Transport Evolved’s Most Popular Stories of 2014: James May, Gigafactories, and Elon Musk’s Speeding Ticket

In less than sixteen hours, countries all around the world will begin the twenty-five hour period of saying goodbye to 2014 and welcoming in 2015. And as with so many other online news sites, we’re looking back to some of the biggest stories we’ve covered this year.

Tesla featured highly this year, but our most popular story involved BMW, not Tesla.

Tesla featured highly this year, but our most popular story involved BMW, not Tesla.

While our editorial team and many of our regular writers and guests would pick stories like the Tesla Model S P85 D or Tesla Gigafactory announcements as the most important story of the past twelve months, we’ve been looking through our archives to see just which stories attracted the most traffic to our humble abode.

And that data proves something that tabloid journalists have known for years: there’s nothing better for eyeballs than a bit of celebrity gossip or an exclusive report.

So without further ado, we bring you five highest-traffic stories of 2014 on Transport Evolved, listed in reverse order and not including our home page.

Number 5: My Life with the Toyota RAV4 EV Electric Car

Think of the Toyota RAV4 EV, and the chances are you’ll either think of the original, first-generation RAV4 EV which became famous thanks to the Don’t Crush! campaign or the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? — or the second-generation Tesla-engineered, limited-production compliance car that Toyota begrudgingly sold for a few years in order to comply with California’s Zero Emission mandate.

Steven Noctor's fantastic review of the RAV4 EV earned itself a lot of traffic this year.

Steven Noctor’s fantastic review of the RAV4 EV earned itself a lot of traffic this year.

But despite its limited production run and Toyota’s apathy towards plug-in cars in general, the 2012-2014 Toyota RAV4 EV has proven itself a strong search term on our site this year, with this fantastic first-person, three-part long-term writeup from guest writer Steve Noctor proving our fifth most popular post all year..

The articles were originally published back in May, and even now, seven months later, the three-part review is still a popular draw for new and regular visitors alike. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find part one right here.

Number 4: Ohio Dealers Vs. Tesla: Sen. Patton (R) Proposes New Anti-Tesla Law

When it comes to legal battles, 2014 was the in which the ongoing battles between Tesla Motors and various powerful auto dealer associations across the U.S. moved up a gear.

Sen. Patton (R-Strongsville) submitted the initial draft of Ohio Senate Bill SB260.

Sen. Patton (R-Strongsville) submitted the initial draft of Ohio Senate Bill SB260, a bill designed to make Tesla’s life tough.

As well as the shock of the sneaky New Jersey last-minute regulatory change which banned Tesla from selling direct to its customers in the Garden State, our readers this year have been super-quick to pounce on any stories in which legislators or auto dealer unions have tried to sneak anti-Tesla legislation into bills at the last minute.

This particular story, from January 14 this year, followed on from a previous attempt by pro auto-dealer Republic Senator Patton from Ohio, who wasted no time at the start of the new session last year proposing a bill which would have restricted Tesla’s rights to sell direct to customers in Ohio.

We’d like to say that this was the only big Tesla v Autodealer Association story from 2014, but when we look back in our logs, we can tell you that there are an unhealthy number of stories just like this one in our top fifty.

Number 3: Johnny Depp and Elon Musk…and that Speeding Ticket

As we said in the opening to this story from April 2014, we’re not ones to gossip and we’re not the kind of folks to pay much attention to the world of celebrity. But when the world of celebrity crosses our paths with an angle we know appeals to our audience, we’ll cover it.

Johnny Depp admits he, his costars, and Elon Musk, were caught speeding in a Tesla Model S during the filming of Transcendence Photo: Angela George, Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Johnny Depp admits he, his costars, and Elon Musk, were caught speeding in a Tesla Model S during the filming of Transcendence Photo: Angela George, Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

And so it was that we found ourselves telling the tale of the time that Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany Rebecca Hall and Wally Pfister went for a ride in the personal Tesla Model S of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Elon Musk was given a speeding ticket.

“I had one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” said Depp of the incident, which took place while he was filming Transcendence, a film released earlier this year in which Musk had a small cameo role. “[Musk] came and visited the set and we had a ride around in his car but then the police pulled us over.”

Describing Musk as ‘good natured’ about the whole thing, Depp said that the traffic cop “needed a humour chip” about the stop, which landed Musk with a speeding ticket. But what we find really bizarre about this particular story was the fact that Paul Bettany was riding up front in Johnny Depp’s lap, something we’re sure attracted the cop’s attention in the first place.

Ah, the celebrity lifestyle…

Number 2: Top-Secret Groundworks Outside Reno, NV Marks First Tesla Gigafactory Site

Long before Tesla had officially announced its first Gigafactory location, speculation was high in Reno Nevada that a recently-begun groundworks was actually the first Tesla site to be developed by the Californian automaker.

Bob Tregilus' fantastic post on the Gigafactory site long before it became official earned itself some amazingly high page views.

Bob Tregilus’ fantastic post on the Gigafactory site long before it became official earned itself some amazingly high page views.

Luckily for us, our good friend Bob Tregilus — a Reno local — was more than happy to take part in some outstanding citizen journalism, giving us one of the first exclusive on-the-ground reports from the site. He even followed up a few days later when the site was suddenly closed, and has been our regular go-to guy ever since.

In case you hadn’t heard, Bob’s article and photographs were bang on the nose too: a few weeks after he wrote his exclusive report for us, Tesla CEO Elon Musk officially confirmed the Gigafactory site at a press conference in Reno.

Number 1: BBC Top Gear’s James May: I’m Buying A BMW i3 Electric Car

For years, Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May have been the bane of the plug-in car owner’s life. They’ve mocked plug-in cars from every angle, criticised anyone who drives one, and even carried out some high-profile, completely unfair stunts in which plug-in cars are made to look ridiculous.

When Top Gear's James May said he was going to buy a BMW i3 REx this year, our viewers went wild.

When Top Gear’s James May said he was going to buy a BMW i3 REx this year, our viewers went wild.

But off screen, James May hit the headlines in May this year when he announced that he would be among some of the first owners in the UK of the BMW i3 Rex extended-range electric car.

Talking on a special You&Yours Bank Holiday Monday Special on BBC Radio 4, the then 51-year old petrol head presenter admitted that he ‘quite liked’ electric cars and was looking forward to buying one.

And that news, it seemed, rocked everyone’s world.

What About You?

We’ve all got our top stories of the year, but which ones made 2014 special for you?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below, and on behalf of the entire Transport Evolved family, we’d like to wish you a very Happy New Year!

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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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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

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  • Richard Goldsmith

    That senator Patton looks like a really nasty piece of work. Mafia connections? Or have I been watching too many American cop dramas. I think what he did stinks and it would be criminal in this country, or immoral at the least. I’m sure Tesla can survive the likes of him and the auto traders associations cartels, even if it is a bit inconvenient for them. Musk keeps making it cooler and cooler to be a tesla owner – you can’t legislate that away.

  • vdiv

    What?! No “hydrogen bomb on wheels” stories in the top 5? I’m shocked, SHOCKED! :)nnNikki is just amazing by holding the ship afloat and does a great job reporting the news fairly. The breaking stories like the battery gigafactory have cemented TE as the premier EV news site. The reviews are also great.nnI really liked ElectraGirl’s and Kate writing about their firsthand experiences. They give the site the breadth that is good (not the hydrogen BS that isn’t)nnLooking forward to more amazing TE moments this year.