Transport Evolved News Panel Talk Show Episode 230: Hand-Crafted In Suits

On today’s Transport Evolved: Tesla Model S Cars as Work-based rewards; confusing the Chevrolet Bolt and Chevrolet Volt; and the Koch Brothers support Tesla.

These stories and more coming up on today’s Transport Evolved,with Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, Ben Nelson and Marc Geller

Welcome to today’s show! Today, Nikki is joined by Welcome to today’s show! Today, Nikki is joined by videographer and sustainable guru Ben Nelson and long-time plug-in advocate and driver Marc Geller.

A do-it-yourselfer who believes in positive change in the world through hands-on skills, self-sustainability, a willingness to learn and a healthy dose of curiosity, Ben Nelson works during the day as a videographer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But when he’s at home, Ben likes nothing better than reshaping the world around him to be cleaner, greener and smarter. So far, Ben has built his own electric motorcycle, electric car, renewable solar panel system and grey water recovery system. An established blogger, Ben has also presented at many U.S. events focused on renewable energy and greener living, including at Midwest Renewable Energy and Mother Earth News fairs.

San Francisco resident Marc Geller has been writing, advocating, campaigning and educating on the subject of electric vehicles and sustainable living for many years. A  founder member and a director of Plug-in America, Marc is no stranger in the arena of public and corporate policy related to electric vehicles and green energy. He’s also on the board of directors of the Electric Auto Association, and was a co-founder of its San Francisco chapter, and the San Francisco EVA, as well as one of the key people leading the fight against the crushing of the previous generation of plug-in cars by companies like Toyota and GM.

These days, Marc spends most of his time working as project manager for Adopt-a-Charger, a non-profit installing EV charging in state and and national parks, and other destination locations.

You can find Ben online at his blog, and you can follow Marc on Twitter, chat with him on Facebook, or read his blog here.

Part One:

We chat to Ben about his latest projects, including the salvaged Mitsubishi i-Miev that he purchased after it was damaged in Hurricane Sandy, his most recent acquisition, an all-electric Vectrix Maxi Scooter with dead batteries that he is rebuilding, and his plans to turn his garage into a solar-garage capable of producing enough electricity to travel more than 70 miles a day in a plug-in car.

We also chat with Marc about his latest work with Adopt-a-Charger, as well as his thoughts on quick charging reliability as more and more people take to the roads in plug-in cars.

In addition, we’ll ask Marc if he welcomes — or is suspicious of — a union between Koch Brother-funded Americans for Prosperity and The Sierra Club in support of Tesla Motors’ right to sell direct to customers across the U.S.

Koch Support

Also in Part One: 

With the Geneva Motor Show just days away, we look at some of the cars we’ll see there, including ones from established brands like Mitsubishi as well as the less well-known firms like Rinspeed.

A car with a periscope? That'll be the self-driving Budii.

A car with a periscope? That’ll be the self-driving Budii.

We also examine the relatively new and as-yet unexploited flowcell technology being promised by Nanoflowcell, as the startup promises two brand new concept cars for this year’s show. We ask if flowcell technology has a chance at actually reaching production and offering a cleaner, greener alternative to current hydrogen fuel cell technology, or if it’s just another distraction?

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Part Two:

This week in Georgia, a house bill tabled the previous week mysteriously came back from the dead, received a verbal unanimous vote with not a single Democratic Representative present. Designed specifically to end all of Georgia’s plug-in car incentives on July 1, the bill has met fierce opposition from plug-in advocates in the state and around the U.S., so how was it passed at the last minute? Moreover, we ask if another, similar bill — which would simply reduce state tax credits rather than eliminate them — will help Georgia continue to be one of the biggest electric vehicle markets in the union?

Does Georgia want people to stop plugging in?

Does Georgia want people to stop plugging in?

Last week, nearly two months after debuting it as a concept car and a few weeks after confirming it will enter production next year, GM has admitted that the Chevrolet Bolt Electric Car has a name problem. Thanks to the already-produced Chevrolet Volt, it’s almost impossible to tel the two names apart during verbal communication, and GM says it is at least considering a name change for the all-electric, long-range car before it reaches the production line. But with the confusion itself creating a buzz, we wonder if keeping both names would actually be a good thing?

The Chevrolet Bolt concept car is being made -- but will it keep that name?

The Chevrolet Bolt concept car is being made — but will it keep that name?

Two weeks ago in Iceland, a brand-new type of mall-based store opened, taking its cue from Apple and Tesla’s store design ethos. Offering different electric vehicles under one roof, the store is designed partly as a way for customers to learn about plug-in vehicles but also as a way for people to compare different plug-in models directly. Should more stores like this open up around the world, and what could governments do to ensure their successes?

Finally for the segment, we look at the 2016 Mitsubishi i-Miev electric car, which remains the same price for the 2016 model year as it did for the 2014 model year. With the ageing plug-in now looking rather dated, we ask who will stump up $22,995 to buy it — or if Mitsubishi needs to lower the price further to remain competitive against more capable models?

Fun and functional, the i-Miev is a great entry-level car.  But its limited range may put some off.

Fun and functional, the i-Miev is a great entry-level car. But its limited range may put some off.

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Part Three:

This week, Toyota unveiled a series of videos detailing the painstaking manufacturing process its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan goes through. We ask if Toyota will ever be able to automate that process, or if the Mirai is destined to be one of the low-volume, hand-built compliance cars that we’re so used to seeing in state like California and New York?

Completely hand made: That's the sign of a compliance car, right?

Completely hand made: That’s the sign of a compliance car, right?

Also this week, Tesla opened a new service centre, store and supercharger location in California, powered entirely by a massive array of solar panels covering every square foot of the building’s roof. Is Tesla finally going to make good on its promise of making supercharger sites solar-powered where possible, or is this another show-case that won’t be replicated elsewhere?

Moreover, will Tesla’s recently-leaked home battery backup system be used in both customers’ homes and at Supercharger locations to help give high-power charging without causing massive power demands on the local grid?

This solar charging station in Køge, Denmark can charge twelve Tesla Model S cars at once

This solar charging station in Køge, Denmark can charge twelve Tesla Model S cars at once

In China, it’s not uncommon to see wealthy tech companies reward hard workers with a massive end-of-year bonus. This past Chinese New Year however, a team of employees at Llian Wifi were awarded for their hard work in the massively-popular startup by getting their very own Tesla Model S. We ask our panel what car they’d opt for — or if they’d want something else instead?

Finally for today’s show, we fly to Japan, where popular supermarket chain FamilyMart has just released a bizarre yet cute TV ad promoting their support of electric car rapid charging. It features a Japanese monster, a Gruave Idol, and a Nissan LEAF. What’s not to love?


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