T.E.N. Future Transport News 9th October: Tesla Model S Dual Motor, LEAF Profitability, Auto-Pilot Features

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: Tesla Model S ‘D’ announcement; Tesla autopilot announcement; Nissan LEAF profitability; Star Trek EV ads; 2017 Nissan LEAF; Tesla Certified Pre-Owned Program; 200+ mile Chevy EV; plug-in hybrids a ‘stop gap measure’; and Toyota’s continuation of Hybrid only.

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! 

Twice the Fun

It’s official: after just a week of speculation and rumors, Tesla has finally announced the addition of an all-wheel drive — or Dual Motor — option to the Tesla Model S.

Unveiled last night — or early this morning if you’re in the UK — at an exclusive Tesla Motors event in California, the Tesla Model S 60 D  and Tesla Model S 85 D uses the same twin electric-motor setup as the upcoming Tesla Model X, and will accelerate from nought to sixty in an astonishing three point two seconds

What’s more, the Tesla Dual Motor option is far more efficient than the original single-motor setup, meaning you’ll get as much as ten miles of extra range if you have the Tesla Model S 85 D rather than the single-motor Tesla Model S 85.

Form an orderly queue to buy, please.

…And a very cool trick

And, as we rightly predicted earlier this week, Tesla’s event this morning also unveiled the start of Tesla’s autonomous drive system, with the revelation that Tesla has been production autonomous-drive-capable cars for the past two weeks at its factory in Fremont, California.

While the cars won’t be driving themselves down the freeway just yet, they’re all fitted with front-facing radar and visible light camera, three hundred and sixty degree ultrasonic sonar, and a tweaked drivetrain system, making it possible for the car to change lane for you on the freeway, ensure you don’t hit anyone in bad weather, and even drive without a person on board.

Sadly, that last feature won’t be active on the highway or any public roads at the moment, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the new Tesla Model S will greet you in the morning from its garage if you happen to be on private land, moving itself from the driveway to your door ready to greet you on your morning commute.

That’s pretty darned cool.

Making a profit.

When it launched in twenty ten, the all-electric Nissan LEAF represented a massive investment in plug-in car technology from the Japanese automaker. In fact, if you account for the total investment made by Nissan and its alliance partner Renault, more than $5 billion was set aside for development of electric car battery packs, drivetrain technology and plug-in car design.

While Renault Nissan hasn’t seen any returns on its total investment quite yet, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says Nissan LEAF — which was a loss-leader for the automaker for the first four years of production — is now making a profit.

Or to put it another way, Nissan is now making more money on every LEAF it builds than it spends on building it.

And with LEAF sales rising month on month, the amount of money Nissan stands to make from the LEAF is just set to get bigger and bigger.

As for key markets? It turns out that Atlanta, Georgia is the number one market for the LEAF in the U.S., ahead of San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles, so well-done, Atlanta!

To Boldly Go

It might be nearly fifty years since the original U.S.S. Enterprise took to the skies in Star Trek, but Captain James Tiberius Kirk and his trusty Vulcan first officer-cum-scientist Mr. Spock have come back from the future to let us know that driving plug-in cars is the way to the future.

At least, actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy have, courtesy of a new Volkswagen ad campaign called #vwfuture.

Naturally, the aim of the German-language ad is to promote the idea that driving a plug-in car from Volkswagen is to drive the future today, and features both Shatner and Nimoy behind the wheel of a plug-in Volkswagen.

The main ad itself is kind of cute, but we’ve got to admit that some of the extras — including Shatner exploring a young fan’s Star Trek-themed bedroom — is a little weird. But hey, this is the future, right?

Live long, and drive electric..

Green and (not so) Nerdy

Like the next-generation Chevrolet Volt, the next-generation Nissan LEAF — due some time in twenty sixteen as a twenty-seventeen model — is highly anticipated by current and future electric car drivers alike, if only for its reportedly larger all-electric range.

But if you like the current generation Nissan LEAF’s slightly nerdy appearance and anthropomorphic looks, you’ll be sad to hear that the next generation Nissan LEAF — like so many other ecologically-responsible vehicles over time — will get a mainstream makeover for the second-generation model.

That’s according to Nissan design chief and senior vice president Shiro Nakamura, who told Green Car Reports at last week’s Paris Motor Show that the twenty seventeen Nissan LEAF would get a more conventional design which toned down its “EV-Ness”

But while it might look more conventional, Nakamura said the twenty seventeen LEAF would be offered with a wider range of options and trim levels, so that those who want to entertain their inner geek can still do so.

I better start saving up.

Pre-Loved, Not Used…

In a move which will make it compete more directly with other luxury car brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Tesla Motors announced this week that it is hard at work developing a certified pre-owned program, ensuring those who want to buy a pre-loved Tesla Model S can enjoy the same car-buying experience as those who order their cars new from the factory.

Talking to Automotive News this week, Simon Sproule — Tesla’s Vice President of Communications — said that Tesla was looking for a way of structuring a certified pre-owned program which would enable some of its very first Model S cars to get a new lease of life.

It’s also worth noting of course, that Tesla resale values are still really rather high — far higher than Tesla’s Guaranteed Resale Value program, meaning Tesla could stand to make as much as ten thousand dollars on every certified pre-owned Model S it sells through such a program.

What’s more, those who can’t afford to buy new will ensure that they get the same level of service and enjoyment from the Tesla buying experience as those who buy new, and Tesla ensures a minimum level of service and sales standard is met at all times to protect its reputation.


All-New Electric Chevy on the Way

After months of rumors about a possible 200-mile electric car from Detroit automaker General Motors, the company’s global product chief Mark Reuss has confirmed General Motors is looking to develop a third Chevrolet plug-in vehicle alongside the Volt range-extended electric car and all-electric Spark EV minicar.

That’s hardly a lot to go on, but if we examine General Motor’s current electric car position and some of the things GM executives have said in the past, we’re starting to build a pretty convincing picture of a 200-mile, subcompact electric car coming out of GM’s Detroit factories some time in the near future.

In terms of the proposed vehicle size, insiders near to General Motors say the all-electric car will be based on the current-generation Chevrolet Sonic — which as it happens shares the same platform as the current Spark EV.

What would you like to see in a future plug-in GM? And how much would you pay for it? Tell us in the comments below.

A stop-gap measure

Less than a year ago, if you’d wanted to buy a plug-in car from Volkswagen, you’d have drawn a complete blank, yet last week VW unveiled its fifth plug-in car to enter production — the Volkswagen Passat GTE plug-in hybrid.

But while Volkswagen is currently producing both plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars, the future, says Volkswagen powertrain development boss Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, is one hundred percent electric cars all the way.

Plug-in hybrids, he explains, are just a stop-gap measure until VW’s third-generation plug-in cars hit the market with ranges in excess of three hundred and seventy five miles.

Talking about the next-generation e-Golf — which he says will have at least one hundred and eighty miles of range — Dr. Neusser says the third-generation cars from Volkswagen will make three hundred plus mile trips a reality by the end of this decade.

All we’ve got to wait for he says, is for recharging infrastructure to catch up. We can’t wait.

Hybrid forever?

While German automaker Volkswagen is focusing on all-electric models however, Japanese automaker Toyota says that hybrid — rather than plug-in hybrid or electric cars — are where its attentions will lie in the near to mid-term.

That’s according to Toyota Product Chief karl Schlicht, who called the idea that plug-in hybrid drivetrains were an essential step for Toyota a ‘myth’. In fact, he argues, Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain technology — which has been in production since the late nineteen nineties — has a long way to go before it becomes obsolete.

Referring to the next-generation hybrid CVT drivetrain, Schlicht says we’ll see more from Toyota that sets a new boundary in the world of hybrid fuel efficiency and emissions — all without a plug.

And after that, he says, Toyota will skip plug-ins altogether and go to hydrogen fuel cells. Now there’s a surprise…


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