Transport Evolved News Panel Talk Show 215: South Park Style

On today’s Transport Evolved: Sneaky practices in Michigan, Bid to be the first, and Elon Musk gets the South Park Treatment

These stories and more on today’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Faye Sunderland, and Paul Scott

Welcome to today’s show. This week, Nikki is joined by Faye Sunderland and Paul Scott.

Soft-spoken but quick-witted, Faye Sunderland has been writing about cars and environmental issues since 2007 and likes to call herself an “eco-warrior” working on the corporate inside. Known for her love of the outdoors, wildlife, and cycling, Faye says her ideal car has enough room to fit a bale of hay in the boot, but everything else is surplus to requirements. While Faye covers all cars green and quirky at TheGreenCarWesbite.co.ukFaye’s current vehicle of choice is two, rather than four wheels — and powered by a good coffee and a sticky bun.

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One of Plug- in America’s founding members, EV driver and advocate Paul Scott is a long-time environmentalist and activist. While most of his career was spent in the film business, it is his work with the plug-in world that most will know him for. One of the many Californian EV owners whose fight to save the RAV4 EV1, GM EV1 and other plug-in cars from being crushed was documented by the film Who Killed The Electric Car?, Paul has consistently and actively fought to ensure the benefits of plug-in ownership isn’t forgotten.

Paul’s love of electric vehicle led him to briefly work for Nissan of Downtown Los Angeles, where he helped sell Nissan LEAF electric cars to many hundreds of happy customers and helped the dealership win the 2013 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award from the state of California. While retired from that job, Scott is still working tirelessly to promote renewable energy and plug-in cars, even taking some of his retirement fund to spend on the chance to meet with President Obama to talk about plug-in cars and renewable energy. As documented in the upcoming film My Lunch With Obama however, things didn’t go according to plan…

You can talk with Faye on Twitter and Google+, or talk with Scott on Twitter and Facebook.

Part one

We chat to Faye and Paul about what they’ve been up to recently, including Paul’s reaction to the news that Tesla Motors has been the victim of yet another direct-sales ban — this time in Michigan, the home state of three of the U.S.’s biggest car makers. We ask if favouritism and inside- favors came into play as it become apparent that HB 5606’s last-minute editor was paid campaign contributions from the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association and has a wife who regularly lobbies for the auto industry.

Following on, we ask for Faye’s take on the news published this morning by UK Environmental Secretary Lis Truss that solar farms are a ‘blight on the landscape,’ and that the current UK government will stop funding mass solar farms.

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Also in Part One:

BMW promises a fix for the anaemic acceleration of the BMW i3 REx in range-extended mode on steep hills which could leave some U.S. i3 REx owners struggling for overtaking power. We examine why the tactic used in Europe — turning the REx on a little sooner — isn’t an option in the U.S. at the moment, and wonder if the promised modifications from BMW will mean that the i3 REx loses its CARB classification and HOV-lane perks.

While Americans have the massive home-from-home that is the RV, Brits prefer something a little smaller when combining the joys of caravanning and camping with travel. This week at the UK’s premiere caravan and motorhome expo, a British firm (Hillside Lesiure from Derby) has unveiled what it says is the first ever all-electric camper van. Based on the e-NV200 from Nissan, the DalburyE seats four, sleeps four, and comes with all the basics you need for a short family break exploring the British countryside. It also has a range of about 70-80 miles per charge, and comes with a DC quick charge socket. We ask if this is the ultimate eco-friendly travel solution for your holidays, and ask our panel if they’d like to go on vacation in one.

 

Fancy an all-electric camper van? Now you can, thanks to Hillside Leisure in the UK.

Fancy an all-electric camper van? Now you can, thanks to Hillside Leisure in the UK.

Part Two

Following on from the Tesla Model S Dual Motor and autonomous drive announcement from last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been dropping hints that the first Tesla Battery Swap station will go live before the end of the year, somewhere between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We remind everyone what battery swapping is, and what Model S owners should expect from the experience. We also ask if battery swapping is Tesla’s response to increasing queues at popular Supercharger stations along arterial routes — including the ones between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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Staying with California for a second, a meeting this coming week could dramatically change its Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, changing the requirements for Intermediate Vehicle Makers like Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volvo in such a way that we could see less rather than more electric cars on the roads of California in the future. We examine the proposed changes, and ask if the proposed rule change is a sign of more disturbing practices moving forward.

Both Toyota and Volkswagen have announced vehicular ‘for environmental charity’ giveaways this week: one for the Toyota FCV hydrogen fuel-cell car in California and one for the first 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf in the U.S. We ask if the auctions serve a purpose other than publicity — and ponder who the respective raffle winner and highest bidder will be.

You could win this... if you happen to live in California and buy a $100 ticket.

You could win this… if you happen to live in California and buy a $100 ticket.

Finally for the segment, more details are arriving concerning GM’s future plug-in cars, including the revelation that Chevrolet’s first mass-produced, longer-range electric car will likely be built as a next-generation Chevrolet Sonic, replace the current Chevy Spark EV, and perhaps even go on sale in Europe wearing an Opel (Vahxuall) Corsa badge. Meanwhile, on luxury side plans are starting to emerge for an all-electric Cadillac competitor to the Tesla Model S. We wonder if it will be enough to help the struggling Cadillac brand regain its market share.

Part Three

French automaker Renault has always required its plug-in customers to date to buy their car but lease the car’s battery pack. While this method has meant that the purchase cost of the car has fallen, it has left owners with a mandatory rental fee every month for the battery pack. Stop paying the battery lease fee, and Renault could take your car’s battery pack away. But after four years of requiring battery leases however, Renault is reportedly about to offer battery purchase alongside battery rental. We ask if it will change the number of people who buy Renault cars — and if it makes it easier for cars like the Twizy to be imported to other countries?

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This week, BMW announced to AutoExpress that the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car is sold out for 2014 in the UK, with those who make an order today being forced to wait a year before their cars are delivered. Is BMW just engaging in some purposeful supply issues to make demand seem really high, or is it really just so popular? What’s more, will people who order a BMW i8 still want it in a year’s time now that there’s a Tesla Model S that can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds for less money?

The Kia Soul EV — the compliance electric car advertised by Hamsters — has finally received its official EPA figures. At 93 miles of range and 105 MPGe it is one of the most efficient EVs on the market today. Will buyers be tempted or will they stick with the better-known LEAF?

Kia Soul EV

Finally for the show, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made another appearance on South Park this week, along with the infamous “D” announcement. Does this mean Tesla has finally become a mainstream brand?

In South Park, nothing is sacred. (Screen-grab) Comedy Central.

In South Park, nothing is sacred. (Screen-grab) Comedy Central.

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