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Why bother with the added costs of a PHEV when it only comes with 20 miles EV range. The new Volt with 50 miles of EV range makes much more sense IMO.
This Volt is much better than the first Volt especially the 50 miles all electric range and the 3 seat configuration for the back seat versus the two seat setup for the old Volt. IMO VW and Toyota are making a huge mistake by only offering about 20 miles of all electric rage in their PHEV offerings. That is still a highly polluting car doing most of its annual miles in gasser mode. Still, why does the new Volt not come with free Wifi enabled for the life of the car say with 100 Gbyte limit per year like Tesla's Model S has. You need that for streaming music and videos for the kids and to get up to date navigation maps and real time navigation advise without the inconvenience of connecting your phone. With an always connected car it can also be locked and located in the case it is stolen and GM could update all car related software on a monthly basis and gather usage and maintenance related info just as Tesla does. The internet of things will not happen until cars are connected by default. Today very few cars are connected and those who are mostly charge an annoying monthly fee. Make the payment up front on the car and forget about paying monthly bills for 12 years.
There is an interesting piece on Driving Range for the Model S Family under various circumstances written by Tesla's JB Straubel, Chief Technical Officer. For instance, if you cruse at a steady 40 mph the Model S 85D will go 450 miles before running out of electrons! Cruising at 65 mph will drop range to 300 miles. Cruise at 85 mph and range is down to 210 miles. http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/driving-range-model-s-family
Herman In Tesla's announcement you can read "Appointments for upgrading Roadsters will be taken this spring once the new battery pack finishes safety validation." As for price I don't know for sure but at 50,000 USD for the upgrade Tesla would have a gross margin of about 50%. Tesla could sell about 200 upgrades per year so 5 million USD per year (200*25,000) for paying for the engineer hours that Tesla spent making this upgrade available. I do not think Tesla will lose money selling upgrades for their EVs. Plus as you say Tesla are gaining marketing points by being able to say that their EVs are upgradable and only get more range over time. It is a general trend that companies who cares for the sustainability of their products develop programs that offer old refurbished products with new warranties. Apple does it, Tesla does it and everyone will do it going forward if they sell a physical product that is suited for that. There need not be any loss of money here. On the contrary as a company you get an opportunity to sell the products twice. I am following Tesla closely and I see them doing many more things right than wrong. On the very short wrong list is the fact that too many drive units have malfunctioned on the Model S P85. In Norway nearly 2000 of 7000 Model S have had their drive units replaced under warranty despite that these vehicles are less than 2 years old. Tesla discovered that the units had failed because the one speed gearbox in the unit did not get lubricated during manufacturing. That lubrication mechanism may also have been insufficient. In order to replace all the Norwegian drive units Tesla had to slow down production of new Model S. So this is a really costly issue. Musk also realized that in order to prevent similar bugs in the Model X they needed to test it more thoroughly than they originally planned. This is why it is delayed. Basically Musk has admitted that the first Model S that Tesla made were not as ready as they should have been generating a much higher number of warranty issues than expected. Another error in my opinion is those falcon doors for the Model X. If you think it through they are more trouble than they are worth in terms of coolness, easy access. They cost a lot, they are less durable, they cannot open in a garage with a low roof. If you open these doors in bad weather your cabin will be flooded by rain or snow (but at least the kids will get a laugh out of it). Otherwise I think Tesla is doing everything right.
Tesla makes it crystal clear that future upgrades are deliberately planned for I quote "We are confident that this (Roadster 3.0) will not be the last update the Roadster will receive in the many years to come." See http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/roadster-30 If this continues these very first BEVs that the world got that was worth driving will become priceless collectors' items in 50 years from now.
EP I am not sure you are right about car makers being allowed to sell retrofits to old cars that significantly changes the vehicles without being forced to have these vehicles reapproved. However, I do not know for sure myself so you could be right. Let's see what happens when Model S gets a new and bigger battery pack option. It will weigh more if Tesla chooses to use Panasonic's silicon 4.0Ah cells and I am pretty sure it will trigger a new authorization process even though it is an old model. I know there is no pollutant for EPA to check in a BEV but it is still EPA's responsibility to make an efficiency sticker that is required for any cars that are sold. A new battery effects the information on that sticker. I don't think it cost a lot to get an efficiency sticker from EPA for a BEV. The crash testing, however, is really expensive but that is not EPA but some other agency.
EP if you change the weight of the car significantly then from a legal point of view it is a new car that needs to be approved all over again, new crash testing, new EPA sticker etc. Tesla's dual drive Model S changed enough regarding its weight to trigger that procedure. This is also a problem with making a new battery pack for the Model S. Tesla will need to use Panasonic's heavier 4.0 Ah cell and that will trigger new authorizations. For the Tesla Rodster I am pretty sure they used the same cell as is currently used in the Model S. That cell has the same weight as the cells used in the old Roadster so the weight of the Roadster will not change.
E-c-i Tesla had to do it the way they did because a less heavy battery pack with same range as the old Roadster would necessitate a new EPA authorization that cost millions of USD. Also, as you point out, the Roadster can't do 135kW fast charging like the Model S so more range is the only option left to reduce range anxiety. I think that Tesla is making two points that matters: 1) As EP said, unlike gassers, BEVs only get better over time because batteries improve and can be used to upgrade the range 10 years after you bought the BEV. 2) 400 miles range for a BEV beats anything that a concept hydrogen car can do. The Model III could get a battery option with a really long range for those who want to pay for that.
@yoatmon I just read at wiki that the Model S battery is composed of 7104 cells. I quote "The 85 kWh battery pack contains 7,104 lithium-ion battery cells in 16 modules[55] wired in series (14 in the flat section and two stacked on the front).[56] Each module contains six groups[57] of 74 cells[58] wired in parallel; the six groups are then wired in series within the module." That is different from the about 7600 cells and a 3.1Ah cell that has otherwise been written on the web. I think the wiki reference is the correct one because it is so detailed with sources and that would also imply that Tesla use the 3.3Ah cell you are talking about as 3.3Ah*3.6V*7104 = 85kWh. I now guess you work at Tesla and simply picked up a cell and weighted it. Therefore now I assume that the 3.3Ah cell is a modified version of Panasonics 3.4Ah cell. This is interesting because it means any future battery pack upgrade from Tesla will have to be based on the 4Ah Panasonic cell and that it could result in a 4.0Ah*3.4V*7104 = 97kwh battery pack. That pack could become available for Model X next year and maybe also Model S.
@yoatmon The 4Ah cell is still better than the 3.3Ah cell since Tesla as far as I know can fit 7600 of them into their pack. Use the 3.1Ah cell and you get a 85kwh pack (7600*3.6*3.1), use the 4Ah cell and you get a 103 kwh pack (7600*3.4*4.0), and use the 3.3Ah cell and you get a 90 kwh pack (7600*3.6*3.3).
For all we know Tesla uses a 3.1Ah battery cell from Panasonic that has 243wh/kg (=3.1Ah*3.6V*(1000g/46g)). These cells are going into Tesla's cars at least until 2017 until the Giga factory starts up. However, in 2017 that factory will probably only do battery pack assembling and not actual cells. My expectation is that Panasonic and Tesla has a 4Ah cell ready sometime 2015 so that Tesla can add a larger battery pack to customers that want to pay for that. That 4Ah cell has = 252 wh/kg (=4Ah*3.4V*(1000g/54g)) and more importantly a very high 800Wh/L. Do not expect anything better on this side of 2020 from Tesla and Panasonic. Tesla and Panasonic supply contract http://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/10/20131030-tesla-1.html Panasonic 4Ah cell http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/12/panasonic-20091225.html
Massive hydrogen storage could also be done in depleted gas and oil fields. However, it has the same problem with geologic limitations as salt caverns. An alternative is to store liquid hydrogen in manmade cryogenic tanks buried underground. That would also be more expensive but they could be build everywhere. The energy storage question is important to investigate because a solution for the intermittency of solar and wind power needs to be developed before the world can to go 100% renewable and pollution free. As a temporary solution backup power for solar and wind can be delivered with existing gas and coal powered plants. However, coal power plants that are operated as backup power facilities are difficult to operate profitable. It is impossible for new coal power plants to be operated that way because of their low capacity factor below 30%. Old coal power plants with no debt remaining still make economic sense. However, eventually fossil based backup power must also be phased out. One promising method that emerges as a fully scalable solution for long-term (even seasonal) renewable energy storage is to use heat sinks. 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 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 make electricity at about 12 cents per kwh using such a facility which is lower than all the alternative methods including compressed air, hydrogen or pumped hydro storage. As mentioned 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 http://ing.dk/artikel/siemens-vil-lagre-stroem-i-kaempe-sandbunker-172557
Darius electricity does not represent a large economic burden in any modern economies. In the EU we consume about 5000 kwh per year per person so at 0.08 USD per kwh we are talking about 400 USD per year per person. Making a transition to go 100% wind and solar power may increase the cost a little say to 0.12 USD per kwh mainly because of the cost of the required non-fossil based backup systems like heat sinks or hydrogen. However, we gain more economically from eliminating the pollution associated with the fossil fuels. That pollution causes widespread diseases that makes us less happy and less productive.
This is just the first power company to do so. Others will follow this track. In the EU power companies are looking to get out of fossils and nuclear and into solar and wind power. For the first 6 month of 2014 Denmark made 40% of all its electric power from wind turbines. And the plan is to keep increasing that share in the coming years eventually to 100%. Backup power for solar and wind can be delivered with existing gas and coal powered plants as Denmark currently does. However, coal power plants that are operated as backup power facilities are difficult to operate profitable. It is impossible for new coal power plants to be operated that way because of their low capacity factor below 30%. Old coal power plants with no debt remaining still make economic sense. However, eventually fossil based backup power must also be phased out. One promising method that emerges as a fully scalable solution for long-term (even seasonal) renewable energy storage is to use heat sinks. 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 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. 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 make electricity at about 12 cents per kwh using such a facility which is lower than all the alternative methods including compressed air, hydrogen or pumped hydro storage. 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 http://ing.dk/artikel/siemens-vil-lagre-stroem-i-kaempe-sandbunker-172557
The zero-emission feature is only one of many benefits from BEVs. It is not the one that drives Tesla's sales. That Model S handles better than any other car because of its low positioning of the battery pack and its engines. It has more trunk space for any car of its size and it accelerates better than any production gasser that money can buy. It is also more safe than any gasser for sale because it has a large crumble zone in the front (where the gas engine typically sits) and in the back. It does not have easily flammable liquids like a gasser but a battery that is slow to ignite and give passengers or rescuers time to get out of the car before it is engulfed in flames after a crash. The BEV can charge at home. No need to bother visit a public gas station 50 times per year. Big deal. However, it is a problem that this world is only offering >one< long-range BEV, namely the Model S. There should be at least 30 different long-range BEVs to choose from costing from 45,000 USD to 200,000 USD covering any type of car in the luxury consumer segment. Tesla does not have the resources to do more than one new model every 4th year or so. Therefore, it is important for the rapid adoption of BEVs that BMW, Audi, Porsche, Benz and others also step in and introduce these long-range BEVs. IMO long-range BEVs will take most of the global market for consumer cars costing over 50,000 USD once they are made available in the market because they can be made better than similar priced gassers. If Tesla is the only company that will carry the burden of making all the needed models then it is going to take much longer time for BEVs to become important in this world. @Eci I do not share your optimism about low battery costs anytime soon. You need 85kwh to make a long-range normal sized BEV. Tesla spend about 250 USD at the pack level per kwh and then you need to add a gross profit margin of 30%. In other words, about 28,000 USD out of the minimum 81,000 USD for a Tesla Model S 85 is for the battery pack (85*250*1.3=28k USD). That 50Gwh pack will cut that fraction by 30 to 40% by 2022 when the factory is operating at full capacity. So about 20k USD is the minimum price in this world in 2022 for a 85kwh pack including the needed gross profit margin. The model III can use a smaller 60kwh pack to go nearly 200 miles but it will still cost about 15,000 USD in 2022 out of its price tag that will start at 40 to 45k USD. Tesla will have the biggest battery factory and therefore also the lowest cost in the world for that BEV component.
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.