T.E.N. Future Transport News 8 August 2014: 2016 Chevy Volt, Chinese Tesla, Free Cars

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 future transport news stories of the week.

Weekly show about plug-in and electric vehicles. This week news about: the 2016 Chevrolet Volt; a potential MINI E comeback; Tesla in China; the EV Explorer; BMW i3 vs Nissan LEAF sales; VW e-Golf carbon offsetting; free H2 Cars; Mitsubishi and Nissan’s new collaborative kei car project.

Just ten minutes in length, T.E.N. delivers the evolved transport news in a bite-sized format, and you’ll find links to all of the stories we cover in an accompanying article blow.

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! 

Chevy Volt 2.0
It’s official: the next-generation Chevrolet Volt electric car is on its way — and we’ll get to see it for the first time at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next January.

About to enter its fourth year of production, the plug-in range-extended electric car has proven popular with U.S. buyers in its current form, thanks to a thirty-five mile EPA-approved range and a one-point four litre gasoline backup engine for longer-distance trips. Over in Europe however, the Volt and its European cousin, the Opel slash Vauxhall Ampera, haven’t done as well and will be discontinued when the all-new Volt 2.0 launches.

Talking of which, while we don’t know much about the all-new twenty sixteen Volt, we can tell you that it is likely to gain some substantial improvements to all-electric range, as well as a likely more efficient on-board gasoline engine and perhaps — if spy shots are to be believed — a more practical, hatchback, five-seat arrangement.

For now though, we’ll just have to be content with this sneaky teaser pic released by general Motors yesterday.

Comeback Kid?
Back in 2009, a limited number of all-electric MINI Cooper cars rolled off BMW’s production lines in Oxford England, marking the start of an extensive, multi-year, world-wide series of BMW electric car test fleet trails.

Ultimately, the BMW Mini E test fleet gave way to the more practical BMW ActiveE test fleet which in turn gave way to the BMW i3 electric car earlier this year — but as Automotive News hinted earlier this week, an all-electric BMW MIni E could be making a comeback as early as next year.

While details aren’t forthcoming at the moment, we can tell you any future BMW MIni E would be build on the same U K L platform used by BMW for the current 2015 model year MINI. Designed to take multiple drivetrains, including electric ones, the UKL platform is used by a wide range of BMW vehicles and should make a plug-in MIni E a very fun vehicle.

Add this to the already promised MINI plug-in hybrid, — and perhaps even that beautiful MINI Superleggera concept car we saw last year — and those who like their cars small, quirky and retro may soon have several plug-in MINIs to tempt them.

A car by any other name…

In the rapidly-growing brand-conscious consumer culture of China, image is everything. From electronic gadgets to clothing, Chinese consumers are eagerly snapping up prestigious western brands at eye-watering prices, while unscrupulous entrepreneurs are doing everything they can to copy, mimic, or claim established brands as their own.

In some cases, so-called “trademark trolls” are even purposely applying to the Chinese authorities to establish a Chinese trademark of already established western brands, just so they can sell the brand for an extortionate rate to the highest bidder.

And that’s exactly what happened with Californian automaker Tesla Motors when a trademark troll obtained a Chinese-market patent of the Tesla brand. After a lengthy legal battle however, the two sides have now reportedly settled “completely and amicably” this week, with the businessman who had laid claim to the Tesla trademark in China finally agreeing to hand over his claim to the Tesla brand to the Californian automaker.

While the news not only means Tesla can now finally use the Tesla dot C N domain that it’s been wanting for some time, but it also means it can officially sell its Tesla Model S as a Tesla model S in China — something which was previously not possible due to the trademark claim.

Explore an EV

Electric cars are quiet, easy to drive, and extremely cheap to run. What’s more, they have an uncanny ability to make anyone driving them for the first time grin from ear to ear, a phenomenon known by advocates and industry insiders as the EVGrin.

But while all of the above might be true, it’s not always easy to figure out how well an electric car might fit with your lifestyle. How do you know for example, that your daily driving requirements really will be met by any of the electric cars on the market today?

Thankfully, there’s a new web app out from UC Davis which will help you figure out. Called EV Explorer, it lets you compare up to four different vehicles for fuel efficiency using trips you make on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis. Not only that, but you get to pick the cars you want to compare — electric or not — and input your local energy prices to get a really good estimate.

There are a few things missing — like being terrain aware — but for would-be EV drivers, we think this is a must-try web app to see if electric cars are right for you. Give it a go, and let us know what you think.

Who sold more?

I want you to think back to December 2010, when the Nissan LEAF electric hatchback launched. Now I want you to think forward to November last year, when the BMW i3 electric car first launched. And I want you to tell me which car, in the first seven months of sales, sold more?

If you said BMW i3 you wouldn’t be alone — I thought that too — but it turns out that Nissan’s all-electric LEAF sold a massive 11,598t cars during its first seven months of sales, while the BMW i3 sold just 6,583, despite having a far better organised, more coherent launch strategy than Nissan three years earlier.

Of course, there are a few reasons for the disparity in sales. For a start, the LEAF is designed to appeal to mainstream car buyers, while the BMW i3 is more of a premium market city car. But as some of our viewers commented this week, there’s also the little fact that the BMW i3 didn’t launch in the U.S. until May this year, something which is bound to have stifled sales for the first five months or so.

It just goes to show — the data can sometimes surprise you.


With no tailpipe to spew noxious gasses, fully-electric cars are emissions free during their daily use, provided you charge them up from renewable sources of electricity such as wind, wave or solar of course.

Yet not everyone who drives an electric car has access to 100 per cent renewable energy, meaning their cars are as green as the power mix provided to them by the local utility company. For U.S. owners of the soon-to-launch Volkswagen e-Golf however, that won’t be a problem thanks to a new carbon offsetting scheme announced this week.

Based on a similar scheme being operated in parts of Europe, Volkswagen North America has partnered up with 3Degrees, a green power and carbon offsetting company, to ensure that every 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf sold in the U.S. is truly zero emissions.

Of course the practice of carbon offsetting isn’t as good as reducing your own carbon footprint by proactive means, but at least it means that any e-Golf customers in the U.S. will know any damaged caused to the environment during the manufacture of their new car has been offset by eco-goodness elsewhere.

Want a free car?

With its first mass-produced Fuel Cell vehicle — rumoured to be called the Mirai – just months from launch, Japanese automaker Toyota is doing everything it can to promote hydrogen fuel cell technology as the more convenient, more practical alternative to battery electric vehicles.

So far, it’s managed to persuade the japanese government to offer two million yen in buyer incentives to each and every Toyota fuel cell vehicle customer and another one million yen earmarked in incentives for customers who live in the prefecture of Aichi where the car will be made.

But this week we heard a rumor that the Japanese government are considering taking things one step further — offering limited numbers of hydrogen fuel cell cars to customers for free — just to get hydrogen fuel cell technology on the road.

While we’ve not been able to corroborate this story, offering to foot the bill for each and every seven million yen Toyota Mirai — at least for a while — seems like a massive undertaking. But the thing we really want to know is this: if someone gave you a free hydrogen fuel cell car, would you drive it? Let us know in the Comments below.

Two makes a team

Japanese automakers Nissan and Mitsubishi might be rivals in the electric car marketplace — but they’re just about to become partners too in the Japanese-centric kei jidosha market.

As reported over the weekend, the two firms have officially announced a joint fifty-fifty venture to bring a new, low-cost electric car to market. Costing less than the current generation Mitsubishi i-Miev, the new car would be jointly developed and owned by the two companies and go on sale in the exclusive and very lucrative kei jidosha market.

For those who don’t know, Japan’s busy cities and congested streets mean you can’t buy a car unless you can prove you have somewhere to park it at night. That is, unless you have a kei jidosha. Smaller than normal cars and regulated by strict laws governing their physical dimensions and power output, these ultra-compact runabouts have traditionally been powered by tiny gasoline engines, but Nissan and Mitsubishi want to transform the low-cost kei market with a truly affordable electric car.

Of course, Mitsubishi’s i-Miev — at least the Japanese version — is technically a kei denki jidosha — an electric kei car — but its price is still too high to be considered by many. Here’s hoping the new car entices more Japanese buyers into an all-electric car!


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