T.E.N. Electric Car News March 28, 2014. Ep27: Tesla in NJ, LEAF Recall, Slashed Prices, Ford Ad

Welcome to episode twenty seven 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: a pro-Tesla bill in NJ, Tesla’s Ohio ‘compromise,’ Renault Zoe wins the Monte Carlo ZENN rally, Hydrogen cars coming next year, Nissan LEAF recall, BMW i3 BEVx in California, Vauxhall Ampera unofficial price cuts, and Ford tackles Cadillac in an ELR spoof.

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 27 Show Notes


Called Your Bluff

When the Republican governor of your state defends his actions by claiming he’s only following the law — then challenges those who don’t like it to change said law — there’s really only one thing for it: call his bluff.

That’s exactly what’s happened in New Jersey, where Democratic State Assemblyman Tim Eustace has sponsored a bill that would reverse a recent regulatory change from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission banning Tesla from selling electric cars direct to its customers.

You might remember we gave that March 11 vote quite a lot of coverage here on Transport Evolved because come April first — that’s next week — it will make it impossible for Tesla to sell cars in the state of New Jersey.  It will also make New Jersey one of three states in the U.S. where Tesla Stores are banned.

Assemblyman Eustace — who drives a Nissan LEAF as his main car — told us in an exclusive interview earlier this week that he began drafting Assembly bill A 2 9 8 6 as a direct response to the sudden and sneaky inclusion of anti-Tesla regulation into that March 11 Motor Vehicle Commission meeting.

By the time notorious Republican Governor Chris Christie went public last week to say the commission — which he personally appointed — was just ‘following rules,’ Eustace’s bill was days away from being introduced to the lower house.

If you want to read our interview in full with Eustace, do head over to www dot transport evolved dot com and check it out.

A ‘good compromise’

In related news, an ongoing battle between Tesla and auto dealer associations in Ohio was given a little boost this week with the news that the Ohio Senate Finance Committee has advanced an amendment to Ohio Senate Bill SB260 granting Tesla approval to open and operate a third Tesla Store in the state.

The amendment to Senate Bill SB260, a pro-dealer bill designed to stop Tesla Motors– and any other automaker — from selling cars direct to customers, will now be passed to the Senate for an official vote.

In its original form, SB260 would have allowed Tesla to continue selling cars to customers from its existing stores for as long as the automakers’ existing dealer licenses remained valid. Under the amendment advanced by the Ohio Senate Finance Committee however, Tesla would be given the chance to apply for a third store and service centre should the bill pass.

For Tesla Motors, its customers and its fans, the ongoing nationwide battle against powerful auto-dealer associations is far from over. Nor has SB260 been officially passed yet. But in this ongoing war, we think Tesla fans will want to stop and enjoy this victory for a little while.

Well done.

ZOE goes to Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo’s world famous rally — or rather its younger sibling, the 2014 Monte Carlo ZENN Rally — that’s Zero Emissions No Noise — was won last weekend by a Renault ZOE.

In total eighteen different teams took part, driving cars like the NIssan LEAF, Mitsubishi i-Miev, Tesla Roadster and Think City.  This year, a total of three teams took part with a Renault Zoe, but it was Renault’s ‘Works team’ driven by Greg Jon-ker-linck and co driver Yves Munier who walked — or rather drove — away with the trophy.

Winning outright in every single test, the duo’s car never fell below 42 percent full on the race, despite one moderately long 55-mile stage.

That, says Renault, was down to the ZOE’s on-board Chameleon Charger, which can refuel the ZOE from a twenty-two kilowatt three phase public charging station in a single hour and a purpose-built AC quick charge station in 30 minutes.

Facing thick fog and torrential rain, we suspect taking part in this year’s Monte Carlo Rally wasn’t quite as picturesque as it has been in previous years, but we look forward to seeing who will win next year.

And we can’t help but wonder how long it will be before someone enters an all-electric Volkswagen Beetle in the race, if only because we fell in love with the Monte Carlo rally thanks to Disney and a certain Bug with a mind of his own….


Nissan officially announced a recall yesterday of its 2013 and 2014 model year LEAF electric cars to fix a software bug which could prevent the passenger seat airbag from properly deploying in an accident.

The LEAF, like other modern cars on the market today, uses something called an Occupant Classification System ( or OCS) to determine if the front passenger seat is occupied or not. Essentially a specially-designed load-sensor, the OCS automatically disables activation of the front passenger airbag if it detects the seat is empty.

Yet a software bug, which has been duplicated across more than one million Nissan-made vehicles worldwide, could prevent the OCS from correctly operating. In affected vehicles, the system fails to detect that someone is sitting in the front passenger seat and may fail to deploy the front passenger airbags as a result in the event of a crash.

Nissan says just under 30,000 LEAFs are affected by the problem, but the recall also affects Nissan’s 2013-2014 Altima and Sentra sedans, Pathfinder crossover and 2013 NV200 vans. The problem has also affected many of Nissan’s luxury Infiniti brand cars, including the 2014 Q50 sedan and the QX60 Crossover/JX35  SUV.

Concerned drivers in North America can contact Nissan directly on 1-800-647-7261, while the official U.S. safety recall notice can be seen on the Safercar.gov website. Nissan says reprogramming of the OCS system under the recall notice is expected to start mid-April and be offered to owners free of charge. Nissan will contact owners of affected cars directly.

Fuelled by Hydrogen?

After billions of dollars and years of research, you’ll be able to buy a mass-produced fuel cell car next year.

That’s according to Japanese automakers Honda and Toyota, who both say they will bring hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles to the consumer market as early as next year.

As the Nikkei Asian Review reported this week, Honda is currently finalising development of a five-seat passenger sedan which it said could be offered in Japan as early as November 2015. Although the vehicle’s wheels will be turned by an electric motor, electricity to power the motor will come not from a battery pack but from a hydrogen fuel cell stack and a tank of compressed hydrogen gas.

Initially, Honda expects its fuel cell sedan to retail for under ¥10 million. At current exchange rates, that’s about $97,000 US.

Honda says the tank, made of carbon fiber to help reduce weight, will hold enough hydrogen to enable a range of around 500 kilometers —  (that’s 310 miles) — per tank. Like its rival Toyota, Honda is keen to point out that this is twice the range of most electric cars, although we should note that 310 miles is around one mile less than the official NEDC range for the top-spec all-electric Tesla Model S.

Yet both Honda and Nissan say initial production volumes will be pretty low, with Honda planning producing  just five thousand fuel cell cars between now and twenty twenty.

We suspect it’s going to take a long time before hydrogen fuel cell vehicles truly reach an affordable price, although Honda and Toyota are obviously keen to reach mass-market affordability within five years of vehicle launch.

No Rebate… Yet

Despite what BMW’s press corp told us back in February, BMW’s range-extended variant of the i3 electric car still hasn’t qualified for any purchase rebates under the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

Designed to encourage Californians to pick a low or zero emission vehicle as their next car, the CVRP offers a rebate of up to $2,500 of rebates for anyone who purchases a qualifying zero-emission all-electric or low-emission plug-in hybrid light-duty vehicle. To date, pretty much every plug-in car we can think of has made it onto the list, but as of earlier this week, the BMW i3 BEVx still isn’t on the approved CVRP list.

Look at the official CVRP list published by the California Centre for Sustainable Energy and you’ll note that the BMW i3 BEV — BMW’s all-electric version of the i3 — is top of the eligible vehicles list.

In total, there are thirteen other purely electric vehicles and two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles listed alongside the 2014 BMW i3 BEV as being eligible for the full $2,500 CVRP rebate. Below them, a further six highway-capable plug-in hybrid and range-extended EV models are listed as being eligible for $1,500 of CVRP rebates.

They include range-extended electric cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR, Ford’s CMax Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids, and even the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid, both of which have tiny all-electric ranges.

At the time of filming, BMW hasn’t issued any updated statements on the matter of the HOV-lane access sticker program — which will likely run out of green HOV decals in less than a month — or the CVRP rebates.

Extension likely?

In related news however, it looks as if the State of California is working towards extending the current, 40,000 sticker limit outlined in legislature for the Green HOV-lane access program.  Introduced earlier this month and passed unanimously by the relevant Assembly committee, California Assembly Bill 2013 seeks to increase the number of Green HOV-lane access stickers available from 40,000 to 85,000 stickers.

Now the bill has passed committee, it will need to make its way through both houses before it becomes law, but things are looking good so far. For those keen get HOV-lane perks — and who don’t want or can’t survive with an all-electric car  — this could be the news they’ve been waiting for, especially as the current allocation of 40,000 Green HOV lane stickers are almost gone.


The Vauxhall Ampera — the British cousin to the Chevy Volt — is being given a pretty massive unofficial price cut by many Vauxhall dealers across the UK.

Listed at £33, 695  before government grants, the range-extended plug-in car is eligible for a £5,000 UK government grant with instantly knocks five grand off its sticker price, but as Autoexpress reported this week, a whole slew of Vauxhall dealers are knocking a further five thousand pounds off, making it possible to drive away in a new Ampera for just £22,995.

The UK equivalent of ‘cash on the hood,’ these deals are undoubtedly designed to encourage would-be LEAF drivers to jump to the range-extended Ampera instead, or perhaps encourage those who want a range-extended EV like the BMW i3 BEVx to save a chunk of cash and opt for the griffin-badged Vauxhall instead.

Either way, this unofficial price slash should help sales of the Ampera, which have lagged behind the LEAF in the UK five to one.

Are you tempted? Let us know.

Oh no she didn’t!

Remember Poolside, the oh-so-arrogant ‘I’m a 1 percenter’ ad staring Neal McDonough  for the Cadillac ELR? You know, the one which caused quite a stir earlier this year when it dared to portray a plug-in car owner as someone who hated Europeans, didn’t take vacations and was frankly the kind of person you wouldn’t want to work for let alone meet at a charging station.


Well, in a stroke of advertising genius Ford — YES Ford — has come up with its own version of the poolside ad featuring Pashon Murray, the founder of Detroit Dirt, a sustainability consultancy and advocacy group.

Murray does a great job of mimicking the delivery of the ELR ad, but with just enough fake pomposity to make it truly hilarious.  And at the end of the ad, instead of getting into an oh-so-expensive ELR, she sits in the more down-to-earth Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid

And her ‘N’est pas’ at the end? That’s just sassy enough to make me laugh out loud. Or as my Son and his friends at school are so keen to say… “LOL”


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