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Transport Evolved News Panel Talk Show 213: Show Me The D

On today’s Transport Evolved: Elon Musk’s D, Nissan LEAF charge cable security, and how driving faster could be better for battery life.

These stories and more on today’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Seth Weintraub and Tom Saxton

Award-winning journalist and blogger Seth Weintraub has many years of experience covering the tech world, and won backto back Neal Awards during his three plus years  covering Apple and Google at IDG’s Computerworld from 20072010.

Weintraub next covered all things Google for Fortune Magazine from 2010-2011 amassing a thick rolodex of Google contacts.

It turns out that his hobby 9to5Mac.com blog was always his favorite and in 2011 he went full time adding his Fortune Google followers to 9to5Google.com and adding the9to5Toys.com gear and deals site. His EV-centric site eletrek.co is required reading for in-depth analysis of the plug-in and green energy world.

For 15 years, Weintraub was a Global IT director and Web Developer for a number of companies with stints at multimedia and branding agencies in Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, Hong Kong, Madrid and London before becoming a publisher/blogger. Seth is a licensed single engin private pilot, certified open water diver and spent over a year traveling to 60 cities in 23 countries. Whatever free time exists is now guaranteed to his wife and two sons.

All out geek, plug-in advocate and programmer, Tom Saxton has been driving plug-in cars for many years and currently has a fleet consisting of a Tesla Roadster, Toyota RAV4 EV, and a Nissan LEAF. Along with his wife Cathy, Tom is often found at EV events in Washington State, where they are active members of the local EVA. Tom is also the Chief Science officer for Plug-in America, and has been responsible for undertaking many useful surveys of plug-in cars and their drivers, covering reliability, battery degradation and range studies. Tom is also heavily involved in the Open Vehicle Monitoring System project, bringing telematics solutions to EVs without them.

When they’re not writing computer programs or driving EVs, Tom and Cathy are heavily involved with Robotics, taking part in everything from coaching local robotics classes through to competition Robotics.

(You can reach out to Seth via his About.me page and chat with Tom on Twitter or  Facebook; and read his blog here.)

Part one

We chat to Seth and Tom about what they’ve been up to recently, including Seth’s take on the latest operating system for the Tesla Model S (complete with Apple iPhone integration) and Tom’s reaction to September’s Drive Electric Week from a pacific northwest perspective.

Unlock and drive your Tesla Model S with your iPhone? What's it like?

Unlock and drive your Tesla Model S with your iPhone? What’s it like?

In addition, we bring you sad news of the tragic death of William Korthof, a key member of the Californian electric vehicle community, tireless plug-in advocate and solar energy expert. We look at a life tirelessly spent trying to make the world a better place.

Also in Part One:

Elon Musk gets the Internet into a tizzy by announcing that he will unveil “The D” next week on social media site Twitter.

We chat about what ‘The D” could mean, examine the photograph of the Tesla P85D from Californiaplus Seth explains why Tesla isn’t about to unveil the Model ≡ at Thursday’s event. Does the media need to calm down when it comes to reporting on Tesla, and are misinformed rumours being all-too-easily passed as fact? Staying with Tesla for a second, we ask if the quiet inclusion of lane departure warning and speed warning system in Model S cars has anything to do with Tesla’s plans to introduce driving assistance (self-driving) packages sooner than we’d thought?

Part two

The 2014 Paris Motor Show is now well under way, and we look at some of the concept and future cars displayed this year, including the Volkswagen Passat GTEPeugeot’s plug-in hybrid and air cars, Volkswagen’s XL Sport fuel-efficient sports car, and the Renault EOLAB. With so few plug-in and hydrogen cars on show, we ask if plug-in hybrids and H2 are falling out of fashion, or is it just that a struggling European motor industry is trying to find cheaper ways of meeting tough European targets for fuel efficiency and gas mileage?

The new 2-in-1 compressor should make electric cars more efficient and help them go further per charge.

The new 2-in-1 compressor should make electric cars more efficient and help them go further per charge.

A joint project between the Nanyang Technological University and the German Aerospace Centre has developed a new type of electric car motor that combines the function of an air-conditioner with a motor. We try and explain how it works, and ask if the combination and miniaturisation of plug-in technology is something that will happen more and more in an attempt to increase plug-in cars’ ranges? Zero Motorcycles unveiled its 2015 range this week, with increased battery packs, improved seats and grips, and an astonishing 185 miles of city range per charge on the high-end models. But at more than $17,000 per bike, we ask if they’re just too expensive for mainstream buyers to choose? 

We like the new Zero range, but is it too expensive?

We like the new Zero range, but is it too expensive?

Plug-in vehicle sales for the month of September are finally in, and they mark a general upward trend towards more and more people adopting plug-in cars. But the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid suffered rather dramatic sales drops in September. We ask why, and if we should be worried? And finally for the segment, we talk about charging cable security, after a YouTube video shows a small boy removing the ‘locked’ charge cable on a 2014 Nissan LEAF. Is Nissan’s formal response lame? Should we be concerned about security? And how do we ensure no-one steals charge cables? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOqkrqg6zds

Part three

A Tesla Model S owner who purchased his Signature P85 Model S at salvage auction hit the headlines this week when he said that Tesla Motors wanted him to sign a Liability Release Form before it would even examine his previously written-off plug-in car in order to ‘reactivate it’. He refused, leaving him with a very ‘expensive’ paperweight. We go back to the start of the story to explain what’s happened so far, ask if Tesla really is restricting access to spares and parts for written-off cars, and ask if Tesla’s behaviour is acceptable.  

Conventional wisdom has suggested for many years that the quickest way to destroy an electric car battery pack is to continually rapid charge it. Over the years, we’ve come to suspect that isn’t the case, and now a new study from Stanford suggests that actually rapid charging does very little damage to battery packs. What’s more, it suggests rapid discharging (or driving fast) is better for electric car battery packs than anything else. We ask how that’s possible, and examine the basics of charging.

And finally for the show, Tesla Motors has managed to unveil a new European Supercharger every day in the past week, with Superchargers going online at an astonishing rate. How long can Tesla keep this up — and just how is it able to afford this blistering rate of installation?


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