Transport Evolved News Panel Talk Show Episode 222: Wild Claims

On today’s Transport Evolved: Toyota ruffles feathers, two cars turn four, and unpicking some headlines from the actual facts.

These stories and more, coming up on today’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Paul Scott and Joe Dugandzic.

Welcome to today’s show! Today, Nikki is joined by Paul Scott and Joe Dugandzic.

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…

Part one

As it’s nearly the end of 2014, we ask both Paul and Joe to pick to of their favourite stories of year, and ask them for a few predictions for 2015.

We’ll also ask Paul to give us the lowdown on a recent study carried out by Plug In America on the lack of correlation between gasoline prices and plug-in vehicle sales, and talk to Joe about his views on the recent developments reported on the Hyperloop.

Also in part one:

Happy Birthday, Nissan LEAF

Happy Birthday, Nissan LEAF

The Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt both turned four in the past two weeks since our last show. We examine what the impact of both cars has been on the plug-in and green-car market segment, and ask if they have truly become mainstream, easily-recognised cars yet — of if they’re just mistaken for another car on the road by most drivers?

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you too, Volt!

Finally for the segment, we look at Nissan’s recently-announced battery replacement program in Europe, and ask if other automakers should soon start offering battery replacements for their cars, too.

Hey, where’s the ad gone?

At this point in the show, we’d usually have an ad promoting what you can do to help support Transport Evolved through a monthly subscription. In fact, it was in last week’s show.

But due to some big changes in the way that taxes are levied across the EU, we’ve had no choice but to stop taking donations directly from our listeners. It’s all to do with something called VAT MOSS — and you can find out more by reading a letter we sent to our subscribers.

If you’re a subscriber, you should have already received this email. If not, then we hope this mention in the show will reach you instead. And if you have been, thank you for your support to this point.

Part Two

At the start of last week, some headlines hit the top of the feeds which suggested that electric cars aren’t as clean for the environment as gasoline cars. But after digging through the various reports, we found the study itself, read it, and discovered that the original academic paper bore little resemblance to the headlines.

It really does depend where you get your fuel from. (Image: Life cycle air quality impacts of conventional and alternative light-duty transportation in the United States.)

It really does depend where you get your fuel from. (Image: Life cycle air quality impacts of conventional and
alternative light-duty transportation in the
United States.)

In fact, while the study did indeed say cars charged from coal-generated power were worse for the environment than gasoline cars, the study also pointed out that plug-in cars charged from wind, water and solar power were by far the cleanest and greenest out there.

Are misinterpreted academic reports the symptom of our sound-bite culture, poor reporting, or simply just a reminder that we should read research papers for ourselves before drawing any conclusions?

This week, French automaker Renault confirmed that it would be improving the efficiency and range of its 2015 Renault ZOE with a brand-new motor and power inverter system — but that it would also mean cars fitted with it would lose their ability to charge at 43 kilowatts, AC in preference for lower-rate charging.

The change in inverter and motor will make the new 2015 ZOE slightly more efficient.

The change in inverter and motor will make the new 2015 ZOE slightly more efficient.

Will the new 22 kW on-board charger be enough, or has Renault made a poor decision to dump higher-rate charging? Or will the new charger simply transform the ZOE and the Kangoo Z.E — the latter having only come with a 3 kilowatt on-board charger since launch?

Finally for the segment, our friends over at GreenCarReports reported on Friday that Tesla’s long-awaited battery swap pilot program will launch next week in California across the street from the  Harris Ranch Supercharger site.

After something of a quiet spell, Tesla's battery swapping technology is back in the limelight.

After something of a quiet spell, Tesla’s battery swapping technology is back in the limelight.

We ask what the impact of battery swapping will be on Tesla Model S owners, wonder who will really pay for it, and ponder if it’s even necessary?

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Part Three:

Last week, Audi confirmed the 2015 Q7 would be available in range-topping e-tron quattro plug-in diesel hybrid guise, becoming the second full-size SUV to use a plug-in hybrid drivetrain as the range-topping performance model.

The 2015 Audi Q7 will be available in range-topping plug-in diesel hybrid guise.

The 2015 Audi Q7 will be available in range-topping plug-in diesel hybrid guise.

Is this a new trend in the automotive world, and should performance plug-in hybrids be treated any differently to compliance cars?

This week, Toyota hit the headlines again when a newly-released infomercial for its upcoming 2015 Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan appeared to claim fuel cell vehicles have a smaller carbon footprint than electric cars.

Can hydrogen fuel cell cars and electric vehicles ever be friends?

Can hydrogen fuel cell cars and electric vehicles ever be friends?

With the science clearly not backing that up, we ask if this is a deliberate attempt to continue the discrediting of plug-in vehicles by Toyota, or ask if plug-in advocates are simply too sensitive? In addition, we wonder what can be done to help plug-in and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles get along side by side — and if Toyota will make back any of the $165 million it has just invested to increase Miria production in the next decade?

2016 Volt

In three weeks’ time, the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt will debut at the 2015 NAIAS in Detroit. This week, we learned a little more about the new Volt, including the inclusion of paddle shifters to give drivers manual adjustment of regenerative braking on accelerator liftoff. We ask what else we should expect from the new Volt, and ask if it will be ‘normal’ enough to compete against gasoline vehicles?

Although BMW is set to unveil a whole host of new driver benefits for its plug-in owners at the 2015 NAIAS — and reportedly not the H2 vehicle we thought it would — it seems that it will be focusing on unveiling its most interesting of future technologies (self-driving)  at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas.

P90170866-highRes

With the news that Volvo is pulling out of all but a few car shows, we ask if the traditional automotive show is dead — and if we should be focusing on tech shows instead for evolved transportation?

And finally — is the news that the Tesla Model S comes with floppy-disc compatibility cool or not? We’re too geeky to say no…

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  • Joseph Dubeau

    The goal for CA is 33% renewable energy by 2020.nWe will get there before 2020.