Transport Evolved News Panel Talk Show Episode 226: Easily Mistaken

On today’s Transport Evolved: all the new cars from the Detroit Auto Show, ending range anxiety, and easily-confused plug-in names.

These stories and more coming up on today’s Transport Evolved, with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Robert Llewellyn and Faye Sunderland.

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Welcome to today’s show! Today, Nikki is joined by Robert Llewellyn and Faye Sunderland.

Robert Llewellyn is known by many for his portrayal of Kryten on the classic space comedy Red Dwarf. Others will know him for his many years as a host of Scrapheap Challenge/Jukyard Warsbut here at Transport Evolved we love Robert for his continued work as an EV advocate and clean energy nut. Also an accomplished author, artist and tech-head, Robert is about to release his latest book in the “News from the…” series: News from the Clouds.

2014 Cadillac ELR

Robert has been driving the Cadillac ELR.

Soft-spoken but quick-witted, Faye Sunderland has been writing about cars and environmental issues since 2007 and likes to call herself an “eco-warrior” working on the corporate inside. Known for her love of the outdoors, wildlife, and cycling, Faye says her ideal car has enough room to fit a bale of hay in the boot, but everything else is surplus to requirements. While Faye covers all cars green and quirky as a freelancer, Faye’s current vehicle of choice is two, rather than four wheels — and powered by a good coffee and a sticky bun.

Robert’s YouTube channel Fully Charged is also required watching for anyone wanting to keep up to date in the world of green tech, so be sure to subscribe. You can talk with Faye on Twitter and Google+.

Part One:

We chat to Robert about his recent visit to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where he saw some of the latest advancements in autonomous driving technology and advanced safety tech. He also saw some really neat self-driving (and self-charging) electric cars.

Will self-driving, self-charging cars become mainstream?

Will self-driving, self-charging cars become mainstream?

We also ask Robert to give us his review of the Cadillac ELR, which he drove to Las Vegas from Los Angeles with the fantastic Chelsea Sexton.

Also in Part One: 

The all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt broke cover at last at last week’s 2015 NAIAS in Detroit. We look at the specifications and ask if this next-generation plug-in will help Chevrolet stay at the forefront of plug-in vehicle sales, or if the improvements made to its all-electric range and fuel economy aren’t enough against upcoming cars like the rumoured next-generation LEAF? Finally, we try and figure out if the Volt is really a five-seat family car, or a four-seat car with emergency-only fifth seat?

Will the new Chevrolet Volt prove popular with customers?

Will the new Chevrolet Volt prove popular with customers?

Finally for the segment, we talk about the launch of the Volkswagen Golf GTE in the UK. For a country whose only plug-in hybrid success story so far has been the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, we ask if the sporty GTi-inspired plug-in hybrid from Volkswagen will prove popular — and why?

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Part two

Alongside the launch of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 NAIAS in Detroit last week, GM unveiled an all-new concept car called the Chevrolet Bolt. With seating for four and an upright, crossover design, the concept car is just one of several possibilities for how GM’s promised 2017/2018 200-mile affordable EV could look.

Like a BOLT out of the blue?

Like a BOLT out of the blue?

But will the Chevrolet Bolt ever make it to production? Is it really a long-range car? And which cars will it cross-shop against? Most importantly, why on earth did Chevrolet pick such an easily-mistaken name for this particular concept car, and if the Bolt makes it to production, will it keep the same name?

Staying with NAIAS for a second, we look at Hyundai’s new 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, and ask if the South-Korean automaker needs to up its game if it really wants to beat existing plug-in hybrids in the marketplace. Furthermore, with range-extended electric cars often more than 40 miles per charge, will anyone really buy a plug-in hybrid with a sub-25-mile per charge range?

The Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will charge in about 2.5 hours from a level 2 charging station.

The Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will charge in about 2.5 hours from a level 2 charging station.

Following along a similar line of thought, we look at the Volkswagen Cross-Coupe GTE plug-in hybrid concept from Detroit and Audi Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid —  and wonder if plug-in hybrid SUVs can really help Chelsea Tractors become less polluting or simply perpetuating an automotive trend towards unnecessarily large vehicles which really needs to stop?

Finally for the segment, Tesla’s Model S to CHAdeMO adapter is due to go on sale this month, allowing Tesla Model S owners the ability to plug-in their cars at CHAdeMO DC quick charging stations alongside Nissan LEAFs and other CHAdeMO-equipped cars. We ask if it will be useful to Model S owners — or if most will just continue to use Superchargers? Moreover, we wonder how long it’ll be before someone reverse-engineers a Tesla-to-CHAdeMo adapter to let other plug-in owners use Supercharger sites?

Tesla's CHAdeMO adapter is expected to go on sale this month. But who will buy it?

Tesla’s CHAdeMO adapter is expected to go on sale this month. But who will buy it?

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Part Three:

A few weeks ago, Ford quietly launched a new car-swap scheme at its offices in Dearborn, Michigan. It works by allowing employees to swap vehicles for the day if their own car doesn’t suit their needs, enabling someone who needs to shift some garden waste to borrow a pickup for a few hours or someone with an electric car the option of borrowing a hybrid for a long trip.

Mobility Experiment: Car Swap, Dearborn

We ask why peer-to-peer car swap schemes haven’t taken off, and wonder if these could help more people buy a car that meets 95 percent of their needs 95 percent of the time?

Confirming what we already knew about the next-generation Nissan LEAF, Nissan’s Philippe Klein promised this week that Nissan’s next-generation of lithium-ion battery packs would not only double existing electric car range but put an end to range anxiety for most drivers. But will 150 or so miles really end range anxiety for most, or is it just human nature to want more than we have?

Longer range LEAF: will it kill range anxiety?

Longer range LEAF: will it kill range anxiety?

Moving to Solar energy for a second, we examine the disturbing trend towards some utility companies lobbying for those who use solar power — even off-grid power — to pay towards the upkeep of the utility grid. Will this threaten energy independence for those who want it, or is there a solution we just haven’t discovered yet?

Elon Musk quietly announced last week that he intends to build a Hyperloop Test Track to help people test pod designs for his super high speed Hyperloop mass transit system. The track will likely be built in Texas — and Musk even thinks he may start a new sport called Pod Racing to go with it.

Will the Hyperloop really become reality, or is this one vision which will stay in the future?


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