Good points, bbix. It's interesting that of all the press this announcement has received, virtually no one has raised the question of whether you can build a $5 billion "gigafactory" in under two years, which I think is the stated goal.
I'm not sure about all the plants but the one Dow built in Midland is still operating under new ownership. I think they don't have much demand and are running maybe one shift. Plants take a long time to build and several companies all thought that if they could get theirs built first, and as the demand developed, they would capture it. They also all have somewhat different technology and of course each company thinks theirs is the best. Given the rapid rate of technical development in this field though, it is very easy for your state of the art tech to be superseded by something better / cheaper, before you can get yours online and capturing market share.
There are a good number of reasons why the Tesla model for a Lithium Ion battery pack is as it is. I'd have just provided a link to the info, but I cannot seem to find the source I originally read. Tesla's battery design seems to be VERY well thought out, and arguably better than any other for the purpose of EV's, regardless size or type (cylindrical/prismatic) of cell. Telsa uses multiple, paralleled, series-strings of batteries and is DESIGNED for the eventuality of cell failure. So that the vehicle will continue to operate, with only somewhat reduced capacity because failed string(s) are designed to be isolated from the rest of the pack. These small cells are the most ubiquitous form of this chemistry in the industry, and there is a LOT of experience around their manufacture. They ARE small, for other reasons too... if a cell should fail, it's far more likely that it's thermal effects are going to be inherently quenched by the liquid cooling system, before any adjacent cells are overheated. And as absolutely stunning as the Model S is, it's in this battery pack that true beauty lies. Boeing could have learned a thing or two from Elon Musk & company - when you've got volatile chemistry involved, you have to design for failure. Boeing did not do that at all, initially, and their "solution" now is to keep the rest of the aircraft from making an ash of itself... admirable goal, but if the entire battery is so easily dispensed with, why bother putting it in the plane in the first place? BTW - battery pack swaps are possible to be made VERY fast, because it's designed that way. The model for swaps is that you would pay a charge for the use of a fully charged "loaner" battery, and your own pack (by then, fully charged) is put back into your vehicle when making your return trip. "Supercharger" stations are being added as I write this, but they already span both US coasts and stretch entirely across East-West - their use is FREE for Tesla owners (including the KWhrs)... battery swaps are for those folks with far less patience than money, perhaps, like Elon himself.
Automakers that don't meet the California ZEV mandate must still buy ZEV credits from automakers who deliver EVs. That system remains in place. But you are absolutely right, CharlesM, that Tesla earned $0 in ZEV credits in the fourth quarter of 2013, yet earned $46 million in net income.
Very little in our lives is not influenced by Government incentives.
- incentives for oil companies (exploration, tranport, refineries, etc.) impacting any comparisons with EVs. Why is the cost of gas in Venezuela only 4 cents /gallon and in Turkey it is $9.55/gallon? It isn't a technical reason.
- incentives for farmers (specific crops.. fuel production? instead of cheaper food?)
- incentives from local governments for job creation (manufacturing costs) at the expense of their neighbor in the next state.
the list goes on .....
Making real comparisons (ICE vs ELEC)- with unrefutable "facts" - nearly impossible.
And those that think they have researched ALL the data to reach any conclusion....are only fooling themselves.. it will be obsolete within days of it's completion. Because the "facts" are in a constant state of flux. (new mining of lithium in Cal , a war in Africa impacting available current lithium prices, new technology that the public isn't aware of... .and all impacting the comparisons between internal combusion engines and electric motors).
If Elon can make sense of creating EVs with the rules and markets of the day.. more power to him. I find no moral issue with it.
I wish I could say that the "big three" never did anything morally questionable. (GM's killing of LA's public transit system in the fiftys? the most recent bailout?)
You won't have to look very far to find nearly anything humans doing - without some questionable moral aspect.
@ChriSharek You said "the Order of the Engineer Ceremony, I pledged to "serve humanity my making the best use of the Earth's precious wealth."
This is the reason I shake my head in wonder as presumably competant engineers jump on this lunatic bandwagon of windmills, solar cells, and EVs at any cost.
Ethics (so rare in this world) prevent me from EVER endorsing this technology on a mass scale. It is utter lunacy from so many perspectives.
Companies like tesla are technical ponzie schemes that WILL collapse the same day the massive injections of other peoples (government) money stops. This makes it unethical.
As a practising (technical, not managagement) Engineer of over 35 years I am well aquainted with marketting hype, ponzi schemes, and government waste at all levels. I understand the long term consequences of ignoring lifecycle cost.
"Our obligation as an engineer should be to lead the public as well once technologies have been proven."
And what does "proven" mean to you? To me it means that people will want to buy "WITHOUT" using other peoples money.
Good point, William. Margaret Thatcher once said that "The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." I think that holds true in other endeavors as well...make it personal with your own money and you are going to think a lot harder about how you spend it.
In many engineering workplaces, there’s a generational conflict between recent engineering graduates and older, more experienced engineers. However, a recent study published in the psychology journal Cognition suggests that both may have something to learn from another group: 4 year olds.
Conventional wisdom holds that MIT, Cal Tech, and Stanford are three of the country’s best undergraduate engineering schools. Unfortunately, when conventional wisdom visits the topic of best engineering schools, it too often leaves out some of the most distinguished programs that don’t happen to offer PhD-level degrees.
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.