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EV vs ICE - why am I wrong?

The more I drive the Model S, the more firmly I believe that EVs are the future, and a nearer future than even most optimistic EV supporters might think.

I love this car in particular, and Tesla has done great things that have nothing to do with the fact that its electric - but many of the electric benefits are obvious and transferable: massive cargo space thanks to no Internal Combsution Engine or drive train, instant acceleration thanks to the electric motor, fill up at home, environmental benefits. The core of what makes this car great is that its electric, and future EVs, whether Tesla or not, should similarly be able to capitalize on this. I believe Tesla will continue to lead the way but regardless someone will.

In terms of infrastructure, it makes things like hydrogen or natural has cars seem a little crazy. Call your local electrician, pay him a few hundred bucks to install a 240v and you're done. Fuel up every night at home. Everyone on your block can have a charging station, and it can happen overnight.

So, to me, this seems like the end of ICEs.

I'm sure many of you agree. But what I'd like to hear is not why you agree, but why you disagree. Why am I wrong? I'd like to hear the arguments against, because I'm not seeing it. At least nothing that doesn't have a good answer.

I'll start it off: The one that jumps out at me is battery expense... But I have a very very hard time believing that wont come down significantly in the near future, especially once the world realizes how close we are, and thus whatever additional R&D efforts are necessary would be dedicated to the problem. If indeed its not already achievable with existing or near-existing technologies.

What else?

In 1900 it was not a forgone conclusion that the rickety 1/2 HP horseless carriages of the day were going to take over transportation. It took Henry Ford to make the car reliable and inexpensive enough. Elon is today's Henry Ford. The only thing stopping EVs now is battery cost since Tesla is solving long distance travel through superchargers and battery replacement. If you believe, as Elon does, that cost won't be a limiting factor in 10 years, then yes, we are witnessing a once in a lifetime technology change on a mass scale.

I agree, EV's will take over. However, I can think of three potential (but I think very unlikely) impediments in addition to battery cost:

1) Big Oil: How will they react? They have the capital to quash EV's if they so choose. Remember the EV-1!!!! Who really killed this? As long as Elon is at the head of Tesla I think this is not an issue, but if he leaves 'Big Oil' could move in and strangle Tesla (however they would need to act soon, as this window is closing rapidly).

2) Protectionist government: Many states are already trying to block Tesla in favor of dealerships. This could certainly extend to 'Big Oil' or other losers in a EV world (eg Jiffy Lube, Pep Boys etc).

3) Electricity capacity. If all cars were suddenly EV, the current electrical grid would not be able to handle charging all the cars. Thus, a major upgrade in the electrical grid is required and this needs to be done by government (see point 2). Home solar can help alleviate this, but not fully.

While I think these issues at best will only delay an EV world, they certainly could delay it for may years.

After driving Model S for over 10,000 miles, it still thrills me to drive it. The comfort, size and acceleration are perfect. Model X will provide more room and AWD for more precision. The design of Model S allows for extreme quiet power at the rear axle with a thin battery pack under the car. There is no stopping the truth that Tesla Motors has designed the future of automobile transportation.

Who needs an amusement park? The transportation of the future is in our garages and operating on our highways today! And the best part, I don't need to wait for a vacation day to enjoy the ride!

Read the article on solar in the latest edition of Time Magazine. The utilities are crying and don't want to give us cheap electrons.SCE is giving me a problem getting an additional meter to charge my car at low rates.

"3) Electricity capacity. If all cars were suddenly EV, the current electrical grid would not be able to handle charging all the cars. Thus, a major upgrade in the electrical grid is required and this needs to be done by government (see point 2). Home solar can help alleviate this, but not fully."

This isn't an issue. The electric grid is sized for peak load, which occurs mid afternoon. Since people charge at night, and are usually incentivized to charge after midnight when the grid is least used, the grid won't have a problem. There are local issues, like undersized shared house transformers, but theses are upgraded on a case by case basis as demand increases. I don't see an issue.

Cost. Battery tech and price are limited by chemistry constraints. Gen III might start at $45k, still too much dough for the masses when a $22k Accord will do. When the starting price is under $30k, look for explosive sales growth. We are years away from a $30k Tesla...

Yeah, but already I am seeing that for some people in some places, driving an EV isn't all that cheap, and so that does remove one advantage which would affect the mass market. In some cases, it may even be more about the rate structure (like charging a hefty surcharge for peak usage or something) than the "natural" cost of the electricity itself.

Also, if a very large amount of people start buying EV's across the world, gas prices may fall considerably or at least remain flat, which could also delay the death of ICE.

http://touch.valuewalk.com/valuewalk/#!/entry/gm-honda-and-toyota-might-trouble-tesla-with-fuel-cells,51dc2d19da27f5d9d0f44dc8

I'm seeing lots of articles about major auto companies and fuel cells. I don't buy it, but who knows? Why has it taken so long? I feel the big autos are too deep in oil pockets. Any progress will be slow. And if Elon says hydrogen fuel cells suck, I believe him!

Tesla's motives and goals are clear. The big autos are all over the map. Hybrid, gas-assist, low range EV, fuel cell, etc, etc. .Dates are also as varied....coming 2015, 2017, 2020 and lots of promised dates that have come and gone...no thanks.

Only Sexy EV Teslas for me!

Jackie

Shop

I misspoke. What i meant was electrical generation. We are essentially talking about doubling the electricity currently used. My home (before Tesla charging) uses ~25kwh in 24hrs (most occurring in evening). If you assume the average commute per car is 25 miles @350wh/mile and assume a 90% charging efficiency, this gives ~10kwh per car per day. Most homes have two cars, so this requires ~20kwh per 2 car home. How will all this extra electricity be generated?

I spent a week recently on the Southern California island of Catalina, where most people use golf carts for transportation in the main city of Avalon. I would say 95% of the carts were gas powered. Why? Probably a mix of inertia, cost and repair/Maintenace infrastructure. Considering that electric golf carts are easy to buy, it was more than a little annoying to see all these loud fume belching carts around. Anyways, don't underestimate these factors for converting to EVs. It might take a while yet.

Mdemetri - I don't see generating capacity as a problem either. Again, the generating capacity is already there today since the grid must have access to peak power during peak periods. This means that the peak power plants are idle most of the time, and only turn on when needed. If the grid starts asking for extra power at midnight, the peak power plants are there to handle the load.

Shop - as there is no solar at night, charging at night requires extra coal, natural gas, nuclear etc. Yes the plants can be turned on at night, but the fuel used is nearly doubled. Where will it come from?

I think Tesla has cemented its role in history as the disruptor that kicked off the decline of ICE. What is left to be seen is if the Henry Ford analogy holds true and Tesla stays around long enough to enjoy the benefits of the disruption or if Elon becomes our very own Preston Tucker.

There are a lot of deep pockets in the auto industry and they are used to being fast followers. Look at the minivan--essentially a category that Chrysler invented. Once other companies saw there was a market there, everyone moved into the space. EVs could still win without Tesla also winning.

The oil companies will be interesting. Most of them now refer themselves as energy companies, so that is telling. They have the infrastructure in place, so it will be interesting what they choose to do with it--will they pump electrons or hydrogen--maybe both. I am guessing they will not have religion on this and go where the money is.

My money, literally, is on Elon. He seems to have Preston Tucker's vision paired with Henry Ford's business savvy.

BTW, the other welcome disruption that Tesla seems to be bringing to the industry is the to the dealership model, which I think both consumers and manufacturers will welcome.

O

Oh, well, I'm no energy analyst, but an increase in EV use would correspond to a decrease in gasoline use, right? Gasoline is produced from oil, so that same oil could presumably be used to fire various power plants. Actually, it's better than that since EVs use less energy than gas powered cars, so less oil would need to be burned than today. Also, if the loads were spread better through the day, more nuclear could be used, which is a green way of making electricity. Likewise for hydroelectric. I'm not worried about energy supply, in the grand scheme of things EVs are more energy efficient than gas powered cars.

Lithium might become a limiting factor. I imagine there's a lot more oil still available on the planet compared to lithium. Battery tech will reduce the cost of batteries over time, but if lithium is still a major component of these batteries, then as it becomes more scarce, then batteries could become more expensive.

mdemetri,

"Electricity capacity. If all cars were suddenly EV, the current electrical grid would not be able to handle charging all the cars. "

"We are essentially talking about doubling the electricity currently used. "

You're looking at the issue too much from your consumer perspective. In most modern, industrialised nations, 70 or 80 percent of electricity is consumed by companies, not consumers.

You can do the math yourself (lookup total vehicle miles traveled and multiply by 0.3 kWh). In most industrialised nations an overnight shift of the complete LDV fleet to EV's would increase electricity consumption by around 20%. (Add big trucks, buses etc and you're looking at a total of ~30%).

The effect on the grid and increase in energy consumption have been greatly exaggerated by the naysayers. Never take their 'arguments' at face value, always double check.

Having said all that, what could be a problem in certain locations is the local grid. The consumption pattern will change, and much more energy will be consumed in residential areas. Some local lines or transformer stations might need an upgrade.

There has been a steady increase in energy consumption over the past century, due to all kinds of new technologies: refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, microwave ovens, computers. The EV is just the next item on that list. The increases have been dealt with in the past and dealing with the EV will be no different.

Go by first principles... we have only one energy source - the sun
- oil is made by the sun ( over millions of years )
- bio fuel is made by the sun ( 0.3% efficiency at best )
- wind is fueled by the sun
- hydro is fueled by the sun
All above are much less efficient then the about 20% efficient solarower generation.
Sun doesn't sine at night, so what is missing? Battery systems. Guess what Tesla is - the world largest battery systems maker.

Kleist,

"we have only one energy source - the sun"

Don't want to sound pedantic ), but ....

Geothermal and nuclear (fission/fusion) are not derived from the Sun.

Oil doesn't generate electricity; it's almost never used. Natural gas, yes. Different story.

There are solar energy generation options coming on line that will address the issue that when the sun goes down they stop generating electricity. Check out SolarReserve - Crescent Dunes project currently under construction in Nevada, a 110 MW plant near Tonopah, Nevada, that will generate electricity to power up to 75,000 homes. It utilizes molten salt power tower technology to hold the solar energy heat generated during daylight for 24/7 energy generation. It is slated to begin production in late 2013. So there are better energy generating options in the future. If we did an Apollo like project on energy, we could solve this problem. EV's are definitely the future, and ICE vehicles's are so over and done!

"In most industrialised nations an overnight shift of the complete LDV fleet to EV's would increase electricity consumption by around 20%. (Add big trucks, buses etc and you're looking at a total of ~30%)."

I think that is way high. I've done the calculations for Norway and the conclusion was that replacing all passenger cars with EVs will increase electricity consumption by 5-6%.

I saw a presentation by NVEnergy (Nevada's power generating company) in which the presenter showed data that the current US power generating infrastructure can absorb 100 MILLION EVs without adding a single kW of additional generating capacity. This is, of course, because these 100 million EVs will recharge during off-peak hours. The power generating companies are one of EVs best allies. Perhaps they can off-set, to some degree, negative pressure from oil companies. Oh wait, I forgot, they are now called energy companies.

@ stimeygee, the more EVs there are on the road the cheaper the battery technology is going to get through volume production and quantities of scale. The fact that Tesla can do what it's doing at the Model S price point is incredible. By the time Tesla makes it to Gen 3, the economies of scale will hopefully bring down the cost of the battery.

@Andre-nl - Geothermal is debatable and nuclear is like bringing the sun to earth. It was not meant to be scientifically correct, but instead of going through all these inefficient conversion processes focus should be on direct use of solar for our energy needs.

Once upon a time i did a combustion control job for a large fossil fuel generator(#6 oil fired). The max output of the plant was about 1200MW with three boilers. The most difficult part of the project was getting the units to operate in the 10 to 20% range without pumping black smoke and particulates up the stack. The units sat at ten to 20% between 10PM and 7AM every night. The sweet spot was very close to max load which was between 9AM and 5PM everyday. There are more than enough spinning reserve on the grid to meet EV off peak charging needs for years to come. Although as mention above, local distribution may be a problem at some locations, but generation and bulk power transmission will not be a problem.

@mdemetri

Ever wonder why the other EV alternatives don't go farther than ~100 miles/charge? Even the Toyota RAV4 EV & the soon to be released MBZ, both made with Tesla engine & battery pack. Why is Ford only leasing, not selling their EV? NO money in servicing it, they told me.

Might it possibly these other car makers want to show the government that forced them to make cars without servicing needs that there is no demand for these type of vehicles, so please stop forcing us to make them?

Put today's li-on battery in the old GM EV1 & no range anxiety would exist - it would readily go as far as the S85 235-265 miles/charge.

Why did GM kill EV1 & produce the Volt instead? The EV1 needed no regularly scheduled maintenance & the Volt, with its ICE age motor, does require this type of dollar producing service.

It is hard for us mere mortals to fathom the trillions of dollars in Big Oil & Big Auto, but believe this is a deadly serious fight they will do everything they can NOT to lose.

Make no mistake - these 'long knives' are out to kill our beloved Tesla. Love your car but support the company how every you can.

Narcose has great insight. Besides the many points about electric power vs oil, consider all the jobs and businesses that disappear when auto transport is nearly all EV:

No gas stations.
No refineries.
No semi tanker trucks.
No motor oil production.
Minimal auto parts store inventory.
No oil changing businesses.
No smog certification stations.

Sure, tires, brakes, alignment, and a few other things persist, but that's a small part of the enormous infrastructure that supports the complications of ICE cars. Older folks remember when you needed a tune up every 6,000 miles with timing, dwell, condenser, points, to go along with the oil change and filter. And new plugs every 12,000 miles.

I don't exempt Tesla from a bit of criticism in this either. What exactly is worth $600 that is being serviced annually? Thankfully they dropped it as a warrantee requirement, but they're selling ungodly expensive maintenance contracts for a car that has little to maintain.

Renewables are already up to 20% worldwide. Some predict doubling that in only 15 years.
Local generation is on the rise. Batteries will get better. Electricity should not be that much of a problem as EVs become, what, 10 or 15% of cars in the same period. Hybrids and semi-electrics like the Volt will grow, too.

Dcp;
You're probably right about what will need service ... but can TM afford to bet the company? There's no history, no track record yet.

narkose and Dcp9142 - I fully agree. Thats why I had point 1) about big oil being an impediment. I had not considered Big Auto purposefully blocking the EV revolution because of servicing, but this certainly makes sense.

On electricity capacity, yes the existing plants may be turned on/up at night but it still requires extra fuel; which will need to come from some where. Will it be more coal, natural gas, nuclear or battery stored solar (using Tesla batteries)??? As I said, I don't think this will ultimately prevent the EV revolution, but at a minimum it is a challenge that must be overcome.


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