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Henrik
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I would like to see BMW devote half of their R&D budget to develop long-range BEVs as they represent the future of luxury vehicles being inherently better than gassers with better handling, more trunk space and no pollution or noise. BMW could make a deal with Tesla to buy batteries from that 50Gwh factory Tesla is building and to get access to Tesla's supercharger network. Tesla on the other hand could buy carbon fiber materials from BMW. BMW need to scale their carbon fiber production in order to cut the costs and Tesla likewise would be able to scale their battery production with new 50Gwh factories in order to cut battery costs further. There is an investment manager who thinks BMW will forego gas engines altogether in 10 years. That time frame is nonsense but ultimately I also believe that luxury car makers will become the first automakers to skip gas engines altogether. http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1095656_bmw-to-phase-out-combustion-engines-when-10-years-analyst-claims
My expectation is that mined frack sand will eventually be replaced by industrially fabricated ceramic pellets. Ceramic pellets are more efficient than frack sand as they can be engineered with exactly the desired properties for the use in mind. Moreover, they can be made by a variety of source material so that it is easier to locate the production of this low cost material closer to the fracking area and source material area thereby increasing logistic efficiencies. Unlike the mined fracking sand there is also no long-term shortage of the manufactured ceramics. One more thing. The dropping oil price will not stop the US fracking industry from expanding. Fracking oil or natural gas has become the lowest hanging fruit in the oil and gas market with the lowest costs. I will say below 50 USD per barrel of oil and below 3 USD per million BTU for gas. Oil sands on the other hand, will not grow at 75 USD per barrel. That is IMO a good thing as it is as dirty as it gets for any type of production in the oil industry. However, oil sand projects under construction will be completed in order not to lose the already invested capital. I also expect the US natural gas shale gas to continue its growth at increased speeds simply because the low price for natural gas in the US (among the lowest in the world) will mean more demand for natural gas. Industries with high energy needs are reallocating globally to the US because of that. However, US gas production can and will IMO follow suit and therefore the price may stay at 4 to 5 USD per million BTU in the US for many years to come.
Davemart you can also read in that statement that 1) Tesla makes a gross profit of 252 million USD or 32k USD in gross profit per car sold (=252/7,785). 2) Tesla spend 136 million on R&D or 17.5k USD per car sold (=136/7785). For comparison VW spend about 520 USD per car sold on R&D! 3) Tesla spend 155 million USD on Selling, general and administrative of which none goes to direct marketing but most goes to building the global distribution network, service network and supercharger network or about 20k USD per car sold (=155/7785). Tesla's production is now at 1000 cars per week or 12000 per quarter. It should grow to 18000 units in the 4th qtr of 2015. That would mean about 550 million in gross profit in that qtr and by then the current losses due to huge R&D and investments in selling, general and administrative should be covered plentifully. In fact, sales just need to hit 12000 quarterly before the net loss is over at current R&D etc. Tesla has enough on the book to take a loss for a while and an even bigger one in the cash flow account that also includes even larger investment in plant, property and equipment. IMO Tesla's biggest worry is that they will get competition from another Model S and Model X made by a competitor among the old automakers. I do not see that coming for the time being. For one thing the probable competition does not have the required battery factory and neither does anyone else. You can't build such a large battery factory without the press knowing years in advance. Tesla's latest qtr account and letter to shareholders http://ir.teslamotors.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=1193125-14-403635&CIK=1318605 http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ABEA-4CW8X0/3655259848x0x791902/d7b8cc04-9c3e-4216-9ce3-7fb4d7e0c00b/Q314%20SHL%20Final.pdf
Another perspective: Tesla's Model S goes about 300 miles on 85kwh of electricity. The underpowered, no trunk space Toyota Mirai fuel cell car spend 5 kg of hydrogen to go the same distance. However, to produce that hydrogen with electricity you need 5*80 = 400kwh. The Model S is therefore over 4 times as efficient as the underpowered small car Toyota hope to sell. Good luck with the fuel cell cars they will need it!
Batteries are prohibitively expensive for any significant use as backup power for the grid. It is easy to see why. The US uses about 10,000 kwh per person per year or 30kwh per person per day. A family of five should therefore invest 30,000 USD in a battery containing just 24 hours of backup power if the kwh price of battery backup is as low as 200 USD (30,000 USD = (5*30kwh)*200USD). The only solution to store electricity that scales economically to anything we want is to use an electrolyser to produce hydrogen and then pump that hydrogen down in a depleted oil or gas field and subsequently use a combined cycle hydrogen power plan to make electricity and heat when needed. Unfortunately this ultimate solution to renewable intermittency is currently expensive. 1kg of hydrogen contains about 40kwh of energy. You lose about 50% of the energy for electrolysis and compression. That means you need to use 80 kwh to produce and compress 1 kg of hydrogen. A combined cycle power plant could be up to 65% efficient. The hole process of producing hydrogen and using it for electricity production when needed is therefore only 33% efficient compared to 98% efficiency of a battery (0.33=0.5*0.65). The cost of producing one kg of hydrogen from electolysis when assuming electricity cost 5 cents per kwh and wear down of the electrolyser and compressor is another 5 cents is therefore 8 USD per kg = 80*(0.05+0.05). However, in a society where all power comes from wind and solar you could produce hydrogen at much lower cost as off peek hour prices for electricity would approach 1 cents per kwh and with improvement of electrolyser and compressor technology you may reach 2 cents per kwh in wear down costs. So 1 kg of hydrogen could cost 2.4 USD = 80*(0.01+0.02).
Bernard I guess the first robotic home chargers for Tesla will cost 3 to 5k USD as they are low volume items. If Tesla can get to 30k unit sales per year or more the price could go down maybe in half. After all a power cable is not heavy so the robotic arm does not need to be strong. The Model S already has electric opening and closing of the charge port door and also autopilot. The latter just need a software upgrade.
Tesla will come up with fully automatic charging at home or in public using a robotic connector on their 10 to 20kW home charger or their 135kW public charger. The autopilot will park the car and start charging it that way after you get out of the car at the front door of your destination. This will be a possible for Model S owners with autopilot sometime in 2015 or 2016. Of cause it will take a year or two more before the Tesla supercharger network is upgraded in this way. The benefit over inductive charging is weight reduction and cost reduction for Model S, nearly 99.9% efficiency versus at most 95% efficiency for inductive charging more likely 90% and also probably at most 5kW charging for inductive charging. Of cause a robotic charger at home will cost you 3 to 5k extra and many will probably not want to pay that much for a little gimmicking at home. An inductive 5kW charger will probably add 3k USD to the price of a car and 50 pounds.
My expectations is that we will see 35k USD BEVs with 36kWh battery packs and 125 miles EPA rated range in 2016 to 2019 from the old automakers (such as a second gen Leaf). They will sell much better than the 24kWh versions currently selling at 30k USD and above that might have peaked in global sales already. Tesla will market a nearly 200 miles range EPA rated Model III by 2018 to 2019 starting at 40k to 45k USD for a single drive 50kwh version and up to 80k USD for a 300 mile P70D dual drive performance version doing 0 to 60 in 3 to 4 sec. The reason that Tesla can price their cars so low relative to the competition from old automakers will be their 50Gwh factory that will have the lowest cost batteries in the world. There will be no mass market hydrogen car on the road until 2025 and more likely never IMO. Die hard zero emission apartment dwellers with no dedicated parking spot for electric charging of a BEV could skip car ownership and use driverless BEV taxis that will be massively available in large cities after 2025.
These are obviously concept cars. A hydrogen tank is placed in the rear without the required crumble zone that is the security purpose of the trunk in the back. It is a real problem that current design schemes for fuel cell cars do not allow for a full size trunk. So what could be done to remedy this? You can't insert a fuel tank in the front of the car as that area is also needed as crumble zone for car crashes. There is space at the back seats but then the car would become a two seat car which is unacceptable. The only solution I see is to do like Tesla and make a thick floor in the car and use that for storing five or four long hydrogen cylinders that go from the front wheels to the back wheels. Because of the lower packing efficiency and low volumetric energy density of the hydrogen cylinders the floor would need to be two or three times as thick as the floor in the Tesla. The car would look different than other cars being 10 to 15 inches taller than other cars with the same cabin space but otherwise it will have a full size trunk. The fuel cell could still be packed under the front seats and the battery pack under the back seats. I also think you could store more than the typical 5-7 kg of hydrogen in such a floor based system. 8-10 kg would probably increase range to 460 miles for a standard sized car and make it more practical as well. It would of cause cost more to use four or five tanks in the floor rater than just two tanks. However, the current fuel cell car designs are impractical (limited trunk space, not enough range or not safe enough) and an effective show stopper for fuel cell calls so something else has to be done. That thick floor design with 4 or 5 gas cylinders could also be used to make a long-range (460 miles) car that run on compressed natural gas. Such a car would cost about 10k USD more than an ordinary gasser solely because of those gas tanks and even in mass production but NG is also only half the cost or less of diesel or gasoline. If the price of oil ever reaches 200 USD per barrel and stay above that price such a NG car could become popular.
That thick floor design with gas cylinders could also be used to make a long-range (460 miles) car that run on compressed natural gas. Such a car would cost about 10k USD more than an ordinary gasser solely because of those tanks and even in mass production but NG is also only half the cost or less of diesel or gasoline. If the price of oil ever reaches 200 USD per barrel and stay above that price such a NG car could become popular.
It is a real problem that the design of this fuel cell car does not allow for a full size trunk. So what could be done to remedy this? You can't insert a fuel tank in the front of the car as that area is needed as crumble zone for car crashes. There is space at the back seats but then the car would become a two seat car which is unacceptable. The only solution I see is to do like Tesla and make a thick floor in the car and use that for storing five or four long hydrogen cylinders that go from the front wheels to the back wheels. Because of the lower packing efficiency and low volumetric energy density of the hydrogen cylinders the floor would need to be two or three times as thick as the floor in the Tesla. The car would look different than other cars being 10 to 15 inches taller than other cars with the same cabin space but otherwise it will have a full size trunk. The fuel cell could still be packed under the front seats and the battery pack under the back seats. I also think you could store more than 5 kg of hydrogen in such a floor based system. 8 kg would probably increase range to 460 miles and make it more practical as well. It would of cause cost more to use four or five tanks in the floor rater than just two tanks. However, the current design is impractical (limited trunk and not enough range) and an effective show stopper for fuel cell calls so something else has to be done.
Of cause no actual numbers yet here. wh/L or wh/kg. However, the news come from a respected company with experience in mass production of advanced lithium batteries. This is not an untested startup or pure research company. It is the first time I have seen an announcement about using sulfur cathodes and silicon anodes in combination in a lithium battery. This is interesting. The next generation Tesla battery will likely also use a silicon anode using the Panasonic 4Ah 18650 cell. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/12/panasonic-20091225.html
The car does not have a practical trunk (half of its space is taken by the hydrogen tank and the battery. It costs 57.5k USD but only does 0 to 60 in 9 sec. If you are lucky enough to find a fuel station you will need to pay more for hydrogen than you pay for equivalent gasoline not to speak of the cost of electricity. For a car that needs to be refueled at a remote public hydrogen tank its range of 300 miles is not nearly enough. Range anxiety will be a real problem here. Of cause Toyota knows it is a hard sell and they only plan to sell a few hundred of them globally in 2015. Basically it is testing program in the public. The auto industry is still a decade away from mass production of hydrogen cars if that ever happens. If the car cannot be made for the same price as a gasser or less (considering its shortcomings relative to gassers and BEVs) it will fail IMO. It cannot do anything better than a gasser so people in general will not pay more for it. At least BEVs can be refueled anywhere (at home 95% of the time). That and lower refueling costs and better trunk space are the main selling points for BEVs over gassers and fuel cell cars.
Quoting wiki "The first modern fuel cell vehicle was a modified Allis-Chalmers farm tractor, fitted with a 15 kilowatt fuel cell, around 1959." So after 55 years of steadily improving concepts we are still only seeing concepts now with 100kw fuel cells and the ability to start in cold weather. Good luck going forward they need it. I for one do not believe in it. Apart from fueling in 5 minutes a real world BEV Tesla P85D with 515kW of power can do everything a state of the art concept fuel cell can do and then also have more trunk space and the ability to refuel at home or anywhere with a plug. The cars cost about the same to produce. However, the world need efficient low cost electrolyses for hydrogen production when wind and solar are delivering more power than otherwise needed on the grid. That hydrogen could be stored inexpensively in depleted oil and gas fields and be burned in conventional low cost combined cycle power plants to make electricity and heat when solar and wind is not producing enough electricity to satisfy demand. That is the only realistic and low cost solution for all intermittency problems in a country that base all of its energy production on renewables like solar and wind power. My point is that the world does not need fuel cells vehicles but we need inexpensive and efficient hydrogen electrolyses in order to go fossil free and end global pollution once and for all. And the engineers that currently spend their time developing unnecessary concept automotive fuel cell are exactly the engineers we need to develop those electrolyses because fuel cells and electrolyses have a lot in common and can indeed be identical.
Another research company making wild claims without any mass production ever. Sorry but that Gigafactory by Panasonic and Tesla is by far the most realistic hope this world has of getting real world cars with 200 plus miles on the road by 2018 in any large volume. Also the price will not be 35k USD as Musk currently hope/say. It will more likely be between 40k and 45k USD. The launch may also more likely be delayed to 2019.
The Panasonic cells that Tesla uses are already at 660 Wh/L and we may see a new battery pack option next year for model S and X with cells at 800 Wh/L. See http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/12/panasonic-20091225.html Winterkorn is right about using Wh/L and not Wh/kg. It is more relevant for the auto industry to focus on battery size rather than battery weight as a smaller battery means more space for passengers. People do not care about the weight of their car as it does not affect their use of that cars as much as battery size does.
From Tesla's letter to the shareholders "One of the significant actions we intend to take in order to reduce manufacturing complexity is to simplify our product offering by reducing the number of options and powertrain combinations." Tesla did not dwell long on that issue. The day after publishing this letter they changed Tesla's configurator so that the dual drive Model S 60 and the single drive P85 is no longer offered. I can imagine the production executives may have told Musk that their job of lowering cost and ramping up production would be more effective with less drivetrain options on the line. Make sense to keep the lowest cost version single drive Model S 60 and the halo edition P85D and also keep the bread and butter versions 85 and 85D. Tesla also raised the prize of the dual drive option on S 85 to 5000 USD instead of 4000 USD. I speculate that when the Model X arrives next year Tesla may also drop (perhaps temporarily) the single drive Model S 85 in order to be able to meet the demand for the larger rear motor that I suspect will be needed in most versions sold of the Model X. There will also be a new and larger battery pack option next year that uses the latest generation of cells from Panasonic. That may not complicate production at all as it could have the exact same size and nearly the same weight as previous 85kwh packs.
My thoughts also. The falcon doors are significantly more practical and way cooler than traditional doors. However, it scares me they are not used in mass market cars at all and not even in luxury cars that have strong reasons to include them. My suspicion is that Audi, Mercedes, BMW etc have all tried but ultimately concluded that it is technically too complicated (read expensive) to justify the falcon doors or that they can't be made as reliable as traditional doors. If Tesla can pull it off at acceptable extra costs (say, adding 3000 USD versus the price of a car with traditional back doors) it is fantastic and will make the Model X a historically unforgettable car. It would have been less risky though to go with traditional doors first and then make a falcon door version at a later point in time when Tesla is in safer territory from a economic point of view. However, Musk is a daring person and not doing something because others have failed before him is really not his style. I hope he is right on this one also but I can't help worrying.
Customer feedback from buyers of BMW i3 range extended version also show that some customers are not happy with the loud noise from the small range extender that needs to work at its peak when the battery is drained and the car is driven hard or at highway speed. In these conditions some even reported that the car can only do 0 to 60 mph in 30 sec! That is a safety hazard. It was my original hope that PHEVs could be made less costly by using a smaller gas engine. Now I am more convinced you need a full size gas engine for the range extender in order to make a good car that functions as expected in all conditions. That also implies that PHEVs will be more expensive than hybrids that again will be more expensive than plain gassers. I think that the 30,000 to 55,000 USD segment is the one where PHEVs can be less costly than long-range BEVs of similar size and comfort. For now at least. For cars between 20,000 and 35,000 hybrids can compete and for cars below 25,000 the gassers will continue to rule for many years to come.
@Mahonj I hear you. The only thing that currently prevents widespread adoption of BEVs is the huge cost of making the necessary 85kWh battery packs. With Tesla like Giga factories and decades of evolving battery technology I am convinced you can one day make such a pack for about 6000 USD. It may take 50 years to get there but it will enable you to make cars that cost only a few thousand dollars more than a gasser of any price class and that can outdo the gasser in every important regard. BEVs will save you minimum 10,000 USD in fuel expenses per 150,000 miles driven and that plus the all the benefits of BEVs (like better handling, home refueling, less noise and vibration, more trunk space, better acceleration, etc) will make gassers obsolete. The more of the old auto makers that start making such long-range BEVs (starting in the low hanging fruit luxury segment) the less time it will take to get to that 6000 USD for a 85kwh pack.
GM will reveal the second generation Volt at the Detroit auto show in January. Elsewhere I read GM focused on better all electric range, efficiency and cost for that 2. gen Volt. All of that makes sense IMO. I think it will be a significant improvement. It also make sense that old automakers make PHEVs as it is a natural extension of their expertise. However, they also need to start making long-range BEVs and not leave that market completely to Tesla. Eventually one day all cars will be BEVs for lots of good reasons. The sooner the old automakers start to make long-range BEVs the less costly it will be for them to make the transition to BEV production. Waiting until you have to because you bleed market share to Tesla is going to be much more costly than starting today when Tesla is still small at least until 2022.
One of Musk's main arguments for using small cells is that they contain less energy per cell relative to a large cell and the net effect is that Tesla can pack the cells more efficient will less need for heavy fire protection material between the cells in order to prevent a thermal runaway in one cell from propagating into other cells. Tesla ends up with a battery pack that is as safe as it should be but also has much higher Wh/kg at the pack level. That is another reason Tesla is the only carmaker with well over 200 miles range for their BEVs. But you are quite right that Tesla can have a cell made in any size they desire as it will become the most mass produced cell in the world. I would not be surprised if the next version of Tesla's battery packs will use something else than 18650 if that could improve on the wh/kg at the pack level. Maybe something even smaller than 18650.
The CEO of a 200 man strong company doing specialist jobs for Nasa and other high tech companies has not anything to do with mass production. What is the most units of anything they have done. 10, 100, or a 1000? Musk and Panasonics 6500 man strong battery factory is going to make billions of 18650 cells per year. The Mars rover battery is nuclear decay based as a recall, not chemistry based. I am sure it is one of a kind and I do have a lot of respect for people doing basic research but it does not make them experts in mass production and its costs. My problem with this study is that it will be used by some people in large automakers to argue that the Tesla way is wrong and should not be copied as it is a dead end because batteries will always be too costly to be relevant for mass market vehicle production. That would be a pity IMO.
So the million dollar question is who should we trust the most? Panasonic and Tesla saying they can reduce production cost of battery packs from current state of the art production by 30% minimum with their 50GWh factory or a few academics who never got their hands dirty with actual production? I think Musk said the savings would primarily be from vertical integration and the fact that when a factory buys 10 or 30 times more machines, raw materials and semi-manufactories than other battery factories out there they get significant discounts. Something the researchers did not analyze.
@EP for other carmakers to use Tesla's charging network they will have to pay dearly to Tesla. To be profitable with BEVs GM, Nissan etc need to build their own supercharger network and my point is they have not even started and surely will not be ready with a global network by 2017. The Tesla thing about "free to use patents" was only for those who has other patents to free that Tesla find equally valuable as in "You get usage right to our technology if we get the same from you." BMW is IMO the only carmaker that can make such a patent trade with Tesla. BMW is ahead of Tesla in terms of using low cost carbon fiber materials for car manufacturing. Tesla could benefit from using that in their coming cars.