By on May 2, 2014

img-0219

Here’s a blunt statement for you: If you don’t have at least a 240V charger in your home, or plan on getting one very quickly, or live very near (10 minutes or less) to a Supercharger, do not buy a Model S. I hate to say that because I love this car. But charging without having a charger at home is frustrating and/or expensive.

I live in San Francisco and commute to Mountain View. For all the talk of this being the official car of the Bay Area Tech Douche, there are few convenient chargers available in the Palo Alto or Mountain View area. The nearest Supercharger is in Fremont, which is 30-40 minutes away – more if there’s traffic.

The Chargepoint network is an abomination. Finding a charger using their app (a hodgepodge of HTML mashing into Apple Maps) is ponderous. When you do find one, you had best hope it’s not a 120V charger. Because that will get you anywhere from 3 to 10 miles for each hour of charging, which is not useful when you drive 30 to 40 miles each way. This is also assuming one is *available* – many Chargepoint stations have two outlets, and you can’t reserve many of them.

You can also find chargers with SemaCharge, which is just as bad.

In San Francisco there are many chargers inside large, expensive garages, such as 3 Embarcadero. For $3.99 an hour for the first four hours, then $6 an hour afterwards, you can charge your car at a decent pace – I forget the exact rate, but I think I was at 50% and was quoted 5 hours to charge. So you’re paying for the garage, the charger, and whatever wacky rate they add on top of it.

Get your own charger if you want to save money on gas. Actually, get your own *240 Volt* charger. This will charge you at – I think – 20-30 miles for each hour of charging. This is bearable overnight, and will get you back on your feet for the next day. A 120V (as in a normal plug) will get you three miles an hour. That is not practical for any human being.

If you can, get the high-powered wall charger that Tesla sells. It can go from 40-80 miles for each charging hour, which will mean that you can just go to bed with your car charging. I got my building to install one, and if an apartment building can do it, you can do it.

Now, the positives. My Volvo cost about $50 a tank if memory serves, and that wasn’t even using premium gas (yes, I know miles per gallon is better, but I can’t remember). I’d say that I’d be gassing up on my current schedule two or three times a week. At a conservative estimate, that’s $400 a month. $4800 a year, $38,400 over the course of the 8 years of my warranty (yes, I bought an extended warranty). This is actually an underestimate deliberately engineered to ward off the potential comments of “you suck at math.” If I was filling up the Audi Q5 I drove via Zipcar, the cost of the premium gas they demand would be more like $80 a tank from about a quarter left. Yes, that’s an SUV, I know. But mathematically speaking the Tesla can and will save you money, and the additional stress of finding a gas station.

The “but what if I travel?” argument leads to the Superchargers, which I’ll talk about shortly. However, the general argument I can give you is that while the Chargepoint network sucks for the constant need to juice up, there generally seems to be – at least in California – a good network of places to charge. 4 star and 5 star hotels consistently seem to have 240V chargers – I spotted one in Charlotte, NC at the Ritz Carlton – and even some lower-end hotels in Napa appeared to have them. This isn’t to say that it isn’t inconvenient. The infrastructure of the overall EV-charging network needs significant work to establish the convenience of readily-available gas. However the argument of “you’re gonna get stranded” does not seem to apply in this state. Outside of California, it’s a different world, and I recognize that our state is in a unique situation.

 

Superchargers were originally advertised as beautiful little oases – places you could go, charge your car, get a cup of coffee, eat a bagel and relax. However, at least in Fremont, the result is less glitzy. A line of chargers, some metal chairs and a lot of buildings that you can’t go into. I was dreaming of being able to grab a cup of coffee and relax while the car juiced up. My dreams are shattered. Other Superchargers may be different – but you’d think the marquee Supercharger where you pick up your car would be gorgeous.

To quote the website: “Simply pull up and plug in, take a quick bathroom or food break, and get back on the road.” There was no usable bathroom at Fremont – at a late stop (10pm) I was able to use the intercom and security let me into the one in the delivery center. There was no food. I had to pathetically ask a secretary for a glass of water. Unless I intended to walk across a highway, there was no readily-accessible way to take a quick bathroom or food break unless I brought snacks and intended to pee on the ground.

When the Supercharger *works* it’s fantastic (and free). I really mean it. The ones that work can charge you with 200 miles worth of juice in just an hour – you can swing in, get your car powered up while you sit inside and then get out of there in 30 minutes to an hour. The new 6.0 firmware update allegedly will up the rate of charge at Superchargers to 400 miles an hour.

The problem for me personally is that Fremont is not convenient. Neither is Burlingame. I’m confused as to why there is no Palo Alto or Mountain View or San Francisco Supercharger.

There are also the issues of the deficient Superchargers. I’ve been to the Fremont charger three separate times. Chargers 1A and 1B charged my car at 180-200 miles per hour. However, 4B trundled along at 80-90, and took three tries to get it to even charge. I head similar complaints of other chargers doing the same from other people parked there, who were apparently not as big of an asshole as I am and thus just stayed at one point to charge. I did not call the Supercharger complaint line like it says to on the chargers. I would not be surprised if nobody ever has. I probably should have. But you’d think at the Tesla plant, where Tesla is, where Elon Musk (I assume) sits upon a throne of skulls, that the Supercharger would be flawless. It isn’t.

The Supercharger network is growing across the country, but there’s a fair amount of obfuscation as to where. You can’t zoom in on the list, you can’t click the red circles to find out where the exact spot is (and my geography sucks). The list doesn’t even update when you move to “coming soon.” There are fan-made listings that work based on permits, but there is no reason in the world that Tesla shouldn’t be providing this information themselves. Unless, of course, they’re worried that they’ll get railroaded if they reveal their plans.

From my research it appears that you could do a cross-country drive. I would be a little bit nervous to, or get the help of someone good at planning. By the end of 2014 it would appear that it’ll be a lot easier, and over time I can imagine the network will be good, even if you do have to settle for 80-90 miles per hour.

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

175 Comments on “TTAC Long-Term Tesla Part 3: (Super)Charging...”


  • avatar
    FourWheelPeel

    I think it’s great we have non-gasoline vehicles to choose from. Soon we’ll be further along. But for me, having to worry about staying within a certain route due to lack of chargers is too much of an inconvenience. If I were to pay $60k for a luxury vehicle, I want to drive wherever I want with it, not be trapped by lack of charge stations.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Give it time, FWP. The Tesla Supercharger network alone is expected to achieve a maximum of 100 miles between chargers across the nation when they’re done. That would let even a 65KWH Model S travel almost everywhere without range anxiety.

      • 0 avatar
        FourWheelPeel

        Roger that, Vulpine. I am looking forward to the future of electric vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatist

        Every 100 miles along major routes (likely what is meant) as opposed to every 100 miles whever you travel. (Talking about 45000 to 60000 locations for that) .

        It’s not going to be a good road trip car if you need to stay on the big through routes and need to kill more than an hour at every ‘fill up ‘

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          What was meant is what was said. Every. Single. American. Within. 100 miles of a Tesla Supercharger station. I live within about 6 miles of one right now.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I, too, want an EV, and if the Tesla Gen 3 is anything like a smaller Model S, I’d be willing to put money down on one today.

      Limited range & charger infrastructure aren’t issues for me at all. If I have to drive across the state, I have no problem using an ICE car. I don’t believe every car needs to do everything for everyone. Considering there are ~250M registered cars in the US, and ~125M households, I think it’s safe to say that most families with a car have more than one. (I can’t confirm how many of those 250M cars are in fleets.) I believe families are already separating their vehicular needs/functions (e.g., a truck for work & hauling + an efficient sedan for commuting & trips). EVs’ unique capabilities and limitations shuffle those functions a bit, but it’s the same principle as the current norm.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    In talking about the Supercharger network, I can attest that there are four stations in the Newark, Delaware welcome center in the median of I-95. The advantage there is that you get almost exactly what Tesla advertises–the ability to go in, get a snack or an entire meal, take a bathroom break and simply relax while your car is charging. What I cannot attest to is whether they are all fully functional or not. For me, were I to buy a Tesla (and it’s still on the table, albeit a few years down the road) I’d have the advantage of a reasonably quick charge any time I need it and a minimum of 1 week’s range at my typical driving pattern per charge.

    Not counting the home charger which would keep me topped off all the time if I chose to use it that way (but that’s also hard on batteries–even Lithium Ion ones). Of course, living in a townhouse community with an HOA, I doubt I could install an *obvious* charger, but it wouldn’t be too hard to hide it as long as the cable itself were carried in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Alternatively, the Tesla Superchargers require you to spend at least an hour at a highway rest stop doing…whatever.

      For people not on the “down low” hanging out for an hour plus at a highway rest stop is not a selling point no matter how nice you try to make is sound. If there is a line to use the Supercharger you get to spend more time making new friends. For most people that will get old quickly. Even if you are good with it, your female significant other will probably tire of the idea really quickly.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Or if you have children…

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        No, no. You have it all wrong. Tesla drivers are different, they love this stuff. The waiting is a feature!

        Quit being such a Negative Nancy or you’ll be labelled as a hater.

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          Actually, I’m not a “hater;” I hope that early adopters help make the technology more practical. But I’m a realist, and the current Tesla is a highly subsidized toy for the coastal rich that is not remotely affordable or practical for 99% of motorists.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Same here. Some around these parts label anything short of unrealistic praise of the Tesla “hate”, that’s all. Like somehow demanding practicality or competitive value out of a vehicle is standing in the way of their dream of the future.

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        Yep, 45 minutes to an hour assuming there is no one when you get there, imagine if there is a car or two in front of you, now you are there for hours and you have no other options because if you drive anymore your car will die.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          In most parts of the country, it’s going to take quite a mile to even get to that point. Granted, the Op Ed is running into it in CA, but I haven’t seen more than one Tesla hooked up at a time at my local Supercharger location that has FOUR stands waiting for use.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        At least for now you don’t have to worry about a line to use one. The particular rest stop in Newark has four different restaurant chains, a coffee chain and other snack and convenience-store-style shopping available. And it’s unlikely for a while that you’ll see four Teslas sitting at the chargers at any one time. Sure, that can change in the future, but with only about 28,000 Teslas all across the country and most of those charged in their home garages, such queues for charging time are unlikely.

    • 0 avatar

      Why would anyone buy a Tesla without the ability to charge it overnight at home?

      I don’t see it in any way viable without home charging.

      That being said, I thought even the most anal townhouse community has garages, no? You drive your Tesla into your garage, you plug it in to the charger you installed there, and that’s it. I don’t see how any HOA could have a problem with that.

      D

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        Having a garage is one thing, having a garage with a 50A-240V outlet in it is another thing. I doubt the HOA will stop you from putting in such an outlet, but check with the utility company first. Expect to pay an electrician for a somewhat big job of retrofitting your garage with some big wires (I’d expect normal household wires to handle 50A, but I don’t shove [heating] insulation around my (already electrically insulated) wires. Expect code to want oversized copper.)

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Assuming the house’s system is capable & its breaker box has an extra slot, installing a high amp 240V circuit & outlet should cost a few hundred bucks. I’ve worked with quite a few HOAs, and not a one would prevent or limit doing such electrical work inside your home.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            On the other hand, the HOA doesn’t want anything on the outside of the home to change its appearance–there goes that charging stand.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          In most places, the circuit breaker is IN the garage, making such a hookup quite simple. In my case, the circuit breaker is in the front of the basement–I’d still need the electrician and a contractor to install the ‘hidden’ charging point, but it’s not like I’d need major re-wiring.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Not all townhouses have garages.
        Heck, not all townhouses even have a place to park a personal car!
        I’m in the middle ground where I have two dedicated parking spaces, but no garage.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    It is the supercharger business why I wish they just did the p40 (the 140 mile range, and actually remotely affordable) version with a small gasoline engine in the frunk a’la the i3.

    Fastchargers like this are not intended for day to day use: they are expensive infrastructure and hard on the batteries: an electric car pretty much HAS to assume a 220V charger at home. You want the capability to fast charge, but you really never want to actually, you know, use them on a regular basis.

    But fastchargers are needed in the real world. Yet there is a beautiful network of them, 3 MW chargers all. They are called gas stations.

    But Tesla is committed to purity, so I doubt they’d ever do this.

    As for the chargers that are $4/hr+, that’s just ridiculous. A 220V, 40A charger is <10 kW. So at $4/hr, its charging $.40/kWh, which is really a ridiculous markup.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Actually, it turns out that fast charging isn’t as bad as we once thought:

      http://green.autoblog.com/2014/03/17/dc-fast-charging-not-as-damaging-to-ev-batteries-as-expected/

      Now this study only applied to Leafs, which have a somewhat different chemistry and construction from the Tesla design.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        On an 85kWh battery, 2C charging is 170kW, presumably given the thermal monitoring and control Tesla can support higher charge rates reliably..

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Misinformation about solar energy and electric cars is sti rampant. Hmmm… I wonder why??!!

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        According to Tesla, it is the extreme charging/discharging limits that are hard on the battery, not the rate of charge (so long as it doesn’t cause high temperatures in the battery). The Tesla permits setting a limit on charging (e.g., 85%), which will do more to prolong the battery life.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Isn’t $4/hr considered cheap parking in SF?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It would be a 40, the P in P85 is a performance upgrade to the 85 which allows you o drain the battery at a faster rate to make more power when you want to accelerate. It also gives you larger tires. They would not make a performance version of anything less than the model with the largest battery.

      Yes commercial chargers are usually quite expensive, which is why not very many people use them on a regular basis, they are more for those cases where you need to drive a greater distance than normal.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Shorter-range EVs such as the Leaf don’t typically bother with public chargers at all. Volts tend to use them much more, so they can avoid using gasoline, ironically, and then brag about how high their calculated MPG is. (Sorry Volt guys). :)

    I’ve only pulled about 10 miles from using public chargers (for my Leaf), and I won’t pay the inflated prices that the pay chargers want (although I’ve never seen one here in western PA).

    The one time I relied on an app to tell me about a public charger, its information was grossly incorrect and I was… unhappy. I don’t bother with the apps anymore, but I suppose for a longer-range EV it becomes more necessary. I don’t even use the one in the car.

    My 240 V charger at home is more than adequate. Given my typically driving, it’s costing me about $20 to drive 800 miles/month since I have cheap power.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    With advances come change. It will take time for the charging stations to catch up. Given time we’ll see more and more supercharging stations cropping up, mainly in urban centers first then expanding into rich suburbs and along access points where it makes sense. Tesla has only been making cars in volume for the last two years now. Given the ubiquity of the ICE automobile it took the concept of ‘gas stations’ nearly 10-15 years to crop up with any popularity. In fact when Model T’s were rolling off the line in the earliest days buying gasoline meant going to the general store or hardware store to have it given in pails.

    I remember talking to a regional manager of a big regional chain of gas stations that had expanded into cafe food and had 20+ pumps. He described the reason for all the upscale in size and ability to support individuals was the company was preparing to be able to convert stations into charging centers so people could sit the 30+ minutes for a charge without it becoming awkward. It was in his mind a long ways off but owning the real estate today was better than having to build new stations down the road.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      I always assumed this was for the truckers

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “He described the reason for all the upscale in size and ability to support individuals was the company was preparing to be able to convert stations into charging centers so people could sit the 30+ minutes for a charge without it becoming awkward.”

      It’s not a flaw, it’s a feature!

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Welcome to the future, given time we’ll probably cut that time over the years to 10-15 minutes. It may even be that short by the time it becomes common. They were hedging their bets assuming current tech/limited advancement. That being said though, what’s the probability you’ll be forced to use it multiple times a week or month?

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        This is the gift pf the huckster. To sell something worthless and make the buyer feels special.

        Now…this whole thing has me bewildered. His Volvo…how old is it and why do these EV huggers always talk as if the price of electric energy will not explode as even more are lining up to charge?
        Remeber…it is likely many of these very same EV criers are the ones who forced the new nuclear plants. Now…suddenly…we are taking a new look at them.
        Why? because now these knuckleheads find it is in their interest.

        The newest Volvos T6 E engines of both XC70 and 60 both have combined MPG of 25. The smaller tubo T5 get 27 overall.

        And I am still confused about the waste and disposal of these massive batteries…

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          I drive my brother’s Tesla a lot and like it. I do not like the view out back and the rather bland…aged look of the tech dash. And I am willing to bet it gets older looking faster tham other luxury cars.
          My younger brother has put money down on the X…the SUV which seems to be getting delayed more and more.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “and why do these EV huggers always talk as if the price of electric energy will not explode as even more are lining up to charge?”

          If wind and solar methods are to be used to add extensive capacity to the grid as many are advocating, the prices will certainly explode. 9 billion was spent on wind and solar projects where I live and the “benefit” we got was the highest priced electricity in all of North America. That’s probably a feature too.

          Apparently when the cost/benefit analysis was done, the benefit was some ideological wet dream to be attained at any cost. It works out! We promise!

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Adding capacity with unchanged demand would have the effect of lowing prices. Perhaps what you mean is that wind and solar capacity were added to replace coal. That might well be more expensive, if you are excluding externalities, like pollution.

            Of course, if the air is too clean and breathable for you here in the US, feel free to move to China where you can breathe all the cheap coal you like.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Interesting. Kum & Go, a chain out of Iowa, is duking it out in my neck of the woods with Casey’s General Stores (also out of Iowa) and combined they have built a dozen or more stores here in the last 5 years. I LOOOOVE the Kum & Go’s because they’re building such spacious properties. So easy to get in and out of, and this forward thinking may very well explain it.

      Incidentally, my favorite Kum & Go (about 18 months old and with a LEED plaque next to the door) is out by the interstate and has a single electric car charging station out by the air compressor. I see a Fusion plugged into it occasionally, and a Leaf once I think. There are several Teslas in town, but I’d imagine their owners have hi-po charging stations in their own garages, because I never see them charging in public.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      There are places people go and park their car regardless of their need for fuel: grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, hotels, etc. I envision charging stations partnering with these types of businesses so that EV drivers stop thinking of filling up as a separate task, but as an add-on to existing tasks. This is the same as the transition from “gas plus” to “plus gas” for gas stations. It used to be you went to the station for gas and then grabbed something extra in the convenience store. Then, the model moved to grocery stores having pumps so that you go to the store, and gas is just one of the many things you buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      That almost sounds like the Royal Farms shops where I live–they even have booth-style seating inside where customers can sit and eat or drink their refreshments while they wait.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    If you do want to install one of those high speed Tesla chargers in your house, I believe you’ll need to pull a 240 volt 100 amp circuit, or so says the electrician who installed the plain ole 240V 30A circuit I use to charge my Fusion. If you have an older house this may required updated service from the street, which is pretty pricey.

    We should really be trying not to charge electric vehicles during peak times. I do 85 percent of my charging overnight, and the remaining 15 percent during off peak hours. Peak demand hours in my area are weekdays between 2 PM and 7 PM, June through September.

    I feel for Mr Zitron, I wouldn’t care to use pubic chargers on a regular basis. Since I have a gasoline option, home is the only place I charge my car.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Tesla’s website says a 50 amp 240V circuit.

      Most houses should be able to support that, especially for night-time charging.

      (100 amp would be pretty brutal for most people, yeah.)

  • avatar

    All the greeners who actually believe TESLA Superchargers charge from solar panels are completely clueless.

    I visited the JFK SUPERCHARGER. Even made a video about it. No solar panel in sight.

    The superchargers get their energy purely from the grid.

    Liberty Science Center has a massive solar panel array and free charging for ANY plug in. I’ve never once seen a vehicle using them.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Did anyone here imply that they were solar powered?

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        But but….GREEN BELIEVERS!

        You have to realize that Bigtrucks is basically a right-wing believer of the highest order. The big anti-environmental ‘keep the status quo’ argument is how the pollution from our power plants are out polluting our cars which is true in the most technical sense because we forced catalytic converters and cleaner fuels. if we actually put similar regulations on our plants we could lower the emissions. The basic reality is that the cost of absorbing electricity into our society from Tesla and other electric cars is less per-unit than an ICE vehicle. It costs about a 1/3rd less right now and as more solar panels get installed and wind power increases the pollution will be offset as the older plants go off line.

        • 0 avatar

          Electricity is a byproduct of fossil fuels. WHY?

          Because the useable energy at the basis of our energy pyramid comes from the Sun and is converted to fossil fuels by plants.

          Don’t bother mentioning Uranium which requires plenty of fossil fuel energy to store, mine, transport, secure, etc.

          And poor countries aren’t Nuclear- nor do they have access to hydro, wind, geothermal usually- or the ability to maintain a grid.

          But cutting down trees, burning poop, burning coal, burning chemicals, etc is always an option.

          I don’t ask you to agree with me, nor do I expect you to accept obvious natural law.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            I’m not sure you understand what natural law you’re attempting to argue. I’m not even sure what you ARE trying to argue….I’m going to assume you’re taking the traditional argument of ‘fossil fuels are the easiest/cheapest’ approach and go from there.

            As it stands, right now, fossil fuels are getting more expensive when we consider pollution clean up as part of the cost. There is an inevitability to rely on Solar, Wind, Hydroelectric, and Nuclear with the last two representing a much smaller on-demand part of our energy economy. Hydrogen as a storage medium can be an effective model if we move towards desalinization but that’s neither here nor there.

            In terms of ‘poor countries’ solar and wind are actually the most viable options they have because of the low cost of introduction. A few panels and wiring for a small village runs cheaper than anything to be sold based on fossil fuels but the ‘Power Africa’ initiative is avoiding that because there is no back-end value to the contracts to do that model. From what I’m reading in the developing world most of the push is coming from the west to use diesel generators for marketability of products such as GE’s milk production for India initiative.

          • 0 avatar

            Fossil fuels are not getting more expensive.

            The POLICIANS and ACTIVISTS are making them more expensive in an effort to kill them off/ tax them.

            Not to mention war/instability.

            If not for those people- there’d be enough for everyone.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Big trucks, that is just an unfounded view to take. Consumption is going up on fossil fuels and we actually have slightly less capacity now than we did 10 years ago. Market pricing (you know, that thing you love) is driving prices up. If not for our position as the largest and most powerful military on earth and our ability to sell our dollars to these countries to give ourselves a slight discount we would be seeing prices on par with the rest of the world.

            I’m not even going to go into the peak oil argument but the issue is at the end of the day solar panels are becoming cheaper, the environmental cost will have to be realized whether you like it or not. There is an article on TTAC no less describing how unbreathable cities in China are getting due to congestion. The world cannot keep being polluted at this level and survive. Something has to give and it will be as fossil fuels become more scarce and we have to go deeper in search of them.

          • 0 avatar

            While I would agree that pollution is a major problem, pollution is consequence of life. We have to constantly adapt to it. Do you realize that since 2001 the population of Africa went from 750M to over 1 Billion?

            All people need energy to live.

            China, India and Africa all have over 1 Billion people while America only has less than 360M.

            The poor in those countries will be using the cheapest, dirtiest fuels while we lead innovation in more efficient I.C.E and EV.

            Thing is, the mere FEEDING of these people requires us to use MORE ENERGY. And more and more and more energy – each and everytime the population increases.

            There will never be a pollutionless existence. So why are we purposefully making things harder for the less fortunate?

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            This assumes that the ‘less developed countries’ should be forced to use non-renewable energy for the cheapness when the long-term benefits of solar and wind power are evident in the cost/benefit analysis. Especially considering the countries we view as such are much closer to the equator so get far more sun than we do.

            Ultimately this is an argument of ‘how do we profit’ instead of ‘how do we live’ because right now it would be far cheaper to setup a bank of solar panels to run basic refrigeration equipment than a large diesel generation in the long-term but GE isn’t going to make a ton of money servicing non-moving part solar panels.

            As for living a pollution-less life, obviously we can’t because our mere existence as higher functioning beings precludes that but it doesn’t mean we should recklessly destroy everything in our path in the name of cheap commodities. The very nature of capitalism as we use it is about ignoring the externalities of our impact and simply looking at the cost/benefit while assuming the planet will keep taking our endless abuses.

            This is coming from somebody who doesn’t live in an arcology living complex or have any desire to give up his vehicle. I’m not saying we need to live in communal situations but we need to alter our ways to provide a cleaner environment for all of us to live in.

          • 0 avatar

            “Ultimately this is an argument of ‘how do we profit’ instead of ‘how do we live’ ”

            This has been my entire argument since I started my anti-Liberal rhetoric.

            The Republicans do support free-market, lower taxes, etc, but the liberals want to force this green agenda any way possible simply to rake in tax dollars and fill their own coffers.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            If anything I just pointed out the system is broken and that you’re beloved ideology is the one making it harder for people to survive. In fact everything I said had zero to do with taxes of ‘filling coffers.’ I’m not even sure how you came to that conclusion because all I said was the cost of externalities are never realized which don’t need to be dealt with in terms of taxes or anything like that. In fact we can maintain capitalism and simply have it accounted for directly by having private corps maintain it independently. The government need never have their ‘coffers filled.’

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          ” if we actually put similar regulations on our plants we could lower the emissions.”

          And vastly increase prices.

          Look, if you want clean power, that’s easy: Natural gas and nuclear plants. Right now. Build more.

          No other answer is a *real-world* answer, no matter how many 70s-throwback pieties we throw at the problem.

          Solar doesn’t compete, neither does wind – especially not for base load for either, and for night-time car charging for solar.

          Wind simply *cannot* replace fossil or nuclear or hydro power – it’s not reliable enough (and now the hippies are mad that it kills birds).

          If you don’t understand base loads and the need for a *consistent* power source, *please stop talking about the power grid* until you do.

          (What’s the “cost of absorbing electricity into our society” in normal human English? Because I can’t parse that sensibly.)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Nuclear, ah no as we can’t effectively dispose of the waste, store it (WIPP), and the technology has the potential to wipe out life on this planet (albeit a low potential). Fukushima was the last straw, and look what its doing to the Pacific Ocean. Even if damaging the ocean is the worst extent of the disaster, think about how serious that is… damaging the largest ocean on earth and severely disrupting the food chain.

            Hydro is great but limited in scope. Solar/Air, I’d have to see figures but as we stand I doubt they can generate enough power to be viable for replacing other types of power on the US grid.

            I know natural gas now is en vogue and I truthfully don’t know much about it to make a judgement. Maybe it will be the way forward, but it too will run out someday.

            Honestly the long term solution is clear: devolution coupled with depopulation, both of which are already happening.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            I’m tired of rejecting options based on absolute limits. We can’t use solar because it’s dark at night. We can’t use wind because sometimes it’s calm. We can’t use nuclear because apparently we can’t build newer, safer designs, nor can we recycle waste like they do elsewhere.

            Talking about base load only really matters when you get to the majority of your power production. We have such a long way to go till we get there that we can add solar, wind, tidal, etc., and not have to worry about those limits for decades. So why would we use it as an excuse to not supplement marginal production *now*?

            Additionally, that base load argument assumes a single energy source, and frankly, like investing, it is plain dumb to put all your eggs in one basket. Diversification, whether in investing, diet, or power generation, limits risks of over-committing. Will the sun not be out one day? Sure, but will the wind also not blow at the same time? Will it be cloudy and calm *everywhere*? The more different types of production you have & the more variety of places they are installed, the more consistent the output and the lower the probability of shortfalls. And besides, existing power plants aren’t just going to disappear in my lifetime. We can still use them to produce power when there is a shortfall, exactly as they are used today. Sooner or later (perhaps in 50 yr or so), we will have viable energy storage options, and once it happens, then you can start phasing out existing power plants. It isn’t necessary to solve every problem today–just make it better with each change.

            As far as costs, yes, some options are more expensive, but usually they are cap-ex intensive, but low op-ex. That means the longer they stay in service, the cheaper they become. Solar is still expensive (in my area, the last time I priced it out it was ~$0.17/kWh for a residential system with a 30 yr life). If the panels last longer, the price goes down. If fuel prices go up during that span, then the delta is more manageable. And that price doesn’t factor in the infrastructure savings of building new distribution lines, etc. Another benefit in my situation is the solar panels would keep sunlight (heat input) off my roof, which reduces heat gain and subsequent AC loads, which is also a form of savings.

            And honestly, like the best way to reduce car emissions is to live closer to work, the best way to make power production cleaner is to not need as much. Again, in my area AC is one of the biggest power needs. (It alone accounts for over half of my annual electricity consumption.) If our local building codes simply required all roofs be made of heat reflecting material/colors instead of dark asphalt shingles, total power consumption, emissions, and cost would drop.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Sigivald – The majority of our electricity is being used by industrial centers, not individuals, so the fact that we basically do not pay to take care of our environment is being shouldered by our government or just not being taken care of at all. The argument that it would vastly increase prices is without a solid foundation in cost and per capita cost is unfounded.

            See the problem I see with your whole argument is you’re swallowing the fossil fuel industries whole argument. Wind actually is reliable, in fact when you reach a certain height off the earth’s surface the wind is near continuous. The whole myth of ‘it stops’ is a bit of a misnomer as when wind turbines stop it can be for several reasons. One is that they have to in order for maintenance on the system. Other times the grid has no where to send it. The idea that the wind is too idle for it to be effective is at best a poor laymen’s concern that any meteorologist will disabuse you of.

            As for the bird thing? Complete right-wing concern trolling. The few birds they do kill don’t affect the population in any serious way.

            In general your whole argument reeks of the fossil fuel/right-wing narrative that wants to maintain the status quo regardless of the actual possibilities to change. The issue is that solar power is by and large owned by individuals. The cost of loans is smaller as the initial investment is traded off as inflation eats the cost down as fossil fuel electricity will continue to get more expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        Yes! I clearly remember reading that. If fact, it is news to me that they are not.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I think the solar panel thing is a future plan, not present. I don’t believe Tesla makes any claims about solar powered chargers today.

      It doesn’t matter, anyway. Even using the dirtiest grid power is still cleaner than burning gasoline.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Austin’s EV power program uses renewable-derived sources, and they offer that option to residents for an additional fee.

      (And the garage structure I park at just got capped off with solar arrays, which is what every parking lot in Texas should have.)

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        The real cost of solar panel installations is still about 2x the value of the energy they provide before needing to be replaced… and that’s out here in the Sonoran desert. Austin doesn’t get nearly enough cloudless days.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I agree totally on the PVs over every parking lot: produce power, park in the shade & out of the rain, reduce surface temperature peaks of the parking lot surface (reducing expansion, cracking, & prolonging life).

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “park in the shade & out of the rain”

          I love that. Anything that increases shade and keeps rain off me is my friend.

          And at that point the structure is also shelter so it can be excused for not being maximally effective at energy generation.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Having a coast to coast network of chargers for dross country trips is nowhere near as important as having a well developed local/regional network of chargers. How many people ever take a cross country trek anyway? Not many, and if they do it’s either an epic road trip vacation or a move. Electric cars will take off once you don’t have to plan your day around where you are going to recharge your car.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I was kind of thinking that myself. Having taken a few “epic” trips from Washington DC to the Rockies and one epic trip all the way to Los Angeles, the method of accomplishing this involves driving 700+ miles/day. On my DC>LA trip, I spent the first night just east of St. Louis, and the second night somewhere in eastern New Mexico. I was in LA in time for dinner on the third day. A person simply can’t achieve that kind of “net” speed if it’s necessary to stop and charge for 30 minutes or so every few hundred miles.

      At the moment, a Tesla might work o.k. for tooling around the Bay area, or tooling around greater Los Angeles, including, possibly a trip to San Diego or north to Santa Barbara. But I don’t see it as a 700 mi/day vehicle. Perhaps few people have those requirements, but in that case, Tesla should just be straight up with people and stop all of this talk about “cross-country capabilities.” Last time we checked, driving a Tesla from DC to NYC was a bit of an adventure.

      Mr. Z’s article also highlights another point: the ideal Tesla owner is a suburbanite who lives in a detached house and therefore is likely to be able to install 200 amp service, so that he can put in a 100 amp 240v circuit to supply his charger. I was suprised to learn that a standard 30 amp 240v circuit (such as would power a central air conditioner, an electric dryer, or an electric stove/oven) simply won’t cut it. Not many houses have 200 amp service. I live in a very big house in DC, with nearly 100,000 BTU in central air conditioning capacity (3 separate units, a double electric oven and an electric clothes dryer; and I only have 100 amp service.

      “Load balancing” notwithstanding, a substantial number of private homes in a neighborhood that require 200 amp service is likely to require a heavy-up of the electric infrastructure supplying that neighborhood. So, the Tesla, if adopted on a large scale, is going to generate a lot of “externatlities” besides the $7,000 tax credit that the rest of us pay to the rich guys who own them.

      And the notion that the electric grid which now is trivially supplied by solar and wind power is going to both carry the substantial additional load of EVs and simultaneously be largely supplied by “renewable” energy is a silly fantasy that only an English major would buy into. Among other things, it’s worth noting that the “load balancing” the EV proponents tout as a benefit results primarily from raising night time power consumption; and night time is when solar energy is zero. In fact, load balancing allows utilities to better use power plants that are more efficient, but don’t start up instantly . . . and those are steam powered plants that use fossil fuel or nuclear fission as a heat source. “Peaking” plants that start up quickly to meet peak demand are powered by gas turbines, which are much less efficient.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        For a number of years I was a fan of battery electric cars, and was thinking of getting one. However, the range of the only one I could afford (LEAF) was a little deficient, and the owner of the other vehicle in my household made it clear that she wasn’t willing to switch cars should I need to go on a longer trip, should I get a LEAF. So, I looked elsewhere and wound buying the plug in version of the Fusion.

        I was attracted to the simplicity of a BEV car and was a little concerned about the complexity of hybrids, but it turns out there are some significant advantages to the hybrid. Yes, we now have an additional electric motor, generator, inverter, and battery charger, but there’s no starter, alternator, or torque converter, and the transmission consists of little more than a planetary gearset, with inputs for the engine and electric motor, and a connection for the generator.

        It turns out that the transmission is helpful when doing regenerative braking since it can spin the generator at a higher speed than a single speed BEV can, thus making regeneration more effective. It also turns out that the internal combustion engine rather nicely complements the battery drivetrain. The electric side of the car is brilliant at low speed city driving, it’s smooth and quiet, and vastly more efficient. I got stuck in about a five mile gridlock situation earlier this week. When that happened in my previous gasoline only car, it would make a noticeable dent in that tank’s fuel economy. It made zero difference in the amount of electricity used.

        The gasoline engine also nicely compensates for the electric drivetrain’s cold weather shortcomings. My daily commute is typically slow at the beginning and end, and a little faster in the middle, What I do in the cold weather months is use the preheat feature to warm the interior of the car, and drive the first five miles with an already warm cabin and with the seat heaters on. After that, I switch to hybrid mode and use the engine’s waste heat to warm the car. In the afternoons, the car’s usually warm enough to where I don’t need heat until the middle of the drive, if at all. If I need more heat, I do use the engine as using the battery for heat costs about four miles worth of range. I’m getting around 45 mpg while in hybrid mode in town, so it’s still plenty efficient. Miles driven on battery only are ridiculously cheap, about 1.5 cents per mile when charging overnight and about 2.5 cents charging other off peak times.

        I just finished a 300 mile highway trip, and got 42.5 mpg. I set the cruise control at 75 mph in those places where it was possible to do so, and to 70 in those areas where there was construction or traffic.

        At this point in battery technology, it probably makes more sense to add a 300 pound engine than to try to add enough batteries to give a car sufficient highway range.

        And as a side benefit, my wife is more than happy to drive the Fusion.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          This a thousand times. PHEVs are far more practical than EVs. The neat thing is that a plug-in Fusion costs about half of what a Model S does, but packs a ton more value.

          Who cares about where the next charging station is or how long you’d theoretically have to wait for a recharge as you drive by the Tesla owners “enjoying” their time-out feature.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        What you claim is “impossible” has already been achieved–more than once.

        ” I was in LA in time for dinner on the third day. A person simply can’t achieve that kind of “net” speed if it’s necessary to stop and charge for 30 minutes or so every few hundred miles.”
        In fact, Tesla performed almost exactly that stunt in reverse–driving from LA to New York in three days with TWO Model S sedans–and had to leave one of their support vans on the side of the road as it broke down in a blizzard going through North Dakota.

        And support for Tesla automobiles is scattered all around the country, not just in California. While I couldn’t drive everywhere I want in a Tesla today, I could easily reach my in-law’s home on a single charge, but I’d need to take a roundabout route to reach my own parent’s home in Tennessee. Even this will be more than achievable by direct route inside of two years.

        Meanwhile, your efforts to pooh-pooh solar and other alternative power sources miss the target as some solar plants are fully capable of generating electricity even through a long winter’s night and wind blows all the time in other areas. Steam generating plants are being taken off-line by many power companies and sold to third parties who are spending the money to make them significantly more efficient and cleaner. Sure, we’re not going to get off coal any time soon, but alternative supplies are growing at a remarkable rate.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Installing a 200a panel has become the norm in new single family construction in many areas and has been that way for many years. Even a 125a panel will do just fine most of the time particularly if you use the function that you can schedule when the charging occurs like when you are asleep and aren’t using the dryer, range and a bunch of lights at the same time too.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      For me, and epic trip is either:

      A. Richmond to Daytona Beach for Bike Week, usually done every year. As I’m riding a motorcycle for the trip, and nobody is yet making an electric motorcycle for long distance touring, this is a non issue.

      B. Richmond to Bangor, ME – formerly an annual trip, it’s probably dropping down to every couple of years to visit my late wife’s gravesite. Yeah, we’re covered for the first leg of the trip, say up to near Philadelphia. Rather spotty otherwise.

      Like most people, I’m first interested in local infrastructure, as that’ll cover 98% of my travel for the rest of my life. The other 2%? There’s always Enterprise.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Epic road trips may be 2% of my travel but they’re a big part of my driving enjoyment. There’s nothing fun about commuting in traffic with my brain disconnected.

        Buying an $80,000 supercar and having to leave it in the garage in favor of a rental on a trip that I looked forward to all summer strikes me as insane.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      And that’s where the Tesla has the overwhelming advantage right now. It can handle your typical daily driving without needing to even consider recharging–unlike any other available BEV. Though I admit the Leaf could *almost* serve for most of my ‘local’ driving.

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    Preface: I don’t think electric cars are the devil. If they work for you, and you can afford them, great. Have at it.

    That said, this post shows pretty clearly how Teslas are the car for “Silicon Valley Tech Douches”. You’re not trapped by lack of charging stations in California? How about in the central valley? Redding? Eureka? There’s a reason the biggest fans of electric cars are hipsters who travel only between their apartments and the indie club district. Or my neighbor who has a five minute commute and is not (yet) driving his kids to three different activities every afternoon.

    And even when chargers become as common as gas stations (and of course they will) there is no solution on the horizon for the fact that you have enough time to get a cup of coffee and do some shopping while you’re waiting for your charge, whether you want to or not.

    I’ll take my future-mobile in the i8 idiom, where I get 100+ mpg while not being tied to the grid. Hey, have we heard anything about that Subaru hybrid offroad truck lately?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I see a lot of Teslas here in Denver, and that’s a long way from Silicon Valley.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      This argument falls somewhere between ad hominem attack and fantasy. I can appreciate it isn’t for you but if you have a rough 150 mile range in a realistic sense why get upset? The vast majority of individuals in society will easily live within that range. I’m not sure how much more often this can be said because I believe TTAC skews towards exurbanites and rural drivers but the US drives less than 34 miles a day. Even a long commute in an urban center is less than 70 miles round trip. There is basically no reason to have range anxiety.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Products need to adapt to the needs of their customers. When they don’t, then you should expect a limited market.

        Telling people that they shouldn’t worry about range is a rather blatant example of ignoring the customer’s needs. Why should someone be expected to ignore a deficiency and use their cash to buy a product simply because the flaw doesn’t bother you personally?

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Ah the business model argument!

          I’m not telling people not to worry about it. I’m pointing out the systemic fear of range is a perception issue based on an unfounded fear. I then pointed out that the majority of citizens would not have an issue with daily range which in turn represents the idea that the customer base wouldn’t be theoretically affected by the range issue. In other words: The deficiency is a perception within people not a technical issue to be ironed out. You can’t fix people’s minds in the purest of scientific sense. I’m not saying you shouldn’t assuage their fears though…

          We can spin it a million different ways but lets be careful when you equate reality and statistics with my personal views, Pch.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Some element of range is needed for a cushion. There’s a reason why a low fuel light doesn’t come on a half-mile before the car is about to run out of gas.

            The typical EV has what amounts to something that approximates one-third of a fuel tank. Even a modest amount of use puts the car into the low-fuel zone. And unlike a gasoline car, replenishing that fuel takes a considerable amount of time, and can involve substantial inconvenience.

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          Pch 101, you are being awfully nice to Xeranar. Did Jack beat you with his new politeness stick?

      • 0 avatar
        Dirk Stigler

        Which hominem did I attack? What am I fantasizing about?

        I’ve thought a lot about this issue, and as I said, a neighbor owns an electric car, so I have real-world input. It works for him because his daily driving is highly predictable and well under the limited range on a charge. On the other hand, my commute alone is pushing the range of a Tesla, let alone any other alternative.

        The reality is that you can buy, for $11-16k or half the price of the cheapest electric car, a ICE car that’s at least as practical, takes a couple minutes to fill up (again, nevermind the availability of gas stations–chargers are easy to install and will be everywhere soon enough) and thus doesn’t become a limiting factor if your simple to-work-and-back day randomly adds in an urgent round trip to a hospital 30 miles away, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Unless your average work day has you behind the wheel ALL DAY, why are you commuting so? To paraphrase Dickens, “Is there no commuter rail?” It’s typically much faster and you don’t have ANY stress on the ride in and all you need after that is a decent bus route to get you to your door. 100 years ago everybody rode commuter rail and traffic simply wasn’t near as bad.

          Yes, I do fully understand the need for ‘cheap transportation’. I do know many places don’t have some form of commuter rail. But if you work in a major city such transportation is available. For those others, what you describe is quite typical. Buy the cheapest little thing you can find and drive the wheels off of it. If possible, carpool. The smaller the better as it typically offers the best fuel mileage–albeit the worst performance in all but in-town agility.

          • 0 avatar
            Dirk Stigler

            Well as it happens, there’s a bus from the end of my street fairly directly to a subway station, and my work location is across the street from the station at the other end. So I can make a pretty direct comparison. The train takes about 60% longer than driving, even though the route is quite a bit more direct. There are a lot of stops in between.

            One of my coworkers lives down the road from me, so has the same scenario. Several more have similar ones. Nobody takes the train. And nobody who advocates taking the train ever takes into account the little delays that add up. Besides the stops other than yours, you have to walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, walk from the bus to the train platform, wait for the train, then walk or take another bus to your final destination. That stuff is the 60% extra time.

            Add another 60% extra for the other trips you take in a day, if transit is even available, and driving really starts to make sense. Especially since the vast majority of TCO of a car is the fixed cost of having it. If you have a car, it only makes sense to use it.

            Again, I don’t hate electric cars and I’m not kicking people who own them. Just realize that there are many, perhaps most, people for whom the numbers don’t currently work.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Well, can’t argue that one, Dirk–though for me it’s about 1 mile to the local Amtrak station and only seven stations between here and downtown Philadelphia–over 50 miles away. THEN it’s a short walk to the subway where I can get to most parts of town pretty quickly and easily. Where do you live?

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        There is no reason to have range anxiety for your daily commute. Factor in additional, non-daily activities, and then you will occasionally have an issue. IMO, a Tesla’s range would work for 90% of drivers’ 90% of trips. No, it isn’t 100%, but neither is any other car. You can’t take your family on vacation in a Corvette, you can’t haul your boat with a Civic. But no one complains about them.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Just saw my first BMW i3 (dealer demo with NJ dealer plates) in the west end of Richmond, VA earlier this morning.

      It’s certainly, er, distinctive. I never realized that the Pontiac Aztek was such an attractive car before this.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Actually, you’re wrong there.
      “And even when chargers become as common as gas stations (and of course they will) there is no solution on the horizon for the fact that you have enough time to get a cup of coffee and do some shopping while you’re waiting for your charge, whether you want to or not.”

      Tesla has demonstrated a robotic battery swap station that can replace the battery TWICE in the time it takes to pump 15 gallons into the typical ICE vehicle. While it may not be as efficient in the long run as charging (it would also cost the equivalent of that 15 gallons to perform the swap) you won’t have to wait if you’re really in a hurry.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    At least downunder all I have to do is uprate the circuit board to take the 100amp circuit breaker and not rewire my house, or if I was astute enough to specify 3 phase into the house,(common for electric cookers and people who do a little welding in their spare time!) I’ll have a great charging experience, too bad I can’t drive between major centres around Australia because there isn’t a regional network of “superchargers” yet, not that I could afford a Tesla without winning the lottery.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Set the wayback machine to a century ago and you’re reading a similar series of complaints and woes experienced by those early petrol-powered pioneers. “Range Anxiety” is older than your grandparents.

    Thank you for the writeup; I look forward to reading of your charging experiences in years to come.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      Yep! We’re not even into the first chapter of the EV book. Hell, we may still be in the first paragraph of the preface. But I don’t think this will play out as a novelty. I am interested to follow EZ’s trials and tribulations, even though his circumstances have no relevance to mine at this time. Because it’s the experiences of the people willing to be the early douchers that will help guide us where we may need to go. Exciting Times.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      My great-grandparents’ had a tank buried under their back lawn and a commercial-style fuel pump in the garage. When my great-grandfather bought his Chalmers (1910ish), there simply weren’t that many filling stations, even in major cities. Being able to top off his fuel at his own home helped alleviate his range anxiety.

      As an aside: My great-grandparents’ garage was much, much larger than my parents’ garage. Why so? My great-grandparents’ two flat was built in 1910; my parents’ house was built in 1916 or so. The 1910 garage was roomy enough to accommodate a gentleman’s crank-starting his car on a cold winter day. The 1916 garage was post-electric starter.

  • avatar

    What does it take to sour on the EV experience? This article explains the issues with most EV chargers in the San Francisco Bay Area being occupied a very high percentage of the time between 6:30am and the evening:
    http://www.thestreet.com/story/12678723/1/what-does-it-take-to-sour-on-the-electric-car-experience.html

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      As Mr. Zitron said, “If you don’t have at least a 240V charger in your home, or plan on getting one very quickly, or live very near (10 minutes or less) to a Supercharger, do not buy a Model S.”

      One of the nice things about having an electric is not having to visit gas stations. Having to take the car to the charging station spoils that.

    • 0 avatar
      NeilM

      Re: What does it take to sour on the EV experience?

      So that would be the “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded” (Yogi Berra) argument against electric vehicles?

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    You were filling-up your Volvo “two or three times a week”?

    Given a conservative 300 mile range, that’s 40,000 miles a year! I can see how the breakeven on a Tesla would come faster if you’re doing that kind of mileage.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Put a trailer hitch on the Tesla, get a small little utility trailer, put generator on said trailer, and when you go on long trips problem solved!!

    Maybe I should start making little fancy generator trailers and charging $10k for them to Tesla owners. About $300 for the trailer frame, a decent $1200 generator, a built in charger, added gas tank; I think there is plenty of room for profit.

  • avatar

    If you are concerned about fuel economy, buy a Prius. The average American drives 12,000 miles per year. At a Prius 50 MPG, that’s 240 gallon per year. Multiply by $4 per gallon and you have $960, per year. That’s it.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’ve never really understood range-anxiety. If a car can only do 80 miles on a charge, that might be a problem. 100 miles is pushing it. I could deal with 140 miles. But 300 or 400 miles? That’s *way* more than I’d need in a given day, and I wouldn’t plan an entire car purchase around a once or twice-a-year cross-country drive where I’d have to depend on available charging stations. As long as I could completely charge the vehicle overnight, I wouldn’t really need to charge it during the daytime, and I wouldn’t be scared of running out of juice. I guess that’s great, since I’m in Oklahoma, where there *are* no Superchargers and virtually no public chargers.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      If I buy an EV, it has to fully replace one of my cars. No full-EV can do that right now. There are too many compromises and trade-offs. For me, that means the 300-400 mile mile “tank” matters. My usual round trip is about 40 miles, but I may have to drive to see customers or go to meetings during the work day. When its 4 degrees outside, is that 140 mile range 100 miles? Although I’m based in the Detroit area, I’ve been to Bay City, Flint, and Saginaw this week. If I have to go farther than that, like Milwaukee, Chicago, or Akron, I get a rental.

      My wife drives less than I do, but good luck trying to get her giant 3-row Lincoln crossover to any of the current EVs out there, including the Model S.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    If I am dropping $80K on a car the only inconvenience I will put up with is writing the check once a month. At best 30-minutes to an hour for 200 miles of energy? I can do that in less than 5 minutes even in my 12mpg Range Rover. Anywhere. Literally.

    Wake me up when the total cost of ownership is remotely competitive, that TCO including the value of my time, which does not come cheap.

    And count me as one who finds the very idea of a tax credit for the purchase of a luxury car completely offensive. There should be a dollar value cutoff for the credit, if there needs to be one at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I completely understand your point. And you’re right. Time is money, and for some people, thirty minutes can be *a lot* of money.

      I’m a fast-paced person, but I actually do like to take several pauses throughout my day. I *am* the kind of person who’d sit at a (non-tatty) gas station for thirty minutes and read a book just because. But I’m not as busy as most people, either. Half an hour of justified down-time? For me, that’s an oasis.

      Hmmm…maybe this EV thing ain’t such a bad idea…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      That TCO IS “remotely competitive” if you drive high mileage–like over 20K miles per year. When you consider that I put 160K miles on a single car between 1996-2002, I think I would have qualified. Ended up blowing a head gasket in the engine which made for a MASSIVE expense to repair on a car no longer worth the cost. Sure, I only paid $25K for the car, but at today’s cost, that 160Kmiles adds up to $18,666.66 in fuel cost in that six-year period, assuming 30 miles per gallon (most of that driving was highway–120-mile round trip every weekday for 4 years.) Now, that wasn’t a luxury car either, so we could probably add 50% to that cost for the average luxury car of the day, meaning very close to $28,000 for fuel alone in that time.

      In this one example, a 65KWH Tesla Model S would have EASILY generated a lower TCO very quickly.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    The “free” supercharger network business model is almost certain to fail, because there is little incentive for the network owner (i.e. Tesla) to keep the system 100% functional. If the system owner puts serious effort into making sure that the chargers are always able to provide full-speed recharging they will only lose more money on higher system maintenance and more electricity bills to pay. Thus as the system expands I expect you will see more and more “out of order” signs. And for all those that think 30 minutes of recharging is ok, I ask you how often you “hang around” a conventional gas station beyond the 5 minutes necessary to refill your tank?

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      It “could” work in theory if they only put the supercharger where people don’t use it every day, but only to get rid of their range anxiety. If you put one in downtown Manhattan, you are screwed, but if you put one on the top of a mountain pass along major highway, it will be ok.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    The car needs a small gas turbine charger and a four gallon gas tank so you can charge anywhere. With that, you could get by with a smaller battery.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      You have a math & physics problem with you turbine generator idea: four gallons to recharge for 200 mile range would equal 50mpg from a high performance sports car. Not possible.

      The Volt proved that the theory does not work so well in practice.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    For all the talk about range anxiety – and with 500k EVs on the road worldwide (I don’t know how many are BEVs) – I’ve never seen an EV stranded along the roadside. EV drivers become better planners.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Or they don’t go anywhere. EVs make up a tiny percentage of total cars sold in the US. They are also relatively new. The chances of seeing on on the side of the road out of juice are minimal.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The buyers are self-selecting. Most car buyers cope with range and recharge issues by avoiding EVs.

      • 0 avatar
        z9

        I met a guy at the LA supercharger who ran his Tesla down to zero the night before. He had his car towed into the supercharger and at least when I was there, it wasn’t taking a charge. They were trying a very long extension cord coming out of the door of the adjacent Tesla office hooked up to a tiny charger jerry-rigged into something under the hood (sorry, frunk) and hoping that some extremely slow charge would bring the car back to life via the 12V battery. Running an EV to empty is not the same thing as running out of gas. It might be in the future, but not with current software / hardware. I suspect Tesla is trying a few things to make zero not equal to zero in more recent software updates. But if they go too far in this direction, then people will complain that the software update caused their range to go lower (you know 222 miles instead of 225, as if three miles were “stolen” from them). It’s an interesting intersection of technology and user psychology.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Well, that’s dumb. Either the guy is lazy and doesn’t charge a lot, or he drove too far in one day. I guess having 200+ miles of range still means you can ‘run out of gas’.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          You ever run a diesel tank dry? It’s no prettier, believe me.

          • 0 avatar
            fvfvsix

            Are you seriously comparing “over discharging” a lithium battery to running a diesel dry?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Why not? The grief you have to go through to prime a diesel engine once it’s run dry is just as bad, if a little faster depending on the situation. Heck, ANY car can ‘jump’ a Tesla enough to get the computer to re-boot and make the transmission shift. Once you’ve done that, it’s easy to tow to a charging station.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Come to Oslo Norway and you will frequently see a dead Leafs being hauled away by tow truck to some recharging location. That is the big problem – you can’t just pop in the station on the way home for a gallon or two to finish the journey, so people try to nurse their Leaf home and some don’t make it. This happens more often than you might think because people forget to plug the car during the evening, or the recharging locations at work are all busy, or the weather is cold and battery capacity is unexpectedly reduced, etc.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    Is there any sort of home charger that you can hand power?

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Austin’s Chargepoint program is Done Right, though the jury’s out on whether it’s sustainable.

    If you owned a Tesla in Austin or its immediate environs, you _could_ get by entirely on public charging. It still wouldn’t be as convenient as home-charging though, and everyone with a non-extended-range EV should have unlimited access to L2 charging at their home or office as a non-negotiable prerequisite before buying.

    Now, if only the other main cities and burbs in the Texas Triangle got together on a single plan that worked in all of them.. Kinda sucks going to Round Rock or San Antonio and not getting teh free juicez..

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I’d love to see a breakdown of what it actually costs in terms of KW/h to charge a Tesla for a full cycle.

    I know CA pays absurd prices for electricity (and everything else), I’d be curious what a full battery charge costs. I’m sure it’s less expensive than $4 gas in California, but I wonder what the state is going to do if people adopt EV in bigger numbers. They’re sure as hell not going to be able to build more power plants, I could see utility rates spiking.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      The long term economics of the Model S against it’s 400hp+ competitors like the E63 or Panamera 4 is through the roof. The lifetime energy cost to drive 400,000km/250,000 miles is $8400*. Contrast that to a highly optimistic $78,000 for a gas model**. And that’s assuming you never use a Supercharger network. Even if you replace the battery pack every 100,000km, you still come out ahead.

      Assumptions (fluid changes, drivetrain repairs, tires, inflation, future energy taxes not factored in. Your math will vary depending on costs in your area.)
      *: 85kWh per 400km, lifetime 10 cents per kWh of home charging.
      **: 15L/100km, lifetime $1.30 per liter for 91 octane.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        You get those numbers from a Tesla brochure?

        10 cents per kWh? The Tesla capitol, Sodom on the bay, averaged 22.2 cents in March this year.

        Meanwhile we’ll pretend the gas powered alternatives barely break 15 mpg and gas costs 5 bucks a gallon.

        Leaving the best for last of course, we’ll now pretend that cars sold on a $1400 lease payment are going to to be kept and driven for a quarter million miles.

        Using less batshit crazy assumptions would put first owner energy savings in the $7-10,000 range. Effectively noise against the backdrop of $50,000 in depreciation.

        • 0 avatar
          WaftableTorque

          I live in Alberta Canada, where electricity last month was 6.991 cents per kWh, and 91 octane is $1.339/L as of this afternoon. And find me a 0-60 sub-5 second sport sedan that gets less than 15L/100km mixed driving?

          And when did I even mention anything about the complete cost of ownership? If anything, the historical inflation rate of petroleum versus electricity makes these numbers hopelessly conservative for gas prices. And depreciation of a P85+ is going to be different from a CLS63…how?

          For arguments sake, let’s say 22.2 cents per kWh is the correct market price. Total lifetime energy cost is still $19k for the Model S.

          Not so batshit, is it, troll?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Too many assumptions there, Dan.

          *Where I live, electricity is 15¢/kWh.
          *We all know the average mileage for a luxury car is currently about 25-28mpg here in the States.
          *Gas is priced at $3.96/gal for 93 octane–demanded by most newer cars (especially EcoBoost).
          *Not everybody leases. I could BUY a Tesla for as little as $800/month with $2000 or less down payment.

          So you end up a victim of your own last statement.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      My Leaf has increased the electricity consumption of my 2000 sq.ft. home by 20%, or $20 for 800 miles/month, or $0.67/day.

      Filling an empty Model S at my house (PA) would cost $3.54, but in CA it would probably be more like $8. However, you’d be hard-pressed to drive that much every day, so the daily cost would be much lower.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Take your home electric bill and look up the cost per kWh. This should come out somewhere between $.11 to $.15, though it could be a little higher. Now, multiply that cost by the amount of charge the car takes (for now assume no remaining charge, so the full amount) such as the 65kWh 200-mile range Tesla and it comes out less than $10. To go the same distance in an equivalent ICE car would cost $30 or more.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    You really should have done a little more research before buying a Tesla and writing an article about it.

    Yes if you are going to buy one then you really need the ability to put one or two 240 near where you park the car at home. You do not buy a “charger” the charger or two if you opt for the dual charger option is inside the vehicle. The over priced box you hand on the wall is just a fancy switch that the charger in the car tells to turn on or off.

    The super charger and fast chargers you’ll find at some locations that work for Leafs are actually chargers that put DC power directly to the battery instead of AC power to the internal charger.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    I have 2 primary homes about 1,200 miles apart and I have driven 700 miles in a day. A Tesla would be a downright nightmare to make a trip like that in. The amount of time wasted stopping would be unreal. For the Tesla to be viable it needs to have a 500 mile range and a 5-10 minute max charging time. And the Tesla lemmings like to mention that you don’t always take it for long road trips and that is fine but there are plenty of other real world trips where it falls apart badly.

    Many people travel and attend events within a 100 miles radius of their homes and lots of people live 100 miles or so outside of major metropolitan areas, airports etc. The Tesla battery is good for 250 miles of range plus or minus so let’s say you live 100 miles away from Dallas, Detroit or Chicago and you want to run into town, see stuff, shop, whatever and have to run around and do stuff, unless you find a charger or one is on your route, you are out of luck and either will cut it close or run out of charge. Let’s say you shoot down to Chicago for the weekend and your hotel does not have a charger, you are kind of screwed now or you go to stay at your brother’s apartment at the city and you have to park in the street or a parking lot and there is no where to plug in, what do you do? If you go stay at a buddy’s house for the weekend, do you kick his car out the garage so you can plug in? What happens if electric cars become popular enough and cheap enough that now you, your wife and your 2 kids have electric cars but you only have a 2 car garage and the other 2 cars sit outside, where will those plug in?

    At the end of the day, I can fill up my car in 5 minutes get 350 to 400 miles of range and be on my way with no limitations. I can do spur of the moment trips without having to worry, I don’t have to sit at sketchy charging stations for an hour like a sitting duck hoping I don’t get robbed or killed and I can travel down weird back roads and sightsee with no worries about being stranded.

    Tesla Model S, 500 mile range, 5-10 minute charge, $50,000 price, that is what it needs to be, other than that, I don’t really care about it and I don’t see it as a viable mass market company.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      I think people who can afford a Tesla would have no problem owning a 2nd gasoline car for that kind of travel, unless they live in a downtown where parking is a huge problem.

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        But that’s my point, what the h3ll is the purpose of spending six figures on a vehicle and then you have to own another gas vehicle or rent a car? It’s just downright stupid. If you spend $25K on a Prius or even $40K on a loaded luxurious Avalon Hybrid because you want to save money on fuel that makes sense, but the Tesla makes no damn sense. It’s expensive, has less room, less features and less practicality that other cars its price, it literally makes no sense to buy this car. Even if you bought some cheap junky beater for almost no money, you would still have to pay about $100 a month just for insurance which would completely negate the money you saved from fuel with the Tesla. I cannot make the math on this car work.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Some cars aren’t about the math. I’m sure someone would argue that a Corvette doesn’t make sense because it can’t seat five and you could buy a couple of Hyundai sedans for the same money.

          I think you have to look at it from the perspective of drive-train choice. Some people want a diesel manual. Others want a gasoline V8 automatic etc. Well, some people prefer an electric motor in their vehicles and are willing to live with whatever downside there is.

          I’m glad we have as many choices as we do and hope we have more in the future.

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            A Corvette is not the same as a Tesla, it is a toy, it is a big V8, 2 door, 2 seater weekend toy. It is not a primary car and makes no pretenses. A Tesla is supposed to replace your primary vehicle for your daily driving and people and stuff hauling and at the same time save you money on fuel, but it doesn’t.

            A Nissan Leaf makes sense, it is cheap and you can use it daily to go to work and have a proper car for other trips and carrying stuff. A Volt makes sense with the cheap leases they have for the same reasons but this car does not.

            The one thing I have noticed is that for all the praises thrown at the Tesla from automotive journalists and reviewers, none buy them, not even the ultra-wealthy ones like Matt Farah. He did however get a Volt.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            “Some cars aren’t about the math.”

            That’s true but you need to identify the type of math you’re doing. Comparing a Tesla to a Miata, Corvette, or Pick Up is faulty math at best.

            At their core, vehicles provide mobility. It just so happens that those that run on gas do it without the range limiting constraints inherit in electrics.

            A better, but still not on the mark comparison would be CNG vehicles because they face some of the same infrastructure constraints as electrics. The difference being fill up times which are much more comparable to gas vehicles than electrics.

            So, instead of comparing a Tesla to a Corvette (after all, one’s a ship:-), compare it to an S6 et al. In daily use a Tesla would be fine but many, myself included, balk at paying 60k+ for a vehicle that is compromised in providing its basic mission which is mobility.

            Those trips in the 200-500 mile range are dicey propositions for EV drivers and contrary to what’s been stated most do not fly those distances. Miami to Chicago, sure. New York to L.A., yup. Three hours up the road, nope.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @hubcap: You’d be surprised how many people fly or take the train from NY or Boston to DC and back. Even such a short trip as Wilmington, DE to DC is a daily ride for some, rather than driving as it is faster (avoiding traffic congestion) and more comfortable as the ride is stress-free. Even a Tesla can drive that far–pretty much without a recharge, too. Well, unless you drive like a typical I-95 idiot.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I don’t think you can make the math work on any car that’s beyond the basic model from a mainline brand. Yet people buy Lexuses, BMWs, etc. I assume Tesla drivers are finding the driving experience worth the money, just like I assume Mercedes drivers are finding their driving experiences worth the money.

          I sure wouldn’t buy an electric car if I didn’t have any way to charge it at home, though.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Of course, most people spending six figures on a car FLY on long trips, they don’t want the boredom of driving.

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            Of course you either did not read or chose to ignore the meat of my post.

            A pretty common trip for wealthy individuals is a weekend trip to your house Up North in Michigan. You almost certainly can’t fly it and the drive is about 4 hours there or almost 250 miles. Chicago to your house in Grand Haven, MI 172 miles. Los Angeles to Las Vegas which is 266 miles. There are multiple variations of these types of trips where people drive them frequently…with their six figure cars.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> You almost certainly can’t fly it and the drive is about 4 hours there or almost 250 miles

            You most certainly can fly. Either a float plane or amphibian does the trick quite nicely. If you have a waterfront house, you can bring it right to your dock. Folding wing designs make it even easier. Even without a seaplane, there are plenty of small airports.

            For commercial flights, using one of your examples, you can get to Grand Haven from Chicago via a United Express flight for $134 round trip.

            Corvettes are used as daily drivers and make perfect sense in that role for some people. I have a couple of friends that use 911s as their daily driver/winter beater. Something you can do when you have 20+ million dollars out away.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            “Of course, most people spending six figures on a car FLY on long trips, they don’t want the boredom of driving.”

            Define “long”. This is anecdotal but I know people who spend similar on cars who don’t fly. Of course, length of stay is a consideration, but if the math works they drive because they like having their car over a rental.

            For personal trips in the 200-500 mile range, I don’t know many who fly though I’m sure some do.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @hubcap: At about 300 miles is where many people choose flying over driving and train over flying IF passenger service is available. For some, anything over about 50 miles might have them riding the train. My wife and I have several relatively short-range trips planned in which we expect to take Amtrak rather than put up with heavy traffic congestion approaching and within our destinations’ metropolitan areas.

            On the other hand, when rail service isn’t available, I do choose to drive rather than fly–we tend to bring back more than we took and carrying that as luggage is heavy and expensive.

            Oh, and if I really wanted, I could get from home (between Baltimore and Philadelphia) to Orlando, Florida on a single charge in a Tesla.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          What the hell is the point of buying a six-figure Corvette if you can’t even go to Costco or take the family on vacation? That’s downright stupid. Oh, wait…

          Not everyone has the same needs, and not every car will suit everyone’s needs. A Miata is a stupid car if you want to move a couch. A Tesla is a stupid car if you commute 700 mi. A Civic is a stupid car if you tow a boat. An F-150 is a stupid car if you have to park in a garage with limited height clearance & small turning radii.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Miatas and Corvettes are niche cars. Nobody who understands the car industry would expect those body styles to represent a large proportion of total US car sales.

            Pleasure boats are niche products in and of themselves, so few people have a need to tow them.

            There are many people who don’t have garages or who don’t bother to park in them even when they have them available; sales volumes make it obvious that this isn’t enough of a factor to limit the market for large trucks.

            There also isn’t much of a market for cars that can only be driven short, predictable routes and that can’t deviate from that routine without incredible inconvenience. Likewise, there isn’t much of a market for a car that takes ages to refuel, when even the most mundane of cars can be refueled with current technology in just a few minutes.

            Internal combustion has the advantage of using a liquid for fuel. That fuel has fairly high density and can be added to a tank very quickly.

            Batteries are heavy, bulky and cost far more than a simple fuel tank. They are made of chemicals, so it isn’t just a matter of dumping in some liquid and moving on. And those chemicals deplete over time; most car drivers wouldn’t be happy if they had cars whose fuel tanks shrank over time.

            These deficiencies have existed with EVs for over a century. Covering your ears, shutting your eyes and pretending that they aren’t problematic doesn’t fix the problem.

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      “I have 2 primary homes about 1,200 miles apart and I have driven 700 miles in a day. A Tesla would be a downright nightmare to make a trip like that in. ”

      Just a regular “non elitist, non bay area, EV driver ” guy then!

      First world problems indeed!

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Honestly, I don’t see a problem except for the fact that the supercharger network isn’t yet completed. Driving 700 miles in a day is hardly difficult; even at my age (one month away from my sixth decade) I can drive650 miles in about 13 hours–including stops for fuel and food. I don’t speed, either. In fact, I tend to run at or as much as 10mph BELOW the speed limit for better fuel economy (I drive a veritable brick and still get as much as 25mpg on a long freeway run.) Driving something as aerodynamic as a Tesla would be a treat and if there were superchargers along I-66, I-81, I-40 and I-75 it would be an easy trip for me and an easier trip for my wife (who sometimes needs to make unexpected stops). Stopping every 4 hours for a rest break is actually a good idea for both driver and passengers and makes the entire trip easier to handle. Sure, it might add a half hour over my overall trip time, but is that really so bad?

        • 0 avatar
          ExPatBrit

          Venom wants to drive 2400 miles round trip, otherwise the cars inadequate.

          IRS calculates that at 56 cents a mile for business purposes.

          About 48 hours of driving and stopping 2 nights , but we don’t want to spend an extra couple of hours charging.

          Round trip airfare or train with either a rental car or a personal car at the other end is apparently not an option.

          LOL!

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I don’t have a Tesla, or a Leaf, or any other EV or plug in hybrid, mainly because my wife’s commute is too long for something I can easily afford and she flat out reject not able to get home if she couldn’t charge at work for the return trip and have to take an evacuation beater (93 Ford Escort) home for the day.

    The biggest problem with buying an EV without owning a house (or at least a town house that you can modify the wiring) is the charging. You cannot reasonably charge it up every night at 110V if you have long commute (which is the only reason you can justify the high initial purchase cost with cheap electricity and carpool lane sticker), or if your work place has cheap or free charging and your car can drive round trip with enough backup capacity.

    In your case, if you live in CA, a CNG car may be the better choice as it is still cheap enough to fill and still get you a HOV sticker. 2006 Honda Civic GX is only about $15000 used, FYI.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Where EVs shine is in town driving. My PHEV stickered for just about exactly $7000 more than the equivalent gasoline powered model, and I’m saving about $1150 per year in fuel over that gasoline powered version, that’s with 11000 town miles and about another 1000 highway miles per year, figuring gasoline @ $3.50 per gallon. Without the federal incentive of $4007, it’s kind of a long payback. With it, it’s a no brainer. If gas prices go up faster than electricity prices, which is likely, then they payback period shortens.

      The other thing to think about is that it is vastly nicer to drive in an electric in city driving. Maybe not $7000 nicer, but I’d have paid $3000 more for just the experience.

  • avatar

    Ed, for a fan you are painting an enormously unattractive picture of Tesla ownership in this post. I have never read such a damning report on the downside of EV than this article even from a hater! This would be a total deal breaker for me. I know it will only get better so good on you for being a guinea pig.

    One thing I’d appreciate your comment on is something that I would worry about but I never hear mentioned is simply what if I forget. The number of times I’ve parked my car, got out groceries or whatever and basically got distracted when I meant to check something on the car is reasonably high. I can certainly imagine forgetting to plug in. You wake up on Monday morning say and … You can’t got to work because the car is flat.

    All too hard for me. Plus are you really driving 30,000 miles a year plus? That’s what the implication is from your Volvo fuel math.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I like battery electric, but your story is why hydrogen fuel cells will win this war, battery chemistry is such that it just can’t be charged that fast or else you’ll wear out the battery.

    Also, it sounds like Tesla is really blowing it on their supercharging stations. 1. Having malfunctioning chargers is unaceptable. 2. Not having a coffee shop type refreshment station at the supercharger locations is a huge missed opportunity. 3. Not having a detailed integrated network map of chargers is also unacceptible.

    HFC vehicles are coming in the next 2 years if manufacturers can be taken at their word. Once solid high density storage via carbon bonding and cheaper catalysts than the precious metals are perfected, they will win. As of now with current tech, they are already better than battery electric cars when it comes to being able to just pull in, charge up the tank in a few minutes, pay about half the cost of gasoline per mile, and get on your way, just like a regular gasoline car, and of course the only thing coming out the tail pipe is water so pure you can drink it. Hydrogen can be made from renewable energy and water and hydrogen filling stations will quickly fill the role of gasoline stations once the vehicles catch on, if I were a betting man (and I am) I would be betting on hydrogen fuel cell technology as the future (which I am).

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      If you are going to come up with a new fuel, I would certainly find something easier to deal with than hydrogen. It has a terrible fuel density, and has to be compressed to a very high pressure. Because the molecules are so small, it is a fiendishly difficult gas to deal with. Many types of steel are unusable because they will become embrittled by high pressure hydrogen.

      Most hydrogen is produced by extraction from natural gas. It is possible to use electricity to produce H2 gas from water, but it is inefficient to do so, you’re better off storing it in a battery. If you’re going to use natural gas as your base fuel, why not create a PHEV with a compressed natural gas powered range extender? It would be vastly cheaper to build, and CNG powered engines are very clean running.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        The latest hydrogen fuel storage tanks are made from very round carbon fiber tanks. Luxfer, for example, makes them, and I believe it is Toyota who makes their own too, as they were unable to find what they needed on the commericial market.

        Yes, those of us who follow this tech know that most h_2 is currently made from natural gas, however, what we’re doing is huge. We are moving the mobile vehicle to a zero emission system and then we can finally move towards creating hydrogen out of renewable energy as well. That is much more difficult and/or impossible to do when you simply run the car on natural gas. The energy efficiency that it takes to create hydrogen from renewables is inconsequential as we have trillions of joules of sunlight that go unused every single day.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          “The energy efficiency that it takes to create hydrogen from renewables is inconsequential as we have trillions of joules of sunlight that go unused every single day.”

          Yes, but it’s costly to collect it.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          If you are going to get hydrogen from sunlight, just do PV. Otherwise, you lose so much in the conversions that it will be even more stupid expensive.

          I could see hydrogen being used as a fuel for aircraft where batteries are far too heavy. But other than that, I have difficulty thinking of any other application where hydrogen would win out against conventional electric.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I’m not betting on hydrogen–yet. There are far too many factors still needing resolution to give them the overall win. Meanwhile, Tesla is proving that the BEV IS a viable alternative to ICE–for now.

      Transport and storage of hydrogen is still risky. Carriage in the vehicle of a sufficient amount for reasonable range is still unproven as far as mass production is concerned–especially when you’re considering the safety aspects of a potential rupture during a collision or other incident which may catastrophically damage the vehicle and its fuel system. We’re already complaining enough about how our railroads are carrying crude oil and suffering fires and even explosions when those tank cars derail. Now consider how much more potent raw hydrogen would be in similar tank cars.

      WHEN hydrogen fuel cell technology is more mature and vehicles can be guaranteed safe from catastrophic failure, they may supplant the BEV. But their refueling infrastructure is well behind Tesla’s own Supercharger infrastructure in availability and falling farther behind on a daily basis.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        I can recall looking at the economics of using fuel cells for on-site power generation for a Brooklyn apartment building about 50 years ago. It is a weird technology invented, as I recall, in the 1920′s, so it has been around almost 100 years. As yet, it remains a laboratory curiosity with virtually no practical applications. To believe it will ever become the method of choice for powering motor vehicles is so ridiculous as to invite scorn. [Scorn].

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Fuel cells saw extensive use in the space program on the Apollo manned missions to the moon. It was a fuel cell explosion that caused the Apollo 13 near-disaster, and that didn’t even involve any kind of collision that I am aware of. But then, those fuel cells were exclusively designed to generate electricity for the ship, not exactly power it through wild changes in draw the way running an electric automobile would do.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            A piece of pure speculation on my part is that a micrometeoroid impact could have caused the Apollo 13 fuel cell to explode. As far as developing a “hydrogen infrastructure” for transportation, I feel that it’s an unnecessary diversion from the inevitable improvements in battery technology. It also follows the “big oil” model of fuel distribution, with all of its inefficiencies and typical dangers of an extremely flammable substance.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I thought they they had the Apollo 13 thing pretty much nailed with the short in the stirring fan’s wiring that ignited the O2 tank’s insulation, caused overpressure..etc. etc.

            Wasn’t there also something about the improper low-voltage transformer for that fan’s circuit causing the wires’ insulation to fry in the first place?

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            NASA replaced fuel cells with solar panels a LONG, LONG time ago.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            Kenmore: Yes, but what *caused* the short?
            (That’s my “theory”, and I’m sticking to it!)

            And, yes, I’m probably wrong. :-)

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Shaker,
            I may be conflating incidents but I thought they finally determined that a faulty or incorrectly specced transformer fed the fan circuit something like double the voltage intended for it.

            I’m curious so will look it up later. But right now SWMBO wants a garden shed assembled. Tally ho.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I’m not that worried about hydrogen transport and storage. They are problems that are solved with $$$. They are solvable problems, but they make the final product even less attractive.

        My main concern is where to get the hydrogen. An above post said “from renewable sources.” That’s complete hogwash. “Renewable sources” don’t produce hydrogen–they produce electricity, which has to consumed to make the hydrogen. That process necessitates throwing away 2/3 to 3/4 of the energy you just created compared to simply dumping it into a battery. If people are complaining about taxing the grid for EVs, or that renewables aren’t capable of delivering our electric needs, hydrogen is the last thing you want to add to the equation.

        Hydrogen only works from an efficiency & cost perspective if you extract it from nat gas. And if you do that, you still have CO2 emissions and you still need fossil fuel.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          I actually Googled fuel cells. They date from 1838. If you propose using 19th century technology today to replace 20th century technology, you better have a hellava story. I didn’t see it.

          There is a one billion dollar industry, mostly out of Japan with 2/3 for stationary sources (electricity generation) in remote locations. Nobody is making any money. On the plus side, they claim as much as 80% thermal conversion efficiency (to electricity) with a fuel cell/combined cycle unit. Sounds like marketing B.S. to me, but if correct, it may have some future.

          You can power fuel cells directly with natural gas. Natural gas from shale using hydraulic fracturing is shaping up to be the main transitional fuel for power generation until solar and nuclear are ready. It’s not dangerous like nuclear, and its CO2 emissions are by far the least of any fossil fuel. It is also very plentiful. The supply glut is such that it currently is in surplus at $5 USD per million btu ($30 USD per barrel in terms of energy equivalent) at Henry Hub in south Louisiana. Globally, a totally undeveloped shale gas resource base is huge and widespread.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Of course, a lot of that shale is in mountains that you would have to take down to process. That would be as bad for our national climate as removing all those forests down in the Amazon basin. Imagine what the climate would be like across the central US if the Rocky Mountains weren’t there. It’s already happening in the east as mountains are being leveled for their coal.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            The fracking “boom” is the last dying gasp by the fossil fuel industry to convince us that our economy depends on destroying our environment. If we become a net energy exporter, we’ll become a 3rd world country, exploited for our resources, then once that’s gone, the dried husk of our landscape will be handed back to us. THEN we’ll have to rapidly adopt wind and solar, and figure out how to clean up our contaminated ground water. Oh, and deal with the screwed-up climate caused by all of the methane that leaked out by the careless drilling. It’s a lose-lose in the long-term – it’s like robbing your 401(k) to build a 3-car garage.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Kudos to the author for chronicling the Tesla Model S (and by extension, EV ownership in general) “warts and all”. It’s certainly far form perfection, but it’s something that *can* be worked into daily life, especially if you wish to help the technology along, and show others that EV ownership is not quite as scary as some make it out to be.
    Looking forward to the next installment. And thanks to TTAC for this series as well; I like your style.

  • avatar
    kurkosdr

    Tesla invested in a dead technology. If Tesla wants EVs to take over the world, they should invest in inventing a “liquid battery”, where discharged liquid can be pumped out and charged liquid pumped in.

    The rest is attempting to sugarcoat a problem. What if I want to drive in remote roads for 450km?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Sounds like a great idea, Kurk; Who invented it? Or hasn’t it?

      When you’re trying to make a production-ready device, you need production-ready technology. If the technology doesn’t exist, you have to use what’s available. Meanwhile, Tesla is doing more with the available batteries than anyone else AND plans to take the technology farther than it’s ever gone before.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Interesting reading. A few months ago I thought long, and hard, about buying a Volt. For my daily driving needs, the Tesla, or even a Leaf would be perfect. I could get by without the I.C.E. engine. The Volt, however, caught my interest.

    I spread the total costs over 10 years. I’m 60 years old, and retired. We live on a comfortable, but fixed income. The numbers just didn’t work for me. I picked up a 2014 4 cyl Impala. Nice car, but a little short on power. From what I read, the performance on the Tesla, is more than impressive.

    I do believe that the EV vehicle is here to stay. The Hybrid,however, seems to fit todays needs, for only certain demographics.

    For me, at my point in life?..No.

    BTW.. Saw a “Stop the Fracking Madness” bumper sticker on an old Four Runner, with blue smoke puffing out the tail pipe. I just shook my head.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India