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A Visit To Tesla Motors
Jeremy Faludi, 21 Oct 06

Tesla.jpg
You've heard about Tesla Motors already--the silicon valley startup that's making the next generation in electric cars, a roadster that can go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, and that looks like a million bucks. (It'll also cost nearly $100K, but that's cheap compared to a Lamborghini, and you just might beat it off the line.) There have been plenty of great articles on the company and the car, from Wired, The Guardian, and others. As it happens, I know several of their engineers, so I was able to get a tour of the company a few weeks ago. This wasn't an official interview with company managers or spokespeople, so I didn't get answers to all of my questions, but my friends Drew and Colin knew most of the answers, and I was also able to squeeze in a couple minutes with JB Straubel, the company's Chief Technical Officer. Here's a summary of their answers to some technical questions that other news sources haven't written about. (The insider geek's view of Tesla Motors, if you will.)

Their building is practically hidden in San Carlos, an unobtrusive light-industrial space sitting off the beaten path amongst warehouses and more blue-collar industry than most of Silicon Valley's sprawling office parks contain. But once you step inside, the cover is blown, and you can tell there's something exciting happening. You can also tell they're a high-tech company, not a normal car company. They're small, and dominated by engineers. In fact, they're effectively just an engineering company, since both the aesthetic design and the manufacturing are outsourced to Lotus. (That's why the Tesla looks like an Elise.)

Aerodynamically the car is good, but its body is designed for looks, first and foremost. It has a drag coefficient of around .3, as compared to the EV1's .19. So although the Tesla gets 250 miles on a charge--which is excellent, more than double most EV's--the range could have been far longer. Some EV-geek chatter at GasSavers.org has suggested by back-of-the-envelope calculations that the power train of the Tesla in the body of an EV1 or an Opel Eco Speedster would have a 400 mile range. Conversely, if they had designed the car with the EV1's drag coefficient and kept a 250-mile range, they could have eliminated a lot of the battery bank, and thus a fair chunk of the cost of the vehicle. However, I don't begrudge them their decision to prioritize looks over efficiency. The Tesla, being electric, is already far more efficient than a combustion-engine car. It's a big step in the right direction, and a 250-mile range at a $100K price tag for the first run of an amazingly hot all-electric roadster is great. Too often we let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The hardest part of an electric vehicle is not the motor, it's the controller--the power electronics which drive the motor, handle regenerative braking, and manage the power from the batteries. Tesla chose AC Propulsion's controller because of their expertise and reputation as the best in the business. Their founder and lead engineer, Alan Cocconi, is apparently so smart that instead of having CAD-refined schematics and models of the circuitry, he had the whole layout in his head. Before designing the controller for AC Propulsion, he designed the controller for the GM Impact (which became the EV1).

Tesla's motor is a high-performance induction motor; not revolutionary new technology, but top-of-the-line. In fact, it's the same one the EV1 and AC Propulsion's tZero prototype cars used. Tesla's innovation is in the way it is manufactured, keeping performance quality high but reducing costs. I also asked whether they thought about using in-wheel motors, since putting a small motor in every wheel instead of having one big motor with a drivetrain connecting it to the four wheels can greatly reduce mechanical complexity and weight, as well as improving reliability. (This is one thing EV's make possible which simply can't be done feasibly with combustion engines.) Interestingly, they did consider it, but JB said it would have made safety certification extremely difficult. It's perfectly safe, but the certification regulations are written assuming you have one motor and a drivetrain, so there are some certifications (such as the one for Anti-Lock Braking) you can't pass in a car with no drivetrain. These rules would need to be re-written to allow vehicles with in-wheel motors to be certified, which is obviously not going to happen without significant money and time spent lobbying--not a fight a small startup company should take on if it can avoid it.

The company has been operating for several years in "stealth mode" as many startups do, but started making a splash in the press this year despite the fact that their cars won't actually be available for another year. Why come out of stealth mode now? Since my friends are engineers, not the business folks, their answers were speculative, but the investors are silicon valley people, and the way things are done out there is generally to start creating the buzz before the product is out. Begin in stealth mode when you're not really sure whether it will work or how long it will take, but once you're reasonably assured of your technology and its prospects for success, let the whole world know so you can build anticipation. Tesla certainly knows that their technology and design work--they have had working cars for a long time now, and are just going through the industry-standard process of testing (a multi-step, multi-year process, from the sound of it) that works out the bugs in manufacturing and such. It will be exciting to see what kind of splash their cars make when they officially release them next year. It will also be interesting to see what their sedan will be like--they don't have any built (or even fully designed) yet, but after their roadster is a big success on the market they plan to expand down the food chain to vehicles for the rest of us. The sedans still won't be cheap, but they won't have Ferrari price tags.

My last question was, how will Tesla succeed where other EV companies have failed? The last two decades are littered with the wreckage of failed ventures in electric vehicles: Corbin Motors's Sparrow, Solectria's Force, GM's EV1, Ford's Th!nk, to name a few. Some of these companies had engineering problems, some of them were trying so hard to make their vehicles affordable that they couldn't make a profit, and for GM, in addition to technical hurdles, the company executives apparently felt that it wasn't in their interests to succeed. Tesla will be different for a few reasons. They've worked with the realities of the market--EV's require expensive technology, so you might as well accept it and make a car that people are happy to pay lots of money for because it's amazing, rather than making lots of compromises and requiring your customers to compromise as well. This means they have the money to hire top-notch engineers and work out all the bugs properly. Being expensive but high-quality in the beginning is also a smart road to future affordability, because reducing costs is easiest to do on a known problem, an existing product; it's much harder to make something both cheap and good right out of the starting gate. (Also, as they pointed out in their Forbes interview, it is much easier to move down in a market than move up in one.) Tesla is also not trying to do too much themselves, with the experts at Lotus able to handle many of the problems that would hamstring an auto startup doing their own manufacturing. (Though they have hired away many Lotus engineers for themselves, too.) They understand the march of advancing technology, while the big American car companies don't. And also unlike existing car companies, Tesla is unencumbered by chains of vested interests, they have the will to succeed.

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Comments

Tesla's blog is fantastic as well. The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan post is excellent.


Posted by: Matt on 21 Oct 06

I think there's many things to recommend what they're doing, but the repeated claims that it's "twice as efficient as a Prius" is simply not accurate. I was relooking at their "well-to-wheel" assumptions last night, and realized how skewed the model was in favor of their vehicle.

Not a big fan of hype, because eventually these things will get used in the real world and people will be disappointed when they don't meet the claims.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 21 Oct 06

Joseph.

Could you elaborate? Further, I am making the assumption that the Prus' next gen will be even more efficient and might be a plug-in. If the Tesla isn't much more efficient than the current Prius, considering the differences in price, then Tesla's efforts may be restricted to a very small nich market for a very long time.

In any event, I wish them well, and maybe they'll get better as they go along and if they stay in business.


Posted by: t on 21 Oct 06

Funny thing about the in-wheel motors: When I interviewed Tesla Motor's chairman this summer, he told me those hadn't really been considered. I guess he meant not seriously considered.

(That interview is here: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2006/07/26/exclusive-q-and-a-with-elon-musk-on-the-tesla-roadster-and-the-fut/)


Posted by: Sebastian on 23 Oct 06

I mean here (without the parentheses to muck things up):
http://www.autobloggreen.com/2006/07/26/exclusive-q-and-a-with-elon-musk-on-the-tesla-roadster-and-the-fut/


Posted by: Sebastian on 23 Oct 06

I find it interesting to compare Tesla with Apple. Apple certainly showed with the iPod how it's easier to start at the top and move downward in a market. Before the iPod most MP3 players were cheap and shoddy, then Apple came and blew them all away with a high-end model that people really wanted. Yet once they were established, they followed up with less expensive models like the Mini and the Shuffle.

One strategy that's very different is product announcements. Apple are notorious for keeping products top-secret until they are ready (or nearly ready) for sale to the public. It's a strategy that has worked well for them, and I wish others would emulate. I've become pretty jaded and cynical about "vaporware" product announcement from other companies.

However, I'll grant that the car business might be different in the sense that it's a large purchase and people might need some lead time to plan and save their pennies for it.


Posted by: Tony Belding on 23 Oct 06

Could you elaborate?

Sure.

The starting assumption they put forth is that the Tesla consumes 110 Wh per kilometer, which is 177 Wh/mile. They then say that the outlet-to-wheel efficiency is 86%. So, at the outlet, it takes 206 Wh/mile. The at-the-wheel efficiency figure is comparable to what the EV1 achieved, but the charge cycle (at-the-outlet) number is substantially better than the EV1 (which was 373 Wh/mi).

Also to compare, the EPA rated the 2001 Ford Think at 355 Wh/mile and the 2001 RAV4 at 321 Wh/mile.

I have no idea what Tesla bases that base 110 Wh/km number on, but let's just assume it's correct for now.

The problem I think comes with the rest of the assumptions. First, they say that gasoline is only 81% from the well to the pump. Then, they posit some maximally-efficient way of generating electricity to claim that the well-to-outlet efficiency of electricity is 52.5%. Based on those numbers, they then calculate the Tesla to be 2.06 times as efficient as the Prius.

Later on in their "white paper", they admit that the assumption about combined cycle natural gas electricity is more efficient than the standard grid, which they claim is 41%. But that doesn't match the 31% primary-energy-to-outlet efficiency based on DOE stats (end use divided by energy consumed to generate electricity).

The well-to-wheel assumptions they're using are based upon a study done by GM back in 2001. I looked at it, and the data they reference seems to come from charts, not tables. And I simply don't understand how they can put gasoline at 81% well-to-pump, then claim electricity is 41% well-to-outlet, when it's only 31% plant-to-outlet. If one started to take into account the energy to transport coal, mine and process uranium, etc, that 31% number is going to be even smaller. So it seems very vague as to how one determines what the "well" is and how much energy it takes to get it to the end-use point (pump or outlet) -- especially for petroleum products.

To me, it seems easier (and more accurate) to take the electricity efficiency numbers for primary energy to outlet at face value and to take gasoline efficiency as 100% at the pump.

Doing that, the Tesla consumes 658 Wh/mile of primary energy, which is 2,246 BTU/mile (since electricity is 3.412 BTU/Wh).

Gasoline (including oxygenated fuel) has an energy content of 124,076 BTU/gallon. So, the gasoline equivalent fuel economy of the Tesla is 55 mpg -- the same as the combined EPA rating of the Prius.

I don't know about you, but if the people of Tesla said "we're producing an exotic car capable of going 0-60 in 4 seconds, with the fuel economy of a Prius", I'd be pretty impressed just with that. The assumptions in their white paper all tend to give advantage to efficiency estimates for their vehicle vis-a-vis other vehicles, which can only end up disappointing people if those levels of efficiency never materialize once the vehicle starts getting used as an everyday driver. If they had simply speculated what the relative efficiency was based on certain assumptions, I wouldn't have noticed or cared as much, but this "twice as efficient as a Prius" thing seems to be a meme they keep repeating. As such, it made me question it, since it seemed fairly unlikely to be accurate.

Hopefully there will be some owners who meticulously track the energy consumption of their vehicles once it's being sold, though the data set will be quite small, as it's a very small production run.

We'll see how it pans out.

PS - Worldchanging's spam filter nuked my original comment, possibly because of the two links I included to the Tesla "white paper" and the source data for primary energy to outlet efficiency from the EIA of the DOE. Hopefully you can find those yourself. Otherwise, I can try to post them separately from this comment later.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 24 Oct 06

Here's the DOE flow chart for electricity:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/diagram5.html

It must be the link to the Tesla "white paper" which tripped the spam filter. You can search for it by using the words tesla white paper -- it'll be the first result.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 24 Oct 06

I don't trust this company. They smell bad. They're "engineers", but this whole thing reeks. I think they're in it for nothing more than $$$$/hype. If you buy it, I hope you do your homework.


Posted by: john on 25 Oct 06

"Doing that, the Tesla consumes 658 Wh/mile of primary energy, which is 2,246 BTU/mile (since electricity is 3.412 BTU/Wh).

Gasoline (including oxygenated fuel) has an energy content of 124,076 BTU/gallon. So, the gasoline equivalent fuel economy of the Tesla is 55 mpg -- the same as the combined EPA rating of the Prius."

Posted by Joseph Willemssen at October 24, 2006 01:09 PM


Your methodology is sound until you make the conversion to BTU/mile. A well-to-wheel comparison must include the relative efficiency of an ICE versus an electric motor.

A modern ICE has an efficiency rating of approx 30%-40% while a modern NEMA rated motor has an efficiency of +95%. When you do the math the mileage changes.

You now have 691 WH/mile with a efficiency rate of 95%, which is 2,358 BTU/mile at 3.412 BTU/mile

With the ICE efficiency rate of 40% applied it would take 310,186 BTU to obtain the 124,076 BTU/gallon in your equation.

Therefore the actual mileage based on a 31% power generation loss would be 131 MPG. Other factors would change this value, but the mileage they are stating can be obtained on paper.


Posted by: Mario on 25 Oct 06

A well-to-wheel comparison must include the relative efficiency of an ICE versus an electric motor.

It already does. I started with the wheel and outlet-to-wheel efficiency numbers provided by Tesla. The Prius's fuel economy rating is 55 mpg, which is the same as 2,256 BTU/mile. This is almost exactly the same (within 10 BTU/mile) as the Tesla.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 25 Oct 06

"You now have 691 WH/mile with a efficiency rate of 95%, which is 2,358 BTU/mile at 3.412 BTU/mile"

The above paragraph should have ended with "at 3.412 BTU/WH."


Posted by: Mario on 25 Oct 06

If you want to look at it from a different angle, take 10,000 BTU of primary energy at the power plant. Once it gets to the outlet, it's 3,100 BTU. Once it gets to the wheel of the Tesla, it's 2,690 BTU. Since it takes 177 Wh/mile (which is 604 BTU/mile), 10,000 BTU of primary energy will move a Tesla 4.45 miles.

To compare, 10,000 BTU in the tank of a Prius is .081 gallons of gas. At 55 mpg, that will move the car 4.43 miles.

Like I said, the efficiency is essentially the same.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 25 Oct 06

"It already does. I started with the wheel and outlet-to-wheel efficiency numbers provided by Tesla. The Prius's fuel economy rating is 55 mpg, which is the same as 2,256 BTU/mile. This is almost exactly the same (within 10 BTU/mile) as the Tesla."

The 124,076 BTU/gallon is the potential without applying generation loss. When the efficiency rating of 40% is applied, the pump-to-wheel factor, everything changes.


Posted by: Mario on 25 Oct 06

The 124,076 BTU/gallon is the potential without applying generation loss. When the efficiency rating of 40% is applied, the pump-to-wheel factor, everything changes.

Mario, you're misunderstanding the numbers. Just look at energy content of fuel and how far it moves the vehicle, per my prior post. A gallon of gasoline is going to have that energy content regardless of the efficiency with how it's utilized. So, what happens is that 124,076 BTU of primary energy at the power plant is going to move a Tesla the same distance as a gallon of gas in a Prius.

If the "well" starting point is the fuel at the power plant for electricity, and the tank of the car for gasoline, then the Prius and Tesla will go the same distance with the same "well" amount (given Tesla's charge cycle and at-wheel efficiency assumptions, which have yet to be independently verified). Once you start guessing about what the "well" means at the point before the primary fuel at the power plant, or before the gasoline goes in the fuel tank, then it's exceedingly confusing and difficult to get an accurate number.

My main point was that the Tesla "white paper" was comparing a theoretical electricity distribution scenario, as opposed to using real numbers for the grid, and comparing it to very fuzzy "well-to-tank" numbers for gasoline. The result of those two assumptions is taking parity in fuel economy and making it look like one is more than twice as thrifty with energy as the other.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 25 Oct 06

Well you not going to like this, but I found a paper from Toyota giving the well-to-wheel efficiency of the Prius located here:

http://www.toyota.com/about/environment/technology/2005/engines/Well-To-Wheel.pdf

The well to tank efficiency is 79%. So if we were to go with the well to tank of the Prius we would use 157,058 BTU in order to produce 124,076 BTU/gallon.

So the Tesla mileage using your figures and the well-to-wheel figures direct from Toyota would give the Tesla 70 MPG at 31% from the plant to outlet. At 41% the Tesla would get 99 MPG and at 51% it would get 113 MPG.


Posted by: Mario on 25 Oct 06

Well you not going to like this, but I found a paper from Toyota giving the well-to-wheel efficiency of the Prius located here

It has nothing to do with "liking" it. Factual data is factual data. I'm not advocating one thing over the other. Like I said, the Tesla's getting the same fuel economy, with clearly better performance. If you ignore costs, that's obviously a better package than the Prius.

The well to tank efficiency is 79%. So if we were to go with the well to tank of the Prius we would use 157,058 BTU in order to produce 124,076 BTU/gallon. So the Tesla mileage using your figures and the well-to-wheel figures direct from Toyota would give the Tesla 70 MPG at 31% from the plant to outlet.

Take a look at the paper you just referenced. Toyota is claiming well-to-wheel efficiency of 29.2% for the Prius.

By comparison, primary-fuel-to-outlet efficiency of grid electricity is 31%. Outlet-to-wheel efficiency of the Tesla is 86%. 31% * 86% = 26.7%. So, that study actually makes the Prius look better than the numbers I came up with. The Tesla equation would still need to factor in the energy consumption in the well-to-primary-fuel-at-power-plant phase, which makes the well-to-wheel efficiency go down even more.

At 41% the Tesla would get 99 MPG and at 51% it would get 113 MPG.

Unfortunately, the grid is what it is, and it will never reach those numbers. At the margin it's possible that there could be those efficiencies, but not overall. When you're making general comparisons they have to reflect norms, not exceptions. Or if you're going to consider exceptions, they need to be considered to similar exceptions. It's not legitimate to take the overall system for making and distributing gasoline and then comparing it with a theoretical possibility. It has no relevance at scale.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 25 Oct 06

FYI -- primary-energy-to-outlet efficiency in the US has been between 29% and 31% since 1960.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 25 Oct 06

"By comparison, primary-fuel-to-outlet efficiency of grid electricity is 31%. Outlet-to-wheel efficiency of the Tesla is 86%. 31% * 86% = 26.7%. So, that study actually makes the Prius look better than the numbers I came up with. The Tesla equation would still need to factor in the energy consumption in the well-to-primary-fuel-at-power-plant phase, which makes the well-to-wheel efficiency go down even more."

But even at that reduced efficiency rating based on 31% from the well to wheel the Tesla will obtain 70 MPG versus 55 MPG. Your original argument was based on the efficiency in comparison to MPG between the Tesla and the Prius using BTU/units as a conversion, NOT the overall efficiency from well to wheel of both vehicles.

The Tesla's efficiency from tank to wheel is 86%, while the Prius is 37%. An argument can be made that the Tesla is twice as efficient from the tank to wheel, but that would be intellectually unsound.

"When you're making general comparisons they have to reflect norms, not exceptions. Or if you're going to consider exceptions, they need to be considered to similar exceptions. It's not legitimate to take the overall system for making and distributing gasoline and then comparing it with a theoretical possibility. It has no relevance at scale."

Yes lets talk about relevance for a moment with regards to taking the efficiency rating of 81% for well to tank gasoline in the Tesla white paper and rating it at 100%. Even the paper from Toyota with a well to tank rating of 79% stated "the results are similar to those found in studies conducted by General Motors and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology." So in the same token it is not legitimate to discard an established precedent that an efficiency loss of gasoline exists from well to tank.

According to the Department of Energy most "power plants are generally long-lived investments; the majority of the existing capacity is 30 or more years old." So as existing technology is replaced more "cleaner and more fuel-efficient power generation technologies are becoming available". Granted this is a future event, but you can't dismiss the fact that more efficient power facilities will be built. One can only speculate the amount of efficiency increase will be present, which was the object of the inclusion of the additional values.

Source: http://www.energetics.com/gridworks/grid.html


Posted by: Mario on 25 Oct 06

Here's a pretty good explanation about what I'm referring to with the grid:

http://intensityindicators.pnl.gov/delivered_electricity.stm


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 25 Oct 06

But even at that reduced efficiency rating based on 31% from the well to wheel the Tesla will obtain 70 MPG versus 55 MPG.

No, it won't, since Tesla explains that the charge cycle efficiency (outlet-to-wheel) efficiency is 86%, which I've said repeatedly. Go look at their white paper if you doubt the number. If the Tesla were 100% efficient in taking electricity and putting it to the wheel, it'd be equivalent to 64 mpg. But it's not, so it's 55 mpg-equivalent.

Your original argument was based on the efficiency in comparison to MPG between the Tesla and the Prius using BTU/units as a conversion, NOT the overall efficiency from well to wheel of both vehicles.

No, I took the Tesla assumptions about outlet-to-wheel efficiency, added in the primary-energy-to-outlet numbers from the EIA, and arrived at the BTU of primary energy per mile number for the Tesla. The calculation is correct.

And since we know the energy content of a gallon of gasoline, we just divide it by the Prius's EPA rating and find the BTU/mile number is within 10 BTU of the Tesla's. Again, the calculation is correct.

Yes lets talk about relevance for a moment with regards to taking the efficiency rating of 81% for well to tank gasoline in the Tesla white paper and rating it at 100%

I already discussed the rationale at length.

Even the paper from Toyota with a well to tank rating of 79% stated "the results are similar to those found in studies conducted by General Motors and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology." So in the same token it is not legitimate to discard an established precedent that an efficiency loss of gasoline exists from well to tank.

That's fine, but as I pointed out, here's how it works under those assumptions, given the "well" of electricity to be the primary energy content of the fuel:

Tesla... 31% * 86% = 26.7%
Prius... 79% * 37% = 29.2%

And as I said before, consider that the coal, uranium, natural gas, biomass, etc doesn't just show up at the power plant without energy inputs. That 31% figure takes the energy content of the primary fuels and compares it to the energy content of the electricity at the outler. So, again, if you want to go down this path, it makes the Tesla look even less efficient than the numbers I originally calculated.

According to the Department of Energy most "power plants are generally long-lived investments; the majority of the existing capacity is 30 or more years old." So as existing technology is replaced more "cleaner and more fuel-efficient power generation technologies are becoming available". Granted this is a future event, but you can't dismiss the fact that more efficient power facilities will be built. One can only speculate the amount of efficiency increase will be present, which was the object of the inclusion of the additional values.

Possible, but there's nothing to indicate over the past 45 years that there will be a big bump in the efficiency from primary fuels to end use. If you take natural gas as an example, a lot of transition occurred to it as a fuel over the past 15-20 years. Back in 1988, it was only fueling 9.5% of electricity. As of 2005, it had almost doubled to 16.1%. Natural gas plants are cheap to build, can be built at a variety of scales, and the emissions are very clean relative to coal.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/stb0804b.xls

However, during that period, the real price of it has tripled, making it a lot less viable as a fuel for electricity:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/ptb0607.html

So a 100% natural gas combined cycle grid (which means there'd be some means of using the heat) is simply not going to happen. So that's why it's completely legitimate to look at the grid instead of speculating about some maximally efficient form of generating electricity, then comparing that to the national average efficiency for getting gasoline to the pump.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 25 Oct 06

Hey, all, delighted to see all the comments here and the detailed calculations going on. Particularly a shout out to Sebastian, whose Tesla interview (he linked to it above) is better than mine.


Posted by: Jeremy Faludi on 25 Oct 06

So if you're theorizing about increasing efficiency for the grid, just to get to the well-to-wheel numbers you presented from Toyota, the primary-energy-to-outlet efficiency would need to go from 31.3% to 34.0%.

Meanwhile, though, Toyota will be bringing out a new version of the Prius in a couple years which will be getting 85-95 mpg, according to current reports. If that's true, taking 90 mpg as the assumption, that would take the BTU/mile number down to 1,379. If the Tesla's outlet-to-wheel efficiency remains at 206 Wh/mile, the grid would need to achieve a primary-energy-to-outlet efficiency of 51.9% for it to equal that new fuel economy level for the Prius. That is definitely not going to happen in a couple of years.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 25 Oct 06

You're wasting your time nitpicking the well-to-wheel calculations. The fact is, solar panels make all of those points entirely moot. Can a Prius become pollution-free? No, not without a plug-in conversion AND solar panels. And as a plug-in, the Prius loses to the Tesla because it has an extraneous gas motor on it even when it's going all-electric.

The Tesla is an electric car. That means it can be powered any way you can think of to generate electricity. So if you want to make this annoyingly literal argument, then technically people in the New York area who receive power from Niagara Falls can call their Teslas pollution-free. The grid is varied, and different areas get their power different ways. So actually, most Teslas will be much more efficient than Priuses.

The ridiculous idea that the owners of this car are likely to continue to get their energy from dirty power plants is misguided, since the car after all costs 100 grand. People who can afford that, can afford some solar power to shut people like Joseph up. I can't stress this enough: removing the petroleum entirely out of the equation makes a HUGE difference.

Besides, the direct BTU comparison is unfair because the BTUs must go through grid inefficiency to get to the Tesla, while the BTUs go directly into the car for the Prius. This is highly significant because the car itself, again, is wall-to-wheel 86% efficient. Pump to wheel, a Prius is 40% efficient. Big difference.

I can't stand the naysayers constantly bringing up stupid little things to suggest that gas cars are still the better technology. Electric cars are better than all alternatives, and up-and-coming battery technologies will soon have them considerably better performing in all respects, including recharge time and range. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something or insufficiently informed.


Posted by: Steve on 26 Oct 06

shut people like Joseph up etc etc

How rude.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 26 Oct 06

Amen to you Steve. My head was about to explode if I read any more of Joseph and Mario's banter. It's completely ridiculous to compare the efficiency of any gas-guzzler, Prius or Hummer, to any electric car. What does "efficiency" mean to the average person who wants to get from point A to point B anyway? What do I care how many BTUs were in the coal burned at the power plant or the oil pumped from the ground vs what I use to drive my car?

Come up with some numbers that actually mean something to people. Try this one out: What's the $/mile for the Roadster vs. the Prius with some average gas prices and electricity rates. I'm guessing the Roadster is gonna look like a much better deal.

Now have some foresight to think about how this comparison is going to change in the immediate future. On the one hand we're about to pump the last of the oil out of the earth and we're already having to fight bloody wars to get our hands on what's left, while on the other hand there's still plenty of coal right here in the US and A. Sure that's gonna run out eventually too, but then there's natural gas, uranium, wind, water, and a little thing called the sun that's got a few BTUs left to rain down on us for the next few billion years.

As if there needs to be anything else said, think about not just the money but the power. When you're dependent on gasoline you're at the mercy of radical governments and massive oil companies. Over the last few months gas prices have bounced around +/- a buck a gallon for no clear reason, and with no viable alternatives the average person is powerless to do anything about it but say "thank you sir may I have another." Get an electric car and if the electric company tries to screw you install some solar panels and drive for free. Good luck trying to dig an oil well in your backyard once gas hits $10/gallon.

Soon enough that Prius, like any gas-fueled car, isn't gonna be worth much more than scrap. If I did my math correctly scrap has 0% efficiency. Maybe a few can get converted to 25 mph NEVs with a 10 mile range if they're lucky, but for my money I'd rather have something that'll get me around then and now, if only it really was now. Tesla can't come out with the Roadster soon enough, so let's just back up any number they want to advertise to sell those things. As far as I'm concerned they could say their cars are infinitely more efficient than the Prius and I'd wholeheartedly agree.


Posted by: mike on 27 Oct 06

I was the one arguing for the Tesla since even on the grid the vehicle is still getting better mileage (70 mpg versus 55 mpg) and using electricity is more cost effective than using gasoline.

Now when you get electricity off the grid your not going to get the efficiency Tesla is suggesting, but throw in some solar or wind power like Steve was saying and bamm, maximum effeicency with no emissions leaving the Prius in the dust so to speak.

All these cars should be sold with an option for solar or wind installation at the dealership. Just think of it, get a deep discount on clean power generation systems and a zero emissions vehicle at the same time. One stop shopping for our overworked and overstressed society.


Posted by: Mario on 27 Oct 06

Here is a better idea. Buy an electric car and a clean power generation system, get a zero emissions tax rebate up to $xx.xx dollars. Or for businesss get an accelerated depreciation scale so you can expense the cost immediately.

This will give an incentive for clean power generation and offset the burden to the electrical grid. You also have to remember that the using electric power will also offset fuel production/delivery infrastructure costs.

Therefore a shift in resources with no additional burden could be obtained with a medium to aggressive program involving industry and government. A "New Deal" type program for the 21st century.


Posted by: Mario on 27 Oct 06

It's completely ridiculous to compare the efficiency of any gas-guzzler, Prius or Hummer, to any electric car.

It is? So you're criticizing the Tesla people, since they brought this up (and continue to do so). Are they "completely ridiculous"?

What do I care how many BTUs were in the coal burned at the power plant or the oil pumped from the ground vs what I use to drive my car?

If you care about environmental impact (which I hope you do, since you're commenting on a website that deals with it), then you should be concerned about such things. Coal, for example, has a very high CO2 emissions coefficient, relative to other fossil fuels. What that means is that per unit of energy, it's the least favorable energy source with respect to global warming. This is why such considerations about systemic energy impact of given choices matter.

What's the $/mile for the Roadster vs. the Prius with some average gas prices and electricity rates. I'm guessing the Roadster is gonna look like a much better deal.

Well, since you're paying $100,000 for the Tesla and $20,000 for the Prius (given the comparison you're choosing), the cost per mile of the Tesla is going to be exhorbitant. The marginal fuel cost per mile is going to depend on the electricity and gasoline prices where you live - which have wide variability. Regardless, fuel is not the primary per mile cost of a vehicle -- only about 17% for an inexpensive vehicle like the Honda Fit and 7% for a vehicle in Tesla's price range, like the Porsche Carrera. For the Prius, it's 8%.

But if you want to know the per mile fuel cost for the Tesla and the Prius, national averages for residential electricity ($/kWh) and gasoline ($/gal) are 0.1096 and 2.225, respectively. In California, those numbers are 0.1666 and 2.525. Working with the 206 Wh/mi electricity consumption at the outlet for the Tesla, and 55 mpg for the Prius, the per mile cost for fuel nationally is 4.0 cents for the Prius and and 2.3 cents for the Tesla. In California, the margin is a bit lower, at 4.6 and 3.4 cents.

By contrast, if you compare real-world averages for the Prius (47.9 mpg, accd. to greenhybrid.com) and all light vehicles in the US (20.6 mpg), the fuel costs per mile at US prices are 4.6 and 10.8 cents, and 5.3 and 12.2 cents in California.

The law of diminishing returns is proven once again.

The rest of what you and others bring up is a whole other discussion.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 27 Oct 06

Since Joseph is welded to the use of hydrocarbons I'm sure he would be the first to enlist his offspring in the military to secure these resources for future generations.


Posted by: Mario on 27 Oct 06

Since Joseph is welded to the use of hydrocarbons I'm sure he would be the first to enlist his offspring in the military to secure these resources for future generations.

Why the personal attacks, Mario? Why create strawmen to boot? Where have I indicated I am "wedded" to hydrocarbons?

Just stick to what we're discussing instead of making vicious and wildly incorrect assumptions about the person you're speaking with.

100% of the electricity in my house comes from wind. Yours? Or are you "wedded" to hydrocarbons?

Stick to the subject. Don't attack the person.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 27 Oct 06

The idea that you have an argument about a specific element of the efficiency of a gasoline powered vehicle versus an electric vehicle without regards to the overall impact of such choices is ludicrous and quiet frankly tiresome.

The real subject at hand of this entire thread is that hydrocarbons are a losing proposition when including the enviromental and human cost of securing such resources.

You can argure any micro aspect you wish, but the bottom line is that an electric vehicle is going to be more efficient overall and most people on this board it seems would agree with me.


Posted by: Mario on 27 Oct 06

The idea that you have an argument about a specific element of the efficiency of a gasoline powered vehicle versus an electric vehicle without regards to the overall impact of such choices is ludicrous and quiet frankly tiresome.

Well, no one's forcing you to be on this thread, Mario, nor to discuss that specific thing which I brought up (in response to Tesla Motors repeatedly bringing it up).

The real subject at hand of this entire thread is that hydrocarbons are a losing proposition when including the enviromental and human cost of securing such resources.

No, Mario, that's the subject you want to discuss. The subject of this thread is "A Visit to Tesla Motors".

You can argure any micro aspect you wish, but the bottom line is that an electric vehicle is going to be more efficient overall and most people on this board it seems would agree with me.

Well, as I've shown, it's not the "most efficient overall" - so you're wrong there. As for "most people on this board" -- I have no idea who "Steve" or "mike" or you are. Nor does the body count of remaining commentators have any relevance to whether something is true or not. Truth is not a popularity contest.

I'm sorry that the discussion of well-to-wheel realities causes you to be upset. What you or I feel about it has nothing to do with the physics involved, interacting with the infrastructure established in this society and other societies, which are a reflection to a large degree of economics which don't account for some externalities -- and all of which are not readily changeable at the individual level.

To top it off, you and the "others" have taken what was a civil discussion of issues and made it an acromonious, personal-attack-laden, judgmental discussion about things which were never brought up to begin with. Consequently, you've leapt to all sorts of nasty judgments about me personally without simply asking about those things -- just accusing. And as I see you not responding to the degree to which you personally are "wedded" to hydrocarbons relative to myself, I can safely assume that you're not some carbon-neutral, hydrocarbon-free model of personal perfection. All of which has absolutely no relevance in discussing the strengths and weaknesses of given technologies.

If you want to discuss issues instead of flaming me, I'm more than happy to discuss other aspects of these things. But if you simply want to lay into me again with personal attacks, I really find no reason to respond.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 27 Oct 06

I think Josephs comments are valid, it's clear that in Teslas whitepapers, they were overly optimistic in regards to the efficiency of todays electricity production.

Having said that, even if an electric vehicle is only as efficient as the most efficient hybrids currently out there, lets not forget plenty of electricity can be produced with a small pollution footprint (nuclear), and no pollution if you use solar panels in your own home. Using solar panels, I guess there wouldn't be a debate about which vehicle is the most efficient. Plus seeing how solar panels last more than 25 years, that would mean at least a decade of free energy for your car.

You can have a very efficient hybrid, if it still pollutes you haven't really solved anything.

I would also assume the 31% primary-energy-to-outlet figure is a low figure? Can it get even much lower than that? Are there places where this number is much higher? What would it look like if most of the electricity is from nuclear? Are we assuming here a worst case scenario where all the electricity is produced from coal?


Posted by: Mike on 27 Oct 06

Having said that, even if an electric vehicle is only as efficient as the most efficient hybrids currently out there, lets not forget plenty of electricity can be produced with a small pollution footprint (nuclear), and no pollution if you use solar panels in your own home.

Right, on the production margin those are both carbon-neutral energy sources, though I wouldn't say they're free of pollution - especially nuclear. There's obiously carbon inputs for nuclear, too (like workers commuting to the plant), but that's going to be miniscule compared to coal or even natural gas.

Using solar panels, I guess there wouldn't be a debate about which vehicle is the most efficient. Plus seeing how solar panels last more than 25 years, that would mean at least a decade of free energy for your car.

More than that, since the studies I've seen put PV energy payback at less than 4 years. If they last 30 years, that's at least 26 years of "free" energy.

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy05osti/37322.pdf

You can have a very efficient hybrid, if it still pollutes you haven't really solved anything.

By that logic, no improvement is worthy until some notion of "perfection" is achieved. If every light vehicle in the US all of a sudden went from what it's getting (20.6 mpg avg) to 47.9 mpg (Prius real-world avg) overnight, the carbon savings and emissions reductions would be extraordinary.

We should celebrate improvement, especially when it's substantial and has wide impact (ie, it's mainstream).

I would also assume the 31% primary-energy-to-outlet figure is a low figure? Can it get even much lower than that? Are there places where this number is much higher? What would it look like if most of the electricity is from nuclear? Are we assuming here a worst case scenario where all the electricity is produced from coal?

It's the average for the US, based upon the overall energy mix (50 coal, 20 nuke, 15 natural gas, 10 hyrdo, 5 other) and existing distribution infrastructure. Most of the energy loss is simply conversion losses from the potential energy of the fuel. As for the question of 100% nuclear scenario, I don't know, though if one could locate the numbers for France (which is 78% nuke), then you might get a rough sense of what it would be. Gotta factor in a different grid scenario (shorter average distances), but that probably wouldn't have too much effect on the number.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 27 Oct 06

How 'bout this for all of you people before me arguing about cost per mile, and go for the lighter side of it all. For me, being an automotive enthusiast for most of my life. I want a car that's fun, accelerates, corners, brakes and is enjoyable without looking like a grandma car. Hell, the Tesla roadster would be a dream for me if I could afford it. Drive the piss out of it. Plug it in and go to bed. Wake up, unplug it and repeat step one.


Posted by: Ted Sommer Jr. on 28 Oct 06

The future is going to be next generation EV cars like the Tesla "Whitestar" sports sedan (2009) combined with cheap home solar power-like "Nanosolar" thin sheet PV panels (2007)-like others said above, this leaves Prius out of the picture.As battery technology improves, the picture only gets better & better for EV cars.


Posted by: Ryan Loring on 28 Oct 06

"An electric car will smoke you"

I was quite impressed to see the performance ratings of the Tesla Roadster. I have no doubt in my mind they can produce additional 100 miles in range with "regular" family sedan they eventually plan to release as well. Therefore I don't see the reason for this company not to attract major interest and investment, unless oil companies throw a fierce resistance :)

Nonetheless, if any company deserves to name themselves as Tesla, probably the greatest inventor of the 20th century, I certainly give these guys a credit. Wish them all the best.


Posted by: Carter Svenson on 29 Oct 06

Prius will win for another 5 years because of more money, research and political clout has been used to develop cheap and dangerously( from production to use in the car) efficient marketable gas.
Once the cheaper, stronger and lighter batteries get produced through money, research and political clout we will see the pure ev win with energy charged with cheaper mass produced decentralised solar panels, windmills and waste energy(garbag, manure etc).



Posted by: Gianni on 30 Oct 06

There's some interesting data on the sector at the EIA, entitled "Alternatives to Traditional Transportation Fuels 2005".

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/alternate/page/datatables/atf14-20_05.html


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 30 Oct 06

Total number of electric automobiles sold in 2004 and 2005: 1

http://cache.jalopnik.com/cars/images/clooney_tango_1.jpg


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 30 Oct 06

Everyone seems to bring up some good arguments on both sides (if you ignore the flaming). Has anyone considered that the Tesla Roadster is being recharged at night? During the night much less energy is used than during the day. This means that the coal power plants are not going to be used, at all, for the production of electricity for the Tesla. That said, solar panels can repay their energy in 2.5 years and usually last more than 30 so that means 27.5 years of "free" energy (using the calculations of a solar array like that of Sunpower™). And if you barrow money to buy the solar panels you can pay it off in 10-20 years paying about the same amount of money as you would if you had a negative electric bill. This means you would be getting at least 7.5-17.5 years of Free energy. And if you add the cost of gas you will be saving if you buy the Tesla the numbers only get better.


Posted by: Collin on 30 Oct 06

You may have a point about the 31% vs. 41% efficiency of our electric infrastructure. However, Tesla did quote their source, so there was no obvious intent to mislead. Perhaps 31% is more accurate. Perhaps it isn't.

Regardless, two important questions to ask are, 1) what are the utlimate CO2 emissions? and 2) what is the cost of the energy?

As Collin pointed out, EV's would mostly be charged at night, when demand (and price) is low. Demand is sinusoidal. In fact, demand is so low in the middle of the night that sometimes they use the extra power to pump water back into dams. They simply don't shut coal and nuclear plants off every day because it would drastically reduce the life of the plant. Charging EV's at night would flatten the demand history, and if at the benefit of reducing gasoline demand, would result in much greater efficiency that is difficult to quantify on paper from a theoretical standpoint. It could be done though.

A California Air Resources board study look at the well-wheel emissions of electric vehicles, along the entire supply chain, from extraction of the fuel source all the way to the tailpipe and the wheel. Using TODAY'S NATIONAL GRID (which includes 55% coal), an EV generates only a third of the greenhouse gases produced by an equivalent gasoline vehicle. The differential will only improve as old plants are modified with pollution controls or retired as new generation comes. Pollution is also easier to manage at large, central electric generating plants than in millions of individual vehicles.


Posted by: foobar1024 on 30 Oct 06

This means that the coal power plants are not going to be used, at all, for the production of electricity for the Tesla.

There's no way that can be said. And as time goes on, and the technology for fast recharging becomes more viable, it becomes even less possible to make such a claim.

Perhaps 31% is more accurate. Perhaps it isn't.

It is. Just take a look at the flow chart:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/pdf/pages/sec8_3.pdf

As Collin pointed out, EV's would mostly be charged at night, when demand (and price) is low.

Not every utility offers peak and off-peak pricing. Mine certainly doesn't.

Using TODAY'S NATIONAL GRID (which includes 55% coal), an EV generates only a third of the greenhouse gases produced by an equivalent gasoline vehicle.

Define "equivalent gasoline vehicle" and please provide a link to that CARB study.

I ran the numbers a few months back and calculated that average grid power puts out 134.6 pounds of CO2 per million BTU, compared to 156.4 pounds for a million BTU of gasoline. And since the Prius and Tesla use the same amount of energy per mile, that means an electric vehicle with the Tesla's efficiency will put out 14% less CO2 per mile compared to the Prius.

The differential will only improve as old plants are modified with pollution controls or retired as new generation comes.

That's going to depend on economics and the regulatory environment.

Pollution is also easier to manage at large, central electric generating plants than in millions of individual vehicles.

Can't really say that, either, especially since it's only relevant when one considers the relative regulatory controls on emissions of power plants vis-a-vis mobile sources of pollution.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 30 Oct 06

And if you barrow money to buy the solar panels you can pay it off in 10-20 years paying about the same amount of money as you would if you had a negative electric bill.

Actually, the economics for residential solar without subsidies isn't very favorable. People in California and Colorado are very lucky to be facing substantial assistance on purchasing solar systems, but for most of us our states haven't gotten there yet. Payback periods for just the panels (ignoring the costs of inverters, intertie equipment, etc) is extremely long at this point.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 30 Oct 06

Whether your electric company offers off-peak pricing or not it remains a fact that generation capacity is wasted at night. This would be an obvious good use for charging electric vehicles. Not to mention the geopolitical benefits of not having to jockey for access to foreign sources of crude oil.

Define "equivalent gasoline vehicle" and please provide a link to that CARB study.

Here you go mate. Read up. Specific info on page 95.

http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/grnhsgas/isor.pdf


Posted by: foobar1024 on 30 Oct 06

Whether your electric company offers off-peak pricing or not it remains a fact that generation capacity is wasted at night.

A lot of society works that way. Road capacity is underutilized at night. Office space is underutilized at night. It's neither here nor there, especially when one posits electric cars replacing the ICE paradigm.

Not to mention the geopolitical benefits of not having to jockey for access to foreign sources of crude oil.

This notion that the US will live solely off its own petroleum is misguided. It'll never happen.

Here you go mate. Read up. Specific info on page 95.

So it's really not an "equivalent" gasoline vehicle. It's a conventional gasoline vehicle.

Some interesting things in the report:

Unfortunately, building and marketing commercially viable and cost-effective “full function? BEVs remains a significant challenge. With near-term cost projections and technology options, staff believes that only relatively small neighborhood and “city? BEVs have the potential to be commercially produced at attractive prices in the 2009 timeframe. These vehicles can also provide climate change emission reductions, albeit smaller than those of full function BEVs.

Table 5.2-13 also shows that HEV20s reduce CO2 pretty much the same as electric vehicles, as does the table you refer to on page 95. Table 5.4-1 demonstrates the much better economics of HEV20s relative to BEVs.

Thanks for the link. I'll look at it in more detail later.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 30 Oct 06

Here's another report you may want to look at written by the utility funded but non-profit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI):

Comparing the Benefits and Impacts of Hybrid Electric Vehicle Options

http://www.evworld.com/library/EPRI_sedan_options.pdf

"These HEV designs offer major efficiency improvements and reductions in the consumption of petroleum-based fuels, as well as substantial reductions in the emissions of air pollution precursors (nitrogen oxides and reactive organic gases) and of greenhouse gases (CO2)."

"A properly designed full-size SUV HEV 60 can exceed 80 mpeg in all-electric mode without resorting to expensive light-weight construction or extreme body aerodynamics... A properly designed compact car HEV 60 can exceed 130 mpeg in all-electric mode and over 100 mpeg in normal driving if charged every night."

mpeg = Miles per equivalent gasoline gallon

Note that this report was written in 2002 and assumes NiMh battery technology used in the EV1, and not the more efficient lithium-ion.


Posted by: foobar1024 on 30 Oct 06

Joseph,

One thing to keep in mind when looking for the preferred technology, is not only the miles per gallon, but also the pollution per mile. Motorcycles, for example, can get much better gas mileage than cars, but pollute many times more per mile than a car does. So if your calculations of comparative efficiencies are correct, remember that an electric car will pollute far less than a gas car. When I say this, I am including the power plant emissions; generating electricity using 100% coal still emits only 25% of the carbon dioxide emissions as compared to an internal combustion engine.

Additionally, the amount of materials required to produce an efficient vehicle should also be considered (manufacturing is an energy-intensive process, and can also be harmul and wasteful). Plug-in hybrids, while more efficient from a miles per gallon standpoint, require both an electric motor system, an internal combustion system, and a system to integrate them. That's a lot of parts. An all electric car requires much less components, and will effectively cost less (and pollute much less from cradle to grave). My cost less assumption is based on economies of scale, with higher production eventually resulting in lower cost to the end-user.

I'll end on that note, but when trying to factor in efficiencies and benefits, it's best to factor in all aspects of the technology you are trying to analyze.


Posted by: Eric on 31 Oct 06

One thing to keep in mind when looking for the preferred technology, is not only the miles per gallon, but also the pollution per mile.

I'm well aware of that aspect, Eric. Like I said before, I'm not on this thread to have some comprehensive discussion about transportation/access issues. I'm very well-informed about all this.

Motorcycles, for example, can get much better gas mileage than cars, but pollute many times more per mile than a car does.

In general, that's true. But some modern two-wheelers will be cleaner than some older light vehicles.

So if your calculations of comparative efficiencies are correct, remember that an electric car will pollute far less than a gas car.

Not really, no. It all depends on what's being considered - which criteria pollutants - as well as the primary energy sources creating the electricity. There's also wide variation in tailpipe emissions among light vehicles. And there's also things that are going to come out of a power plant (eg, mercury) that won't be coming from a tailpipe. Then there's also the aspect of location of emissions and impact, eg, it's probably better to concentrate NOx emissions in a rural area as opposed to an urban area.

generating electricity using 100% coal still emits only 25% of the carbon dioxide emissions as compared to an internal combustion engine.

That's just not true. As I posted in the prior comment, the Tesla will probably put out 14% less CO2 on the margin compared to a Prius. Up the efficiency of the Prius by increasing the battery capacity, and that difference would be essentially eliminated. Plus, it's at a much lower cost - again, as they point out in the CARB study put up by foobar1024.

Additionally, the amount of materials required to produce an efficient vehicle should also be considered (manufacturing is an energy-intensive process, and can also be harmul and wasteful). Plug-in hybrids, while more efficient from a miles per gallon standpoint, require both an electric motor system, an internal combustion system, and a system to integrate them. That's a lot of parts. An all electric car requires much less components, and will effectively cost less (and pollute much less from cradle to grave).

I'm unaware of any specific LCA studies on the Tesla vis-a-vis cars like the Prius. I do know that Toyota has done their own LCA studies, and even thought the upfront impact is higher than comparable vehicles, over the lifetime it's much less, except for PMs.

http://toyota.jp/prius/ecology/image/eco02.gif

My cost less assumption is based on economies of scale, with higher production eventually resulting in lower cost to the end-user.

It remains to be seen how cheap batteries (or other forms of mobile electric storage) can be made in what timeframe. But any advances with them are also going to push up the efficiency, lower the cost, etc of HEVs as well. It's not static.

I'll end on that note, but when trying to factor in efficiencies and benefits, it's best to factor in all aspects of the technology you are trying to analyze.

That's actually what I do for a living. Again, I was simply making a comment about a very specifc claim made by Tesla Motors. I mean, if you really want to think about things, a bicycle requires 1/10 of the marginal energy consumption of the Prius or Tesla. And there's all sorts of other issues about DSM approaches, as well as the basic limitations of high-speed road travel (like safety, driver attention and time, throughput, need for mass, and so on) that a much more systematic consideration would lead one to understand that even BEVs are a woefully inadequate solution to the problem as a whole.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 31 Oct 06

I mean, if you really want to think about things, a bicycle requires 1/10 of the marginal energy consumption of the Prius or Tesla.

I agree, I try to bike to work as much as possible. It's pollution free and healthy too.

What's best about the EV, Joseph, is the energy independence. We can go back and forth on different statistics and what we believe may or may not be better and why, but the bottom line is that an EV lets you power it with anything: solar, wind, hydro, biomass, etc. With electric deregulation, most customers can now sign on for all green power if they choose, and so their commutes could truly be emissions-free (or they could choose to put up PV's at their home if they can afford to). Even if green power isn't chosen, it's much easier to control emissions at thousands of power plants than millions of vehicles. And as foobar mentioned in an earlier post, a great deal of excess electricity exists on the grid at night, so charging during that time, to an extent, would require no additional electricity to be generated.

The limitation is currently battery technology, for those of us who want to go over 250 miles on a single trip and don't have another vehicle to do it with. I suspect this will change within the next 5 years, with all of the R&D that computer and cellphone manufacturers are investing in battery tech.

That's just not true. As I posted in the prior comment, the Tesla will probably put out 14% less CO2 on the margin compared to a Prius.

Do you have an English version of the graph that you linked to? Where are the equations behind this calculation? Even assuming that number is correct, 14% less than the 2007's most fuel efficient vehicle is impressive to me, given there is no performance trade-off with the Tesla.


Posted by: Eric on 1 Nov 06

Joseph may have a point that some of Tesla's calculations were overly enthusiastic, when compared to the national grid. It seems to be more California-centric, for example their comparison against natural gas, which California uses quite a bit of for power generation.

Bear in mind most Tesla owners will likely be wealthy environmentalists, and may well install their own solar PV panels. Overall, Tesla vehicles will likely leave a smaller footprint on the environment than even the Prius, which itself is an amazing car.

However, that's not the only thing that makes electric cars attractive to me. Most people are not motivated by altruistic reasoning. They buy gadgets to suit their lifestyle. Carpooling is not convenient. It's a pain. Stopping at gas stations is not convenient. It's a pain. The noise internal combustion engines make are not pleasant to most people (especially if you live next to a freeway). The emissions internal combustion engines blow sometimes directly in your face are not pleasant. How often have you been behind a car that just started up on a cold morning, still is in choke phase, and you can smell the exhaust coming in through your vents? That's not pleasant. On performance, ultraefficient hybrid vehicles are typically slow. That's no fun. There are natural advantages to having an A/C induction motor, not the least of which is maximum torque at 0 rpm. Finally, electric cars have fewer moving parts and would require less maintenance and be less prone to failure when the technology has matured.

From a strictly altruistic standpoint we are better of biking to work, or carpooling 4 at a time in a Toyota Corolla. However, the vast majority of people are not motivated to live an austere lifestyle for the good of future generations. Electric cars are the closest thing I see to a win-win.


Posted by: foobar1024 on 1 Nov 06

Bear in mind most Tesla owners will likely be wealthy environmentalists, and may well install their own solar PV panels. Overall, Tesla vehicles will likely leave a smaller footprint on the environment than even the Prius, which itself is an amazing car.

And since that applies to at most 200 vehicles the first couple of years, it really has no relevance with respect to the global environment. Throw enough money at pretty much anything and one can produce "perfectly green" products. But it's a delusion, since we don't all live in apportioned bubbles -- these things we discuss are at the very minimum regional in nature, and often are global. And since not everyone has essentially limitless capital resources, any strategy premised on the consumption of these high-price objects will have no actual, measurable effect on dealing with the problem.

Electric cars are the closest thing I see to a win-win.

Yet, in the marketplace, there were zero sales of new electric automobiles in the US in 2004, and one in 2005. This is from a population base of 300 million people in a very rich country with a lot of eco-oriented people, as well as electric car enthusiasts.

When people are discussing things like the Tesla, they are discussing future possibilities. But as things stand today, the technology and the economics of the situation have led to an outcome where there essentially no demand existing for these supposedly superior products. Of course that's going to change - Tesla's already got commitments for a couple hundred vehicles. Batteries are dropping in cost, increasing in storage density, becoming safer, and lowering recharge times. That's all good.

But, like it or not, how much things cost matters, and it will be quite some time (barring any breakthrough ala EEStor's claims coming true).


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 1 Nov 06

I agree it will be quite some time. The first VCR's cost $1500 at a time when we made less money. My family didn't have one. We rented it from the video store on special occassions.

Now I have a dual tuner DVR given to me by Comcast that records High Definition programming with an onscreen menu.

Cost is not the major challenge so much as if it's a good idea. If it is, costs will eventually be driven down. But certainly not by those with a can't do attitude.

By the way, according to reports GM is back on the electric bandwagon. They've decided to use some of their $9 billion in cuts to fund a plug-in hybrid that competes with Toyota's stranglehold on the hybrid market. One of the reasons GM gave up on electrics and hybrids earlier on was because they thought consumers would use a purely economic logic in buying the car. But clearly their assumptions were way off base. Toyota sold 235,000 hybrids worldwide last year with price deltas that will never be recovered by consumers' fuel savings.


Posted by: foobar1024 on 1 Nov 06

I agree it will be quite some time. The first VCR's cost $1500 at a time when we made less money. My family didn't have one. We rented it from the video store on special occassions.

The difference of course being that VCRs came out in the 70s and batteries have been around for about 200 years.

Now I have a dual tuner DVR given to me by Comcast that records High Definition programming with an onscreen menu.

Also a different situation, because now what you're describing is substitution, particularly with information, and the degree to which advances can be made along those lines simply has no parallels with batteries.

Cost is not the major challenge so much as if it's a good idea.

Cost is always the number one challenge. If you're discussing supplanting a paradigm, the economics better be superior, otherwise it will never fly. That also means that the marginal capital allocation for a given substitute needs to be competitive. If people behaved rationally based on payback periods etc, there'd be much greater penetration of things like CFLs, thermal solar, insulation, even higher-quality vehicles.

The battery pack by itself is about $35K on the Tesla. That's almost $10K more than the average price of an entire new vehicle in the US. There is a very long way to go to make that kind of technology competitive with the ICE. Again, "disruptive" breakthroughs are possible, but I wouldn't stake everything on that possibility.

Toyota sold 235,000 hybrids worldwide last year with price deltas that will never be recovered by consumers' fuel savings.

Now you're basically doing the same thing I've been critical of since the beginning of the thread -- overstating the case for BEVs, then dissing hybrids. Consumers can recoup the hybrid price premium, even without tax breaks. So you can't have this "look at the overall costs" standard for BEVs, then turn around and dismiss the same quality with respect to hybrids.

That CARB report that you posted showed that the economics of HEVs produced a positive NPV, whereas the BEV numbers were negative. And again, any advances with battery technology will benefit HEVs as well.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 1 Nov 06

I don't see why VCRs are much different from batteries. Batteries have been around for 200 years and VCRs have been around for 35. When batteries first came out I am sure that they were big and expensive. The first CD player for a computer was huge. but now we have tiny ones in a lap top. The batteries eventually became small and cheap, just like the VCRs. And Everyone wants VCRs. Everyone wants a better way to forget about their life and concentrate on someone else's. Not everyone on the other hand wants to be able to drive an electric car 500 miles, they don't even think about it. The technology has been slow, but it will get there in the end. Plus as people start changing over to electric cars completely the batteries will improve even more. And don't try to argue against electric cars eventually taking over the market. We all know that there is limited oil in the earth and we are not going to power our cars by steam.


Posted by: Collin on 1 Nov 06

I don't see why VCRs are much different from batteries.

Diminishing returns. The baseline point that one is using for which to gauge improvements is already pretty far along.

When batteries first came out I am sure that they were big and expensive.

Yep, and two hundred years later they were cheap and small. It's hard to make similar giant strides forward at that point.

Not everyone on the other hand wants to be able to drive an electric car 500 miles

Are we talking about batteries or electric vehicles? You just kind of leapt from one to the other.

The technology has been slow, but it will get there in the end.

That is a faith-based statement. No one knows how far the technology will go and what it will cost at what point.

Plus as people start changing over to electric cars completely the batteries will improve even more.

This is another faith-based statement. It doesn't address the degree of improvement of the performance of the technology, nor the costs. Electric cars aren't the only technology that uses mobile electric power.

And don't try to argue against electric cars eventually taking over the market.

Oh, why is that? Is the Electric Vehicle God not allowing us mortals to make such claims?

We all know that there is limited oil in the earth and we are not going to power our cars by steam.

That's a completely tangential, illogical assertion. There are plenty of substitutes for mobile power, and there is no set determination that light vehicles are some sort of end-point in transportation technology.

I will remind everyone again -- sales of electric automobiles in 2004 = 0. In 2005 = 1.

You've got a long, long way to go.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 1 Nov 06

Sales of electric automobiles in 2004 = 0. In 2005 = 1.

Sales of electric automobiles in 2006 = 200+

I like that growth curve, especially considering the big automakers don't even make EVs.


Posted by: Eric on 2 Nov 06

Sales of electric automobiles in 2006 = 200+ I like that growth curve, especially considering the big automakers don't even make EVs.

Well, I don't think Tesla sold out their 2nd round of 100 yet, nor have any cars been actually delivered, so where does that 200+ number come from?

Like I said, if you're starting from the basis of zero or one sale in a country of 300 million people, there's really only one direction to go. By comparison, there were 12,449 EV automobiles sold in 2000. So, the "growth curve" for the past years has actually been a steep decline -- for a technology which supposedly is self-evidently superior.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

Tesla has sold out their first 200. That's with a nearly 100% deposit on cars that won't be delivered until next year.

Yes, there is a long way to go. But look back at how big, clumsy and shortlived Motorola DynaTAC mobile phones were in 1983. Nokia didn't patent their stand alone portable telephone unit until 1993.

The technology was not revolutionary. Many of the basics of the technology went back to the 1950's. It was just immature and took time to reach critical mass.

Tesla will not change anything overnight, nor are they claiming to try.


Posted by: foobar1024 on 2 Nov 06

Well, I don't think Tesla sold out their 2nd round of 100 yet, nor have any cars been actually delivered, so where does that 200+ number come from?

http://www.teslamotors.com/blog1/?p=31
"...Several became customers that evening, breaking through 200 Tesla Roadster customers!" No cars haven't been delivered yet, but a sale is a sale.

And there are other startups that have sold EV's this year too, so 200+ is accurate.


Posted by: Eric on 2 Nov 06

Tesla has sold out their first 200.

They have? This is what their website says:
"Response to the Tesla Roadster has been even greater than we anticipated and we’ve 'sold out' of our special edition Signature One Hundred Roadsters. We are now accepting reservations for our regular production Tesla Roadsters."

That's with a nearly 100% deposit on cars that won't be delivered until next year.

The website says that the reservation payment for the second 100 vehicles is 75%.

Yes, there is a long way to go. But look back at how big, clumsy and shortlived Motorola DynaTAC mobile phones were in 1983. Nokia didn't patent their stand alone portable telephone unit until 1993.

Again, these are not similar comparisons. The electric car has been around for a very long time -- at least 100 years, right? Cell phones didn't languish for 80 or 90 years, sell modestly, have their sales disappear, then boom.

Tesla will not change anything overnight, nor are they claiming to try.

Nor am I claiming they're claiming that. What I'm saying is that I'm getting some fairly stern lectures about this technology, about how self-evidently superior it supposedly is, but if that's so, why aren't all the people who are "enlightened" about this technology putting their money where their mouth is? It's not like there haven't been companies making electric vehicles -- Commuter Cars is a good example of that. How come only one person (George Clooney) has purchased an EV automobile in this country in 2004 and 2005? That isn't 20 or 30 years in the past. That's last year. And it follows a period where sales for EV automobiles hit over 12,000 just six years ago.

The point I'm trying to make is maybe the technology isn't so self-evidently superior as so many here wish to characterize it. Maybe it has a lot of drawbacks and the sales figures up to this point reflect that. Do you have an electric car? Does anyone here advocating them forcefully have one? If they're such a superior technology, then why haven't the advocates all bought them? They certainly wish to tell the non-advocates how clueless they supposedly are in not recognizing how wonderful BEVs are. So one would think at least the strong advocates would be driving them, right? But it's certainly not showing up in recent sales data.

No cars haven't been delivered yet, but a sale is a sale.

Really? So, if Tesla just folded up shop and never delivered the cars, you'd consider that a "sale"? I doubt all the people who put down $75-100K would think that. I also doubt the stats are going to reflect that. It's delivered sales which matter.

Either way, 200 is about one and a half percent of sales in 2000.

You might want to write to Tesla Motors to tell them to update their homepage, which doesn't reflect that information.

And there are other startups that have sold EV's this year too

Really? Who?

OK, so let's say it's 200, the vast majority of which will be delivered next year or the year after. There were 17.1 million light vehicle sales in the US in 2005. So 200 is 10% of 1% of 1% (.00001) market share.

Like I said, I wouldn't start popping champagne bottles yet. The ICE is still kind of dominant, to say the least.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

Sales of electric automobiles in 2004 = 0. In 2005 = 1.

Number of 2004-model year electric automobiles available to be purchase = 0. 2005-model year = 0. 2006-model year = 200 (Teslas) + (Feel Good Cars, other small operations). If people were given the OPTION to buy an EV in 2004 or 2005, they would have.


Posted by: Brian on 2 Nov 06

How come only one person (George Clooney) has purchased an EV automobile in this country in 2004 and 2005? That isn't 20 or 30 years in the past. That's last year. And it follows a period where sales for EV automobiles hit over 12,000 just six years ago.

They hit over 12,000 just six years ago because the big automakers were making them. Why were they making them? Because California's ZEV mandate required them to. As soon as they sued and had the mandate repealed, they stopped making all their cars, and companies like GM even took them back. But your statement is absolutely correct: Over 12,000 sold six years ago. Sounds like a success story to me, too bad big auto stopped making them.

If you want to compare apples to apples, you should compare percentages of sold vehicles to available vehicles. Demand of practical EV's significantly exceeds (a non-existent) supply, so comparing sales numbers to ICE vehicles is biased. EV's aren't selling because companies like GM sold their battery patents to Chevron and refuse to embrace technology that already exists. They won't make them, not because there isn't demand, but for other politically motivated reasons. Instead, everyone wants to spend billions of dollars for a "Hydrogen" economy that will allow companies like Mobil to continue delivering the fuel.

Show me an ICE today where people are willing to fork over 100% of the money a year before the car even comes out to reserve one. That's was the case with the first 100 Tesla's. And another 100 people stepped up to the plate with 75% of the money to reserve theirs.

One aspect you've neglected is oil dependence. An electric car gives us energy independence. It can truly help us move away from oil imports, whereas no other technology can do that for us today, hydrogen or otherwise.

I suggest you perform a qualitative analysis on all aspects of EV's: efficiency, pollution, infrastructure, cost, oil dependence, etc. You'll find that they ARE the best overall solution available TODAY with minimal investments and an infrastructure already in place.


Posted by: Eric on 2 Nov 06

But your statement is absolutely correct: Over 12,000 sold six years ago. Sounds like a success story to me, too bad big auto stopped making them.

12,000 units is a "big success"? You're right in saying it was the ZEV mandate in California which drove that. As soon as the mandate disappeared, so did the market. What that means is, lacking government intervention, the market evaporated. This is unusual for what is claimed to be a self-evidently superior technology.

If you want to compare apples to apples, you should compare percentages of sold vehicles to available vehicles.

Huh? I've never heard of such a thing in my life. Again, why aren't the vehicles available to begin with? If it's self-evidently superior, why weren't they being brought to market? These are rhetorical questions -- I know the answer.

Demand of practical EV's significantly exceeds (a non-existent) supply

Really? In 2005 one sold. In 2004 zero sold. Plenty of manufacturers existed in 2004 and 2005. This isn't far in the past. This is last year and the year before. And if demand exceeds supply, economics says that entrepreneurs will flood the market to meet the pent-up demand. So, where's the flood been all these years?

EV's aren't selling because companies like GM sold their battery patents to Chevron and refuse to embrace technology that already exists. They won't make them, not because there isn't demand, but for other politically motivated reasons. Instead, everyone wants to spend billions of dollars for a "Hydrogen" economy that will allow companies like Mobil to continue delivering the fuel.

OK, so now we start going down the conspiracy route. GM owns all the world's battery patents? GM has aligned interests with oil companies? If that's so, why is GM doing so poorly while oil companies are doing so well? Seems to me the high oil prices have put a stake through the heart of GM, Ford, and Chrysler. But you're claiming they're in cahoots.

Show me an ICE today where people are willing to fork over 100% of the money a year before the car even comes out to reserve one.

Plenty of people reserve limited edition, high-end vehicles. Happens all the time.

One aspect you've neglected is oil dependence.

No, I haven't neglected it. We're so far away from my original, limited comment about well-to-wheel efficiency, and through it all, I basically have been told I am "wedded to hydrocarbons", should send my children off to die in wars, am an idiot who can't recognize superior technology and whatnot. I've also gotten lectures about very simple things which I understand quite well. It's just a very strange progression of assumptions about me, my beliefs, what I know and don't know, etc.

Funny, since I run my house on 100% wind power, have a household average of 1,500-2,000 vehicle-miles per year at 33 mpg, intentionally went without a vehicle for 6 or 7 years, recommended an electric vehicle conversion to a good friend of mine a couple months back (and did extensive research on it), and frequently fawn over vehicles like the eGo scooter, the Vectrix scooter, GEM cars, and electric conversions that I come upon at conferences like the recent Bioneers gathering in Minneapolis a week or two ago.

That, on top of having been a transportation entrepreneur since 1993-94, as well as an environmental energy policy researcher before that. Somehow I'm clueless and unconcerned about energy independence, transportation technologies, and the environmental effects of transportation and energy choices.

An electric car gives us energy independence.

Not 200 of them, no.

It can truly help us move away from oil imports

We will import oil regardless. Overseas oil is cheap compared to domestic oil.

whereas no other technology can do that for us today, hydrogen or otherwise.

Well, at $35K for a 250 mile battery pack that takes hours to recharge, the BEV technology isn't quite ready either, now is it?

I suggest you perform a qualitative analysis on all aspects of EV's: efficiency, pollution, infrastructure, cost, oil dependence, etc.

Already did it long ago, as I said. I am not as clueless as you think I am.

You'll find that they ARE the best overall solution available TODAY with minimal investments and an infrastructure already in place.

Yet, despite this obvious superiority, precisely one unit sold in the past 2 years, in a market of over 30 million units during that time.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

If people were given the OPTION to buy an EV in 2004 or 2005, they would have.

There were plenty of choices available in 2004 and 2005. Phoenix and Commuter Cars, for starters.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

Top 10 Light Vehicles by sales volume, 2005, US
(in descending order)

Ford F-Series
Chevrolet Silverado
Toyota Camry
Dodge Ram
Honda Accord
Honda Civic
Nissan Altima
Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet Malibu
Chevrolet TrailBlazer

% of light vehicle market: 24%

Average base price (before discounting, exlusive of tax and delivery): $18,337

Average combined fuel economy rating: 22 mpg

Average gasoline price per gallon in 2005: $2.31
Diesel: $2.40


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

Not 200 of them, no.

Now that statement sounds like you're just arguing for the sake of arguing. Market penetration isn't instantaneous.

Overseas oil is cheap compared to domestic oil.

Purchasing oil overseas has other implications, namely contributing to the trade deficit. There's much more to economics than the simple exchanging of goods for the lowest dollar.

Yet, despite this obvious superiority, precisely one unit sold in the past 2 years, in a market of over 30 million units during that time.

Name one big auto manufacturer in 2004 and 2005 that a person could go to a dealership, test drive an electric car, and purchase if desired. Your perception of demand and whether or not a product is a success is incomplete.


Posted by: Eric on 2 Nov 06

Now that statement sounds like you're just arguing for the sake of arguing.

90% of this thread sounds like arguing for the sake of arguing.

Market penetration isn't instantaneous.

Nope, sure isn't. Nor is it guaranteed out into the future in some a priori manner, simply because some narrow criteria is more efficient. It's an incredibly complex of dynamics, and the specific vehicle in question hasn't even hit the road yet. And it's a market with sales volume average of 1/2 of a vehicle over the past two years. Like I said, to pop the champagne at this point is just silly.

Purchasing oil overseas has other implications, namely contributing to the trade deficit. There's much more to economics than the simple exchanging of goods for the lowest dollar.

I'm going to ask this again, Eric. Where along the lines did you get the notion that I'm a flaming moron? The fact that importing oil adds to the trade deficit has nothing to do with the reality of the very complex energy market, and the specific reality that oil is cheaper to produce overseas than domestically. Unless the government specifically bans "foreign" imports, the notion of energy "independence" is another folly - it will never happen. It certainly won't happen because somehow BEVs will supplant all ICEs.

Name one big auto manufacturer in 2004 and 2005 that a person could go to a dealership, test drive an electric car, and purchase if desired.

Is Tesla a "big auto manufacturer"? Why are you moving the goalposts? The vehicles have been available, contrary to your claims, yet the demand didn't materialize -- despite record or near record gas prices. I will reiterate -- zero in 2004, one in 2005. This isn't the ancient past.

Your perception of demand and whether or not a product is a success is incomplete.

Oh, really? Do you own an electric car? Do any other advocates on this thread own one? Have you bought one in the past two years? Why not? According to you and others, it is self-evidently superior, both technologically and morally. So why haven't you or the others acted upon your enlightenment in these matters? Just with the number of advocates on this thread, you all could have quadrupled or quintupled the national sales volume all on your own.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

GM has aligned interests with oil companies?

59% of GM stock is owned by funds that have a majority of their shares in oil stocks. That is a controlling interest in the company if big oil wants it to be.

Fact: GM sold a patent of NiMH batteries to Chevron
Fact: Chevron turned around and sued companies like Toyota for making the battery

Plenty of people reserve limited edition, high-end vehicles. Happens all the time.

For 100% of the price, with a 1 year delay of delivery? I find that hard to believe.

No, I haven't neglected it. We're so far away from my original, limited comment about well-to-wheel efficiency, and through it all.....

What you've stated has also turned from a well-to-wheel effiency discussion to discounting any of the progress that's been made, and claiming purchases not made indicates failure (when in fact it's due to lack of availability). And the cars you referenced that were availalble are extremely awkward and funny looking, and don't offer the conveniences of a typical sedan. That's exactly what Tesla is trying to change.

I think in a nutshell you're only listening to what you want to listen to, and letting all other information pass you by. Most people do that, however, including people that have contradicted you here. I just think that you're not giving credit where it is due in many of the aspects that people have brought to your attention. Instead you attempt to discount it by posting links to graphs written in another language or EV's that were available but had minimal convenience and were extremely awkward.

I think the information speaks for itself, so this discussion need not go further. I do, however, applaud you for your use of wind power and other green alternatives. You claim you fawn over electric vehicles, but I question then why you've put so much energy into discounting them in this thread.


Posted by: Eric on 2 Nov 06

As soon as the mandate disappeared, so did the market.

Completely false. As soon as the mandata disappeared, the auto makers stopped making them. This was NOT due to falling demand, as you are so quick to assume.


Posted by: Eric on 2 Nov 06

Let's look at some basic economics.

Start with the assumption of 20.5 mpg for the average US light vehicle, and the 55 mpg and 206 Wh/mile ratings of the Prius and Tesla, respectively.

The average US household puts on more than 21,000 miles of driving per year.

The current average residential price of electricity is 10.3 cents in the US and 16.7 cents in California. The current average price of gasoline is $2.26.

Let's assume gas more than doubles to $5/gal.

A household would save $3,212.86 per year by driving a Prius instead of an average vehicle. By driving a car with the Tesla's claimed efficiency, they'd save $4,676.37. For California, the latter number would be $4,399.51. So, the net benefit of the BEV vis-a-vis the HEV in terms of fuel savings is between $1,186.65 and $1,463.51 per year.

So let's say it's around $1,500 per year. Most people aren't going to be looking for a very long payback period, so common cost per mile calculations generally focus on a 5 year time frame. Ignoring things like the opportunity cost of capital and so forth, it means that the BEV can probably command a $7,500 premium at best compared to an HEV at $5/gallon for gasoline.

One can get an HEV for around $20-21K, so the price point for the BEV needs to be around $28K. Meanwhile, a 250 mile range, slow-charge Li-Ion battery pack runs $35K all on its own.

Keep in mind that even with the sharp increases in gas prices recently, and the revival of "green" sentiments, there still is a lot of hesitancy in the market towards HEVs. They're doing well, but there's still a lot of misgivings about the price premiums. Plus, as we've seen, with the recent retreat in gas prices, there's been an almost immediate resurgence in large SUV sales and parallel decrease in demand for more fuel efficient vehicles.

Keep in mind that the fuel savings of a Prius relative to a normal vehicle at $3/gallon is $2,627.59 per year, and the "hybrid price premium" is around $4,000 at this point. So clearly consumers devalue future lower fuel costs relative to upfront purchase costs pretty substantially, otherwise the price premium of a hybrid wouldn't be constantly skewered in discussions about them.

So that tells you a lot about the rationality of vehicle buyers.

Also, keep in mind that the HEVs are produced by established, large-scale manufacturers with substantial capitalization, experience at scale manufacturing on a global basis, a well-developed retail and service infrastructue, and a long record of expected quality standards.

It really isn't as easy as you all think it is. The hurdles are enormous on many, many fronts.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

I realize there are hurdles, especially since the costs of vehicles don't take into account external costs, such as the pollution generated.

I just believe that the option should be made available to the average consumer, i.e. some EV's being made by today's top three automakers.

Ideally, people really should change their habits to make an even bigger impact: commuting, public transportation, bicycling, to name a few. I buy all green power, but the average person, like you said, looks for short term benefit, not long term. Paying more for polluting less isn't exactly a short term benefit.


Posted by: Eric on 2 Nov 06

Auto makers can't use NiMH batteries in electric vehicles without violating the patent Chevron owns. As a result hybrids have to be at least 50% powered by gasoline. The only other viable alternative for EV's at the moment is lithium-ion. Toyota has hinted that their next generation plug-in Prius will have lithium-ion. Hopefully that will help put additional pressure on driving down the price. The Sony battery recalls may also be a blessing in disguise, as it will result in modified manufactoring methods for additional safety.


Posted by: foobar1024 on 2 Nov 06

59% of GM stock is owned by funds that have a majority of their shares in oil stocks. That is a controlling interest in the company if big oil wants it to be....

More tinfoilhattery.

For 100% of the price, with a 1 year delay of delivery? I find that hard to believe.

Didn't you just say something about arguing for the sake of arguing? The point is that there is a long history of people fronting cash for high-end, limited run performance vehicles. Nothing unusual about it at all.

What you've stated has also turned from a well-to-wheel effiency discussion to discounting any of the progress that's been made, and claiming purchases not made indicates failure (when in fact it's due to lack of availability).

They've been available. Sorry.

And the cars you referenced that were availalble are extremely awkward and funny looking, and don't offer the conveniences of a typical sedan. That's exactly what Tesla is trying to change.

OK, so now we're on the "awkward and funny-looking" angle. I hear people call the Prius "fugly" all the time. Aesthetics are a cop-out. Again, you're positing that this is a self-evidently superior option, yet you have a myriad of conspiracy theories, aesthetic objections and so forth, to deny market realities (ie, a basic drop-out of demand over a very short period of time, despite forward developments in technology and lowering costs).

I think in a nutshell you're only listening to what you want to listen to, and letting all other information pass you by.

That's the "you're a flaming idiot, Joseph" assumption again. I've spent nearly 15 years of my adult life involved with this, Eric. I don't think I've read anything on this thread that I don't already know or have considered prior to now. Yet despite that, and demonstrating command of the material, am spoken to as if I both have malintent and am clueless.

You claim you fawn over electric vehicles, but I question then why you've put so much energy into discounting them in this thread.

Liking something is personal, for one thing, and has nothing to do with the capacity for objectivity. The problem with so many of these "solutions" is that their advocates cross the line from personal admiration into zealotry, and then they become their own enemy with respect to their favored approach.

I was perfectly content to say what I wanted to say about Tesla's well-to-wheel numbers, but you and others have gone far beyond that, and in doing so, have said a lot of extraordinarily inaccurate things about how things are, but also personally insulted me on numerous occasions, both directly and indirectly, while I have not reciprocated with such an attitude or words. So it's more just to show you and the others the door at this point, since you apparently feel the need to "educate" me -- being as I'm so clueless and full of malintent towards BEVs -- as evidenced by my initial comment about the Tesla which was (paraphrased) "Wow. The performance of a supercar and the efficiency of a Prius. That impresses me. So why the need to make it seem like it's twice as efficient as a Prius when it's not? Why call the Prius 'dirty'?"

It gets back down to the fact that I do not like the approach of knocking something down to lift another thing up. The Tesla looks like a wonderful vehicle and a wonderful company with wonderful and brilliant people. A million chants of "good luck" and "go get 'em" to them.

But I'm not going to drink the Kool Aid and then get hostile towards anything that isn't a BEV. I'm going to maintain my ability to see the larger picture, to understand the complexities, and to know that there is no single answer to big problems. That's what this whole website is all about, right?

Completely false. As soon as the mandata disappeared, the auto makers stopped making them. This was NOT due to falling demand, as you are so quick to assume.

Toyota stopped making the RAV4 EV in 2003, well after the point of peak demand. Again, gas prices have gone up much more than elecrtricity over the past few years, other manufacturers have had EVs ready for sale, and market-ready battery technology has improved substantially. Yet, despite all that, precisely one BEV automobile sold in a period of 2 years in this huge economy. That isn't some slowing of demand or some disappearance of supply. It is about as clear and complete disappearance of a market for a product I've ever seen -- especially a product that is getting better.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

I realize there are hurdles, especially since the costs of vehicles don't take into account external costs, such as the pollution generated.

Great, so now we're back to government intervention as necessity for driving the change, because people really don't care about such things. And again, the marginal emissions reduction of a BEV relative to an HEV is miniscule compared to an HEV vis-a-vis a normal vehicle. Diminishing returns. Diminishing returns.

I just believe that the option should be made available to the average consumer, i.e. some EV's being made by today's top three automakers.

"Should" be made available? There's more mandates then. More government force. Does this seem likely in this country?

Ideally, people really should change their habits to make an even bigger impact

More "should". This is America. Not a real good place for the "should" concept, especially when the "should" is an environmental "should". That should be crystal clear at this point.

Auto makers can't use NiMH batteries in electric vehicles without violating the patent Chevron owns.

Really? Where's the proof for that?

And I didn't realize that NiMH was the sole battery technology. Tesla's using Li-Ion. Is Chevron going to stop them, too? How far does the rabbit hole go? :)

As a result hybrids have to be at least 50% powered by gasoline.

Huh? What? How does that work? Who mandated that? I've never heard of such a thing.

The only other viable alternative for EV's at the moment is lithium-ion. Toyota has hinted that their next generation plug-in Prius will have lithium-ion. Hopefully that will help put additional pressure on driving down the price. The Sony battery recalls may also be a blessing in disguise, as it will result in modified manufactoring methods for additional safety.

Yep, Toyota will up the efficiency of their HEVs as battery technology improves and the costs come down -- thus shrinking the net benefit of a pure BEV even more as time goes on. Think about it. It's far more likely that vehicles slowly morph towards being more electric-driven by gradually increasing the role of it in conjunction with an ICE. Pure BEV on its own is coming from the opposite direction and is just going to get squeezed by the improvements with HEVs (and their dispersion within established makes and models).

Ultimately, in the absence of government mandates, the market's going to find a point where these technologies settle out.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

OK, so here's the top 10 institutional owners of GM (in descending order):
State Street Global Advisors
Capital Research & Management Co
Brandes Investment Partners
Southeastern Asset Management
Barclays Global Investors Intl
Goldman Sachs Asset Management
Credit Suisse Securities (usa)
Ubs Financial Services
Fidelity Management & Research
Mellon Capital Management Corp

Please show me where each of these institutions has "a majority of their shares in oil stocks". Just show me that, please.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

I for one, am anxious to see what's available 5-10 years down the road.


Posted by: Eric on 2 Nov 06

http://www.ev1.org/gmoil.htm

"Funds owning 59% of GM, a controlling majority of GM shares, own at least 10 times as much in oil company stocks."

It's all in the chart there, accurate as of 6/31/06. Most of the top fund holders even coincide with the list you just posted.

Also, could you please provide an english version of the graph you referenced earlier? Still waiting on that...


Posted by: Eric on 2 Nov 06

There are plenty of references with some simple research. Google chevron nimh battery patent


Posted by: foobar1024 on 2 Nov 06

On price premiums...

People want to compare this vehicle to Lamborghinis or whatever, but the reality is its essentially an electric conversion of a Lotus Elise. 0-60 times are slightly better for the Tesla and the top end is better for the Elise. The Elise is $43K and the Tesla is $100K. So, people who are buying this vehicle are basically paying $57,000 for the powertrain difference -- more than twice the price of the ICE version.

Again, this is their initial product and initial run, but those are the numbers.

Another thing that people don't wish to really address is the weight sensitivity with BEV technology. It's no coincidence that they chose the Elise -- along with the Honda Insight, it's the only sub-2,000 lb light vehicle sold in the US. The Tesla's estimated to weigh 2,500 pounds, so the weight penalty of going electric is over 500 lbs (net of taking about a 200+ pound Toyota ICE and its tranny and putting in the batteries, electric motor and drive). Since the electric motor is 70 pounds, that's in the neighborhood of 600-700 pounds of batteries - or an increase in base vehicle weight of about 1/3. That's the inherent problem with limited energy density.

[Wait - just checked the Tesla numbers and they claim the pack weighs 992 pounds. Wow.]

You start putting that into normal midsize, 5-passenger vehicles which weigh 3,000 pounds or more without engine and tranny, then you need even more batteries to keep the 250 mile range, which increases costs and weight. It's taking a Camry or Accord kind of vehicle and pushing its mass up over 2 tons.

And looking at the data for top-selling vehicles, they're going to eventually need to hit a price point for a base vehicle at around $18-19K, plus perhaps some play of a price premium for the superior fuel efficiency. Right now, the conversion premium alone is $57K.

It's a very tough equation, and it's why they're starting high-end, low-volume, lightweight.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

It's all in the chart there, accurate as of 6/31/06. Most of the top fund holders even coincide with the list you just posted.

Where exactly in the chart are the total holdings of each institution computed so that one can determine the percentage of oil company stock value in their total holdings? I'm not seeing it, and that's the claim you made.

It's not a real shocker to see large institutional investors holding oil stocks in a time when those stocks are outperforming most other investment options. Would you rather they act against their shareholders' interest?

Also, could you please provide an english version of the graph you referenced earlier? Still waiting on that...

If there were an English version of it, I would have posted it. Perhaps you can ask me what specific information you want, and I'll translate it. Japanese is my second language.

=======

There are plenty of references with some simple research. Google chevron nimh battery patent

If there are plenty of references, then you should have no trouble pointing me to the ones where you got your information.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

Just out of curiosity, what kind of car do you drive, Joseph?


Posted by: foobar1024 on 2 Nov 06

Just out of curiosity, what kind of car do you drive, Joseph?

What brand of BEV do you drive, foobar?


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

During the development of the EV1, General Motors made a controlling investment in Ovonics's battery development and manufacturing, with particular interest in the patents and trade secrets controlling the manufacturing of large nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. This interest was subsequently sold to the oil company Texaco, which was acquired in its entirety by another oil company, Chevron. The "large format" NiMH batteries are no longer available to U.S. electric vehicle converters or lightweight BEV manufactures. The manufacturing unit, "COBASYS", is currently declining to manufacture and market these batteries for battery electric automotive use in the US and has shut down (through patent control) Panasonic's large format battery importation to the US. The COBASYS web page concerning transportation applications addresses only large multi-passenger hybrid vehicles, vehicles not comprising a substantial threat to the largest market of the oil industry. In order to use NiMH batteries without violating Chevron's patents, hybrid automobile manufacturers are required to design vehicles which are at least 50% powered by gasoline; otherwise, they are limited to the use of "D" cell-sized NiMH ("small format") batteries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_electric_vehicle


Posted by: foobar1024 on 2 Nov 06

On CO2...

Average US household racks up 21,000 vehicle-miles per year and has 2.6 people.

My household racks up 5-6,000 vehicle-miles per year and has 3 people.

Grid power in the US puts out 134.60 lbs of CO2 per million BTU (primary). Gasoline puts out 156.43 lbs for the same amount of energy.

So, our household's per person CO2 emissions from our vehicle use is 1,176 lbs per year. By contrast, an average household with a BEV of Tesla's efficiency would put out 2,441 lbs of CO2 per person per year -- more than double what our household achieves. And we do that for about $500 in gas and $500 in insurance per year with old engine technology.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

from that Wiki entry:

In order to use NiMH batteries without violating Chevron's patents, hybrid automobile manufacturers are required to design vehicles which are at least 50% powered by gasoline; otherwise, they are limited to the use of "D" cell-sized NiMH ("small format") batteries. [citation needed]

Citation needed. Where's the citation for that claim (which you made on this thread as well)?

Regardless, there are other battery technologies being pursued, aren't there? They don't control a patent to all batteries.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

Blast from the past:

06/01/93

CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (415) 723-2558

NEW BATTERY ACCELERATES THE FUTURE OF ELECTRIC CARS
STANFORD - The future of the electric automobile depends on the development of a practical battery with a useful range, something that has so far eluded engineers. A new battery, using nickel metal hydride may be the answer.

"This is a new battery, which is non-toxic, environmentally green and requires no maintenance," said Stanford chemistry professor John Ross, who created the battery with Energy Conversion Devices, a Michigan-based company.

.......

Although use of electric cars will require an increase in coal- burning to generate more electricity, the general environmental effect will be positive, Ross said.

"In a coal-fired plant," he said, "you can control pollution much better than you can emissions from an automobile."

Coal "pollutes significantly less than oil usage in a car," he said.


Posted by: foobar1024 on 2 Nov 06

Blast from the past:

Gas was pretty much $1/gallon for most of the 90s, and consequently there were huge shifts away from emphasizing fuel economy. Where's the market for BEVs if there isn't really a cost savings with energy?

You're also sort of proving the general point that one shouldn't get attached to each new bit of hype thrown out there about this or that technology or development. The world's more complex than that.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

Coal "pollutes significantly less than oil usage in a car," he said.

Right, now stack a standard US light vehicle's emissions against an '07 SULEV getting 55 mpg.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

correction: "...now stack a standard 1993 US light vehicle's emissions..."


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 2 Nov 06

Almost no one seems to have done the math on how much those batteries will cost mile by mile.

http://sustainametric.blogspot.com/2006/08/teslamotors-car.html
Here are some calculations, that put the estimate at gasoline equivalents of $6 per gallon of gas if the battery costs $15k. With battery costs of $35k, you are paying about $12 per gallon-equivalent.


Posted by: Ian Smith on 3 Nov 06

Almost no one seems to have done the math on how much those batteries will cost mile by mile.

I have, but it's going to be offset (somewhat) by the fact that you're dealing with a much simpler powertrain compared to an ICE. That's what a BEV advocate would say in response.

So, what really needs to be looked at is total cost per mile, and we can only take fairly wild guesses at it for Tesla's future vehicles, since they haven't come out yet. Clearly their first vehicle is going to be very expensive per mile -- it's a high-end vehicle.

I can't find cost per mile for a Lotus Elise, but a Corvette is similarly priced with similar performance, so it's a decent analogue. Estimates I've found range from 86 to 89 cents per mile for that vehicle.

For the ESS (battery pack), I calculated it to cost around $35K (based on Engineer-Poet's numbers for cost per watt for Li-Ion). Tesla claims a 125,000 mile lifetime for the batteries, though clearly that's also going to depend on how much the vehicle is driven, as Li-Ion degrades performance at a regular pace over time, even if it isn't used. I've learned that lesson well with some of my laptops.

So assuming the owner can get 125K miles out of the ESS, at $35K, that comes to 28.0 cents per mile for the batteries (at the very best) and 2.2 cents per mile for the electricity. Together, that's 30.2 cents per mile.

By comparison, Edmunds puts the Corvette's estimated fuel costs at 10.4 cents per mile, and using my own numbers (EPA FE data and current premium gasoline price avg in the US), it's 11.5 cents per mile for the Vette and 9.7 cents per mile for the Elise.

So clearly there's a large differential in energy costs per mile. Insurance will almost certainly be more on the Tesla, since it's more than twice as expensive and as yet has no driving history, which insurance companies penalize. Financing costs will obviously be higher for the Tesla, as will taxes and fees (unless it gets subsidies for such things).

So, it's basically going to come down to depreciation (which one could rightly put batteries in instead of as fuel costs), maintenance, and repair after that, all of which are unknown at this point, though one would hope that maintenance and repair would be lower, since there's just not as much that can go wrong with a BEV drivetrain relative to an ICE (assuming it's high-quality).

Regardless, it's difficult to imagine that the $57K price premium is ever going to be justified economically.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 3 Nov 06

One other thing about maintenance and repair -- how exactly will Tesla be handling that? It may theoretically require less service, but if it does, who will be doing it and where?


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 3 Nov 06

From their FAQ:

How much service does the Tesla Roadster require?

Far, far less than gasoline-powered cars. Most cars require service every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. The Tesla Roadster has no motor oil or oil filters to change, no smog equipment to check, no air filters to replace, no power steering fluids to refill. We feel confident that the only service your Tesla Roadster will require for the first 100,000 miles is tire and brake inspection. But we’ll be happier to see you once a year or every 25,000 miles or so, just to check in.

How will I get my car to Tesla Motors for service?

Just call us. For customers who live within 60 miles of a Tesla Motors Customer Care Center, we will offer free pick-up and drop-off service. Customers beyond that distance will pay a nominal dispatching fee.


Posted by: foobar1024 on 3 Nov 06

Wow, talk about Knickers in a knot. This is some detailed discussion here. Telsa is a step in the right direction. Five to ten years from now this discussion is moot. If one is in a hurry, install solar panels, get the 'quiterevolution' vertical windmill installed, buy the $4500 EV car RAVA from india (in production for over a year) and just wait it out.

All this 'rithmetic should be replaced with graphs indicatng the direction and the rate of change in technologies and pricing that will reduce our Co2 footprints to below sustainable levels. The world is converging toward solutions fast and this website is what makes that assertion believable and real.

Joseph, don't worry about the repairs and maintenance. The folks forking out 100 grand are not worried about it so just chug a beer and relax. It will all work out, believe me, because the market forces will take care of such minutiae.

Cheers.


Posted by: Subbarao Seethamsetty on 3 Nov 06

So, maintenance on the Vette comes to 8 cents per mile over 5 years - or 8.6% of the total cost per mile. This is what one would expect, as modern vehicles usually have good warranties upfront, then are still fairly reliable -- at least through 100,000 miles.

Customers beyond that distance will pay a nominal dispatching fee.

I guess that all depends on what "nominal" means, and it still doesn't mention where the vehicle gets worked on. Where are these Customer Care Centers?

====

Five to ten years from now this discussion is moot.

Why is that? Did you even read the discussion we've been having on that?

Joseph, don't worry about the repairs and maintenance. The folks forking out 100 grand are not worried about it so just chug a beer and relax.

That's kind of irrelevant, because I know that people who are paying a $57,000 premium for an electric drivetrain obviously don't care too much about an efficient use of their money. The question, especially when you start talking about things being "moot" in 5 to 10 years is that the economics very much matter, since you're talking about a fundamental shift in a specific paradigm, and if that's going to occur, the economics of it will definitely need to work for average people.

It will all work out, believe me, because the market forces will take care of such minutiae.

That doesn't really mean anything. Please elaborate.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 3 Nov 06

If one is in a hurry, install solar panels, get the 'quiterevolution' vertical windmill installed, buy the $4500 EV car RAVA from india (in production for over a year) and just wait it out.

The REVA is available for sale in the United States?


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 3 Nov 06

Service centers are currently in select metropolitan areas. All this information is easy to find if you'd just look. If you live in Jackson, MS and make $23,000 a year, then the Tesla Roadster is not for you. Neither is a Vette.


Posted by: foobar1024 on 3 Nov 06

How can the electric drivetrain be a "$57,000 premium" if Tesla says that they will release a sports sedan using the same drivetrain for about half the price of a Tesla Roadster?


Posted by: foobar1024 on 3 Nov 06

f one is in a hurry, install solar panels, get the 'quiterevolution' vertical windmill installed, buy the $4500 EV car RAVA from india (in production for over a year) and just wait it out.

The REVA is available for sale in the United States?

Joseph, The purpose of that sentence is rhetorical. REVA ia being sold in Europe I believe and might soon come to Canada. The company is not trying too hard to get into the US. Also the quiterevolution is not production ready yet and solar panels are still too expensive to make the "total $ cost of ownership" high. But as I said, things are converging toward solutions and very fast, so sit back, contribute to the best of your ability toward a sustanable future and enjoy your day every day.

Your detailed notes, thoughts and calculations are indded a good contribution but too much of a good thing can bury the crux of the discussion. Most people are aware of the 'rithmetic and it can be looked up easily.

I sign off on this subject now.


Posted by: Subbarao Seethamsetty on 3 Nov 06

Service centers are currently in select metropolitan areas. All this information is easy to find if you'd just look. If you live in Jackson, MS and make $23,000 a year, then the Tesla Roadster is not for you. Neither is a Vette.

Right, so there goes the whole "paradigm shift is imminent" argument, since very few people can afford a $100,000 vehicle with 250 mile range and long refueling time.

How can the electric drivetrain be a "$57,000 premium" if Tesla says that they will release a sports sedan using the same drivetrain for about half the price of a Tesla Roadster?

Did you not see where that number comes from? The Tesla is basically an electric Elise. The Elise is $43K, the Tesla is $100K. I didn't say the drivetrain had a $57,000 premium, I said the vehicle in its entirety did.

What Tesla claims about its next-generation offering is even more speculative than its 1st generation one. Again, you're counting chickens long before they hatch.

====

Joseph, The purpose of that sentence is rhetorical.

No, what you said is if I or someone else is "in a hurry" we should go get some solar panels and a REVA. Since it's impossible for me to get a REVA, that's a nonsensical suggestion you made. If it were up to me, I'd go out and get a 100 mpg Honda Gyro Canopy, but they aren't available in the US market - even though they've been out for almost 25 years in Japan. Things like crash standard and emissions regulations preclude a whole host of vehicles being imported or otherwise coming to market.

But as I said, things are converging toward solutions and very fast, so sit back, contribute to the best of your ability toward a sustanable future and enjoy your day every day.

You're back to making a glib generality that essentially sounds like a variation of the Christian "argument" that we should all just "let God take care of it". Things change because people make them change. It isn't just some natural process. Furthermore, your tone of condescension towards me (again, the common-to-this-thread sort of attidude) presumes that I don't do anything to the best of my ability to help create a sustainable future, or that somehow my deciding to engage on an issue makes me in need of relaxation or whatnot. Your attitude is really arrogant and judgmental, all with knowing very little about who you are addressing, and also without first understanding the context of the conversation of the thread to this point.

Your detailed notes, thoughts and calculations are indded a good contribution but too much of a good thing can bury the crux of the discussion. Most people are aware of the 'rithmetic and it can be looked up easily.

Wrong again, since it's pretty clear from this thread that the "rithmetic" people presume and the actual "rithmetic" which I'm demonstrating are quite different. Start with my first comment on the thread which showed that the "rocket scientists" of Tesla overstated the efficiency of their vehicle by more than 100%. This isn't some small difference that can just wash out.

Details matter, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.


Posted by: Joseph Willemssen on 3 Nov 06

boepiuo voqmul


Posted by: Jane on 7 Nov 06

boepiuo voqmul


Posted by: Jane on 7 Nov 06

Joseph, I know where are short. You compare the primary BTU of generated electricity to the BTU of generated and refined gasoline.

You are right in that the electricity generation statistic doesn't include losses due to extraction and transportation of fuels to the the generation sites.

On the other hand you skim off refining losses and transportation losses of the gasoline in your numbers in addition to the extraction and transportation of the oil to the refineries.

So I would say that it is hard to say which is more efficient.


Posted by: Chris on 8 Nov 06

Joseph, it's been a fun read. I finished it thru the last post, thought about it, then reread your original post.

What are the many things to recommend what they're doing?


Posted by: Warren on 9 Nov 06



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