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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.

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!

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.

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...

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. 

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."

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.

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