T.E.N. Future Transport News 2nd January 2015: Roadster Upgrade, Outlander Backup Power, Predictions for 2015

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: Tesla Roadster 3.0 upgrade, Google’s self-driving cars, Federal Tax credit for large gas-guzzlers, Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid back-up power, Podpoint funding, Predictions for 2015.

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.

Enjoy the show, don’t forget to leave us feedback in the comments below, feel free to link to our video, and remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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! 

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And you could drive 400 miles…

On Christmas Day, Tesla CEO Elon Musk finally fleshed out some more details on the long-awaited battery upgrade package he’s been promising owners of Tesla’s very-first car: the two-seat Roadster.

What’s more the upgrade package — which Tesla is calling the Roadster three point nought upgrade — will turn any of Tesla’s 2,600 Tesla Roadsters into a super-long-distance plug-in, capable of travelling up to 400 miles on a single charge when driven at around fifty miles per hour.

To achieve this, Tesla’s upgrade package includes a whole new battery chemistry for the Roadster, as well as aftermarket upgrades to the car’s aerodynamics, wheels and brakes to decrease drag and increase efficiency.

Musk says we’ll see a real-life demonstration of the Roadster upgrade this month on a non-stop drive between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but with no pricing or ordering details announced we can’t help but think of this as more of a very clever publicity stunt than anything else.

…Or the car could drive you.

It’s finally 2015, which as fans of Back To The Future will tell you is the year of the hoverboard, flying cars, self-lacing shoes and Mr. Fusion.

But while those things and more may not reach the market this year as that film famously predicted, software giant google has announced that it will begin real-world testing of its driverless pod-like two-seat cars this month in California.

Built on Google’s own design, the 100-strong fleet of self-driving prototypes are currently best-suited to low-speed city streets or gated communities, but they not only represent Google’s first custom-built self-driving car but also the first self-driving cars to be tested on the roads which don’t have any of the conventional controls you’d normally find in a car.

We’re sure we’ll see more from Google and its self-driving cars later this month, but we’re pretty excited to see this futuristic vision edge ever-closer to commercial reality.

Gas is Back

It was a well-known deduction added to the U.S. Federal Tax Code back when President George W. Bush was still in the White House, and one which even earned itself a mention in Chris Paine’s seminal documentary Who Killed The Electric Car?

It was a tax credit which allowed businesses and sole-traders to write-off the cost of purchasing vehicles over 6,000 pounds in weight against their annual U.S. tax bill to the tune of $500,000 per business per year. And back at the start of twenty fourteen, that tax credit was dramatically cut to just $25,000 dollars.

But as we welcome in the new year, we also welcome back that massive half-million dollar per business tax credit with the news that it has yet again been signed back into Federal Tax Code.

Cue much gnashing of teeth and wailing from environmentalists, and much whooping from rollin’ coal fans, because this makes it something of a no-brainer for businesses to buy the biggest, most polluting pickup truck they can instead of a nice environmentally-friendly ride instead.

Luckily for plug-in fans, existing Federal tax credits remain for plug-in vehicles, but if you’re a hydrogen fuel cell fan, you need to know that incentives for fuel cell vehicles weren’t continued for this year.

Outlander for when the power is Out.

Mitsubishi’s Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, the world’s first plug-in hybrid with CHAdeMO DC quick charge technology fitted as standard, has just been given official approval in Japan to operate as an emergency backup power supply for Japanese homes fitted with the SMART V2H (Vehicle-to-Home) power system.

Designed by a consortium of electric vehicle manufacturers and utility companies in Japan, the SMART V2H system allows anyone with a compatible CHAdeMO-equipped car the ability to power their homes directly from their car in the event of a brownout or natural disaster, providing a week or more of emergency power for basic lighting and cooking.

As GreenCarCongress reports, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the first plug-in hybrid to be approved to work with the various SMART V2H systems currently on the market in Japan. Previously, only Nissan’s LEAF electric car and e-NV200 electric van, along with the Mitsubishi iMiev electric car were approved for use with SMART V2H installations.

It’s worth noting however, that while the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV does have an on-board gasoline engine which can provide motive power alongside its 12 kilowatt-hour on-board lithium-ion battery pack, the crossover SUV’s engine is disabled while it is plugged into a DC quick charging station or SMART V2H installation. But since you can charge the battery pack up with the charging cable disconnected, we think it’s still a pretty neat solution.

Podpoint funded

Twenty fourteen may have set new sales records for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, but the plug-in car world still spend the majority of last year trying to find ways of making the charging infrastructure needed to support plug-in cars profitable.

So far, the majority of charging networks have either relied on third-party funding — such as  Governmental development funds or associations with utility companies — or a pay-as-you go business model in order to bring the money in, but now one company from the UK has turned to crowdfuding for the money it needs to keep growing.

Enter Pod Point, a UK-based manufacturer and operator of charging stations for electric cars, which has just completed a 1 point two million pound funding round on crowdfunding investment site seedrs.

With a pre-investment valuation of more than sixteen million pounds, the firm was offering crowd-funded investors a collaborative six point eight nine percent equity for the 1.2 million, but actually closed its funding round with one hundred and four point four percent of the money it initially sought to find.

The challenge now? Increasing its reliability and public image among plug-in car drivers, who often critisize pod point as one of the more unreliable charging providers in the UK. We’ll be watching to see just what happens next.

Predictions for Twenty Fifteen

As usual, we’re going to spend the last few minutes of our inaugural show of the year looking at some of the stories we think we’ll be covering in 2015, covering everything from launches through to industry firsts and the downright whacky. So stay put and we’ll do our best to rattle off as many cogent predictions as possible.

New Volt

First up, we’re going to look at the upcoming twenty sixteen chevy Volt, which will be unveiled in just a few weeks’ time at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

While we already know the next-gen Volt will go further per charge and get a better fuel economy, we’re going to predict it will come with a lower price tag, spelling trouble for Nissan’s all-electric LEAF. Unlike the current car, expect an entry-level Volt for less than $25,000, after incentives.

Autonomous fun

If twenty fourteen was the year of self-driving demonstrations, 2015 will be the year we start to see self-driving car technology leave the lab and become part of the mainstream auto world. While we won’t see fully self-driving cars by the end of the year, expect every major automaker to offer some form of autonomous driving tech — like lane keep assist — on all but the most basic of models this year.


Just as we’re about to see a new Volt this year, we’ll see Nissan ready its twenty seventeen LEAF for launch later this year, with a far improved range over current models.

Expect range to increase to a real-world one-hundred and fifty miles per charge, a decrease in nerdy-tech features, and perhaps even a more integrated Carwings system. Like the Volt, we’re going to predict an entry level price of around twenty-five thousand, with high-end models adding an additional ten thousand on top.

Musk’s Madness

Twenty fourteen was the year in which Elon Musk took to Twitter more than ever before to release details about Tesla’s upcoming grand master plans, and we think twenty fifteen will be no different when it comes to Tesla Tidbits.

But this year, we think we’ll see Elon Musk either prove unequivocally that he’s a misunderstood master genius, or a little bit mad. Yes, we noticed the robots will kill us all and automated charging cable tweets, Elon.


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