Transport Evolved News Panel Talk Show Episode 224: The Hummer Problem

On today’s Transport Evolved: gas-guzzling tax credits return; a final revisit to twenty fourteen; and we preview CES twenty fifteen.

These stories and more coming up on today’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, John Voelcker, and Tom Saxton.

Welcome to today’s show! Today, Nikki is joined by editor of GreenCarReports, Classic Car aficionado and all-round nice guy John Voelcker, and Plug In America’s chief science officer and robotics guru Tom Saxton.

A Stanford graduate, John Voelcker has spend many years writing about and enjoying everything automotive. Currently a Senior Editor at HighGearMedia –– the company behind GreenCarReportsMotor Authority and The Car Connection – John can also be found contributing on Fox News, Tech Review, IEEE Spectrum, HybridCars.com and Portfolio.com. He’s also an avid classic car fan, having authored and contributed to several books on classic british cars, and can often be found working on his own classic car collection and drooling over the Bring-a-Trailer listings.

All out geek, plug-in advocate and programmer, Tom Saxton has been driving plug-in cars for many years and currently has a fleet consisting of a Tesla Roadster, Toyota RAV4 EV, and a Nissan LEAF. Along with his wife Cathy, Tom is often found at EV events in Washington State, where they are active members of the local EVA. Tom is also the Chief Science officer for Plug-in America, and has been responsible for undertaking many useful surveys of plug-in cars and their drivers, covering reliability, battery degradation and range studies. Tom is also heavily involved in the Open Vehicle Monitoring System project, bringing telematics solutions to EVs without them.

When they’re not writing computer programs or driving EVs, Tom and Cathy are heavily involved with Robotics, taking part in everything from coaching local robotics classes through to competition Robotics.

You can find John on Google PlusTwitter, Facebook, and read his daily posts on GreenCarReports. You can chat with Tom on Twitter or  Facebook; and read his blog here.

Part One:

We chat to John about twenty fourteen, and ask him to highlight some of the most popular stories at GreenCarReports during the past year. We also ask him if falling gas prices at the end of twenty fourteen and start of twenty fifteen will hamper or help green car sales this year.

Large pickup trucks will yet-again be eligible for full tax write-off against a business' Federal Taxes.

Large pickup trucks will yet-again be eligible for full tax write-off against a business’ Federal Taxes.

Meanwhile, we’ll chat to Tom about living with an older electric car, and how trips which were once easy on an 80 percent charge in his LEAF are now only possible with a 100 percent charge. We also ask him if twenty fifteen will be the year we finally see robotic driving-assistance features (like lane keep assist and autonomous braking) become mainstream on new cars.

Also in part one: 

Who benefits from the Tesla Roadster upgrade package?

Who benefits from the Tesla Roadster upgrade package?

We revisit last week’s announcement from Tesla that original Roadster owners will be able to get a new battery pack, aerodynamics, wheel and brake upgrade for their cars which will make it possible for them to travel 400 miles on a single charge. We ask if the upgrade will be worthwhile for Roadster owners, and just who gets to benefit from Tesla’s continued Roadster support.

Finally for the segment, we look at the reemergence of a $500,000 Federal Tax Credit for owners of large full-size vehicles over 6,000 pounds in weight, and ask if its reintroduction to the Federal budget was a compromise too far.

Ad Break:

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Part Two:

Throughout twenty fourteen we — and other news outlets — provided a fairly steady stream of details of automakers who were looking to build plug-in cars designed to ‘beat Tesla’ in the luxury and long-distance plug-in car market.

Is Mercedes-Benz looking to plug more models in and offer an all-electric range? Maybe.

Is Mercedes-Benz looking to plug more models in and offer an all-electric range? Maybe.

This week, we covered the latest in the long line of automakers said to be targeting Tesla: Mercedes-Benz. But with more plug-in cars than ever before now on the market and many mainstream automakers looking at 200-miles of range as something of a holy grail, will Tesla lose its appeal? Moreover, what will Tesla’s new USP become if every automaker is producing long-distant plug-ins?

As we prepared to welcome in twenty fifteen, we received news from Japan that the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid has now received official approval to operate with Smart V2H systems as a backup power solution.

The Mitsubishi Outlander's 12 kilowatt-hour battery pack can be accessed via its CHAdeMO socket for use with SMART V2H Systems

The Mitsubishi Outlander’s 12 kilowatt-hour battery pack can be accessed via its CHAdeMO socket for use with SMART V2H Systems

We ask if the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the perfect emergency-backup power system for remote homes in Japan, and wonder if V2H will finally take off outside of Japan this year?

In just over a week’s time, we’ll see the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt for the very first time at the 2015 NAIAS in Detroit. We tally together what we already know about this important car, and examine the rumor that General Motors might be about to bring an all-wheel-drive crossover plug-in to market too.

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Part Three:

Google announced last week that it would be starting road-tests later this month of its first custom-built, control-free self-driving car pods. Will Google’s tests prove that we’re ready for driverless cars, or are we too attached to owning our vehicles to make fleet-operated self-driving cars a commercial reality?

Next week, the world of tech and gadgets descends on Las Vegas for CES 2015. Expect lots of new gadgets for the automotive world, including some self-driving demonstrations from several different automakers. Is CES the best place to go for autonomous driving and future fuel technology, and what goodies can we look forward to this CES season?

BMW is demonstrating its self-driving valet technology as CES 2015

BMW is demonstrating its self-driving valet technology as CES 2015

With the 2016 Chevrolet Volt just a week away from its big reveal, we ask if now is the perfect time to buy the outgoing Chevy Volt — or if there’s just too much benefit to be had in waiting for the new one.

Elon Musk is known for his love of using Twitter to announce new Tesla products and services. but do we really need a charger that plugs the car in for you? And is Elon Musk insanely clever, or just a genius who is a little bit insane?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

And finally,

While Back To The Future predicted a whole host of technical gadgetry that we’ve not actually seen become reality, there is now at least one Delorean which can do something it couldn’t in 1985: travel on water. We want one.


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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.

______________________________________

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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  • Jim Pike

    audio is pulsing badly. Barely intelligible.

  • Jim Pike

    All audio pulsing since your sign-on

  • Andyj

    Audio and visual stutter.. Dead bad!!!

  • Well, we guess today’s show experiment with Google Hangouts didn’t work. Luckily, we had a nice local copy we’re preparing for YouTube upload!

    • Joseph Dubeau

      It isn’t playing.

  • Joseph Dubeau

    John said that Tesla C.E.O. Elon Musk at this point get a huge amount publicity for almost anything. nAnd yet John put a picture of a construction site on GCR.nI sure somebody would make a news story out a coffee cup with the letters Tesla printed on it.