T.E.N. Electric Car News March 21, 2014. Ep26: Renault and Nissan, Rapid Charging, Tesla and New Jersey and City Driving.

Welcome to episode twenty six 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 Renault-Nissan Alliance moves closer together, BMW i3 Rex range, the lack of Californian green stickers, Renault’s Twizy gets a movie role, Toyota’s i-Road gets more testing, CHAdeMO becomes the international DC rapid charging standard, news that Renault may be phasing out rapid AC charging, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie blames Tesla for the anti-Tesla laws, a new coast to coast US DC rapid charging network and road worthiness tests for electric cars.

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 26 Show Notes

Renault and Nissan Sitting in a tree…

In business you hear a lot of terms like ‘implementing convergence plans’ and ‘achieving annual synergy’ and quite frankly, they make my mind spin.

But this week an announcement from the Renault-Nissan alliance used just those phrases and more to let us know that they plan to work even closer together in future. In order to achieve a minimum four point three billion euro annual synergy goal the two companies have agreed to implementing convergence plans in four key areas.

Engineering, Manufacturing & Supply Chain Management, Purchasing, and Human Resources.

It’s the Engineering one that piqued our interest as it includes the advanced research and electric powertrain development.

With Renault and Nissan having between them five different production electric vehicles on the market and others on the way we hope this convergence will allow them to learn from each of these vehicles strengths to push electric cars and vehicles forward.

Now, pop quiz, can you name all five EVs available from the two manufacturers?

Tick tock…

Okay. Pencils down. It’s the LEAF, the ZOE, the Twizy, the Kangoo ZE and the e-NV200. The Fluence, of course, having been pulled from production.

How far can it really go?

In a slightly sneaky move, BMW have stated on their BMW i3 microsite that the i3 range-extended model has a range per charge of between ‘one hundred and sixty and one hundred and eighty miles’.

This could be taken, by those not in the know, as indicating that the i3Rex has a larger battery pack than its all-electric sibling. In reality however, this isn’t true: the BMW i3 Rex and BMW i3 are identically specced in terms of battery pack, electric motor and charging circuit.

That’s not true – the engine in the car will switch on (or be switched on by the user in some countries) to recharge the battery while the car is in motion.

In the best case, we are hoping that in the minds of those that put this site together that they see the petrol range-extended as just enabling further all-electric range. The flip side of this, the worst case, is that BMW is just being plain deceitful. But I’m sure this isn’t the case and it will be corrected shortly.

Maybe what we need here is an established format for range extended electric cars. A stated ‘all-electric’ range and a stated ‘total combined’ range maybe?

Get them before they’re gone

We’ve talked before about the much coveted HOV lane access stickers in California. There are two types, a white sticker that is unlimited and available to cars that are one hundred per cent zero emission. And a limited edition green sticker that has a wider remit – allowing plug in hybrids.

There were only forty thousand of these green stickers to be claimed and at the last count more than thirty six thousand two hundred and thirty had been claimed. Basically, they’re almost gone.

With less than ten per cent of the green stickers left the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles has suspended a program designed to make it possible for auto dealers to pre-emptively apply for green HOV-lane access decals ahead of a vehicle sale.

In many ways it was a win-win situation: customers could buy cars with the sticker pre-applied, avoiding the hassle of the ‘what we assume is very tedious’ paperwork with the DMV. In turn, auto dealers could profit from having ‘pre-registered’ cars ready to drive away on their lo. But no more.

It seems the days of the green sticker are numbered. So if you want one – best apply soon!

Background role for Renault Twizy

More and more electric cars are popping up in TV shows and films. The latest electric car to have this honour bestowed upon it is Renault’s ‘go-kart like’ and brilliant fun to drive Twizy.

Terry Gilliam’s latest feature film The Zero Theorem will have people in the background zooming about in Twizys – because let’s face it, they do look a tad futuristic.

The film’s producer Patrick Newall said “We’re using the Twizy as the predominant picture vehicle in the movie. It’s the car that you’ll see driving in the streets in all of the scenes. It’s the car that in all of the exterior scenes will be on the street.”

However it isn’t the only electric star of the movie. The eagle eyed viewers may be able to spot the odd GEM neighbourhood electric vehicle too.

The Zero Theorem is in theatres in the UK right now and will open across mainland Europe throughout spring and summer. US viewers will have to wait until the summer. Sorry.

Leaning on the future of transport

The ‘last mile’ problem in transportation is a problem that all manufacturers want to solve. basically people are crying out for fast, reliable and green transportation from a central transportation hub – such as a train or bus station – to their final destination.

It’s an untapped and potentially very lucrative market. Once such contender for the solution is Toyota’s electric i-Road – a three-wheeled leaning tandem vehicle designed for quick and easy transportation within a city.

This week it was announced that thirty Toyota i-Roads will be making their way to the city of Grenoble, France to be used by residents and visitors as part of a new trial.

This adds to an existing trial in Japan where the i-Road is being used as part of a ‘car-share’ scheme in Toyota City, Aichi. Operating in a similar way to bike-share schemes across the world, the i-Road is available to anyone who needs one to conquer the ‘last mile’ of their journey.

The i-Road is powered by two 2kW motors mounted on the front wheels. It is claimed that these are able to provide ‘brisk acceleration and near silent running’ – I’d like to give one a go to see if that’s the case. The i-Road has a top speed of 28 miles per hour (that’s about 45 kilometres per hour) and has a stated range of around 30 miles.

The coolest thing about the car? It has active lean technology. The vehicle will actually tilt into corners, adjusting the vertical positioning of the front wheels to give a more ‘motorbike’ feel to the handling of the three-wheeled vehicle.

Just awesome!

DC Fast Charging standard… finally

CHAdeMO, the Japanese rapid charging standard that is in use on Nissan, Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Kia cars – to name but a few, has this week become the official international standard for rapid charging.

First introduced in two thousand and nine with the Japanese-market Mitsubishi i-Miev, the CHAdeMO standard is capable of recharging the battery packs of cars like the Nissan LEAF and Kia Soul EV from empty to eighty per cent full in as little as thirty minutes. Used on everything from electric motorcycles to full-size electric busses, CHAdeMO is also the world’s most commonly used DC quick charge standard, with what we’d estimate to be more than one hundred thoudand CHAdeMO-equipped vehicles on the road.

Technically it was officially accepted in January but it has only appeared on the International Electrotechnical Commission’s website this week.

However, this isn’t the end of the Rapid Charge Wars – yeah… I just made that name up – but it sounds cool so I’m going with it. This isn’t the end of the Rapid Charge wars. The EU still plans to phase out CHAdeMO stations by the end of twenty eighteen and replace them with the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) charger.

Of course, Tesla is going their own way with their own standard…

End of AC Rapid Charging?

And then there is Renault with their ZOE. They don’t use DC rapid charging, instead preferring to use rapid AC charging at forty three kilowatts.

However this week Transport Evolved learned from an anonymous source that Renault may be stopping its policy on subsidising the purchase and installation of these charging, relying on charge providers to support its car without financial incentives.

In order to encourage adoption rates of its cars, Renault — along with its alliance partner Nissan — has partly funded the installation of Europe-wide ‘dual-head’ charging networks, with a forty three kilowatt AC connector and a fifty kilowatt DC CHAdeMO connector fitted.

We reached out to Renault for official comment on the story last night and was told that the automaker was not able to confirm the rumor. Instead, we were told, charging station installations were being examined on a case by case basis.

Of course, due to the Chameleon charger in the ZOE the car can still charge at other ‘fast’ rates including twenty two kilowatts which is much more prevalent in Europe. This will give the car a full charge in about an hour and twenty minutes.

Still… It’s a bit of a bummer.

When confronted, blame Tesla

This week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie publicly tried to set record straight about a recent vote made by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to ban Tesla from selling direct to customers in the Garden State.

Christie claims Tesla ignored all of New Jersey’s warnings that it was operating outside of the law, continuing to operate in the state as if nothing was wrong. Which personally I find very interesting… If that were the case, surely new regulation wouldn’t have been needed? But then US politics is a little confusing to me.

Tesla’s maintains that Christie and his administration had mediated months of dialogue between the electric automaker, the state Motor Vehicle Commission and powerful auto dealer lobbyists in an attempt to come to a suitable resolution.

Christie said, “I have no problem with Tesla selling directly to customer, except that it’s against the law in New Jersey. If Tesla wants to they can go to the 120 members of the state legislature and change the law.”

I’ll just leave that quote there for a moment… Because that’s how creating laws should work, right? If a company wants it changed they just need to talk to the right people?

Okay… Yes… I admit I am a little bias here. But this all just seems really weird to me.

Coast to Coast EV trips… But not in a Tesla?

It has been shown by both Tesla Model S owners and Tesla Motors himself that with the help of their supercharger network, driving coast to coast in an EV is totally doable. But what about all of us who drive the other EVs?

Well, GoE3 (Capital Gee and Eee) an Arizona-based company plans to help with that. They have set themselves the ambitious goal of electrifing routes across the U.S. from coast to coast, using high-powered DC quick charging stations.

They claim that they will roll out says out triple-head charging stations across the U.S. over the coming four years. By then, it says, there will be enough rapid charging stations along several major U.S. routes that EV drivers in everything from a Nissan LEAF to a Chevrolet Spark will be able to join Tesla Model S drivers in being able to cross the U.S. without burning a drop of gasoline.

Each of their stations, they say, will support CHAdeMO, CCS and Tesla SuperCharging. GoE3 claims it will fund the installation of the 1,250 charging points itself, then charge customers a fee of around $6 for 100 miles worth of range.

But will this model work when Tesla is giving away the power?

The really interesting thing about this: To make the journey doable for shorter range cars they are going to have to put these stations no more than 65 (ish) miles apart. From my understanding of the US, this means that some of these charging stations will literally be in the middle of nowhere.


And finally…

In the UK – and many other parts of the world – it is the law that a vehicle has to be checked for road worthiness at regular intivals. In the UK we have our MOT test once a year although new cars get a three year pass.

This means that the first Nissan Leafs that were sold in this country are comin up for their very first MOT. I know mine is. I have it in less than a week. But what exactly is checked with this test when it comes to an electric car.

Well… Nikki got her car just before me and has thus had her MOT already. She wrote up a brilliant post going through what is checked and it is worth a read if you live in any country where this kind of test is going to happen.

Basically they check the car’s lights, horn, glass and wipers along with checking the body of the car for rust and corrosion. They then move on to suspension, steering, wheel bearings and brakes.

The final test is the easiest. The emissions test. They just stand there and take a deep lungful of clean air. That’s the best part, I bet.


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