T.E.N. Electric Car News 11 July, 2014: Tesla’s Birthday, Hacking a Car, Shifting the ELR

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: 2015 Nissan LEAF pricing, Rimac Concept_One, Volvo XC90 PHEV, B-Class Electric Drive EPA rating, Wireless Charging, 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander, Free Charging for LEAFs, Hacking a Tesla, Shifting an ELR, and Tesla’s best birthday present.

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! 

Same as before

The 2015  model year of Nissan’s popular LEAF electric car was given its official pricing this week, with all trim levels getting a minor price increase on last year’s model.

Starting from $29,010 before U.S. Federal and state incentives, the base model 2015 LEAF is $30 more expensive than last year, while the top-spec SL trim spec gets a $100 price increase to $35,120 before incentives.

Spec wise, there are a very few differences between the outgoing model and the new year’s LEAF, although bluetooth is now standard across all models, as is B-mode engine braking. SV and SL trims add a new hands free text message assistant, too.

While prices aren’t that much higher than last year’s car, we note two of the most popular options — the charger upgrade package and premium package — are both five hundred dollars more expensive than last year’s model, so be careful of that one if you’re ordering a new LEAF.

Race Thrills

It’s super sexy, is powered by a total of eight hundred and eleven kilowatts of electric motors, and can accelerate from nought to sixty miles per hour in two point eight seconds. And now the Rimac Concept_One Supercar is coming to a Formula E track near you very soon.

No, it’s not a last-minute change of car for the inaugural FIA-approved electric car race season: the Rimac Concept_One is going to be assuming the duties of track car to provide official transportation to the race director at each event.

According to Formula E, the four-wheel drive electric supercar will help the race director carry out track inspection, take the occasional passenger around the course, and attend other important duties before, during and after the race.

I knew I had the wrong job…

High-End Power

Volvo’s upcoming revision to its popular XC90 crossover SUV — the 2015 XC90– will be available in plug-in hybrid form.

That’s according to Volvo, which announced that the all-new XC90  range will be topped by the XC90 T8 — a performance-oriented twin-engine plug-in capable of sporty performance and zero emissions motoring.

Volvo hasn’t detailed prices or options yet, but it has said that the T8t, powered by a two litre, turbocharged, supercharged four-cylinder engine and 60 kilowatt rear-mounted electric motor, will be the cleanest seven seat SUV on the market.

Expect more in the coming months, including more details on what it will actually look like — Volvo hasn’t given us full-frame photos yet — and how much you’ll have to save up to own one.

B-Class: Rated

Daimler’s second all-electric car, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, has been given its official gas mileage rating by the EPA this week.

At 87 miles per charge, the B-Class Electric Drive goes a little further per charge than its nearest rival, the all-electric BMW i3. But being far heavier than its fellow German rival, the B-Class loses out in terms of efficiency, scoring just eighty four miles per gallon equivalent. In case you’re interested, that’s far less than the efficiency of the Nissan LEAF or even Tesla Model S.

Talking of Tesla however, the B-Class Electric Drive shouldn’t be overlooked, since it’s drivetrain and motor are Tesla-engineered. While nought to sixty times aren’t particularly Teslarific, The B-Class Electric Drive features the same range-charge mode found in the Model S as an optional extra, meaning you can squeeze out some extra range when you really want it.

Wireless Is Cool

German automotive rivals BMW and Daimler announced a new joint program into wireless electric car charging technology this week. Capable of recharging an electric car without wires, inductive charging technology makes it possible to recharge your car simply by parking over a special charging pad embedded in the ground.

While inductive charging hasn’t made it to the mainstream automotive world just yet, BMW happily shared details of the current progress made on its wireless charging system. To date, says BMW, it has successfully charged a BMW Acitve E, BMW i3, and BMW i8 plug-in hybrid.

For now, the wireless charging technology being developed by BMW and Daimler is limited to just 3.6 kilowatts, but the pair of automakers are hopeful the power will soon be turned up to 7 kilowatts, bringing it in line with the AC conductive charging capabilities of the BMW i3 and i8. Just don’t expect to see it in any production vehicles just yet because there are no fully-ratified international standards just yet on charging your car wire free.

All Change

It’s been on sale since early twenty thirteen, but the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid — which has yet to make its North American Debut — will get a major refresh before it goes on sale in the land of the free late next year.

That’s according to Mitsubishi North America, which says that the all-wheel drive plug-in SUV will be ‘completely different’ to the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid currently on sale in Europe, Asia and Australia.

While Mitsubishi isn’t ready to talk specifics yet, general wisdom around the refresh involves a few cosmetic nips and tucks to make the plug-in’s style match that of the rest of the Mitsubishi SUV fleet, a tweak to the on-board battery management system to make it compliant with tough Californian regulations, and perhaps a few software modifications to make the car even more refined than it is over on this side of the pond.

If it’s anything like the Outlander PHEV we drove a few weeks back, we think it’ll sell pretty well, so watch this space for more info.

No Charge to Charge

Own a Nissan LEAF in ten cities throughout the U.S., and you’ll now be able to charge for free at more than two thousand six hundred public charging stations, including more than two hundred CHAdeMO DC quick chargers.

That’s thanks to Nissan’s all-new No Charge to Charge program, which has now officially launched in San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Nashville, Phoenix, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and Washington, D.C.

The project makes use of specially-made EZ-Charge RFID tags, which Nissan is giving away to customers at its dealerships throughout the ten launch markets.  While you’ll only be able to get a free EZ-Charge card if you’re a LEAF owner in one of those ten cities, Nissan says it has plans to expand the program to include other cities in the coming months.

Hack a Tesla

Computer security conferences, where industry professionals and hackers join together to attend presentations and workshops on computer software and hardware security, have long offered prize funds to individuals capable of remotely hacking their way into a supposedly secure system.

Usually, the target of the challenge is a particular operating system, program, or smart device, but at this year’s SyScan-360 conference, there’s a ten thousand dollar prize fund waiting for the first person who successfully hacks their way into a brand new Tesla Motors Model S.

While the conference is taking place in China, arguably Tesla’s biggest market outside of the U.S., Tesla itself isn’t officially taking part in or supporting the competition. With a large internal team devoted to proactively working to keep its Model S safe from hackers — not to mention a full vulnerability disclosure program designed to make reporting security flaws easy — Tesla appears ready for the hacking competition.

Only time will tell if that’s enough.

Begging to be sold

Cadillac’s luxury ELR range-extended coupe is proving out to be a bit of an albatros for General Motors. Not only does the $76,000 luxury plug-in have a bit of an image problem, but Cadillac just isn’t selling enough of them. In fact, the last time we checked, there were more than two years’ worth of Cadillac ELRs in GM inventory, far more than the industry norm of a month or two.

So in order to try and shift more, Cadillac Dealers are offering what we can only describe as massive — and we do mean massive — incentives to try and encourage people to get behind the wheel.

As reported by GM Volt dot com, some dealers across the U.S. are offering up to $13,500 or more in discounts off MSRP to try and get customers to pick the ELR over other models.  Add in Federal and state grants, and most ELR buyers currently stand to get the $76k car for less than $55k.

But when you can buy a base model Tesla S for a similar price, we’re suspecting Tesla still has a bigger draw for most customers, leaving us all wondering how long it will be before GM admits the ELR has been a total, unmitigated disaster.

Happy Birthday, Tesla

In case you didn’t know,158 years ago this week in a town in croatia, a little boy was born who would change the face of the world forever. That boy grew up to become world-famous inventor and father of both wireless power transfer and the AC motor, Nikola Tesla.

But what do you buy a one hundred and fifty-eight year old inventor to celebrate his happy day? The answer — if you’re Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk — is to agree to install a Supercharger station at the soon-to-open Tesla Museum, a non-profit endeavour set up in two thousand and twelve by Oatmeal Comic creator Matthew Inman to turn the site of Tesla’s former workshop into a museum in his honor.

And if that wasn’t enough, Elon Musk also promised to donate one million dollars of his own money to the Museum, something which I think would make any birthday party go with a bang.

Happy birthday, Tesla, and nice move, Elon!


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