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It’s Tesla Model 3 Day! Join In The Fun With Our Wall-to-Wall LiveBlog Coverage

You asked for it — and we’ve listened.

Our previous Tesla event liveblog coverage has proven so popular that we’re going one step further this time with a whole day’s worth of 24LiveBlog coverage for you to enjoy, covering everything there is to know about Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] latest production electric car — the Tesla Model 3.

We know you want it -- so here it is. Wall-to-Wall Model 3 Coverage.

We know you want it — so here it is. Wall-to-Wall Model 3 Coverage.

Later on today, we’ll get to see the car for the first time — and we’ll cover the big reveal live in our very own  Transport Evolved special with guests including Robert Llewellyn and Chelsea Sexton. But for now, join us and our friends at 24liveblog as we bring you the latest from the queues, the reservation process, and of course, the fans eager to buy Tesla’s first ‘affordable’ electric car.

Since this is a liveblog, there’s no need to refresh the page: new content will be added automatically. To enjoy, just keep the page loaded in a convenient browser window, and new content will be loaded as it is published.

(Want to show your appreciation for what we’re doing? Consider making a monthly donation to keep Transport Evolved ad-free by heading over to Patreon and making your pledge today.)

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Tesla Recall, Autonomous Towing LEAF, Electric John Deere- T.E.N. Future Car News 12/2/2016

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’s voluntary NEMA adapter recall; Nissan announces Telematics 3G upgrade pricing for 2011-2014 LEAF; Renault announces longer-range Kangoo Z.E.; NHTSA says Tesla Model S involved in latest round of Takata airbag recalls; General Motors publishes Chevy Bolt EV manual online; Tesla gains permission to expand the Fremont production facility; Nissan demonstrates its LEAF-based Intelligent Vehicle Towing System; Rinspeed demonstrates new autonomous vehicle concept; Toyota Japan incentivizes plug-in Prius owners to drive electric; Renault shuts door on owners tweaking top speed of Twizy EV; John Deere demonstrates all-electric tractor.

  • Voluntary Recall – Tesla announces voluntary NEMA adapter recall
  • Bleeding Edge? – Nissan announces Telematics 3G upgrade pricing for 2011-2014 LEAF
  • CanGoo Further – Renault announces longer-range Kangoo Z.E.
  • Connected – NHTSA says Tesla Model S involved in latest round of Takata airbag recalls
  • Read before you buy – 2017 Chevy Bolt EV manual goes live online
  • Approved – Tesla gains permission to expand the Fremont production facility
  • Intelligent Towing  – Nissan demonstrates its LEAF-based Intelligent Vehicle Towing System
  • Future vision? – Rinspeed demonstrates new autonomous vehicle concept
  • Electric incentive – Toyota Japan incentivizes plug-in Prius owners to drive electric
  • Backdoor shut – Renault shuts door on owners tweaking top speed of Twizy EV
  • Green the Farm – John Deere demonstrates all-electric tractor

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Thought of the Day: Nissan LEAF Telematics Upgrade

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, we’re asking if Nissan’s decision to charge owners of 2011-2014 Nissan LEAF electric cars $199 to upgrade the telematics control module (something we covered on our site earlier today) is a smart move, or if Nissan should be fitting the bill for not thinking far enough into the future — just as Ford will be doing with its Focus EV customers?

We’re keen to hear from LEAF owners, as well as those who don’t own a LEAF, so watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Come January 1 next year, Nissan's original telematics units won't work.

With 24 Days Left to AT&T 2G Shut-Off, 2011-2014 Nissan LEAF Customers Offered $199 3G Telematics Upgrade

When Nissan launched the LEAF Electric car back in late 2010, it came as standard with an onboard telematics system called CARWINGS. Designed to act as a bridge between a customer’s car and their smartphone or PC, the Nissan CARWINGS allowed owners to remotely monitor their car’s state of charge, remotely start charging, precondition the cabin to a comfortable temperature and (when paired with Nissan’s online web portal) send route-planning information to the car’s satellite navigation system.

It also allowed customers to search for nearby charging stations while in their car, using the telematics system to retrieve charging station data for their area or chosen destination.

Nissan LEAF Carwings

On December 31, 2011-2015 Nissan LEAFs will lose their data connection when AT&T switches off its 2G masts

At a time when very few cars on the market had any form of smart, interconnected telematics system, Nissan’s CARWINGS was cutting edge in terms of the automotive market, yet Nissan chose to rely on a reasonably old 2G cellular data system from AT&T to act as the communication medium with which its North American cars communicated with Nissan’s CARWINGS server. Put bluntly, had a Smartphone launched in 2011 with just a 2G Edge data connection, it would have been laughed out of the marketplace.

Even Nissan's latest telematics system has its problems, but is more reliable than its predecessor

Even Nissan’s latest telematics system has its problems, but is more reliable than its predecessor

Indeed, very few 2G smartphones are even in use any more, which is why AT&T is planning on switching off its 2G cellular data network at the end of this year to repurpose the 2G radio frequencies for new, more advanced cell technology. As we explained back in February, this will leave tens of thousands of 2011-2015 Nissan LEAF SV and Nissan LEAF SL models without a way to call home. Entry-level Nissan LEAF s models, which did not come with on-board telematics, are thus not affected.

At the time, Nissan promised that we’d hear more of the planned telematics upgrade some time before the end of the summer, indicating that it had already begun work on designing a replacement Telematics Control Unit (TCU) to fit 2011-2015 Nissan LEAFs that used a 3G data signal rather than a 2G one.  At the same time, it explained that owners of 2015 Nissan LEAFs would receive their TCU upgrade free of charge, but noted that owners of older LEAFs would be asked to contribute towards the cost of the upgrade.

Far behind promised schedule, Nissan begun to contact affected LEAF owners yesterday and, as we found out this week, is offering to replace the TCU on 2011-2014 LEAFs for $199., The procedure, which will take a few hours, will leave customer’s cars with the same credentials and login information for NissanConnect EV (formerly CARWINGS) as before, and should restore full functionality to cars whose telematics systems would otherwise go dark on December 31, 2016. We should note too, that while the upgrade replaces the TCU with a new 3G model, customers won’t get an upgraded touch-screen display or nav system, meaning they won’t get the enhanced functionality of 2016 -2017 Nissan LEAFs fitted with new NissanConnect EV navigation systems.

As Nissan told Transport Evolved earlier this week, it is subsidizing the cost of the upgrade, but for those with an ageing Nissan LEAF the sudden $199 upgrade fee may be a bitter pill to swallow. To date — despite initial indications that its telematics system would charge a yearly subscription fee after the first three years of use — Nissan’s telematics system has been free for all LEAF SV and SL customers in North America, with counterpart LEAF models in Europe having the same free-to-use policy. But while Nissan CARWINGS (which became NissanConnect EV late last year) has been free to use, it hasn’t won any prizes for reliability.

Due to poor connection issues, many customers have struggled to get their telematics system to properly connect to their car when parked at home or work. Others have found the system will work for a few weeks at a time, then inexplicably go offline for days at a time. Granted, the reliability of the Nissan Telematics system has vastly improved in recent years, but many owners we know gave up on it a long time ago and as such, will be unlikely to pay for the upgrade.

Many will forego the upgrade.

Many will forego the upgrade.

For others however — the Transport Evolved team included — the functionality of the remote telematics system (connection issues aside) has proven itself invaluable time and time again, especially when it comes to sending status updates on vehicle charging or clearing the car’s windscreen on a cold, frosty morning.

That said, Nissan appears to have dropped the ball on this particular problem. Despite knowing about it more than a year ago, it’s taken the Japanese automaker far longer to come up with a solution and a pricing structure for replacement than it should have and, worst of all, it has given customers just three weeks to book their car in to have the replacement unit fitted.

Three weeks which includes the week-long break many people take from work to celebrate the Holidays. And for that, we can’t criticise Nissan enough. Granted, customers don’t have to have their cars upgraded before the end of the year, but those who choose not to will lose connectivity until they take their car into their local Nissan dealership for the upgrade. And while we’re on the subject of Holidays, finding $199 at short notice to upgrade the telematics system is bound to take a chunk out of the (already stretched) December household budget for many.

Will you pay for the upgrade?

Will you pay for the upgrade?

That said, we’ll be shelling out the required $199 and sending our 2013 Nissan LEAF staff car through the process in the coming weeks for the interests of Journalistic investigation– and will of course let you know what the process is like from a consumer’s point of view.

Do you have a 2011-2014 Nissan LEAF? Do you use Carwings/NissanConnect EV? And will you be paying for the upgrade?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Thought of the Day: 110-Volt Charging For All?

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, we’re evaluating the benefits of low-speed 110-volt charging for electric cars parked for a full day, and ask if all new parking lots — be they public or private — include 110-volt outlets as standard for each and every parking space in order to facilitate slow-speed charging during the day.

Is it a good idea that could alleviate stress on L2 and high-power charging stations, or is 8-hours of 110-volt charging just not practical for everyday use?

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

A Tesla Model Y could be unveiled.

Recall Alert: Tesla Announces Voluntary Recall of 7,000 Select NEMA Adapters For Tesla UMC

As any electric car owner will tell you, one of the biggest challenges to owning an electric vehicle is finding a suitable place to plug-in and charge when you’re away from home, especially if you’re off the beaten track. And while most electric car owners have a dedicated, permanently wired electric car charging station at home, finding a charge when you’re away from home and not near a public charging station can be a challenge.

Which is why many experienced, veteran electric car owners or those regularly travel longer distances by electric car often carry a portable 240-volt charging unit (or EVSE) with them — especially if they happen to live in countries where the standard wall outlet is only capable of providing 110 volts at 20 amps or less. For most, that means either buying an aftermarket portable charging unit designed to work with 240-volts, or fitting an appropriate NEMA plug to the end of a domestic charging unit designed to be statically mounted.

Certain Adapters for Tesla's UMC are being recalled.

Certain Adapters for Tesla’s UMC are being recalled.

As with most things to do with electric cars, Tesla has a far more elegant solution in the form of the Universal Mobile Charger, (or UMC for short). Designed to work with a variety of different 240-volt outlets, the Tesla Mobile Connector Bundle consists of a power electronics unit (which talks to the car and ensures it pulls the correct power for whatever the unit is plugged into), as well as a set of plug adaptors for common 240-volt wall sockets.

In addition to the UMC unit and the standard NEMA 14-50 adapter and NEMA 5-15 adapter that comes standard with the UMC, Tesla also sells less common adapters for the UMC, including NEMA 14-30, NEMA 10-30 and NEMA 6-50 as aftermarket add ons for the unit.

The two adapters which come as standard with the UMC are not affected.

The two adapters which come as standard with the UMC are not affected.

But while Tesla’s solution is arguably the most elegant, the California company has just issued a voluntary recall for some 7,000 of those optional extra NEMA adapters after two customers reported the plugs overheated while in use.

As Tesla detailed on itse website today, the voluntary recall does not affect the Tesla Wall Connector, Universal Mobile Connector, or the standard NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 5-15 adapters that come with the UMC. Nor does it affect the commonly purchased NEMA 6-15 or NEMA 5-20 adapters.

Instead, it only involves the NEMA 14-30, NEMA 10-30 and NEMA 6-50 adapters. Since these plugs only exist in North America, Tesla says the recall only affects cars purchased in North America. And because these plugs and adapters are less common, Tesla also notes that only a handful of customers will be affected by the recall, one of the reasons that only 7,000 units are affected.

As a courtesy however, Tesla says it will replace “Nema 14-30, 10-30 and 6-50 adapters that were made years ago by our original supplier,” adding that “if you have one of these NEMA 14-30 adapters and regularly use it, you will receive a replacement from us within the next couple of weeks.”

Here are the affected part numbers.

Here are the affected part numbers.

Those who use their adapters less frequently are told to expect their a replacement unit as soon as possible. For an extra precaution, Tesla asks anyone with an affected adapter to cease using it until it can be replaced with a newer unit.

In its official blog post announcing the recall, Tesla says that the following adapters and part numbers will be recalled, but notes that the latest version of the NEMA 14-30 adapter does not need to be replaced. This is different from the first two versions of the NEMA 14-30 adapter in both the color of the adapter (grey versus black) and the part number.

 

This isn’t the first time Tesla has made the decision to recall adapters for its UMC. Back in January 2014, the California company recalled approximately 29,000 NEMA 14-50 adapters for the Tesla UMC after several reports of the NEMA 14-50 adaptor overheating, melting and in at least one case, starting a fire. In that instance the recall involved replacing affected units with a newly designed NEMA 14-50 adapter fitted with a new type of thermal fuse. It is not clear at this time if Tesla’s latest recall will follow a similar path.

NEMA 14-30 adapters with black inside are included in the recall: grey ones are not.

NEMA 14-30 adapters with black inside are included in the recall: grey ones are not.

Concerned owners can contact Tesla directly on 877-798-3752, or by emailing [email protected]

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Thought of the Day: Plug-in Hybrid Love (or is it Hate?)

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, following last week’s release of official fuel economy figures for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, we’re asking if the electric vehicle world are just a little too mean toward plug-in hybrid and range-extended EV owners. From bemoaning those who own a 20-30 mile plug-in hybrid to those who say they’re not real EVs, we’ve seen lots of hate aimed towards those who don’t drive a purely electric vehicle.

Is that a justified response? Or an immature one? And shouldn’t we be nicer to any car with a plug? Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Nissan Launches Intelligent Vehicle Towing at Oppama Factory — Based On Autonomous Nissan LEAF

If you’ve visited a large automotive production facility any time in the last fifteen years or so, the chances are you will have seen some form of robotic cart carrying parts, equipment or vehicles from one part of a factory to another. Known for the little happy tunes they play as they follow carefully-painted magnetic routes on the factory floor (to warn others of their presence), these little robotic assistants have revolutionized the automotive production line and have helped everyone from Toyota to Tesla improve productivity, slash costs and increase production line flexibility.

Nissan's LEAF-based autonomous car transporter.

Nissan’s LEAF-based autonomous car transporter.

Now, Nissan is taking the idea of little autonomous robotic assistants one step further by turning autonomous Nissan LEAF electric cars into robotic factory assistants that can tow as many as three finished vehicles from one part of its Oppama production facility to another without human input. It even has a name: the Nissan Intelligent Vehicle Towing system (IVT).

As with any large automotive production facility, there’s always some degree of logistics involved in moving finished vehicles from the end of the production line to the massive parking lots where they will await transportation to dealerships or customers. Traditionally, that process has been accomplished by employing drivers to physically drive the car from one location to another, or by loading a number of vehicles onto a trailer or small transporter.

The IVT can take up to three cars at a time.

The IVT can take up to three cars at a time.

The former requires staff as well as cars be shuttled back and forward between the different locations. The latter requires staff to both load and unload vehicles at both ends as well as staff to drive the transporter. Nissan’s solution eliminates the need to shuttle staff from one location to the other by attaching an autonomous Nissan LEAF to a specially-designed car trolley train that can transport three cars at a time around the facility.

The process is simple: workers load three brand-new cars onto the trolley train, and one complete, the autonomous Nissan LEAF gives a short burst on its horn to warn those around that it is about to leave. Then, without a driver, the car heads off to its destination, stopping for other traffic and giving appropriate signals as required.

Upon arrival, another worker unloads the trolley train and, with a simple button press, sends it back to pick up more cars. Since the Nissan LEAF is 100% electric, the IVT system can be used both inside and outside without worrying about the need for exhaust ventilation.

The IVT trains are connected to a central computer system.

The IVT trains are connected to a central computer system.

As the video above shows, the LEAFs used for the IVT system are modified to include a special heavy-duty tow hitch fitted to their underside and the necessary sensors and hardware needed to give them autonomous driving capabilities. Interestingly, while some sensors are visible, we note that the cars do not appear to have the larger touch-screen display and modified steering wheel that we saw in the Nissan LEAF Autonomous Drive prototype we rode in back in January.  Instead, we note what looks like sensors hidden in the apertures usually used for the front fog lights, as well as sensors embedded into a light bar on the car’s roof.

That, says Nissan, is because the IVT system uses a series of cameras and laser scanners to detect lane markings and hazards, which it then cross-references with high-resolution mapping data for the plant itself. And if that sounds like a familiar system it’s because Tesla uses a similar system to allow its Autopilot-equipped Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X electric cars interact with the world, cross-referencing data from the cameras and other sensors to locate the car in the real world.

Importantly however, the cars used for IVT also make use of a vehicle-to-infrastructure system to help IVT vehicles better react to the world around them without needing huge amounts of on-board processing technology. This not only helps teach the cars new routes, but helps decide who goes first at intersections involving two IVT cars. At the same time, Nissan’s central computer can monitor state of charge of the IVT vehicles, as well as stop all vehicles as necessary in an emergency.

This LEAF is towing three cars -- but we wouldn't recommend it at home!

This LEAF is towing three cars — but we wouldn’t recommend it at home!

Of course, this means Nissan’s IVT system only works in the confines of the Oppama production facility, but could easily be replicated at other Nissan plants around the world and gives Nissan a great test bed to test its latest autonomous vehicle technology.

As for the towing? Nissan officially doesn’t endorse towing anything with the Nissan LEAF, but as the video shows, the car’s torquey electric motor has no trouble pulling the specially-designed three-car train along, even though it’s obvious from the video that the IVT LEAFs are being pushed far harder than they might in the real world.

We’d just not recommend you try to replicate it in the real world, as we’re not sure Nissan would fix your LEAF if you broke it trying to replicate this impressive feat outside of a Nissan production facility.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Taking on Tesla, Banning Diesel, Nikola One Wants to Mimic Tesla – T.E.N. Future Car News 12/2/2016

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: coalition of automakers taking on Tesla with new 350 kilowatt DC quick charging network; GM pushes the Chevy Bolt Configurator Live; Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Minivan gets rated; Tesla readies itself to push Autopilot Updates for V2 hardware; Toyota CEO to head Toyota’s EV division; Four major cities agree to ban diesel vehicles for good; Porsche says it will produce 200,000 Mission E sports sedans per year; Ford quietly updates range of 2017 Focus Electric to 115 miles; BMW rumored to be readying sportier i3 for market; Nikola unveils Nikola One, Nikola Two trucks; Hardware update for Nissan LEAF telematics system in the works.

  • Fastest Yet – coalition of automakers taking on Tesla with new 350 kilowatt DC quick charging network
  • Configure it – GM pushes the Chevy Bolt Configurator Live online
  • Rated – Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Minivan gets rated
  • Updates Coming – Tesla readies itself to push Autopilot Updates for V2 hardware
  • Boss Man – Toyota’s CEO to become head of Toyota’s Electric Car program
  • Banned – Four major cities agree to ban diesel vehicles for good
  • Big Plans – Porsche says it will produce 20,000 Mission E sports sedans per year
  • Matching Competition – Ford quietly updates range of the 2017 Ford Focus Electric to 115 miles
  • Sportier – BMW rumored to be readying sports variant of i3 for market launch soon
  • Trucking on Hydrogen  – Nikola unveils Nikola One, Nikola Two trucks
  • Upgraded connection –Hardware update for Nissan LEAF telematics system in the works

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Thought of the Day: Essentials or Extras?

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, following the launch of the Chevrolet Bolt EV online configurator, we’re asking if automakers should include more features as standard on electric cars (and push the base price up) or if they should continue to ship cars without features that many consider essential — such as rapid charging — in order to keep the entry level price low?

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

transport-evolved-ccs-charging-standard-2

Daimler, Ford, VW and BMW Join Forces To Unleash 350 kW Super-Fast CCS Electric Car Charging Network Across Europe

When it comes to maker-agnostic electric vehicle charging standards, the CCS standard favored by most European and American automakers is far from the market leader.

That accolade — at least by installed base alone — goes to the CHAdeMO DC quick charging standard, which can be found at more DC quick charging station locations across the world than any other standard. It’s also the quick charge standard chosen by Nissan for its LEAF and e-NV200 electric cars, thus ensuring CHAdeMO’s continued popularity. Yet CHAdeMO and its 13,295 DC quick charging stations around the world — which currently offer charging at power levels up to 50 kilowatts — can’t compete with the 145 kW power currently offered by Tesla’s proprietary Supercharger network, making Tesla’s company-owned network of Supercharger stations the fastest and most practical quick charge standard for electric car charging to date.

Current CCS charging only offers power levels up to 50 kW

Current CCS charging only offers power levels up to 50 kW

Sadly, despite Tesla’s offer to the share its Supercharger standard with the automotive world, the Supercharger network is currently only compatible with Tesla’s own electric cars, leaving any other electric cars on the market with the slow 50 kW maximum power currently offered by the CHAdeMO and CCS charge standards. For electric cars with battery packs no larger than 35 kilowatt-hours (and thus ranges less than 120 miles per charge), charging at 50 kW from empty to 80 percent full takes around 30 minutes. But as electric car battery packs get larger and range per charge increases, charging at such low power rates equates to longer charge times.

The Porsche Mission-E will use the next-gen CCS standard.

The Porsche Mission-E will use the next-gen CCS standard.

Which is why both the CHAdeMO association and the Society of Automotive Engineers (the group behind the CCS quick charge standard) have been working hard to increase the power rating of their respective charging standards in recent years. Spurred on by Tesla’s 130 kW capability, the CHAdeMO association has set forth a next-generation CHAdeMO protocol capable of providing up to 150 kW of power, while the SAE — in collaboration with Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and Ford — has been quietly working on a next-generation CCS standard that can provide up to 350 kW of power, more than twice that currently offered by Tesla’s Supercharger standard.

Today, those same automakers announced a joint partnership to bring just such a charging standard to commercial reality in the form of a Europe-wide charging network of 350kW CCS quick charging stations that could charge a 90 kilowatt-hour battery pack from empty to 80 percent full in as little as fifteen minutes.

If that charge time sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the time quoted by Volkswagen’s premium performance arm Porsche, which quoted a 15-minute charge time for its upcoming Mission E electric sports sedan. Due to enter into production by 2020, Porsche’s first production electric car is expected to offer a real-world range somewhere between 250 and 280 miles per charge. When it first debuted as a concept car last year, Porsche said the car would make use of a new 800-volt variant of CCS capable of recharging its battery pack from empty to 80 percent full in 15 minutes.

Volkswagen's I-D concept also previewed the higher-power CCS standard.

Volkswagen’s I-D concept also previewed the higher-power CCS standard.

Around the same time, Porsche’s parent company Volkswagen touted that same ultra-fast charging standard too, hinting that we’d see it on production Volkswagen electric cars in the not-too-distant future. Now we know it’s the same 350kW charging standard Daimler, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW are bringing to Europe.

Initially, the alliance says 400 quick charging stations will be installed across Europe. It’s worth remembering that while this new 800-volt CCS quick charge standard will be backward compatible with current CCS-enabled electric cars the standard is designed for cars fitted with battery packs capable of more than 250 miles per charge, meaning that charging stations are likely to be located every 150-200 miles outside of busy urban centers. Or to put it another way, spaced about as far apart as most of Tesla’s Supercharger sites.

Construction on the network will begin next year, with completion of the initial 400 sites expected to take place by 2020 — by which point each of the partner automakers involved in the project hope to have their own vehicles on sale that can make use of the charging standard.

What of CHAdeMO or Tesla’s Supercharger standard? Unless CHAdeMO can match CCS in terms of power, it looks to be doomed for future electric car rapid charging. That said, CHAdeMO does offer two-way power transfer as part of its default standard, making it possible for electric cars fitted with it to provide emergency backup power to homes and businesses in the event of a disaster or power cut when matched with appropriate hardware. While we assume CCS could theoretically offer the same with appropriate certification, we’ve not seen any practical implementation of such a feature yet.

The Mercedes-Benz EQ would also feature the 15-minute rapid charge standard.

The Mercedes-Benz EQ would also feature the 15-minute rapid charge standard.

Tesla meanwhile? We’re guessing faster, more powerful Supercharging will come in due course: since its launch in 2012, Supercharging power levels have gradually increased from 120 kW up to 145 kW (although we should note the very first Model S cars could only charge at 90 kW). And since Tesla owns and operates its own network, it should be easier and quicker for it to upgrade its network to match the new 800-volt CCS charging standard than it will be for CHAdeMO sites to upgrade to a faster standard.

Do you think the new 800-volt CCS charge standard will change the market dominance for electric vehicle charging? Will the other standards catch up? Or will Tesla still win overall due to its integrated ownership experience?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Thought of the Day: Electric Car Incentives In Small Nations, City States and Crown Dependencies

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, we’re asking if small nations, city states and crown dependencies can (and should) offer electric vehicle incentives to encourage their citizens to dump the pump. Moreover, we want to know if these smaller-population governments and nations have the financial power they need to offer such incentives?

We’re also keen to know how you think we should fund a new web series being planned by Transport Evolved, and give you four options to choose from.

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

2016 Toyota Prius 15 TransportEvolved

Toyota Develops Way of Observing Electric Vehicle Battery Degradation, Says It Will Lead to Longer Battery Life

When it comes to building mass-market electric vehicles, Japanese automaker Toyota has been more than a little hesitant to join the likes of Nissan and BMW in the plug-in marketplace. Instead, it has chosen to focus on bringing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to market, claiming that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles represent a far more practical and sustainable solution in the long term to battery electric cars.

So much so that its most recent electric car. — the 2012-2014 Toyota RAV4 EV — featured a drivetrain that Toyota paid California company Tesla to engineer. Produced in order to meet California ZEV mandates Toyota showed no interest in bringing RAV4 EV drivetrain development in-house, despite doing exactly that with its first-generation RAV4 EV — which it produced in various forms and for various markets between 1997 and 2003.

Despite cars like the 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV, Toyota has never liked electric cars.

Despite cars like the 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV, Toyota has never liked electric cars.

But in recent weeks we’ve seen a definite shift in Toyota’s public attitude towards electric cars. A few weeks ago, the Japanese company said that it was forming a special four-person task force charged specifically with bringing together the people and skills needed to accelerate development of an electric car that it could bring to market within the next few years. Then, it hinted that electric vehicles would likely be offered alongside hydrogen fuel cell cars to give customers a choice over which fuel source suited their needs better.

Traditionally, understanding the flow (and clumping) of lithium-ions in a battery has been difficult.

Traditionally, understanding the flow (and clumping) of lithium-ions in a battery has been difficult.

Now, Toyota has said that it has made a battery breakthrough that will allow it to produce electric cars some time by the end of the decade with battery packs that offer fifteen percent more range and dramatically improved longevity over today’s electric car batteries.

According to Toyota’s official press release, the improvements — jointly developed by Toyota Central R&D Labs, Nippon Soken, Inc., and four leading Japanese universities — focus on the migration of ions within the battery itself.

It’s a problem that many battery chemistries suffer and can be influenced by a number of different factors, including rate of charge or discharge, ambient temperature, and to what extremes the battery is charged or discharged.

In the case of Lithium-ion batteries, it’s essentially the chemistry’s Achilles Heel: during charging and discharging, lithium ions can get bunched up as they pass through the electrolyte from one electrode to the other, restricting the flow of power through the battery and ultimately degrading performance and battery life. At the same time, other lithium ions become trapped within the electrodes themselves through warping of the pores on the electrodes or breakdown of the electrodes themselves which can trap ions and affect the amount of useable energy the battery can store when fully charged.

Using an electrolyte rich in heavy metals, Toyota is able to see what's going on as a battery discharges and charges.

Using an electrolyte rich in heavy metals, Toyota is able to see what’s going on as a battery discharges and charges.

To date, it’s been possible to study the degradation of the electrodes over time, but it hasn’t been possible to study the migration of the ions as they pass through the electrolyte, leaving electrochemists completely in the dark about ion bunching. But Toyota’s breakthrough involves replacing the traditional porous phosphorus-based electrolyte in a traditional lithium-ion battery with one made of heavier elements for laboratory use.

Sadly, Toyota doesn’t detail which of these heavier elements its battery electrolyte uses, but we can at least explain why it has chosen to use heavier elements. While we’re not chemists, it’s a general rule that heavier elements (elements with an atomic mass larger than 92) cast a darker shadow when bombarded with high-energy X-rays, making it easier to spot any changes taking place.

With laminate cells constructed with an electrolyte rich in heavy metals, Toyota has been making use of the SPring-8 synchrotron radiation facility in japan to carefully monitor exactly what happens to ions as they pass through the electrolyte during charging and discharging which, in turn, should allow it to experiment with new battery construction methods that discourages lithium-ion deviation.

Toyota says it believes its new laboratory observation technique should allow it to focus on increasing battery performance as well as extending battery life, leading to electric cars that can not only travel up to 15 percent further but also endure far more charge and discharge cycles before they degrade to the point of needing replacement.

Toyota's breakthrough could mean electric cars with battery packs that don't degrade as quickly.

Toyota’s breakthrough could mean electric cars with battery packs that don’t degrade as quickly.

That’s great news for the future of battery vehicle technology, but we can’t help wonder why Toyota isn’t putting more effort into building electric cars using existing battery technology. Current-generation technology lithium-ion batteries from Tesla, Nissan, and LG Chem are already capable of reliable, long-range use and long life. And given companies like Tesla and LG Chem are producing battery technologies that improve energy density — and thus range — by five percent or so every few years, Toyota’s breakthrough technology is less groundbreaking to the end consumer in the short term.

However, for longer-term battery development — and producing smaller, more lightweight batteries where more of the energy capacity can safely be used without degrading battery life or performance — Toyota’s breakthrough could have a big impact on the electric car world.

 

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Transport Evolved 2017 Hyundai IONIQ NYIAS 12

2017 Hyundai IONIQ EV Steals BMW i3’s Efficiency Crown With Official 136 MPGe, 124-Mile EPA Rating

With a 28 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the soon-to-launch 2017 Hyundai IONIQ EV doesn’t seem like a car worth getting excited about. After all, Nissan’s LEAF electric hatchback, with a battery pack that’s a full 2 kilowatt-hours larger than the IONIQ EV, manages only 107 miles per charge, and the just-released EPA figures for the 2017 Hyundai IONIQ give it only 124 miles of range per charge.

The 2017 Hyundai IONIQ EV i

The 2017 Hyundai IONIQ EV has the same drag coefficient as a Tesla Model S.

Even Hyundai has said that it plans to launch an updated version of the IONIQ EV in just over a year’s time with a larger battery pack so that it can better compete against cars like the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt EV. The former will launch next year with a range in excess of 215 miles per charge in its entry-level configuration, while the latter will launch next month with an EPA-approved range of 238 miles per charge.

But while Hyundai doesn’t win the range war with the 2017 Hyundai IONIQ, the official EPA figures for the mid-sized sedan place it in the leaderboard for something completely different: energy efficiency.

Weight savings inside have helped the IONIQ gain its impressive fuel economy.

Weight savings inside have helped the IONIQ gain its impressive fuel economy.

At 150 MPGe for the city and 122 MPGe on the highway, the Hyundai IONIQ EV earns itself a combined fuel economy of 136 MPGe, knocking the BMW i3 EV off the top of the electric vehicle efficiency charts by a whole 12 MPGe. Perhaps more impressive though is the fact that it manages this feat yet uses a more traditional steel and aluminum construction compared to the BMW i3’s super-light carbon fiber reinforced plastic design.

How then has the IONIQ EV managed to beat the BMW i3 in the efficiency charts? The answer can be found in a number of different design features ranging from the use of weight-saving materials inside the car to a carefully designed exterior that has a 0.24 Cd aerodynamic efficiency — the same as a Tesla Model S.

Exterior first. The Hyundai IONIQ EV features a fully closed-off engine compartment with closed grille and full-length underbody panels. Together with carefully planned wind channels, the IONIQ EV slips through the air with far more ease than its competitors, yet is far lighter than the Tesla Model S, making it far more energy efficient with every kilowatt-hour of electricity used. An aluminum hood and tailgate also help save weight where it matters without affecting overall appearance or safety, and aluminum suspension components save an astonishing 26 pounds.

When it comes to the powertrain, Hyundai claims the use of copper wire with a rectangular cross-section inside the Hyundai IONIQ’s permanent magnet AC motor has helped reduce the motor’s size and weight, while the battery pack — which uses a lithium-ion polymer cell chemistry — is lighter than non polymer lithium-ion battery packs.

Where range is king, a few kilowatt-hours saved by 100 miles won't make much difference to most buyers.

Where range is king, a few kilowatt-hours saved by 100 miles won’t make much difference to most buyers.

Talking of battery technology, Hyundai has done away with the 12-volt accessory battery altogether in the IONIQ EV, using an integrated DC-to-DC converter instead to power the 12-volt systems that would ordinarily be powered by a lead-acid starter battery and alternator found in an internal combustion-engined car. While electric cars do not necessarily need a 12-volt accessory battery, most electric cars on sale today retain a 12-volt lead-acid battery under the hood, but as Hyundai points out, it’s an unnecessary throwback to the internal combustion engine.

Inside too, Hyundai has managed to shave pounds off the interior by using lightweight materials for everything from the center console and door trim panels to the rear load bay cover. All told, the weight savings, when combined with the low drag coefficient, allow Hyundai’s IONIQ EV to travel 100 miles using just 25 kilowatt-hours of electricity, a full 2 kWh less than the BMW i3 uses to travel the same distance, 3 kWh less than the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt uses to travel the same distance, and 5 kWh less than the Nissan LEAF.

Of course, the longer-range offered by the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3 (not to mention Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X) mean that not everyone will want to opt for the new plug-in from the South Korean automaker. Moreover, with Hyundai openly planning a longer-range version within eighteen months or so, not everyone will want to commit to owning an IONIQ EV. But given Hyundai’s clever ownership plan for the IONIQ EV — monthly subscription plans that are more similar to cellphone contracts than traditional hire-purchase or lease deals, with all maintenance, charging costs and ‘consumables’ included– it could prove successful with those who are not interested in buying their car outright.

Will the efficiency be a deal-maker? It’s unlikely: while the efficiency difference between say a Hyundai IONIQ EV and a 2016 Nissan LEAF will result in as much as 5 kWh less energy consumption per 100 miles travelled, it translates to pennies of savings every time you charge. And that, we think, will not be enough to gain the IONIQ EV any meaningful market share.

 

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TSLA/SCTY Merger Approved, Jaguar I-PACE, Wood-Burning Plane – T.E.N. Future Car News 11/18/16

Weekly show about future cars and future car technology.  This week news about: Tesla SolarCity Merger finally approved by shareholders; Tesla announces software update to improve 0-60 mph time of Tesla Model S P100D to 2.4 seconds; Honda announces $369 lease program for Clarity Fuel Cell Sedan; Jaguar debuts I-PACE Electric SUV Concept at LA Auto Show; Elon Musk promises final part of Model 3 reveal event will take place in 3-4 months time; Tesla confirms Model 3 will get free long-distance travel; Volkswagen unveils 124-mile revised e-Golf electric car; Faraday Future halts construction at its Nevada vehicle factory; Hyperloop begins installation of its test loop outside Las Vegas; Toyota hires four new staff to front its in-house EV development program; Alaska Air completes successful commercial flight on 20% wood-derived biofuel.

  • Approved – Tesla SolarCity Merger finally approved by shareholders
  • One Tenth of a Second – Tesla announces software update to improve 0-60 mph time of Tesla Model S P100D to 2.4 seconds
  • Affordable – Honda announces $369 lease program for Clarity Fuel Cell Sedan
  • Electric Jag – Jaguar debuts I-PACE Electric SUV Concept at LA Auto Show
  • More Coming – Elon Musk promises final part of Model 3 reveal event will take place in 3-4 months time
  • Long-Distance Freedom – Tesla confirms Model 3 will get free long-distance travel
  • On-Par – Volkswagen unveils 124-mile revised e-Golf electric car
  • Stopped – Faraday Future halts construction at its Nevada vehicle factory
  • In The Loop – Hyperloop begins installation of its test loop outside Las Vegas
  • Startup Ethos –  Toyota hires four new staff to front its in-house EV development program
  • Wooden Flying – Alaska Air completes successful commercial flight on 20% wood-derived biofuel.

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2017 Hyundai IONIQ Electric 1

Hyundai Admits 110-Mile Hyundai IONIQ EV Is a Stop Gap Measure Until A Longer-Range Model Arrives In 2018

When Hyundai announced its intent to bring the all-electric IONIQ to market with a range of just 110-miles per charge, we were a little more than disappointed, postulating that the car’s expected 110-mile EPA range would be no match for the upcoming 238-mile per charge 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV and 220+ mile Tesla Model 3 electric sedan.

The 2107 Hyundai IONIQ EV will be replaced by a longer-range model for 2018

The 2107 Hyundai IONIQ EV will be replaced by a longer-range model for 2018

While 110-miles of range per charge places the Hyundai IONIQ EV on par with the 2017 Nissan LEAF — a car which is now starting to look extremely long in the tooth as it is essentially the same car Nissan launched back in 2010 — Hyundai has already admitted that launching a brand-new car with just 110 miles of range isn’t enough to secure it any meaningful place in the electric car marketplace long-term. Indeed, back in May, Byung Ki Ahn, Hyundai’s director of eco-vehicle performance, promised that Hyundai had plans to launch a new electric car in 2018 with a range of 200 miles per charge, followed by an electric car in 2020 with a range of 250 miles per charge.

Unlike most EVs, the Hyundai IONIQ EV's batteries are stored under the rear seats.

Unlike most EVs, the Hyundai IONIQ EV’s batteries are stored under the rear seats.

At the time, Byung Ki Ahn didn’t detail specifics, but in an interview this week with Automotive News (Subscription required) the South Korean executive disclosed that the 2018 electric car alluded to earlier this year is in fact a 200-mile variant of the recently-launched IONIQ EV rather than a brand-new model. While it’s not clear if it would be sold alongside a shorter-range Hyundai IONIQ EV, the 200-mile Hyundai IONIQ EV would certainly make the IONIQ EV a cross-shop against the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Tesla Model 3 and upcoming next-generation Nissan LEAF.

But by promising a longer-range version of the Hyundai IONIQ EV in less than two years’ time, Hyundai could also risk jeopardizing sales of the 2017 Hyundai IONIQ EV. And that, if we’re honest, makes us wonder why Hyundai isn’t just launching the IONIQ EV with 200-miles of range at the outset.

The reason for not doing so is most likely practical. Instead of placing the battery pack under the floor between the wheels (as most custom-built electric cars like the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model S/X and 3 do) the Hyundai IONIQ EV actually places its battery pack in a space underneath the rear seats and in-between the rear wheels.

That’s partly because the Hyundai IONIQ’s chassis has been designed to accommodate electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains — but it has the unfortunate side effect of leaving limited space for larger-capacity battery packs. In order to extend the IONIQ EV’s range, Hyundai is faced with a choice: to wait a few more years until a more energy-dense battery pack is available from its battery partner LG Chem; or develop a battery pack that can be squeezed into the central tunnel that passes between the rear seats and under the vehicle floor.

Will the 200-mile IONIQ EV hurt 2017 IONIQ EV sales? Yes, most certainly.

Will the 200-mile IONIQ EV hurt 2017 IONIQ EV sales? Yes, most certainly.

Both are possible, but the former is the most cost-effective solution, even if it kills Hyundai IONIQ EV sales between now and then.

Do you think Hyundai made a smart move to launch a limited-range electric car a few years before promising a 200+ mile variant will be available? Or do you think that the 2017 Hyundai IONIQ EV is something of a test for the company as a whole to practice its electric vehicle technology before entering the market more competitively in a few years time?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

 

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HyperFocal: 0

At LA Auto Show, Jaguar Joins Electric Car World With I-PACE Electric SUV Concept, Promises Production By 2018

With Tesla Motors dominating the electric car market and the luxury car market, we’ve seen plenty of luxury and performance marques step up to the plate in recent years promising their own cars to take the Model S and Model X on head to head.

Unusually, Jaguar started its unveiling using Virtual Reality headset.

Unusually, Jaguar started its unveiling using Virtual Reality headset.

To date, those automakers have included Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. All have promised their own high-performance full-size long-range electric cars, complete with a full complement of onboard connected technology to ensure that their own vehicles match Tesla’s constantly-evolving offerings feature by feature.

Jaguar says its FormulaE experiences have influenced design.

Jaguar says its FormulaE experiences have influenced design.

Now we can add British automaker Jaguar Land Rover to that list with the unveiling of the Jaguar I-PACE concept electric SUV at the LA Auto Show, a car that it says previews a full production electric car that will join the Jaguar family in under two years’ time. Unveiled last night at a special event, the company first showcased the vehicle by giving attendees virtual reality headsets to explore the car inside and out, before displaying the vehicle in the real world.

Jaguar Land Rover has until recently remained highly skeptical of electric vehicles, preferring instead to continue using the V6 and V8 engines that have underpinned many of its most popular models for decades. But over the past five years or so we’ve seen a noticeable shift as electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid vehicle prototypes have quietly been developed by its engineering teams at its headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, UK. We’ve even driven some of them for ourselves, including the Range Rover Range_e plug-in hybrid and Land Rover Electric Defender. And while neither were ever destined for production (a shame given how capable the Land Rover Electric Defender was) it showed that Jaguar Land Rover was beginning to take the plug-in world seriously.

The I-PACE Concept uses the same in-chassis component placement as the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X.

The I-PACE Concept uses the same in-chassis component placement as the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X.

Its entry into the 2016/17 FIA Formula E Race Series highlighted that even more, with the automaker promising that its experiences in the single-seat race series would shape the type of production cars it made.

The Jaguar I-PACE Concept is the first demonstration of that, with a claimed range of “over 500km” on the overly-optimistic NEDC test cycle, a sub 4-second 0-60 mph time, and dual-motor all-wheel drive technology that produces a total of just under 300 kilowatts of power and 516 pound-feet of torque.  While that translates to a real-world range of what we’re predicting as being 230 miles on the EPA test cycle — and its speed isn’t quite up to Tesla Model X territory —  this means that Jaguar’s I-PACE Concept does appear on paper at least to be targeting the right specifications to rival similar concept and promised production cars from Audi, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

Visually, the Jaguar I-PACE Concept EV bears more than a passing similarity to Jaguar’s recently-released F-PACE SUV, Jaguar’s first and only production SUV to date, although there are some noticeable differences designed to maximize cabin space and take advantage of the under-floor battery pack and small number of under-hood components.

The first is a longer wheelbase than would be usual for a mid-size crossover SUV, with a snub nose that’s certainly new for the Jaguar family. The tailgate too, isn’t the traditional boxy shape you’d expect from an SUV. Instead, there’s a tailgate hatch more reminiscent of a sporty hatchback than an SUV.

Integrating the vehicle’s main mechanical and electrical components into the chassis à la Tesla also makes for reasonably decent interior volume and load carrying capability. While it’s not perhaps quite as big as the Tesla Model S or Model X (the Jaguar I-PACE crossover is a full size smaller than either Tesl) Jaguar still manages to cram in 18.7 cubic feet of luggage space into its concept electric SUV, split between a generous rear trunk space and a smaller under-hood frunk space up front.

The I-PACE will launch some time in 2018.

The I-PACE will launch some time in 2018.

As for the battery pack? For the concept at least, Jaguar has used a 90 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion cell pack from LG Chem, complete with liquid cooling system to keep the battery pack at optimum operating temperature. It’s likely the same battery pack will be used for a production version of the car.

It’s biggest failing? That will be the CCS DC quick charging that the concept and production car will come with. Capable of charging at only 50 kilowatts rather than the 130 kilowatts of Tesla’s Supercharger system, that 90 kilowatt-hour battery pack takes 90 minutes to reach an 80-percent state of charge from empty at most CCS quick charging stations.

That factor will not only cause it to lose points against Tesla but also upcoming crossovers SUVS from Audi and Porsche — both of which are using a newly-developed, higher-power CCS charging system that can recharge to 80 percent full in just fifteen minutes.

Being a concept car, there are some unanswered questions that we hope Jaguar will address in the coming eighteen months or so. Top of the list is of course concerns over pricing, specifics over just which advanced vehicle technologies will be included at launch (some degree of autonomy will be essential to cross-shop against its rivals), and where exactly Jaguar will make the I-PACE available when it launches in 2018.

Do you like the look of Jaguar’s latest concept car? Will it be a worthy competitor in the electric car marketplace, or is it too little, too late?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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Thought of the Day: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Uses

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, we’re asking if — now that Toyota has begun to realize hydrogen fuel cell cars aren’t as practical as it once through — hydrogen fuel cell technology can still be useful in other applications. Moreover, we’re trying to compile a list, and have a couple of suggestions of our own.

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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There really is no excuse not to buy an EV in Northern Colorado now.

BMW, PG&E Enter Second Phase of Electric Car Smart Grid Program in Northern California, Aims For Cleaner EV Charging

[Edit: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that PG&E was controlling the charging of customer’s electric cars via BMW’s telematics system. Instead, BMW is controlling the charging of customer’s cars directly using the telematics system. We have modified the article below to correct this error and appologize accordingly.]

One of the criticisms laid at the feet of electric car owners is that their vehicles are only as clean as the source used to produce the electricity that their cars rely on. And in a very simplistic way, those critics are right, at least on paper: an electric car charged using electricity generated from a photovoltaic solar array is far greener than the huge emissions produced as a consequence of generating the same amount of electricity using a coal-fired power station.

Would you opt to take part in the program?

The reality is of course a little tougher to discern. Utility companies produce their electricity using a variety of different generation sources, each with their own carbon footprint. Depending on the weather conditions and grid demand, an electric car charged using the same charging station may have a lower carbon footprint on one day than another. Similarly, an electric car charged during low-demand periods tends to have a smaller carbon footprint than one charged during peak demand periods.

But despite some general rules that can help ensure your car is charged using greener electricity from the grid — such as charging outside of morning and evening rush hours or delaying charging to night time — it’s difficult to know exactly when a good time is to charge in order to have the smallest carbon footprint.

The idea is to lower the carbon footprint of charging your car.

The idea is to lower the carbon footprint of charging your car.

In the world of the Internet of Things and the Smart Grid, that’s changing, which is why BMW and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) are pushing forward with the second phase of a long-term partnership investigating how to make electric vehicle charging as clean and as green as possible.

Announced this morning, the partnership will take the form of a pilot program across PG&E’s service area in Northern California. Participants (BMW i3 and BMW i8 owners who sign up for the program) will be able to opt to have their car charging patterns remotely controlled by PG&E BMW via the telematics system built into their cars rather than rely on an arbitrary charge timer or the usual charge upon plug-in practice many owners still prefer.

The goal? To use Smart Grid technology to help lessen demand on the electrical grid during peak demand periods by pausing electric car charging when demand is high and shifting charging to periods where electrical grid demand is less. All at the same time as making electric car cheaper and greener for customers.

To ensure that customers aren’t left without a charged battery when they need it, participants can either opt out of the system temporarily, charging their car immediately for the next trip, or they can request that their car is charged by a specific time so that they can leave for their next planned appointment with a full battery.

Owners can opt-out if they need to.

Owners can opt-out if they need to.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of such a project being used. We’ve seen similar projects launch before in both the U.S. and Europe, where automakers, charging equipment manufacturers and utility companies have all worked together to study the benefits of using Smart Grid technology to control vehicle charging time. Some charging station products — like the JuiceBox from emotorwerks — even offer similar functionality using their own Internet-connected services.

It’s all well and good to have your charging controlled by an external load-aware service — but how much of an impact will the project have on emissions? Well, if the results of the first phase of BMW’s Smart Grid trial with PG&E are any indication, an impressive amount of carbon dioxide could be prevented from entering the atmosphere every year.

During its first fifteen-month phase of the trial in which BMW offered customers incentives to delay charging their car until off-peak demand periods where energy generation was greener, a total of just under 100 participants signed up. During the trial, BMW says a total of 19,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity was shifted from peak demand periods to low-demand periods.

While we can’t say for sure what the net carbon footprint change was of shifting that charging to low-demand periods, it’s worth noting that the carbon footprint of a coal-fired power plant equates to around 2 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. If we assume shifting that generation enabled those cars to be charged from renewable sources of power instead, the savings equate to 19 tons of CO2 not entering the atmosphere.

Do you like the idea of using Smart Grid technology to control when your car charges? Or do you worry that you’d be left high and dry without a full battery pack when you needed it.

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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Thought of the Day: Hyperloop Affordability

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, we’re asking if the Hyperloop being built to connect Abu Dhabi with other cities in the region will be truly affordable for people to use — or if like Concorde and so many other fast forms of transport before it be only a rich person’s method of travel?

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Thought of the Day: Electric Cars and Donald Trump

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, following yesterday’s surprise U.S. Presidential results, we’re asking what the future is for electric cars in the U.S. now that Donald Trump (someone who is a known climate change skeptic) is heading to the White House?

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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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.

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Model X and Model S production increased during the quarter, but didn't quite meet Tesla's predictions.

With Trump Heading To The White House, Here’s What His Presidency Means for Electric Car Owners

Despite tightening polls over the past few weeks, poll after poll suggested the U.S. Presidential election would be a strong victory for Secretary Hillary Clinton, with popular sites like FiveThirtyEight confidently placing the chances of a Democratic victory at anywhere from 60 to 75 percent.

With the election map predominantly red, we're looking at a Trump Presidency.

With the election map predominantly red, we’re looking at a Trump Presidency.(Image: NBC)

But as we’re sure the entire world knows by now, that’s now how things played out on the night itself: businessman Donald J. Trump gained unexpected ground in many swing states to become President Elect. That news has caused abject horror from those opposed to the idea of him becoming the most powerful person in the world, stock markets around the world to jerk and spike like a bucking bull, and minorities all across the U.S. to cower in fear, hoping it was all a bad dream.

Hope

Hope might seem like a hard thing to find right now for many electric car advocates.

It isn’t. Saving some unforeseen event, Donald Trump will become the 45th U.S. President. That — combined with the Republican majority gained in both houses — means that many policies will be changed and many laws rewritten or repealed. The result? a lot of the policies we’ve grown to know over the past eight years will change, and that includes ones that will impact electric car owners and the future of electric cars directly.

Of course, it’s early days. Not a policy has been written yet. But based on what Mr. Trump has said over the past eighteen months on the campaign trail, we’re pretty sure what the impact on electric cars will be looking forward. So if you’re still feeling a little sore about the election, you may want to read this another time. But if you’re feeling brave, read on.

EPA, DOE under threat

As someone who has called climate change a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese, Mr. Trump is not only a climate change denier but an opponent of the Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier on in the campaign, Trump had vowed to eliminate the EPA altogether, bemoaning what he called regulation on ‘phony environmental issues.’ More recently however, he has toned down his rhetoric, promising to end or relax regulations that favor the development of a renewable energy economy and instead focusing on harnessing further fossil fuels.

Not

Donald Trump isn’t a fan of Solar, and calls Climate Change a ‘Hoax’

While we don’t know the details yet, that appears to include encouraging a resurgence in generating electricity using coal-fire plants and eliminating regulations that are designed to make it hard for oil and gas companies to engage in fracking in environmentally sensitive areas.  What does that mean? The cost of gasoline will likely fall, saving the average consumer money on their weekly fill up. Lower gas prices can have a negative impact on electric car sales, although not always.

What will have more impact from the EPA’s point of view however, are any potential reductions in Corporate Average Fuel Economy or emissions goals currently set by the Obama administration. Let’s not forget the Department of Energy too, which Trump has also shared some choice words about during his campaign, bemoaning the agency just as he has the EPA.

Killing or neutering the EPA or DoE’s powers to set environmental targets for emissions or fuel economy targets for cars won’t affect the cars you can buy today. Tesla, despite its financial constraints, isn’t going anywhere and global automakers like Nissan and BMW have too much invested in electric vehicles to suddenly shut shop. But any relaxation of these targets WILL affect things moving forward. Automakers, keen to produce the largest profit from the smallest investment (like any business) will default to the cheapest vehicles with the highest markup they can make while remaining in compliance with the law.

In Trump’s America, where gas prices are low and there’s nobody looking out for emissions, that equates to full-size pickup trucks and SUVs across wide swathes of the country.

Investment into EVs and EV infrastructure will die

Just last week, President Obama’s White House announced a new fund to establish a corridor of alternative fuel filling stations across the U.S. That fund included the building of a coast-to-coast electric vehicle highway that would make it possible to finally cross the U.S. in a (non Tesla) electric car with ease.

EV charging corridors like the one being planned by the FHWA are at risk.

EV charging corridors like the one being planned by the FHWA are at risk.

But with Trump now headed to the White House, that fund is jeopardy, alongside the current $7,500 Federal Tax Credit scheme available to those who who buy a brand new electric car. That scheme, due to expire when individual automakers hit their 200,000th electric car sold in the U.S., would likely not get extended and may be cut prematurely.

If funding into electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electric vehicle purchase incentives are cut, the lower gas prices detailed above will certainly impact electric vehicle sales in states not currently following the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate set by the California Air Resources Board (we’ll come to that in a second).

Paris climate deal accord ignored

Long before last night, Trump vowed to rip up the Paris climate change accord signed by President Obama, reversing spending trends on renewable energy and investing heavily in the oil and gas industry. This would not only include opening up large swathes of the U.S. to oil and gas companies keen to frack (a smaller government makes it even easier for them to turn massive profits while simultaneously curtailing the rights of communities such as those at Standing Rock, where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are fighting against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline) but it would make it harder for the benefits of electric cars to be felt.

If the Paris agreement is torn up, we may find EV sales dwindle.

If the Paris agreement is torn up, we may find EV sales dwindle.

Ending — or rather removing the U.S. from that agreement — would, when combined with the curtailing of the EPA and DoE’s powers, make it more likely that coal fired power stations continue to operate in coal-rich states, halting the gradual greening of the electricity grid we’ve seen over the past several decades.

And if the electricity grid remains dirty, then so too are electric cars, negating any environmental benefits possible by charging electric cars from renewable zero-emissions sources.

There’s a way through this, but it won’t be easy

If you’ve got this far through then congratulations! We’ll admit what came above is pretty tough. But while it may seem like doom and gloom, there are some really important things you should remember about the electric car industry.

Firstly, the majority of electric cars on sale today are on sale because of the efforts of the California Air Resources Board and the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate. Adopted by a total of eleven states in the union, the mandate requires medium and large-volume automakers to produce a specific proportion of zero emission vehicles out of their total vehicle fleet per year or faced heavy fines. And while the ZEV mandate program has led to the term “compliance car” — vehicles reluctantly made and sold by automakers in order to satisfy the ZEV mandate — it’s worth remembering that California still has the widest choice of electric vehicles on sale today.

Califronia's ZEV mandate is responsible for many of the EVs on the roads today.

California’s ZEV mandate is responsible for many of the EVs on the roads today.

Indeed, while California isn’t home to the highest number of electric vehicles per capita (that’s Washington State, another ZEV mandate state), it does have the highest overall number of electric vehicle sales by volume. Donald Trump is unlikely to change this fact, at least initially.

California isn’t alone either. Other states have their own active electric vehicle incentive programs. Those states (generally blue on yesterday’s election map) aren’t going to suddenly end their own state-wide programs because Donald Trump is heading to the White House. Yes, it’s possible that some automakers, backed by the oil industry and the claim some states are operating anti-competitive practices, could fight ZEV mandates as they did fifteen years ago. It’s possible too that fight could even find its way to the SCOTUS, along with auto-dealer legislation cases involving Tesla Motors which, when pitted against a right-leaning bench filled with at least one Trump-nominated judge, could be defeated.

But these nightmare scenarios won’t happen overnight.

It’s worth remembering too that economics have started to tip towards electric vehicles and renewable energy. Today, it’s cheaper per kilowatt-hour to generate power from a photovoltaic solar panel than it is to generate electricity using oil, gas or coal. If Trump’s ideal is market parity (and that means taking away subsidies for both renewable energy and fossil fuel companies) then the cheapest, most cost-effective solution will win.

The same is true for cars. Electric cars are still too expensive for many, but vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 are slowly, irrevocably starting to change the balance of power in electric car’s favor. They are cheaper to maintain and far cheaper to fuel. And since automakers plan their model lineups globally, an automaker still may find a case for making an electric car rather than an internal combustion engine one, even in Trump’s America.

There are tough times ahead, but it's down to advocates and drivers to step up to the plate.

There are tough times ahead, but it’s down to advocates and drivers to step up to the plate.

We leave our final thoughts to our good friend and long-time electric vehicle advocate Chelsea Sexton who, as we were preparing this piece, published her own take on yesterday’s election results. In a sobering post, she implored “anyone still resting on those laurels of hope to knock it off,” adding that while the sky is not falling as a result of the election, there’s a great deal of work to be done in order to protect the progress electric cars have made in the past decade.

It is time yet again to become advocates, to become vocal, and to support the electric car world. Things are under threat, but only if those who currently share the dream of switching to renewable energy choose to do nothing.

“It is also long past time for the conservatives to come back out of the closet in support of EVs. Many retreated when EVs became associated with President Obama, but if national, energy, and economic security are indeed the priority, then driving on cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity is still a crucial component to address those issues. This topic is as bipartisan as they come, and there is no longer any excuse not to support it,” Sexton writes. “I’m still an optimist, but there is a tremendous about of work to do. We need all hands on deck, and not simply with fingers.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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Thought of the Day: Tesla Supercharger Credit Costs

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a question for you all to think about and answer.

Today, following the announcement earlier today that Tesla will soon start to cap free supercharger access for new customers, we’re asking how much Tesla should charge per kilowatt-hour or equivalent of electricity? What is too much, and what is too little?

Watch the video above, and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Share the charging stations. Seriously.

Transport Evolved Nokian Tyres Winter Tire Giveaway!

You’ve seen our review of the Nokian Tyres Hakkapeliitta R2 winter tires — and now it’s your chance to win a set for your car this winter!

The competition will run for one week -- so be sure to enter!

The competition will run for one week — so be sure to enter soon!

Thanks to the folks at Nokian Tyres North America, we’ve got a set of free Nokian Tyres Hakkapeliitta R2 winter tires to give away to one lucky Transport Evolved reader. To enter, simply correctly answer our ten true/false questions below, and your name will be entered into the prize draw to win a set of our favourite winter tires, installation onto your car included.

Our competition will run for one week, so be sure to enter before the end of November 14th in order to be considered for the prize — and Good Luck!

*Please note. Competition open to residents of North America (U.S. and Canada) only. One entry per person.

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Tesla is sending engineers to Supercharger sites to check seat belts while owners wait.

Tesla To Impose 400 kWh Supercharger Limit to All New Tesla Customers From Jan 1, Will Charge Beyond This Point

Alongside the legendary customer service, fresh buying experience, best-in-class range and outstanding performance, Tesla’s global network of free-to-use DC Supercharger stations have to date been one of the strongest selling points of buying a Tesla Model S or Model X.

Capable of adding more than 170 miles of range to a Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X battery pack in just 30 minutes, Tesla’s proprietary supercharger network also happens to be the most reliable electric vehicle charging network out there too, thanks to its modular design and multiple-stall policy at each Supercharger location.

Superchargers make it possible to drive huge distances without worrying about range anxiety.

Superchargers make it possible to drive huge distances without worrying about range anxiety.

It’s also a victim of its own success, with some Tesla Supercharger sites witnessing massive queues during peak demand periods around popular holidays like July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas as Tesla customers take advantage of the free-at-point-of-use charging network to make massively long road trips that were completely impractical before the advent of the Supercharger network. Additionally, while most Tesla customers use the Supercharger network responsibly, charging at home or their destination most of the time and only relying on the Supercharger network for long-distance trips, some owners abuse the ‘free’ network, using it almost exclusively as their own personal charging station in place of charging at home.

Tesla will switch to the Supercharger Credit system for new customers on January 1st.

Tesla will switch to the Supercharger Credit system for new customers on January 1st.

To date, Tesla has funded the Supercharger network and its free, unlimited (within reason) use policy by placing a premium on all new Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X cars. But As it prepares to bring its mass-market Model 3 to market — and continues to bust its own sales records with more and more sales per quarter — its Supercharger network is starting to feel the strain.

Which is why, we’d wager, Tesla has announced today that from the start of next year it will place a cap on its free Supercharger use for customers who order a Tesla electric car after January 1st, 2017. Instead, it will give customers an annual allocation of 400 kilowatt-hours of Supercharger credits that can be used to provide approximately 1,000 miles of free Supercharger use across its network. Once customers have used that allocation up, they will need to buy Supercharger credits in order to charge their cars at a Supercharger station.

We’ve known about the idea of Supercharger credits for a while: back when Tesla unveiled its Model 3 electric car in March, it explained that customers buying a Model 3 would have to pay in order to access the Supercharger network, purchasing Supercharger credits as needed in order to make use of the Supercharger network. But up until today, it was assumed that new Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X customers would continue to be granted access to the Supercharger network in the same unlimited, free-for-life form that existing owners have enjoyed for four years.

Tesla hasn’t yet released details of how much Supercharging credits will cost once customers have used up their free 400 kWh of electricity, but it’s worth mentioning here that charging customers to make use of the Supercharger Network will likely incur something of a backlash from the Tesla faithful.

After all, at the moment it’s possible to make a trip from Los Angeles to New York without spending a dime on power. As of next year, anyone buying a new Tesla will only be able to make it a third of the way across the U.S. before having to pay up. Of course, not everyone makes these kinds of trips, but we’d wager those who live along the popular U.S. west-coast and eastern sea board commuting corridors will feel the burden of the new policy the most, since a return trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco would eat up a customer’s annual allocation in a single go.

The new policy should help prevent long queues. Photo: Russell Wong (used with permission)

The new policy should help prevent long queues in peak periods Photo: Russell Wong (used with permission)

How much will Tesla charge for Supercharger Credits beyond this free limit? That’s up for debate but we’re predicting a price of between 15 and 30 cents per kilowatt-hour for the U.S. should be expected as an absolute minimum. At the moment, the average cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity in the U.S. is 12 cents. We think charging less than 15 cents per kilowatt-hour would make it difficult for Tesla’s Supercharger Credit system to be financially worthwhile. Charging more than 30 cents per kWh would place Tesla’s Supercharger network on par with lower-speed networks from companies like Blink and EvGo

Will it cause a mass exodus among Tesla owners, furious Tesla is taking away its unlimited access for new customers? It’s unlikely. The fact remains that at the moment, the Supercharger network undeniably the best electric car charging network in the world. To date, customers have been given access to it at what we suspect is a loss for Tesla.  And even though we’re expecting a backlash from the minority who will state they feel Supercharger access should remain free for all, we think most customers will be more than happy to pay for electricity beyond the 400 kWh free being offered them by Tesla for all new purchases made after January 1.

After all, Even at 30 cents per kWh (a price we’re sure Tesla will be far below when it announces its pricing in the coming months), driving 100 miles is still going to several dollars less in a Tesla Model S P100D than it would in a comparable car like a 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan. At 15 cents per kWh (a price we’re expecting Tesla to charge), the cost of taking a Model S would be half that of taking the Benz.

Do you think Tesla is right to start charging for Supercharger access? Is its 400 kWh credits enough for most customers? And what do you expect its price per kilowatt-hour to be?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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Tesla Solar Roof, 100,000 LEAFs in the U.S., Pretending to be Elon – T.E.N. Future Car News 10/28/16

Weekly show about future cars and future car technology.  This week news about:

Tesla announces the SolarRoof and PowerWall 2.0; VW exec warns building electric cars will result in job losses; Tesla makes important changes to Model S, Model X lineup: Nissan switches on Vehicle-to-Grid; BMW and Nissan both hit different 100,000 EV sales targets; Motor Trend compares Chevrolet Bolt EV to Tesla Model S 60 with interesting results; Why EV adoption is ahead of where Hybrid adoption was year by year; Toyota decides it’s mastered battery technology; Oil Exec claims his impersonation of Elon Musk was too poor to warrant prosecution; RedBull announces RallyCross EV series for 2018 season.

  • Solar Future – Tesla announces its SolarRoof and PowerWall 2.0 products.
  • Job Cuts – VW exec warns building electric cars will result in job losses.
  • Production Changes – Tesla makes important mods to Model S, Model X electric cars
  • Plugging in – Nissan launches massive Vehicle to Grid setup at its UK Technical Center
  • 100,000 – Five years after launch, Nissan reaches 100,000 LEAF sales milestone in U.S. At the same time, BMW hits 100,000 EV milestone globally after 3 years.
  • Comparisons – Motor Trend compares Chevrolet Bolt EV to Tesla Model S 60 with interesting results
  • Positive Growth – Why EV adoption is ahead of where Hybrid adoption was year by year
  • Not so bad after all – Toyota decides that yes, lithium-ion technology is ready for prime time after all
  • Poor acting – Oil Exec claims his impersonation of Elon Musk was too poor to warrant prosecution.
  • Rally Time  – RedBull announces RallyCross EV series for 2018 season

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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.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

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