T.E.N. Future Transport News 3rd October: Showing the D, Gigafactory 2.0, VW XL Sport

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 future cars and future car technology. This week news about: a possible Tesla Gigafactory 2.0, the Volkswagen Passat GTE, Zero Motorcycles 2015 range, rapid charging discoveries, Nissan LEAF security, Formula E plans, Tesla “D”, Volkswagen XL Sport, Nissan LEAF Pickup Truck.

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! 

Gigafactory 2.0

Californian automaker Tesla Motors might have only just announced Reno, Nevada as the site of its first massive lithium-ion Gigafactory, but the state of California — which lost out to Reno in the hunt for site number one — wants to make sure it’s top of the list when Tesla starts looking for a second Gigafactory stie.

To ensure it won’t miss out, a California Congressional Delegation has written an official letter to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, asking him to bring a future Gigafactory to the Golden State.

Spearheaded by congressmen Puiz, Honda and Costa and signed by a further twenty one other Californian legislators, the letter promotes California’s diverse, highly-educated workforce, its good quality of life and abundant renewable energy resources, and pro-EV laws.

Since Tesla hasn’t even built the first Gigafactory yet, the letter is maybe a little premature, but hey, it’s always good to be prepared.

Volkswagen Passat GTE

German automaker Volkswagen might be a little late to the plug-in car party, launching its first plug-in vehicles some three years after Nissan, General Motors and Mitsubishi, but at this week’s Paris Motor Show it has launched its fifth plug-in vehicle: the Volkswagen Passat GTE Plug-in Hybrid.

Available in both sedan and station wagon variants, the Passat GTE will use the same 1.4-litre petrol and 85 kilowatt electric motor plug-in hybrid drivetrain found in the recently-launched Golf GTE. That translates to an all-electric range of around 30 miles per charge on the N E D C test cycle, and the ability to accelerate from 0-62 mph in under eight seconds.

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet — nor has U.S. availability — but if you’re in Europe and want a plug-in station wagon or sedan, this is one care you’ll want to check out when it launches next year.

Longer, Faster, Harder, Better?

Ever since it started back in two thousand and six, Zero Motorcycles has earned a reputation for continually pushing the boundaries of what an electric motorcycle can do thanks to a strict yearly refresh cycle.

And this year it hasn’t disappointed with a newly-launched 2015 lineup that adds a more range, more refinement, and improved handling to the popular Zero S, Zero SR and Zero DS models.

For a start, each bike now gets a slightly larger battery pack which when combined with the optional Power Pack range-extended battery can give up to one hundred and eighty five miles of range in the urban environment or nearly one hundred miles at freeway speeds. There’s also improved suspension, anti-lock brakes and pirelli tires to add to the mix, as well as some tweaked seating and grips to make riding even more fun.

The bad bit? Sadly, a fully-kitted out top spec Zero SR Motorcycle will cost upwards of $17,000… so start saving now.

Drive faster

If you’ve ever spent any time examining the science of electric car charging, you’ll know that conventional wisdom suggests that continued rapid charging rather than slow, gradual charging will eventually damage your car’s battery pack and ultimately reduce your car’s range.

But a study released this week by Stanford University and the Stanford Institute for Material Sciences suggests that rapid charging your car’s battery pack has little effect on its lifespan.

What’s more, the study seems to suggest that rapidly discharging your car’s battery pack is actually better for it than gradually discharging it, since the pack will discharge more evenly under higher load than it will under lower load.

So you heard it here first, folks: driving your electric car quickly is good for the battery pack.

Just don’t tell the traffic officer I told you so, eh?

Boy 1: LEAF 0

If you’ve purchased or driven a Nissan LEAF in recent years, you’ll know that they come with a special ‘locking’ mechanism designed to help keep the charge cable connected to your car while it charges — and stop pranksters or criminals unplugging the car and running away with the cable.

The locking mechanism — included on every LEAF made since 2013 — slides a little plastic tab across the charge gun latch mechanism, making it impossible to pull the charge cable out… but as one guy and his son discovered when his portable charge cable was stolen recently, removing a ‘locked’ cable from a LEAF is as simple as sliding the lock mechanism back with a thin narrow object… like a comb.

What’s worse, it’s so simple that a small child can do it, as this video so scarily demonstrates. If you’ve got a LEAF and you’re charging somewhere you don’t trust, be sure to invest in a padlock, eh?

Big Plans

The FIA-approved Formula E electric car championship may be just one race into its inaugural season, but it has big plans to revolutionise the world of both motor sport and electric cars forever.

That’s the message from Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, who announced this week that Formula E plans to open up the technical requirements for next year so competitors can build their own electric motors and battery packs. In a few years’ time, Agag said he hopes to have enough manufacturers competing that the race series can officially become a world championship.

Why is that so exciting for us? Well, the more teams building their own cars, motors and battery packs, the more advances we’ll see in the world of electric vehicles. And that ultimately means better electric and plug-in hybrid cars for you and I to drive.

So be sure to support that next Formula E race eh?

Show them the D

Just like the late Steve Jobs, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk only has to mutter a few words and suddenly everyone is sitting up to take notice. And this week was no exception, when Musk simply tweeted that Tesla would be unveiling “the D and something else” next week n October ninth, posting a picture of a Tesla Model S peeking out from underneath a half-closed shutter door with the letter “D” on it.

Alluding to a popular Internet Meme, Musk’s tweet was simple and to the point — and read “About time to unveil the D and something else.”

Alongside the jokes connected to a certain Internet meme (If you don’t know you should look it up) Musk managed to stir up a lot of interest, with people guessing everything from a brand new car to autonomous driving technology and more.

As for us? We think Tesla is about to unveil an all-wheel drive Tesla Model S, and perhaps some form of autopilot Driving assistance. But like you, we’ll have to wait until Thursday next week to find out more.

Volkswagen XL Sport

Here’s a question for you. What do you get if you cross the super-efficient, limited-production Volkswagen XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid with a Ducati 1199 Superleggiera?

Answer? The Volkswagen XL Sport, a brand-new, limited-production car announced this week by Volkswagen at the Paris Motor Show.

Sure, it doesn’t have a single plug, traction battery or electric motor near the drivetrain, but this super-sleek car lays claim to being the most efficient sports car ever made.

With a top speed of one hundred and sixty eight miles per hour from just two hundred horsepower, the XL Sport might not be immediately what you think of as a future car, but when you consider that most cars capable of reaching that speed need a massive v-8 engine in order to do so, you should be very, very impressed.

I am.

Pick me up

Ok, so this one wasn’t from this week — but it’s something I wanted to include in a show a few weeks back and never got the chance to. It’s also incredible cool.

Engineers at Nissan’s Technical Centre in Arizona have turned a bog-standard Nissan LEAF hatchback into a fully-functional pickup truck, complete with special paint job, working rear electric window, and custom lights. It’s road legal, and is used to carry parts around Nissan’s Arizona Tech facility.

Hands up who wants one? Because I really, really do.


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