Transport Evolved News Panel Talk Show Episode 223: Wrapping it Up

On today’s Transport Evolved: Looking back at 2014, asking if Tesla is just trying to fight back against its detractors, examining the science, and looking forward to 2015.

These stories and more, coming up on today’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Chelsea Sexton and Chris Tessum.

Welcome to today’s Show! Today,  Nikki is joined by Chelsea Sexton and Chris Tessum.

One of the sales people for the original EV1 electric car, Chelsea rose to fame for her role in the Don’t Crush campaign back in the early noughties, which was captured in the film Who Killed the Electric Car? and of course its more triumphant sequel Revenge of the Electric Car, on which she was a consultant producer.

A tireless EV advocate and known for her direct approach and unwavering candor, Chelsea has worked more recently as an industry advisor, helping automakers like GM and Nissan with their electric car programs. She currently assists Nissan with its LEAF advisory board, but has no direct contact to the company’s day-to-day EV operations.

Chris Tessum is a PhD research assistant at the University of Minnesota who also happens to have worked inside the automotive industry.

As an intern at Volvo Car Group in Sweden, Chris helped operate the company’s famous wind tunnel to perform aerodynamic research on scale models as well as help staff engineers in the set up of project tests. From there, he spent time working as an Energy Auditor, helping industrial facilities work on improving their energy efficiencies and reducing their company carbon footprint.

Finally, before working for six years as a PhD Candidate at the University of Minnesota (where he penned a dissertation on Life Cycle Air Quality and Climate Impacts of Conventional and Alternative Light-Duty Transportation in the United States), Chris worked as an English teacher in Peru.

You can find Chelsea on Twitter or Facebook, while you can reach Chris via his University department or Linked In.

Part One:

We chat to Chelsea about her recent Christmas culinary activities (because we know she’s an awesome cook) and ask her about her best part of the holidays so far. We also chat to Chris about his interesting career thus far, and ask if his experiences in Sweden and Peru have shaped his future career decisions or not.

Also in Part One: 

In the few days before Christmas, Tesla unveiled its invite-only, book-ahead battery swap “beta program” at the Harris Ranch in California. We discuss Tesla’s real motivation for offering a battery swap program, question if Tesla is really sold on the idea itself, and ponder if Tesla’s just-before-christmas soft launch was designed to avoid too much attention given Tesla’s apparent lack of faith in battery swapping.

Tesla's first 'beta' battery swap station goes live this week.

Tesla’s first ‘beta’ battery swap station goes live this week.

Finally for the segment, we ask if the unintended side-effect of massive plug-in vehicle incentives could be writing off more vehicles than is really necessary?

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Part Two:

We chat to Chris about his recent published study into the Life Cycle Air Quality and Climate 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.)

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.)

We ask him to explain the study from the start, explain some of the methodologies used, and ask if the study’s misinterpretation by many media outlets has helped or hindered the report’s true message? Additionally, we ask Chris to pick the most damaging vehicular fuel of the future, enquire if lowering gas prices could cause irreversible damage — and ask what he personally feels policymakers should be focusing on to improve the air quality in the U.S.

Also, we question Chris why Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles weren’t included in the study — and ask him to speculate on some of the outcomes of the fledgling hydrogen economy based on various fuel generation methods.

Finally for the segment, we ask how Tesla’s Christmas Day announcement — a 400-mile Tesla Roadster — should be received by the automotive industry. Is it revolutionary, or just a niche-market upgrade for an even more niche-market customer?

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 Three:

As the last show of 2014, we look back at the big news stories of 2014, including the fortunes of Nissan, Toyota, BMW, Tesla, GM, and all of the other autonomous and future transport companies to have hit the headlines.

We ask our guests to pick the most unhelpfully-hyped stories, the most under-appreciated stories, and the biggest surprises of the year.

We also look at some of Transport Evolved’s predictions for 2014 and ask if our crystal balls were right — or wrong. (If you can’t remember what we said, here are the predictions from both our 2013 end-of-year shows)

(From TEN Episode 15)

And so we’re onto our final segment of the show, the one I geeked out about at the start: What we think will be big this year.

For twenty fourteen, we think there are four big areas we’ll be covering, so here’s our breif rundown of each:


Last year, self-driving car technology really started to gain speed, at least in the prototype phase, so expect more and more self-driving goodness from all the major automakers as they scramble to head off Nissan’s apparent lead. We think Tesla will also demonstrate some form of technology towards the end of the year that hints at self-driving, although unlike its rivals, we think Tesla will only show us the tech when it’s ready for market.


Twenty thirteen was the year of the dying charging network, and we think twenty fourteen will blow that away with the birth of reliable, pay-as-you-go charging infrastructure and — we hope — the minimizing of those darned RFID smart cards.

But it’ll be a slow progress. Expect weaker charging networks to die off, and a few major companies to dominate the marketplace on each continent. We also think charging networks will start to struggle with the fight between CHAdemo, CCS, and whatever other charging standards someone is crazy enough to come up with.  Tesla meanwhile, will just keep on rolling out its Superchargers with minimal fuss, albeit slower than it would like to.


After three years of mediocre range for most EVs on the market, we think twenty fourteen will see early mid-cycle updates from most automakers offering perhaps as much as a ten or twenty percent increase in real-world range for twenty fifteen model years.

With Nissan already hinting at better battery tech, we think twenty fifteen model years will all have to achieve the magic 100 miles per charge if they’re electric only, while plug-in hybrids and range-extended models will all fight it out for the best possible range with the smaller battery packs they have.  We can’t wait… although we think Tesla will still beat everyone into submission…

Price war

Twenty thirteen marked the start of the EV price war, with most major EVs dropping massive chunks off their sticker prices in order to become more affordable.

We think this will continue in twenty fourteen, with the knock-on effect meaning you’ll soon be able to buy a brand new EV for less than a similarly-specced gasoline car. We also think we’ll be covering the growing market for used EV sales and aftermarket EV mods.

Strap in and buckle up, the EV world is about to get really fun!

From last year’s TE show: Janus

From Mark:

1: BMW i3 won’t live up to everyone’s expectations and the marketing hype.

2: Combo style rollout won’t be in full-strength by the end of the year: Mark predicted less than 10 locations by the end of the year in both the U.S. and UK.

3: An over-the-air update from Tesla will happen which will accidentally botch the car, or cause some problem or other that was unintended.

From our regular guest and editor of GreenCarReports John Voelcker.

1: BMW i3 will do well in major cities and ‘forward-looking places,’ but will be ‘extremely regional’ and will completely ‘flummox’ two-thirds of BMW dealers in the U.S. The BMW i3 will be the most ‘regional’ car BMW has sold.

2: The results of the NHTSA investigation into Tesla Battery safety will be ‘very important,’ and that it will exonerate the Tesla Model S as it did the Volt.

3: The importance of fast charging networks is going to become clearer in 2014, with there being no business model for level 2 charging.

From Nikki.

1: We’re going to see the increase of fights between auto dealer associations, state legislatures and Tesla Motors regarding direct-to-customer sales.

2: We’re going to see a ‘high-profile’ case of an electric car owner upset about the range that their cars can do per charge.

3: We’re going to see the second-hand plug-in car market explode.

And finally, we ask our guests to give us three ‘Transport Evolved’ future car tech predictions for 2015. We’ll check back next year to see if we were right.

Thanks, and Happy New Year!

Thanks to everyone who has supported Transport Evolved this year, and helped us make the move from a small weekly YouTube show to a whole EV-oriented network. On behalf of Nikki, Mark, Michael, Kate, our guests and the rest of the Transport Evolved family, have a very Happy New Year!


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