T.E.N. Future Transport News 17th October, 2014: South Park, Slow BMWs, Camper Vans

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: the BMW i3 REx losing power on hills; Toyota’s Fuel Cell Vehicle auction; Volkswagen e-Golf charity auction; the Nissan e-NV200-inspired DalburyE camper van; the Tesla Model S being more iPad than car; sold out BMW i8s in the UK; Renault considers selling the battery; an update on Tesla’s battery swap technology; Elon Musk stars (again) on South Park.

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.

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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! 

Losing the oomph

The 2015 BMW i3 electric car and its sibling, the BMW i3 REx range-extended electric car might be exceeding BMW’s own expectations when it comes to sales figures, but the BMW i3 REx is failing to impress Consumer Reports with its overtaking power when running in range-extending mode.

Like UK newspaper The Telegraph noted last year, Consumer Reports was shocked to find out that the BMW i3 REx was more than capable of any overtaking task when operating in electric mode, but struggled to generate enough power to safely overtake on challenging hilly passes if its battery pack had been completely depleted and it was running solely in range-extending mode.

Luckily this time the reports of the BMW i3 REx’s tiny 650 cc engine running out of power on long hill passes hasn’t gone unnoticed, and BMW says its already working on a very smart fix to ensure that BMW i3 REx owners aren’t left with no oomph when they really need it, including a new operational mode which will automatically detect if the terrain is getting challenging and automatically add some extra-charge to the battery pack in advance.


It’s probably Toyota’s most hyped car ever, is expected to cost somewhere around $70,000 when it goes on sale in the U.S. next year, and will only be available to a very exclusive list of Californians who happen to live within range of a hydrogen filling station.

But this week, Toyota, working in conjunction with the Environmental Media Association, has been raffling off tickets in a prize-draw in which its first ever mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell car is a prize.

At $100 per ticket — or $500 for six — the raffle isn’t exactly cheap, and the winner is expected to be announced in two days at a Hollywood A-list event being run by the EMA in LA.

With less than 200 of the 900 or so tickets spoken for, we can’t help but think this particular auction has failed to grasp the imagination of would-be fuel cell car drivers, so we’re keen to see who the winner is.

…Or to be First

If entering what is essentially a sweepstake to get the chance to call a Toyota Fuel cell car your daily driver isn’t your cup of tea however, a concurrent online auction being held by Volkswagen and Global Green USA might be.

Announced earlier this week, Volkswagen North America has decided to auction off the very first U.S.-market 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf for charity. Worth a shade under $35,500 dollars, the Volkswagen e-Golf comes in Volkswagen’s special e-Golf paint, is finished to SEL trim specifications, and comes complete with LED headlights, onboard seven point two kilowatt on-board charger and DC CCS quick charge capability.

With a few weeks left to run, the auction is already just below list price for the e-Golf, so we’re keen to see just how high it gets.

Camping Spirit

When it comes to combining the open road with the basic luxuries of home, Americans have the RV while Europeans have the camper van. And unlike RVs — which are often built on larger vehicle bases, European camper vans can be built on some pretty small vehicle bases, making them ideal for small mountain passes, compact travelling and easy driveability.

Now a UK camper van conversion company — essentially a firm which takes regular commercial vans and turns them into family-friendly holiday vehicles of fun — has taken Nissan’s all-electric e-NV200 electric van and made it into a camper van.

Called the Dalbury-E, the all-electric camper van comes with the latest in camper van technology, including a twin-hob stove, refrigerator and comfy seating for four. What’s more, thanks to a pop-up roof, it can sleep up to four.

Like the e-NV200 it’s based on, the Dalbury-E can be charged from any public type 2 charging station, or can be charged using the optional CHAdeMO DC Quick charge inlet from empty to eighty-percent full in just thirty minutes.

Anyone fancy going for a little weekend break?

More iPad than car

When the Chevrolet Volt launched back in twenty ten, one of the ad campaigns used to emphasise the claim that it was ‘more car than electric,’ but now it turns out the Tesla Model S, Tesla’s flagship luxury electric sedan, is more iPad than car.

At least, that’s the verdict of industry analyst IHS Automotive, which has been disassembly a top-spec Tesla Model S in order to find out what makes the luxury car tick — and how much the parts which are used to make the car are really worth.

During its dissection — which is still taking place — IHS Automotive has discovered two very important things which mark the Model S apart from other cars. Firstly, the Model S has been built from the ground up using a technology-focused design ethos that leverages the latest in computer hardware and software and secondly, Tesla prefers to design its own circuits and components rather than buying off-the-shelf parts from a tier one automotive supplier as the rest of the industry does.

The result? A car which has more in common with an iPad than any of its rivals.

Sold out

At a list price of nearly £100,000,  BMW’s second mass-produced plug-in car, he 2014 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports coupe costs more than a fully-loaded Tesla Model S luxury sedan.

But while the BMW i8 luxury plug-in sports car has an all-electric range of just 23 miles per charge on the overly-optimistic NEDC test cycle, anyone wanting to buy one in the UK will find themselves waiting more than a year to get their car.

That’s because BMW has already sold out of its first year allocation, proclaimed AutoExpress this week, with those who order today being faced with a year-long wait to get their luxury plug-in coupe.

Although it’s great to see BMW’s i8 selling so strongly and beating BMW’s own expectations however, we think it’s worth noting here that BMW only planned to sell a few hundred cars every year in the UK market, explaining why the two hundred which have been delivered plus another four hundred orders has caused such a backlog.

Our suggestion to BMW? Make more.

Buy the pack

Two years ago, Renault’s all-electric ZOE five-door hatchback hit the market in Europe. Smaller than the Nissan LEAF, the ZOE features a 65 kilowatt electric motor, seating for five, and can be charged from empty to full in around 30 minutes using its unique Chameleon on-board charger and a compatible three-phase AC rapid charging station.

But while the Renault ZOE seems good on paper, its mandatory battery leasing program — where customers buy the car and lease rather than buy the battery pack — has put many would-be ZOE buyers off buying one.

This week however, we learned that Renault is considering allowing customers the option to buy their car’s battery packs outright, a dramatic turnaround from the previous insistence that it would only ever lease battery packs to customers.

While Renault hasn’t confirmed this rumor, we have been told by insiders at Renault that the battery purchase option is one which is being ‘seriously considered,’ so watch this space.

Swap Shop

Back in July last year, Telsa CEO Elon Musk presided over Tesla’s first live demonstration of battery swapping technology, a demonstration in which we saw two Tesla Model S cars undergo fully automated battery swaps in less time than it takes to fill up the tank of a gasoline car.

Since then, things have been pretty quiet on the battery swap front, despite initial promises from Tesla that battery swapping would be coming to key Tesla Supercharger sites before the end of the year.

Here at Transport Evolved we’d pretty much forgotten about Tesla Battery Swapping, but in an interview given recently to Automotive News, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the first battery swap station should be live and operational by the end of this year, with the first location somewhere between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

There are no more details at present, but given Musk’s propensity to drop big hints, we think we’ll find out more very soon.

South-Park Style

What keeps Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk awake at night? A failed launch of SpaceX’s latest rocket? Falling Tesla Motors Stock? The realisation that electric cars aren’t the transportation utopia that he thought they were?

Or having his big ‘Tesla Model D’ announcement mocked on Comedy Central’s hit show South Park?

We’re pretty sure none of the above apply, but we can tell you that Elon Musk — or rather a satirical spoof of him — appeared on this week’s South Park, along with his infamous D.

The episode — entitled Handicar — saw Elon Musk compete in a weird Wacky-races style race to become the champion of our transportation future, and in typical South Park Style, no topic was out of bounds and no celebrity went unteased.

We’ll not spoil the episode for you, but let’s just say those of a nervous disposition may not want to watch.


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