T.E.N. Future Transport News 23rd January 2015: Twizy Delivery, CCS for All, Largest Charging Site

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.

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Weekly show about future cars and future car technology. This week news about: Renault’s Twizy Delivery Concept; the first Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedan gets delivered; Elon Musk’s reaction to the Chevrolet Bolt; European 2014 plug-in sales results; Volkswagen’s CCS commitment; Nissan LEAF recall; the largest rapid charging station location in the world; Chevrolet Spark heads east; Californian filling site charges for Hydrogen.

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.

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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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Twizy Delivery Concept

It’s fun, funky and easy to drive. But while the tiny little Renault Twizy electric runabout is great when you want to get from A to B in a busy city centre, it’s not all that great at carrying large amounts of stuff.

But now, thanks to a new concept being trailed in Paris, it might be.

Enter the Renault Twizy Delivery Concept, a specially-modified version of the Renault Twizy with a shortened cab and a special two-hitch on the back designed to take what must be the world’s shortest trailer. Combined, trailer and car form to make a six-wheeled, single-seat urban delivery vehicle with a one meter square box on the back capable of delivering parcels and goods through tight urban streets only really large enough for a motorbike.

Renault says it may end up producing the funky six-wheeler, but we won’t know for sure until it completes its trail in Paris this year. Let’s hope it’s a successful one, because I for one am fed up with all of those massive UPS, FED EX and postal-service trucks clogging up our beautiful cities.

Toyota Mirai Delivered

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the first-ever delivery of a new production vehicle would herald quite a bit of flag waving and trumpeting, but late last week Toyota delivered its first ever production Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a ceremony so unpublicised that it took us a week to hear about it.

The ¥7 million sedan is powered by a powerful electric motor driven in turn by a one hundred and eleven kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell stack fed with hydrogen from two separate on-board tanks, and is the first production hydrogen fuel cell sedan from a domestic manufacturer to officially go on sale in Japan.

With more than ¥3 million  of incentives arranged for owners of fuel cell vehicles, Mr. Abe’s government is well and truly behind the Mirai and all hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and it’s expected that a large proportion of the Japanese governmental fleet will use Hydrogen moving forward. But with no incentives set for Europe or the U.S., it’s likely that Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell revolution could be like its first launch and go mainly unnoticed for some time to come.

Bolt not a threat

Last week’s official unveiling of the Chevrolet Bolt Concept EV in Detroit may have spurred some commentators into calling it a true competitor to the Tesla Model three, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he’s not threatened by the 200-mile concept car.

Talking at the Detroit Auto Show last week, Mr. Musk said that he welcomed the Chevrolet Bolt, saying that there was plenty of market to go around and with one hundred million new cars and trucks made every year, production of a few hundred thousand additional electric cars didn’t scare him.

Musk, who was generally complementary of all of the other plug-in cars on the market, reiterated his aim to get everyone behind the wheel of an electric car — no matter what the brand — but didn’t waste any time in criticizing hydrogen fuel cell cars.

“I just think they’re incredibly silly,” he said, adding that he believed the stupidity and futility of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would become apparent in the next few years and presumably, battery technology becomes more advanced and cheaper too.

Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi Top of Euro Charts

It’s official. After sitting down with the sales figures for 2014, the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid come out top in the 2014 European plug-in car sales charts.

Nissan’s all electric LEAF came in first place as the most popular all-electric car, selling 14,658 cars last year across the continent, but even the LEAF couldn’t’ hold a candle to the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid.

Snapped up in droves thanks to its all-wheel drive capabilities, towing provision, 30-mile all-electric range and CHAdemO DC quick charge capability, Mitsubishi positively romped home with nineteen thousand nine hundred and eighty Outlander Plug-in Hybrid sales, proving that Europeans will buy a greener chelsea tractor if someone offers them one.

I wonder what the sales in 2015 will be like?

CCS for All

Volkswagen may be a little late to the plug-in marketplace, but it confirmed this week that all new plug-in cars designed and sold will include CCS quick charging as standard, regardless of the size of on-board battery pack or drivetrain.

The announcement, coming hot on the heels of Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE concept SUV unveiling last week in Detroit, proves that rapid charging capability is quickly becoming a must-have feature for any new plug-in car on the market today.

Currently, only the Volkswagen e-Golf and e-Up are available with CCS fitted as standard, and the recently-launched Golf GTE doesn’t have any on-board rapid charge capabilities. But this week’s news suggests that future models of the important plug-in, as well as any other plug-in models Volkswagen is planning for market, will be able to recharge to 80 percent full in around 30 minutes from a compatible CCS station some time in the near future.

And that’s a marketing ploy we think will repay Volkswagen very handsomely indeed.

LEAF Recalled

Nissan has officially announced a voluntary recall of its twenty thirteen and twenty fourteen LEAF electric car in Europe due to a manufacturing problem which could cause eventual problems with the lower steering column on affected vehicles.

The recall, which is known to affect all cars made at Nissan’s Sunderland plant between 2013 and 2014, concerns a small clip used to ensure the correct fitment of the steering column lower joint assembly. According to Nissan’s official letter to customers, this clip may have become dislodged during assembly causing it to eventually dislodge.

Nissan says no reports have been received of the part failing, but has decided to recall the cars for a cautionary inspection and if necessary, repair, free of charge. Owners of affected owners will be contacted by their local Nissan dealer in the next few weeks.

Largest in the World?

We all know that Norway is home to the largest number of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles per captia, but now the nordic nation can lay claim to being home to the world’s largest multi-standard rapid charging station too.

Located in the city of Bergen, this brand-new rapid charging site was opened this week containing not just one or two, but fourteen rapid charging stations for different electric cars.

In total, there are 4, three-phase type 2, 22kW outlets used by cars like the Renault Zoe, 4 combo CCS charging stations as used by cars like the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf, and 6 CHAdeMO DC quick charging stations as used by cars like the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi iMiev.

All in all, we reckon there’s about 155 kilowatts worth of electric car charging in one location, with the promise that there will be an additional 10 charging stations added in time if they’re needed.

Unlike most Norwegian charging stations however, owners will have to pay to use them, but the fee — equivalent to $1.32  to initiate charging, plus $0.33 every minutes — is certainly far more reasonable than some charging networks we’ve come across. No names mentioned, obviously…

Chevrolet Spark Heads East

After being on sale for nearly nineteen months exclusively in the state os California and Oregon, Chevrolet’s all-electric Spark EV minicar is heading to the east coast.

Announced this week, the plug-in version of Chevrolet’s popular Spark minicar will soon be available to buy in Maryland, bringing the four-seat plug-in to the east coast for the first time.

Capable of around 82 miles per charge of its nineteen kilowatt-hour battery pack, the Spark EV is known for its surefootedness and perky acceleration, and while it’s no Tesla, you can charge it from empty to eighty percent full in around thirty minutes thanks to its on-board CCS charge socket.

The problem? At the moment, there’s not a single CCS charging station anywhere in Maryland nor its commuter-belt neighbour Washington, DC. Let’s hope someone at GM sorts that particular problem out toot suite, eh?

Hydrogen Available for Sale

Getting infrastructure put in place for alternative fuelled vehicles has always been an accepted part of getting customers to dump their traditional gasoline or diesel-powered cars for something cleaner and greener, but when it comes to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, there’s been a tiny problem when it came to refuelling: no-one could figure out quite how to accurately measure the hydrogen being pumped at the filling station.

Consequence? To date, hydrogen fuel has been given away, rather than sold, in an attempt to just help the cars get on the roads.

But now for the first time, a filling station — the Cal State LA Hydrogen Research and fuelling Facility in California — has received certification allowing it to actually sell rather than give away hydrogen.

We’re not sure how much drivers will be paying per kilogram, but with gas prices on the downward slope and electricity super-cheap, we think hydrogen is going to have to be equally affordable or folks just won’t bother… or fill up for free elsewhere, of course.

That’s It!

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to join us next week for another episode of T.E.N. In the meantime, visit www.transportevolved.com for all the evolved transport news that’s fit to print — and there’s been lots this week that we haven’t been able to fit in today’s show, including BYD’s latest plug-in car and how agony aunts are now giving help with electric car charging —

Of course, you can also subscribe to our Youtube channel by heading to www dot youtube dot com forward slash transport evolved.

And if you’re interested, don’t forget to join us on Sunday live at eighteen hundred hours UTC for the Transport Evolved Panel Talk Show, where we’ll be discussing these stories and more. You can join us live via www dot transport evolved dot com, or head to our youtube channel to watch the live stream.

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