About the Author

Charles Benoit

Charles covers legal, regulatory and policy areas for Electrek. A DC based attorney, Charles’ EV passion began when he joined General Electric at the same time the company launched its Yves Behar designed GE WattStation. Send tips to charles@electrek.co


Charles Benoit's Favorite Gear

November 20

The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) held a board meeting yesterday to determine the probable cause of the fatal accident on March 18, 2018, between a self-driving Uber prototype and a pedestrian. Following the meeting, NTSB released an executive summary, findings, probable cause, and recommendations report as well as a statement highlighting Uber’s “inadequate safety culture” as the leading probable cause of the accident. In addition to chastising Uber, the NTSB also had some choice words for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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November 18

Last month we reviewed the portable charging cords OEMs provide with their North American electric vehicles, and the results were wild.  We gave Tesla’s Gen2 UMC an A+, Audi an A, Nissan a B, Hyundai a D, GM a D-, BMW an F, and Jaguar an F-. Now we have our first look and some exclusive details about what Ford is calling simply the “Ford Mobile Charger”. Based on what we know so far, we can confidently predict an A rating, but probably an A+, and we may have to level down all the other OEMs besides Tesla. And Ford is including a couple of extras that Tesla doesn’t.

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November 17

Yesterday we reported that the (now discontinued) Mid-Range Model 3 has seen a performance bump from 5.6s to 4.9s since its debut. Many of you naturally asked about the other trims, so here you go! We break down all the trims as they were advertised at their debut, how they’re currently advertised on Tesla’s website as of today, November 17, and what drivers are reporting with the 2019.36.x software update which began deployment on November 8, 2019. Note that 2019.36.x was the second power boost for all Model 3s, there was an earlier over-the-air power boost in March 2019.

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November 16

Earlier this week we reported that the Model 3 Performance’s 0-60 mph acceleration dipped below 3 seconds – a 2.99 recorded by DragTimes – after a software update CEO Elon Musk announced during the Q3 Tesla earnings call.

Now Model 3 Mid-range owners, aka The Goldilocks Crew, can rejoice as well: the ‘just right’ trim clocks 0-60mph in under 5 seconds. Youtuber nukem384 recorded a time of 4.9s, compared to a 5.6s time when the Mid-range was introduced just over a year ago.

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November 15

In 2016, the Sierra Club published “Rev Up Electric Vehicles: Multi-State Study of the Electric Vehicle Shopping Experience.” Volunteers for the non-profit went undercover to document the experience of buying an EV. We covered it at the time, and it wasn’t a good look for legacy OEMs’ dealerships. Now, three years later and with the help of volunteers across America, the Sierra Club has published a follow-up, this time covering all fifty states, and the results still reflect very poorly on legacy auto dealerships. For starters, 74% of American auto dealerships still aren’t selling any electric vehicles. But the fault isn’t just on dealerships.

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November 14

On the heel of Pennsylvania’s proposed $250 yearly electric vehicle tax, the New Jersey Senate Transportation Committee this afternoon is considering S.4090, a bill to establish a commission to design its own electric vehicle tax. The bill was introduced by state senators Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and Linda R. Greenstein, assistant majority leader. Both are Democrats, and both are apparently receptive to the fossil fuel industry’s push for special taxes on electric vehicles. Update: the discussion begins at the 11:20 minute mark here. Not good. Eric Blomgren of the New Jersey Gasoline & Convenience Store Association and Michael Egenton of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce testify, pushing hard for the tax and slowing EV adoption. Jeff Tittel, Director of New Jersey Sierra Club, appears alone to defend EV drivers. He’s outnumbered and the bill continues its menacing march forward.

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November 10

Last week we reported that the latest over-the-air Tesla software update improves driving visualization to detect and render traffic cones. Then on Thursday we also shared a video of a Tesla navigating its way through traffic cones, courtesy of Tesla hacker @greentheonly. Now @greentheonly is reporting that the traffic cone feature is only being delivered to Tesla owners with the “Hardware 3” chip (HW3). This is significant, as it’s the first time that software features (in this case, Auto Lane Change and Navigate-on-Autopilot) will be forked for Tesla drivers depending on when their Tesla was built.

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October 19

Pennsylvania state legislators want to slap electric vehicle owners with a $250 annual tax. The bill was introduced by state Representative Mike Carroll, who represents an area just south of Scranton (contact form here), and is the ranking Democrat on the Pennsylvania House’s Transportation Committee. The bill has bipartisan support, and both chambers of the legislature are controlled by state Republicans. expand full story

October 8

Are we dreaming right now? Is this real life? Volta, which has provided free L2 charging stations since 2010, has announced the first of 150 free DC fast-charging stations across the United States. Unprecedented. And the first location opens this Friday in Norwalk, Connecticut. Next up are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

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October 2

In this post, we review the portable EV charging cords that come standard with the following electric vehicles sold in North America: Tesla (all models), the Audi e-tron, the Nissan Leaf, the Jaguar I-Pace, the Porsche Taycan, the Chevy Bolt, the BMW i3, and Hyundai (all BEVs). This review is pretty wild; the specs (usefulness) of OEM standard charging cords are all over the place. Some car makers gave a ton of thought to this while others clearly gave none. That’s concerning, because “electricity is everywhere” is a major argument in favor of EV ownership, but that’s only meaningful if you can usefully tap the grid.

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September 13

Sic semper tyrannis. True to its motto, Virginia has dealt a death blow to the tyranny of diesel school buses. A few weeks ago, we highlighted some successful electric school bus V2G pilots, discussed the countless benefits, but lamented that we seemed to be stuck with one-off pilot projects involving just a handful of school buses. But now Virginia and utility Dominion Energy have delivered us salvation: They will be buying a minimum of 1,050 V2G electric school buses over the next five years. That single purchase dwarfs all others, and will serve as the catalyst for a nationwide fleet conversion by bringing down the upfront cost of electric school buses. It will also hopefully shame the rest of the US into ceasing purchases of child-poisoning diesel school buses. But it doesn’t end there.

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August 23

“The batteries on this bus go bi-directional!” That’s what kids in White Plains School District, just north of New York City, can boast this back-to-school season. The kids already enjoyed riding five clean, quiet all-electric Lion C-type Electric School Buses last school year, and now those same buses have been fitted with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) tech to allow the bus to serve as backup stationary storage for the grid when parked. As with most things electric, the east coast is following California’s lead, where kids in the Torrance Unified School Districts began breathing easy on V2G electric school buses in 2016. expand full story

August 12

North Carolina is now the 30th state to allow public EV charging companies to offer pricing by the kilowatt-hour (kWh), instead of charging per minute. The change was thanks to bipartisan legislation — House Bill 329, Renewable Energy Amendments — passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper.

The vast majority of Americans now live and drive in places where private companies are free to set up EV charging stations and offer pricing for actual kWh delivered to the vehicle. Tesla calls billing by the kWh “the most fair and simple method.” Any EV driver would agree, as all sorts of factors including the weather affect the speed an EV will charge at, making per-minute pricing something of a crapshoot as opposed to how many kWh (like ‘gallons of gas’) was actually delivered.

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July 23

The five commissioners making up the State of New York’s Public Service Commission, which oversees utilities in the state, have told Tesla that unless it opens up its Supercharger network to other vehicles, its stations will get no relief from demand charges on the electricity rates they pay. Instead, only newly built stations that use “commonly accepted non-proprietary standardized plug-types” will get relief.

The commissioners clarified that Tesla could continue to offer its proprietary plug, but would have to offer equally powerful non-proprietary plugs at the same spot to get rate relief. This means that Tesla’s made-in-Buffalo V3 Superchargers will be discriminated against in their home state.

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July 10

Both the US and Canadian governments require individuals wishing to export/import their car across the border to obtain a compliance letter from the vehicle’s manufacturer. This attests that the vehicle meets all the relevant sections of the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, depending on which way the car is going. (The US and Canada have gone to great lengths to harmonize these standards through the Regulatory Cooperation Council). The compliance letter also warns of any outstanding recall notices.

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June 20

Yesterday the Maryland Public Service Commission approved a proposal from three Excelon-owned utilities in Maryland to deploy 850 charging stations on public-use land. The percentage of those that will be DC Fast Charge stations has not yet been determined.

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June 18

Kentucky is now the latest state to find that Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCSs) are exempt from utility regulation. Had Kentucky’s Public Service Commission (PSC) decided otherwise, it would mean that EVCS charging costs would be regulated just like your home power bill. But it would also have had heavy consequences, deterring private investment in EV charging infrastructure.

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June 13

Exciting news for California EV drivers tired of subscriptions and apps.

In the next couple of years, you should be able to use any public charger in the state with nothing more than a burner flip-phone and pre-paid Visa.

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June 10

Two weeks before Christmas 2017, US Charging network Chargepoint filed a patent infringement suit against its competitor SemaConnect. In its request for a restraining order against SemaConnect, Chargepoint claimed that its patents gave it the exclusive right to sell and operate networked EV charging stations in the US. Obviously this has large implications for the Electric vehicle market… expand full story

May 24

Tesla warned in a filing this week with the DC Public Service Commission that its customers could be excluded from reduced cost charging in the District of Columbia. This is because Pepco, an Exelon company and the electric utility in DC, proposed to the Commission on May 13 that “any public electric vehicle charging station for which Pepco provides make-ready infrastructure must permit readily accessible charging by a broad range of EVs”. This would mean Tesla Superchargers would be ineligible for the wholesale electric rate that would be available to other private operators like Chargepoint & EVgo.

Is that fair? expand full story

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