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What if it doesn't happen as Elon thinks?

So, Lexus is now supposed to be building hybrid supercar that has 400HP and electric drive in the rear axle. (http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20130813-toyota-teases-hybrid-r)

So one after the other, established manufacturers seem to be making a beeline for the hybrid bandwagon.

What if, the public is just happy with half an electric car? What if they just don't care for the full electric feature? We know there are a lot of people who don't care about the environmental aspects, judging by the number of posters who jump to say AGW is not real ( some of those DO admit to pollution caused, though ).

So it's performance. Well, these new breed of hybrids offer the starting power and torque of the electric and then fall back to the warm complexity and dirtiness of the gasoline drivetrain that most of the other automakers find comfortable and cozy.

Imagine your nouveau riche neighbor showing his new BMW 400 horse sedan which can go 100 miles on pure electric. "Oh, how far can you go in your Tesla? 300? Me too, but I figured 98% it will be electric, in the city. On those long journeys, dude, I can fill up on gas ANY damn place I want to. I don't care if its gas during those times!" He says with a smug smile.

Is this going to be the future? Is tesla going to be the lone ranger?

Hybrids to me are the worst possible solution - even more COMPLICATED than an ice-age car..! Even a range-extender is preferable.

One day the relative costs of long term servicing between ice-age; hybrid; RE and pure electric will wash out - and I know which one will win that battle!

Some people embrace the change, others try to work it into their comfort zone. The Tesla is a game changer, the others are just cutting corners. It probably won't work out exactly how Elon thinks it will, doesn't make the car any less amazing. When gas hits $7 a gallon and I charge at a free supercharger and my nouveau riche neighbor pays at the pump, who will be wearing the smug smile? Hybrids are much more complicated, wait to see how he feel about his repairs.

Eventually, there will be competitive cars. Only a matter of time for the big ones to go off and match for the big, luxury EV market. By 2020 there will be 5-8 similar models to the S and X.

Don't you know that BMW has been making a 330hp hybrid 3-series for years now. It's a joke, the mpg isn't that great. Even though I love BMW, I wouldn't even consider it for a second. My MS is way better.

This could very well be a near future. The whole EV revolution may end up being an evolution after all. But in the long run the complexity and cost of hybrid cars (and the gas itself) will make them less competitive than pure electric and with the introduction of lighter batteries with longer range they will die out eventually.

Electric will win out in the end. There are too many advantages. For a small example: We're having a heat wave here in San Diego, and I've had occasions to leave the AC running while doing some quick errands. Or getting the AC started up before I get to the car. This is a NICE feature, something that just isn't possible in an ICE.

You are also forgetting that in 2 years (about the time that these hybrids come out) we will have superchargers everywhere which will negate gas station advantages.

The car manufacturers are reacting to the Prius. It'll take them five more years before they start to take the all electric Tesla seriously...

I wouldn't worry too much.

First of all, the general public is not the target audience for either the Model S or the high performance hybrid super cars. While they may be high profit, high margin items, $100,000+ vehicles are not the mainstream. Second, why should I concern myself with what my nouveau riche neighbor drives, and more importantly, why should that have any impact on me? My Model S does not define who I am. My neighbor could get a 1,000 HP super hybrid car, brag about it and smile all day long - good for him or her. I did not buy Model S to have the biggest and baddest car on the block - I bought it because I wanted to be environmentally responsible while getting comparable range to an ICE vehicle. The performance was a great perk, but not a defining feature for me.

The arc here is getting to sustainable transport. Hybrids are not sustainable. Although performance is nice, we cannot focus on that as a defining factor for EVs or even the Model S. The adoption of EVs to get us to a more sustainable place is not dependent on performance, but widespread adoption and making the vehicle practical for the general car buying audience. A person who buys a Camry is not concerned with 0-60 times, but is absolutely concerned with buying a safe, affordable and dependable vehicle for his or her family.

if Tesla can make a really good "E" model at the price point of 35 K and build out the supercharger network then it doesn't matter what hybrids come out in the meantime.

All hybrids still have a fixed range and need to stop and fill up not to mention the fill up can not be done in the convenience of own garage. No?

@Redshift,

Dissecting your original post you seem to be asking "Will there be mainstream adoption of pure electric vehicles, or will the general public prefer hybrids?"

There is also a possible hidden question "And if the latter, what does that mean for Tesla?"

Arguably, given the inherent simplicity and advantages of pure electric vehicles, the only problem hybrids solve is range anxiety at a given price point.

I believe therefore the first question depends on the following: is it possible to overcome the emotions surrounding pure electric range anxiety (either through engineering, marketing or both) at a price point which makes them worthy of consideration by the general public? Clearly Elon believes that can be achieved.

If mainsteam adoption does NOT happen, then for "what does that mean for Tesla", one underlying question is "What is required for Tesla to be a sustainable company?" Theoretically that does NOT require mainstream adoption of electric vehicles. It requires Tesla to be able to capture roughly 0.8% of the global market for passenger vehicles (cars). That production rate (500k cars per year) would put it 25th on the 2012 global car production list.

At this point I can see hybrids being more acceptable for many people, but temporarily. Many people that I talk to about my MS can't seem to fathom a car that does not run on gas. Also, it seems like the big automakers either don't get it yet (pure EV) or are so in cohoots with oil that they will resist making a serious EV car as long as they can. Elon and Tesla have worked hard to push through a great EV and I hope for all of us the rest of the world learns to accept the future CO2-free.

I saw that Chevrolet was thinking seriously about a Corvette hybrid.

All I could think is, "WHY!?!?". I just don't get it.

First off, none of these major auto companies will develop a hybrid that is better looking or faster than their best ICE vehicle, because they are FAR to invested in their ICE technology and development infrastructure.

Second; As much as Tesla has made a huge impact on the auto industry, they are FAR from any fear of having to completely change the way they develop vehicles at this point.

Tesla will more likely build a Model S killer LONG before the mainstream auto makers come even close to developing a compeditor to the current MS.

At this point in time, the mainstream auto industry is standing on the sidelines closely watching Tesla. However, until Tesla builds a $30k-$40k Gen III EV, capable of 200+ miles of charge, with the looks of a competing ICE vehicle, and a quick charging intrastructure from coast to coast, that outsells competing priced ICE vehicles, I don't suspect we will see much of anything that is real Tesla killer.

@Captain_Zap,

The Model S is an uncompromising pure electric. The Corvette is an uncompromising ICE sports car. I agree with you. The idea of a hybrid Corvette makes me queasy.

If you're going to do that, why not put in a back seat and a trunk? And some people can't afford to tune up that V8, so put in a V6, that's good enough! What do you mean it's a Camry? It says Corvette on it, doesn't it?

I think we'll end up fully electric for consumer vehicles. It would have taken goodness knows how long at the previous pace introduced by hybrids. Tesla sped things up. I personally have no concern we'll evolve to hybrids and stop there. Remember, Tesla isn't trying to dominate the auto industry...it's trying to accelerate an idea which would have taken decades upon decades otherwise.

Hybrids are nice because they overcome range issues. Unfortunately, the supercharger roll-outs are in the process of making range issues a non-factor, effectively taking one more argument away from hybrids. The natural chain of evolution sways back to full electric.

When you disrupt an industry it takes time for the industry to catch up. In 2007 Apple's iPhone was so far ahead of anything at the time in 2007. Only in the last 12-18 months has there been some real pressure put on Apple by competitors that would challenge their dominance in industry profit share. Tesla is basically following a similar roadmap right down to the ecosystem (Apple has iTunes, Tesla has superchargers). It's going to take the industry years to catch up to Model S, and by then Tesla will be on Model S 2.5 and will have launched Model E(veryone).

In the unlikely event that the industry leapfrogs Tesla, that only puts pressure on Tesla to innovate and compete - abilities which Tesla clearly seems to possess. Tesla has already carved out a name for itself judging by the looks I get when I drive my car. This vehicle is legendary, it seems, and Tesla is just getting started. I remember when Steve Jobs, during one of his iPhone or iPad keynots, said "and we're only just getting started". The same could be said for Tesla as well.

What's wrong with being nouveau riche? You guys say that with a hint of disdain. I'm not rich, so when I become rich, I'll be one of them. So that would make me less than you? Or dumber than you? I'm not sure where you're going with that. Tesla hits 300/share I'll be right there.

I'll guarantee I'll buy an S though.

I see hybrids as a necessary stepping point in the evolution of the automobile.

Sure I stepped over it, and directly to the Tesla MS. But, did I really? No I still have an ICE car for various reasons. So in my buying decision I still went with a hybrid solution.

The hybrid solution was two cars instead of one.

Sure a hybrid car can seem like an inelegant solution, but it gets the job done for a lot of people. Something like the Volt gives the the short range electric for their commute, and higher range for travel.

In my opinion most of us are hybrids. There are only a few of us that have truly left the safety blanket of the ICE.

@Tikiman - "First off, none of these major auto companies will develop a hybrid that is better looking or faster than their best ICE vehicle, because they are FAR to invested in their ICE technology and development infrastructure."

Maybe Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren aren't in the same league as BMW and Mercedes, but have you checked out the 'LaFerrari', the 918 and the McLaren P1?

From Wikipedia: "LaFerrari is the first mild hybrid from Ferrari, providing the highest power output of any Ferrari"

Change is coming. Pity that everyone else is heading down the hybrid route.

As a consumer, or customer rather, I fear nothing when it comes to competition. Competition shall be welcomed no matter where it comes from as it will provide us with the better product propositions and indeed choices.

Tesla is great for sure. But is no religion. Someone else provides a better over all deal of course that someone shall be judged by its merits - and purchasing decisions to be made.

But rest assured, Elon has his mind deep into the future and he has sought out every possible scenario. His is actually that smart. Don't doubt it. Tesla will have new upgrades, new models and new concepts to take competition head on. And out of this dynamics new and advanced technologies will emerge and we as users shall be lucky to be offered elements to a improved quality of life.

That is how things work in our parts of the world ... strange enough.

S4WRXTTCS -good point, even some of us that have only one car(Model S) have the ability to rent or borrow an ICE if they need one for a trip where it's too difficult to currently make. So indirectly we still have the security of traveling the usual way. Look at the absurd permitting delays Superchargers are facing because of local issues,it's going to be a while before ICE's are obsolete and hybrids are still worth making.

In large companies ( I worked in several ) it is easy to add something, but almost impossible to eliminate something. The gas engine guy and the muffler guy will vote against it. The BMW I3 is the best example of the compromise mentality
- 450 lbs 22 kWh battery pack = 100 miles range ( baseline ). That is a specific energy of 107 Wh per kg. Battery experts will tell you that is state of the art. Unfortunately Tesla packs specific engery is 160 Wh per kg. put that into an I3
- 450 lbs 32 kWh = 150 miles range ( 160 Wh per kg )
Range extender is 330 lbs, add that
- 780 lbs 56 kWh = 250 miles range ( 160 Wh per kg, but I3 chassis weighs much less then MS )
BMW engineering focussed on leightweight chassis, not battery system.

May the best player win.

At this point, MS has the highest safety rating due to the space that is not available for non-pure electric vehicles. It has the lowest drag reduction due to being pure electric. It has low center of gravity due to being pure electric...lower future battery cost with higher capacity is best captured by the pure electric, etc. So at this point, it seems that Tesla has a lot going form them.

Hybrids can be cool. They can be environmentally responsible, at least if you're Toyota and your car is the Prius, top of the mileage heap for ICE cars for over a decade. They can be good for national defense and the trade deficit, because you are sending less dollars overseas in exchange for oil. They don't have reliability and complexity problem per Consumer Reports, and you can get a 50MPG Prius-C for $20K.

Tesla has at least established a niche. It won't go out of business. It may be a game changer, at least I hope it will be.

Hi,

I understand all the points being made about hybrids. I am simply talking about those who don't want to think too much, you know? Those who buy into the talk that electrics 'just move tailpipe emissions', or that 'batteries are inherently more polluting to manufacture/recycle' etc.

Right now, I agree that Tesla has a huge competitive advantage. As Tesla starts to eat more sales, competitors will start to seek to muddy the waters, pitching for the hybrid as the best solution. Sure, they are more complicated, require more maintenance too. Until Model E reaches full production and meets its sales goals, EVs are still the UFOs of the automotive world, I'm afraid.

In the long run, with probably a good deal of help from our middle eastern despots, oil prices will rise, which will force more people to adopt EVs. Until then, 'evolution' will probably take place, not 'revolution'?

@Redacted. Where are we sending our money when we buy a Prius? Directly to Japan.

Hybrids, to me, are not the answer. BEV and EREV are the only real way to go. And make mine in the USA, please.

Redshift, you don't have to wait too long. "Considering Military Actions" in Syria is already pushing crude oil prices up.

Nick,

Yes, while there are a few niche exotic developers using hybrid technology to get more power out of their supercars (rather than using turbos or superchargers), I don't think you will find any companies with a comparable priced car to MS that is trying to trump their best luxury models, unless it's just to make the vehicle faster, at a much higher price-point (like what GM's says they might do with the 2014 Stingray).

Most car manufactures just can't afford to lose money developing a luxury vehicle that is both highly-desirable and uses half of its energy derived from an electric motor / battery to get amazing gas milage, and amazing power. Thus the reson why the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius, BMW i3, etc all look and perform like cheap botton of the line eco-cars for the poor.

I do agree that eventually, it will happen. However, it is still far off for most typical car manufactures.

And Tesla is speeding all of that up. Thanks, T!

Tesla Motors Model S is clearly the gold standard for future electric vehicle transportation. As prices fall to $35,000 in a few years while gas prices increase and the supercharger network is widely available nationwide, the big 3 auto makers will likely update their business model to include innovations in their future vehicles created by Tesla Motors, especially if production numbers can be dramatically increased.

Remember, Elon's stated larger vision is to have a transportation system without utilizing fossil fuels and instead transition to emission free powered electric vehicles world wide.
He has already shared technology and partnered with companies that are also working towards making this future vision become a reality. His leadership and talented team will allow Tesla continued success while at the same time encouraging and providing technological support for additional like minded companies. I am grateful to play a small role in this vision as an early adopter model S owner.


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