Chuck, this fits in with Tesla's strategic plan. They brought out the sports car, next the BMW 5 Series competitor (the Model S) and next will be the more mass market car. In the car business the way to make lots of money is to make a mass market vehicle. In manufacturing the real money is in large volumes.
What Tesla is doing is to engineer their cars well as the recent acolades attest to. That gives them a good reputation. By selling the high end cars they get real experience in the field. This is especially important with a totally new technology.
The next step will be something Tesla cannot really control, though. Energy storage has to improve greatly for them to make it in the next step. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
I agree on all counts, naperlou. They've developed a great reputation, but energy storage will be the key as they try to move closer to the mainstream. Elon Musk has said that "half of all cars will be (pure) electric" in 15 years, so I can only assume that's where they're headed. We'll have a blog about that tomorrow.
I do agree that naperlou has this well sorted-energy storage is vital to mass market penetration. I would add widely available, rapid re-charging to that requirement.
The Tesla S is is cool, but it is an expensive toy for a limited market-that's great and a perfectly viable buisness model. But lou is right the next step is far tougher.
For all of Elon Musk's abilities and obvious intelligence I am still amazed at his claim that half the cars on the road will be electric in 15 years. If the market was now 100% electric vehicle turnover might get us there by then. 10% would be a high estimate in my opinion.
Still, I wish him good fortune, men of vision like him are rare and valuable.
But can it take you back in time and forward in time on just banana peels and garbage? No- you still need a gas powered Delorean for that. Plus a flux capacitor. So gas engines still have their place in the future.
I can't help wondering if in 50 years people will be looking at us burning oil to get around in the same way we look at our parents painting things with lead based paint and using asbestos in building construction.... Or will they be wondering about us all carrying lithium batteries around going "but didn't the ol fogies know how poisenous lithium is to the environment...?". I wonder which it will be if not both? They were crazy in the early part of the 21st century.. just crazy..
I saw that interview with Mr. Musk, as well, and I shook my head when I got to the part about half of all cars being electric in 15 years. Think about how radical of a change that would be, if by that time 30 MILLION cars being made each year were electric? It's too big of a shock to the system and it can't happen. We don't have the generating capacity to keep them going - and look at how the current administration treats those who want to open a new generating plant. From 2008:
"So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can," Obama continued. "It's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted."
The EPA is also constricting natural gas and nuclear activities with respect to constructing power generation plants, so I don't see how in the world people like Mr. Musk believe that we'll be transitioning to an all-electric-car world anytime soon.
I agree that energy storage is the greatest challenge in this space. One possible solution that looked promising, I think from MIT a year or two ago, was that demonstration of an electrolyte (I think) fluid, that carried the energy in it, that could be cycled thru a fuel cell of some sorts. When the fluid was depleted of energy, you just replaced the fluid, and within minutes you were back at 100%. Has anyone heard any more about this? I know it was just a lab demo at the time.
The impediments you see may only exist another three years. We can only hope the next administration will have a real energy policy to provide an orderly transition from oil-based to electric and natural gas based personal transportation.
50% pure electric may be unlikely, but Musk IS building coast-to-coast rapid charging stations to reduce that five-hour recharge time to a tolerable "rest stop". If he is successful in that endeavor AND he is able to build the pure electric for the masses (excellent price point combined with great utility), Musk could change the entire automobile paradigm. Looking at the innovation and excelence of execution in the "S", if that same design creativity is directed at production economy, Musk just might "change the world", doing for the auto industry what Steve Jobs did to the "digital appliance" industry.
On many of our main interstate highways I see a lot of the gas stations in fairly constant use fueling vehicles. Most of th fillups take less than five minuets. So how is there going to be enough capacity to come anywhere close to that kind of rate in some utopian world with 50% electric vehicles? Talk about his again after the satae of California has achieved the goal and there have been no riots about it. Until then, it is an interesting idea but not achievable, I don't think.
Electric commuter cars could be different, but thye overnight charging problem is not going to be solved simply. Infrastructure is just expensive to improve. You can certainly wish it were not so, but harsh reality trumps wishes every time.
All of the issues you mentioned are very real, William K. The reason they don't show up here is that Consumer Reports is using traditional evaluation techniques to evaluate an untraditional car. The problem is that cornering, braking, acceleration and all of the other traditional parameters provide an important part of the picture, but they fail to give a full accounting in the terms you describe. I really believe that as pure electrics become of bigger part of the automotive mix, consumer evaluations will have to evolve, as well.
In thirty minutes I can pump enough gas to go at least two thousand miles, and at some stations that have faster pumps, one could pump at least 5000 miles woth of gas in a half hour. But that is just theoretical because my tank only holds enough gas for about 250 miles. So at my slow-pumps-but-cheap-gas station my fill up takes most of two minutes.
My other concern is that all of this power that will be "pulled off the grid" is presently being sold for other purposes, and while the distribution network may be upgrading, the utilities are being prevented fro building any more generating capacity.
Am I the only one who sees a conflict in the future?
The challenge of increasing grid capacity is that it will not lead to a greater capability margin, but instead it will bring about increased consumption. That is the way business works, since unused capacity represents a capital investment not generating any returns, which is what gets CEOs repalced. So as fast as additional generating capacity comes on line there will be a big push to sell that additional power to pay for the investment made in production capacity. That is very fundamentaklly how it works in successful businesses. Of course, it may be a bit different in California, which is not tied nearly as tightly to reality as the rest of the world understands it.
Pat b, I am sure that the utility top management is indeed hoping for major growth in the amount that they can sell, but I am wondering where it will come from, since all forms of generation are opposed by some groups. They don't like wind turbines or hydroelectric dams, they don't want coal fired generation nor do they want atomic power generation. Photoelectirc power generation may be acceptable to them but it takes a lot to go from photocells to power mains, and the realestse needed is quite latge. On top of that, while the Tesla is a very nice car I would never cconsider purchasing a car that costly, just because it is that costly. Probably a lot of others feel that way as well. I hav better things to do with my money thatn buy a car like that.
But aside from that, electric cars are just not going to be the major form of transport for quite a while, mostly for reasons other than the initial purchase price. They are simply way to much of what they are, way more complex internally than any other cars, which will make them way more expensive to service than any other cars, with the instant result being that for the folks who keep a car more than a year they will be an obviously poor choice, and a lot of people are going to understand that in the near future. That will be the end of the electric car boom. They will still be around, but not in the dominant market share hoped for.
Pat b, if you use your 8KW solar generation capacity to charge the EV battery, and if your system is 100% efficient, then by my math it would require 10 hours to restore 80KwH of battery charge, if that was what was needed, whiich is the anticipated capacity of a medium size EV battery. But if you drive to work and work during the daylight hours, or at least some of the daylight hours, those can't be spent charging the EV. So now there exists an inconvenient logistics problem of the type that has been bothering the EV folks for quite a while. It also is a sore point for the solar power folks.
While it would certainly be wonderful if we could make it work for everybody, most of the benefits would only be available to a small portion of our people, for a multiplicity of reasons, which include a complete lack of anything even starting to approach technical competence. And I do NOT feel that technical incompetence should be rewarded.
I'm glad to see that Tesla has spent a lot of effort making the creature comforts the best in the biz. For a $90K price tag, one would expect nothing less. One might ask why their competitors (Audi, Porsche) wouldn't want to spend more effort in making a better ride for their high-end cars. Keeping the driver happy with how her car handles is always a wise focus. For the 10% of the 1% that buy a Tesla, it's a great deal.
Still, the range is lacking (200 miles, then wait for 4-6 hours?). To get a mass-market car, you'll only be selling to commuters on a fixed route. The price tag better be REALLY cheap (less than $20K out the door) if they want any traction in the extremely competitive mass-market. You're asking the average consumer to sacrifice a lot of convenience in driving an electric car. We all like to come and go as we please, change our daily routes at a whim, or even drive another 100 miles without a second thought.
Even the wealthy don't like having to have a backup car for any long commutes as plans can change within minutes while the battery pack takes hours to catch up. No one likes to get stranded (even with a 50 foot extension cord in the trunk). Even for this best of all electric vehicles, a paradigm shift in the car culture is still required and this is a really big ship to turn.
too optimistic indeed...even if electric cars make up 15% of the cars on the road today, is there enough lithium world-wide for all the battery cells needed? Be prepared for conflict in south america unless there's a more abundant chemistry out there.
The linchpin is in the battery packs. Re-double the battery life (170+ kWhr) and then cut the recharge time (empty-to-full) by one-fifth (1 hour max.) and you "may" have a outside chance to displace the internal combustion engine. Until then, it's liquid hydrocarbon fuels for vehicles for the forseeable future (15 years and beyond).
It's a nice goal to have more electric cars, but there are very practical reasons why it hasn't happened before or any time soon.
Add to this mix that electric car companies and support companies are going broke by the buckets. Yesterday it was Better Place that robotically replaced batteries. I think the business plan is kiltered against the electrics. One percent can buy $90,000 cars. They will not build a base. If a stripped commuter for the 5-10 mile driver cost sub $15,000 they may sell like popcorn. Studebaker went broke even though they had the coolest car - the Avanti. No buyer base to support the car company type cool. Electrics need to be Model Ts that the consumer could not afford to pass up.
I live on a highway. From time to time somone will try to stretch an extra 20 miles out of a tank of gas. They fail. Someone brings a gallon of gas, the car proceeds to the filling station and 2 minutes and $50 later they are on their way. What is the plan for electrics? Pick up the car with a tow truck, take it to a charger, wait 6 hours . . .I could see a battery on a two wheel cart that could be attached to the back of the car, plugged in and the car limps somewhere fro a charge. If the dead battery could be dropped off and another installed and you're off. I aslso can see in excess of 200 wind mills from my home. They are never all running. If a truck full of batteries could pull up to the base of a un needed power source and one hook up charge 400 battery packs for no detriment to other power users and a source to save power that was not needed else where . . Benifit to power creator, car owner, midle man trying to supply charged batteries to car owners, we have a winner. There would probably be some Obama bucks too.
What is going to happen when someone is electrocuted, burnt or killed possibly after an accident? Are all first responders told to take a VOM meter to an accident site now?
Again a good business plan needs to carve a path to success that I have not seen.
30 minutes to charge for a 200 mile distance for a car costing $90,000 a pop? That may be fine for city purposes but not for cross-country distances. Then again would you take a luxury car on a long road trip?
With Telsa's nationwide charging network, perhaps this not be a big deal after all.
"Still, the range is lacking (200 miles, then wait for 4-6 hours?). T"
The Tesla Model S comes in 2 models 60 KWH and 85 KWH. The 85 KWH model has an EPA rang eof 265 miles and a Tesla Range of 300 miles.
According to Tesla their Supercharger will put 200 miles of range on in 30 minutes,
now if you use a Level 2 charger yes it will take a long time, but the supercharger network is meant to allow reasonable long distance trips. It's not ideal and the Tesla is not the perfect car, it's a luxry performance car not a Model T, but, that's okay.
Perhaps it's hard to understand if you've never driven an EV or hybrid, but gasoline engines have started to gross me out. Every time my Prius kicks in the ICE, especially when it seems to do so for no good reason, it keeps reminding me, "this thing is noisy, big, Rube-Goldbergy, complicated, high-maintenance..."
I hope that in 25 years or so, we'll look back at gasoline vehicles, shake our heads, and ask ourselves, "isn't it bizarre how, for almost a century and a half, everybody just assumed that there's something *normal* about a car belching smoke out a tailpipe? Eeeeeeew!"
You must (hopefully) realize that the electric cars are NOT zero emission; they are DISPLACED emission. If you have an all-electric car like Mr. Musk is referring to, it still has to be charged, which means you need a generating station to charge it, which means the generating station is where the emissions occur. You are still responsible for emissions into the atmosphere! Just because you can't see where it's occuring doesn't make you any less of a contributer than anybody else to greenhouse gas emissions.
You've just hired a hit man to take care of your business instead of you doing it yourself, but you're still guilty.
Want zero emissions? Nuclear power generation. That's the only real solution. Wind and solar are along the same veins, but they cannot supply us with the amount of energy we need, period. Any other method produces emissions, just not at the car's location.
Yes, wind has potential. Enough potential to supply our energy needs, along with solar? Not a chance. We would need generational breakthroughs and quantum leaps in technology to get to that point. The power generation density just isn't there, as badly as we may want it to be, it's not and cannot compete with coal/natural gas/nuclear to use for electricity generation.
If we were to pull the trigger and mandate that every car made be all-electric, the entire power system would collapse. Without new generation plants, this vision will never come to fruition - never. A new attitude is going to be needed in Washington with regards to power generation before a world of all-electric cars has a prayer of working.
On our current path of pushing more and more electric cars onto a power grid that is at it's limit, with no new (viable) generation coming online, this entire bid will fail, spectacularly. Wind and solar cannot get us there - period.
Have you ever done an ROI to help back up your statement about if gas goes to $5/gallon, this car would be viable? Let's pretend, using some plain-jane numbers, which of course I can't possibly know your situation, so plug in your own numbers to use instead for your own personal comparison:
Miles driven per month: let's say 1,000 Cost of gas: $5.00 per gallon
Current car payment: $375 per month Current car gas mileage: 17mi/gal Current car gas cost: $294/month Monthly cost of payment plus gas: $669
Tesla model S payment: $1200 per month Tesla model S gas mileage: N/A Tesla model S gas cost: $0/month Monthly cost of payment plus gas: $1200
So, you are going to spend roughly $530 more per month than you would a gas-burner for the life of the loan. Over the life of the loan of five years, you will spend $31,800 more to drive the Tesla. If gas then stayed at $5/gal, you would have a payback time of roughly nine years AFTER the car is payed off to recup your money in gas savings that you paid extra during the loan time.
Note that I'm being extremely favorable towards the Tesla, and not figuring the cost to charge it or anything else it might possibly need.
ungarata, if you are going to factor in the cost of gas in your analysis on the gas car, you need to factor in the cost of electricity in the analysis of the electric car. The cost of energy has to always be considered, regardless of its source.
But, if Tesla can manufacture a more mainstream vehicle, I think we all can agree that the ROI can almost match the life of the vehicle.
Your point was covered in the last line of my post; I purposely did not include the cost of charging the Tesla.
A more mainstream (i.e. less-expensive) vehicle will certain show a more favorable ROI, but I don't think people think about stuff like this when they purchase an all-electric car. If the electric car is GIVEN to you, then you stand a chance to save money. Rebates and incentives from the government just serve to push the cost of this onto everyone else and artificially drive up the sales numbers.
As well, they probably also don't consider that they're still responsible for emissions. I believe they think that they're being responsible and driving a "clean" car simply beause they're not emitting anything right at the car while they're driving.
Neither includes maintenance but you have oil changes, fuel Filters, Airfilters and such with the fuel Car which you do not have with the All Electric. Also this does not include any other driving only work.
My actual per year miles were about 35,000 @ $5 would be a fuel cost of $373.33/mo. + Payment Puts it at $959.93/mo.
Almost there but taking into account lack of pollution I think for my situation it is a pretty viable option. Add 3-4 oil changes/year at $69 each plus the filters mentioned and we are pretty much a wash on cost of ownership
Good that you do this type of calculation. Also, consider the following: All Tesla 85kW/h battery packs are guaranteed for eight years. When you need to replace it after that, the cost is $8,000 (right now - not sure about eight years from now).
Anyone purchasing an electric car must consider this - yes, a combustion engine can let go, but it can be serviced/replaced far easier at far more locations for far less cost than a battery pack can. We're just at the beginning of this; if in nine years there is a rash of battery failures on Teslas, these people are not going to be very happy to shell out that kind of money to keep driving their car.
The reality in very high mileage gasoline powered automobiles is the longevity of the automatic transmissions. I have owned numerous cars far in excess of 100,000 miles from American made (Chrysler Town and COuntry mini-van) to foreign made (Mazda MPV). Beyond 150,000 miles (sometimes as low as 100,000 miles) the transmissions fail and cost of replecement OR rebuild will run from $3,000 to as high as $6,000. Not as expensive as a Tesla battery, but likely to occur sooner than 8 years if you put 25,000 miles or more per year on your car.
Of course Nuclear is NOT emissions-free either. As much as I AM in favor of Nuclear, the production of the fuel rods consumes significant energy which at the present time comes predominantly from "unclean" sources. The primary advantage being that once built, Nuclear provides very clean energy for a very long time. At some point, the ideal may be having sufficient wind and solar such that Nuclear production only consumes "clean sourced energy". Of course there also exists the problem of spent fuel. Eventually technology might exist to recycle the spent fuel over and over until all available energy has been expended, but some Nuclear materials have components with a half life that is just too long not to leave some pretty "hot" residue.
I saw a Model S yesterday at the "Domain" mall in Austin, Texas. I didn't look at it in detail, since I don't have $90K lying around, and even if I did, I'm not really in the market. However, it looked like one nice car! High-quality and huge screen, nice accommodations and quite a bit of luggage space, for example.
Probably the main thing that struck me as appearing to be missing, and reallyshould have lots offor its $90K price tag, is ADAS functions, like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic parking, etc.
We are working on small compact Guided Laser Fusion System. It would make electric motor driven cars possible that run on 250 ml of Lithium Deuteride for 15 000 miles before refueling.
Conventional laser fusion relies on random collisions of Tritium and Deuterium ions in a plasma heated to several million degrees. The collision probability has to be high enough and the collision energy has to be high enough to overcome the mutual repulsion of the positive ions.
We start with orderly Lithium Deuteride nano meter size crystal of alternating Lithium and Deuterium atoms. A very sort, 10 femto second long, very intese laser light pulse first strips away all the very light electrons. The this leaves the positive Lithium and Deuterium ions in place for a short time. The ions are too heavy to move instantaneously. It takes them about 60 femto seconds to start to move apart under their mutual repulsion force.
The very high electric field from the only 10 femto second long light pulse propels all the ions along the crystal axis. The lighter Deuterium ions catch up in about 4 femto seconds with the heavier Lithium ions, collide and fuse. Producing Fusion energy.
If batteries are the pivot point why aren't they suspended on the bottom of the car with a dissengage / re-engage method so the battery could be swapped out faster than you can fill a gas tank? A recharger could charge on off hours and you would have limitless travel capacity. I laughed out loud when the article said for trips you'd need two cars duh at 200 miles you'd have two dead cars. Where is my single seated electric that weighs 500 pounds, built exclusively of carbon fiber, takes 1/2 a parking space, comes and goes w/o recharges?
There have been numerous attempts at that. My first real encounter with an electric car (back in about 1994) was "Snow White" made by Bob Schneeveis. Snow White was a race car that used 20 car batteries as the power source. Bob had built it to allow quick changes of the batteries. The body on each side was hinged so that side and top surface lifted up when raised and the contacts to all for the battery terminals was spring backed copper plate. When the wing lifted, there was no electrical contact with the batteries - only a tray of batteries. The battey tray dropped in on some clever wedge shaped rails and could be pulled out with a floor jack to lift the tray and roll out. He actually had a nice rig set up with fire hose and compressed air to quicky inflate (and lift), then roll out. Roll in a fresh tray and close the wing and you are good to go. A pit crew could swap out the two trays in several seconds.
The main drawback that I see for removable batteries is that they are too expensive right now to be feasable. Are you going to swap out a $40K pack for some unknown pack at a "gas" station? Also the logistics of storing hundreds if not thousands of fresh packs to swap out during a day and the sub station that would be needed at that "gas" station to charge those packs for the next swap would be a bit daunting.
For that type of concept, the replaceable electrolyte concept is a better route.
I think the comment on 2 cars was more for 1 electric and 1 gas powered (or hybrid) than 2 electric. The electric used for most closer to home uses and a gas powered one for the long trips.
I own a Model S and the battery is already designed to swap out in under 5 minutes. The problem is the cost of batteries and how the car is sold. Right now you buy the battery pack along with the car. The bigger the battery, the more the car costs and the farther you can go. Am I going to want to change my battery pack out for another one that may or may not have been cared for as well as mine? Not likely. There are a number of companies that have attempted or are attempting battery swapping and my bet is tesla is waiting to see how that goes before starting their own solution. That being said, on May 10th Tesla made a filing with the SEC that said in part: " Among the factors discussed was its ability to "rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack, and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the near future."
You just never know with those guys. I've woken up on some morning to find that they have downloaded an upgrade to my car while sleeping. How cool is that? If you can afford one, go get it. I guarantee you won't regret it. If not, at least buy some stock because these guys know what they're doing.
No doubt this car is one of the best car, However electric car technology is becomming very common these days . But it is not that easy to charge electric cars, at your homes you can directly connect your car with some current point but on public places EV systems electric vehicle systems are becomming common these days .This system comprise of a computer and car can be charged through it although the computer contains all the information of the customer . I have heard that hackers are hacking those systems to get te information of the customers .This means one should take precautionary measures for the security of these systems .
I'm guessing english is not your native language. That's ok, it's better than my.... well any other language. I really am any more oncerned about the information contained in the charging stations than I would be a credit card. That's basically the same information. I'm not sure what security measures are in place but I've not heard of a single problem yet.
Debera Harward, you have brought up a very important point, which is about hackers possibly being able to hack into the automobiles computers. That certainly has the potential to be a serious problem.The other concern, about not being able to charge the vehicl at home, would not be a problem for those in the US who could afford to purchase the $90,000 car. They can afford to have that much power available to charge the car. It is probably different in many other parts of the world. More than two years ago we had the discussion about what happens when everybody in the neighborhood gets an electric car and decides to charge it late at night when rates are lower. That is a problem without a nice solution, was our conclusion.
Actually your "night dilemma" is future reality since most folks will come home from work and put their cars on charge. This will put a huge load on the grid from around 6 PM to 3 AM or a little later in every time zone. Looking at all three time zones, this spreads out another three hours so the coast-to-coast grid draw will be high for a common four to six hours meaning that all generation everywhere in the continental US will be "sweating hard" in the middle of the night!
Now add to this a "hot night in Georgia" (and some other places as well) so the air conditioning is running as well. Think "brown outs while you sleep".
Excellent post Charles. One issue I would love to see covered relative to hybrid and / or electric cars is maintenance training and how much time would be needed for an existing "shop" to come up to speed. Also, what specific test equipment would be necessary to diagnose and trouble-shoot problems with an automobile such as the Tesla. Just a thought
It takes real guts to go ahead and take the risk to do something at this level in this bad economy. Hats off to the people at Tesla. Even though the price is not for everyone, this marvel will certainly have everyone's eyes on electric cars for the time to come.
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