T.E.N. Electric Car News April 4, 2014. Ep28: ELR Recall, POLAR, Tesla Supporters and Noise Concerns

Welcome to episode twenty eight 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 Cadillac ELR recall, the POLAR network price drop and launch issues, Tesla finds allies, i3 price hiking, battery-included ZOE hopes dashed, Gadget Show GTE, confusing over EU noise rulings, DIY charging station views and a Model S with an engine.

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 28 Show Notes

Recall for Cadillac ELR

General Motors has issued an official recall notice for the Cadillac ELR range-extended electric car. The recall affects six hundred and fifty six cars made between the end of September last year and mid-february this year.

According to the official recall notice issued by Cadillac, a fault in the car’s electronic stability control software could lead to the system failing to alert the driver when the  electronic stability control is either partly or fully disabled.

Basically a little light on the dash doesn’t come on… But it’s an important light.

The recall will begin in the middle of April and will be offered free of charge to customers. Cadillac says it will contact owners directly ‘on or about’ the seventeenth of April. Until all affected cars have been given the software upgrade, Cadillac has told its dealers not to hand over any cars to customers. So if you’ve been waiting for your ELR, you’re gonna have to wait a little longer.

POLAR price drop

We’ve been keeping you informed about POLAR, the UK charging network that is switching from a free service to a paid one. A couple of weeks ago I talked about the new tariffs for charging and what each level of membership entitled a user to. To say that the community was a little upset about the prices would be an understatement. In certain circumstances a driver of a range-extended vehicle like the Volt or Ampera would find that driving on petrol was cheaper than driving on electricity.

Due to go live on the first of April, we checked their site the day before to see if anything had changed. And it had. The prices for the tariffs had changed.

Again, this show isn’t the time to go into this as it is far too complicated, but in general the pricing had been tweaked to bring the cost of slower changing down a little. Enough to make a difference to drivers? We’ll have to wait and see.

POLAR launch

Staying with the POLAR network for a bit – it seems that their new charging scheme didn’t launch as planned. The launch was delayed for a couple of days leaving customers confused as to whether they were going to be charged for topping up or not.

The website is now live and kicking along with the smartphone apps that allow the pay as you go access to their network.

But the website did reveal a few interesting little snippets. Their ‘pay as you go’ service is really a pre-payment system where you have to top up your phone with at least £20 before use.

The most interesting piece of information in our digital age where we are just data to be sold, exchanged and analysed is that all data collected by Polar can be shared with BMW UK. Why BMW need this data or why Polar is giving it to them is unknown at the moment but we are trying to look into it. As always, you’ll know more when we do.

Tesla has allies

Tesla has been fighting against a lot of established systems and even worse, lots of well funded people who want to keep the system as it current is. But it seems they do have allies. Mike Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, the largest dealership group in the U.S., says Tesla should be allowed to sell its electric cars to customers the way it wants to.

Yes… The head of a dealership group is on Tesla’s side.

Talking with AutomotiveNews, Jackson warned that some of the attempts to stop Tesla from selling direct to customers in states like New Jersey, Arizona and Texas could only end up hurting — not helping — existing auto dealers.

Why? Tesla has power. The Gigafactory. He argues that making an enemy of Tesla at this point could lead to potentially being left out in the future. Where will the gigafactory be placed? What is the likelihood it will go to a state that doesn’t help Tesla sell cars?

Basically he’s saying, like it or not, Tesla is here to stay. Might as well make friends.

ZOE breaks our hearts

Battery rental is one of those models in the EV world that sounds like it should have people queueing up to take part, but in reality its not that popular. In general that is; I know some people love it. But due to this general feeling about it, rumours are abound about Renault maybe allowing people to buy their cars without the battery rental.

But this week Renault confirmed to Transport Evolved that, nope. Isn’t going to happen. They said that see battery rental as the most advantageous solution for their customers.

However, just to add an element of confusion into this, Renault does sell the ZOE without battery rental in one country: Norway. In Norway, you see, due to the way their incentives are set up, a ZOE with battery rental wouldn’t be eligible so Renault sells it as a whole. But they are, we learn, the exception.

i3 costs what?

Back in the early days of the modern electric car, there was all sorts of price gouging around Leafs and Volts. Stories of thousands being added to the expected price were abound. And that tradition is continuing with the BMW i3.

We were first alerted to the problem by BMW ActiveE Electronaut Jack Spratt, who made a post on Facebook over the weekend complaining that his local BMW dealer was adding extras to its BMW i3 that customers didn’t want — then hiking the sticker price.

And he’s not alone. We’ve heard instances of dealers inflating prices as much as five thousand dollars over MSRP for i3 customers who are new to the brand. It even appears that BMW dealers are hiking the lease pricing well above the official BMW-suggested rates.

But did BMW themselves set the precedent for this with their ‘launch edition’ i3 where customers could only buy a fully speced out i3?

GTE the ultimate gadget

If you live in the UK you probably know what the gadget show is. Channel 5’s flagship geek show, it runs through all the modern tech, often putting it through extremes to see how how well it really copes: An ‘all weather tent’ being subjected to artificial flash flooding, indestructible USB sticks being blown up and so on.

Basically the show combines comedy, geekiness and gadget reviews. Once a year they hold a Gadget Show live – a massive exhibition of the latest in tech which sees anyone who has an interest in selling to… well people like me and Nikki appearing. And this year Volkswagen will be there showing of their latest piece of geeky kit. Their plug in hybrid Golf GTE.

With a one point four litre turbocharged stratified fuel injection engine, an eighty kilowatt electric motor and a seven-speed DSG gearbox, the Volkswagen Golf GTE promises to offer an all-electric range of thirty miles on the NEDC test cycle, and a theoretical combined petrol + electric range of five hundred and eighty miles in ideal conditions. It’ll be on the VW podium along with their futuristic XL1 and the cool little e-Golf.

If you’re popping along you’ll even be able to test drive the e-golf. Not the GTE or the XL1 though.

Louder or Quieter?

It’s been a funny week in the European Union. They passed two pieces of legislation that has had us scratching our heads. Firstly they have made it a requirement for internal combustion engine vehicles including busses, passenger cars and commercial vehicles to reduce their noise output in stages by four decibels by twenty twenty four. The new legislation aims to reduce traffic-related noise output by twenty five per cent from internal combustion engine vehicles over the next twelve years.

Brilliant I hear you say! Yes! Quieter city centres – that’s what we want.

But another piece of legislation was also passed requiring all new electric cars sold in the EU be fitted with Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems within the next five years. The EU says the mandatory noise alert system for all electric and hybrid cars will make them safer for everyone. Addressing fears that children, the elderly and visually-impaired road users are at higher risk of being hit by electric cars because they cannot hear them coming.

So – one set of cars are being told to become quieter while another type is being told to become noisier. Yeah…

One positive to come from the, the Daily Mail in the UK – a right-wing anti-EV anti-EU paper had to choose which one of those ‘anti-stances’ to go with on this story and choose the anti-EU side. Which meant UK readers got treated to a paper that usually hates EVs arguing for them to be left alone.

Always a silver lining.


The UK EVSE association, a trade body that represents suppliers of charging stations and charging station management systems in the UK, has written a strongly-worded letter asking a UK charity to cease the promotion of do-it-yourself charging stations due to concerns over their safety.

They said, and I quote:

“Members agree that the promotion of DIY charging points is highly problematic and runs the risk of resulting in inferior and poorly constructed charging points, which in many cases will not have the correct testing and certification required.

“Potentially hazardous DIY charging points could result in injury to personnel, fires, or damage to the Electric Vehicle, which is something the industry must avoid.”

This caused a bit of consternation in the EV world where many DIY projects are strongly backed by the community. The charity in question, Zero Carbon World, the OpenEVSE project and Electric Motor Werks all argued that DIY charging stations, when in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing are perfectly safe and no more dangerous than a commercial charging station.

And finally…

What do you do if you are an overwork foley artist when you see a car that needs some noise adding in post-production? You add an engine sound. It’s probably an ingrained reflex. Unfortunately this happened during a ‘60 minutes’ report on Elon Musk and the car in question was a Model S.

CBS was open and came forward about what happened. But maybe, just maybe, the foley engineers were following some sort of new EU prescribed rule to add more noise to all EVs, even those on TV.



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