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’s current vehicle of choice is two, rather than four wheels — and powered by a good coffee and a sticky bun.


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.


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.


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?


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.


Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.




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  • Esl1999 .

    God job todaynPatnBack.

  • heltonja

    Am I the only one getting a “video unavailable” message?

  • Bruce Moore

    Nope, I am getting “video unavailable” also.

  • Bruce Moore

    Also not on YouTube.

  • HI Bruce, nnnYouTube was having a horrid day. It should be working now!

  • heltonja

    Great show, as usual, with the possible exception of Mr. Scott’s Knee-Jerk conservative bashing response to the Michigan legislature passing anti-tesla legislation. Mr. Scott may not be aware, but every single Democrat in the Michigan House and Senate voted in favor of the Tesla ban and the lone voice of reason opposing the bill was indeed a Republican. Clearly both political parties in Michigan are engaging in protectionist crony capitalism and to the extent that the Republicans at least pay lip service to free markets and the virture of open competition without govenrment tipping the scales, they can also be accused of hypocrisy. Of course the Democrats who openly sell sleepovers in the Lincoln bedroom and $32000.00 lunches with the president to discuss policy are pretty well insulated from the charge of hypocrisy when it comes buying and selling influence.

    • PaulScott58

      heltonja, my knees are getting sore from jerking so much, but in my defense, the Republicans have deserved it. This does not in anyway excuse the Dems who do the same thing. On the contrary, they should suffer the same fate and be thrown out of office. But that won’t happen as long as people keep spending their money for carbon-based energy, funding the political opposition of every piece of environmental, health or defense legislation that would lead to a tax on their fuel.nnIn order to transition as quickly as possible from dirty, expensive carbon-based energy – oil, coal, natural gas – to cheap, clean and renewable electricity, we have to get the pricing mechanism correct. Currently, none of the massively expensive – to the public – costs of those dirty energies are in their price. This is what has to change. Effective progress on our energy future depends on it.

      • heltonja

        I agree that the true cost of any product should be captured in its price to the extent possible to ensure that the person benefiting from the use of a product is paying for its use and the product isn’t being indirectly subsidized by third parties that are forced to absorb the hidden costs. However, there is some difficulty in relying on a tax to adjust the price so that it reflects the true cost: n1. The tax revenue collected is as likely to be spent on expanding the Cowboy Poetry Festival in Nevada as it is on mitigating the hidden cost of the product. So while the end user is penalized with a tax, the innocent third parties continue to subsidize the hidden cost. n2. When looking at the true cost of a product we also have to consider not only any hiden costs that may have been externalized, but also what is the hidden econimic benefit of that product. If we come up with a list of hidden / external costs of fossil fuels and tax accordingly, the cost of energy will go up, economic activity will go down and the resulting loss of productivity, and tax revenue must also be considered. nMaking EV’s competitive by raising the operating cost of ICE vehicles is a sub-optimal solution at best. The family that can only afford a 15K car, won’t switch to an EV, just because we raise the price of the Toyota Corolla to 50K. If we price ICE cars out of existence before affordable EV’s are ready to fill the void, we will do nothing more than increase unemployment among the working poor. Fuel costs are already high enough to generate interest in EV’s and battery R&D. As long as manufactures continue to sense the pent up demand for a reasonably priced EV with practical range I think we will continue to see progress toward mass market EV’s. The day that the total monthly cost of ownership of an EV is less than that of an equivalent ICE car, then I predict a rapid transition to EV’s. And I think that day is fast approaching without the imposition of more taxes on those who can least afford them.

        • PaulScott58

          To your point #1 of tax money being misused, that is no reason not to tax fuel for its externalities, it’s a reason to fix the mis-use problem. nnTo point #2, economic activity will increase substantially as people transition to EVs since, of the money currently spent on oil, only about 20% will be spent on electricity to go the same distance. The people will then be able to spend the other 80% on other things, presumedly local goods and services, generating millions of jobs across the world. Tax revenue will also increase due to the circulation of this money throughout the economy instead of being locked away in some Swiss bank accounts owned by billionaires.nnThe proverbial “family that can only afford a 15K car” can easily afford a used LEAF or Volt. Those are selling for well under $15K these days, and they can run on very inexpensive electricity, saving the owner even more money.nnnnWhen you try to use the tired old argument that rising oil prices will hurt the poor, you neglect to point out that the poor suffer even more when the oil companies raise the price. If we never tax oil for its externalities, then the transition will take even longer. We do not have the time to waste waiting for people to finally wake up and become “good people” and stop the pollution on their own. Most Americans could give a rat’s ass about the pollution they generate. They are in large part selfish and greedy, even many of the poor fall into this category. The only way to move a significant number of them to do the right thing is to hit them in the pocket book. nnnBecause of the low price of gasoline, Americans buy incredibly inefficient vehicles, then they compound the problem by driving them inefficiently. As the taxes are gradually added to the price of fuel, people will learn to drive more efficiently thereby reducing their costs. Then, when they are next in the market for a new car, they can buy the most efficient vehicle that will serve their purpose.

        • Gaskilla

          “The day that the total monthly cost of ownership of an EV is less than that of an equivalent ICE car, then I predict a rapid transition to EV’s.”nnSince there are several EVs you can lease for $199 a month, some simple math will tell you if an EV will cost less than your current ICE. In my case the answer was YES and I haven’t been to a gas station in over two years. I’m also able to charge on 120v power at work so my “fuel” during the week is free. Once the word gets out about how little it costs to own and operate an EV (no oil changes, transmission fluid etc. etc) I can’t see why anyone would ever buy an ICE again, I know I’ll never buy one again.