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Captain Hybrid

Tesla's CEO: 'Half of Cars Will Be Electric in 15 Years'

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Beth Stackpole
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An innovator's passion
Beth Stackpole   7/19/2012 7:23:54 AM
No doubt Musk is a visionary and has vast experience in the EV and other emerging and exciting markets. But somehow I can't connect that statement with any hard facts or imminent technology shift that's going to help the industry reach those goals. To me, it seems more likely to reflect the passion and commitment he has to helping the industry (more likely Tesla) achieve its aggressive vision.

Most big-picture, forward thinking innovators use equally bold prognostications when they're developing a new market. I remember Bill Gates claiming to put a PC on every desktop (people thought he was crazy) and Jobs making similar sweeping statements. It took some time, but with their dogged determination and capacity for innovation, look what happened. It could be Musk is charting a similar course.

naperlou
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Re: An innovator's passion
naperlou   7/19/2012 9:26:29 AM
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There are no breakthroughs on the horizon for all electric vehicles that would justify Musk's statement.  Perhaps he has an inside edge, but I doubt it.  Fuel cells could help, but oh they really are not practical.  By practical, I mean at a price point that can be justified.  Don't get me wrong, I would like to see it.  But, it has to be practical to make the type of market inroads Musk is talking about.

I still think that gasoline vehicles can improve by orders of magnitude.  We could eaisly lower our fleet consumption of gasoline by just getting rid of SUVs.  I remember when, after the oil shocks of the 1970s most car ads mentioned the car's coefficient of drag.  Then we got the SUV craze, and the fleet average went down considerably.  Engine technolgy got a big boost in the 1990s, but we have had no substantial increases for twenty years.  Just now we are getting new technologies that are helping to increase mileage.  On the other hand, car companies are concenttrating on gettiing more power out of the same engine rather than making smaller engines of the same power.  There is also natural or LP gas.  I have heard reports from people who have experienced this in other countries, where they are common that are very interesting.  On guy mentioned that they had a dual fuel vehicle.  They filled up the LP gas tank, drove 800 miles, and still had fuel left over.  That is something we have to research.  And the infrastructure for that is easy and less of an impact than oil processing.

There are lots of technology choices out there.  Full electric still has a way to go.  Perhaps Tesla should bring battery technology in house.  They would have a motivation to make it work and a ready market.  Just a thought.

jeffbiss
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cars are just too heavy
jeffbiss   7/20/2012 10:04:50 AM
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I agree with you about improving the fleet mileage. Cars have become too heavy and that mass eats up fuel. There's really no reason for autos to be so massive except that it aligns with peoples' perception of what cars are and car makers' profits are more toward the large vehicle.

Ralphy Boy
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Re: An innovator's passion
Ralphy Boy   7/23/2012 8:45:31 AM
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So let me get this straight... a guy who makes 'zero fat' cup cakes is predicting that in 15 years half of all cup cakes eaten will be 'zero fat'. Gee I' gonna run out and buy some stock in a company that makes 'zero fat cuppy cakes'...

Not to be cynical, but just to start with the grid will not support it. The only way I see this prediction coming true is if overall car sales fall through the floor, and governments impose strict dictatorial mandates on what is left of the industry.

naperlou
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Re: An innovator's passion
naperlou   7/23/2012 9:02:27 AM
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I wonder about all the angst about the grid being able to support electric vehicles.  There is LOTS of spare capacity available.  It is mostly available off-peak.  Ever wonder why so many large office buildings have their lights on at night?  And how do you take a 1,000MW power plant off-line for service and repairs.  If you just look at what has happened with gas fired power plants in the last, very few, years, you will see that the system is much more flexible than some are led to believe.  If there is demand, the plants will be there.  With smart grid technology and new storage technologies, these problems can be easily solved.  Yes it takes money, but that money is available where there is proven demand.  Sales of electric vehicles are a very concrete proof point of that demand.

Ralphy Boy
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Re: An innovator's passion
Ralphy Boy   7/23/2012 9:06:50 AM
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This excess capacity may be there, but I don't believe it is in that amount and it is but one issue. Just a quick guess but 90% of daily use autos are parked in places where the owner is not going to be able to safely plug it in during those times.

Apartment dwellers, people who park on the street... even in a drive way... that 'grid' is not there.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: An innovator's passion
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   7/19/2012 1:13:09 PM
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While Musk may indeed be sufficiently genius to dock with The International Space Station, and even design, build and mass-distribute fully electric cars, he cannot control his competition's ambitions unless he puts them out of business.  With about 47 other global automobile manufacturers, THAT would be a truly remarkable achievement.

And if the growth curve of technological elements is any reference map, I can report first-hand that the battery advancement curve is the flattest; the dead-last technology advancer in the past 25 years behind other tech curves like silicon miniaturization, memory density, displays, materials, RF protocols, and many others.  Battery chemistries and efficiencies have not seen that "break-thru" every other tech curve has experienced.

While I admire both Musk's achievements and his vision, unless TESLA inc. is on the verge of battery chemistry breakthrough, I would not 'back' his bet.

Charles Murray
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Re: An innovator's passion
Charles Murray   7/19/2012 7:53:41 PM
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I, too, admire Musk and his willingness to take on big, audacious design challenges, JimT. But when it comes to an assessment of battery technologies, he said it quite well: "There are few industries with more BS than the battery industry."

Bunter
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Re: An innovator's passion
Bunter   7/20/2012 9:43:17 AM
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Excellent points, well stated.

warren@fourward.com
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Half the cars electric? I don't think so...
warren@fourward.com   7/19/2012 9:25:10 AM
I'll take your bet! 

I don't think most people will want to drive 2-400 miles (I'm being generous) and need a fill-up and want to sit around for hours while your car recharges just to go another 2-400 miles to do it all over again.  I won't!  And I bet once the novelty wears off others won't either.

There is so much petrol in the ground, and so much engineering waiting to be done improving engines, that it is government-driven silliness to think we should leave this technology behind.  Be real!

I know the pantywaist, Al Gore worshiping, California hippy grubbing, milksop, momma's boy, namby-pamby, 98lb weaklings (yea I'm baiting you) will love one, since they only drive from their commune to the "farm," but the rest of us will want reality.  I like the idea of hybrids, but show me the mileage!

williamlweaver
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Re: Half the cars electric? I don't think so...
williamlweaver   7/19/2012 9:29:46 AM
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I guess it depends on which half. Are we talking front half vs. back half so the kids get all of the electric gadgets or the driver side vs. passenger side so my wife gets all of the electric gadgets?

I say we go to self-driving cars and let everybody have all of the electric gadgets they can handle...

Jerry dycus
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Re: Half the cars electric? I don't think so...
Jerry dycus   7/20/2012 7:58:31 PM
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   I'm sure that more than 50% of the vehicle miles in 15 yrs will be by electric drive though some  might have a fueled motor too.  The reason is simple in 5 yrs the price of oil will be $10/gal US.

  There is no new tech needed, just more cost effective production of the present batteries getting the price under $175/kwhr and lighter, more simple EV's.

Those betting against this are betting against the smart money savings EV's clearly have.

My EV's get 250 and 600 mpg equivalent and that is why EV drive will prevail. 

The lame excuses why EV's can't like range, cost, etc all have easy fixes .  It's big auto, oil that doesn't want them.

Ken E.
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Half the cars electric? I don't know.
Ken E.   7/20/2012 10:12:01 AM
I'm not seeing very much 'fourward' thinking in many of these posts. I am doubly disapointed to see insult as a substitute for logic on an engineering site.  No engineer worth his salt finds this persuasive.

Let's hope that Mr. Musk is right.  There have been plenty of naysaying engineers who have failed to see revolution coming, whether big breakthroughs, or aggregate small ones.

I do agree though, that having a small gas engine in a mostly battery powered vehicle may make sense for a long time to come.  I rarely make trips over 150 miles, perhaps a few times a year.  But like most Americans, I selfishly want the ability to go anywhere, anytime. 

It doesn't take much HP to maintain highway speeds.  Part of IC efficiency improvements may in fact be in the area of smaller constant speed motors running generators for EV highway driving and charging.

Even if there are battery and charging solutions, electric generation and the grid leave many things to be desired.  Let's hope for some big advances there too.

I'm not making any bet's on the future, but I remain optimistic, and applaud visionary's such as Mr. Musk, and the myriad of less known engineers contributing in smaller ways to progress.  That's where my confidence lies.

warren@fourward.com
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Re: Half the cars electric? I don't know.
warren@fourward.com   7/21/2012 7:10:09 PM
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It is "fourward" thinking for an engineer to tell someone that his idea is not practical.  Just because I don't agree with his premise doesn't relegate the thought to just being a naysayer. 

If more of us stood up to lousy ideas, such as all the Obama failures with alternative energy, bailing out looser car companies, and throwing sacks of money at banks who just gamble it away maybe we would be in better shape. 

In a company how many engineers are willing to stand up and say, "Hey guys, this is a really lousy idea."  Not many.  And as engineers we need to look at things and give our reasoned opinion.  My objections to the claim that the electric car will take over half the new car sales are reasonable.  And, barring a government edict from a dictatorship, I will most likely be found correct.

Scott Orlosky
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Re: Half the cars electric? I don't know.
Scott Orlosky   7/22/2012 7:30:40 PM
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All politics aside, Elon Musk's job is to create demand and pervceived future value for his companies and their shareholders.  No amount of "in-depth" analysis that I can think of will make his statement come true.

tkhorton
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Re: Half the cars electric? I don't think so...
tkhorton   7/20/2012 10:24:36 AM
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warren@fourward.com, i absolutely LOVE your comments...always good for a laugh or an interesting point of view!

Rob Spiegel
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Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/19/2012 12:25:35 PM
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Nice article, Chuck. I think one of the developments Musk doesn't anticipate in his projection is advances in the efficieny of the internal compustion engine. We're likely to see some profound advances in the IC engine at the same time the EV market struggles with batteries. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Charles Murray   7/19/2012 7:57:04 PM
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Yes, Rob, internal combustion engines are advancing at a good clip. The Chevy Cruze Eco does a good job of going head-to-head with the Volt in some respects. And as you and I have commented elsewhere, U.S. oil production is having a bit of a renaissance right now.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/20/2012 12:26:21 AM
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That's right, Chuck. Given the battery wall EVs seem to be hitting, it could be internal combustion efficiencies could make gas engines compelling. Right now, powerful EVs are very expensive. Do you know whether the highly efficient gas engines are significantly more expensive than the less efficient versions? At some point, the efficiency gains get spread across all models.

ChasChas
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Re: Efficient gas engines
ChasChas   7/20/2012 9:25:52 AM
 

I beleive your right, Rob. There are big opportunities still undiscovered in gas efficiency. We are only at 30 - 40 percent at best. Literature says we can gain 35 percent alone if we stop thrashing pistons back and forth.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/20/2012 2:13:29 PM
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What is the efficient alternaive to thrashing pistons back and forth, Chas Chas?

ChasChas
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Re: Efficient gas engines
ChasChas   7/20/2012 2:47:51 PM
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That's just it, Rob. 35% fuel efficiency is lost in reciprocating motion (normal driving). We have tried to design other methods like the Wankel, but we need the efficiency of the piston - without the reciprocating motion. This is the kind of stuff we need to be working on.

I personally have the problem solved via proof of concept, cad models, and demo movies, etc., but I can't find any money out there for this sort of thing.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/20/2012 3:12:46 PM
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If I remember right, Mazda created an engine in the 80s where the pistons were part of a circular motion so there was no reciprical motion, only forward motion. Was there something about that system that didn't work?

ChasChas
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Re: Efficient gas engines
ChasChas   7/20/2012 3:46:49 PM
 

If we're on the same engine, it was a Wankel design. It had poor mechanical rotary advantage (relatively low torque) and the combustion chambers could not acommondate clean/efficient burn characteristics (flame shapes). Plus there was the end seals and oil usage problems.

We need to design around what already works well and concentrate on what doesn't work well. Changing everthing (like the Wankel) creates a whole new host of problems.

tekochip
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Re: Efficient gas engines
tekochip   7/20/2012 3:53:29 PM
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Yup, that was the engine.  I had a friend that rebuilt his so I saw some of the inner workings.  Like ChasChas said, it was really quirky, and the smog devices made it worse because the engine passed a great deal of unburned fuel.  There were two sets of spark plugs and a host of devices to tame the beast.  Maybe with electronic management it would be better today, but so's everything else.

 Fred Engineer
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Fred Engineer   7/20/2012 4:28:07 PM
Mazda built another Wankel rotary engine powered vehicle around 2004, the RX-8.  I own one.  18mpg is about the best mileage, maybe 20 on the highway.  But it is smooth and responsive, throttle lag is non-existent.  Yes, torque is low at low rpm but it redlines at 8500 rpm and the max torque is at 8000; keep the rpms up and it is a monster:  235 hp out of a 1.3 l engine.  It's mounted low in the car and close to the transmission, you can't see the engine under the hood.  50/50 weight distribution front to back gives spectacular handling.  Oil consumption is true but not a problem.  And yes this engine has contemporary electronic engine controls.  They fine tuned the performance by reflashing the PROM.  Couple years ago an RX-8 won the 24 hours of Daytona.  That one had a three rotor engine and a turbo, around 450 hp.  The car is a delight to drive but it was a commercial failure.  Mazda stopped selling them last year.  Oh well!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/23/2012 1:35:50 PM
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So, ChasChas, was the problem the concept of the rotary engine, or, was the problem the execution? Was this idea completely dropped, or is it still out there in some development form?

ChasChas
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Re: Efficient gas engines
ChasChas   7/23/2012 2:08:04 PM
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I'm no pro on this. But the Wankel is still being developed/adapted among the home-built experimental aircraft people.

The concept of a rotary engine is nobel, but after a few bad experiences, the money dried up. (Incidentally, that is probably what will happen with the current battery development.)

Now like I said before, I personally have a poof of concept, CAD models, demo movies, etc. of a true rotary engine concept that has nothing in it that hasn't already worked well, but I can't find any money out there. Everyone seems to be gunshy after the Wankel, etal.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/23/2012 4:48:53 PM
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If the rotary engine is not being developed in a substantial manner, by vehicle manufacturers, does that mean the traditional piston engine is plenty efficient enough?

ChasChas
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Re: Efficient gas engines
ChasChas   7/23/2012 5:47:27 PM
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Well, the literature says we are still wasting 35% of our gas moving the pistons back and forth (normal driving). True rotary engine research sure seems like a must do to me. Like the long range battery, we gotta have it. And it seems like we gave up.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/24/2012 2:13:08 PM
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Yes it does seem like we gave up, ChasChas. That's why I'm wondering whether the troubles were because of a weak concept or a weak execution. And is there an alternative to the rotary engine and the piston engine?

ChasChas
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Re: Efficient gas engines
ChasChas   7/24/2012 3:30:21 PM
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True, the concepts haven't been strong enough. Now, when I'm sure I have a strong concept, the interest and money has dried up. I'll keep looking for money though. Maybe this post can find a few with money who still beleive.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/25/2012 6:29:05 PM
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ChasChas, could you tell us a little about your concept? Is it a rotary engine with the bugs worked out?

ChasChas
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Re: Efficient gas engines
ChasChas   7/25/2012 6:48:15 PM
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I am still working on the legal protection so it can be presented properly. I have only shown it under confidential disclosure.

It has a mechanism where the actual movement of the pistions, and cylinders are perfectly balanced circles, but the relative motion between them is linear and conventional.  No, it is not anything like a Le Rhône.  Real sweet!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/26/2012 2:24:43 PM
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I hope you get somewhere with this, ChasChas. It would be good to see an internal combustion engine that takes a real step forward beyond the back and forth pistons.

Charles Murray
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Charles Murray   8/13/2012 10:53:20 PM
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In answer to your question about whether the piston engine is already efficient enough, Rob...I'll bet automakers find more efficiencies after the 54.5-mpg bill is signed into law.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   8/14/2012 9:48:41 AM
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I agree, Chuck. I would bet they're working on it now. There are plenty of reasons beyond the government mandate. For one, it's a competitive factor.

Charles Murray
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Charles Murray   7/20/2012 7:00:11 PM
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The old (Wankel) rotary engine, Rob. The story is that the apex seals wore out prematurely.

MIROX
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Re: Efficient gas engines
MIROX   7/20/2012 7:30:59 PM
The Wankel seal issue was true in NSU Ro-80 and First Gen Mazda, but solved more than 30 years ago. Yet the "myth" continues even today after Wankel Mazda RIP - but there are Wankel Generators, Aviation and Boat Engines made by number of companies that continue to make them - the major FLAW is they cost MORE than equivalent "conventional" piston engines.

Just search old Automotive publications from the 60's and 70's and EVERY car by now based on their predictions THEN would have a Wankel Engine in it, hey GM made Wankel prototypes and so did Citroen.

Needles to say Pan-Am would be having a daily flights to the Moon as well........

Amazing how totally relistic FUTURE never seems to happen, as we are sure it MUST......

 

 

ChasChas
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Re: Efficient gas engines
ChasChas   7/20/2012 9:44:49 PM
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Yes, the Wankel has improved a lot, but recouping the known inefficiencies of reciprocating motion was never realized because new inefficiencies were added into the design. And the Wankel is not a true rotary engine - it still has some reciprocating action.

Who is still spending money on research to rid the piston engine of reciprocating motion? There is 35% plus efficiency to gain.

sensor pro
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Re: Efficient gas engines
sensor pro   7/22/2012 9:39:25 AM
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Very interesting thread. Even though the electric cars become more popular, I have this feeling that we did not see yet what will the gas industry do with the car market. I feel that we can still hace gas cars become very popular as the natural gas is cheap and provides high performance, like the gasoline. I feel that we will see a surge in natural gas cars.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/23/2012 1:57:19 PM
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Is that somthing that can be improved on, Chuck. Of is the concept the problem?

Charles Murray
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Charles Murray   7/23/2012 9:10:37 PM
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I'm no expert on the Wankel, Rob, so I'll take Mirox's word for it that the apex seal problm was solved long ago. I do remember hearing stories in the old days about Mazdas getting their engines rebuilt every 50,000 miles because of the apex seals. I'm sure Mirox is right, though: That was a long time ago.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   7/24/2012 2:17:50 PM
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If I remember right, Chuck, theat pretty much ended the concept of the rotary engine. As for the inefficiency of the piston engine, I wouldn't think that the non-productive return movement of the piston consumers significant energy.

Kevin
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Kevin   8/20/2012 12:50:16 PM
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Rob & ChasChas,

I hope I don't come across as too strident with this input - but you are completely mistaken about the relative benefits of piston and rotary engines vs. efficiency.  To be kind, I'm guessing you guys are electrical engineers...not mechanical ?  I've studied engines and efficiency and alternative energy my entire life...and I'll just say that there is a lot of mis-information out there on these subjects.

Here's a salient bullet list:

1.  There is no efficiency disadvantage to reciprocating motion, contrary to Mazda's (excellent marketing, but technically incorrect) promotion of their rotary engines.  The crank / flywheel system stores any energy used to decelerate the piston at the end of a stroke and uses it accelerate it during the next.

2.  The main issues regarding engine efficiency or lack thereof have to do with the GAS PROCESSES, HEAT FLOW, FRICTION.  In other words - the engine is a device that performs thermodynamic processes on the gasses, and those gasses don't really "care" if the motion is reciprocating, rotary, or even flow-based (like jet turbines).

3.  Wankel engines are wonderfully compact for their displacement, but they are fundamentally less efficient than a piston engine for several reasons: the shape of the combustion chamber at TDC is long-and-thin.  This creates a high surface area for which the combustion heat escapes.  Look at the size of the radiator on a Mazda rotary car - you'll be amazed that it is as large as a V-6 engine, even though the engine is tiny.  Also, the continuous rubbing of the apex and side seals of the rotors has higher friction than the equivalent round piston rings.  An interesting fact (that even Mazda apparently does not know, or at least did not want to advertise) is how to calculate the "equivalency" between a wankel and a piston engine.  An RX8 engine is equivalent to a 3.9 liter V-6, but with a 1.5:1 STEP-UP gear ratio (out of the engine).  If you look at the Horsepower/Torque chart, and adjust RPM downward by 1.5X & Torque upward by 1.5X you'll see a characteristic that looks like a very average (perhaps sub-par) naturally aspirated engine of 3.9 liter displacemnt.  The legendary high rpm and power of wankels are an illusion, and (as any rotary owner knows...I have owned 2) the MPG is not good.  This, plus poor HC emissions (also caused by the combustion chamber shape) is why GM scrapped their $1.5B rotary engine factory, and Mazda only "limps forward" as the only major wankel car.

4.  The optimum combustion chamber shape from a perspective of heat loss is hemispherical - which coincidently results from a piston engine!  Even better is a dual-opposed piston engine like the OPOC (see: http://www.engineeringtv.com/video/Opposed-Piston-Opposed-Cylinder/  ).  Note that the most direct way to higher efficiency is to expand the combustion gasses more fully ...which is what Atkinson engines do.  That's why this type of engine is used in the Prius and Camry and new Fusion hybrids. 

5.  There are other enhancements to efficiency in new piston engines - offset crank to reduce friction, GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) to improve fuel metering and combustion, etc.  Of course, engine downsizing (smaller engine, but turbocharged to get required power when needed) help cruising efficiency.  Today's best engines are more efficienct than the EV zealots would have you believe - the current Prius engine is 38% efficient and they are working on a 42% version.  This is actually as high or higher than the BEST coal-fired power plants.

cheers,

Kevin

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Efficient gas engines
Rob Spiegel   8/20/2012 12:56:45 PM
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Kevin, your first point actually answers a question I posed ealier in this discussion: Is the return motion in the pistion cycle actually inefficient? That seems to be the question that Mazda's engine was supposed to answer. Yet, if the return motion of the piston is not inefficient, the rotary engine arguement loses its power (so to speak).

Bunter
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Very doubtful.
Bunter   7/20/2012 9:41:18 AM
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I would think a guy who has been through the development process for a vehicle would have a better sense of the scale of this proposition.

In addition to the technological and infrastructure hurdles this will require the development of many all new platforms to replace current IC engined offerings.

These will not be undertaken simultaously-no company has the resources to do that. There are perhaps 250 different models on the US market. To develop all electric equivalents of even 10 percent, if the programs were started today, would require an easy 5 years.  To develop electric equivalents that embody the capabilities of the current IC products, in a form acceptable to the public at large, at a price that is both acceptable to the public and profitable to the manufacturer...no way.

Flat nonsense in my not particularly humble (at the moment) opinion. ;^)

Cheerio,

Dennis

1quality1
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'Half of Cars Will Be Electric in 15 Years'
1quality1   7/20/2012 10:18:40 AM
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 What does Elon Musk know that the industry doesn't?  Huge battery in the "S" Telsa I understand, but to get to so much electric vehicle usage would require a breakthrough in energy storage, wouldn't it?  Getting into earth orbit is one thing, I mean every freshman engineer learns that physics, so you just need resources and a map.  However, wouldn't mass electric vehicle usage require an innovation in portable energy storage that would make a battery obsolete? 15 years for half of cars to be electric seems to be pie in the sky without established technology, our current knowledge base doesn't seem to support that claim, so what does Elon Musk know that the industry doesn't?

jeffbiss
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Cars are just too massive
jeffbiss   7/20/2012 10:36:35 AM
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Aside from the battery issue, the biggest problem is with the concept of the car. They're just too massive and thus require far more energy than if they were more human "sized" with far less mass. What seems a higher potential for success is a hybrid like locomotives, in which a fuel cell drives a dynamo that provides power to drive motors that are the wheels, with batteries for load leveling and dead start power, in a car that is far less massive than those today.

rdelaplaza
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Re: Cars are just too massive
rdelaplaza   7/20/2012 1:43:02 PM
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The idea in your comment  just adds more conversion loses to the system, you are obviously NOT an engineer.. thanks for your opinion, you are entitled to have it, and the constitution guarantees that fact, but that's it.

jeffbiss
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Huh?
jeffbiss   7/20/2012 2:52:07 PM
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Man you've got anger issues, dude. There are not more coversion loses with a dynamo driven motor as an electric motor is far more efficient than any ICE. Take a look at locomotives that move 1 ton of freight about 471 miles on one gallon of deisel and you'll see that that is far more efficient than any ICE drive system in addition to the torque required at zero mi/hr.

Using a fuel cell, when available for the masses or high efficiency deisel before that time, will provide for an efficient drive system without the need for batteries that the current crop of electric cars do. Also added to their issues is the fact that they require central power plants to produce their power, which releases greenhouse gases, requires fossil fuel extraction and its environmental consequences, and availability of the grid, etc, unless one produces one's own power, but they still have a relatively high cost initially and in periodic replacement.

But, as you say, you have the right to your opinion.

tkhorton
User Rank
Silver
...maybe
tkhorton   7/20/2012 10:41:33 AM
All it takes is one spark to ignite a fire. Think about the transistor. Before its invention, it was inconceivable by most engineering standards, but after its conception, many engineers found ways to use it to greatly expand technology. Just look what we've accomplished the last 15-20 years. Who knows what may happen?

Absalom
User Rank
Gold
Perhaps
Absalom   7/20/2012 10:44:24 AM
In 4 years the government has been able to cripple most of the industry in the U.S. In another 4 years it could easily destroy most of the rest. Fifteen years from now, if we are only making 100,000 cars a year, half could be electric.

jeffbiss
User Rank
Gold
competition crippled industry, not government
jeffbiss   7/20/2012 2:59:54 PM
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The fact is that low wage labor market competition crippled industry, not the government. When low wage labor markets, such as South Korea, that also enjoyed government subsidies, entered the global market US industries were confronted with competion that they hadn't had before. US industries moved to low wage labor markets to increase profits, not because of "government", whatever that means. Also, it became far more profitable to specify products rather than manufacture them, and so outsourcing became the rule. Again, this was originally done in local plants but even the local plants outsourced to foreign low wage labor markets to remain competitive and increase profits.

The "crippling" was due entirely to economic circumstances.

Absalom
User Rank
Gold
Re: competition crippled industry, not government
Absalom   7/20/2012 4:53:50 PM
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Outsourcing is the effect not the cause. Government creates the taxes, licensing and regulation here that make it too complex and expensive to compete. Anything that can be outsourced should be outsourced.

jeffbiss
User Rank
Gold
your'e wrong
jeffbiss   7/20/2012 5:11:24 PM
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The fact is that global competition drove business interests to lobby for policies that benefitted them, so government is a problem to the point that it created policies that "lost" jobs due to businesses off-shoring and created tax loopholes that forced the US tax payer to subsidize offshoring. There is no valid reason for any society to subsidize profit at their expense.

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: competition crippled industry, not government
Dave Palmer   7/20/2012 5:25:44 PM
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@Absalom: China has much more regulation than the United States, since it is a socialist country. (It's true that regulations are not always enforced as consistently, but this only adds to the uncertainty).  If companies are outsourcing in order to escape regulation, why on earth would they go to China?

Also, why does Germany, which has higher taxes and more regulation than the United States, have a much higher percentage of manufacturing employment?

Also, how come U.S. manufacturing was so healthy in the 1950s and 1960s, when tax rates were higher, and "government" was not considered to be a bad word?

There are certainly many factors which led to the decline of U.S. manufacturing (which, by the way, started around 1980 -- exactly when an anti-tax, anti-regulation administration came into office), but the idea that taxes or regulation were the main driver is just dogma and is not supported by facts.

Absalom
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Gold
Re: competition crippled industry, not government
Absalom   7/20/2012 8:02:08 PM
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So your logic is that more debt, higher taxes and more extreme regulation would make U.S. industry more competitive? I'd love to see the math that supports that theory.

My point is that any business has to produce at the lowest cost to stay competitive. There is something about China that able to manufacture stuff at about 20% of the cost here. Our labor cost is only about 15% of our cost of production so we couldn't compete even if we used and infinite supply of slaves that we worked to death. So there must be other factors driving our costs up or theirs down. I wonder what they could be?

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: competition crippled industry, not government
Dave Palmer   7/20/2012 11:23:45 PM
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@Absalom: No, of course I'm not saying that increasing taxes and regulation would help U.S. manufacturing; I'm just saying that the relationship between taxes, regulation, and manufacturing is much more complicated than your simple dogma makes it out to be.

You're right that lower labor costs are not the only reason why Chinese products are cheap, although they are by far the largest contributor.  Other contributors include generous export subsidies, an undervalued currency, and the geographic clustering of related industries (as a result, by the way, of government planning).  The lower cost of regulatory compliance makes up less than 5% of the advantage.  

We also agree that companies are in business to make money.  It's not their job to worry about what our Founding Fathers called ¨the general welfare.¨ That's what we have a government for.

The Chinese government realizes that its legitimacy depends on its ability to provide the Chinese people with a continuously increasing standard of living, and the promise of a better life for their children.  In spite all of its flaws, including widespread corruption and a total lack of democracy, the Chinese government has so far succeeded in delivering on that promise.  Although many Chinese workers have to endure a difficult life, they also know they have things better than their parents did, and that their children will have a even better life.  They have also been seeing double-digit wage increases every year (which has been possible without much overall increase in labor costs, because it has been accompanied by double-digit increases in productivity).

The U.S. government, on the other hand, has more-or-less abandoned the idea of promoting the general welfare, in favor of promoting the interests of their campaign contributors.

Absalom
User Rank
Gold
Dogma?
Absalom   7/23/2012 2:23:20 PM
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Socialists always claim need and complexity when confronted with the simplicity of profit and loss. BTW competition does not "cripple" industry. Competition rewards the most efficient and punishes the stupid.

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dogma?
Dave Palmer   7/23/2012 3:14:43 PM
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@Absalom: Okay, I've presented you with facts and data.  You've chosen to call me a "socialist," rather than respond to any of my points.  I think we'll leave it there.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Dogma?
Rob Spiegel   7/23/2012 4:58:44 PM
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Yes, in business, there are great rewards for successful competition. It brings out some extraordinary effort. I'm not sure it always brings out the best -- sometimes noncompetitive research brings out the best -- but it does spur effort, and that often produces extraordinary results. The moon landing was the result of competition.

Contrarian
User Rank
Gold
Ain't gonna happen
Contrarian   7/20/2012 10:54:56 AM
Unless there's a breakthrough in batteries both in terms of cost and capacity, the only practical applications for road EV's is niche markets - tree huggers with lots of money and affluent techno-nerds.  You cannot justify one as a family car and are at best a really expensive 2nd car.  Some use the cost of gasoline as a justification but there's more to that than just dollars per gallon.  If gasoline were to reach $8 or $10 a gallon, the cost of operating your vehicle will become secondary because the price of food, reduction in disposable income and general state of the economy will make the premise of an EV a moot point.  Who's looking at $40K new cars when they can't pay their mortgage?  Even today, the idea of spending $40+K on a car just to save a few hundred dollars a year in fuel costs is stupid.  The greatest vehicle economy you will ever have is with a vehicle that's paid for.  I drive a 15 year old land yacht and my total cost of ownership and operation over the years is a fraction of what a new econo-car or EV would run.

The promise of practical EV's just around the corner has been with us for decades.  From the Electro-vair in the '60's, CitiCar in the '70's, EV1 in the '90's, then GEM's and Th!nk, now the Tesla and Leaf, it's all a bunch of crap.  The only way you can rationalize an EV is if you take away, or legislate away all the other options.  Car companies don't make money on 1000 cars a month, and most consumers aren't going to buy $40K disposable cars.  Everyone knows that, yet the pursuit of folly continues.

 

Matt G.
User Rank
Iron
Re: Ain't gonna happen
Matt G.   7/20/2012 11:20:36 AM
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Am I missing something?  Where does  all the electricity come from to power half the cars in the US?  It isn't going to come from windmills and solar, where do we get massive reliable power to charge all those efficient batteries?  It reminds me about all the excitement about Hydrogen powered cars.......where do we get the Hydrogen, electrolysis? 

Just wondering.

daveladd
User Rank
Iron
Re: Ain't gonna happen - Where does the energy come from?
daveladd   7/20/2012 11:45:06 AM
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Don't laugh - Inertial confinement fusion.

daveladd
User Rank
Iron
Re: Ain't gonna happen - Why not?
daveladd   7/20/2012 11:38:39 AM
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Think about some of the possible improvements that you could see with EVs.  4 wheel drive becomes 3 wheel if you have , single motor, or VFD drive issue.  Battery modules grouped with smart electronic routing so as to be fault tolerant.  The cost of the components and ease of assembly has got to drop as acceptance goes up.  Right now, the EV manufacturers are adding all sort of Gee-whiz stuff on to make them sell.  Although that fuels the attraction to the avante-garde / geek market, the cost is a real turn-off to anyone else.  The energy storage medium cost seems like it's ripe for another quantum improvement.  All-in-all, I don't see his prediction as that improbable.  We could sure use a big step in the "field" of electrical energy storage density.

Davek3gau
User Rank
Gold
50% electric vehicles
Davek3gau   7/20/2012 11:43:15 AM
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I doubt it will happen also.  The manufacturers may be able to make a lot more vehicles BUT where is the power going to come from to charge all of them.  In many parts of the country and especially in areas where there is the most clammer for EVs the electric power grid is already taxed almost to it's limit and in hot weather pushed beyond it to supply power.  What is going to happen when your start dumping massive amounts of EV on the grid sucking power?

The only way large numbers of EVs can be supported is to also massively overhaul and upgrade the power grid system.  Anybody talking about or working on that?

 

Dave B.

ksaldutti
User Rank
Silver
nuclear power reactors the size of a shoebox
ksaldutti   7/20/2012 1:48:38 PM
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Only if batteries or power systems to run electric motors are greatly improved or in this case reinvented. If superconductivity ever where to come of age and would readily work in the real world then that would add greatly to the problems solving of power storage workability. I still say mini nuclear power reactors the size of a shoebox would be the answer. The source would outlive it owners by several fold. It would be about as true kinetic energy as we may be able to ever have.

Maria
User Rank
Iron
Electric Cars, why?
Maria   7/20/2012 1:57:15 PM
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I do not understand that we are planning on a new generations of cars that once again are using man-made energy. Why, so we can have shortages again???

Are power grits not overloaded enough already!

What about solar energy that could be collected on much larger surface area's as were previously used in trials and also using more of the outer skin collecting such energies at various sun-impact angles without having to be always conscious of the position of your vehicle?

I am sure there is so much more research that can be done in this field, maybe even a totally different approach in collecting, storing and converting such energy.

Maybe there could even be some wind power included. I see the possibilities as endless.

I do agree that we defiantly need something that can regenerate as we drive, as do eliminate the need for recharging, the size and weight limits or driving at limited speeds and distance.

I am glad that back in the day they did not give up on the idea of gas powered engines when they first build the first loud smoking and spitting monstrosities and kept on developing this great basic concept.

The los of revenue (electric/ gas) could be compensated by some kind of tax that would be beneficial to the respective country of the car owner and the owners themselves by saving compared to our expenses now.

MIROX
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Electric Cars, why?
MIROX   7/20/2012 7:38:51 PM
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@Maria:

TRUE = "Possibilities are ENDLESS" !!!

FACT = "They all cost MORE per unit of utility ($/mile; $/Kwh; $/hr., etc.)" !!!

So as long as MONEY MATTERS, the status quo will prevail.....

As simple as that! 

any1
User Rank
Silver
Think about the rest of the world
any1   7/20/2012 5:46:01 PM
I'm assuming Musk is talking about all cars manufactured in the world.  In fifteen years the vast majority of the world market is likely be China, India (and the rest of Asia), and places like Brasil.  The number of cars used in the US will be a small minority of the total.  So you have to think about what kind of car people in these places will be driving in 15 years.  I think  that people living in large cities in the developing world are not going to have the same wants and needs as Americans.  So I'm guessing those cars will be much smaller, and cheaper than what Tesla is making for US consumption today.  I'm talking very basic transportation.  That could  be half of all cars manufactured.  If we were to include electric bicycles and scooters in the mix I would say we could achieve half of all "vehicles" as being electric in 15 years easily.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Think about the rest of the world
Charles Murray   7/20/2012 6:57:59 PM
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You're right, any1, that the numbers could be different in developing countries. I believe this is Carlos Ghosn's plan, too. He wants to sell a lot of Nissan Leafs in Asia. The wild card in all this is still the battery, however. Consumers in China and India could have problems with $20,000 battery packs.  

any1
User Rank
Silver
Re: Think about the rest of the world
any1   7/23/2012 9:24:59 AM
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When I say basic transportation, I mean the entire vehicle will need to cost less than $10,000.  So there will not be any $20,000 battery packs.  I'm talking about vehicles with a total weight of about 1,000 pounds (about the same weight as a model T Ford).  Think about something the size a golf cart. It would be a "city car" for the masses that live in the cities of the developing world.  One step up from a scooter.

I think that cities in places like China and India may grow concerned enough about air quality to ban many ICE powered vehicles from city centers.

MIROX
User Rank
Platinum
Publicity stunt that works !!!
MIROX   7/20/2012 7:23:33 PM
Nothing more than "publicity stunt" to keep Musk and Tesla in the news, as Tesla S by now is "old news" and no longer worthy of reporting on or about.

But on the other hand saying that 1/2 of the cars will be running on "clean coal" would not get that much attention either !

For that matter anything Mr. Ghosn now says about EV or LEAF is no longer interesting to report about either, but the fact that GE Chargers permanenty fry the LEAF On-Board unit got few minor mentions in EV circles and Automotive press.

Fact is that in the 100+ automotive history EVs come and go just like Sports Cars, Convertibles, Station Wagons - and nothing much will change that fact.

In USA the only vehicle classes that have staying power are BIG pick-up trucks and "Full Size" commercial vans.

In 14 million plus annual market the few thousand of EV, are not more significiant then Bentley, Rolls Royce, S Class MB and so on....

And no one ever said that in 10 or 15 years when ALL Americans will be "rich" and will be able to afford such cars they will comprise 50% of the market !!!

Yet statistically 82% of BIG Pick-Up owners never or very seldom use the "bed" for anything, they all could be driving 2 seater Sport Cars that get 3 times the MPG, are lot more fun and more comfortable to drive, etc.

Yet they ALL buy such vehicle because may-be some times perhaps they MAY put someting there, like the never again to be found at any price "treasure" from Garage Sale. Or have false perception that 6,000 lbs "truck" is "safer" than car with 8 air bags....

So people will buy what ever they want, rather than what they need or would be just enough for them.

No matter what any EV proponent will say in the next 10, 15 or 20 years will make "masses" anywhere flock to EVs in any significiant numbers as long as liquid fuel is conveniently available just about anywhere on Earth.

 

 

 

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
EVs
bobjengr   7/21/2012 12:17:29 PM
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This is one of the liveliest debates I've seen in quite some time.  I may as well put in my two cent's worth.  I feel the technology associated with advancements in electric vehicles is fascinating BUT, I'm putting my money on cars using natural gas; i.e. compressed natural gas.  I feel that 20 years from now we will be driving these types of cars.  I think that's our  logical future; not solar, not batteries, not biofuels, and over the "long haul" not gasoline-driven.  I know there are significant issues with infrastructure supporting natural gas but given the abundance of resources, it seems to be the most logical choice.  Also, the economics of conversion are minimal compared to hybrids or fully functional EVs.  Just a thought.



William K.
User Rank
Platinum
"half of the cars will be electric"
William K.   8/17/2012 2:34:45 PM
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What else could the CEO of an electric car company possibly say? Expressing any other belief would hurt the stock values and reduce the earnings, and the shareholders would have him out on the street in a few hours. 

Remember that the CEO is only responsible to the board and the shareholders, and that whatever else they do will be excused, as long as it boosts share prices. With that in mind, we should also evaluate the assertion in light of the quantity of power needed to replace the fuel consumed by a half of all cars. WE would quickly realize that it is quite a large amount. Next comes the question about where all of this additional electric power will come from, and how it will be distributed to those who need to recgarge their cars. 

If we can come up with workable answers to those questions then possibly there could be some validity to his assertion, but if we are not able to come up with good answers, then back to the first paragraph. What else COULD he possibly say?

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: electric cars
Rob Spiegel   8/23/2012 11:48:34 AM
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That must be a California phenomenon, Jsmith14. Overall, the sales on EVs and hybrids is not nearly so high.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: electric cars
Charles Murray   8/24/2012 5:09:49 PM
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Actually, the Nissan Leaf is in a sales slump. Only 395 sold in July, down from 931 in July, 2011 (which is not a very big number, either).

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: electric cars
Rob Spiegel   8/27/2012 12:26:10 PM
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Wow, Chuck, that is suprisingly low. And such a dip in one year. I don't see how they can make a profit on such a low volume of sales.

akwaman
User Rank
Gold
electric cars and sales
akwaman   8/29/2012 2:05:47 PM
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Electric cars are not sold like other cars.  You have to order them ahead of time.  We are Americans, and we know we want everything NOW.  So when someone goes into a dealership, can they drive off with a LEAF or a VOLT?  NO.  This is the main reason that sales are lackluster in my opinion.  If they were in the dealerships, looking pretty and letting people test drive them and take them home, I feel that things would be different.  People who have these electric cars love them.  If you have one and don't, please post, I have never heard any complaints by owners.  Only responses I hear are positive, and they wouldn't give them up for the world.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: electric cars and sales
Rob Spiegel   8/31/2012 4:44:50 PM
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Akwaman, do you know how long the wait is? I would imagine that would make a big difference. I'm not sure how it works with EVs, but a recent L.A. Times story reported that only 25 percent of hybrid owners purchased a hybrid when they bought their next car.

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