T.E.N. Future Transport News 29 August 2014: VW e-Golf, Tesla Rental, Furry Fun

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: 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Pricing, e-Golf charging problems in Europe, GM’s bike sharing program, Volvo XC90 unveiling, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4WORK, Tesla Model S rental, Prius PHEV advert, Self-driving cars, Furry Fun with the Kia Soul.

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! 

Like a Golf..

This week, Volkswagen North America announced final specifications and pricing for the upcoming Volkswagen e-Golf, the all-electric variant of the iconic 40 year-old hatchback.

Priced from thirty-five thousand four hundred and forty five dollars before incentives, plus an eight hundred and twenty dollar mandatory handling and shipping fee, the 2015 e-Golf is similarly priced and specced to the high-end Nissan LEAF SV. And it will go on sale this fall.

For that, U.S. buyers will get a trim level equivalent to the top-spec gasoline Golf, with high-end audio system, touch-screen navigation, remote telematics, heated everything, and dual-zone climate control.

They’ll also get CCS DC quick charging as standard, as well as an on-board 7 kW charger — something many Brits will be jealous of as the UK-spec model only comes with DC quick charging and a 3kW on-board charger. Don’t ask me why.

…which won’t charge

Staying with the Volkswagen e-Golf for a moment, there’s some bad news for European e-Golf owners wanting to take advantage of the continent’s growing CCS DC quick charging network: the e-Golf won’t charge at DBT-manufactured charging stations.

Initially reported by British e-Golf owners frustrated they couldn’t use rapid charging on the Ecotricity electric highway — which happens to use DBT-branded quick charging stations —

engineers have quickly pinpointed the problem to a communications fault with the charging stations themselves.

The problem appears to have been identified and replicated by Volkswagen and DBT engineers working in Germany — and a fix should be on the way very soon.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a Volkswagen e-Golf — like we have this week on review — bear in mind that you’ll only be able to rapid charge at some rapid charging stations and not others until the problem has been fixed.

On Two Wheels

Amsterdam loves them, so does the city of Bristol where we film this show. But if I’d have been asked to name another place in love with bicycles, I wouldn’t have thought to mention Detroit in a million years.

But thanks to a new project being launched by General Motors at its Warren Technical Centre north of Detroit, General Motors employees are switching to the charms of two-wheels to get them around the massive 330 acre site.

Working alongside corporate bikeshare firm Zagster, all nineteen thousand employees at the General Motors Warren Technical Centre can now hire a bike to get them around the campus, making it easier than ever before to cross from meeting to meeting without needing to make use of their own cars or the company shuttle bus.

As well as being quicker than the bus or car, the new cycle sharing scheme is healthier for employees and embraces the wonders of multi-modal transport: or in plain english, using multiple different types of transport to get from point A to point B in the most efficient manner.

Good job, GM!

Thor’s Lights

After literally months of teasing, Volvo finally unveiled images of its upcoming second-generation XC90 SUV this week. As well as being available in range-topping T8 plug-in hybrid form, the XC90 SUV promises to be one of the most advanced vehicles on the road today — here’s why.

First up, Volvo says the XC90 will be the first production car in the world to make use of an advanced ‘Run off-road’ protection feature designed to stop the kind of accidents where cars careen off the road through driver error, fatigue or distraction. Like an advanced form of lane control, the system will alert the driver if they are about to drive off the edge of the road, adds extra steering force to keep the car where it should be, and tightens the front seat belts to keep the occupants super safe.

Second, the XC90 features an automatic braking system which will slow or stop the car if you happen to turn across the path of an oncoming vehicle at an intersection, which we hope will help reduce the number of horrific t-bone accidents we see worldwide every year.

Sadly, there’s no word of full pricing and spec yet, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we do.


Staying with plug-in SUVs for a second, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has announced that it’s about to launch a commercial vehicle variant of its highly-popular Outlander Plug-in Hybrid for the UK market.

Why turn a perfectly good five-seat family SUV into a van? It’s all to do with the incentives awarded to commercial plug-in vehicles in the UK. More generous than the five thousand pounds offered to private cars, the eight thousand commercial vehicle plug-in grant can dramatically lower the cost of a business going plug-in — and Mitsubishi wants in.

Like other cars converted to van status, expect no rear seats, an extended load bay and blanked out windows. But everything else in the Outlander PHEV 4Work should remain identical to the family-friendly version.

Car for Rent

Here’s a question for you: how much do you think it would cost to rent a fully-loaded Tesla Model S for a week in the UK?

£200?  £400?  More?

Unfortunately it’s a lot more — £1995 to be exact — but if you’ve got nearly two grand sitting there doing nothing, a new company near London is ready and willing to take your money in exchange for a week-long Model S rental.

Enter Evision, a UK company which offers not only a range of Telsa Model S rental packages but also bespoke chauffeur services to those willing to pay a high-ticket price for a high-ticket ride in a very nice car.

If a weekly rental is just too much, you can rent a Model S from as little as £60 per hour — but you have to rent for a minimum of three hours.  But if you want a little bit of fun and you’re in the UK, it might be a fun thing to do.


With a tiny four point four kilowatt-hour on-board battery pack and a blended electric + gasoline range of just 11 miles on the EPA cycle before it resorts to using a gasoline engine for propulsion, the 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is something of a lightweight among plug-in cars.

With careful use, you can still get a Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid to give some really good fuel economy reading and yes, a longer electric only range — but in Toyota’s latest ad for its compliance plug-in, the automaker goes out of its way to advertise not plugging the plug-in in.

Called “Choices,” the ad follows a father and son as they go to a friend’s house for a party and find that despite being offered an outlet to charge they can’t find a spare one. So they don’t bother plugging. in.

It’s caused a large number of plug-in fans to get rather hot under the collar about the ad, using it as proof that Toyota really doesn’t like plugin cars and will do anything it can to stop people plugging in.  Do you agree?

Furry Fun

The latest in a long line of Kia Soul ads launched this week starring those mischievous anthropomorphic human-sized hamsters. But unlike past Kia Soul ads, where the furry friends showed they could rap, dance, and bring joy wherever they went, this new ad focuses on their scientific endeavours.

In it, the three hamsters are in their lab, building an all-electric version of the popular CUV when an accident involving a ray gun and a normal-sized hamster results in a sexy catsuit hamster lady appearing from the now electrified Kia Soul.

Like any geeks devoid of female contact, the lads decide to go to the local petstore to obtain more pet hamsters to make into full-size party animals… and the rest is kind of self explanatory.

It’s nice to see electric car ads which don’t focus on just the electric capabilities of the car — and our furry friends say they give it a paw up too.

What do you think?

Not Ready…Yet

They can tear around a prepared autocross course, tackle urban streets and even drive on the freeway — but don’t think that Google self-driving cars are ready for prime time yet.

That’s the message from various academics in the field of transportation technologies and from the director of Google’s automated driving team himself.

Google’s self-driving cars have been used to great effect by the software giant as the poster children of near-future transportation, and they’re now a common site in the states and cities which have granted Google permission to test the vehicles out on the public highway. But while it’s easy to get carried away in the dream of the future, self-driving technology is harder than it looks.

As Tesla CEO Elon Musk has pointed out in the past and Nissan has more recently admitted by dialling back its own expectations of autonomous driving technology, building a self-driving car capable of driving 98 percent of all roads is reasonably easy — but it’s the final few percent that prove difficult.

In Google’s case, that smaller percentile includes things like teaching the cars to differentiate between a rock and a crumpled piece of paper, or the difference between a pothole and an uncovered manhole.

Critics of the way Google has displayed its self-driving program say that Google is lulling the public into a false sense of security by implying that self-driving cars are just around the corner. Google’s own team say that they’re still confident that the majority of challenges will be met and solved in short order.

Self-driving director Chris Urmson says he has a personal target: finishing development of Google’s self driving car in time for his son’s sixteenth birthday. That’s just five years away.


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