Weekly Brief: Tesla ‘trailer’ plan to boost EV range

“I’m thinking about it,” said Elon Musk who faces possibly the toughest automotive challenge so far – to make trailer towing look cool!

The pathfinding CEO behind Tesla Motors says that he’s not interested in a battery range of 200 miles for electric vehicles (EVs), like the new 2016 Nissan LEAF has collected so much praise for. He wants 750 miles per charge and to get there he’s thinking about all sorts of alternative concepts.

The latest: a mobile battery “range extender” that rides behind an EV like a trailer on a hitch. Musk says that he’s considering a solution from Nomadic Power that harnesses solar energy through a photovoltaic system and then delivers it to the EV for an extra boost on the road. The Nomad, as the unit is called, can completely recharge an EV battery in five to 10 minutes. Drivers can own or simply rent from a charging station before a long haul, then drop the Nomad off upon reaching their destinations. In 2015, Nomadic Power received a €2M (£1.54M) grant from the European Commission as part of the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Sticking on the EV front, Nissan has put a hard stop on all European deliveries of the new 2016 Nissan LEAF, according to a story in Transport Evolved. The cause: a glitch in the new NissanConnect EV telematics system that’s leading to a groundhog day effect in which the system continuously reboots itself. Some Nissan LEAFs are milling about at European factories; others are languishing at dealerships while customers who pre-ordered have to sit and wait for Nissan to fix the problem. Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) told us they would be releasing a detailed statement later but for the meantime have issued this response: “Nissan has temporarily suspended deliveries of the new MY16 Nissan LEAF in the UK, Ireland and Norway due to an on-going issue with the NissanConnect EV telematics system. We have a dedicated team in place working to introduce a robust solution as quickly as possible and deliveries will commence again shortly. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused during this time.”

In other news, Lyft became the first ridesharing company to integrate navigation app Waze. Ridesharing companies like Uber and mainstream apps like Google Maps have avoided Waze to date because its crowdsourcing algorithm, while great for finding the fastest routes for drivers, often directs them onto smaller streets that might cause alarm from paying customers (nothing like a side alley to make a passenger feel ill at ease). But clearly Lyft thinks that Waze can provide it an edge in making its routes faster and more efficient. Waze will become Lyft’s default setting.

You know how proactive health is better for your body than reactive health? Better to start exercising or quit cigarettes before a heart attack strikes, the logic goes, rather than after. The same is true for cars and fleets. Enter Zubie Maintenance, a new service from fleet management firm Zubie that helps business fleets track and schedule essential service needs like oil changes, tyre rotation and brakes servicing before costly breakdowns occur. It also provides comprehensive reports accessible from the Zubie portal or app on any smartphone or PC.

Hondaexpanded its relationship with Sirius XM, which currently powers the carmaker’s HondaLink and AcuraLink infotainment and telematics platform. Starting with the 2017 Acura, the updated standard package will be four years of Automatic Crash Notification and SOS emergency assist.

London is pushing forward with plans to integrate advanced driver assistance systems into its buses in an attempt to halve the number of bus-related deaths and injuries by 2020. Transport for London debuted a programme last week that will test collision avoidance systems, automatic emergency braking systems and intelligent speed adaption in 2016. Those technologies that make the grade will be integrated into London’s buses by September 2017.

Finally, how big of a difference do advanced driver assistance systems really make? Subaru revealed that since adopting the EyeSight driver assist system in some of its cars in 2010, its vehicles in Japan have been involved in 80% fewer fender benders and 50% fewer accidents with pedestrians. That led to a 60% reduction in overall accidents in those Subarus equipped with EyeSight. Pretty compelling stuff.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

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