T.E.N. Future Transport News 21st November, 2014: Mirai, X-Towing, Poo-Busses

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: 2016 Toyota Mirai Launch, Toyota’s H2 push, Via Motor’s EPA Certification, LEAF-to-Grid, Telsa Model X Towing, 2016 Chevrolet Volt Charging, LA Auto Show Hydrogen Cars, Jaguar EV-Type, poo-powered bus.

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! 

Mirai Image

After months of waiting and more hype than we think we’ve ever seen Toyota give a car launch, the 2016 Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Sedan has been launched at the LA Auto Show.

Capable of travelling about 300 miles on five kilograms of compressed hydrogen fuel, the four-seat sedan will go on sale in the U.S. next fall priced at $75,500 before incentives, with free fuel included for the first three years.

For those who prefer to lease rather than buy, Toyota is matching Hyundai’s Tuscon FCV lease deal, with a $499 lease deal for 36 months and $3,649 dollars due at signing.

Sadly, the biggest challenge facing the Toyota Mirai isn’t its price — but the oh-so-limited hydrogen refuelling infrastructure available in the U.S. at the time of launch. It’s no surprise then that Toyota only plans to sell around two hundred Mirais in the first year of sale, and only three thousand cars by the end of 2017. It’s going to be a tough sell.

Hydrogen push

In related news, Toyota announced this week that it will be working alongside hydrogen refuelling company Air Liquide to develop and supply a network of twelve hydrogen refuelling stations across the states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island ahead of a planned market launch of the Toyota Mirai there early in 2016.

This comes on the back of an existing agreement in California, where Toyota has loaned more than $7 million to FirstElement Fuels to specifically support the operation and maintenance of nineteen new hydrogen fuelling stations in California.

It’s worth noting at this point that while Toyota isn’t the only automaker bringing a hydrogen fuel cell car to market, it is the only automaker to be investing this heavily in refuelling infrastructure, something Toyota is very keen to proclaim.

I guess when you’re that heavily invested in a new automotive technology, you need to ensure there’s a way for customers to refuel their cars, eh?


Via Motors, the small Utah company fronted by former GM executive Bob Lutz, has announced that it has received official certification from the U.S. EPA to start delivering its eREV van to customers across the U.S.

Essentially factory plug-in conversions of the Chevrolet Express Van, the Via eREV vans are available in three different guises: a twelve-seat minivan, a full-size panel van, or a utility-vehicle with flip-up side doors for quick access to equipment whilst out and about. Built on a three quarter ton chassis, the Via e-REV features a 23 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack located between the main chassis rails, and a 190 kilowatt electric motor connected to the rear wheels.

In everyday use, that gives an all-electric range of 35 miles per charge, while a smaller electric generator connected directly to a powerful V-8 engine up front can provide enough power to provide up to 350 additional miles of range from a tank of gasoline.

Via doesn’t give a price for its van on its official website, but since most vehicles will be published in multiples for large fleets, we suspect operators will be more interested in the money they’ll save than the money they’ll have to pay to own one.


The world’s most popular electric car — the five-seat Nissan LEAF hatchback — was designed to be the ideal family-friendly plug-in for urban and suburban life, carrying out daily duties like the school run, errands and commutes on just a single overnight charge.

But now thirteen Nissan LEAFs have left family life at home and joined the U.S. Air Force, working with a fleet of 29 other plug-in vehicles as part of the largest vehicle to grid project the world has ever seen.

Alongside the other vehicles already on the fleet, the newly conscripted Nissan LEAFs will be called into daily service as cars, providing transportation to military personnel in and around the Los Angeles AFB. When not being used for transportation duties however, they will be plugged into a suite of specially-designed two-way charging stations via their built-in CHAdeMO DC quick charging port.

This makes it possible for the LEAFs to feed power back to the electrical grid during peak demand periods, helping reduce the strain on the local grid or even help the base to continue running on its own power in an emergency.  Clever!


With the exception of a handful of plug-in hybrids on sale in Europe like the Volvo V60 PHEV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Volkswagen Golf GTE, the majority of plug-in cars on sale around the world aren’t designed to tow. In fact, not a single all-electric car on sale anywhere in the world today is officially sold with towing capabilities at point of sale — but that’s about to change, says Tesla Motors.

In an official letter sent to its 2016 Tesla Model X Reservation holders this week, the Californian automaker has confirmed that the recently-delayed 2016 Tesla Model X will be offered with an optional tow package, allowing customers to take advantage of the Model X’s dual-motor drivetrain system and ‘unprecedented level of aerodynamic efficiency’ of any vehicle of the Model X’s size.

Of towing, Tesla says that it is already working with some of the world’s finest rack and accessory companies to ensure that the Model X can carry everything from skis to bicycles with the minimum effect on range and performance as well as doing so in an elegant and well-thought out manner.

I wonder just what you’ll be able to two with the world’s first dual-motor all-electric SUV?  I can’t wait.

Better Charging

General Motors’ second-generation Chevrolet Volt — due next year as a 2016 model year car — isn’t due to be officially unveiled until the twenty fifteen North American International Auto Show in Detroit next january — but that hasn’t stopped GM from holding an exclusive event at the LA Auto Show this week to show off a little more of the elusive plug-in.

This time, the event — attended by local Volt owners — showed off some of the Volt’s new charging features, including GPS-aware charge preferences, a newly-illuminated charge port door, and a longer one hundred and twenty volt ‘emergency’ charging cable.

Chevrolet also pulled up the covers on the front of the new car, giving those there a sneaky peek at what the front of the all-new Volt will look like.

From what we can tell, the new Volt is sleeker and more conventional-looking than the outgoing model, with a more angular grille and smaller, more proportional headlights. Add this to what we already know about the Volt from previous announcements, and we’re getting pretty excited for official unveiling in January. Are you?

Hydrogen Fest

If previous LA Auto Shows were about hybrid and electric vehicles, than this year’s LA Auto Show is all about the world of hydrogen fuel cell cars.

As well as the aforementioned Toyota Mirai FCV, Honda has unveiled its latest hydrogen fuel cell concept car, along with a CHAdeMO-plugged portable power station that makes it possible to power a house from a CHAdeMO-equipped fuel cell car like the Mirai or Honda FCV Concept.

Then there’s been a the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen HyMotion, plus the A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro plug-in hybrid concept from its luxury arm Audi, which has a regular on-board battery pack for around thirty miles of EV range before its range-extending fuel cell kicks in.

Sadly however, all of the cars at this year’s show have two major hurdles before they become common on our roads: a lack of fuelling stations, and the fact it takes more than 56 kilowatt-hours of electricity to produce one kilo of hydrogen from water electrolysis — something that will take you about 60 miles in each of the cars shown this year.

And those are two rather big problems that need to be solved PDQ.

Jaguar EV-Type

You’ve heard the rumor before — a few weeks back if you watch this show regularly — that British firm Jaguar Land Rover was working on an all-electric Range Rover to compete with the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X electric cars.

Well this week, we’re bringing you the news that Jaguar Land Rover appears to have trademarked the “Ev-Type” name in both Europe and the U.S., leading us to suspect that there’s a plug-in car on the way from Jaguar that might combine high-performance with the luxury and prestige that Jaguar is known for.

Sadly, there’s nothing more than a confirmed trademark to go on, but we can’t think of anything else that would fit the “EV-Type” name badge than some form of plug-in .

Can you?

Full of 5#1t

There’s an old saying which goes “where there’s muck, there’s brass…” and perhaps if you happen to be a water treatment plant responsible for collecting and treating human waste that might now be better phrased as “where there’s muck, there’s fuel.”

And that’s exactly what’s happening in my home City of Bristol and nearby city of Bath in the UK, where a bus is hitting the streets powered entirely on human poo.

Enter the poo bus, a one hundred percent biofuelled bus being operated by the local bus company, which already operates hybrid busses in the local area.

To put the squeamish at ease, the bus isn’t actually powered by poo but rather the biomethane produced by the natural digestive processes that break down human waste at a sewage treatment plant. And for those who are wondering, the bus can travel about one hundred and eighty six miles on a single tank of biogas — equivalent to the annual waste of about five people.

It gives a whole new meaning to locals who complain the bus service is a ‘bit crap.’


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