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Electric Cars

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Bump.

 

Well, I was sadly unable to convince my wife of the advantages of the Tesla Model S (<a href="http://cleantechnica.com/2014/02/28/best-overall-car-win-tesla-model-s-consumer-reports/">notiwhtstanding</a> <a href="http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/13/tesla-model-s-99100-on-consumer-reports-test-best-score-ever/">the fact</a> <a href="http://planetsave.com/2014/12/08/tesla-model-s-most-loved-car/">that it</a> <a href="http://www.motortrend.com/oftheyear/car/1301_2013_motor_trend_car_of_the_year_tesla_model_s/">is f***ing awesome</a>), so as of two days ago, I became the somehow less cool (and less mobile) owner of a used Nissan Leaf.  I had kind of hoped to grind my old '01 Altima along to 2017 when the Tesla Model 3 is slated to arrive, but there is always the risk of production delays with that (though Tesla has been executing with incredible precision so far) and the old Altima was starting to show a little too much car-thritis for my liking.

 

And that first moment of driving away from the dealership, seeing the BP across the street, and suddenly realizing "wait, WTF do I care?" was a magnificent moment.

 

One of the first things I did was download an app called PlugShare, which also has a regular Web site presence here: http://www.plugshare.com/.

 

This revealed something that I kind of wish I'd known before I bought the comparatively short-range Leaf.  While downtown Akron is actually surprisingly progressive with electric vehicle charging stations in publicly-owned garages, and Columbus has reasonably dense coverage as well, Cleveland is actually something of an EV charging desert.  That's unfortunate and I hope to see that change.  I occasionally need to commute from Akron to my firm's downtown Cleveland office and it would be nice to have somewhere nearby where I could charge for the return trip--the Leaf's biggest shortcoming relative to the Model S is range (not as many people care about the 4WD and the ability to go 0-60 in 3.1, though those benighted fools didn't have the test drive experience I did ... but I digress).  It's a 60-mile round trip.  The Leaf is rated for 80, but that's cutting it a little close for my comfort, given that electric cars actually flip the strengths and weaknesses of regular cars.  Regenerative braking and the 0-rpm peak torque of an electric motor mean that it's actually great in stop-and-go city street traffic and anything else an internal-combustion engine (ICE) car would do in a lower gear (the electric is great on hills as well), but it loses power and efficiency at higher speeds, whereas ICE cars are often at peak efficiency at around 55 MPH.  Therefore, you can't count on it getting the full 80 miles if you simply get in I-77 north and put it in cruise control at 55, whereas that would be the ideal range-maximizing setting for many ICE cars.

 

Anyway, Dear Cleveland: The electric car is going nowhere but up, so you might consider taking steps to make your downtown more welcoming to them, especially considering that we already managed to do it down here.

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Hah!  I recognize that video; I've watched it a couple of times already.  Let's just say that showing that to her probably wouldn't have helped my case.

 

Likewise this one ... because I'm not 100% sure which of the two women she'd be:

 

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Gramarye you should turn in your Republican card, because you sound like some kinda 'Merican flag hatin' granola loving eco-commie right now.

 

P.s. LOL @ car-thritis.

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Gramarye you should turn in your Republican card, because you sound like some kinda 'Merican flag hatin' granola loving eco-commie right now.

 

P.s. LOL @ car-thritis.

 

Typical Democrat, behind the times  :-) :

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/katenocera/this-kentucky-conservative-owns-a-tesla-lives-off-the-grid-a#.plpGWb5KQn

 

My old company made wheels for the Volt, so I can't be against them either.

 

 

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Gramarye you should turn in your Republican card, because you sound like some kinda 'Merican flag hatin' granola loving eco-commie right now.

 

P.s. LOL @ car-thritis.

 

Typical Democrat, behind the times  :-) :

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/katenocera/this-kentucky-conservative-owns-a-tesla-lives-off-the-grid-a#.plpGWb5KQn

 

My old company made wheels for the Volt, so I can't be against them either.

 

This.  I'd read that before, and that sounds like someone I'd get along with.

 

surf, blame my cheapskate wife.  If it weren't for her, I'd be in a Tesla right now, not this affordable, emasculating hippiemobile that tops out at 90MPH and 90 miles on a charge (with no climate control, "eco" mode enabled, and no highway driving).  :shoot: :-o

 

I actually have real concerns about how this thing will hold any value at all because electric cars are in such a technological growth spurt that this thing will look like a dumbphone purchased in 2005 looked in 2008 (after the iPhone).  The flip side is that the Teslas are also likely to get substantially better and cheaper, so if I'm really up for paying $85,000 for a car, that will buy even more car in 2017 or 2018--and of course, the Model 3 might prove to be exactly what I'm really looking for.

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Gramarye you should turn in your Republican card, because you sound like some kinda 'Merican flag hatin' granola loving eco-commie right now.

 

P.s. LOL @ car-thritis.

 

Typical Democrat, behind the times  :-) :

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/katenocera/this-kentucky-conservative-owns-a-tesla-lives-off-the-grid-a#.plpGWb5KQn

 

My old company made wheels for the Volt, so I can't be against them either.

 

This.  I'd read that before, and that sounds like someone I'd get along with.

 

surf, blame my cheapskate wife.  If it weren't for her, I'd be in a Tesla right now, not this affordable, emasculating hippiemobile that tops out at 90MPH and 90 miles on a charge (with no climate control, "eco" mode enabled, and no highway driving).  :shoot: :-o

 

I actually have real concerns about how this thing will hold any value at all because electric cars are in such a technological growth spurt that this thing will look like a dumbphone purchased in 2005 looked in 2008 (after the iPhone).  The flip side is that the Teslas are also likely to get substantially better and cheaper, so if I'm really up for paying $85,000 for a car, that will buy even more car in 2017 or 2018--and of course, the Model 3 might prove to be exactly what I'm really looking for.

 

Tesla is to electric cars what Hebrew National is to hot dogs.  A separate category.

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Gramarye[/member] I'm curious what your thought process was in going full electric (Tesla notwithstanding), vs. a hybrid.

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I tend to agree with Elon Musk's own answer to why he never considered designing a hybrid as a stepping stone rather than going straight to fully electric vehicles: A hybrid tends to be not a great electric car and not a great gas car.  Most hybrids have a very limited fully electric range.  Also, while you do have plug-in hybrids now, the main source of the electricity to power the hybrid car is also from running the gasoline engine, which means you're still dependent on stopping at gas stations, which is one major reason to get an electric in the first place.

 

Or maybe I agree with Mr. Miyagi: "Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later ... [squish] get squish just like grape.  Here, car, same thing. Either you electric do "yes" or electric do "no." You electric do "guess so," [squish] just like grape. Understand?"

 

The primary cost savings of having an electric car come from (a) the dramatically smaller number of moving parts, which lessens expensive under-the-hood maintenance, and (b) the fact that electricity from the grid is far cheaper than the same amount of power stored in a tank of gasoline.  The hybrid forfeits both of those advantages.

 

It still has a transmission, a filter system, alternator, distributor, and of course the internal combustion engine itself.  In many ways it's actually more complex than a purely gasoline-powered car rather than less.  You will still need oil changes, transmission fluid, and much more, on top of the non-powertrain components that both ICE and electrics still have (shocks, struts, etc.).

 

It also still runs on gasoline, either to actually drive the car sometimes or to charge the battery (using the engine like a generator).  The whole point of an electric is that you don't need to haul around a small portable generator with you under the hood; FirstEnergy's generators a hundred miles away are much better at it, as long as you can store enough of it locally.  (Hence, storage has always been the bottleneck technology for the electric car.)  That's why the average cost of energy to drive an electric car 12,000 miles (a typical year) using grid power is usually somewhere around $400, and the cost of energy (fuel) to drive an ICE car that same distance is probably $1500-$2000.

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(Hence, storage has always been the bottleneck technology for the electric car.) 

 

Storage is a bottleneck, period, where electrical power is concerned. 

 

A major breakthrough in storage efficiency will be of massive benefit to the electric car business.....and to so many other things that it's research they don't need to fund.  They'll piggyback on it..

 

 

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Tesla's business model (and share price) are built around that thought: That they will be both a car company and a power company.  The PowerPack that they just announced is their first foray into that, though under the packaging, its specs are pretty lackluster and wouldn't keep a whole home (even a relatively small condo, let alone a typical suburban house) going for long enough to grant real grid independence even paired with a solar installation.  They could, however, allow for serious load redistribution by drawing grid power at night and lasting long enough to power a decent-sized home during the day.  And of course, down the road, it's expected that solar installations will be cheap and strong enough so that a typical suburban roof's worth of square footage can absorb enough power to fuel both the house (including through the night, with storage) and the car.

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Tesla's business model (and share price) are built around that thought: That they will be both a car company and a power company.  The PowerPack that they just announced is their first foray into that, though under the packaging, its specs are pretty lackluster and wouldn't keep a whole home (even a relatively small condo, let alone a typical suburban house) going for long enough to grant real grid independence even paired with a solar installation.  They could, however, allow for serious load redistribution by drawing grid power at night and lasting long enough to power a decent-sized home during the day.  And of course, down the road, it's expected that solar installations will be cheap and strong enough so that a typical suburban roof's worth of square footage can absorb enough power to fuel both the house (including through the night, with storage) and the car.

 

I remain skeptical that Earth based solar power is ever going to be a major player for high density applications, though space based is a different matter entirely.  It's one of the few technological predictions Heinlein missed on, so far.  The problems are more physics than engineering:  too much atmospheric absorbtion.

 

Though super efficient storage methods (like Heinlein's "Shipstones") will make any and all means of producing energy potentially relevant.

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Density is a storage issue more than a production issue where solar is concerned, though.  Cost-per-kWh is the dominant metric with respect to production.  A 5% efficient panel is better than a 50% efficient panel for most purposes if the 50% efficient panel is 10x as strong but more than 10x as expensive (e.g., because of a rare-earth metal requirement).  We've got plenty of usable surface area in most developed areas, especially in the suburbs where there tends to be a lot of inefficiently used dead land; 100% efficiency is a sci-fi ideal but doesn't in any way need to be the practical polestar for widespread adoption.

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Electricity from the grid is far cheaper than the same amount of power stored in a tank of gasoline.

 

...assuming that grid electricity is available. There are millions of parking spaces out there without available electricity.

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Yet another issue with the company that refuses to scale in the slow, careful manner that the grownup car companies did. What this means for you is that if you try to use a Tesla Model 3 as a daily driver your insurance will be through the roof if you include rental car coverage. The insurance company does not want a $35,000 bill from the rental car company.

 

 

Tesla's Potential Body Shop Backlog Nightmare

With production of the Tesla Model 3 supposedly coming soon, the automaker’s ability to successfully bring the sedan to production has been the subject of intense speculation. But after a financial analyst published a disaster account last week of how it has taken eight months to repair his Model S, another question has been front-and-center: Can Tesla and its repair network fix these cars in a timely fashion, especially when it’s counting on mass sales of the Model 3?

 

 

http://jalopnik.com/teslas-potential-body-shop-backlog-nightmare-1793269803

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The modern marketplace doesn't allow for slow scaling, especially for tech companies (which Tesla is, much moreso than a car company).  Also, Tesla was founded in 2003.  Their growth since then has obviously not been linear and the Model 3 represents essentially a bet-the-company risk (they won't have the revenue to survive if this product flops), but that was part of the company's express plan since at least around 2006.  The body shop issue is a problem, but a solvable problem.

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Why do you guys love bashing Tesla so much? I'd consider them a tech company. Especially since they're affiliated with SpaceX. Their cars use a lot of innovative and cool technology. Their cars run off of some pretty elaborate software that allows for things like auto-pilot. Ludicrous mode allows you to go from 0-60 in like 3.2 seconds. Their SUV has doors that electronically slide directly up so that if someone parks really close to you, you don't have to worry about being able to open the door enough to get in. Their cars have a lot of cool, innovative features.

 

It's a little ridiculous how much crap is controlled by their software, though. You're not able to fully take advantage of their 120 mile range (or whatever it is) unless you pay an extra $9000 for nothing more than a software upgrade that allows you to utilize every cell in the battery. I just picture all these rich people getting stranded somewhere a year after buying the car and caving in like it's nothing, calling Tesla and giving them their credit card information to process $9000 to get the update, so they can suddenly and conveniently able to drive their car all the way home.

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Why do you guys love bashing Tesla so much? I'd consider them a tech company. Especially since they're affiliated with SpaceX. Their cars use a lot of innovative and cool technology. Their cars run off of some pretty elaborate software that allows for things like auto-pilot. Ludicrous mode allows you to go from 0-60 in like 3.2 seconds. Their SUV has doors that electronically slide directly up so that if someone parks really close to you, you don't have to worry about being able to open the door enough to get in. Their cars have a lot of cool, innovative features.

 

Who's bashing them?

 

They are in a class by themselves, where electric cars are concerned. 

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Self-driving cars are going to have so much radar and other expensive stuff in the bumpers that every knick will total them. 

 

I'm worried about the software being hacked. Someone could operate the car remotely and drive you off off a cliff.

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Why do you guys love bashing Tesla so much? I'd consider them a tech company. Especially since they're affiliated with SpaceX. Their cars use a lot of innovative and cool technology. Their cars run off of some pretty elaborate software that allows for things like auto-pilot. Ludicrous mode allows you to go from 0-60 in like 3.2 seconds. Their SUV has doors that electronically slide directly up so that if someone parks really close to you, you don't have to worry about being able to open the door enough to get in. Their cars have a lot of cool, innovative features.

 

 

 

A lot of it is this "More than just a car" garbage that makes people who have been around cars all their lives extremely sarcastic since we've heard that over and over from every car company. No, it's just a goddamn car. I don't care about your side quests when even your "regular car" has to be treated like a Ferrari.

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They are in a class by themselves, where electric cars are concerned.  [/color]

 

But not for long.  The other manufacturers will all have good electric cars in the early 2020s and they'll be able to make them more cheaply.  For a brief period of time Apple produced the only smartphone of the sort that every manufacturer now makes.

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That's really regressive. Few in the target demo for the Model 3 are going to be able to take full advantage of the credit.

 

Most people who can afford a $45,000 car (figure $35k base plus $10k average option order per buyer) are going to pay at least $7500 in federal income tax.  However, the bigger issue for Tesla is that that credit will expire for Tesla pursuant to its own terms (i.e., even if it is renewed--it would need to be expanded for Tesla's customers to keep it).  That is because the credit is intended to subsidize the startup of electric car manufacturers (Tesla is so far the only successful one) or new models and facilities of existing OEMs, and therefore automatically phases out after the company has sold its 500,000th qualifying vehicle.  Tesla will blow through that next year if they get their production in place.

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^From the article: "According to Niedermeyer, Model 3 reservation holders who participated in the study said they were “more than twice as likely to own a Toyota as any other brand,” and a “significant portion” reported a household annual income of between $25,000 and $49,000 in 2015. (The Model 3 MSRP is expected to be around $35,000 before tax incentives are included.)

 

“With the majority of its potential Model 3 customers coming out of affordable, reliable cars like the Camry,” he wrote, “they will not tolerate the level of service Tesla is currently providing.'"

 

These folks might be swinging above their weight or plan on keeping the car a long time.

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I read that, too, and that's mindboggling to me.  No one should drive a car that costs more than their annual income.  Honestly, 50% is pushing it.  I think the Model 3 will be a fantastic car but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone making below $70k.  I honestly want to know what "significant portion" means in this context.  I'm sure a lot of Model 3 owners will be upgrading from Toyotas, not arguing that part, just want to know more about the number of people making under $50k still plunking down for a Model 3.  At the very least, that statement raises an "inquire further" flag in my brain.

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