T.E.N. Future Transport News 14 August 2014: Hacker recruitment, 50¢ fixes, AM radios

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: Tesla’s hunt for white-hat hackers; conflicting specs for the 2016 Chevy Volt; derated domestic charging stations; a fifty cent fix for the Tesla Model S drivetrain problems; income contingent incentives in California; really expensive hydrogen refuelling; Formula E’s new ad campaign; the NAB’s appeal for AM radios in the BMW i3; Tesla’s new UK Superchargers.

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! 

Hacker Princess Seeks Model S Fort-Builders

Less than a month after hackers at the Sy-Scan 360 conference in Beijing, China managed to worm their way past security firewalls in Tesla Motors’ computer systems and gain unauthorised access to a Tesla Model S, Tesla is on the offensive.

As we reported earlier this week, Tesla spent last weekend recruiting at the world-renowned Def Con security conference in Las Vegas with the expressed intent of hiring twenty to thirty of the best white hat security experts the world has to offer.

We say Tesla, but it was actually Tesla’s very own Hacker Princess — white hat and former hacker Kristin Paget. Previously an employee of Apple Computers and someone who helped Microsoft patch a very nasty security flaw in its Vista operating system back in the day, Paget was putting potential recruits through their paces, finding out what they knew, and figuring out if they had what it takes to keep Tesla’s growing fleet of Model S cars around the world safe from cybercriminals.

And this, we understand is only the start: as Tesla’s impact on the world grows, expect its security division to get every stronger and ever smarter in order to stay one step ahead of the baddies.

Varying Voltage

Last week, Chevrolet teased a sneak peak of its upcoming2016 Volt. The second-generation of its popular range-extended plug-in, there’s quite a lot of interest into what the Volt 2.0 will bring to the table in terms of range, specification and fuel economy, but there also seems to be a lot of confusion among different rumor mills as to what the car will be.

As we detailed last week, conventional wisdom points to the 2016 Volt offering a larger lithium-ion battery pack for longer all-electric range, five rather than four seats, and perhaps a more Prius-styled hatchback for larger cargo carrying capabilities.

But, UK site AutoExpress said this week that the second generation Volt will feature a smaller battery pack in an attempt to drive down cost, meaning less all-electric range and perhaps more reliance on the gasoline engine.

Here at Transport Evolved, we think there’s only one sensible conclusion to this: that General Motors is preparing a family of Volts — a-la the Toyota Prius family — to cater to as many different needs as possible.  What do you think?


The struggling U.S.-based Blink charging network may have been sold last year to fellow U.S. firm CarCharging Group Inc. for just a fraction of its owed DoE funds after its parent company ECOtality declared bankruptcy, but the Blink name is still causing a whole world of hurt for electric car owners.

Just before ECOtality went bankrupt last year, it announced the fact that it would be turning down the current output of its public Level 2 Blink charging stations amidst safety concerns of overheating electrical components and melting receptacles.  This week, CarCharging Group sent a message to Blink domestic charging station owners telling them the same thing would be happening to their home units too.

Carried out in the interests of safety, CarCharging Group says it has derated the current output of all affected Blink domestic charging stations from thirty amps at two hundred forty volts to just twenty four amps at two hundred forty volts. A temporary measure until new replacement parts can be source, the new owners of Blink say they’ll happily offer a one hundred dollar rebate plus a one hundred dollar Blink account credit to anyone who wants to return their old Blink station and swap it for one of its own charging stations.

As we might say here in the UK… Blinking’ Nora… Always on the Blink……I’ll stop.

Fiddy Cent

At anything from $60,000-$100,000, the Tesla Model S car isn’t exactly cheap. And as we reported a few weeks back via Edmunds dot com, its early production vehicles had something of a poor reputation when it came to the durability of their drivetrains.

Initially, any drivetrain malfunctions experienced by customers resulted in Tesla carrying out a costly and time-consuming drivetrain replacement, but Tesla has warned that won’t be the way it deals with this particular problem moving forward.

You see, the Californian automaker knows exactly what the problem is with those early drivetrains — and has fixed it in later production vehicles with a tiny fifty cent part. And from now on, it intends to do the same with any cars which come in for repair with the fault.

Like the “Apple is Awesome” rule practiced by Apple Genii around the world, expect Tesla techs to go above and beyond the call to keep customer happy, but in this case, the cheap and reliable fix seems like the way to go.


Green car incentives for hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars are often attacked for being little more than a tax break for those already wealthy enough to be able to afford an alternative-fuel car in the first place.

And to some extend the data backs that view up, with more than four-fifths of claimants for California’s electric vehicle rebate program coming from households with incomes higher than one hundred thousand dollars per year.

In order to tackle that inequality, a new bill is speeding through the California Senate with the intention of placing an income contingency test to all green vehicle rebates. Earn too much and you’ll not be eligible for a green vehicle rebate, but at the other end of the income bracket the bill will also make it easier for low-income families to make the switch towards a greener vehicle, offering incentives and rebates to anyone willing to trade their clunker in for a greener or perhaps even no vehicle.

Already approved by the house,Senate Bill 1275 has until August 31 to receive its final passage into law. Let’s hope it makes it in time.


At an expected purchase price of nearly seventy thousand dollars, Toyota’s first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell car — rumored to be called the Toyota Mirai — isn’t exactly going to be cheap to buy. But, as we reported this week, it’s not going to be all that cheap to fuel, either.

Taking at an official engagement earlier this week, Bob Carter, Toyota’s Senior Vice President, admitted that initial costs of filling up the FCV would likely be in the region of fifty bucks per tank.

With a range of around three hundred miles per fill, that might seem a little steep and in fact you’d be right. At fifty dollars per fill, the Toyota Miria may end up costing more to drive than an average U.S. car with a 26 mpg fuel economy. Compare it to the legendary Toyota Prius hybrid, and you’ll find that the Mirai might cost twice as much per mile to drive than Toyota’s gasoline-sipping hatch.

For a company that’s meant to be selling a future fuel vehicle that is supposed to be cleaner, more convenient and cheaper to run than a conventional car, that’s a little bit of an own goal. Don’t you think?

Drive the Future

With just under a month to go before its inaugural race in Beijing, China, the F I A-approved Formula E championship is shifting up a gear to publicise this new and exciting sport.

Earlier this week, Formula E published video footage of its first full-scale mock race day at Donington Park, UK, followed a few days later by an all-new TV ad called Drive The Future.

Just thirty seconds in length, the ad is designed to drum up interest among millennials who may have never even watched motorsport before — as well as hardened F1 fans who are used to their motor sport being a little louder and more gas-guzzling.

To cap it all, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E electric race car used in the Formula E series has just become one of the latest downloadable cars for the highly popular Forza Five game for X Box, meaning fans who don’t get a chance to watch live can recreate their own Formula E races from the comfort of their living room. Neat.

BMW Killed the AM Radio

You’ve either listened to it for hours or you’ve never even bothered to find out how to tune your radio in — but AM is still a valid broadcast method for everything from talk radio to local news, emergency information stations and local sports teams.

Which is why the National Association of Broadcasters have become unusual petitioners to German Automaker BMW in an attempt to give the BMW i3 electric car an AM radio.

You see, while most electric cars on the market today still have an AM radio setting, BMW decided to leave out AM radio reception in its first mass-produced electric car, presumably due to concerns about AM radio interference from the powerful 125 kilowatt electric motor.

But that, says the NAB isn’t good enough — and it wants BMW to bring AM to its i3 forthwith.  It even offers to help BMW solve any engineering problems caused by the electric radio to ensure the no compromise car can get a no compromise radio too.

Urban Supercharging

Tesla Motors unveiled two new Supercharger stations in England this week, bringing the total number of supercharger locations in the UK to three. Joining one already in operation in the east of London, the second and third locations — at the Hyatt Regency Churchill, London and Hyatt Regency, Birmingham respectively — bring Supercharging to the prestigious hotel chain.

But what’s different about the UK Superchargers aside from the number of stalls per site is the physical location of the sites. Unlike the U.S., where superchargers are located beside major freeways, Tesla says it’s focusing on urban areas so that Tesla owners can travel inter-city and charge their car while having business meetings, attending the theatre or meeting friends.

It even says it’s happy for Tesla owners without charging or parking at home to use their local Supercharger as their regular charging station, avoiding any of those nasty, high charges that come with some of the other charging providers in urban areas.

I was at the Birmingham launch with my wonderful intern…er… daughter… and I promised that I’d use her excellent video of the ribbon cutting in this week’s show, so thanks for that, TooKey 🙂


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