T.E.N. Electric Car News 27 June, 2014: Tesla-friendly Chargers, Toyota FCV, B-Class Range Extender

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: Chevy Volt service update, Tesla-friendly quick chargers, Toyota FCV Sedan, Audi’s Electric Car Plans, HOV-lane sticker expansion, health warnings in California for gas pumps, Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED Configurator and how it works, restarting of UK Government Incentives for domestic charging stations, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV production increase, and UK apathy towards plug-in 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!

What follows, as always, is our raw script for the show today. (It’s why things are sometimes written out in words rather than numbers — and why we sometimes make some errors!) You’ll find it isn’t always quite identical to the video above, but we know some of you like to follow through and click on the stories as we discuss them. Enjoy! 

Volt checkup

This week began with a voluntary recall — or service campaign as it’s being called — for certain twenty twelve and twenty thirteen Chevrolet Volts.

According to GM, a small number of Volt electric cars may have a lower-than-usual level of battery coolant in them due to air accidentally entering their battery cooling system during manufacture.

As a consequence, the air may have now escaped from the system, leaving the cars with a lower-than-expected coolant capacity, manifesting in extreme cases as a inability to charge and an illuminated service warning light.  While there’s no permanent damaged caused by the low coolant level, affected cars won’t charge until the coolant has been topped up and the car’s system cleared of errors.

GM says worried owners can contact their dealer for a car check up, free of charge.


It’s only been a fortnight since Tesla made its electric car patents open for all to see, but U.S.-based CarCharge Group Inc., announced this week that it intends to use some of those free patents to make its widespread Blink quick charging network compatible with Teslas.

Timed to coincide with the upgrade of its several hundred DC quick charging stations across the US to include the all-new CCS charge standard, CarCharge Group says it will also be adding Tesla-specific charger connectors so that Tesla owners can charge up too.

What’s worth noting here is that unlike Tesla’s own Supercharger network, the chances are you’ll have to pay to use the Blink Network — Tesla or not — and there’s also some question as to how much power the Car Charge Group intends to offer. Given current charge stations are limited to just fifty kilowatts, we’re not sure you’ll get a Tesla Supercharger experience at a Blink charging station just yet.

Call me ‘Fuel Cell’

After years of promising us it was just around the corner, Toyota finally unveiled its first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell car this week.

Based on the Hydrogen Fuel Cell sedan concept vehicle we saw at last year’s Tokyo Auto Show, the five seat sedan is a little larger and taller than a Toyota Corolla, and should be good for around four hundred miles of driving on around twelve pounds (in weight) of hydrogen.

Toyota says the as-yet-unnamed ‘Hydrogen Fuel Cell Sedan’ will go on sale early next year in Japan for the princely sum of seven million yen. European and U.S. prices are expected to follow soon, ahead of the car launching on both sides of the Atlantic next summer.

As for filling costs? Toyota was unwilling to say how much it’d cost to fill its first mass-market hydrogen car, but we’re guessing it will be significantly more expensive than plugging in.

Playing catchup

According to multiple sources close to Audi, the German luxury automaker is about to take on  German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz in a surprise electric car war it has been quietly preparing.

According to Reuters, Audi is close to bringing multiple all-electric models to market, including a plug-in version of the Q8 SUV. Likely to have a range of around two hundred or so miles, the Q8 EV would of course compete directly with Tesla’s upcoming Model X SUV, although it’s not clear how the two will compete on price, practicality or charging capabilities.

Other cars rumored to be coming include a luxury plug-in sedan to challenge the Tesla Model S, and a smaller city car to cross-shop against the BMW i3 and Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive.

What we want to know however, is if Audi has a chance of catching everyone else up — or if it’s just too far behind to make a difference… even with that lovely sexy R8 e-tron.

15,000 more stickers

After nearly two months of limbo, California’s green HOV-lane decal program is back in full swing, thanks to an emergency bill passed by the California Senate this week.

Essentially a stop-gap measure until a more substantial bill designed to increase the total number of green HOV-lane stickers available to owners of plug-in hybrid and range-extended electric car owners, SB853 — a so-called trailer bill — will add an additional fifteen thousand stickers to the HOV-lane access program on July first.

Once equipped with a green HOV-lane sticker, those with range-extended EVs like the Chevy Volt and BMW i3 REX can drive in the many hundreds of miles of High-Occupancy — or carpool — lanes that cross California even if they’re the only person in the car, saving many hours in commuting time and countless traffic jams.

If you’re one of the unlucky new owners who missed out on the last quota of green HOV-lane stickers, now’s the time to make sure you’ve got your application filed before they run out again. So don’t delay: apply today!

Bad for your health

Smoking is bad for your health — we all know that — and tobacco manufacturers are required by law in many countries to state just that on each and every cigarette packet.

But now a law is being considered in the Californian city of Berkeley which could require gas stations to do the same thing with gas pumps.

As we reported earlier this week, a proposed piece of legislation is being considered by the City Council of the Bay-Area district, which could require all gas pumps in the city to display a sticker warning of the dangers of excessive gasoline consumption — and the resulting global warming.

While the legislation hasn’t been voted on yet, Berkeley will become the first U.S. city to mandate such a sticker if passed. And it could do wonders for electric vehicle adoption rates.

Do you think it’s a good idea? Tell us in the comments below.

Only owners need apply

The UK government restarted its domestic charging installation program this week almost a month after it stopped the same program amidst allegations of malpractice.

The new scheme — which will run from July first until August thirty first when an all-new incentive program will start — is identical to the outgoing one but with one simple difference: you’ll now have to prove that you’re an electric car owner before you can apply for the charging station grant.

Grants will be awarded up to seventy-five per cent of the cost of a domestic charging station up to a total amount of one thousand pounds, so if you’ve been waiting for your own domestic charging station, you live in the UK, and you have an EV, now’s your chance.

Temporary range extender

This week, Mercedes-Benz launched the online configurator for its highly-anticipated B-Class Electric Drive five seat hatchback. Due to go into battle directly against the BMW i3, this Tesla-engineered plug-in is doesn’t have a range-extending gasoline engine, but as we discover from its onling configurator, does come with an optional range-extending option.

If it doesn’t have a gasoline engine, how does it work?

Aside from all of the little tweaks designed to make it more efficient with this option ticked, Mercedes-Benz has an extra button which can set the B-Class Electric Drive into the equivalent of Tesla’s range mode, causing the B-Class Electric Drive to charge a little deeper than usual, adding range for those occasional trips where seventeen miles more will come in handy.

The down side? It will affect the longevity of your car’s battery pack if you do it all the time, but we still think it’s a great way to extend the range of an EV without burning fossil fuels to do it.

Make more

Mitsubishi’s Outlander Plug-in Hybrid — despite a rocky start in life — is so popular that Mitsubishi is having to make more.

That’s the news from Japan, where Mitsubishi is planning a twenty-thousand unit increase in the number of Outlander Plug-in Hybrid cars being produced this year compared to last, raising production numbers to a total of fifty thousand plug-in outlanders for twenty fourteen. Next year, production numbers could increase even more, with a total of seventy-six thousand units planned.

With the ability to rapid charge from a CHAdeMO quick charge station along with all-wheel drive capabilities, a combined fuel economy of around one hundred and fifty miles per gallon and SUV practicality — not to mention a price on par with Mitsubishi’s diesel outlander — we’re not surprised it’s proving so popular.

And as it happens, we’ve got one arriving today on a week long review. So if there’s anything you’d like us to test, get in touch!


Brits are known around the world for their reserved attitude to life, their understated wit, and their abhorrence of anything new.

So it’s no surprise that a new survey released by the UK government this week is categoric proof that Brits really aren’t all that interested in electric vehicles.

As the survey details, a shocking number of those questioned hadn’t ever thought about buying an electric car, with the majoirty dismissing electric cars because of their perceived charging problem, cost and distance per charge.

As with other studies, those who were educated to at least a graduate level were most likely to know about, own, or want a plug-in, while a shockingly large number of baby boomers couldn’t care less.

It’s all rather.. pathetic really, and left us wondering if electric cars…will… yeah.. Hmmm. Tea anyone?


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