Tesla Motors plans to roll out a “compelling, affordable electric car” that will sell for about half the price of its high-profile Model S by the end of 2016, company chairman Elon Musk said last week.
“We definitely need to be able to bring a lower cost car to market,” Musk said at the company’s recent annual shareholders’ meeting. “Hopefully, in about three to four years we will be able to do that.”
Musk’s statement was consistent with past comments. In 2012, he predicted that half of all cars on the road would be fully electric within 12 to 15 years. Last week, he added that an affordable EV “has really been my goal since the start of Tesla.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk: “That has really been my goal since the start of Tesla.” (Source: revengeoftheelectriccar.com)
Musk, clad in blue jeans and a T-shirt, provided few details to attendees at the shareholders’ meeting. He did say, however, that the vehicle would be a “smaller version of the Model S at about half the price.”
To date, Tesla’s vehicles have been sold at luxury-car prices. Its Roadster started at $109,000. The base Model S starts at $69,900 for a 60-kWh battery pack and goes up to $79,900 for an 85-kWh pack, before federal tax credits are applied. If the new vehicle sells for half the price of the Model S, it could potentially run as low as $30,000 after tax credits are applied.
At the meeting, Musk talked little about battery technology, except to say that he believes the creation of a battery for an affordable EV with a 200-mile all-electric range is doable. “There’s definitely a significant improvement in technology needed to have a compelling, affordable electric car,” he said. “We are working with companies like Panasonic and others on new cell electrochemistry that’s really optimized for automotive use. I feel pretty optimistic that we can get there without any miracles occurring.”
That was interesting, thanks. What the calculator is missing is the cost of replacing batteries every x years and amortisation of the additional vehicle cost. They've also neglected to tell us how much more expensive egas will be when all of the extra infrastucture goes in and has to be paid for as well as the loss of night rates on electricity. These omissions make it very misleading. Not your fault of course, it is DoE's after all but it highlights how little thinking has been done for the future.
Two things that are missing from most EV discussions all to often (not saying price and range etc. aren't relevant) are charge time, and network capacity. Consider the following: The USA has a population of > 300million and I would say around 50-100million cars on the road every day. Lets use a conservative guess at 75million although again it's likely higher. The actual car population is of course higher, but they won't be all on the road every day. If we consider an EV as having a 90kWh battery pack to be a minimum for general adoption (the figure is likely higher) and the battery pack being drained on average to 1/2 on these cars then the grid has to supply 45kWhr ADDITIONAL per car per day which gives us over 3.3GWhrs needed on top of the ~11GWhrs currently produced and mostly delivered over a 10 hour period at night (usually off peak). Remember that I've used best case scenarios so likely they would need to produce half as much again. The other thing missing is that fast charging is going to be needed to make an EV viable. So this >3.3GWhrs (not including losses) would have to be provided not over 10 hours but in bursts, so worst case everybody comes home at the same time and plugs in at the same time and charges in 10 minutes that would require almost 20 times the peak. in actual fact probably only 5-10% overlap would occur due to everyones timing being different, but it still means we would all need a local storage battery of slightly higher capacity that we charge slowly all day to deliver the peak when we need it. Maybe every street has one, but it's still a duplication of batteries that someone has to pay for and will be factored in. Consider also that overnight won't be off peak any more as close to as much energy will be drawn then as during the day. This will also up electricty prices. All this and more leads me to believe that EV vehicles will have to remain a niche vehicle.
Agreed, eafpres. It's going to be tough for Tesla to get affordability and 200 miles of range, which is their stated goal. As you say, more research is needed. Yes, it's great that Tesla is pushing the technology. But let's not forget that it's going to take a big battery to get 200 miles of range, and big batteries are costly. Remember when one of the Tesla's Roadster customers fried his battery? The "friends an family" price quoted to him for a new one was $40,000. Even if that price comes down somewhat because of economies of scale, will it come down enough to allow the entire car to sell for $30,000? Tesla has a tough task ahead of it.
Sorry, Dennis. I was actually replying to phantasy... but misread.
Eventually the supply of $1000 working cars will dry up. I agree with you in that for some the best option is to keep driving a working car, as even $20k will pay for a lot of gas and maintenace. I once figured out that for my 1998 4Runner, now with >300k miles, as long as fuel+maintenance is < about $500ish per month, I should keep driving it. ($20k over 5 years at 4.3% is almost $400/month, plus gas, insurance, etc. (insurance is higher on a new car)). It isn't going to get me the amount I value it on resale, and it works, and although it only gets about 20 mpg, the new investment doesn't make sense to me with the limited miles I drive.
So, I would frame the discussion around those who are actually in the market for a car, and hold my position that $30k isn't affordable but around $20k might be, so if you want to capture part of that market, get real on price. For those like you who are not in the market, it is irrelevant.
Affordable? No matter the price, we can argue whether it's affordable or not - and we will! Arguing is just plain too much fun.
How often do we take those long trips? (as we speak - uh, type - I'm planning a 2500+ mile trip...) For me, and I suspect most, it's not frequent. My niece doesn't even own a car. (living in NYC, methinks a smart decision...) When she comes to Boston, she rents a Zipcar. Even expensive rentals several times a year may still be cost-effective.
Technology marches on - not that long ago notebooks were $2000 or more. My first computer was over $5000. Later I bought a *huge* hard drive - so big I'd never need to buy another. 330 *MEGs*. Almost $2000. Even later I ran out to buy several 1GB drives at $300 each - such a deal! My first VCR was $1600. Gasoline was 32 cents per gallon.
Battery technology will improve. EV control systems will improve. Gasoline and oil will be more expensive. Electricity generation will improve. Humans will adapt. Perhaps to buying a 95%-of-driving car and renting another. Perhaps to having an EV as the second car. Perhaps to car sharing. (in the US? doubtful...) But adapt in some way.
At some point, an EV will make sense to the average person. The government subsidies (helping while the technology is new and evolves) won't be needed - and will disappear. Just like farm subsidies (hmm...) and airport subsidies (hmmm.....)
Personally, I expect solar to eventually be efficient and (relatively) cheap. ('course I said the same about nuclear reactors 40 years ago...) I don't expect electric charging systems to pop up where gas stations now reside. I could perhaps see hydrogen stations. The typical driver running around with a tank full of hydrogen? Yeeks...
I just wonder what motorcycle I'll have in another 15 or 20 years...
Hmmm, actually my point is more that the utility limitations due to range and charging limitations will restrict the potential market for EVs-regardless of the price.
Example: I drive a beater Honda Odyssey ('95). Gets 22-24 mpg all around. Pulls my dirt bike fine (gasp! I don't need a pick-up or SUV.). It probably isn't worth a grand. It can be fuelled anywhere in 5 minutes. I don't even think about gas before 200+ miles.
Glad the Leaf is working out for you. Can't imagine one in my life-both of the family vehicles can be headed out of EV range on any given weekend (and pull a trailer with dirt bikes).
You have a very specific set of needs/circumstances that work with the EV restrictions. Most peole do not. I agree that the Leaf is a good buy for the right person-but I question how many there are. Just going on memory, but I think the Leaf sales have been flagging also.
I think you might have missed my point on market saturation. Is there more market for electric cars? Sure. But how much and at what price? What capabilities will it require of the product to tap the potential.
The Volt point is that a vehicle running virtually without competition (perhaps the Prius PHEV) and without the range/charge baggage of a pure EV (but 90% 0f the clean/green image) is apparently losing steam in the market. I think it is possible the $35-40K cool green car market is already getting saturated. This happens with boutique vehicles all the time (Thunderbird, Hummer, SSR ...). Hot today, not tomorrow.
I geuss my point is that the maret for EVs at the current state of the art may already be approaching market saturation.
EVs today take commitment, an second car, willingness to plan ahead etc. They are niche vehicles and will remain so until the range /charge issues are addressed. My opinion.
Taxis? What range do they need per shift? I suspect even 200 miles is far to short-especially in the stop and go nature of the job.
When I was working on electric vehicles some years ago, we and the industry determined that we needed at least a 200 mile per charge range to cover the various driving conditions, passenger/cargo load, etc. to be able to reliably cover 90% of commuting and included incidental travel such as shopping side-trips along the way. This assumed that your actual commuting distance was UNDER 100 miles. You also needed a 4-passenger minimum, plus cargo space to be useful for a majority of owners.
For a strictly electric vehicle, I feel Tesla has been following the correct business plan, first building the high-end/specialty roadsters to demonstrate the technology and work out any major bugs and techniques. Second, moving to a mass-production model, again at a relatively high-end, with a target market that could afford it, but this gives them the chance to build and tweak the needed large-scale manufacturing techniques, and develop the needed supplier base. With that in place, they can then afford to work on less-costly designs, and with a proven track record, work with suppliers to bring those costs down farther with larger volumes of production.
They're also hitting the critical infrastructure problem by setting up more and more charging stations around the Country with reasonably fast charge times. This lack of infrastructure was the real roadblock to mass acceptance of fully electric vehicles, and the reason a series/plug-in-hybrid design such as the Volt would be a better choice for the average driver. ( I did point out at the time that if GM was going to charge over $35k, they needed to put the technology in a Cadillac first... Looks like they figured that out... eventually. ;-) )
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