worked more recently as an industry advisor, helping automakers like GM and Nissan with their electric car programs. She currently assists Nissan with its LEAF advisory board, but has no direct contact to the company’s day-to-day EV operations.

(You can find John on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, and read his daily posts on GreenCarReports. You can find Chelsea on Twitter or Facebook.

Part 1

A roundup from the Geneva Motor Show, we talk EV sales figures for February, ask if Renault is struggling to sell its plug-ins, if demand for the Tesla Model S has finally leveled out, and find out what the Cadillac ELR is really like to drive.


This week the 2014 Geneva Motor Show opened in Switzerland. With lots of interesting cars on display, there weren’t all that many EVs — although we did see premieres from the Volkswagen GTE, the e-NV200 and some rather fun concept cars. We run down the list.


February sales figures for U.S. plug-in cars are finally in. We ask our friend John Voelcker what these figures tell us about current attitudes towards plug ins, and ask if sales would have been higher had the weather been warmer.


Meanwhile, over in France, it seems like Renault has been struggling somewhat to sell all but its Zoe EV. We ask if Renault’s Z.E. range is suffering at the hand of tough competition, if consumers prefer other plug-ins, or if no-one wants a French EV.


Staying on the subject of sales figures, it seems as if Tesla Model S registrations in California have been gently dropping off over the past six months. We ask if demand for the Model S in the U.S. has reached a peak — or if it’s just a seasonal blip.


The Cadillac ELR extended range luxury two-door coupe has been in the news lately, most noticeably due to GM furiously backpedaling on what its  infamous “Poolside” ad really meant.  But what’s it like to drive? John Voelcker tells us.

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Part 2

UK charging provider Chargemaster details its tariffs for using the Polar Network from April 1, and Hertz threatens to end its EV rental scheme early in response. We also talk about how one U.S. company is giving free, ad-sponsored charging, and an L.A. Apartment complex becomes the first in the U.S. to offer free charging for life to its residents, plus why business analysts don’t understand Tesla.


We knew it was coming: UK charging provider Chargemaster unveiled just how much it would cost to charge your car using its Polar Network earlier this week. With a choice of three different payment models, the most expensive of which could cost upwards of £16 to fully rapid-charge an EV in cold weather, we ask if the network has a fair pricing, or if owners will just refuse to use it.


As a consequence of the new Chargemaster tariffs for Polar Network users, Hertz has said it will end its Milton Keynes electric car share scheme early, saying the new charges are simply too expensive for it to continue.

Is this just the start of a harder time for EVs in the UK?

It’s generally accepted that it’s impossible to provide free electric car charging indefinitely, but one U.S. company thinks it has the solution: combining a public charging station with a billboard, earning money from the ads and keeping charging free. Is this a good idea, or a bad one?


Staying with charging, an LA apartment complex has just become the first in the U.S. to offer free, unmetered access to thirty EV charging stations in its parking lot, dedicated to its tenants. Is free EV charging a must-have for any new (or old) apartment, and will Landlords want to invest the money in doing so?


With rocketing share prices, and a larger-than life CEO, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] nevers strays far from the headlines. But do business analysts really understand Tesla and its competitors? 

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…

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Part 3

BMW i3 and Tesla Model S fail to win European Car of the Year (and why), a programmer tries to make the Tesla Model S more intelligent, we spy a Model X test mule in the wild, and we thank Kia for finally getting the right message about EVs.


The European Car of the Year was announced this week as the Peugeot 308, not the BMW i3 or Tesla Model S — who were both short-listed for the prize. What went wrong, and were judges right to critisize both cars for their high sticker price?


The Nest thermostat is a clever piece of kit, learning your movements around the home and figuring out what temperature you like your home at what time of the day. But what if your EV could learn your movements, and pre-condition itself automagically throughout the day? One software developer is trying to raise $50,000 to make that a reality. 


There’s nothing better than spy shots to let us know that an automaker is working hard to produce a new car for us to enjoy — so spy shots from this week of a Tesla Model S testing out what we presume to be an all-wheel drive platform for the Model X made us very happy.

But if this is a Model X test-mule, isn’t it time Tesla started testing the drivetrain in the real car, with production just months from starting?


And finally…

Ad companies really don’t get EVs all that much. But it seems that Kia’s ad team — the same ones responsible for those cutesy hamsters — might have finally got it right. What do you think? 


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