T.E.N Electric Car News March 14, 2014, Ep.25: Tesla Ban, e-NV200 Pricing, Rocket Cars

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 44-year charging session, Tesla ban in New Jersey, GM attacks Tesla in Ohio, e-NV200 being priced in Germany, electric taxis in Amsterdam, Audi R8 e-tron custom-ordering, Electric Avenue takeup, Volkswagen e-Golf pricing, longer-range battery packs, Indiegogo EV colouring book, and a great Tesla Model S Ad.

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 25 Show Notes


44 Years And Going Strong

Last week, we told you about plans by Chargemaster — a UK-based EV charging infrastructure company — to introduce a complex and confusing series of tariffs for anyone who wishes to charge using its Polar Network of slow, medium and rapid charging stations come April first.

As we think you’ll remember, neither Mark nor I were particularly impressed with some of the proposed charges, and you’ll see a fair few of our “Thought of the Day” videos from last week focus on this topic.

But this week, we heard from a gentleman in the UK whose current Polar Network account logged him as having made a 44-year charging session with his Nissan LEAF.

Starting in 1970, 2 years before the polar network even existed, Mr. David Davies was told by the computer that he’d used a massie two point four eight MILLION kilowatt-hours of electricity. Something it proclaimed would have saved him one point six million pounds in fuel costs.

Sufficed to say, neither Mr. Davies or his car had actually charged for that long, and we’re assuming it was a hardware or software fault translating to this rather bizarre ghost in the machine.

Let’s hope Polar Network sorts that particular bug out before it starts charging people to charge, eh?

It’s The New Jersian Way?

With many of its officials and even the Governor’s office under investigation for corruption and malpractice, the state of New Jersey hasn’t really left the political news headlines since the start of the year.

From the George Washington Memorial Bridge scandal to the investigation into the blackmailing of the Mayor of Hoboken, much of New Jersey’s political reputation is on the line, and this week the integrity of its Motor Vehicle Commission was under scrutiny as it passed a new regulation at the last minute banning Tesla Motors from selling directly to customers in the Garden State.

Although the NJMVC tried to keep its agenda a secret until the last minute, news of the planned vote reached Tesla on Monday night — and it mobilized its owners and supports around it for the Tuesday meeting.

Sadly, the motion was passed before any public comment was heard, making New Jersey the third state in the U.S. where buying a Model S isn’t going to be easy.

Unless various democratic legislators in New Jersey manage to overturn the new rule — which Governor Christie’s administration approved immediately with effect from April 1, Tesla will have to up its game if it wants to regain the right to sell direct to customers instead of through dealers come the end of this month.

If you’re interested in a blow-by-blow account of the day, be sure to visit our live-blog coverage of the event at www dot transport evolved dot com.

GM Backstabs Tesla

In related news, it appears that General Motors has been laying down its age-old struggle with the auto dealer associations and siding with them in an attempt to encourage legislators in Ohio to ban Tesla from selling direct to customers there too.

As Bloomberg reported earlier this week, GM — who makes the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR range-extended EVs — submitted official written testimony to the Ohio State Senate Committee responsible for considering legislation that would require all new cars to be sold to customers through a third-party, independent dealership.

In its submission, GM argued that Tesla was an automobile manufacturer that competed directly with the Detroit giant in the marketplace. As a result, it argued, Tesla should compete on the same terms as GM — and sell through franchised dealers rather than direct to customers.

On one hand, we can see why GM would like Tesla to follow the same business model it has for year — but on the other, we think it’s more than just a little mean to chase after a competitor by testifying against them in the legislative courts.

It’s left us feeling more than a little uncomfortable. What about you?

Same as the LEAF?

Last week at the Geneva motor show, Nissan showed off the production version of its highly-anticipated e-NV200 electric van for the very first time. While official pricing still hasn’t been released for the U.S. or the UK, we did get a hint this week that suggests that Nissan’s so-called ‘game-changing’ cargo and minivan models will prove tough competition for other automakers in the market.

According to several German-lanugage sites, the all-electric e-NV200 and e-NV200 Evalia will go on sale this year for just over twenty nine thousand eight hundred and nineteen euros including battery pack, or twenty four thousand one hundred and fifty seven euros with a battery pack rental on top.

That’s almost the same price that the all-electric Nissan LEAF — on which the e-NV200 relies for its motor, battery pack, and charging circuits — retails for in the same country.

With an expected real-world range somewhere around 80 miles per charge, CHAdeMO quick charge capability and an optional six point six kilowatt on-board charger, we think the e-NV200 commercial vehicle will literally fly off dealer lots later this year if it’s priced similarly across the globe.

As for the e-NV200 Evalia Minivan? I’m a mom with two growing pre-teen kids and two dogs. I’m seriously considering an upgrade from my LEAF.


In related news, Taxi Electric an Amsterdam-based taxi firm, has been announced as the world’s first privately run taxi company to use Nissan e-NV200 Evalia ‘taxis’ to shuttle customers around the environmentally-conscious city.

Already operating a fleet of twenty-five Nissan LEAF cars in and around Amsterdam — and I’ve seen a couple at the airport — Taxi Electric will take ownership of the minivans just as soon as production starts later this year, and will be just great for doing those high-fare, heavy-hauling runs to and from the airport.

Production of the e-NV200 begins in May this year at one of Nissan’s spanish production facilities, and vehicles are expected to hit dealer lots some time this summer.

For Taxi Electric, drivers will be able to use the same charging infrastructure as they currently use for the firm’s fleet of LEAFs, meaning it’ll be easy for drivers to swap and change between the two all-electric Nissan models with ease.

Sadly, we believe the variant of the e-NV200 headed for Amsterdam won’t have the iconic round headlights and specially-designed grille of London’s official new hackney carriage — also an NV200  — but we still think it’s pretty cool.

Made To Fit

German automaker Audi has a woefully complicated history with electric cars, caused in part by members of its board who don’t seem all that convinced that electric cars will succeed in the marketplace. As a consequence, we’ve seen cars like its all-electric R8 E-Tron sports car pushed and pulled from production plans like an indecisive teenager deciding what clothes to wear on a date.

But this week, Audi finally confirmed that the R8 e-tron is due to enter production this year. Or rather it will be available as a special order variant of the R8 for those die-hard fans who really want — and can afford — one.

Previously designed by Audi as a concept car and then built in limited numbers as part of an engineering prototype fleet, the R8 e-tron combined good looks with two powerful 140 kilowatt electric motors and a 48.6 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack for blistering performance and track prowess.  Yet mediocre real-world range of 113 miles at normal speeds — much less at the blistering 135 mph top speed of the R8 on the German Autobahn — led Audi to state last summer that it would never bring the R8 e-tron to production.

At the start of this year however, Audi’s Technical Technical Chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg confirmed that substantial improvements  in battery pack design now meant the R8 e-tron had a massively increased range and massively reduced production cost. Moreover, Hackenberg said, this meant the R8 e-tron was heading into production — at least if he could convince Audi’s board.

Speaking at Audi’s Annual press conference, it seems that Hackenberg was at least partly successful.

Like so many other luxury sports cars then, the Audi R8 e-tron will be made to order, meaning anyone who wants one — and can afford its likely high-figure yet undisclosed sticker price — will find themselves with a long wait between placing an order and enjoying zero emission German fun.

But does this make the car a real car, or just an expensive toy?

Down Electric Avenue

We’re often told by automakers and EV skeptics that charging infrastructure is the biggest hurdle to EV adoption. Make public charging easier and more accessible we’re told, and more people will make the switch from petrol to electricity.

But in the UK, a pilot project offering subsidised Nissan LEAF leases has been inundated with applicants, so much so that the project has more applicants than available cars.

My Electric Avenue is a massive £9 million ($14.9 million) study being administered by private company EA Technology in collaboration with Scottish and Southern energy. Its goal: to create artificially-high pockets of all-electric neighbourhoods or streets by offering residents a great lease deal on an all-electric Nissan LEAF — then study what the impact of all those electric cars is on the electrical grid.

In order to entice people to take part in the program and ensure enough cars to make the study a success, My Electric Avenue offered substantial discounts to participants on an all-electric Nissan LEAF for the 18 month duration of the program.  The lease prices varied according to expected mileage, car specification and number of local participants, but were substantially cheaper than those offered through regular channels such as a dealer or leasing company.

We’ll find out more about the findings of the study in 18 months after the trial has ended, but we think there’s one thing this trial has already proven: EV adoption is dependent on cost more than anything else.

Not a Golf Cart

This week Volkswagen has unveiled the Uk pricing of the much anticipated e-Golf along with opening the books for UK orders.

The e-Golf is priced at £25,845 after the £5000 UK Government plug-in grant has been taken into account. The e-Golf can be ordered from one of 24 Volkswagen EV specialist Retailers across the UK, with the first deliveries expected at the end of June. The e-Golf will sit alongside the other plug in Volkswagens, namely the e-Up! – which we’ve been driving on review this week – and the Golf GTE plug-in hybrid.

The car comes with a 26.5kWh battery pack that powers a 85kW electric motor.

That gives a 0 – 62mph time of 10.4 seconds, almost a whole second faster than the 1.6-litre turbo diesel version of the car.

Each of these stats is a little ahead of its nearest rival the Nissan LEAF which has a 24kWh battery pack, a 80kW motor and a 0 – 62 time of around 11 seconds. To put this in context a fully loaded LEAF comes in at £25,490 although this can be reduced by £5000 if a buyer opts to rent the battery.

As with other European manufacturers the car uses the Combined Charging System (CCS) to keep the battery full of electrons. At home the car can be topped up with a 10A ‘domestic socket’ cable or charged with a dedicated charging station at 16A. These take 13 and eight hours respectively. No option for an upgraded on-board charger is offered.

The DC pins on the CCS socket allow the car to be rapid charged at up to 40kW allowing a 0 – 80% charge in 35 minutes in ideal conditions.

Like the Nissan LEAF when it was first launched the e-Golf only has one option for the potential buyer. That’s whether to upgrade the onboard heating system to use a heat pump for an additional £825. The heat pump will allow drivers to conserve range in the winter as it requires far less energy to generate heat than the standard heater. Volkswagen believe a 20% increase in range in winter is possible with the heat pump.

I’ll be in Berlin next week driving this important car for the first time — and I’ve got to admit to being a little excited. I’ll be sure to let you know how it drives and plan to live-tweet from the event, so make sure you’re following @Transportevolve on Twitter!

Much, Much Further 

Staying with Volkswagen, the German automaker announced this week that it has boffins bench-testing a new battery chemistry capable of providing three to four times the power of current battery packs in a similar physical size.

Talking with The Telegraph at the Geneva Motor Show last week, it appears VW has been working hard on a new type of lithium-air battery technology that has the potential to revolutionise the EV world.

For reference, four times the power in the same physical space would mean a car like the LEAF would travel more than 280 miles per charge. A car with a battery pack the size of the one found in the Tesla Model S could theoretically be capable of more than a thousand.

Of course, Volkswagen is pretty tight-lipped about the specifics of this technology, but we’ve got to admit — it’s pretty exciting. Now if only someone would put it in a car and give us the keys…

Hitting a Wombat? 

Have you ever worried about what happens if you hit a wombat in your electric car? Or perhaps you’ve pondered the practicality of plugging in your electric chainsaw into your car’s 12-volt accessory output?

No, we haven’t either, but a duo from California — one of whom works as a Tesla salesperson — have just come up with a fun colouring book which answers these — and many more — questions about electric cars.

Called An Unpretentious Guide and Coloring Book to Electric Vehicles, the book is currently being kickstarted to raise enough funds to make it a reality. For just $15, you can even get your very own copy of the book, your kids — if you have any — will have something fun to do, and you won’t have to worry about hitting a wombat.

and finally….

Eight Again

Do you remember being seven? We do.

Do you remember playing pretend with cardboard boxes? Same here.

How about sneaking into your parent’s garage and playing pretend with a $100,000 sports sedan?

Erm… No.

Yet that’s exactly what happens in TESLA — “Modern Spaceship,” a new fan-made ad for Tesla Motors and its luxury high performance electric sedan.

In it, our intrepid space explorer dons his home-made spacesuit, fires his rocket, and seems content enough exploring the alien world  he finds himself in. Until that is, he discovers a new spaceship docked in the garage.

We think you can probably see where this is going — but we loved this fun fan-made film from the team at EverdreamPictures. Not only does it show they’re great at film making, but it marks them off as folks with pretty good taste. We like.


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