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On this week’s show : People steal hybrid
battery packs, Nissan offers deals to encourage people to buy their LEAFs at lease-end, and
a glorious 4k drone video over the Tesla Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada. These stories and more, coming up next on
TEN. Enjoying today’s show on Youtube and and
want to read the stories we’re referring to today? Either click on the little information bar
at the top of this video on selected stories, or head to our website at www dot transport
evolved dot com, where you’ll find the latest future car news as well as our buying guides,
tech primers and of course, our weekly show notes. It’s Friday, May 22nd, 2015. I’m Nikki
Gordon-Bloomfield, and Elon Musk Tweeted one of my stories this week. (Trying not to be
giddy over that one) Since its launch in 2011, the DriveNow Car
Share scheme — a joint partnership between German automaker BMW and German car rental
firm Sixt — has grown in popularity, providing ad hoc by-the-hour rental of high-end BMW
and MINI cars to customers all over the world. To date — with the exception of limited-numbers
of prototype ActiveE electric cars escaping the crusher in Drive Now fleets in San Francisco,
Munich and Berlin — DriveNow hasn’t offered DriveNow users the chance to hire an electric
car, but this week that changed with the addition of thirty new BMW i3 EVs to the London DriveNow
fleet. Over the coming months, BMW says it will add
i3 electric cars to other DriveNow fleets around the world, giving customers the chance
to drive a clean, green electric car when they’re next needing a way of getting around
a major metropolis. To help this, BMW is installing a fleet of
new rapid charging stations in EV rental areas, making it easy and convenient for DriveNow
members to drive and charge an electric car. Just over a month ago, German tier-one parts
supplier Bosch shared a video with the world showcasing its vision for future autonomous
vehicle software. The video, mostly computer-generated, featured a debadged Tesla Model S as the platform
on which the autonomous software was running — but this week, we’ve learned that Bosch
has purchased two Tesla Model S electric cars to bring that vision to reality. Announced at Bosch’s annual Press conference,
the unveiling of Bosch’s twin Model S self-driving cars — one of which will live in Germany
and one will live in Silicon Valley — coincided with this beautiful time-lapse video of Bosch
engineers fitting the self-driving hardware to one of the two cars. In total, Bosch says that fifty new components
were fitted to each car, including stereoscopic cameras and more than 1.3 kilometers of wiring.
Having built and fitted my own wiring loom for one of my cars in the past, I can tell
you that’s no small task. Testing has already begun, so watch this space
to see how Bosch’s self-driving Teslas fare in the real world. This is a Toyota Prius hybrid. There’s plenty
around these days — several million in fact — offering those who own them great gas mileage
over a traditional internal combustion engined vehicle thanks to a 1.3 kilowatt-hour Nickel
Metal Hydride battery pack hidden beneath the rear load bay floor and not one but two
electric motors. In normal, everyday use, Prius hybrid battery
packs can outlive the life of the car, but now there’s a new spate of thefts in hybrid-friendly
San Francisco where criminals are breaking into parked Prius hybrids, unbolting their
battery packs, and selling them on sites like Craigslist. Aside from being particularly dangerous — those
Prius battery packs have voltages in excess of 200 volts — criminals are focusing on
recent model-year Prius models with the thought that their battery packs will be in a better
condition. They’re then selling the stolen packs to owners of second-generation cars
— who are the ones most likely to need a new pack. The problem? The third-generation battery
packs only fit in third-generation prii, showing that while someone thought they’d discovered
the perfect crime, they failed hybrid maintenance 101. Whoops. Just under a year ago, Silicon Valley software
giant Google announced that it would be building one hundred small autonomous pod-like cars
to let loose on the roads of California as part of its autonomous vehicle driving program. With no steering wheel or traditional pedals,
the pods could change our thoughts on what a car could be — and they’re now ready
to go on the road. As announced last week, Google says it has
completed its initial track-based and private-road testing of the fun bubble-like low-speed electric
pods, and will be releasing them on the roads in and around its Mountain View campus in
the coming weeks. Naturally, the cars will still be accompanied
by a google employee to ensure they behave themselves, as well as temporarily getting
detachable steering wheels and pedals in case anything goes wrong. Eventually Google promises,
it will be able to ditch those controls and have the cars doing everything all by themselves.
Given they’ll be running the same software as Google’s self-driving Lexus SUVs — and
they’ve been doing just fine — the day of having our cars driving us around is near
at hand. I can’t wait. Thanks to concerns over battery longevity
and the fear of being stuck with a previous-generation vehicle as battery technology advances at
a breakneck speed, most electric car owners today lease rather than buy their cars outright. But in the U.S., the large numbers of Nissan
LEAF leaseholders coming to the end of their 2012 and 2013 LEAF leases means that Nissan
has decided to offer customers an attractive lease to buy their car at the end of their
lease period rather than hand it back. Traditionally, to avoid those crippling balloon
payments at the end of vehicle leases, most people hadn their cars back at the end of
their lease term, but now Nissan is offering five thousand dollars to those who opt to
buy their car instead. Obviously, the amount outstanding on your
lease will depend on your monthly payments, car mileage and personal circumstance, but
if you’re looking for a cheap way to get out of your LEAF lease and don’t really
want a new car — or perhaps want to put that five grand towards a new battery — you may
want to check this unusual deal out. Under construction since last year, Tesla
Motor’s massive Gigafactory in Reno Nevada is big. Really big. And here at Transport
Evolved, we’ve been trying to figure out ways to show you just how big it is for months. Well this week, thanks to a rather talented
drone pilot in Reno, we saw the world’s first 4k flyover of the Gigafactory site,
filmed last Sunday when nobody was around on site. The video is truly stunning, and gives you
a really good idea of just how truly massive the Lithium-ion reprocessing and manufacturing
facility will really be. Except on the day after we posted this video,
Tesla CEO Elon Musk retweeted our story and nonchalantly said that our supposition about
size was way off. The structure we were enthusing about? Apparently, says Musk, that’s only
one quarter of the finished site. Thanks for correcting us, Mr. Musk, and woao.
I don’t think I can actually visiualise something four times the size. Mind blown. When it comes to offgrid battery backup power
in a stylish case, Tesla Motor’s all-new PowerWall products really do have the market
sewn up, made from new, specially-designed battery cells specifically for either daily
cycle or weekly cycle use. But what about all those battery packs that
were once in electric or hybrid cars? Could they be reused? As we’ve discussed on the show many times,
the answer is yes — but Toyota North America has just come up with what we think is one
of the simplest ways to integrate used Camry hybrid battery packs in an off-grid battery
backup system: open up each battery pack, tweak a few connections, then put the pack
and its case in a simple yet effective rack-mounted battery storage system. And that’s exactly what’s happened at
the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in the Yellowstone National Park, where two hundred and eight
used Camry Hybrid battery packs have been hooked up in an 85-kilowatt hour configuration
to the site’s 40 kilowatt solar array to bring on-demand, renewable energy to the site
for the first time. It might not be pretty, but we love it. Reuse,
Recycle, and Repair for the win! If you’re not a fan of motor racing, you
may not know who this gentleman is, but if you are, you’ll recognize him as the legend
that is Sir Stirling Moss, winner of the 1955 Mille Miglia, sixteen individual grand prix
races, and one of motorsport’s’ most famed drivers. Some time ago now, Sir Stirling Moss purchased
a tiny Renault Twizy — and all-electric, limited-speed two seat runabout that shares
much of the same engineering as some of his most famous racecars. It has independent suspension,
rear wheel drive, and a race-tuned chassis. Of course, Sir Stirling’s ride — wearing
his personal number plate 7 SM — is in classic British Racing Green, and is now the veteran
race car driver’s only vehicle. But that’s just fine, because it lets him zip around
London as if he were in a grand prix. Moss says the tiny Twizy is a fun car to drive,
but notes that for him, pretty quick is what most people would call ‘Fast’. The only
thing he’d change? A little more power, of course. Well that’s it for today. We could fit more
stories in, but then the show wouldn’t really be TEN now, would it? We’ll be back next week at the usual time
for another show, but in the meantime, you can find all the other news that’s fit to
print on our website at www dot transport evolved dot com, chat to us on twitter at
transport evolve, or head to our YouTube channel to catch up with our latest shows. As always, there’s a lot we haven’t managed
to fit into today’s show, including Volkswagen’s latest concept car — the Golf GTE Sport Concept
plug-in hybrid, Consumer Reports suffers a problem with its Tesla Model S, how California’s
Green HOV-lane stickers have nearly run out, and how Tesla Motors thinks it has solved
the problem of autonomous vehicle liability by getting drivers to initiate automated overtaking
maneuvers. So when we’re done, be sure to head to our
site to read them all. Thanks for watching, I’m Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield,
have a super-great long weekend, and until next time, Keep evolving!

2 thoughts on “Self-Driving Tesla, Battery Thefts, LEAF Deals: T.E.N. Future Car News 22/5/15

  1. Cool episode.  Have you taken the i3 for a spin?  Those Google pods are the future of mobility in large cities if you ask me.  Why own a car when you can summon a pod right to you!  It's like a step towards the transport they featured in the sci-fi movie Minority Report quite a few years back.  Keep up the good work.

  2. Cool idea but why do they have to make these pods look so embarrassing? I'd hate to be seen in one because they look ridiculous.

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