Tag Archives: elon musk

All Tesla Supercharger Stations to Be Solar Powered, Says Musk

Fed by the virtually unlimited supply of money emanating from the Koch Brothers to influence the media, plenty of people are convinced that electric cars are not as green as they pretend to be. That includes Teslas that recharge at Supercharger locations.

Tesla-supercharger-expansion-01-570x286

After all, they have to get their electricity from somewhere and in many places worldwide, that somewhere is a coal-fired generating plant. The critics ask, what good is it to have zero tailpipe emissions if the stuff that makes the car go is derived from burning coal? One such critic posed that question to Elon Musk yesterday and got an unexpected response.

Tesla has embarked on a campaign to double the number of its Supercharger locations in 2017. In a blog post earlier this year, it said,

“As Tesla prepares for our first mass-market vehicle and continues to increase our Model S and Model X fleet, we’re making charging an even greater priority. It is extremely important to us and our mission that charging is convenient, abundant, and reliable for all owners, current and future. In 2017, we’ll be doubling the Tesla charging network, expanding existing sites so drivers never wait to charge, and broadening our charging locations within city centers.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists has published data refuting the hackneyed claim that electric cars are not all that green. Its study finds that two thirds of all Americans live in an area where driving an electric car contributes fewer total emissions than driving the most fuel efficient hybrid.

The only parts of the country where that is not true are places like West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where the majority of electricity comes from coal-fired plants.

In fact, driving a Tesla in Wheeling, West Virginia creates more carbon pollution than driving a 64 Chevelle with the 396 engine. That’s because West Virginians are proud of their ability to poison themselves and their families with coal pollutants.

How soon will it be before all Tesla Supercharger locations are solar powered? Musk left the answer to that question somewhat vague. Suffice to say, it will be sooner than the charging equipment offered by any other automaker.

This article was originally published on CleanTechnica.

A Conservative Foundation, Citizens for the Republic, Still Has a Website Dedicated to Slandering Elon Musk


Have you heard of Citizens for the Republic (CFTR for short)?  They are one of these conservative “political action committees” that are largely funded and established by southern fossil fuel companies and their employees.  There are many organizations, think tanks, and SuperPACs like them, and they generally have the same agenda: To fabricate skewed industry friendly studies to create a perceived argument against peer reviewed climate and health science, then support a candidate that peddles their bias views, and implants useful conservative politicians  and administrators in office.

For example, just follow the money that supported Scott Pruitt, who somehow is the lead administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency the 17th Attorney General of Oklahoma swore to dismantle.

As you can see in this diagram, courtesy of Desmogblog, there has been a close relationship for quite some time between Scott Pruitt, and fossil fuel interests through these conservative foundations, including foundations backed by the billionaire Koch brothers.  The affiliation was highlighted in more than 7500 emails and other records released by the Oklahoma attorney general’s office. In fact, Scott Pruitt was found to be simply copy and pasting letters made by Devon Energy to object to recently proposed federal regulations on fracking. How embarrassing.

These fossil fuel backed conservative leaning organizations that tend to utilize Republican politicians are pretty easy to identify. With some cursory research into who founded and donates to these operations through the years, we can find out who really fuels their agendas. Most of them have some abstract Americanism in their name of tagline like “freedom, liberty, our rights, our family, our individuality in order to garner de facto patriotism and thus public support for their purposes, which are almost always to diminish anything against fossil fuel industry interests.

Anyway, the primary campaign of Citizens for the Republic is no exception in plastering these stock patriotic foundational beliefs on their website, but the first thing you see in their featured story gallery is a Tesla Model S on top of a pile of money and a url: stopelonfrommfailingagain.com.

I’m not sure what they are implying with the url, stopelonfromfailingagain.com. With Tesla’s market capitalization now greater than those of Ford and General Motors, you would think Elon Musk would be recognized as a pretty successful businessman.

When you follow the link to the site, you find a really transparent attempt to sully, slander, and defame one of the brightest technological innovators of the 21st century. And the thing is, who doesn’t like Elon Musk, except maybe his ex wives? He literally represents everything the American dream should represent, an immigrant who developed a billion dollar website to help people spend their money online in Paypal, a billionaire that uses all of his resources to help the world travel more efficiently, safely, and cleanly, and then trying to colonize Mars on top of all that other stuff. Why would an American established and funded institution be out to prove to the world that he’s not great unless they have an obvious vested interest in his downfall.

As you scroll down you see bold all caps headlines like YES, ELON MUSK IS ACTUALLY REALLY BORING, ELON MUSK THINKS WE’RE ALREADY CYBORGS, ELON MUSK PUSHED FOR A CARBON TAX AT MEETING WITH TRUMP, SPACEX LOST A QUARTER OF A BILLION DOLLARS AFTER ONE OF ITS ROCKETS BLEW UP, and of course let’s not forget ELON MUSK’S GRAND AMBITION IS BORING. It makes you wonder who are the people fervently reading these, and praying on this gentleman’s downfall.

You might ask, why would  a national organization “dedicated to revitalizing the conservative movement through education, grassroots organization, advocacy and political activism” be so dead set on posting unflattering pictures, attempting immature potshots, disparaging him for his companies slightest misfortunes, and calling his marketing strategies “shitty”? Well, all you need to do is some cursory research to find someone who found somebody reputable who’s job it is to track where money is coming from.  In this case, Desmogblog sources the Center for Responsive Politics

The Center for Responsive Politics found that two of the major funders of Citizens for the Republic—the Wellspring Committee and the Annual Fund—which together donated nearly $1 million to CFTR between 2010 and 2011, are part of the powerful Koch network. Wellspring in particular was described as a “dark money conduit” by the Koch brothers. [24], [25]

Citizens for the Republic Funding (Source):

Donor & Year Total
Annual Fund $475,000
2011 $475,000
Jerry Perenchio $27,475
1981 $2,500
1982 $5,000
1983 $5,000
1984 $5,000
1985 $4,975
1989 $5,000
Wellspring Committee $360,000
2010 $360,000
Grand Total $862,475

 

Further, DailyBeast reported Wellspring was actually founded in 2008 by Charles and David Koch.

There you have it, plain and simple:  Koch>Wellspring Committee/Annual Fund>Citizens for the Republic>Stop Elon Musk. I don’t like to get into politics, but it seems fairly obvious which side is simply a surrogate organism for established fossil fuels.  I can’t really be mad at the Koch brothers for protecting their industry and profits, but politicians are acting against the interests of their constituents. If anti-innovation, anti-environment, pro trickle down policies where economically sound, peer reviewed, and had an understandably foreseeable benefit to the American public, I might support them. But as I see it, simply forcing outdated policies and bashing innovators that will shape the economic fortunes of this country in the 21st century, because the people that gave you money told you to do so, is low class, malicious, and a little bit treasonous.

Really! Porsche’s prototype battery-driven sports car aims to challenge Tesla Motors!

Porsche is one of the most iconic car manufacturers in the world. It has a rich history of producing some of the fastest and best looking vehicles ever to be designed. The modern range includes the latest version of the famous Porsche 911 and a variety of other vehicles right through to the Porsche Cayenne; their four wheel drive luxury model with more horsepower than the average sports car. Now, Porsche is aiming to take on the electric powered car manufacturers and build a car which will beat Tesla at their own game!

IAA 2015 - Porsche Mission E concept

At the end of last year Porsche announced its latest concept, the Mission E sports car; it is all electric, boasts 600 horsepower and will be on sale within five years. Perhaps even more impressive is that the expected range is 300 miles and the vehicle can be recharged in as little as fifteen minutes! Porsche’s Mission E is described as an all wheel drive, all wheel steering, battery powered street car. Will it manage to surpass Tesla’s performance levels? Will it be able to compete with Tesla’s competitive price ($35,000) for its latest model?

Development

The global head of research and development at Porsche, Wolfgang Hatz has stated that the car has been on the drawing board for many years, but it has not been the right time to build it. In fact, he has been quoted as saying “it would happen when we can really deliver performance, reliability and driving range. And now the time is right.” The prototype has been in testing for one year and it is very close to obtaining approval to move on to the production phase. Although, at this stage a date has not been committed to and the price has only been hinted at being competitive for its target market.

The car is likely to be on sale for in excess of $100,000 US; it has already been acknowledged within the industry that there would be a limited demand for an electric sports car which can deliver high performance and travel for over three hundred miles on one charge. But, that those who would be interested in this sort of vehicle would be prepared to pay the price tag which goes with it. Elon Musk, the CEO of Telsa has also acknowledged that the market is there and that they are the main competitor to Porsche.

Elon Musk - The Summit 2013

Specifications

Porsche is keeping to its usual impressive statistics. Mission E is intended to be a four door, four passenger vehicle but it should still reach sixty from a standing start in just three and a half seconds. It will make it all the way to one hundred and twenty in just fewer than twelve seconds.

The car will be the first car to feature an 800 volt electric system and it will be possible to recharge this system to eighty percent power in just fifteen minutes. It should be noted that there is presently no infrastructure to support the recharging; this will need to be created before the car is finally produced.

Gadgets

Porsche’s pioneering prototype will also feature a variety of state of the art electronic systems, including an all new eye tracking system, which is intended to sense which part of the dashboard the driver is looking at and will highlight the relevant part of the dash. It will even expand the gauges in the specific area.

Tesla Model 3: boom di prenotazioni! Arriva l'elettrica "popolare"!

It is important to note that this car will be a Porsche; it is not intended to be targeted as competition to any other manufacturer. Porsche has its own reputation and will ensure the car meets its exacting standards; there is no doubt there will be a high level of demand from Porsche customers. This includes building a car which is iconic, balanced, fast and luxurious.

There’s no doubt about it – Porsche is one of the world’s greatest car manufacturers. But then again, the company is also one of the most expensive. Not everyone will afford to pay $100,000 on a Porsche Mission E. Fortunately Porsche has a lot more fame than Tesla. It is targeted at high-end buyers eager and it is eager to challenge its main competitors. We’re just hoping Porsche released the Mission E soon!

By Christopher Austin and Design911.co.uk!

Tesla’s Fast Charging Stations: Game Changer or Fast Path to Bankruptcy?


Earlier this year, Elon Musk announced his plan to build solar powered, fast charging stations across America, available to Tesla Model S owners to use for free. A lot of my colleagues were very excited about this prospective announcement. To me, it seems downright impossible: high fixed capital costs, and no revenue from the stations.  Additionally, these charging stations aren’t even compatible with Tesla’s other model, the Roadster, and you can forget about cross manufacturer compatibility.  Solar panels are not just plug and play either, they require maintenance and cleaning if you want them to perform up to their specified manufacturer standards of efficiency.

Even if the solar panels operate at optimal efficiency, the fast chargers will draw more power than the solar panels can produce at one time, so unless Tesla has on-site electricity storage, the company will have to buy electricity at a higher rate than they can sell back to the grid.

Another challenge is the fact that utilities will often charge a hefty “demand charge” per month because of the high load these chargers can put on the grid, says Arindam Maitra, a senior project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute. Fast charger owners will have to pay that fee even if no one uses the station. At least one DC fast-charging system charges $7 per charge, which is more expensive than buying gasoline for the equivalent range in a conventional car. –Technologyreview.com

Despite the economic pitfalls, Tesla charged on this year.  They built 6 charging stations in SoCal and have already begun their electric corridor in the northeast.  The station pictured at the top is in Milford, Conn.  Whether anyone has actually used it for its purpose remains to be seen.  These stations will charge between 4 to 6 cars and the initial capital investment ranges from $100,000 to $250,000 This could be a substantial financial liability for Tesla, which has already announced that it needs to raise more money to keep operating. When you think about the infinitesimal amount of people that actually own the Model S currently, and then they have to be driving on that specific route, the logic seems ridiculous.  Yet they are still building charging stations, and they need to sell a lot more cars for this plan to be remotely logical or we will get another Solyndra ordeal.  Project Better Place seems to be turning in a bad direction in the final quarter of 2012, asking for emergency funding from investors and laying off hundreds of employees.

Fast charging is a great idea in theory. You can drive a few hours, stop, have lunch or stretch your legs and browse a shop, then get back on the road. Existing rest stops and commercial centers will see the value in drawing electric vehicle owners to their area for 30 minutes. Drivers can plug their car in for free, and businesses can lure in generally higher income patrons that buy electric vehicles. There is a possible business model to building fast charging stations that provide free or cheap electricity. However, that is not Tesla’s business model. They hope to increase the value  a very expensive car by creating a free charging infrastructure for one specific model.

I just don’t think this type of widespread endeavor can possibly work, given that only one luxury model is compatible, and given that Tesla will not receive revenue to sustain the service.  Provide me one example of a capital intensive, widespread, exclusive, free service that has worked in America. But this is what Elon Musk does: he creates things before we appear to need it (PayPal, SpaceX). I would like to be proven wrong. So if Elon or anyone has a brilliant defense of the plan, please feel free to discuss in the comments

Sources:

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/429348/teslas-fast-chargers-could-be-a-financial-liability/

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/tesla-begins-east-cost-fast-charging-corridor/

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429283/will-fast-charging-make-electric-vehicles-practical/

http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1081336_teslas-supercharger-fast-chargers-spread-to-east-coast

http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1079383_tesla-supercharger-fast-charging-system-has-landed

Tesla Roadster to be Discontinued

Tesla is  drawing sales of the Tesla Roadster to a close in 2012, primarily to focus on their more subdued and affordable Model S.  As of September 30, 2011, Tesla had sold more than 2,000 Roadsters worldwide and the car maker announced it intends to sell a total of 2,500 units before it discontinues the model in early 2012.  The latest model punched out 295 lbs-ft of torque and 288 horsepower.  The instant torque, electric motor pushes the Roadster to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.  The EPA reports 245 miles per charge, giving it the longest range of a production electric vehicle ever.  The world distance record of 311 miles was set by a Roadster on October 27, 2009, during the Global Green Challenge in outback Australia, in which it averaged a speed of 25 mph.  At $109,000, the vehicle is really a steal for performance, groundbreaking technology, and rarity.

Elon Musk’s goal from day one has been to provide a “Model T” electric vehicle, an affordable $30,000 electric car with optimal range and performance.  However, as an upstart company without the economy of scale that Ford or GM are endowed with, Tesla produced a premium performance electric vehicle.  Now that the company is one step closer with the Model S, they are stepping away from the successful sports car model.  So is it a wise move? Maybe a couple years ago,  but now that the major manufacturers are entering the electric vehicle segment (Mitsubishi iMiev, Nissan Leaf) and offering plug in hybrids (Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in).  Can Tesla successfully sell a sedan while the majors are doing the same with their insurmountable resources and capital?  It is going to be tough without the unique electric vehicle fanfare that the Tesla Roadster once had.

Here is a warm and fuzzy Tesla Roadster video to send it off:

Thrill from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.

Tesla’s Refrigerator Sized Cooling Problem

Electric cars require cooling systems. Not nearly to the extent that a combustion engine vehicle does, but lithium ion batteries get hot. Put your laptop on your lap for an hour and you might start cooking your own thighs. So you can imagine, thousands of lithium ion batteries will require a significant amount of cooling. There are 6,831 lithium-ion batteries in the Tesla Roadster, each about a third bigger than a typical AA battery. They’re linked together in a unique package that incorporates liquid cooling, safety fuses, and sensors that prevent the cells from experiencing what battery engineers like to call “thermal events.” The batteries feed 410 volts to the Roadster’s air-cooled AC induction motor. Here is the AC cooling system, for the cabin and battery pack:

Telsa Roadster AC Cooling System

Martin Eberhard, former CEO of Tesla Motors, is making the claim that the current cooling pump is working overtime, a lot of overtime. In, fact Eberhard stated that the pump for his Tesla Roadster seemed to be on all of the time, which is completely unnecessary after the car has been parked for an hour or so. Now the ESS cooling system is crucial to the life of the battery, but this is ridiculous. So, Martin Eberhard, being the electrical engineer that he is, installed one of those electric meters you see on the sides of houses ahead of his car’s charging station. Then he charged the car up fully, unplugged it for four days, then measured how much power it took to recharge the battery after the car sat, fully charged and cool, for four days. Doing some math, he found the car consumed 1,278 kWh per year, from just sitting there. That is enough to power two big refrigerators. Not only is this significant on your electrical bill, but this drastically reduces the lifespan of the pump.  Eberhard explains in his blog post:

The second question is the life expectancy of the pump. I expect that Tesla used an automotive-grade pump from a good supplier. I am also sure that no other car leaves a pump running 24/7. Consider a typical car designed to run for 200,000 miles at an average speed of 30 mph. Such a car is designed to run for 200,000 / 30 = 6,666 hours. Let’s say the designers want some room for error, and design the water pump for that car to operate for 10,000 hours without failure. 10,000 hours life expectancy would be a good-quality automotive pump.

Now, let’s run that same pump 24/7 instead of the couple of hours per day it would run in our typical car. Running 24/7, that pump will pass 10,000 hours in only 13 months. That’s all – end of life. Just to make it through Tesla’s 3-year warranty, that pump would need to last 26,280 hours without failure. To last just 5 years, the pump would need to run 43,800 hours. Hopefully, Tesla installed a pump rated for at least 50,000 hours of operation without failure, implying an MTBF of at least 70,000 hours, assuming an exponential failure distribution. Does any automotive parts manufacturer even make such a pump?

Tesla also told Eberhard that the new Drivetrain 1.5, that they guarantee to retrofit all the purchased Tesla Roadsters with, will not make any changes to the pump. However, in a recent article from TIME, Elon Musk responded to Eberhard’s cooling pump complaints and also shed some light on the nature of their tumultuous business relationship:

Eberhard, the ousted cofounder, says Musk interfered with the design of the roadster, demanding changes that were costly and led to delays. These included installing electronic door latches, building a lightweight carbon-fiber body and lowering the doorsill by two inches. “It cost us $1.5 million to lower that doorsill,” Eberhard says. “We would have been better off to have a simpler car shipping a year earlier.” Musk says his design changes were not the cause of delays. Eberhard says that despite Tesla’s green-tech credentials, the roadster has a coolant pump that operates even when the car is parked, wasting as much electricity as two refrigerators. Musk says that will be fixed next month. Eberhard also gripes that Musk controls the board of directors, whose members include his brother Kimbal Musk. “I’m very unhappy about what’s happened to my company” under Elon, says Eberhard, who still owns about 3 percent of Tesla. “I think he’s a terrible CEO.” Elon Musk responds that “Martin is the worst individual I’ve ever had the displeasure of working with.” –TIME, An Electric Car Loses Its Juice

While Eberhard does have a legitimate complaint, keep in mind he probably takes some pleasure in publicly criticizing Elon Musk’s Roadster. But in the end, both sides just want to see the Roadster improved, and hopefully the issue can be fixed fairly easily and cheaply.