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What would impress me was if Benz said they would make a fully autonomous long-range BEV.
Problem with PHEVs is that they are not cutting edge anymore and really not that interesting. What would be interesting would be to see Benz do a long-range BEV or several different long-range BEV models. That would cut CO2 and other pollutant by 100% when using renewable energy. Benz could also start selling the home owner solar panels, home smart devises and home chargers that enables this 100% reduction in pollution. That is what I expect Tesla is planning to offer in the near future.
Tesla model S 85D is getting 100 MPGe combined. 106 MPGe on highways. So Tesla is twice as efficient as BMWs car in electric mode and it is also more powerful than the BMW with 5.4 sec to 60 MPH. BMW needs to get more serious. Model S is actually more heavy than the BMW.
I very much like the idea that private people show who they are and stand for by buying EVs and solar power to say no to pollution and the degradation of our planet and say yes to oil independence and local job creation. That is a statement just as it is a statement to drive a gasser and use electricity from a grid that is far from being clean. However, we are not there yet in terms of costs. Nevertheless, solar power and battery backup is making such statements economically possible for many more people every year as the costs are dropping.
@EP people will still be on the grid. No need for fossil home generators. But during spring and summer the solar panel owner is not going to buy much electricity from the grid. Going off-grid is not the objective here. It is to reduce the annual electricity bill and to do something good for the environment. I also expect Tesla to sell smart items that can control your freezers, garden pumps, heaters etc so that they use electricity when the sun shines and otherwise not unless absolutely needed.
But home owners with solar power do have an incentive to install battery backup. This is because many utilities have started to charge a monthly fee of about 50 USD for allowing the solar panel owner to feed excess electricity into the grid. Investing in a battery means that the solar panel owner can just produce electricity for himself and that battery and thereby skip the monthly feed-in fee. This will of cause also mean that the solar panel owner is not allowed to send electricity back into the grid. Tesla knows this is happening and therefore there will be a huge demand in a few years for solar power battery storage. Therefore, Tesla is planning to manufacture such solar battery backup systems as well on their 50Gwh per year factory. The first such system will be announced later this year.
Tesla currently charges 4250 USD for the Tech Package with Autopilot option which extends the capabilities of Tesla's autopilot system with convenience features like •Traffic-aware cruise control •Lane keeping with automatic steering •Self-parking Tesla also need that highway autopilot feature and a self-parking feature with automatic charging connection. That should come before 2020 at no additional costs.
Harvey elsewhere I read "Delphi estimates it will cost $5,000 to make a vehicle almost fully autonomous by 2019."
Unfortunately I do not currently have an English source. I agree that the 10 cents for storing 1kwh is still too high. But it is not a complete show stopper either as you would only generate electricity from these heat sinks when no other sources are available. Most of the time probably over 75% during the year there would be enough electricity from solar, wind and battery backup in a country that is 100% powered by solar and wind. Moreover, if you do it in a small scale for a private house owner the freezing air would become useful for air conditioning of the house during the summer where there the heat pump is operating at its maximum. The efficiency is higher than one would expect because it is a heat pump actually sending more than 1 kwh into the heat sink for each kwh used to operate the heat pump. The excess energy is taken from the hot summer air (20 degrees Celsius). It will be more efficient in really hot weather. But there will be heat losses from the sink and the machine room with all the machinery for this to work. The heat sink solution has caught my attention because it is presumably less costly than making hydrogen by electrolysis and pumping that hydrogen down in depleted gas fields for later use in a combined cycle power plant. I also like the idea that it can be deployed anywhere at any scale. I think it is the future until the day come where mankind finally will master fusion energy.
This system by Delphi looks very much like the one that Volvo is developing. Especially the part that enables self-driving on the highway and that is capable of stopping the car should the driver not respond to calls to take over the control of the car. As you can obviously not stop the car on the highway I guess the car must be capable of driving itself to the nearest exit point on the highway and then stop itself at a suitable place after exiting the highway. Hope that these autopilot highway systems can be available by 2020 so that people can start spending their time more productively when driving on the highway.
@EP I did not pull the heat sink solution out of the blue. I will gladly give you the numbers, see below. I also believe nuclear energy is the future we just need to go from fission nuclear to fusion nuclear but that is still perhaps a 100 years away from commercialization but eventually we will master fusion energy. Siemens wind power is now in the early stages of developing a new idea based on storing heat up to 600 degrees Celsius in large reservoirs of sand or stone that is buried underground and insulated to prevent heat losses. Just one facility 3 to 4 square kilometers large and 10 meters deep can store enough heat to power steam turbines that could make all the electricity that Denmark (5.5 million people consuming 5500 kwh per year per person) typically consumes in 10 days. That would solve the intermittency problem completely for a country like Denmark that strive to go 100% fossil free using wind power. In Siemens solution heat is transferred into the heat sink using heat pumps (compressors) compressing ambient air at 1 bar and 20 degrees Celsius to 30 bars and 600 Celsius and blown through standard steel tubes within the heat sink. After delivering some of the heat to the heat sink the air is decompressed through a gas turbine that helps turn the compressor. That process also produces freezing cold air at minus 100 degrees as the exhaust of the gas turbine to be used for cooling (say industrial food storage). Siemens early estimates is that they can store electricity at about 10 cents per kwh using such a facility which is lower than all the alternative methods including compressed air, hydrogen or pumped hydro storage. Moreover, these alternative methods also require suited geographic locations like a depleted gas field for storing compressed air or hydrogen or a steep mountain for hydro storage. The heat sinks can be build anywhere and at any size. Potentially even a house owner with solar panels on the roof and heat sinks buried in the garden could do this but the cost would go up in such a small scale facility. Mass production could of cause bring it down for such micro facilities. Danish source for Siemens project
There are scalable solutions for dealing with the intermittency problem of renewable energy. For intermittency within the day we simply use batteries and for anything longer than that (including seasonal intermittency) we use heat sinks (large heated sand reservoirs at 600 degrees Celsius) and/or store hydrogen made from excess electricity during summer and spring. Use the stored heat to power steam turbines in the winter and fall and use hydrogen for combined cycle power plants. However, before solar become really important globally we need to cut its cost to about 1 billion USD per installed gigawatt. Currently it is 3 billion USD per gigawatt. In 20 more years solar is cheaper than any other energy even when the cost of providing intermittency infrastructure is accounted for.
I guess that Audi has finally got it that in order to be a relevant future luxury car maker you need to make long-range BEVs. Even more importantly, these BEVs need to be fully autonomous. If you cannot deliver that by 2025 in volume you are going to bankrupt rather quickly thereafter. To see why note that each fully autonomous BEV could be operated as a taxi service doing 100,000 miles per year and thus replace 7 non-autonomous cars on the street (6.7=100,000/15,000). Driving the usual 15,000 miles per year at an average 40 miles per hour means 375 hours per year spend driving or about 1 hour per day. An autonomous car driving 7 hours per day should therefore be able to log 100,000 miles per year. Tesla making just 1 million autonomous taxi BEVs by 2025 should therefore be able to displace production of 7 million non-autonomous cars per year. Alternatively Tesla may make 2 million autonomous BEVs per year and thus displacing production of 14 million non-autonomous cars per year. So it will have a very dramatic impact globally once those autonomous BEVs begin to hit the market. The autonomous cars will be BEVs and not gassers because BEVs can be build to be many times more durable than gassers thus having lower capital cost per mile driven and we know that electricity per mile driven is always less costly than gasoline. So it has to be autonomous BEVs not autonomous gassers.
For anyone interested to follow the news in autonomous vehicles I can highly recommend bookmarking Green Car Congress dedicated tag on the subject. This tag was set up in march 10, 2014 and has all the interesting news in this area since that time. Autonomous battery electric cars and trucks (and even auto campers for simultaneous long-distance night travel and hotel accommodation) are the future of land transportation because it will lower the cost of land transportation significantly (at least 40%), it will lower traffic accidents by at least 90% (as 90% of all accidents are caused by human errors), it will drastically reduce congestion, it will eliminate all pollution problems related to land transportation and most importantly it will turn time wasted on driving into productive time spend on pleasure, work, sleeping, resting or dining. When fully autonomous cars are ready to hit consumers in about 2022 to 2025 it will quickly change everything in the global auto manufacturing business and global land transportation industry. Those who do not get this technology out in time will lose customers rapidly and ultimately bankrupt.
I applaud the progress Renault has made. It is substantial.
The new zoe gets 240km range and the Leaf get 200 km range on the European test cycle. The epa range for the 2015 Leaf is 84 miles so the new zoe will get a less than 100 miles epa rating. I hate it when car makers give their range in miles using the European rating process. This is totally misleading and manipulative.
Good points mahonj. I know it sounds crazy and a bit like a nightmare for the auto-mechanics. However, the benefit is of cause that Tesla can push improvements much faster than other automakers and thereby stay more competitive. Tesla is the only automaker that does not have annual refreshes and 6 annual remakes. Instead, changes are implemented as soon as they have been thoroughly tested and approved very much like Apple's, Google's and lately Microsoft's endless software updates. Customers are so far happy because Tesla is fairly quick to come and fix things that go wrong at no cost for the customers of cause. Tesla had a big slip last year for thousands of P85 to Norway that had a faulty grease mechanism that broke the engine. That error was found and improvement have subsequently been made. Norwegian customers got their cars fixed fairly quickly which hurt Tesla's production at the end of the year because many engines needed to ship for repairs in Norway instead of production. Otherwise I do not think there has been any recalls at Tesla which is quite remarkable for an upstart.
This BEV two seater from Audi does 0 to 60 in 3.9 sec and Tesla's Model S P85D a five seater can do the same in 3.2 sec. I fully understand that Audi will not launch this version yet to the public as there is still a lot of work to do. However, Audi should be lauded for moving in the right direction. Now at least it has usable range. Also things takes time. I think Audi is moving as fast as they can to catch up with Tesla. Of cause Tesla is a moving target that keeps improving their own cars at an unprecedented speed for the auto-industry with quarterly updates of all in-vehicle software and about 20 physical modifications per week at Tesla's production lines. The arms race is on for sure in the auto industry like never before because of the coming global shift to BEVs and self-driving vehicles and the arrival or powerful companies like Apple, Google and Uber.
Another thing to cheer about Volvo's autonomous car is that Volvo has managed to hide all the sensors so that they do not compromise the good look of the car. Take a look a Nissan's or Google's self-driving cars and they still drive around with monstrous looking sensor racks. If that is still necessary you know there is still a lot of work left. To me it seems that Volvo can make a future 100% self-driving Volvo XC90 SUV PHEV simply by using its current sensor package and by upgrading its software as the software developers iron out the needed code. Volvo customers should be able to upgrade their car's software using their car's build in 4G internet connection just like Model S owners are doing today.
The link below is a video from Volvo that describes their pilot project for self-driving cars in less than 3 minutes. I can recommend it. It shows that Volvo's sensor package is far more expanded than the one applied in Model S from Tesla. Hope that Tesla will soon start selling the Model S with an extended sensor package because the one they currently have is not going to be enough to enable truly self-driving features in the future regardless of future software updates for Model S. Ordinary Volvo customers in the pilot program will be able to do other productive things legally in most driving situations. This s an enormous advantage even though it is not 100% self-driving in all situations, especially city driving. The greatest thing IMO about Volvo's nearly fully autonomous car is that the car can park itself safely if the driver is not responding for whatever reason, for example, is sleeping or is unconscious from a heart stroke. In other words, there can be situations where the car judges it is best to let the human driver take control but if he or she does not the car will simply park it-self. Indeed, Volvo is the first auto company in the world to test such a high degree of self-driving car among ordinary people. The 100 people in the pilot program are not developers at Volvo. They are just ordinary Volvo customers.
I did a little research to see who says what about autonomous driving. What I found is that Nissan is the leader already selling self-driving cars that can handle highway traffic and these cars will get fully autonomous (that is, handle the most difficult city driving) by 2020 if Nissan can meet its own deadlines. Many other automakers are not far behind perhaps 2 to 5 years and will also have fully autonomous cars on the road before 2025 including Tesla, Audi, Volvo, Mercedes and Ford. My guess is that Google, Apple and Uber will also start selling autonomous BEVs and transportation services from them before 2025. After 2025 there will be massive volume growth for autonomous travel. By 2035 the global auto industry will exclusively make vehicles that are fully autonomous. IMO not all will be BEVs because it probably takes more time than 20 years to build all the factories that make batteries, power electronics and electric motors. However, in 2035 gassers will be a rapidly dying industry even the PHEVs. As I see it the fully self-driving system is the silver bullet that will make BEVs price competitive with the cheapest gassers and also make BEVs fully useful because it also solves their range issue and the issue with long charging times. Nissan and Tesla knows it. I believe Apple, Uber and Google knows it too. -------- 1) Nissan say they will start selling fully autonomous cars by 2020 that is capable of urban driving. They have said it repeatedly since 2013. Nissan's Infiniti Q50 is already able to drive it selves at the highway and some you tube videos can be found showing people illegally leaving the driver's seat at full highway speed just to prove it. Nissans research and testing is clearly focused on making autonomous city driving possible in all situations as Nissan believe they got autonomous highway driving covered. It will be interesting to see if Nissan can meet their own deadline and be allowed to sell these fully autonomous cars by 2020.! 2) Audi say they will sell their first fully autonomous car by 2017 and the system will be available in the new Audi A8. However, the source is not precise about autonomous driving also include city driving. I quote " Moser (Audi Head of Product and Technology Communications) said Audi "wants to be first" to market with a self-driving car, noting that its autonomous car technology already works well, and it was just a matter of waiting for the legislation to catch up with the technology" 3) Elon Musk say Tesla will build a fully autonomous car by 2020 and have it properly tested and authorized for public roads by 2023. 4) Ford's CEO Mark Fields expect the first fully autonomous cars (including city driving) to hit the roads by 2020 but does not promise that it will be a Ford. He is focused on developing a fully autonomous system that will cost so little that it can be used in all of Fords vehicles not just the luxury vehicles. That will take more time to develop because you may have to stick to inexpensive sensors such as cameras and ultrasonic sensors and forget about radars and laser scanners. Humans do not have radars and laser scanners so they are really not needed if you want to make something that can do better than human drivers. 5) Volvo expect to start selling the an autonomous highway capable Volvo XC90 SUV PHEV by 2020. It will also have systems that prevent deadly accidents in city driving but will not be able to drive itself in cities by 2020. 6) Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche have lately said fully autonomous vehicles will be in showrooms between 2020 and 2030.
This is a link to a recent Nissan announcement about autonomous cars developed at Nissan I quote "The work of NASA and Nissan – with one directed to space and the other directed to earth, is connected by similar challenges," said Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co. "The partnership will accelerate Nissan's development of safe, secure and reliable autonomous drive technology that we will progressively introduce to consumers beginning in 2016 up to 2020." Nissan has set 2020 as the timeframe for the introduction of autonomous drive vehicles that have the ability to navigate in nearly all situations, including the most complex situation, city driving." It seem that Nissan is ahead of Volvo because they believe autonomous city driving is also doable in cars to consumers in 2020. That is the same day Tesla believe they can make an autonomous Tesla that can begin road testing and authorization processes with authorities which is expected to take until about 2023. @ECI Volvo may not be able to sell 100,000 limited autonomous XC90 SUV PHEV in 2020 as they are not a big automaker. However, Nissan and Tesla can. Tesla's capacity in 2020 could be 500,000 BEVs and it could be much more in 2023 when Tesla believe their fully autonomous technology is ready for consumers. I expect all of Tesla's cars to come with this technology. I also expect Apple's car to have it by 2023 or perhaps 2025. It takes no time to manufacture the necessary sensors and chips once the software is done. So when the technology is ready it will be on all luxurious cars made by those who has the technology.
The first Volvo XC90 SUV PHEV is in all likelihood going to be sold in 2020 with a fully autonomous highway capable system. Therefore, it should also be possible for a dedicated team at Volvo Trucks to get the world's first fully autonomous highway capable BEV truck in action on Swedish highways with the needed supercharger stations with automatic truck shifting capability. Trucks with human drivers can transport containers the last mile from customers to these supercharging stations and by 2025 human truck drivers may no longer be needed at all for land base container freight.
Forget diesel and natural gas. The future of heavy duty tractors is fully autonomous BEVs. You can start by building a network of supercharger stations for these autonomous heavy duty BEV tractors along the mayor highways. It will cost less than building gas stations for natural gas. This low cost is being proven by Tesla's fast expansion of their supercharging infrastructure. The idea is that an autonomous BEV tractor with a range of about 100 miles and a 200 kwh battery can move a standard container anywhere on land and that long-distance transport is done by changing tractors in seconds to new fully charged tractors at the tractor supercharging stations. This is done automatically without human involvement. I am certain the economics of a BEV heavy duty tractor is much better than that of a diesel or a natural gas because BEV tractors can be made for much longer mileage life and electricity is always a cheaper fuel than diesel and natural gas. I will try to make the concrete business case for autonomous BEV tractors versus diesel tractors but before I do so I need a little help to get realistic assumptions about tractor economics as it is not my field. Specifically 1) how much does a new heavy duty diesel tractor that moves standard containers typically cost, 2) typical mpg, 3) life durability in miles, 4) insurance cost per 10,000 mile, 5) how much is a truck driver paid hourly and 6) maintenance cost per 10,000 miles. Any clue is welcome preferable with a source.