T.E.N. Electric Car News May 2, 2014. Ep32: Tin Foil Hats, EV Mercs and Free Model Ss

Welcome to 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: Tesla conspiracies, quiet LEAFs, Merc B-Class ED, the gigafactory, eBay Model S giveaway, UK recommits to EVs, green stickers for BMW i3REx, Rimac looks towards investment, Google’s self-driving car gets cleverer and a new fan-made Tesla video.

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!

Tin Foil Hats for Tesla

Driving a Tesla can say many different things about you. It can say ‘I’m successful’. It can say ‘I’m futuristic.’ It can even say ‘I don’t support war for oil.’ But did you know that it can also say ‘I suffer from anal itching?’

At least according to a leaflet left on tech journalist Ryan Block’s Model S this week. The one-page diatribe, which is headed with the words Consumer Alert – because, y’know, that makes it more believable – is full of accusations against Tesla Motors and drivers of their cars.

Tesla is accused of many things including using battery packs that ‘blow up’ if they get wet or bumped and also release toxic cancer causing fumes when they ‘go off’. Bribing officials and even paying off reviewers.

Tesla drivers on the other hand are apparently supporting the Afghan invasion to get the lithium in their batteries, have no morals as they support Tesla who has multiple death and fraud lawsuits against them, supporting spying through a secret Google/Tesla alliance and also suffer from anal itching due to the ‘Tesla seat vibration’ problem.

The full manifesto is well worth a read. As far as we know, Ryan Block is the only driver to receive one of these Consumer Alerts so far, but if you know of any more, please let us know.

Don’t Wake the Neighbours

We’re all aware that electric cars are quiet. In fact, it is one of the main reasons some people like driving them. No constant drone of a petrol or diesel engine while driving, being able to hear the birds and bees while driving along country roads. But as we all know it is also one of the factors that scares people who aren’t converted yet. Worries about EVs mowing down the elderly and young who can’t hear them coming are abound.

So if you are an EV manufacturer, would you play up this aspect of the car? And if you chose to do so, would you do it with a high-speed race through narrow village streets? If you are Nissan you do!

This week Nissan released a video showing four LEAFs racing through a sleepy Swiss village in the dead of night to promote International Noise Awareness Day. The challenge, race the cars without waking anyone who lives in the village.

Despite a collision with some trash cans and a narrow arch, no one is woken by the nocturnal race, and everyone continues slumbering sweetly without problem. So if you are ever caught short and need to race through a small sleepy village without waking anyone, if you are in an electric car, you’ll be fine.

No… Actually. Don’t try this yourself.

Merc Goes EV

This week it was announced that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive will go on sale in the US for forty one thousand four hundred and fifty dollars before subsidies which places it as a direct competitor to the BMW i3.

It will also go on sale in the UK for around thirty two thousand pounds before subsidy. This cost, higher than the US price, is likely to be due to a slightly higher spec’ed base model although this is yet to be confirmed.

The B-Class Electric Drive is built upon the shoulders of Mercedes-Benz’s pre-existing B-Class hatchback. Already on sale in Europe with an array of gasoline and diesel engine options, the car has proven popular with buyers all around the world who want to combine the practicality of a compact MPV with the luxury you’d expect from a Merc.

The B-Class Electirc Drive is only available as a fully electric car, no range extension here. However, one cool piece of information that may bring a smile to your face is that its drivetrain was engineered by Tesla.

It reaches sixty two miles per hour in just under eight seconds thanks to its one hundred and thirty two kilowatt motor and has a non-tested range of around eighty five miles.

On paper, there’s very little to differentiate the BMW i3 and the Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED. They both start at the same price, have similar performance, similar on-board telematics and similar range.

Ultimately its about choice. Do you buy a five-seat all-electric version of an existing, convention-looking Mercedes-Benz made in collaboration with the darling of the electric car world, or do you opt for the more efficient, four-seat, carbon-fibre clad BMW which certainly stands out from the crowd?

Let us know what you think.

Why build one when you can build two at twice the price?

This week Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla moving its four-state search for the site of its five billion dollar Gigafactory to the next stage by picking not one, but multiple sites to develop. Tesla will then continue developing each site up to and including the groundbreaking which occurs immediately prior to the start of construction.

But why? Is Tesla hedging its bets or is this a way to keep pressure on certain states to allow them to sell directly to consumers?

According to Elon Musk, when talking to Bloomberg earlier this week, the unusual development strategy is a way to minimise delays and ensure Tesla’s epic lithium-ion battery facility was producing battery packs on schedule for the production of Tesla’s upcoming models.

Currently, neither Musk nor Tesla will disclose which of the four states will be chosen to move forward to the next stage of the Gigafactory planning process, but according to what Musk told Chinese reporters last week while launching the Model S in China, Tesla now has two locations it is seriously considering.

Get a Model S from eBay

I think it is fair to say that not many people would turn down a Model S if they got one for free… unless they are worried about the anal itching we mentioned earlier.

This week we came across a competition being run by eBay to win a Model S as part of its promotion for its new ‘eBay garage’. All you need to do to take part is sign in to your eBay account, then tell its ‘eBay Garage’ what type of vehicle you own. Be it a motorcycle or a car, eBay wants you to tell it what vehicles you have, along with details of any modifications or tweaks you’ve had done.

But what does eBay get from this? Well… information. With this information from you eBay will be able to better target ads at you and in our modern world this is a very valuable. Valuable enough that they are willing to give away a Model S.

Is giving up that information worth it for the small chance of winning a Model S? Well, I can’t tell you that. That’s a conclusion you will have to come to on your own. But if you do win, promise to take me for a ride?

UK recommits to EVs

The current parliament in the UK has had a rough ride. A coalition between our most popular right wing party and a left wing party that is usually seen as an outsider in the whole political system. It had the potential to be a big change in UK politics but when the liberals bet the house on one policy that kinda fell flat all that momentum petered out.

But it seems like they may be winning back some support this week, at least in the EV world, when head of the Liberal Democrats and our current Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced a five hundred million pound initiative designed to get more Brits driving plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars.

The funds will be split between continuing purchase incentives to help people buy a plug-in car, increased deployment of charging infrastructure, and the funding of low-emission transport technology research and development.

The new funds will include the provision of fast and rapid charging along major motorway routes and A-roads across the country.

The latest Government incentive in electric and plug-in cars will run from twenty fifteen through until twenty twenty, with the purchase incentive scheme set to operate until at least twenty seventeen or until fifty thousand of the grants have been claimed.

Green Sticker for BMW

Finally! Finally after months and months or waiting the BMW i3 REx has been approved for California’s Green Sticker HOV lane access programme.

The BMW i3 REx, listed below its all-electric i3 EV sibling on CARB’s list, has been officially classified as a “Transitional Zero emission Vehicle.”

This is a brand-new class of vehicle designed to include plug-in hybrids with a low-enough tailpipe emissions as well as electric cars with small on-board range-extended engine. CARB’s Tee Zed Eeee Veee class replaces the previous Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle designation used by CARB to classify cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Plug-in Prius Hybrid, so all cars previously listed as that are now reclassified as Tee Zed Eeee Veee vehicles.

But… as of April seventh there were only one thousand five hundred and twenty two stickers left to be claimed. We think it will be very rare to see an i3 REx with the green sticker in the short term. In the longer term, California is currently trying to expand the green sticker program.

New Supercar on the Block

Rimac, a Croatian company that makes and sells electric vehicle drivetrains as well as being responsible for creating the world’s fastest production electric vehicle, is readying itself for up to €8 million in investment.

Rimac is known in the electric vehicle world for its concept car, the Concept_One. This is a two-seat sports car that puts the Tesla Roadster to shame. It can jump sixty two miles per hour in just two point eight seconds while dragging along an amazing ninety one kilowatt hour battery.

But this car doesn’t come cheap. It will set one back just shy of $1 million.

With the investment, Rimac plans to double their team by the end of the year to allow them to increase production on their cars plus their new project, the Greyp electric bike.

As with the Concept_One these bikes will be something special, even in the world of electric bikes. The first feature to change the way people think about transportation is that the bike is key and fob-less. Using fingerprints to register if a user is allowed to use the bike, in what mode the bike should be started (street or speed) or if any restrictions are placed on that rider. For example, you could register your friend’s finger print on the bike but limit him to 15 minutes of riding with a set top speed.

Google’s Car gets Cleverer

Long before Nissan, Tesla, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, or Ford promised us self-driving cars, software giant Google was giving closed-road demonstrations of its own self-driving technology. Since then their car has been out on the roads around the Google facility and has been performing without incident.

In an update posted this week a very happy and jolly Google worker takes us through the latest improvements in the car’s intelligence. These improvements allow the car to safely deal with unpredictable human cyclists, unexpected roadworks or ill-parked cars and even rail crossings.

All in all the Google self-driving technology is looking more and more impressive.

Google says it’s a long way from completing its project, and admits there are many more hours of driving to put in before its self-driving cars can autonomously navigate each and every street in Mountain View without any human input. But like the other self-driving cars we’ve covered recently, it shows us that autonomous cars are far, far closer to reality than we ever thought before.

Sad Pump

And finally… It’s not often we feel upset at the idea of not using petrol but a new fan made Tesla video made me feel just that this week. The video follows Nozzie, a gas pump that doesn’t get used anymore as everyone drives electric. It shows him not being used, being fired from his job, turning to drink and the collapse of his world. It’s all very sad but it does have a good eneding.

I don’t want to spoil how it ends, so go watch the video when this one finishes.


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