The $50K price is just $10K-$12K more than the leaf, volt, and focus. For a performance vehicle, I find the Tesla S to be a good value. The Tesla S has exceptional styling, excellent cabin room, enormous power, and outstanding range. In the high performance models, the price gap with other performance cars all but disappears. You simply cannot compare this vehicle with the leaf, focus or volt. Those are $16K cars that cost $38K. It appears that the cost per kw in the Tesla is about half that of the other EV cars.
Could be that there are better ways to power EVs than what is presently being show outside of the research labs! This transistion has more to do with BIG OIL than it does with alternate energy...and YES they DO exist! Nikola Tesla DROVE a alternate zero energy car more than 70 years ago and I believe he would be proud of his name sake company and the way they are navigating the road blocks of of EV naysayers.
In one respect, Tesla is taking a pragmatic and cost-effective approach in using 18650 Li-O cells, as opposed to engineering a totally new battery. 18650's are already produced in large numbers so their unit cost is already pretty decent due to economics of scale. They are just engineering the packaging of them, and due to their small individual form factor, the enclosure can be wrapped around drivetrain components as needed. It is not a long-term battery solution, but it is a good bridging approach and gets them into the market as the range leader. I think they will do OK.
Finally, an electric car that doesn't look like one. No rear "fender skirts" and flat wheel discs. For those that still desire an element of excitement while getting from point A to B, this may just hit the mark.
Having enjoyed driving kerosene-fired steam cars, it would be fun to try Tesla's coal-fired steam car. Coal fired? Of course! We just don't see the boiler and steam engine since they live at the power station. A truly "green" electric car would charge its batteries from a renewable source. About 20 years ago I designed a solar charging station for a friend's electric car. It used conventional lead-acid batteries but it served quite well for commuting to work and back.
I agree, Naperlou. Prices will come down with production volume. Using your $25K number, it appears their batteries cost between $500 and $600/kWh. Most experts predict that those costs will drop to around $400/kWh as production volume rises.
The big, unanswered question, of course, is when will the battery technology advance. Expectations to the contrary, the high-end, sporty electrics/hybrids like Tesla and Fisker have not advanced battery technology. When you look at those companies and run that numbers, that's not surprising. They simply don't have the cash to put into battery R&D. The conventional wisdom appears to be that batteries (capacity and energy density) don't follow Moore's Law and NEVER WILL. That's why I was pleasantly surprised to hear some positive expectations about battery research from a Mercedes engineer I spoke with last week at CES. Please see my story, "CES: Mercedes Foresees Progress in Batteries, Composites.
Rob, that is precisely the point. The high margin cars help get you started, but will never reach volumes. The battery pack on the origial Tesla, which is a small two seat sports car, cost $25K and weighs 900lbs. It also had a significant range (over 250 miles). Compare that to a Volt or Leaf. As they advance the battery technology, they will be able to bring out cars that compete in price with the Volt and Leaf and conventional hybrids that will open up a mass market. I should think that this is only a couple of years away.
Thanks for elaborating NaperLou and that strategy does make sense. The 50K range puts it in the same ballpark as other high-end luxury sedans/SUVs like BMWs and Lexus cars and if you consider the profile of early adopters, typically it is the gadget guy (or gal) who wants the latest in new technology, but also wants it nicely packaged in a high-end design. So basically Tesla is betting that the same folks that shelled out the thousands for the flat screen HD TVs before everyone was buying sub $1K flat screens or the pricey tablets before knock-offs hit the market are the ones that will experiment with the "mid-priced" Tesla offering.
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Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.