LEAF Recall, Tesla Model 3 Lottery, BMW i3 reliability. T.E.N. Future Car News 18th March 2016


On this week’s show : The Nissan LEAF gets
recalled, Tesla runs a 20-hour lottery for customers to win tickets to the Model 3 reveal
event, and why Consumer Reports thinks you should avoid buying a used BMW i3 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? Just head to our website at Transport Evolved
dot com forward slash TEN, where you’ll find today’s show notes — as well as links
to the latest future car news, buying guides, tech primers, and car reviews. It’s Friday, March 18th twenty sixteen,
I’m Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield and we’re finally getting some sunshine here in the
Portland Oregon –recently proclaimed the number one place in the U.S. to buy and own
an electric car. Now you know why we moved here. We start today’s show with an important
service recall notice for anyone in North America with a twenty twelve through twenty
fifteen Nissan LEAF electric car. Back in October last year, Nissan quietly
announced a new service campaign for its popular electric car after discovering that in certain
extremely cold situations a relay connected to the car’s brake system — namely the
relay which operates the vacuum assistance air pump — could freeze, leaving the car
without power brakes and instead requiring the driver to apply more force to stop the
car. While there were no accidents or injuries
reported alongside the fault, Nissan classified the issue as a voluntary service campaign
— but under pressure from Transport Canada agreed earlier this year to upgrade the service
campaign into a full-blown recall. At the same time, it notified the U.S. National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration it would upgrade the service campaign into a recall in the
U.S. too. The fix, which is apparently a reprogramming
of the relay’s control computer to ensure it won’t freeze up in cold weather, can
be done at your local Nissan dealer, and Nissan says customers will be contacted in due course
to ensure the recall is effectively carried out. In the meantime, you can find more details
of the recall at our site, at the U.S. Safercar dot gov website, or by contacting your local
Nissan dealership. A car which won’t be getting a full-blown
recall but will be getting a bit of an over-the-air software update for safety’s sake is the
Tesla Model S — a car that for the most part has earned its reputation as one of the safest
cars on the planet. As reported this week, following the conclusion
of its own internal investigation into the spontaneous combustion of a Tesla Model S
at a charging station in Norway earlier this year, the California automaker says it will
be sending a software update to all cars to ensure that there is ‘extra security during
charging’ at any of its Supercharger locations worldwide. The original fire, which happened back in
January, burnt a customer’s car to the ground while it was charging at a Supercharger location
in Norway. But, having worked with authorities, Tesla has confirmed that although it has deemed
the cause of the fire to be a short-circuit inside the vehicle, it’s not one hundred
percent sure why it happened. Nevertheless, to ensure it doesn’t happen again — despite
it being unlikely in the first place — Tesla says the update should provide the extra security
needed to keep things extra-safe. Will it change charging times? It’s unlikely,
but if we hear it does, we’ll let you know. Staying with Tesla but moving to happier times
with this next story, the California automaker held what can only be described as the shortest
prize draw we’ve ever seen this week, giving existing Tesla customers just twenty hours
to enter their names into a virtual prize draw for the chance to be one of six hundred
and fifty lucky customers to win two tickets to the Tesla Model 3 reveal event on March
31st. As we’ve explained in previous weeks, the
Model 3 is going to be unlike previous Tesla events with a tightly-controlled guest list.
In fact, less than 800 people are expected to attend, with the majority of invited guests
those chosen at random from Tuesday’s lottery. Winners should already have received their
invites, giving them just under two weeks to arrange transportation and accommodation.
Given the hype over the launch event though, I’m guessing that won’t be particularly
difficult if they’re actually going to be one of the lucky few in attendance. Which brings me to the final Tesla story of
the day — even if it’s technically an extension of the last one. You see, with the Tesla Model 3 event just
under two weeks away, we — and other sites — have been inundated with artwork purporting
to be leaked images of the Tesla Model 3. But just like other sites, we’re not buying
it. Indeed, while folks online are eagerly trading
badly photoshopped images made by teenagers late at night, Tesla itself has finally confirmed
that we’ll see fully-working Model 3 at the launch event, despite Elon Musk previously
hinting that we’d just see a static mockup or worse still, some rendered images. Will there be test drives? Even with just
800 people in attendance we’re not expecting it – any car in attendance is likely to be
an alpha prototype with its own quirks and peculiarities which Tesla will want to keep
an eye on. Nevertheless, the idea that the Model 3 is already moving bodes well for the
company which really needs the Model 3 to hit the market on time and on budget by the
end of 2018. Let’s just hope Tesla’s timing is a little
better than Google’s which, as we told you this week, finally received its patent this
week for a bus-detection algorithm… weeks after it one of its self-driving Lexus hybrids
hit a bus in downtown San Francisco. Designed to make its autonomous cars safer
and smarter on the road, the algorithm uses a whole set of sensors to help Google’s
cars to correctly identify and react to a bus, but while most headlines focused on how
funny it was for google to get this patent — first submitted two years ago — after
it had an unfortunate crash with a bus, it’s worth noting that the patent is for school
bus detection rather than public bus detection. Specifically, the system described in Google’s
patent is designed to ensure that its autonomous vehicles identify a school bus on the road,
and behave appropriately when the bus turns on its big flashing lights and prepares to
stop. It’s not clear if Google had been using the now patented software at the time
of last month’s collision, but we’re glad to see it continually strive for better, safer
and smarter autonomous vehicle technology. Staying on the subject of safety a little
longer, news came this week of a landmark deal struck between the U.S. National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and twenty different
automakers who sell cars in the U.S. Announced on Thursday, the deal means that
ninety-nine percent of all new cars sold in the U.S. will include autonomous emergency
braking — a system designed to apply the brakes in time if you don’t — as a standard
fit item on virtually all new cars and light-duty trucks by twenty twenty two. Many, like Tesla Motors and Volvo — already
include AEB on their vehicles as standard, but the rest, large and small automakers alike
— say they’ll add it to their vehicles before the deadline, reducing accidents and
injuries as a consequence of failing to stop in time. By twenty twenty-five, the same agreement
promises, virtually all trucks with a weight of less than ten thousand pounds will have
the same feature, making the roads a far safer place to be. From a place where auto braking is a good
idea to one where it isn’t next, the action-packed world of Formula E. Despite only being in its second year, Formula
E has earned itself quite a lot of attention from both major automakers and the motorsport
industry, and this week we brought you the news that BMW and Nissan — two automakers
who are yet to officially become Formula E manufacturers — are reportedly considering
just that for future Formula E race series. As reported by Autosport mid-week, the two
automakers — which make their own line of electric cars — are keen to get involved
in the FIA-approved race series as soon as possible, joining Formula E for the 2016/17
season as technology partners or sponsors before becoming fully-fledged manufacturers
for the following 2017/18 season. Right now, BMW supplies Formula E with specially-prepared
BMW i3 and BMW i8 electric cars for use as medical and safety cars on track, while Nissan
is connected by association thanks to its alliance partner Renault. But moving forward,
it’s clear that we’re going to see more and more automakers jump on board as the case
for electric motorsport gets more compelling with every passing year. From one story involving BMW to another now,
but this one might not please those eager to get their hands on a used BMW i3 electric
car. That’s because earlier this week, U.S.-based
Consumer Reports named and shamed early 2014 model-year BMW i3 electric cars as vehicles
you should avoid buying used, citing lower-than-average reliability issues. Recording 2006 through 2015 model year cars,
the list — published in this month’s’ Consumer Reports magazine — details a large number
of BMW-branded vehicles, with the 5-series among its top vehicles to avoid if you’re
buying used. It wasn’t just BMW and it’s i3 through:
Tesla Motors got a dishonorable mention too, the 2013 Nissan LEAF –which was ‘average’
in its reliability last year — is now listed as ‘below average’ too, although other
Nissan LEAF model years are still average to better than average in terms of reliability. This is the first we’ve heard of either
the BMW i3 or Nissan LEAF having a plethora of problems, so if you’ve got either, do
leave your own reliability experiences for either car in the Comments below. And finally, what’s the similarity between
an electric car battery pack and a pint of beer? Apparently they both like being topped
off — at least that’s according to Nissan, which told Automotive news this week that
it’s invented a new charge profile for its LEAF electric car that allows an extra zero
point seven percent of energy to be stored in the car’s battery pack at the end of
the charge cycle. How? By letting the battery pack ‘rest’
for short periods before applying a very low, short charge cycle as the battery nears full,
allowing those ions already in the battery pack to rearrange themselves and make space
for more ions to squeeze onto the electrode. It’s essentially the equivalent of waiting
for the bubbles on a pint of beer to die down before topping the pint off with more beer
— and will give you about an extra seven tenths of a mile of range by my calculations. Just don’t mix alcohol and charging — or
cars and alcohol for that matter. What I most certainly won’t be mixing up
this weekend is which of the two transport evolved staff cars I’ll be using for weekend
errands. While our Staff Toyota RAV4 EV is now happily registered and road-legal, we’ve
got to replace a dead battery module before we can really put it through its paces on
the road. Bother. As usual, we’ll be back next week at the
usual time for our show — spring break and children pending — but in the meantime, you
can find all the news that’s fit to print at our website at transport evolved dot com,
catch up with us on twitter at transport Evolve, or check out our latest shows on our usual
YouTube channel. And if you liked what you saw today, keep us independent and impartial
by visiting our Patreon page at Patreon dot com forward slash transport evolved and pledging
your support from as little as one dollar per month. Everything we do is funded by your
donations, so the more donations we get, the more fun things we can do — and the more
content we can produce. So if you haven’t already, please consider donating. As always, there’s a lot we haven’t managed
to fit into today’s show, including details of Toyota’s mysterious new Prius plug-in
hybrid, due to be launched next week in New York, why your Tesla Model X might have been
personally inspected by Elon Musk, why Volkswagen’s rumored XL3 hybrid has nothing to do with
the original futuristic XL1 fuel-sipper, and GM acquires a new autonomous vehicle company
for a cool one billion dollars. 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 great
weekend, and until next time, keep evolving!