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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.

Transport Evolved Staff Car Report: Switching Tires (Or Tyres) As Winter Turns to Spring!

It’s that time of year when the temperatures finally start to rise and weather stops being quite so cold, wet and miserable. And for the Transport Evolved fleet on the U.S. west coast, there’s really no real chance of heavy snowfall or winter driving conditions for the rest of the season — which means it’s time for us to swap our winter tires for summer ones!

In the case of our staff Nissan LEAF, that means switching out the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 winer tyres we’ve been using for the past two winters and replacing them with our Nokian e-NTYRE 2.0 all-season tyres, which we purchased last spring and have just one year of use.

Join us in the video above as we head to the local Discount Tire and put our winter tyres away for the season.

Thanks to the team at Discount Tire Beaverton for letting us film, and here’s to a great spring and summer (maybe even autumn) with the e-NTYRE 2.0 fitted!

Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe, and support Transport Evolved through our Patreon campaign.

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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.

As Tesla Plans to Retire Model S 60, New Entry-Level Model S Will Be The $74,500 S75D

Late on Friday as we were preparing our weekend show, Tesla quietly announced that it would ditch the entry-level Tesla Model S 60 from the lineup, citing low sales volumes and customer interest in the $68,000 model.

Mid-April, it explained, it would no-longer accept orders for the Model S 60, making the Tesla Model S 75D the entry-level Model S instead and effectively raising the entry price point for the high-end electric sedan from $68,000 to $74,500.

So what does this mean for Tesla fans who had hoped to buy a Tesla Model S 60? Should you still order one? Upgrade to a Tesla Model S 75D instead? Or wait out and get a Model 3? It depends on what your needs are.

Support Transport Evolved through Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/transportevolved

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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.

EPA Rollback, Tesla Model 3 Release Candidates, Lucid Air Pricing – T.E.N. Future Car News 3/17/17

Weekly show about future cars and future car technology.  This week news about:  Tesla completes latest round of investment funding, raises $1.2 billion in equity; Kia Soul EV to get larger-capacity battery pack for 2017 model year; Pres. Trump vows to end “assault” on auto industry, reopens EPA emissions consultation period;  Porsche confirms Mission E sports sedan will follow Tesla with OTA; Intel announces acquisition of Mobileye for $15.3 billion; Tesla produces and tests release candidates for Model 3; Electrify America submits first of five budgets for $2Bn, 10-year project; Alphabet’s Waymo seeks injunction to stop Uber from continuing its autonomous vehicle project;  Lucid Air pricing announced from $60,000; Faraday Future accuses Chinese firm of copying FF91; Rooster Teeth founder gets his Tesla Model S shaded in flat color.

  • More Money – Tesla completes latest round of investment funding, raises $1.2 billion in equity
  • Playing Catch-Up – Kia Soul EV to get larger-capacity battery pack for 2017 model year
  • Dangerous Blow – Pres. Trump vows to end “assault” on auto industry, reopens EPA emissions consultation period
  • Over-the-Air – Porsche confirms Mission E sports sedan will follow Tesla with OTA
  • Big Buy  – Intel announces acquisition of Mobileye for $15.3 billion
  • Release Candidates – Tesla produces and tests release candidates for Model 3
  • Spending Plans  – Electrify America submits first of five budgets for $2Bn, 10-year project
  • Stop it! – Alphabet’s Waymo seeks injunction to stop Uber from continuing its autonomous vehicle project
  • Cheaper than thought – Lucid Air pricing announced from $60,000
  • Copycat?  – Faraday Future accuses Chinese firm of copying FF91
  • Flat Color – Rooster Teeth founder gets his Tesla Model S shaded in flat color – DL Content

 

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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.

VW’s Dieselgate Penance: Is First of Five 2.5-Year Budgets for Electrify America Unfairly Favoring California?

As part of its punishment for purposely building and selling TDI-engined cars fitted with emissions control software specifically designed to cheat in emissions testing, German automaker Volkswagen has founded a new 10-year program called “Electrify America”. This program, funded to the tune of $2 billion out of Volkswagen’s own purse, is supposed to promote the use of and support the mass adoption of electric vehicles by building new public charging infrastructure, advertising electric vehicles in the media, and advocating for the transition to electrified vehicles.

Under the court agreement, Electrify America will be publishing five interim proposals over the next ten years, detailing just where every dime of the $2 billion will be spent furthering the advancement of cleaner, greener vehicles. But earlier this week we learned that the first of those proposals — submitted to the California Air Resources Board back in February — proposes spending $200 million in the first 2.5 years in the state of California to improve electric vehicle infrastructure and mass-adoption, while spending only $300 outside of the Golden State.

Which got us thinking. Is Electrify America the policy a true agent for change in the plug-in vehicle world, or is it simply a token gesture that’s little more than the policy equivalent of a compliance car?

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

Don’t forget to support Transport Evolved via Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/transportevolved

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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.

How To Interact With Your Nissan LEAF Using Amazon Alexa Digital Assistant

With Amazon Echo now the most popular standalone digital assistant in the world, there are an awfully large number of homes with both an Amazon Echo of some description and an electric car. Which is perhaps why there’s an increasing number of Alexa skills now dedicated to letting people connect their Amazon Echo to their electric car.

That’s before we even consider the large number of cars — including ones made by Ford and Volkswagen — which will soon have Alexa functionality built in as standard from the factory.

But while BMW, Tesla and Ford now have their own official (or unofficial) Alexa skills listed in the Alexa skill store, it’s possible to connect both the Nissan LEAF and the Renault ZOE to Alexa using third-party codebases coded by Scott Helme and Danny Tuppeny respectively (provided you’re okay with doing a little work to host the services yourself).

Which is why we decided to give Alexa a go ourselves, using Scott Heme’s AlexaNissanLEAF codebase to roll our own LEAF-aware digital assistant.


Important links:  Scott Helme’s Github: https://github.com/ScottHelme/AlexaNissanLeaf

Alexa Lambda : https://developer.amazon.com/public/solutions/alexa/alexa-skills-kit/docs/developing-an-alexa-skill-as-a-lambda-function

Amazon Developer Alexa Skill: https://developer.amazon.com

Watch the video above to find out how we did it — and if you’re interested in the modifications we’ve made to Scott’s original code, you can find them here.

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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.

Discounts for Autopilot? The ins and outs of offering auto insurance discounts for self-driving cars…

Auto insurance company Root has hit the headlines today with its claim that it will not only offer Tesla owners a discount for driving a Tesla electric car (due to their excellent safety record and active safety features) but offer even larger discounts for Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X drivers who heavily rely on Autopilot while behind the wheel.

In one way, it makes total sense: cars with autopilot enabled are 40% less likely to have an accident than a car without autopilot. But in a world where autopilot is still very much a premium feature on high end cars, could we be setting a dangerous precedent where those who drive cars without autonomous driving capabilities will see their premiums go up — the very same people who often can’t afford to buy higher-end models with advanced safety features?

It’s totally appropriate to give lower premiums to people who are less at risk of having an accident — but how do you provide affordable insurance for those who don’t have autonomous vehicles? And will it become a more common problem in the future?

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

Support Transport Evolved through our Patreon campaign at https://www.patreon.com/transportevolved

 

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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.

https://youtu.be/pu30bchGu50

Tech Primer: Why 12-Volt Batteries in Electric Cars Get Sick — And How To Keep Yours Healthy

Today’s video is inspired by a problem we had this morning at Transport Evolved’s headquarters: namely a flat battery on our 2013 Nissan LEAF Staff Car. But we’re not talking about the main traction battery here: we’re talking about the 12-volt accessory battery that’s used to provide power to lights, radio and on-board computer — as well as start the car.

Just like the 12-volt starter battery in an internal combustion engined car, having an issue with your electric car’s 12-volt battery can be extremely frustrating. But what causes the problem — and how can you fix it?

Watch the video above to find out.

Support Transport Evolved by donating to our Patreon campaign at https://www.patreon.com/transportevolved

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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 Announces 2018 LEAF Debut Date, Offers To Extend Leases Until That Time — But Should You?

After a wait that many will view as being far too long, Nissan has finally confirmed that the next-generation LEAF electric car will debut this fall as a 2018 model year car. Far behind the launch of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, the next-generation LEAF is expected to have a similar range to the Bolt EV, sell for a similar (or slightly higher) price (depending on the specifications) and come with at Nissan’s second-generation ProPilot driver assistance package.

Yet September’s promised launch date is still several months away, and Nissan knows that some existing LEAF customers will be tempted to leave the brand for the Chevrolet Bolt EV if their lease expires before the 2018 LEAF goes on sale. To encourage those lease holders to stay with the brand, Nissan is offering to extend existing LEAF leases due to expire between April 1 and September, essentially ensuring existing customers stay with Nissan and pick the next-generation 2018 LEAF as their next car when it becomes available at the end of the year.

It seems like a win-win solution on paper, but is it? Watch the video above, and leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

Like what we do? Support Transport Evolved’s Patreon Campaign to keep us independent and impartial at https://www.patreon.com/transportevolved

 

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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.

Are the UK and U.S. Heading in Different Directions When It Comes to Electric Cars? Maybe…

Being a Brit by birth and a an immigrant to the U.S., I’ve been paying close attention in recent weeks to the way in which the UK and the U.S. are now apparently differing in their attitudes toward plug-in vehicles. The U.S., under the new administration, has seemingly lost some of its drive toward promoting plug-in cars, while the UK, now struggling to find a replacement vehicle technology to promote after Diesel’s fall from grace, has doubled down on plug-in vehicles.
The results? We’re already starting to see the UK accelerate its plug-in market share while the U.S. (or rather EV advocates) worry about the future for the world of plug-in cars now that fuel standards are expected to be rolled back.

But will the two countries ever end up on the same track? Will the apparent paths now set by European countries and the U.S. now seal their fate, or is there still time for things to change?

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

Don’t forget to support Transport Evolved through our Patreon campaign at https://www.patreon.com/transportevolved

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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.

In Geneva, All-Electric Renault ZOE e-Sport Concept Unveiled With 3.2-Sec 0-62 Time: Here’s Why It’s Exciting

Earlier today at the Geneva Motor Show, French automaker Renault unveiled the Renault ZOE e-Sport Concept Car — a high-performance, dual-motor electric car based on the popular electric hatchback.

Unlike the ZOE, the ZOE e-Sport Concept features a dual motor all-wheel drive system putting out 320 Kilowatts of power, accelerating the svelte 1400 kilogram hatchback from 0-62 mph (0-100kph) in 3.2 seconds and going on to an electronically-limited top speed of 210 kph (130 mph) in just 10 seconds.

Yes, it’s a concept car, but is this a sneak peak at a future RenaultSport version of the unassuming Zoe hatchback? And if so, is this the first true all-electric hot hatch?

We think so. Watch the video to find out why.

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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.

Electric Car,Tesla Model S,Tesla Model X,Tesla Model 3,Supercharger,Analyst,Stock Prices,TSLA

On Friday last week, UBS analyst Colin Langam issued a note to his clients predicting that in order for California company Tesla to ensure its electric vehicles continued to sell (and that its electric vehicles were as easy to use as a gasoline vehicle) it would need to have as many Supercharger stations across the U.S. as there are gas stations.

That, he claimed, using UBS’s own in-house analytical tools, would equate to expanding the Tesla Supercharger network by 30,000 additional Superchargers, requiring Tesla to make an investment of more than $8 billion in Superchargers alone.

But while Langam may have made some astute predictions in the past on Tesla and the auto industry in general, here’s why we think he’s wrong this time.

 

 

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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 YouTube Channel Update!

Happy Monday!

It might be hard to believe, but our Patreon crowdfunding campaign has now been running for the best part of 16 months. In that time, we’ve amassed some pretty immense support from viewers and readers who support our goal of being an independent and impartial voice in the world of cleaner, greener, safer and smarter transportation.

And over the weekend, we had the 250th Patreon Patron sign up to support us, a milestone that means we’re now well on the way to reach our $2,000 per month goal. And when we do, we’ll be planning a brand new web series talking about improving the way we all drive, regardless of the car we’re driving.

We’re also very close to hitting our ten thousandth YouTube subscriber — another fantastic milestone — so we figured it was the perfect time to step up and give you a special update on where we are, and what we’d like to do in the future.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us thus far, and here’s to the next 250 Patreon supporters and 10,000 subscribers!

On behalf of the whole Transport Evolved Team,

Nikki. x

 

 

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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.

Model 3 Beta Production, Self-Driving Lexus, Tesla Job Perks – T.E.N. Future Car News 3/3/17

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: SEC documents show Tesla had no Model 3 betas on the roads by the end of 2016; French firm Symbio gives the Nissan e-NV200 a hydrogen  range-extender;  SAE works on 250 kW wireless charging standard; Toyota Research Institute Showcases its first in-house autonomous car; Honda Clarity EV to have a range of just 80-miles — and an expected price tag of $35,000; ChargePoint heads to Europe Thanks to Daimler; Blink announces change to payment cycle for EV charging; Renault-Nissan announces self-driving partnership in Paris with  TransDev; Tesla announces Fan-made ad competition; Could the British firm be making a high-performance EV; Tesla promises Fremont workers a roller coaster and FroYo.

  • Beta Stage – SEC documents show Tesla had no Model 3 betas on the roads by the end of 2016
  • Symbio e-NV200 – French firm Symbio gives the Nissan e-NV200 a hydrogen  range-extender
  • 250 kW – SAE works on 250 kW wireless charging standard
  • Latest Gen  – Toyota Research Institute Showcases its first in-house autonomous car
  • 80-Miles?  – Honda Clarity EV to have a range of just 80-miles — and an expected price tag of $35,000
  • European Push – ChargePoint heads to Europe Thanks to Daimler
  • Twice a Month – Blink announces change to payment cycle for EV charging
  • Te Conduire  – Renault-Nissan announces self-driving partnership in Paris with  TransDev
  • Fan Made – Tesla announces Fan-made ad competition
  • Caterham EV? Could the British firm be making a high-performance EV
  • Perks of the Job – Tesla promises Fremont workers a roller coaster and FroYo

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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 Owner Claims (Erroneously) That Autopilot Is To Blame For Texas Crash. Here’s What To Remember About Autonomous Cars

Ever since Tesla turned on Autopilot functionality in hardware-enabled Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X electric cars, we’ve heard of countless instances where Tesla’s semi-autonomous autopilot driver assistance technology has helped keep drivers and passengers safe from being involved in some pretty nasty accidents.

We’ve also heard reports of some pretty nasty accidents involving Tesla electric vehicles where Autopilot was (erroneously) blamed for the collision but where fault was ultimately laid at the feet of the driver.

This week, just such a story surfaced on Reddit: the driver initially blamed his car’s Autopilot technology for crashing into a barrier without warning. But a few days later, footage was released showing that accident occurred when the driver failed to take control of the car as it entered into a construction zone with unclear road markings, something Tesla’s current version of Autopilot is not capable of safely navigating.

Which got us thinking: what do stories like this mean for autonomous vehicles, and how can we ensure that drivers become better educated on safe use of advanced driver assistance features like Autopilot?

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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.

Is the Nissan LEAF Really Outselling The Chevrolet Bolt EV in the U.S.? Some Context To A Math Problem

It’s the start of March, which means we’ve recently seen the release of official U.S. sales figures for the month of February. And with that release came the unexpected news that the General Motors sold less Chevrolet Bolt EVs during February than Nissan sold LEAF electric cars.

As soon as the Bolt EV (alongside its 238-mile EPA approved range and $37,495 price tag) hit the market, it was expected that the aging Nissan LEAF (with just 107-miles of EPA-approved range) would suffer a dramatic drop in sales as customers dug deep to find the extra few thousand dollars to buy a car with substantially more range. But February’s sales figures suggest something else has happened.

What’s the reason for this apparent disparity? Are people less enamored with the Bolt EV than it was thought? Or are there some other underlying causes (like limited availability and competing lease deals) that are causing a sales anomaly?

Watch the video above to find out our take.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Transportevolve, visit https://www.transportevolved.com for further news in the world of cleaner, greener, safer and smarter transportation, and support our crowd-funding campaign at https://www.patreon.com/transportevolved.

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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.

Reader Questions: Answered Should I Buy A Used Nissan LEAF — Then Replace The Battery?

With early used Nissan LEAFs now down into the $5,000 territory, we’re answering a regular question from readers: does it make sense to buy an early 2011-2012 LEAF cheap — and then replace the battery?  The answer depends on what your preferences are and what your requirements are.

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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.

Reader Rides: Is The Chevrolet Bolt A Changing Of The Guard For The Electric Car World?

Today I got my first turn behind the wheel of the Chevy Bolt EV when a friend let me take her new car for a spin. By now you’ve probably seen reviews of the Bolt, like the Transport Evolved Review from earlier this year — so I’ll keep my comments on the Bolt EV’s features short, since others have already reviewed this compact car.

My take in 2 words? “Im Pressive.” (Yes, I’m cheating a little). In 25 words? “This car is quick, sporty, and handles well. It feels solid, well built. It looks like and drives like other compact cars I have driven.”

The Chevy Bolt EV is here. It’s now. And it’s a nice car.

The Bolt EV is quicker than the compacts I’ve owned. But, the everyday look, feel, and drive of the Bolt EV could very well speed adoption of EVs by the public at large.

It’s all about range (…and price)

If you haven’t heard about the Bolt EV, two key features have everyone talking: 238 miles of EPA-rated range; and a starting price of  $37,495. In coupling long range with an affordable price General Motors has leap-frogged the competition. The Bolt EV really can’t be compared to any EV currently on the market, in this price range. Tesla has been producing 265+ mile EVs for over 4 years, but a base Model S starts at $71,000. We all know the Tesla Model 3 is around the corner, but it’s around the corner, at least for now. The Bolt EV meanwhile, is here already and has more than double the driving range of any other EV in its price range. For this reason the Chevy Bolt EV represents a changing of the guard. I won’t say that days are numbered for the 70, 80 – 100 mile EVs, but clearly the standard has changed. Other manufacturers will have to compete at this level or be left behind.

The Bolt EV has arrived with glowing reviews from new owners, some with big names. All signs point to big interest. Now it’s up to GM to promote the Bolt EV for potential buyers. To do this GM must have a vision for how this car will be used.

Automobile companies usually help customers imagine how a car will be used. For example, advertisements show pick-up trucks driving over rough terrain and hauling big payloads, or cars driving through open spaces to explore the great outdoors. These ads speak of inspiration, getting things done, driving, seeing the world. What is GM’s vision for the Bolt EV? Is it a car for daily trips to work and the grocery store? Is it a family car for running the kids around? Is it a car for long road trips and journeys?

Let’s talk about Charging

With 238 miles in the pack, the Bolt EV will easily handle day to day driving. Many folks will charge at home for their daily driving, but for longer trips the Bolt EV needs a network of fast charging stations to refuel on longer journeys.

Until now there have been roughly 2 categories of EVs: 1) The 80- mile EV that perfectly handles daily commuting, and may be capable of longer trips with decent DC fast charger (DCFC) infrastructure; and 2) the Tesla Model S and Model X.

Location of Tesla Superchargers and Destination Charging stations as of Feb 2017.

Tesla leads the way for long distance travel in an EV with their extensive Supercharger network. The Teslas have a driving range of 210 to 335 miles depending on the size of battery pack. With these cars you can drive coast to coast, east-west and north-south on the Supercharger network. The Superchargers are spaced up to 170 miles apart, and at 120 kW can provide up to 170 miles of range in 30 minutes.

The idea for long distance trips in a Tesla is to drive for ~3 hours, take a break to eat, stretch your legs, refresh your mind and get back on the road. You can also visit locations or stay in hotels that host Tesla Destination charging stations. Tesla has put thought and money into making their cars useful.

The author charging his Rav4 EV at a DCFC station in Santa Cruz, CA. Right side: Orange icons show current location of CHAdeMO and CCS DCFC charging stations. Although the network is decent, many areas remain to be served.

If you don’t drive a Tesla and plan longer trips, you will need to charge at a CHAdeMO or CCS DCFC station. In California the number of DCFC stations is growing fairly quick. But this patchwork collection of 24 – 50 kW stations has until now been funded by different agencies, parties or companies, with different goals, and little coordination. The new Chevy Bolt EV charges on these CCS DCFC stations. Many more are needed.

Here’s where GM should provide guidance and lead the way. Last year GM stated that they would not participate in establishing a nationwide network of DCFC stations. They should reconsider. There is talk that Chevy dealers might be required to install DCFC stations, but this is not the way to go for charging on the go. I’ve charged in dealer lots. Some dealers are busy charging cars they want to sell, or block access by parking cars in front of chargers, or lock the gates after hours, preventing access.

Location of Tesla Superchargers (red icons) and DCFC stations (orange icons) as of Feb 2017.

A dedicated network of  24-hour DCFC stations is needed. Nissan has worked to build out a DCFC network for the Leaf. BMW and VW have partnered with ChargePoint to begin installing DCFC stations for their electric cars. GM should partner up and help establish the DCFC charging network for the Bolt EV. Without a decent DCFC network, the Bolt EV – even with it’s impressive range – will be limited in some regions until somebody builds out the charging network. There are states with few, and several states without any DCFC stations. It is not yet possible to drive cross country using DCFC stations.

GM also needs a consistent advertising effort across the board. The very same day that Chevy announced the first delivery of Bolts to new owners in California, Chevy radio ads began airing in the San Francisco Bay area that were anti-BEV. The gist of the ad was if you want to buy an EV, you better get a tent and prepare to camp out because charging an EV takes 21 hours. To Chevy’s credit this ad was pulled soon after it began, but somebody within the organization thought this was a good idea. Better ads will help educate the public about a car that can sell itself if properly promoted.

A base model Bolt EV with DC charging is listed on Chevy’s website for $38,245. Adding typical options puts the price in the  40-41k range…. before currently available rebates. So, at this moment, in California, you can order a Bolt EV with DC charging and effectively pay around or even less than $30,000 after federal and state rebates.

Conclusion. GM has delivered on the car, the Chevy Bolt EV is a game changer. Now GM needs to deliver on establishing a fast charging network to ensure it can reach its full potential.

 

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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 Tips: Living With a Limited-Range Electric Car (Video)

As high initial sales for the Chevrolet Bolt EV (the world’s first mass-produced electric car with a range-per charge in excess of 200 miles per charge on the EPA test cycle and an entry-level price tag of under $35,000 before incentives) show, there’s a significant demand for an affordable electric car that can travel more than 200 miles per charge.

There's plenty of life in used, limited-range EVs. You can even climb mountains with them!

There’s plenty of life in used, limited-range EVs. You can even climb mountains with them!

It’s a demand that’s substantially higher than it has ever been for an electric car with a range below 100 miles per charge, showing that many who previously did not view an electric car as viable will now consider one thanks to the reduction in range anxiety a larger-capacity battery pack offers.

But that doesn’t mean a limited-range electric car — one with a range below 70 miles per charge — can’t be a practical first electric car. Indeed, with prices of used electric cars now down to four-digit figures in some markets, it’s possible to pick up a used electric car with a real-world range of between 50 and 70 miles per charge for less than ever before.

And if you’re one of the majority of would-be electric car owners who live in suburbia (or perhaps even out of town in a more rural setting), the chances are just such a car could give you your first taste of driving electric, saving you money in the process that you can (should you choose) put toward that longer-range plug-in of your dreams.

Which is why we’ve come up with this short video explaining how to get the very best out of living with a limited-range, used electric car.

Watch the video above and let us know what you think of it in the Comments below.

 

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In Geneva, nanoFlowcell Set To Debut 186 Mph, 48-Volt Flowcelll Prototype EV Called The QUANT 48VOLT

Today, there are two main ways to store the energy needed to power an electric car down the road: a large electrochemical battery pack which turns stored chemical energy into electrical power; or a hydrogen fuel cell system in which compressed hydrogen is combined with oxygen from the outside air inside a special fuel cell stack to produce water, heat and electricity.

But as one European automaker by the name of nanoFlowcell  will tell you, there’s a third way that combines the best of liquid refueling and battery packs in something called a redox flow battery — or as it prefers to call them, a nanoflowcell battery. And while the company itself is just four years old, the company has just announced that it will be demonstrating the latest in a line of prototype electric vehicles at this year’s Geneva Motor Show that it hopes will revolutionize the way we think about electric cars.

Last year in Geneva, the Quantino Concept was shown.

Like its predecessors, the all-new prototype boasts an impressive performance on paper, with a claimed 186 mph top speed and a 2.4-second 0-62 mph time, along with a claimed range in excess of 600 miles on the standard NEDC test cycle. Yet unlike all of the other high-powered electric sports cars and concepts we’ve seen over the years there’s something particularly unusual about the aptly named nanoFlowcell QUANT 48VOLT: it runs on 48-volts.

Flowcells operate a little like a hydrogen fuel cell.

When dealing with power electronics on modern electric cars, higher voltage systems have been preferred to lower-voltage systems for several important reasons. Firstly, since power is a product of Voltage and Current (and higher current flow increases power loss due to the electrical resistance of the conductor it is passing through), automakers today prefer to use high voltage, low current systems. Secondly, since high current flow requires the use of physically larger connectors and wires (to overcome any losses caused by resistance), it’s more practical to make electric cars using high-voltage components than it is low-voltage ones as the cables for power are more easily routed, lighter, and less bulky. Thirdly, high-voltage systems put far less strain on the car’s battery pack and result in a much less of a voltage drop toward the empty end of the pack when compared to a low-voltage battery system. And while higher-voltage systems require better electrical insulation than lower-voltage systems, the overall benefits of a high-voltage power system in an electric car tend to outweigh the disadvantages.

The nanoFlowcell’s QUANT 48VOLT doesn’t have to worry about battery voltage drop in the same way that a traditional battery electric car does, since it produces electricity by passing two oppositely-charged electrolytic solutions either side of a special catalyst-rich membrane that enables ion exchange from one side to the other, producing electricity in the process. Since the system power output is restricted by the physical area of the flowcell membrane (and the electrolyte is pumped through the membrane from the ‘charged’ tank to the ’empty’ tank), power output from the cell remains constant regardless of how ‘full’ the tank is.

Unfortunately though, there are some downsides to flow cell technology. For example, traditionally, it’s been impossible to vary the voltage or power produced by a flow cell in response to demand from the electric motor. Instead, batteries or supercapacitors have been required to buffer power produced by the flow cell to ensure that power could be buffered to ensure both high and low demand situations be catered for. Additionally, flow cell systems have been unable to match the power density of modern lithium-ion battery chemistries, making them less appealing for use in power-hungry applications like electric cars.

Previous concepts required on-board supercapacitors to buffer power.

Yet nanoFlowcell — which was founded in Liechtenstein (Europe’s fourth-smallest country) before moving its engineering division over the border to Switzerland and its business division to London — says it has solved both of those problems with its latest nanoflowcell technology, producing a flow cell stack made up of six flow cells in parallel that can produce the low voltage and high current required of them to power the QUANT 48VOLT’s quartet of 120 kilowatt electric motors. With variable power output, the company says the system is lighter and less complex than previous generation systems too, lowering overall cost.

As it’s a prototype, cost hasn’t been mentioned yet — but if we’re honest we don’t yet think we’ll see a nanoFlowcell car on the roads any time soon. As something of an unknown automaker, the various QUANT prototypes we’ve seen from nanoFlowcell (both in conjunction with its partnership with Swedish hypercar manufacturer Koenigsegg and on its own) have been impressive on paper but as yet have not resulted in a practical production model you can buy.  And while flow cell technology does have its benefits over traditional electrochemical batteries (such as negligible degradation over time and quick refuelling time) it’s essentially marred by the same problems affecting hydrogen fuel cell vehicles: refuelling infrastructure and power density.

Flowcells sound great, but there are many challenges to mass-adoption.

There’s no doubt that flow cell technology is another alternative to storing power for an electric car, but without significant support from automakers and fueling companies it’s unlikely to make an impact on the automotive world.

And unlike hydrogen — the majority of which is still produced through steam reforming of compressed natural gas — there’s less incentive for fossil fuel companies to embrace a technology they can’t have a hand in producing.

Do you think flow cell technology has a future? Is it going to replace traditional battery packs in electric cars? Or is it just too complicated and an unnecessary distraction when companies like Tesla, BMW, Audi and Daimler are working on technology that can recharge an electric car’s battery pack in as little as ten to fifteen minutes?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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Audi tells Dealers to back EVs, i3 + Model S Crash tests, Mirai SuperBowl Ad: – T.E.N. Future Car News 2/3/17

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: Audi tells its dealers to get with the electric car program; Elon Musk Picks up Flak for Being on Trump’s Advisory Council; BMW i3, Tesla Miss IIHS top safety pick, but Tesla has a solution already; Waymo self-driving cars need less safety-related disengages in 2016 than 2015; Tesla Motors is Now Tesla; Bolt EV sales off to a flying start; Faraday Future Downsizing EV factory in the U.S; Honda + Gm plan new fuel cell stack factory; Tesla Motors could soon give you the right to repair; VW, Bosch agree on more payments in dieselgate scandal; Toyota Mirai Super Bowl Ad (Only in LA and San Francisco); Bluebird gets $4.4 million in federal funding to develop an electric school bus.

  • Get With The Program – Audi tells its dealers to get with the electric car program
  • Dropping Reservations – Elon Musk Picks up Flak for Being on Trump’s Advisory Council
  • Missing Out  – BMW i3, Tesla Miss IIHS top safety pick, but Tesla has a solution already
  • Less Input, Stephanie – Waymo self-driving cars need less safety-related disengages in 2016 than 2015.
  • Name Change  – Tesla Motors is Now Tesla
  • High Demand – Bolt EV sales off to a flying start
  • Shrinking Plans – Faraday Future Downsizing EV factory in the U.S.
  • Paired Together – Honda + Gm plan new fuel cell stack factory
  • Right to Repair – Tesla Motors could soon give you the right to repair
  • More Payments  -VW, Bosch agree on more payments in dieselgate scandal.
  • Targeted Viewing -Toyota Mirai Super Bowl Ad (Only in LA and San Francisco)
  • Electric Bus Ride – Bluebird gets $4.4 million in federal funding to develop an electric school bus.

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Transport Evolved Tech Primer: LEAF Spy App for Android and iOS Helps You See Under The Virtual Hood of Your Nissan LEAF (Video)

A little over twenty years ago, owning an electric car meant that you had to be at least a little nerdy when it came to computers, battery packs, and basic electronics. At least, you had to be if you wanted to make sure your car had as long and as a healthy existence as possible.

That’s because before the days of production electric cars, before the days even of revolutionary vehicles like the GM EV1, Ford Ranger EV and Toyota RAV4 EV (to name a few) the overwhelming majority of electric cars were either produced in small volume by niche automakers or were in fact conversions of gasoline cars carried out by individuals or dedicated EV conversion shops. As well as make sure your car’s batteries (usually lead acid) were healthy, owners needed to be comfortable reading a voltmeter, understand how to calculate range from rudimentary gauges, and (when necessary) carry out regular checks on each battery to make sure it was in peak condition. With lead acid batteries having a useful lifespan of anything from two to four years, many owners even learned how to carry out regular battery replacement as part of their ownership experience.

The LEAF Spy app is a very useful tool for any LEAF owner.

Today with modern battery chemistry and modern battery management systems, there’s thankfully no technical prerequisite to owning an electric car. Indeed, just as internal combustion engine vehicles have become easier to own and require much less owner maintenance than they once did, today’s modern electric car is far easier to own than its ancestors were. Add to this the fact that most electric cars on the market today clearly display predicted range and charging information in an easy-to-understand way, and there’s really no need to get technical with your electric car unless you want to.

Which is where LEAF Spy comes in, an app for Android and iOS devices that allows you to connect your smartphone to your Nissan LEAF electric car (with the help of an affordable OBDII bluetooth or wifi adaptor) to see far more information than Nissan’s stock on-board displays can display. And while it’s perfectly fine to rely on Nissan’s in-car displays to help you figure out how far you can travel before your car needs a recharge, LEAF Spy adds a whole new level of granularity that gives you far more information about what’s really going on in your electric car’s battery pack.

The LEAF Spy App is very useful for any LEAF owner who wants to know more about what’s going on ‘under the hood’.

In addition to screens that allow you to track energy consumption, charging cycles and even individual module battery voltages, LEAF Spy (and its associated apps LEAF Spy Lite and LEAF Spy Pro) also let you calculate how many miles your car has until empty using a user-selectable distance-per-kilowatt hour (or watt-hours per unit distance) energy efficiency.

Then there’s a whole host of other features that go beyond simply helping you drive more efficiently: buy the Leaf Spy or Leaf Spy Pro app, and you can do a whole lot more than just check on your car’s state of charge to the nearest one tenth of a percent. There’s journey logging (using the GPS built into your smartphone), as well as tools to let you read tire pressure, pair new tire pressure monitors (useful if you have a set of summer and winter tires) and read diagnostic troubleshooting codes.

While not every LEAF owner will even want such functionality, the latter — as well as capability to change door-lock behavior, interior light behavior and headlight operation — means that you should visit your dealership far less frequently. Even if you’re not technically minded, the way the app is put together — combined with this comprehensive guide on its use — should make it a must for anyone who wants to ensure their Nissan LEAF is used to its fullest potential.

You can find LEAF Spy in the Google Play store or the Apple App Store

Disclaimer: This primer discusses a commercially-available app that the author has been a long-time beta tester for. We should clarify however that the author has no ulterior motive in writing this primer, other than sharing details of an app she has found useful for many years. 

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GM, Honda Announce Plans for Joint Hydrogen Fuel Cell Factory Inside GM’s Brownstone Battery Facility

Four years after General Motors and Honda signed a partnership agreement in which they would work together to research and design affordable hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems for use in future production vehicles, the two automakers have announced a new joint manufacturing venture that will bring those researched fuel cell systems to commercial reality.

Called Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC, the new manufacturing company will establish its own hydrogen fuel cell production line inside General Motor’s battery manufacturing facility in Brownstown, Michigan, with commercial mass-production of hydrogen fuel cell stacks due to begin some time around 2020.

GM and Honda will begin producing fuel cells at the Brownstone facility in 2020.

The perennial Achilles heel of hydrogen fuel cell cars, hydrogen fuel cell stacks (where oxygen and hydrogen combine to produce water, heat and electricity) have traditionally been very expensive and complex to produce. This is because they not only require delicate assembly (often by hand) but also use large amounts of rarer, more expensive  elements (like Platinum) as the catalyst that encourages the chemical reduction of O² inside the fuel cell so it can combine with H² to become H²O.

Because of this, hydrogen fuel cells have to date been very expensive to produce. Although there’s been a great improvement in the past twenty years in energy density, power density and cost per kilowatt of hydrogen fuel cell stacks (for example, the $50,000 hydrogen fuel cell stack in the 2017 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan costs about one twentieth of the fuel cell stack in Toyota’s previous generation hydrogen fuel cell car) the cost of producing hydrogen fuel cell stacks is still prohibitively expensive for any automaker looking to make a profit on the technology.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Stacks have traditionally been expensive to produce.

By working together however, Honda and GM hope that they can reach that profitability, using what they’ve learned thus far to produce more affordable fuel cell stacks that not only use less expensive materials but can be more easily mass produced. And as any production expert can tell you, as soon as something is produced in significant enough volumes, the price-per-unit drops dramatically.

“Over the past three years, engineers from Honda and GM have been working as one team with each company providing know-how from its unique expertise to create a compact and low-cost next-gen fuel cell system,” said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, chief operating officer of the North American Region for Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and president of Honda North America, Inc. in an official statement accompanying the announcement. “This foundation of outstanding teamwork will now take us to the stage of joint mass production of a fuel cell system that will help each company create new value for our customers in fuel cell vehicles of the future.”

Together the two automakers have a total of 2,200 patents pertaining to hydrogen fuel cell technology, ranking GM first and Honda third in the number of hydrogen fuel cell patents filed between 2002 and 2015. While this may come as a shock to readers who are unaware of GM’s involvement in hydrogen fuel cell technology (GM does not make a production hydrogen fuel cell car at the present moment in time) its hydrogen fuel cell program is decades old. Importantly too, it has worked alongside the U.S. military for a number of years to develop, test and build hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, resulting in the ZH2, a hydrogen-powered military-spec pickup truck currently in service with the U.S. Army. Honda meanwhile, recently began U.S. sales of its Honda Clarity fuel cell sedan, the company’s first production fuel cell vehicle.

The Chevy ZH2 is a specially-designed military-spec Hydrogen pickup currently being tested in active service.

Combined, the two companies have each ponied up $42.5 million each, giving Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC a total investment of $85 million to be spent between now and the planned 2020 start of hydrogen fuel cell production. As part of that investment, GM says a total of just under 100 new jobs will be created at the Brownstone facility.

$85 million may seem like a lot of money (it is), but it’s worth noting too that GM’s $42.5 million investment in the new joint venture is less than the $65 million it invested into the Brownstone facility back in 2014 as part of preparations for the second-generation Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car, which in turn was part of a larger $449 million investment in future electric vehicle technology.

It’s also far less than the $500 million invested last year in ride-sharing platform Lyft, which GM has been working alongside to explore the future of the automotive industry and on-demand mobility.

It also pails into insignificance when compared to the $10 billion investment announced earlier this month by thirteen different companies including BMW, Daimler and Toyota as part of an attempt to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen filling infrastructure and the production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles around the world.

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Just For Cities? Acciona Proves Electric Car Stereotypes Wrong By Completing Dakar Rally — The World’s Most Demanding Race

If you own an electric car and venture too far out of the urban jungle (even in the age of the Tesla Model S and its fantastic Supercharger network) you’ll encounter a large number of people willing to scorn at your vehicle choice.

Without pulling on too many stereotypes, those critiquing your zero tailpipe emission ride will likely scoff at its physical form, make some judgement about ‘limited range’ and tell you that you need a real car, like a V-8 SUV or pickup truck. Even if you just managed to pass them on a snow-covered mountain road, your electric car, in their eyes, is no match for the real world.

Entered for the past two years, 2017 is the first year that Acciona’s electric race car has finished Dakar.

Luckily, the increasing visibility of electric vehicles in motor sport thanks to Formula E, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and Electric GT — not to mention advocacy of well-known race car drivers like Lellani Munter — has helped change the opinion of many oil-blooded motorheads. But still, some hold out, arguing that electric vehicles are still aways from successfully completing long-distance endurance races.

Except they’d be wrong.

That’s because earlier this week an electric rally vehicle successfully crossed the final finish line of the world-famous Dakar rally, becoming the first electric vehicle and the first zero-emissions car in history to complete the grueling race. Sponsored by Spanish energy company Acciona and named ‘100% EcoPowered,’ the custom-built rally car has proven its critics wrong once and for all, showing that electric vehicles have what it takes to perform alongside their fossil fuel-guzzling cousins.

The race is grueling, and charges have to happen as quickly as possible to avoid running out of time.

Unquestionably the most extreme of endurance races, this year’s Dakar rally took place in South America, covering more than 5,800 miles through Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. But don’t think that gaining entry to the race means you’ll finish it. In its long (and infamous) history, the Dakar Rally has not only claimed the lives of 28 competitors but 42 spectators, support crew and journalists covering the event. Then there are the numerous race retirements every year which (due to either vehicle problems or health problems) claim between a quarter to a third of the starting field.

In other words, finishing is quite a feat, regardless of the type of vehicle, be it car, truck or motorcycle.

And that’s exactly what the El Acciona 100% EcoPowered did, crossing the line to finish 57th overall (last in its class). Having attempted the rally in both 2015 and 2016 only to pull out due to technical difficulties (retiring in one of the final stages last year), this year’s finish is a big achievement for Acciona and its drivers Ariel Jatón and Tito Rolón.

“The odyssey is over,” Jatón said after safely completing the race. “This year’s Dakar was very tough, with some very intense stages complicated by the weather, and the altitude in Bolivia. It was the most grueling race in South America, so we are thrilled to have reached the finish line, particularly in an electric car.”

Entered into the NRJ Openclass, the El Acciona 100% EcoPowered race car was designed from the ground up to ensure that it could tackle the toughest terrain, with a four-wheel drive system powered by a 250 kilowatt electric motor producing 590 pound-feet of torque. Weighing just shy of 4,630 pounds (2,100 kilograms), the race car packs in a total of 150 kilowatt-hours of on-board energy storage, split between six high-performance battery modules. Combined with an on-board charger that can accommodate 220-volts AC through to 400-volts three-phase power, as well as 50 kilowatts off-board DC fast charging, the modular battery system apparently makes stops a little quicker. There’s also a 100-watt, 12-volt solar panel built into the carbon-fiber body panel which is meant to help power the various on-board communications and navigation hardware usually found in a Dakar vehicle, although we note that with the usual dirt and grime associated with such a race we’re not entirely sure how effective it is.

Congratulations to all involved!

That said, we still feel congratulations are in order for the Acciona team. Yes, it may have managed the slowest time of its class, but finishing is certainly not something to be sniffed at. And if we’re right, we’ll see the Acciona team right back next year with a more powerful, more capable race car.

We can’t wait.

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Toyota, BMW, Daimler, Honda, and Hyundai Join 8 Other Fuel, Infrastructure Companies In Hydrogen Fuel Cell Push

Despite being “just around the corner” for the past thirty years or more, there’s been a real push in recent years by automakers like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai to promote hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as being a more practical alternative to battery electric vehicles. Aided by a number of different filling station companies, these automakers have pushed the idea that electric vehicles aren’t capable of traveling as far as a comparable hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, are more expensive to own, and take far longer to refuel.

Toyota really wants hydrogen to succeed…

The reality however has been somewhat different: even though the fastest charging electric car charging standard used today (Tesla’s Supercharger network) takes longer to refuel from empty to full than a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, battery electric vehicles are winning the fight to for supremacy in the zero tailpipe emission vehicle world. For example, not only is the the range of a high-end Tesla Model S P100 a little higher than the range of the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan, but it’s possible to travel from coast to coast by electric car without a spot of range anxiety.

The Hydrogen Council includes Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Daimler and BMW.

Travelling by hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is, by contrast, all but impossible outside of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and a handful of cities around the world where a few hydrogen filling stations already exist. Add in the costs associated with installing and maintaining that infrastructure — not to mention the cost of producing the (currently hand-made) hydrogen fuel cell stacks that form the heart of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle — and even hardened hydrgoen fuel cell advocates like Toyota and Honda have changed their tune of late. Indeed, in recent months, we’ve seen Toyota, Honda and Hyundai switch from a future product plan that ignores battery electric vehicles in favor of hydrogen fuel cells to one in which both technologies are either produced side by side or with a slight bias towards battery electric vehicles.

But as Automotive News (subscription required) details, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai — alongside Daimler and BMW — haven’t given up on hydrogen fuel cell technology completely. Instead, these five major automakers have just joined eight other companies to form a so-called hydrogen council that will lobby and consult with policy makers around the world to further the case for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Alongside the named automakers, other partners in newly-formed group include Royal Dutch Shell, Total SA, Air Liquide, Linde AG, Anglo American PLC, Engie SA, Alstom SA and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. Together, they represent everything from the oil and gas industry to utility companies, mining firms and heavy equipment manufacturing. Announced during the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the lobbying and advocacy group will oversee more than $10.7 million billion in investment from its partner companies to bring various hydrogen-related products to market in the next five years.

Despite its hard work and investment into electric cars, BMW still supports hydrogen.

“The world of energy is transforming very, very fast,” said Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden during the World Economic Forum. “Hydrogen has massive potential.” It’s a view shared by Toyota Chairman and Hydrogen Council Co-Chair Takeshi Uchiyamada, who reiterated Toyota’s own commitment to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in a statement issued earlier today.

“In addition to transportation, hydrogen has the potential to support our transition to a low-carbon society across multiple industries and the entire value chain,” he said.

But while the newly-founded Hydrogen Council has the support of some big players in both the automotive and industrial world, it does seem a little like a last-ditch attempt to try and promote hydrogen fuel cell technology in a world where plug-in vehicles appear to have the upper hand. Indeed, with cars like the Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X, and Chevrolet Bolt EV all offering ranges in excess of 200 miles per charge, the claim that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are far superior to battery electric vehicles has little ground for most drivers.

Add in the benefits battery electric vehicles have over hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — like improved interior load bay space and a higher power to weight ratio — and the Hydrogen Council may face an uphill struggle to convince governments or car buyers that hydrogen is the fuel of the future.

Insted, we’d politely suggest (albeit with our battery-electric bias) that the Hydrogen Council focuses on the applications where hydrogen fuel cell vehicles may have the upper hand over battery electric vehicles: heavy freight haulage.

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Ahead of Launch for Next-Generation Nissan LEAF, Nissan to Test Autonomous LEAFs on London’s Busy Streets

Back at the start of the month, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn gave a keynote presentation at CES 2017 during which he previewed Nissan’s latest autonomous vehicle technology — Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM). Developed in collaboration with NASA, SAM is designed to accelerate the mass market adoptability of autonomous vehicles by integrating advanced artificial intelligence with a remote system that allows specially-trained ‘mobility managers’ to diagnose and assist autonomous vehicles that have come across a real-world situation they cannot deal with on their own.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn rode in a fully-autonomous Infiniti sedan earlier this month.

At the same time, Ghosn promised that the next-generation Nissan LEAF, a car he said would be “coming very soon”, will feature the latest production-ready version of Nissan’s Pro Pilot software. This particular iteration of Pro Pilot, designed for suburban and extra-urban highway use, will be similar in functionality to the Pro Pilot system debuted in Nissan’s Japanese-market Serena Minivan last year, and is a precursor to a multi-lane Pro-Pilot system Nissan will bring to market in 2018.

Both systems are designed for highway use, with full autonomous city-center capabilities not due to arrive on Nissan vehicles until sometime around 2023.

Nissan already has thousands of miles logged on the streets in and around Sunnyvale, California

Despite this however, Nissan announced on Friday last week that it would be bringing prototype autonomous Nissan LEAFs to London, England to demonstrate and test its autonomous vehicle technology in the UK’s capital city.

It would be easy then to conclude that Nissan is bringing a prototype of its fully-autonomous vehicle technology to one of the world’s most congested capital cities in order to fully put it through its paces, especially since during his keynote presentation earlier this month Ghosn said that Nissan already has fully-autonomous prototypes ready for road testing on the roads in and around Renault-Nissan’s Silicon Valley Technical Center. But while the streets of London would certainly provide Nissan with a baptism of fire for its city-center ProPilot autonomous vehicle technology, we’re reading into something a little different in Nissan’s press release: it’s bringing its autonomous LEAF prototypes to London as part of a demonstration program designed to make it easier for autonomous vehicles to gain approval for public use.

This includes demonstrating Nissan’s autonomous vehicle technology to private and public stakeholders, including Governmental officials and politicians charged with ensuring any autonomous vehicle legislation is appropriately constructed and implemented, technical and safety experts, and representatives from the insurance industry — who will have to provide appropriate insurance products for their customers to use.

In other words, Nissan’s plan to begin what it calls “on-road demonstrations” next month in London is primarily for lobbying and educational purposes. While we’re sure the self-driving LEAFs Nissan is planning to put on the streets of London will also collect countless terabytes of data that Nissan will be able to use to help refine its autonomous vehicle technology, it won’t be Nissan’s primary concern.

Nissan’s demonstrations in London will be primarily for members of the insurance industry, engineers, and politicians to experience autonomous cars first-hand.

Don’t feel though that Nissan’s London-based autonomous demonstration project will be the only autonomous cars from Nissan we’ll see driving on the UK’s roads, as the UK has already invested more than £100 million over the past few years to fund and execute a series of autonomous vehicle trails across the UK, with technical pilot projects in Greenwich, Milton Keynes, Coventry and Bristol to name but a few of the many involved cities.

Indeed, one of Nissan’s biggest technical centers is located a short drive from Milton Keynes, adjacent to the famous Cranfield University technical institution known for its excellent automotive engineering faculty. It’s likely then (although not certain) that following Nissan’s London demonstration of autonomous LEAFs, we can expect larger-scale autonomous vehicle testing from the Japanese automaker across the UK.

While this is the first time Nissan has brought its autonomous vehicle technology to Europe, Nissan has of course several years of fully-autonomous vehicle test programs under its belt in both the U.S. and Japan. And as announced at CES, Nissan is about to start a new autonomous commercial vehicle pilot project in Japan in collaboration with Japanese Internet company DeNA .

Do you look forward to owning a fully-autonomous car? And how do you think Nissan’s autonomous LEAF prototypes will cope with the hustle and bustle of busy London streets?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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