The Cult of Tesla

Guest post by David Middleton


As someone rather detached from the automotive world — in other words, someone who considers cars to simply be tools and not extensions of identity — the fervor surrounding debates in the industry often seems strange to me.

Why so much psychological investment in the outdated idea that electric vehicles are crap and can’t compete with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles? Or, for that matter, the idea that electric vehicles can function as some kind of savior of humanity and preclude the need for fundamental changes to social/industrial systems if anthropogenic climate change is to be limited in any real way?

Ex-GM, -BMW, and -Chrysler exec Bob Lutz is a case in point. It seems like every chance he gets, he goes off on some rant about Tesla, CEO Elon Musk, or electric vehicles in general, rants that often don’t have anything to do with the facts of what he’s discussing.

His most recent rant, on CNBC, featured the claim that: “Tesla supporters are like members of a religious cult. Just like Steve Jobs was worshiped at Apple, it’s the same way with Elon Musk, who is seen as a new visionary god who promises this phantasmagorical future, a utopia of profitability and volume. The only problem is, Steve Jobs delivered and Elon, God bless him, hasn’t delivered a thing, except increasingly negative cash flow, and an increasing lack of profitability; more and more capital spending.”

Hasn’t delivered a thing? What world is Lutz living in? I’m by no means a fanboy of any kind, and yet I can easily say that no one out there is doing anything similar to what Tesla and Elon Musk have been doing. The all-electric firm has been a wrecking ball to the automotive industry. And its efforts appear to be picking up more and more momentum every year.


Interestingly, the CNBC coverage, which was published before Tesla’s release of its Quarter 3 2016 results, included this bit: “Tesla is set to report third-quarter results Wednesday after the closing bell. The electric automaker is projected to post a loss of 54 cents per share on revenue of nearly $1.98 billion.”

Well, they weren’t quite right with that “projection,” were they? Whose bets were being set up by those “projections?”

Here are a few more of Lutz’s comments from the interview: “I just don’t see anything about Tesla that gives me any confidence that that business can survive. The last time I checked, (Tesla’s) quarterly cash burn is about $250 million. For a company that size, that’s horrific.”

And: “Every time (Tesla) gets a $500 million injection from a new stock sale or a $750 million injection of new money, it lasts them two or three quarters. This is a problem that volume can’t fix. … If you’re in a variable loss — that is, you’re not recovering labor and materials in your sale price — then doing twice as many, or three times as many, or four times as many (sales) doesn’t help. The losses just get bigger and bigger.”

Since when is Tesla not recovering production costs on its vehicles? Where does Lutz come up with this stuff?



Define Irony: A cultist ridiculing, in a cult-like manner, a critic of his cult.

Mr. Ayre stipulates to “rather detached from the automotive world” and then zealously defends Tesla from Mr. Lutz’s factual statement:

“Tesla supporters are like members of a religious cult. Just like Steve Jobs was worshiped at Apple, it’s the same way with Elon Musk, who is seen as a new visionary god who promises this phantasmagorical future, a utopia of profitability and volume. The only problem is, Steve Jobs delivered and Elon, God bless him, hasn’t delivered a thing, except increasingly negative cash flow, and an increasing lack of profitability; more and more capital spending.”

The basis of Mr. Ayre’s criticism is the fact that Tesla managed to beat the analysts’ Q3 2016 forecast of “a loss of 54 cents per share on revenue of nearly $1.98 billion”  and posted a profitable quarter form only the second time in its glorious history.  I would venture a guess that the “automotive world” isn’t the only world from which Mr. Ayre’s is detached.

In three of the past four quarters Tesla fell short of the analysts’ projections, including Q4 2015, when analysts projected a minuscule profit…

More importantly, as the lower panel demonstrates, Tesla’s annual net loss has been growing geometrically.  Without a continuous infusion of new capital, Tesla would cease to be a going concern rather rapidly.

Telsa Operating Income (Loss), Thousands of USD

2013  ($61,283)

2014  ($186,689)

2015 ($716,629)

Tesla Cash Flow From Operating Activities, Thousands of USD

2013 $264,804

2014 ($57,337)

2015 ($524,499)

Through Q1 and Q2 2016, Tesla’s operating income and cash flow have also been negative.

The “quarterly cash burn” of $250 million may not he exactly correct, but Mr. Lutz is spot-on here…

“I just don’t see anything about Tesla that gives me any confidence that that business can survive. The last time I checked, (Tesla’s) quarterly cash burn is about $250 million. For a company that size, that’s horrific.”

And here, if you include all operating costs…

“Every time (Tesla) gets a $500 million injection from a new stock sale or a $750 million injection of new money, it lasts them two or three quarters. This is a problem that volume can’t fix. … If you’re in a variable loss — that is, you’re not recovering labor and materials in your sale price — then doing twice as many, or three times as many, or four times as many (sales) doesn’t help. The losses just get bigger and bigger.”

All companies have to include all operating costs when reporting operating income.  There is no special accounting exemption for being green.

Mr. Ayre’s laid out the best evidence for the Tesla Cult here…

Why so much psychological investment in the outdated idea that electric vehicles are crap and can’t compete with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles? Or, for that matter, the idea that electric vehicles can function as some kind of savior of humanity and preclude the need for fundamental changes to social/industrial systems if anthropogenic climate change is to be limited in any real way?

Clearly he is so deluded that he thinks the climate will behave for Elon Musk and “that electric vehicles can function as some kind of savior of humanity.”

About Telsa’s Q3 2016 “Profit”


One day after Tesla said it earned 71 cents a share, adjusted, in the third quarter, several analysts poked holes in the company’s unexpected profit and revenue beat.

While acknowledging that Tesla had a good quarter, JPMorgan analyst Ryan Brinkman told investors that his team saw “one reason why the [third-quarter] earnings report is not as good as it looks, and another reason why it might not be as good as it looks.”

Brinkman’s issues were both tied to Tesla’s revenue beat. The automaker’s results included just under $140 million in zero emission vehicle credits, which are handed out to companies for selling zero-emission cars. That’s far higher than many analysts had forecast.

The JPMorgan analyst, for example, had expected the automaker to generate a mere $25 million from these credits. Tesla recognized a negligible amount of revenue from ZEV credits in the previous quarter.

Changes the company recently made to the way it reports revenue could be another reason its sales beat analysts’ forecasts by such as wide margin, Brinkman said. Revenue came in at $2.3 billion versus a consensus estimate for $1.9 billion, “even though the approximate number of deliveries in the quarter was known ahead of time.”

“We feel the difference clearly relates more to the change in accounting than it does to [average selling prices],” he said.

Tesla made this change to bring itself closer in line with GAAP accounting standards.



The difference between the projected loss of $0.54 and an the reported profit of $0.71 per share was $400 million in revenue.  $140 million of which was corporate welfare (ZEV credits) and the rest due to lower capital spending and a change in accounting methods.

While I think Tesla’s are really cool toys, engineering masterpieces, and that Elon Musk is a brilliant person, the cult-like worship of the car and the man is one more reason to think that green ribbons are very appropriate for mental health awareness.


323 thoughts on “The Cult of Tesla

    • I have a guest post coming this week at Climate Etc. on Fisker and Fisker Nanotech. Much substance there. Tesla will die when it takes on the added cashdrain of Solar City and then cannot continue raising fresh cash as the likely Fisker Nanotech breakthrough is revealed. And it is a real energy storage breakthrough.

      • LOL

        Wanna bet? Fisker is just another Ponzi con.
        I first heard about super capacitors being just around the corner in the 1980’s.
        This is what they got:

      • “John Silver November 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm”

        Fisker uses proven technology in terms of use of energy to generate power and motion. Been around since the 1950’s. Use an amount of fossil fuel to power battery charging and traction motors. They are called diesel-electric locomotives. They are very efficient. The Fisker also uses solar panels to power on-board devices like the air-con, radio and satnav, systems which solar is suited for, not base-load power.

      • You might be able to load up a car with enough solar panels to power the radio and sat-nav.
        Air-con? Not be two to three orders of magnitude.
        PS: As a driver, I sure would like all three of those to be able to work at night.

      • Wait til BMW, Chevy and Nissan electrics are produced in a big way and start taking market share. I’ve driven in a Tesla and yes, its a really nice car. But so what? There are a lot of others for way less money and the other auto companies will not sit idle and let him just “take” market share.

      • At the rate he’s hemorraging money, I don’t any of the big auto companies care that he’s managed to take 0.1% of the market.

  1. A business model based entirely on deep diving for tax credits is probably very frustrating to regular business leaders. Nikola Tesla tried to do it with technology alone and look how he ended up. Musk by contrast is a legendary mining baron……….of tax credits.

    • Any bets as to how long it takes for some greenie to post something about the percentage depletion allowance or intangible drilling costs or other “Big Oil” “subsidies”?

      • Besides ‘depreciation’ (which is essentially the same as the oil depletion allowances), Tesla also has both Federal and California state tax credits that other car companies do not have. So, Tesla truly has an unfair advantage to the other car companies.

        One this that was not clearly noted in the posting is that Tesla also had a tremendous increase in accounts-payable in Q3, which also accounts for part of the ‘profit’ that Tesla allegedly showed this quarter. Much of the accounting tricks that Tesla used this quarter (cashing in on 3 quarters of tax credits) is not reproducible in Q4. However, assuming the Tesla/Solar City ‘merger’ takes place, Q4 financials will be so muddled that Elon will have effectively ‘kicked the can down the road’ for at least another quarter. Eventually, the devil will catch up to him, but he’s trying to hide his lack of profitability for as long as possible.

      • Depreciation isn’t a subsidy anyway. Without depreciation, the cost of a capital item would be deducted in the year it was purchased. Under depreciation you have to spread the deduction over 5/10/30 years.
        Which means you have to wait to get your own money back.

      • The percentage depletion allowance accelerates the the cost recovery relative to the traditional cost depletion allowance. This is called a subsidy for Big Oil, even though it’s not a subsidy and it is not available to major oil companies. They have to use cost depletion.

        Intangible drilling costs (IDC) are capital expenditures which would normally have to be depreciated. This “subsidy” enables oil companies to treat them as operating expenses (which is what they are) and write them off in the year the costs were incurred.

    • I love my coal powered Leaf.

      Whatever your criticism of Tesla, EVs are a lot of fun to drive.

      And they do reduce local ground level emissions of pollutants in population centers – which is where most people happen to breathe. I think this impact is strong enough to justify the subsidies.

      • That is if you like the push to 40 mls/hr. Thereafter it is not so much fun, similar to the 1900 contemporaries, the steam cars, that have high torque at low speed and run out of steam (juice) to keep the torque/acceleration thereafter. Tesla car would be a rich man toy were it not for the subsidies and tax brakes in its R&D, manufacturing, sales and ownership. The reduction in pollution is not measurable; there cannot be “strong” impact with these rarities.

      • Simpler solution. Tell people that if they want to live in highly polluted areas, that’s there problem.
        Or you could limit the taxes that support your subsidies to people who live in cities.

      • PS: You aren’t eliminating pollution, you are just moving it to some where else.
        You just want other people to be taxed, and to be forced to breath polluted air, so that your air can be cleaner.

      • In California a lot of electricity is produced from natural gas and coal energy is sourced out of state. If people had solar panels on their houses sufficient to power their Tesla or other EV, we could save a lot of fossil fuel. I am not concerned about CO2 but I am concerned about profligate use of a diminishing resource.

        According to my not exhaustive but fair analysis a Tesla, even powered from the grid, does use less energy (using Carbon footprint as a proxy) than my Honda Hybrid.

      • So! Dump your pollution on someone else, while taxing them to help pay for your toy? How very GREEN of YOU!

      • 1) The power from solar is not available when the EVs will be charging, so you are going to be charging them from gas and coal.
        2) It’s limited, but since we have several thousand years worth still in the ground, so what?

      • The sun is a limited resource too. It will not burn forever.

        My point is, on scales that matter to society right now, both solar and “fossil” fuels are unlimited.

      • HAR HAR HAR

        Here is a TESLA Charging station puking out diesel emissions, then inefficiently converting to AC then DC to charge aging batteries. In this case these Tesla are concentrating a days worth of driving in an urban stink cloud, that a locomotive would envy, 15 feet from the Tesla.

        vboring… you fail.

      • My mind goes back a few weeks when the TV news was carrying videos of cars streaming out of Charleston SC in expectation of Hurricane Matthew. Tell me how many electric cars were in that stream? Not hybrids, mind you, but EVs. Next question: how many charging stations do you suppose are along that evacuation route out of Charleston.

      • Maybe someday there will be a good, cheap, electric commuter vehicle that has no battery problems at all, because they draw their power from the street just like the buses that haul commuters around Seattle. They might develop in such a way that have a small battery or some kind of flywheel for when they hit dead zones or crossover points, and to take their owners the last mile down their neighborhood street. Those cars, should they ever be developed, will not travel anywhere where the streets have no power. And they would probably be natural gas, coal and or nuclear powered, because the base load demands on the grid would be incredible.

      • @ vboring
        November 2, 2016 at 6:51 am

        EVs are ‘remotely polluting vehicles’.
        A car with a catalytic converter will actually reduce street level air pollution as the air going into the car’s engine is dirtier and more polluted than the air from the car’s exhaust*. So I disagree with your argument on subsidies.

        * This was used in an advertisement by Saab some years ago.

      • Gymnosperm,

        exactly how do you think any rooftop solar PV array, minus Musk’s vapor-ware PowerWall, will charge a garage-parked Tesla at night?

      • Several years ago the BBC Top Gear tested a Leaf and another electric car. It took them 3 days o travel 250 miles. The all electric vehicles would be great in Southern states for around town driving if they cost $6,000 to $8,000. The current pricing is terrible for what you get.

    • Paul Westhaver — It need not be coal, it can be renewable energy. During the recent visit to USA, San Francisco suburb I travelled in the electric car. Pollution free car, I like it. It has large space to put baggage too.

      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

      • Dr SJR,

        No. It wasn’t pollution free. The pollution was created when the vehicle was charged, and California buys Coal-produced power from the grid.

        So your rented car was coal powered.

  2. Elon Musk sounds more like the Bernie Madoff of the automotive world rather than the Steve Jobs of cars.

    • Musk and his companies have huge, massive, insurmountable problems long term.

      Tesla and Solar City depend hugely on the taxpayer provided subsidies. And Teslas are and will be rich folks toys, a novelty like a ferrari or porsche, where your primary cars are BMW 5 or 7 series or a Mercedes sedan.

      Take away the subsidies, the ZEV credits, and a Tesla becomes a $100,000+ toy to show your neighbors you have money to throw away. And you cannot drive it 600 miles on a highway trip in a single day. Very inconvenient. Tesla cant survive w/o huge corporate tax welfare.

      And Solar City is in such a bad shape, even with generous subsidies, that Musk is trying to fold it into Tesla. That speaks volumes about how SC is going under as a going concern. SC is toast.

      His SpaceX Falcon9 suffers a huge technical flaw that the catastrophic explosion exposed in Hollywood-style cinematic fashion. The supercooled cryogenics propulsion are dangerous during fueling operations, and they stack has to be launched or defueled within 30 minutes of completed fueling. They will never get manned-flight certification from NASA in the current design.. And it would take SpaceX many billions to redesign for manned flt certification. So much for his Mars pipe dreams, as well as even LEO to the ISS.

      Musk’s ventures are all doomed to fail. Gauranteed..

      • A picture tells us in ways words never can, and very emblematic of everything Elon….

        Falcon 9 explodes as the liquid helium tank rupture causes an immediate larger, catastrophic explosion of the cryogenic fuels.

        Photo of the trailer that a Tesla model S on autopilot drove under at 74 mph.

      • Bryan A,

        The liquid helium bottles provide cryogenic cooling of propellant to increase density, allowing more thrust.

      • Musk should have bought the retired space shuttle launch system from NASA, rather than starting from scratch with an all-new launch system. The shuttle launch system was Reliable; ready to be used immediately, and would be the perfect launch platform for any of Musk’s space development plans. He could have tweaked the shuttle launch system to reduce launch costs. Probably as cheap or cheaper than his current SpaceX effort.

        Instead, Musk and NASA spend billions fixing a problem that wasn’t broken by building new, expensive, experimetal rocket launch systems, setting our space development program back decades.

        Without vision, the People’s space program perishes. Musk has some vision. The bureaucrats at NASA have none. We should already have an inhabited space station around the Moon and Mars. But the people running our space program can’t see very far, unfortunately. They only see as far as their next Agency budget.

        NASA had all the hardware they needed for a viable, interplanetary space program except a crewed orbital transfer vehicle. Instead of concentrating on building one, NASA abandons the whole space shuttle launch system and goes back to the drawing board on basic launch infrastructure, costing our space program decades of progress and tens of billions of wasted dollars spent, to build something that won’t be any more capable than the space shuttle launch system.

        It is a nightmare for someone who cares about the space program. It is a pleasant dream for a NASA bureacrat. What could be better than a multi-year, mult-billion dollar program you get to administer? It doesn’t get better than that in NASA government work. To heck with what is actually going on in space.

        We are a least ten years, and countless billions of wasted dollars, behind where we could have been, had someone at NASA used their brain. . What a fiasco our human space program has been. Now we can’t even access our own space station without paying the Russians. You can blame Bill Clinton for setting the stage for that one, BTW. He and Goldin *loved* the Russians.

      • TA
        November 2, 2016 at 11:00 am

        It didn’t help that Obama’s top priority for NASA was promoting the glories of Islamic science. And fighting global warming, of course.

      • TA

        I’m going to disagree with you on your points about the Shuttle Program. The space shuttle was a compromised design from the get go and so far as I know killed more Astronauts than all other countries combined. But I agree with your point about continued exploration. The shuttle program should have been scrapped 20 years ago and the money spent on useful stuff. Pretty much the same comment about the ISS. The most economical thing to do is go ahead and splash down (I think we’ve pretty much reached the limits on what High School 0 G experiments are going to discover). Take the money and send out the probes to some interesting places and find some cool stuff. In a relative sense it’s not that expensive to accidentally bomb Mars with a lander probe. I was seeing on some show or another that Voyager was still sending back data.

      • I got to say one thing about Musk, his push with SpaceX has brought others ( that may well be better at it to boot) into the fray. As TA says in his comment , I also wish he would have stuck with the shuttle launch system, 135 successful missions, the two failures were man caused ( decisions for the launch and a bloody piece of ice that damaged tiles on the wing of the Shuttle, which could have been prevented by having ejectable shielding on the wings edges) I, for one, hope that at least has a successful result.

      • asybot

        In addition, the Shuttle Program was/is old. Now really old. Remember this is 70’s tech. To get the shuttle running reasonably again was going to be pretty much a total redo anyway. The maintenance costs were becoming exorbitant One of the major requirements was to be able to launch the Hubble; all well and good but there’s very little cause these days to try to take that volume to orbit. To the manned-flight cert comment above. Totally agree. but the manned-flight cert was one reason the shuttle could never be substantially upgraded only modified. Time for a well deserved re-boot.

      • ” The shuttle program should have been scrapped 20 years ago and the money spent on useful stuff.”

        Like what?

        If you want a planetary space development program you have to have a heavy-lift launch vehicle. We had one in the space shuttle launch system. Now, we are spending billions more dollars to build another heavy-lift vehicle that can’t do any more than the space shuttle launch system can do. We have been spinning our wheels for decades, not for lack of technology, or money, but for lack of vision on the part of NASA’s leaders.

        As for the international space station. Using the space shuttle launch system and the Option C space station design, we could have put a space station in orbit with more volume than the international space station, at a cost of about $5 billion, and could have done it it ONE launch. OTOH, the international space station costs over $100 billion to build, took years to put together, and required dozens of space shuttle launches to get everything in orbit.

        NASA wasn’t interested in getting into space as quickly and cheaply as possible. They were only interested in developing a multi-year, multi-billion dollar program for NASA headquarters. That’s why they chose the most expensive, time-consuming space station design (of the three offered) they could come up with, so they could keep the program going as long as possible, and keep those dollars rolling in.

        Now they are doing it all over again with this new heavy-lift launch vehicle. It’s not about space development, it’s about bureaucracy development.

      • Chimp,
        Incorrect. The liquid helium is used to keep the fuel tank pressurized. The helium is released as the engine fires so that the turbo pumps don’t cavitate. The current theory is that helium loading procedures (timing versus temperature) caused solid oxygen to form in the carbon fiber overwrap of the helium vessel, and as pressures increased, this caused the highly volatile oxygen to ignite the carbon. Apparently SpaceX has recreated this failure mode and is testing further to define safe helium loading parameters. Rocket science is hard.

      • For all those that think SpaceX should have used old space shuttle tech instead of building their own rocket, you have completely missed the point of creating SpaceX in the first place. The shuttle was overly complex and way too expensive to launch. Elon, for all his faults, is a good engineer and recognized that we needed much cheaper access to space. So he did what most other industries to do lower cost: leverage the newest technology and rethink everything. Of course you will have some failures along the way, but that’s how you learn.

      • The basic problem that NASA had was that the shuttle was a poor choice for a heave lift vehicle.

        A proper HLV should do one thing, and do it well. Lift multi-ton loads to orbit. If after you get your cargo to orbit you still have a huge vehicle many times your cargo’s size to deorbit and safely reenter the atmosphere and land somewhere, then you didn’t do it right.

      • TA November 2, 2016 at 9:15 pm

        Nice rant on NASA I totally agree except (to tweak your statement) I think the vision they had was dollars and dollars rolling in and they did that very well. I’d add for that matter, why did they scrap the original heavy lift from the Apollo program?

        Thinking a bit outside the box, If I were in charge, I’d develop the heavy lift but not bother to get it man-rated. Things can get parked in orbit pretty well; the wet ware sucks up a lot of payload and development NRE. Then I’d develop a smaller reliable man-rated space “cab” to get to where you need. And then of course keep on shooting space probes and apologize to Mars for the accidental bombing.

      • I think the error was feet to meters or vice versa. To paraphrase big bang theory, once again Americans demonstrate the inability to comprehend the metric system. There was a kilograms to pounds error that disabled an Air Canada flight. Extraordinary skill by the pilots kept that would be disaster out of the books.

      • Paul Penrose November 3, 2016 at 6:52 am: “For all those that think SpaceX should have used old space shuttle tech instead of building their own rocket, you have completely missed the point of creating SpaceX in the first place.”

        I thought Musk wanted to get people into space as quickly and economically as possible. At the time of the shuttle’s retirement in 2012, the shuttle launch system was the quickest and most economical way to develop space.

        Paul: “The shuttle was overly complex and way too expensive to launch.

        Well, the shuttle didn’t blow up on the launchpad. Musk’s SpaceX appears to have some complications of its own. That always happens when creating new technologies. Sometimes, that’s not the best way to do things. In some of the last discussions I had on the subject at, the cost of a single space shuttle launch was estimated to be $200 million or lower.

        Musk’s current SpaceX is estimated to cost $70 million per launch, and can’t put anything close to the shuttle launch system’s payload in orbit. Musk’s Falcon 9, the vehicle currently being tested, has a cargo capacity of 25 tons to Low Earth Orbit, at a cost of $70 million per launch.

        The larger, future, Falcon Heavy-Lift vehicle has a cargo capacity of 60 tons to Low Earth Orbit. Don’t know the estimated cost on this one but I assume it is at least $100 million per launch.

        The space shuttle launch system has a cargo capacity of at least 120 tons to Low Earth orbit (the shuttle weighs 100 tons and the shuttle cargo bay has a capacity of 30 tons. Replace the shuttle with a cargo container, and you have a heavy-lift vehicle worthy of the name.

        Why would Musk want to send 30 tons of cargo to Mars with his Falcon Heavy-lift rocket, when he could have sent 60 tons of cargo to Mars using the space shuttle launch system, and for the same price?

        Musk could also use the space shuttle launch system’s External Tank (the most valuable part of the shuttle launch system,IMO) as a huge space station module to put around the Earth, and the Moon and Mars, and put about a dozen of them in an Earth/Mars transit orbit, where astronauts can just climb on board as the ET approaches Earth, and be taken to Mars with no further fuel expenditure. Musk’s Falcons can’t do any of that. Nor can any of the other companies doing space development work. We could do that right now using the space shuttle launch system. But no, we have to wait on new developments. It’s a lack of vision, not a lack of technology.

        And I assume you can calculate that Musk’s efforts are not any cheaper than the space shuttle, as operated by NASA. I would assume had Musk bought the shuttle, he could have made even larger cost reductions in its launch costs, including things that are right down his alley, like adding reusuable, liquid-fueled boosters, that give the shuttle more lifting power and a bigger safety margin.

        Paul: “Elon, for all his faults, is a good engineer and recognized that we needed much cheaper access to space.”

        Well, we will see just how cheap he can get it. I wish all those trying to lower the costs of spaceflight well, but I think we need to keep some realism in our dreams.

        Paul: “So he did what most other industries to do lower cost: leverage the newest technology and rethink everything. Of course you will have some failures along the way, but that’s how you learn.”

        Yes, but you are spinning your wheels when you are learning the same lessons over and over again.

      • schitzree November 3, 2016 at 8:08 am: “The basic problem that NASA had was that the shuttle was a poor choice for a heavy lift vehicle.

        A proper HLV should do one thing, and do it well. Lift multi-ton loads to orbit. If after you get your cargo to orbit you still have a huge vehicle many times your cargo’s size to deorbit and safely reenter the atmosphere and land somewhere, then you didn’t do it right.

        It would be a simple operation to replace the space shuttle with a cargo carrier, to turn it into a “pure” heavy-lift vehicle. The space shuttle *is* the cargo, afterall, but it doesn’t have to be so exclusively.

        The largest heavy-lift vehicle ever built was the U.S. Saturn 5 rocket. The rocket that launched astronauts to the Moon.

        The Saturn 5 heavy-lift vehicle had a cargo capacity of approximately 130-140 tons to Low Earth Orbit.

        The space shuttle launch system has a cargo capacity of at least 120 tons to Low Earth Orbit. The space shuttle launch system is almost a match for the Saturn 5 heavy-lift vehicle, and if liquid-fueled boosters were substituted for the solid rocket boosters, the lift capacity would equal the Saturn 5.

        The Space Shuttle Launch System is definitely a heavy-lift vehicle. And, most importantly, a very versatile space development vehicle. The space shuttle’s External Tank is worth its weight in gold in orbit, and the shuttle launch system can put an ET in orbit every time it launches, along with additional cargo, if it is desired.

        If you want to put people in space you need large habitation modules. The space shuttle launch system could supply all our needs: an ET habitation module that is 27 feet in diameter, and 153 feet long. As compared to a space station module on the international space station at 15 feet in diameter and 27 feet long. Which would you rather live in?

        We threw away 135 space shuttle External Tanks. Enough for all our space development needs for years to come. We could have built a mile-wide wheel-shaped rotating “Arthur C. Clarke” space station with simulated Earth gravity, out of that many ET’s. We could put an ET habitation module around Earth, the Moon and Mars with very little effort, and do all three of those cheaper than the total cost of the international space station ($100 billion versus $5 billion each for each ET habitat module).

        What’s not to like about the External Tank? :) If you want to develop space for humanity, there is nothing better now, or in the near future. You just have to be able to see it.

        All our other options are for putting numerous puny modules in orbit using underpowered rockets. And that in the not so near future.

        As they say, You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

      • taz1999 wrote: “Nice rant on NASA I totally agree except (to tweak your statement) I think the vision they had was dollars and dollars rolling in and they did that very well. I’d add for that matter, why did they scrap the original heavy lift from the Apollo program?”

        That’s another good question. I asked the same thing. Why build a heavy-lifter if you already have a heavy-lifter? That’s the same question I am asking today of the current situation. NASA bureaucracy and program building are the reason.

        We keep spending billions of dollars to build new heavy-lift vehicles, and then we throw them away, and build new ones. You start thinking that maybe the building process is more important than what is done with them after they are built.

      • You will have to copy and paste the entire url above in order to get the specific discussion about heavy-lift. clicking on the link will just give you the general search that was done.

      • “True, the shuttle didn’t blow up on the launch pad. It waited 80 seconds before blowing up.”

        Yes, but it was not because of an unknown fault in the launch vehicle, as in Musk’s Falcon 9 vehicle.

        In the case of the shuttle explosion, the fault was known: The seals on the Solid Rocket Boosters would not seal sufficiently in cold weather. It was very cold the morning of this particular shuttle launch.

        The engineers that built the Solid Rocket Boosters begged NASA not to launch that day because it was too cold. NASA rolled the dice, overruled their engineers and decided to go ahead with the launch, the seals leaked right after liftoff, and the shuttle exploded in midair.

        Musk doesn’t know how to keep his Falcon 9 from exploding, at least not yet. NASA knew how to keep the shuttle from exploding, if they had stayed within parameters.

        I would call that a very large difference.

    • An excellent point as the operating losses are being covered by new capital investment. The only difference is that anyone can see that this is going on by looking at the financial reports. That will keep him out of jail (as opposed to Bernie), although what his investors will think a few years down the line if/when he can’t keep this up is another matter.

      • Rob,

        Like any Pyramid scheme, the key is to get in early and cash-out before the feces hits the fan. Those early, big money, sophisticated investors understand that, i.e. it is their goal to cash-out as at a peak as the duped-by-hype Unsophisticated Mom-Pop investors dive in with their retirement nest egg.

  3. A wrecking ball to the automotive industry? Electrics are what 0.5% of sales, and the government is picking up half the tab to get them that high?
    Not to mention the fact that they aren’t paying road taxes in the form of taxes on gasoline.

    • And almost as importantly. Most of the electricity to power those EVs come from burning fossil fuels, meaning they are still responsible for large emissions of CO2.

      I am sure someone has done the math, but I wonder if a Tesla powered by coal generated electricity cause more or less CO2 than a typical gasoline powered sedan. I know that a large power plant is more efficient than a bunch of individual IC engines. But with the power plant you have to convert the heat to electricity, then transmit the electricity to the charging station, charge the car and then the electricity is converted by motors to motion. All those steps involve a loss from the initial energy available. While in a gasoline vehicle the engine directly converts the chemical energy to motion with some loss.

      • When you add up all of the generation, conversion, transmission and conversion losses, a minimum of 20 to 30% of the energy is lost post combustion.

      • Calculations I’ve seen and rough estimates I’ve done say electric cars are no more efficient than our modern gas/diesel models. The only benefit, as others state, is that you transfer whatever fossil fuel pollution there is from the city to some rather remote location. For most of us, EVs are still expensive second cars. Question: What’s the value of EVs in the used car market?

      • Ley us please remember that gasoline doesn’t get into your car’s tank energy-free. It takes some energy to extract it, transport it, refine it, transport it again, and even to pump it from the underground tank into your car’s gas tank. If we are going to do a sort-of end-to-end analysis of electric cars energy use (and CO2 output), then we also have to an end -to-end analysis for ICE cars. And for that electric-car end-to-end analysis, one needs to go upstream from the power plant to the natural-gas field or coal mine (including all the exploration and drilling/mining energy and CO2).
        I haven’t got the numbers, and I suspect that the analysis is not simple.

      • Through a conversation on Twitter, I learned that the energy losses in transformers should be taken into account, when comparing well to wheel efficiency of electric cars to ICE cars. This surprised me, because I thought these losses were pretty small: 2%, maybe 3-5%. This, however, is only true for power transformers, that feed the power output of the power plant into the high voltage grid. The distribution transformers, that are part of the local grid that distributes the power to our homes have bigger losses up to 25%. I assume, this is because these transformers, which are large in numbers, are cheaper than the power transformers, which are much smaller in numbers.
        There are plans to replace the old inefficient distribution transformers with new much more efficient ones, to prepare for an all electric future of electric heated homes and (often home or destination charged) electric cars. The guy I talked to on Twitter gave me some links to websites confirming his claims about the inefficiency of distribution transformers and an EU policy document on the replacement of distribution transformers.

      • EVs ?? Last time I looked at US VIN numbers were concetnrated in states where the Grid was not heavily coal dependant. Vin Number databases ( tracing VIN to make model year) are available if you have the cash and know how to use them. Bascially you get VINS by zipcode and then have to analyze the grid for those particular zips.

        Its called VIO data ( vehicles in operation ) and is compiled from State DMVs.. then you map it to make model year– (MMY) by using Vin decoding. The data also contains fuel type so you can just look at that

        Here are summary stats.. just includes TELSA ( the actual files have every registration)

        You might be able to figure something out from this

      • Is it Singapore or Malaysia that have done the maths. CO² tax on Teslas is 3 times the price of the car because they include manufacture and fuel in the showroom tax.

      • Please remember that a condensing steam plant rejects over half of its fuel’s energy to cooling towers or water bodies, and is only a little more efficient than burning gasoline in an IC engine. Granted, as gas-powered generating station is more efficient than a gas powered car or bus, but the carbon foot print isn’t much different between EV’s and NG powered vehicles.

      • MarkW writes

        When you add up all of the generation, conversion, transmission and conversion losses, a minimum of 20 to 30% of the energy is lost post combustion.

        Which makes it say 70% efficient. Compare that to perhaps 30% efficiency of a combustion engine?

        Musk’s cars are currently aimed at the wealthy end of the population. When he starts producing them at affordable prices and higher volumes, his company could easily become profitable. Has anyone here actually looked at the Tesla cars? The high end models will spank whatever you have in your garage.

        Here are 5 supercars it beats for example…

      • @ Greg F Thanks for your info on the efficiency of local grid transformers. Your info is much closer to my original understanding that transformer efficiency is quite high (98% or better). I’ll try to find the documents provided to me on Twitter, unfortunately the search function for Twitter isn’t very good. Luckily, I do remember who sent me that info. I’ll get back to you once I’ve retrieved the documents.

      • tim the tool man. it only beats these cars in set criteria . in a one lap race around any race track or down any stretch of road longer than half a mile the tesla is toast. there is also an inherent design flaw in the drive train where the instant lump of torque produced to get the high rate of acceleration basically destroys it.
        tesla is a pig in a poke as will be shown in time. musk is just a clever snake oil salesman. smart yes, but he is not the first and won’t be the last to get rich off tax payer dollars.

      • Tim, please re-read what I said. I stated that post combustion efficiencies. The combustion efficiency itself is in the 30 to 40 percent range. So you are getting at best 70% of the 30 to 40%.

      • bit chilly writes

        in a one lap race around any race track or down any stretch of road longer than half a mile the tesla is toast.

        Reference? The Tesla doesn’t have the top speed of the supercars (its still fast though!) but it handles well with its active suspension so I doubt your claim about “any race track”. Basically the Tesla is a performance car so if you think electric = weak sauce, then think again.


        there is also an inherent design flaw in the drive train where the instant lump of torque produced to get the high rate of acceleration basically destroys it.

        Some of the early model Teslas’ drive trains were under engineered but recent ones aren’t AFAIK. The company is only a few years old so cut them some slack for getting it right. How many combustion engines fail? How many diffs have gone bang? All cars when pushed to their limits are stressing their components.

        MarkW writes

        The combustion efficiency itself is in the 30 to 40 percent range. So you are getting at best 70% of the 30 to 40%.

        You wrote 2 lines so I have no idea what you mean. It looked to me like you were describing the inefficiencies between generation and sending the energy to the car for charging and putting them at 20-30%. That would apply to lighting and heating a home too though. Compare that to the efficiency of a combustion motor at around 30% in total. Combustion engines are very inefficient. Efficiency is a non-argument for Electric vs Combustion. Electric wins that hands down.

        The main argument against electric is the charge time. But there is no reason charge time cant be improved.

      • MarkW wrote

        When you add up all of the generation, conversion, transmission and conversion losses, a minimum of 20 to 30% of the energy is lost post combustion.

        The english is fine, the meaning is obscure if I’ve not understood what you were getting at. Here is what you said. “post combustion” what, exactly?

      • digging?

        So I wasn’t right to interpret your meaning as “It looked to me like you were describing the inefficiencies between generation and sending the energy to the car for charging and putting them at 20-30%. ” ?

        It seems to me you’re just being obnoxious.

  4. “that green ribbons are very appropriate for mental health awareness”

    You really are a sucker for punishment.

    Go get em.

  5. Tesla didn’t understand the function of “R” in RLC circuits. That is where all the “free energy” non-sense comes from.

    Uh. What? OK. Wrong Tesla.

    • Unlikely. Nicola Tesla invented the A/C electric motor when everybody else, including Edison, claimed it was impossible. After his death, a court ruled (in a long running case) that Marconi had indeed infringed on Tesla’s patents, making Tesla effectively the inventor of radio, even though Marconi was the one that build actual usable devices.

      I think Tesla’s plans for Wardenclyffe were more ambitious and far thinking than simple transfer of power via magnetic fields. He knew well the efficiency limits of transformers (having built the first A/C power generating and distribution system when working for Westinghouse); I think many have sold him short for a long time partly because he was such a strange individual. Today he would probably be diagnosed with ADD/Asperger’s and be more accepted, like many good engineers I know.

      • “Paul Penrose November 2, 2016 at 10:27 am

        Unlikely. Nicola Tesla invented the A/C electric motor when everybody else, including Edison, claimed it was impossible.”

        And to prove *HIS* point, he electrocuted an elephant.

      • Patrick MJD:
        Edison electrocuted the elephant using A/C power, in an attempt to smear Tesla’s A/C power.

        Nowadays, Edison would be jailed for animal cruelty as A/C is less efficient at quick clean deaths. DC power directly interferes with the body’s electro-chemistry.

        When Edison refused to allow Westinghouse to use Edison electric bulbs; Tesla, literally over a weekend, designed light bulbs that did not infringe on Edison’s patents yet were easy to manufacture. Which enabled Westinghouse to light up the World’s fair.

    • “No one knows the car business better than Bob Lutz. NO ONE!”
      Yet his own Via Motors can’t sell enough TRUCKS in the USA to make a profit.
      And the Chevy Volt for which he takes credit was inspired by Musk’s ambition – and is unable to outsell a car that cost 2-4x as much.

      • “And the Chevy Volt for which he takes credit was inspired by Musk’s ambition – and is unable to outsell a car that cost 2-4x as much.”

        mostly due to the fact that people that buy cheap high volume cars in the states actually need them for practical purposes, like load carrying , travelling decent distances and ease of use. these people buy fossil fuel powered cars. apart from a few enthusiasts ev buyers tend to own them as a second car. toyota prius owners in the uk are a good example.

        many tend to be involved in government in some capacity, so like to show they are in with the “in” crowd. the local mp that lives across from my father has one. never uses it, but parks it proudly on the drive. virtue signalling i think the term is.

  6. Here in Ontario, where the independent auditor general points out that we have paid almost $40 billion extra for energy over the last decade than we needed to, the government is in total luv with e-cars.

    Of course, this is the same government that tells me to do laundry at night to save energy at an off-peak time.

    Not sure what will happen to the grid when millions of e-cars are plugged in at the same time…

    Or as Donna Laframboise says, I don’t think we’ll really have to worry:

      • Griff, problems I see with this article is that assumptions and math don’t always equate to real life, it’s why models while useful, will never predict the future perfectly. The article is looking at total consumption for one thing, hard to equate that to actual demand at any given moment (which would also depend on quick charge vs slow charge). I’m not saying a bunch of electric cars will bring the grid down, but it is going to make a difference, otherwise why the heck am I being asked to change out my incandescent light bulbs for CFL and LED?

      • Matthew, if you want to do quick charge and anything else requiring power in your house at the same time, you are going to have to at a minimum double the capacity of the drop to your house.
        Of course if everyone in your neighborhood did the same thing, they would blow the fuses on your neighborhood distribution system in quick order.

      • Generally EVs are charged at night when electric use is lower, so for the moment they are not stressing the grid since there are still relatively few EVs in use. However, as EV use increases, this will change. So it’s not an ‘if’ they will destabilize the grid, but ‘when’.

      • Griff- go take a look at the grid stability in South Australia the last week in September. Total Blackout caused primarily by windmills shutting down enmass. Granted three smaller powerlines went down when towers got blown over, but the black out was triggered by windmills. According to Australian energy authority there was enough SA fossil fuel capacity on line that the grid would have failed only partially and not shutdown the fossil fuel-powered line from Victoria. Power outages, yes. Total black out, no.

      • Paul wrote So it’s not an ‘if’ they will destabilize the grid, but ‘when’.

        I think you mean “if all else remains the same” but of course that wont happen. Grids will be upgraded as required to meet the increasing loads as they have been done all along. Plus of course renewables (and in particular solar) can decrease the load on the grid due to its distributed nature.

        When you add Musk’s storage technology it all makes sense and energy is distributed. Of course it all costs money and there are no end of people here who despise that idea.

      • But Griff (troll) electric cars only make up approx 0.22% (less than 1percent) of all cars on the road in the USA so of course their current effect on the Grid is miniscule

      • Now you have finally learnt to read Griff, You can start to tackle basic SUMs, like what is one plus one…working your way up to simple O level questions like:

        1/. If one EV needs 50KWh to charge, how much electricity will it take to charge 20 million of them every night?

        2./. How much impact on the grid would it have?

        But I do love GreenLogic.

        “If adding a windmill to the grid has no perceptible effect,. fears about adding 100,000 to the grid are totally unfounded”.

        To which we might add “Therefore if adding a windmill to the grid has no perceptible effect, adding 100,000 still won’t have a perceptible effect on electricity generated”.

      • Tim,
        Upgrading the grid is very expensive and time consuming, especially when you consider the NIMBY lawsuits when new high voltage feeds need to be run. Even at the current rate of EV adoption, upgrade and expansion of the grid to keep pace will be difficult. If EV adoption rates increase, as many green advocates predict, then the power companies will inevitably fall behind the curve. An it’s that scenario which people in the power industry are worried about.

      • Paul writes

        Upgrading the grid is very expensive and time consuming,

        Invading foreign lands to secure oil reserves is expensive. Transmission costs are pocket change by comparison.

      • MarkW writes

        Fortunately, nobody needs to invade foreign lands to ensure a supply of oil.
        We just buy it from them.

        You keep telling yourself that.

    • Ms Laframboise confuses electric cars with hybrids. The POTUS talked about plug-in hybrids, not electric cars. Electric cars get infinite “miles per gallon” – and are rated in MPGe, with, apparently, an upper limit of 99. Otherwise, good points.

      • And that, Mr, Earl, is when our total electric power usage (2015 numbers) is 60% nuclear, 24% hydro and 10% fossil fuel. That leaves 6 percent total for wind, solar and biomass. Those numbers are actual MWh produced. Installed capacity (of course) makes wind and sun look a bit better (until you think what that actually means in terms of maintaining the standby gas plants)

        What will it be like when our dear leader achieves her dream of 100 percent renewable?

        However, Mr. Earl, it’s not really fair to compare us with Quebec, where they still pay Newfoundland and Labrador 0.1 cents (one-tenth of a cent!) per KWh for all the power that Churchill Falls can produce, on a fixed price contract that will not expire till 2067.

        Remind me not to play poker with anyone from Montreal.

    • That’s pretty funny since EVs do relatively poorly in colder climates. This is because the cold weather reduces the range due to reduced battery capacity (colder batteries can’t take as much of a charge), and needing to use battery power to heat the cabin. For example, a friend of my Dad’s owns a Tesla, and he garages it during the winter because the range drops to 50 miles or less when the temperatures drop below freezing.

      • That can’t be right. I’ve got a Tesla and was driving it around last winter for a couple days in the high 20’s (Portland only gets that cold for a couple days a year) and MAYBE the range dropped below 175, but I still probably could have gotten about 200 on it. Teslas are sold in Norway and other Scandinavian countries. It’s inconceivable that the range would drop that low.

      • “For example, a friend of my Dad’s owns a Tesla, and he garages it during the winter because the range drops to 50 miles or less when the temperatures drop below freezing”

        Below freezing of what? Alcohol? Even the lowest range Tesla will get 100 miles or more out of a full charge at 0C

      • First, I should qualify my statement that when I say below freezing, I mean BELOW, since I live in Minnesota. You aren’t even supposed to charge a Li battery below 20F, so if you don’t have a heated garage (like my Dad’s friend, because he lives in an old part of town with a detached garage and the city won’t let him heat it), then there are many nights (and days) during the winter when you can’t even recharge it.

        As far as battery capacity is concerned, Li cells will generally see a 15% decrease from 70F to 30F. And it’s not linear, so at 15F capacity decreases by almost 30%. So on a typical Midwestern winter day, that reduces your absolute maximum range to 140 miles. Now at those temperatures, you have to use a lot of power to keep the cabin warm (resistive electric heating is not very efficient). Unless you like driving around in a very cold car. But then how do you keep the windshield from fogging? From the data I’ve seen, keeping the cabin warm at 15F will decrease range by 25%. If the roads have snow on them, than you can take off another 15%.

        So leaving yourself some room for the cold-soak effect (leaving the car outside for 8 or 9 hours while you are at work), and some margin for error, you could easily be sitting at 50 miles of useful range on an average Minnesota winter day. It gets much worse when the temps drop below 0F at night and only recover into the single digits during the day. In the far northern states this happens just about every winter, and sometimes for multiple days in a row. A well maintained ICE based car can handle these situations, but EVs can’t.

      • Ya gotta love it.

        People from a warm climate conflate “below freezing” with a temporary minor drop of a couple of degrees below freezing.

        There is a whole lot of world Temperate, Northern, Alpine areas where winters are long, and below freezing means well below zero for long periods of time; weeks and months. Not a few degrees for a few minutes.

        Ordinary batteries go from engine spinners for startup to barely slumping the engine over when temperatures are bitter for extended times.

        There are other irritating little realities of life that bite ignorant people solidly.
        Before the cold weather hits, people change their oil out and fill engines and transmissions with low viscosity oil.
        Reminds me when I moved to New Orleans; New Orleanians scoffed when I told them the ground freezes solid. Depending on where one lives, frozen inches to feet (meters) deep.

        That electric engine that eats a lump of electricity starting the car off the line, will eat a lot more energy trying to turn frozen grease in the drive train.

        Fifty miles maybe, so long as you’re not doing ‘stop and go’ driving, where one frequently gives everything a chance to freeze. Run that electric heater to get warm before starting and you can probably kiss fifty miles goodbye.

        Yeah, an elite eco car for fashion centric uber rich dilettantes and silly greenies; so long as they live in semi-tropical urbanized areas with good roads. Even in normal temperate zones, those beetle sized eco cars will get garaged during the winters waiting for fairer weather.

  7. Where would TSLA be without the $4.5 billion subsidy from taxpayers. Most of whom would not willingly invest in the scheme.
    Canadian taxpayer

  8. I totally agree with everyone on the boondoggle of subsidies to Tesla, but quite frankly it is a pretty amazing car. Go drive one and I’m sure you will agree. Just too bad we all are helping people buy them.

  9. Just saw a YouTube of Musk debuting his glass pv roof shingles ( w Teslas in the garage and battery packs on the wall ) .

    The only issue with any of this is : get the government subsidies and mandates out . Let the market decide what niches these products fit .

  10. Tesla and Musk are examples of subsidy mining, and the cars look cool, as expensive adult toys should. No way will Tesla survive a skeptical US administration, as it is creature of government policy.

    • But the Us is not its only market and the cars aren’t its only product.

      Take a look at the Australian market for its latest powerwall battery system:

      “…solar “ChargePack” including the new Powerwall “is capable of helping a family of five save over $2,000” on electricity annually.

      Considering the Powerwall is expected to retail in Australia at around $8,800, for the battery alone that looks like about a four-year return on investment. If you’re adding solar, too, you can add another two years to that.”


      “one Powerwall 2 is said to be capable of powering a two bedroom house for 24 hours, which puts the grid firmly in the position of being back-up.

      For a four bedroom home, one Powerwall 2 should be able to get the household through the night on stored energy alone, thus cutting grid usage – and costs – to a bare minimum.”

      • With the hugely inflated electricity prices the Australians are paying for electricity from the grid due to their renewable mandates, you may be right on this one.

        I live in North Carolina and most of our power comes from the Harris nuclear plant. How about telling me how much I would save by installing solar panels and a Powerwall. This is about what the Australians would really be saving if they had not gone down the renewable energy path. I’ll give you a hint .. I can’t justify it.

      • Now if electrical costs were not constantly being jacked up for the false climate change mantra these things would not be needed. Just think of the toxic metal mining, manufacturing, and eventual disposal. Myself I like the simple switch on the wall connected to the grid, no fuss no muss.

      • Cutting costs to a bare minimum? Bet that doesn’t include the fire insurance; the replacement batteries, solar panels, inverters; resale value. Sounds to me like you’re the one born every minute.

      • I’m trying to figure out the use of the Powerwall, it looks more like a house UPS to me to provide backup power should the grid fall. Batteries are not inherently efficient as you only get what you put into them, they are more for portability. I could see recharging them with solar, but if you don’t take that step you are not saving anything since you will need the same power from the grid to charge the battery again, and then you factor in life cycle of the battery. The one good use would be to help with power surges say when your AC compressor kicks on, the battery would help supply the extra current if it is rates properly (not worth the install cost for just that though).

      • Matthew: Some places have some pretty steep time of day surcharges.
        If you charge them at night when prices are low, and discharge them in the afternoon when prices are the highest, you can save money.
        Of course, you are actually using more energy thanks to energy losses in the inverter and the charge/discharge cycle.

      • My home is a little under average for NJ and about average for the US in square footage. My use is approximately 1,000 KWh per month or about 33 kWh per day. This unit might power my home for 12 hours. Certainly not 2 days.

      • Griff, when battery users in Oz pay the true share of their cost to stay connected to the grid they will think twice about batteries. The entire market is distorted by smearing cost of electricity and cost of connection together.

      • Didn’t that story about Tesla supplying grid scale battery backups say something about 1 battery being able to power 2.5 homes or charge a single Tesla

      • After March next year, power prices will rise due to the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria, Australia. Reason? Not economic anymore.

    • Tom, I don’t think you understand the mindset of Tesla owners. They love the car, it does so much, look at all these neat features… . I’d guess 90 % or more would buy the car without the subsidy. Basically the subsidy allows them to upbuy better color schemes or seat material.
      Its icing on the cake.

      Kind of wish I wasn’t buying their frosting.

      • Bruce, my thought about the Teslas as adult toys is that without the subsidies they would be as expensive as Ferraris, another display that someone has much more money than you.

      • …without the subsidies they couldn’t afford to.

        And paying for that subsidy means I’m less able to afford the car I want. How about we all buy the cars we can afford without taking the money out of others’ pockets?

      • yeah. they aren’t buying a car. if getting from here to there were the only issue, there are lots of other ways.
        but approval of one’s sycophants – priceless!

  11. Should electric cars replace present cars (not vans, …) 110 GW new capacity would be needed on the average and more when everybody plugs in. The US is generating 450 GW average today, capacity developed over 100 years. If it were not for fracking, we’d be in trouble already. The US will develop clean electricity, they say. Green sources of electricity, wind, geothermal and solar reached 22 GW after 40 years of subsidized construction. Hydro and bio had been generating more power than the former three combined but their yield has been stagnant or declining for decades and there is no new domestic capacity to develop.

    More about it, along with a comparison between Nissan Leaf (ele.) and Honda Civic (gas), see

  12. Yes, after the Samsung phone debacle. We should all be signing up to put 400 lb Lithium Ion battery packs in our houses….

    • Check out the November 2016 Popular Mechanics for a howler of an article on EVs and powering your house with used Tesla battery packs. That’s a fire hazard for sure.

  13. If they triple the cost of gasoline, and don’t touch the price of electricity, I might be interested in an electric car.

    Gasoline cars may not be as much of a growth industry as they used to be. Urban millenials aren’t automatically getting drivers licenses as soon as possible, the way we did. On the other hand, the rural population is not going down. link If nothing else, that will guarantee a market for gasoline cars.

    • My millenial got a car as soon as she got a good paying job, with a degree in German no less. A Volkswagen Golf TDI. Very nice car, peppy, 40+mpg, just has that nagging little bit of programming in the engine controller that VW is paying through the nose for.

  14. The current forward P/E EPS for Tesla is 1372.1x (for Q3 GAAP earnings of $0.14/share) or 266.6x (for Q3 non-GAAP earnings of $0.71/share).

    Historical S&P 500 average P/E ratio is 16.7x since the 1870’s.

    You people are smart—you do the math as far as whether or not Tesla’s fame is (as the author states) the result of cult adherence and mindset.

      • Some nitpicking:

        Courtesy “Tesla: What Goes Up Must Come Down – Alex Eule”

        “Tesla’s latest earnings showed a rare quarterly profit, $22 million to be exact. But as with so much at the company, it’s more complicated than that. For one thing, the company switched to a new method of accounting, which makes it hard to compare Tesla’s latest results to prior periods.”

        Ah, a ‘new’ method of accounting. Well, that explains everything! Tesla splurged three quarters of their EV credits to make this month appear profitable.

        “Meanwhile, UBS, which rates Tesla shares at Sell, pointed out in a research note that all of the quarter’s profit came from selling its zero-emission vehicle credits. Tesla earns the credits for making its electric cars and sells them to other car makers that need to offset the pollution caused by their gasoline-powered vehicles. The credits are nice to have, but they don’t say much about Tesla’s ability to operate profitably on its own.”

        Or this from WSJ’s Charley Grant; “Tesla Sales Need a Recharge

        “Talk about a pie in the face.
        Tesla Motors sold just 1,650 cars in the U.S. in October, according to Inside EVs, which tracks monthly sales of electric cars. That’s well below the 7,500 cars it sold in the U.S. in September, the data show.

        The September sales came after Elon Musk emailed his employees saying, “It would be awesome to throw a pie in the face of all the naysayers on Wall Street who keep insisting that Tesla will always be a money-loser.”

        Tesla did generate a third quarter profit. But Tesla’s stock fell 3% in morning trading after the data came out. The October sales report suggests that the company’s critics won’t be getting a second helping of pie any time soon.”

        Key Stock Data
        P/E Ratio (TTM) N/A
        EPS (TTM) $-6.52

        Market Cap $28.16 B
        Shares Outstanding 148.69 M
        Public Float 113.09 M

        Yield Tesla has not issued dividends in more than 1 year.
        Latest Dividend N/A
        Ex-Dividend Date N/A

        Short Interest (10/14/16)
        Shares Sold Short 28.14 M
        Change from Last 1.55%
        Percent of Float 24.88%

        That’s a large short position. Somebody is expecting one huge payout.
        Tesla has been burning far more cash than they earn.

        Then there is this whole Tesla 1 Tesla 2 Tesla 3 deal… What manufacturer, in their right minds, revamps designs, suppliers, factories, employee skills, etc. to change models before any model starts earning a profit?

        Musk is promising an affordable Tesla 3, well before Tesla 2 has paid for their manufacturing/distribution channels.
        Now Musk is trying to add in Solar City so he can drain their earnings and cash flows off too. Musk may be a genius, but he is lacks practical common sense.

  15. The Tesla business model goes beyond sticking taxpayers with credits. The model is also dependent on stiffing rate payers in the once-praised regulated utility model of fairness. In Progressive World, everyone is a potential target and so are their institutions.

  16. The issues with Tesla’s cars go beyond the fact that their sticker prices are **well** out of reach of the average consumer. The autopilot technology is very problematic (even dangerous) and Tesla will not permit you to use their vehicles (that you purchased with your own money!) for Uber and Lyft. In fact, there is a big debate going on right now about what exactly you own when you purchase a Tesla vehicle. You certainly don’t own the software that is essential for the thing to work at all (forget about working on simple repairs an maintenance yourself). And you may not have any privacy as it tracks exactly where your are every hour of every day and what you are doing with your car – basically a giant four-wheeled cell phone. Will you have to purchase “electronic services” plan with your vehicle (like a phone)? Probably.

    Personally, I would **never** purchase a vehicle that was so expensive, entirely intrusive, and potentially unreliable as a Tesla…

      • I have a program that controls the software in most OBD2 equipped cars. I use it to tune modified engines. I don’t normally wear a tin foil had but I did make the OBD2 built in GPS location device that is in my car inoperative. I didn’t use software though, I just used a wire cutter. :-)

    • “The issues with Tesla’s cars go beyond the fact that their sticker prices are **well** out of reach of the average consumer.”
      if the average consumer could get it, it wouldn’t be worth buying for the fashion leaders.. srsly.
      the price IS the main selling point.
      they already have a membership at the country club that cost more.

  17. Personally, I’m a big enthusiast of Tesla. Love driving this X model. I took a test drive of BMW i3 and it is also fantastic car. But the size of Tesla X that sits comfortably 5 plus kinda squzzie extra 2 and the quality of its interior and the size of the windshield making this futuristic vehicle feel.. all these are unbeatable features. Only one criticism – it turns more like Cadillac far from, let say, BMW agility. Hopefully, nuclear power generation will continue growing and the electric cars will become a usual and feasible thing. As far as all these government political things – this is separate issue. The reality is that the electric car technology is becoming competitive and is actually superior to the internal combustion engine. Though I will be missing roar of my M3 :)

    • ‘The reality is that the electric car technology is becoming competitive and is actually superior to the internal combustion engine.’

      Three-year depreciation on a Nissan Leaf is 73%.

      Competitive? Superior?

    • Becoming competitive? For commuting to work, possibly. Not for anything else.
      Let’s see how “competitive” they are when the subsidies stop and they have to start paying road usage taxes just like everyone else.

      • The range of Tesla X is about 250 – 290 miles on highway when you drive conservatively. Then with supercharger it takes about 1 hour for full charge. So, this is far better then just commuting to work. I don’t think that the road usage tax is of any consideration for owner of the cars that are more than, let say, $70K and thus, it is not a consideration that lowers competitiveness. I would say, the large turning radius and no run-flat tires is much bigger factors that are completely compensated by the fantastic auto-pilot.

    • I take it you don’t live north of the frost line? Because if you do, you are going to be disappointed during that first winter when the range drops precipitously.

      • The drop in range depends on your driving habits. If you start cold in the morning, drive a short distance and let it cool again, start cold, drive a short distance, and repeat, then yes the range will drop precipitously because you have so many cold starts from which you have to heat the battery. If you just start once in the morning, drive to work, start in the evening, and drive home, you can still cover about 200 miles on an 85kW. In ordinary winter driving, no one will have much of a problem in a Tesla.

      • Kurt,
        It depends on where you live. At 15F just heating cab will reduce the range by 25%. Snow on the road? That’s another 10-15% hit. And if it’s really cold, like below 0F, which happens often here in Minnesota in the winter, then not only is the heater losses even worse, but the excess heat from the motors will not be enough to keep the battery pack warm and you will lose even more capacity. And you won’t be able to charge the batteries at the temperature, so even if you have a place to plug into at work, you are still SOL.

    • They quit making electric cars in 1917 because they didn’t work. The greens have dragged up this dead technology and are flogging it as something new. Same as they are doing with the wind turbines. These new cars are the same as the old ones, Too expensive (model T $250, 1917 electric car $8000 ) Limited range and battery failures. That 1917 car advertised that it had a top speed of 60 mph and a range of 100 miles. Of course it could not do this any more than the Nissan leaf’s supposed 70mph top speed and 100 mile range is reality. Until we can use something other that batteries an electric car will not be viable as an only vehicle. LiPo batteries fail after approximately 1500 cycles and faster if they are charged quickly. See the uproar a 2.2 amp hour battery blowing up in a cellphone causes, wait till one of these 35 to 40 Kilowatt hour batteries start failing while you are sitting on top of it in traffic. Glad it will be someone elses butt not mine.

      • Exactly. The first automobiles were electric in the late 1800’s. As soon as the Otto gasoline engine was developed to a point of reliability, it quickly pushed the electric cars out of business. Batteries simply cannot compete with the energy density of gasoline. This is still true today. True visionaries in history developed brand new technologies. Tesla is just digging up old failed technology.

      • Tesla uses a bunch of cells in the battery, how big I don’t know. My understanding is that the charging system keeps tabs on each individual cell all the time. If I’d had anything to do with engineering it, each cell would have a cutout available to disconnect if it showed signs of misbehaving.

      • In other words, if one of the batteries catches fire, it will automatically send an e-mail to the fire department.

  18. I recently read that 2/3 of owners of electric or hybrid cars do not stay with those choices when they buy their next car, but buy a regular internal combustion car instead.

    I’ve also read that there is an ultra-efficient internal combustion engine in the pipeline (two years from mass production?), backed by Bill Gates, that will satisfy the US mandate for much better MPG. If delivered (prototypes work), it will spell the end of electric and hybrid vehicles.

    • My grand pa told me my great great grand pa was expecting that advances in breeding will produce much faster and more efficient horse and that it will spell the end of these gasoline engine vehicles:)

      • I regularly do trips of 1100kms. Fill once with diesel in 5 mins cruise at 130km/hr. Waiting at a charger for someone else to finish and ending with 80% of the charge to get me to the next charger does not seem like it would be better than my diesel.
        Several Guardian reporters did a similar but shorter trip in a Tesla. It took them 3 days, one overnight charge from a householder which cost them 75€ and two hotel stops both costing the max price because the distance available is not accurately predictable so had to find the hotels at the last desperate minute

        Great for short commute; great in town ; useless for everything else and I’m not buying two cars to do the same thing.

  19. The problem with Tesla is that it doesn’t pass the “What if everyone did it?” test. If everyone (or some reasonable fraction thereof) drove a Tesla, we would be out of electricity.

    • Yea… some products just won’t pass such test. Alligator shoes, caviar, Ivy League education… I wouldn’t call it problem though.

      • It would be, if the government was subsidizing Alligator shoes, caviar, Ivy League education to the point that they were competitive with Florsheim shoes, fish sticks and community college education.

  20. Middleton just does not get it.

    Affordable and efficient electric vehicles are changing the world energy markets in fundamental ways.

    Those of us with sufficient years recognize that the improved batteries with high-volume car production will forever end the crude oil monopoly from the Middle East.

    Tesla is but the first car company to take the plunge. As batteries steadily improve in performance and cost, more companies will make great numbers of electric vehicles.

    Price of crude oil will decline to $10 (US), to the great benefit of the world.

    Petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and thousands more products that are petroleum-based will all have cost reductions.

    Go, Tesla, GO!

    • Roger Sowell is apparently aware of a manufacturer of batteries with phenomenal performance (using unicorn hair and unobtainium as a separator ?)

      • Interesting that Middleton neglected to mention Tesla’s pre-orders for the Tesla 3 that number in the hundreds of thousands.

        Nor any mention of the Tesla mega-factory that is already churning out low-cost batteries.

        Nor the bid for a grid-scale battery storage system Tesla won recently in Southern California.

        Biased, much?

      • Biased…moi?

        When losses increase with increasing revenues, you tend to have a business model almost as flawed as the AGW hypothesis.

      • Hundreds of thousands?
        Even if true, that’s only a tiny fraction of the car market.
        As to the grid-scale storage. Government wasting money on another green scheme. How unusual.

      • ‘Tesla’s pre-orders for the Tesla 3 that number in the hundreds of thousands.’

        How many has he sold? Double-ought zero.

    • Batteries patented by BioSolar are one such technology.

      There are others also.

      As some like to say, “It’s simple physics.” In this context, BioSolar has Nobel-prize winning chemistry and physics.

      • My hundreds of clients over 40 years disagree. My work in more than 1,000 process units in almost 100 refineries, petrochemical plants, and chemical plants was extremely satisfactory to the clients.

        I’ll take their view of my abilities. Not your view.

        When one gets flown in first class around the globe over and over for more than 40 years to happy client after happy client, one must be doing something right.

    • “… will forever end the crude oil monopoly from the Middle East.”

      Actually i think fracking has already done that.

    • @Roger Sowell – “pre-orders” – non-binding, fully refundable $1,000 deposits are not sales, and do not count as pre-orders in the accounting department – only in the media department. Elon simply found another source of free loans other than the US and various State governments; smart guy; but the real issue is how many of those “pre-orders” will turn into sales in two years when the car is finally available.

      This company has all the hallmarks of other companies built on good press, public enthusiasm and government support but then fail in the actual business. As the saying goes, they go bankrupt gradually and then all at once.

      A Tesla short is worth considering.

  21. Most sold % EV of new cars in Norway: 24.4%! Netherlands: 1.8%, France: 1.5% and UK: 1.3%. Why? Subisidies. The sales dropped 85% in Denmark when the subsidies were removed this year.

    • Putting EV Sales Into Context

      From January through August, EV sales in the U.S. totaled 99,634 vehicles.  Over the same time period, sales of Ford F-Series pickup trucks totaled 527,847 vehicles.  Each of the 20 top-selling models outsold the sum-total of EV models.  Year-to-date EV sales are comparable to about 45 days of Ford F-Series sales.


      EV’s have accounted for 0.6% of auto sales this year:


      Zero-point-six percent… Very close to zero-point-zero.

      These “futurists” really seem to believe that EV’s “could account for 25 percent of passenger cars by 2040, likely depressing oil prices” because EV sales have  increased from zero-point-zero to slightly above zero-point-zero since 2011.

      The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis keeps track of U.S. vehicle sales.  If I plot the EV sales from the article along with total vehicle sales and extrapolate the data out to 2040, I don’t get anything close to 25%.


      EV’s are on trend to account for 2% of U.S. vehicle sales in 2040.

      Even if I limited it to passenger cars, which account for about 30% of U.S. auto sales I only get to 5%.  The only way this trend could lead to EV’s accounting “for 25 percent of passenger cars by 2040,” would be to assume that EV’s lasted longer than conventional passenger cars and the cumulative sales would eventually bring them up to 25% of passenger cars… AKA imaginary math.

      So, “green” math yields a five-fold exaggeration in future EV auto sales… Very consistent with “green” estimates of global warming and climate sensitivity: About five times larger than reality.

      Data Sources

      Wall Street Journal

      Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

      Model S sales in Q2 2016 totaled 9,745 units, about 3,250 per month. Mercedes Benz USA sold 5,225 E-Class vehicles just in July 2016. Tesla’s total sales in Q2 2016 were 14,370 vehicles, about 4,790 per month. MB USA sold 28,523 in July alone.

      Tesla Model S sales fall short of expectations as company makes bold new promise
      Mercedes-Benz USA July Sales Hit All-Time High Of 28,523 Units, Up 3.6%

      Teslas are technological masterpieces.

      If I could afford a $100,000 toy, it would be the second one I would pick.

      True Cost to Own (5 years)

      Mercedes-Benz E350: $68,946… Average MSRP $71,940… Average price paid $60,510

      Tesla Model S: “There is not enough TCO data available for this model at this time. Please check back soon”… Average MSRP $134,200… Average price paid $134,200

      The average price of the Tesla Model S starts out twice as high as the 5-yr true cost to own of the MB E350.

      If I drove a Tesla from Houston to Dallas, I could recharge at one of two charging stations between here and there, Huntsville and Corsicana. If I drove a MB from Houston to Dallas, I could refuel at one of dozens of gas stations between here and there.

      Tesla has a ways to go before I would choose it over the MB. Since I drive a Jeep Rubicon, I wouldn’t choose either, unless I could afford a G-Wagon.

      • Griff… A single data point is not a trend.

        The US % EV numbers appear to be exaggerated by a factor of about 3x… Maybe they don’t include light trucks & SUV’s.

        Let’s assume that the numbers for Norway are accurate…


        At $6.48 per gallon, EV’s make at least a little economic sense in Norway.

        When you top off the atrociously high gasoline prices with $15,000 of corporate welfare per vehicle, Norway should be 80% EV’s, if not higher.

      • David, Griff is still trying to convince everyone that just because windmills once, for a couple of minutes provided 20% of Germany’s power needs, that this proves that windmills are providing 20% of Germany’s power needs.

  22. Since the early nineteenth century electromobility is in use and the problems are still the same, the power density of batteries! Even if we ignore the enery waste caused by transmission losses,
    the highest electrochemically realizable cell voltage is 6,xx Volts and the elements and electrolytes required for these cells are extremely dangerous for daily use. Faults, when charging or discharging f.ex.,turn those batteries into bombs! See the recent problems of Samsung with their rather simple 3,2 V high efficiency Li-Ion cells in cell-phones!
    Bob Lutz is right.E. Musk, the electromobility guru, is riding a dead horse and wasting money! I would like to have one of these very fine designed cars with a small clean turbo-diesel + plug-in system just for use in city green zones! And forget the hullabaloo about NOx, the limits are absurd!

  23. I not seeing very many if any working poor who give a rat’s patoot about Tesla or any other electric vehicle. Give them a good gasoline powered Toyota sedan or pick up truck.

  24. ‘Affordable and efficient electric vehicles are changing the world energy markets in fundamental ways.’

    Name one.

    Intentionally ambiguous.

    Name one ‘affordable and efficient electric vehicle.’ Electric vehicles cost way more than gasoline powered cars. Especially in capital costs. Except for Tesla, PEV residual value is AWFUL. Three-year depreciation of the Nissan Leaf is 73%. The stuff of nightmares for families that bought into the electric car schtick.

    Name one ‘world energy market’ that has been changed by electric vehicles. In fundamental ways, no less.

  25. For every new wind mill installed, for every new solar panel installed, for every new A/C unit upgraded, for every new energy efficient building code that emerges, for every employee that can stop commuting from home and begin working from home, for every upgrade to existing home energy efficiency, for every pound removed from vehicle weight…there are additional electrons available from the grid to power EV’s. We aren’t going to add EV’s at a huge rate so the need to find new electrons aren’t going to be in extra special demand. Slowly and consistently the changeover to EV’s can be managed without requiring extraordinary changes in the supply of electrons.
    I wouldn’t be so concerned about the fallacy of EV’s. It’s going to happen in one form or another with battery or hydrogen. As long as it’s slow, it’s manageable.

  26. Other than wanting to own the latest enthusiast’s driving machine, I can think of only one good reason to own a Tesla: as an investment. Twenty or thirty years from now, long after Tesla Motors has gone out of business, a $75,000 Tesla (possibly with spare battery) should be worth upwards of $750,000 to $1,000,000. Buy it, put it in a garage and maybe drive it once or twice a month to keep it in running shape.. They haven’t built that many and with normal attrition there will only be a very few mint-condition ones left around in that time frame. Besides, it’s gotta be a better investment than real estate in New York or California.

    • If you leave a Tesla off the charger for a month the battery pack dies and you have to buy another one. Ask some very unhappy owners. By the time the car becomes a ‘classic’ it will have to run on whatever batteries are available at that future time.

      • Crispen,
        That’s good information on the Tesla. I didn’t realize the Li-ion batteries had such a high self-discharge rate. I can see where an owner might get a little PO’d if his house/garage power tripped off while on an extended vacation and he had to spend more on battery replacement than on the vacation or more probable, he left his Tesla at the airport and it was dead when he got back.

    • Too fracking funny… I-45 from Houston to Dallas:

      Two Tesla supercharger stations (tan markers): Hunstville and Corsicana. The green markers (Madisonville, Fairfield and Corsicana) are RV parks. There are more gas stations in Fairfield than there are charging stations on I-45 between Houston and Dallas.

    • The fact that EV’s, batteries, solar and wind generation may become less expensive in the future, is irrelevant to the current build-out of uneconomic infrastructure. Our government isn’t funding the development of new technology when they mandate and subsidize solar power plants, Tesla purchases and EV charging stations that no one uses. They are funding the uneconomic build out of utility scale infrastructure because they think they see a future need for green schist.

      Imagine if the government had mandated and subsidized the manufacturing of a home version of the UNIVAC I in 1957 because some prescient bureaucrats foresaw a future market for home computers. The misallocation of capital would have been horrendous.

      With energy, it’s even worse. Electricity is a cost. When bureaucrats mandate that “x” percentage of electricity be generated by so-called renewable sources, they are mandating higher energy costs – they are destroying wealth. When government subsidizes the build out of utility scale solar power plants, they are subsidizing more expensive and less available electricity – they are destroying wealth.

      When the free market is allowed to work, people like Thomas Edison, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs create wealth. When government picks winners and losers, corporate welfare pimps win, while taxpayers and consumers lose.

      The issue isn’t teething problems with a new technology. The problem is a mentally deficient government crowbarring the economic equivalent of a 1957 home version of the UNIVAC I into an economy with no real market for a prohibitively expensive home version of the UNIVAC I.

      Some day in the future coal, gasoline, natural gas, nuclear fission and just about every other power generation source will be replaced by something that delivers more value to the economy… Real value… Measured in $$$. Not phony value like “social cost of carbon,” EROEI or fill-in-the-blank averted. That day is not here yet.

      Man did not leave the Stone Age because of a stone shortage. Man did not advance from the Chalcolithic to the Bronze Age because brilliant government bureaucrats forced coppersmiths to purchase bronze credits.

      • There is a problem facing regulators. If there is a desire to reduce the use of fossil fuels in transport then taxes to cover the externalities is the most obvious choice. But many users of fossil fuels they are locked in by past investments. It is likely that some form of intervention that rather than taxes the fuel taxes the conversation equipment (aka in this case as the car) would be more efficent. Politics can make taxes incumbent technologies difficult (I won’t mention “cult” and “petrol head” in the same sentence) so we end up with the second best approach, namely to subsidise non-fossil fuel conversion equipment.

        So one can see why it is adopted as a policy response.

        The UNIVAC is a strawman in this context because it would have been home computers that would be subsidised following this logic, not a specific solution. As others have noted here in pushing EVs one needs to be aware of impacts back up the fuel supply chain.

        If thinking about buggies etc, it is also worthwhile thinking about trip replacements that may leave cars behind – fleet and logistics optimisation, and moving electrons rather than physical things (eg telepresence, 3D printing). This will happen faster than EVs because it is low capital cost and people will own the hardware for other reasons (and partly thanks to Eckert and Mauchly).

      • It would only be a strawman if I changed the nature of my opponent’s argument and then argued against my version of their argument.

        I merely drew analogy, which you just reinforced. The government is interfering with the free (ish) market because bureaucrats think they know what’s good for us.

      • I hadn’t thought of you as my opponent.

        In defence of bureaucrats they only can do what our elected reps approve, and it is well accepted that governments have a role to play in internalising externalities. The expectation however is that they should do this as efficiently as possible.

        So from a public policy point of view the two questions are: whether there is a significant externality associated with fossil fuel use, and if so what’s the best intervention to achieve it. I suspect that if you accept there are problems with using fossil fuels in ICEs that are being captured in the market, then incentives to buy other technology isn’t the worst way to do something about it. I don’t know how the US system works but competitive tendering on a regular basis to benefit from the incentives gets over some of the potential dynamic inefficiencies that arise from them.

      • Actually, you could buy a home computer in the early 50’s. In the back of popular science, for something like $3.95. It was called a Brainiac. It was essentially an electric version of a simple mechanical adding machine. It could be programmed to some extent for simple problems. An interesting technical toy for smart kids so inclined. Useful otherwise, no.

      • “Man did not leave the Stone Age because of a stone shortage”

        Its funny – I’ve seen that quote from a Saudi oil minister, explaining why the Saudis are embracing solar power.

      • HAS… You keep making my point. The only rationale for a home version of the UNIVAC I would have been “from a public policy point of view.” This is also the only rationale for EV’s and utility scale solar and wind power.

      • Griff… The Saudis have an excess of both sun and oil. However, once they deplete their oil resources to the point that they can’t pay the bills, they won’t have anything left other than sun and sand.

    • Cherry pick much, Middleton?

      See http://car for US
      charging locations and number of stations there.

      Note that California has more than 2,000 charging stations at present. Texas has more than 600, mostly in the Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio cities.

      Rants such as Middleton made here and below are funny to those of us who understand a revolutionary technology when it appears.

      • I zoomed in on the route of my weekly commute.

        There are plenty of charging stations in Dallas and Houston. There’s one at the Walgreens across the street from my house in Dallas. It’s been there for about 5 years, I think I’ve seen it used twice. But there are very few in between Dallas and Houston. What’s the point in having a $100,000 car that you have to plan any trips longer than 100 miles around the locations of charging stations?

        As I said in the post… I am awestruck by the engineering of Tesla cars. My problem with EV’s and utility scale solar power isn’t with the technology; it’s with the economics. The UNIVAC I was “a revolutionary technology” 60+ years ago. Thank God prescient bureaucrats didn’t decide we would need a home version of it in the 1950’s.

        I also get a kick out of ridiculing green cultists.

        What’s that? You can’t see the EV sales? Let me fix that with a log scale on the y-axis.

        Data laughing at you… ;)

      • You mean funny to you and your fellow cultists? Your “revolutionary” technology isn’t there yet. The advantages of it are few and far between, and the disadvantages are frankly embarassing. Give it 30 or 40 years. Then we’ll see.

  27. Small quibble. The numbers given in the Operating Income (Loss) figures are shown in ($1000)’s..

    “More importantly, as the lower panel demonstrates, Tesla’s annual net loss has been growing geometrically. Without a continuous infusion of new capital, Tesla would cease to be a going concern rather rapidly.

    Telsa Operating Income (Loss)

    2013 ($61,283)

    2014 ($186,689)

    2015 ($716,629) ”

    The 2015 loss was $716 MILLION, not $716,629. Most would probably realize that, but the chart should show the correct magnitude.

    • Does that include the $400 million from 400,000 potential buyers of the model 3? I think it’s extremely creative that Tesla got potential car buyers to loan them, interest free, $400M.

      • I don’t know. In our industry, we will often licence seismic data in volume purchase agreements. We pay a discounted rate up front for X number of OCS blocks of 3d which we can select over a period of time. Even though we paid up front, the seismic contractor can’t book the revenue until we select and take delivery of the data..

  28. The greenies are showing their ignorance on this one. Bob Lutz said not one word against electric cars. Why wouldhe – he was the guy who produced the first mostly electric vehicle by any major
    American automaker. What Lutz is pointing out is that Tesla Motors is living on govt doles and
    has so far prodced exactly one vehicle, a vehicle that is sold in the thousands, not hundreds of thousands. Tesla has not proven itself to be a major automaker, much less the star of the East.
    Lutz’s GM is producing two electrics now – the Volt and the Bolt, both of which can be owned by
    non-zillionaires. Tesla has attracted the greenies not from what it has accomplished, but because of Elon Musk’s rather simple minded green thoughts. He’s into govt subsidies from solar panel roofing companies as well. The Tesla Model S may be electric, but it is one big energy hog, at more than 4000 pounds. He spends his engineering time making it run faster than other cars, not more efficiently, something greenies have griped about for decades. Go figure. Which is the dumber
    member of this mutual admiration society? Musk also has made multiple claims in the past concerning wwhat the price of his cars and their range would be and how cheap they supposedly are to operate. All those claims were bogus, like much of the man himself. As an energy guru he avoids new nuclear and therefore is an energy ignoramus. He defrauds the public with his claims about solar.

  29. Given the current mix of fuels used to produce electricity in the US, the Tesla Model S causes the emission of as much CO2 as a car that gets 16 miles to the gallon. It’s certainly cheaper to power a Tesla since grid power is much cheaper than gasoline power, but free of emissions Teslas are not. They just displace the emissions to the power plant.

  30. don’t have issues with electric/hybrids, have issue with people getting tax breaks to buy them as it creates false foundations.
    up here in cold country hybrids operate on gas a lot anyway.
    and have had to pull a few here on bad roads with my crown vic.
    seriously would like to see diesel electric like in locomotives though.

  31. Who Will Become the First Master Builder of Clean Energy?

    By Steve Heins, The Word Merchant

    Many have probably heard a lot about Tesla lately, including the latest dust up with the “Autopilot” accidents. Beneath the headlines, the recently announced Tesla and Solar City merger will be an interesting experiment: Can massive government spending stimulate its own economy, without the usual worry about return on investment or real market demand. Stated differently, can the public sector make “better” and more clean energy choices than the private sector?

    First, with so many phrases being bandied about by the energy and environmental communities like “sustainable,” “clean,” “renewable,” and “environmentally friendly,” a broader meaning is required: “Clean energy” is energy efficiency, solar, wind, large scale battery storage, new gas/natural gas pipelines, new state of the art transmission lines, geothermal, hydro, improved and cleaner coal power plants, wave, new or updated nuclear power plants, and new natural gas power plants. They are all a part of a global greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy that at a minimum doesn’t damage the 3 billion people living in poverty, and 1.6 billion people still living without clean water, reliable electricity and inadequate telecommunications.

    A necessary measuring stick is that all “clean energy” must share the ability to be measured and verified over time. Also, instead of the many imperfections of the cap and trade platforms like the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme (and its ilk) and the carbon tax, the plan should be all inclusive. Renewables would not be treated as the only tradable emission credit, voluntary or otherwise. This notion reflects a sense that a 100 % renewables world isn’t a sacred goal nor is it even desirable.”
    Frankly, when it comes to global economic development, the political class has proven, at their best, that they are enormously vulnerable to the Chinese menu of human frailties. Conversely, the private sector corrects its own historical mistakes, if only for economic survival.

    Even the most recent example of a successful federal program, the Internet itself, only became commercialized and successful, after the heavy-handed regulation by the federal government was supplanted with technologies developed in the private sector. The TCP/IP protocol was established in 1983, and the invention of the browser by Marc Andreesen in 1993. Unlike the inevitable ossification of any large government entity, the private sector has the ‘machinery for change”, as Leonard Cohen put it.
    One could argue, as the Wall Street Journal does, that Telsa and Solar City are both taxpayer subsidized companies. In fact, neither company has returned its first dollar of profit.

    Essentially, the public sector, including well-funded politically active environmental groups, have decided that the solar industries, coal capture, electric cars, and large scale storage batteries are some of the best investments for the future of energy, economic development and environmentalism. “Tesla customers can drive clean cars and they can use our battery packs to help consume energy more efficiently,” as stated in a recent Tesla blog, “but they still need access to the most sustainable energy source that’s available: the sun.”

    Lost in Tesla’s quote is the fact that the solar industry, coal capture or battery storage business cannot yet be defined as a “clean energy” sources, at least until they can prove they have the profitability and scalability to create the enormous amount of capital necessary for the global infrastructural investments, and all without the kindness of governmental assistance.

    Currently, the public sector seems awash in money for renewables, studies and reports dedicated to the environmental community by the environmental and energy agencies. In addition, there is large amount of money that is being donated by individuals and foundations to environmental organization, which receive public or private funding.

    At a minimum, there must be full disclosure of all public sector funding, when these funds and grants are received and expended on these environmental and economic debates. In a world flooded with funding biases and dubious economic claims, material facts help Wall Street and global investors keep the world in economic perspective no matter what is being said in public about energy and the environment.

    After the failures of Solyndra, SunEdison, FutureGen in Illinois, the Kemper Project of Mississippi, Telsa and Elon Musk must grow from being great marketers to becoming a master builders of energy sustainability. If Telsa fails, they certainly will do irreparable harm to the credibility of federalism, renewables, and clean energy.

  32. You guys are funny. Whilst I’m a dyed in the wool AGW sceptic, the IC engine is dying out. It’s a bizarre concept with innumerable moving parts held together with nuts and bolts, thrashing around and entirely reliant on gas (petrol to us Brits) stations every few miles. And I mean every few miles. I can name 30 petrol stations within 3 or 4 miles from my house. The whole concept is ludicrous. Wholesale distribution of fuel by innumerable tankers trundling around our roads whilst a perfectly good national grid exists. Oceans ploughed by tankers spewing the damn stuff overboard just for car fuel. And whilst I’m preaching to the converted (almost) it would be far better if we resurrected our coal industry, built ‘clean’ power stations, became self-sufficient and invested in EV technology.

    Someone on here condemned Musk’s Tesla car by posting a single photograph of a truck that was hit by a Tesla and the driver died whilst it was on auto pilot. I could show millions of shots of fatal accidents in conventional cars when the only pilot was the nut holding the wheel.

    When it was first developed, the motor car was horrendously expensive, for the landed gentry only. They, of course, adopted their own sat nav and auto pilot, the butler (later dedicated chauffeur) and the challenge was to get from London to Brighton, 50 or 60 miles or so? There were few, if any, petrol stations so range anxiety was acute. They cars also stank, they were exposed, noisy and unreliable.

    However, they were encouraged as the alternative was cities drowning in horse shit (literally) which became a serious health hazard. The drains couldn’t cope and the effluent was invariably dumped into the nearest river affecting everything downstream for miles. The resistance to cars was, nevertheless, immense.

    Now whilst electric cars aren’t perfect, of course we must charge them, and the energy to do so will largely come from fossil fuel powered electricity generation; but I suspect the particulate emissions from a single power station, powering thousands of cars, is easier to capture and dispose of safely than from individual vehicles. Daily I drive behind cars and lorries belching plumes of black diesel smoke from badly maintained engines. That’s the reality of the situation, the theoretical differences between the energy efficiency of EV’s or IC’s is inconsequential.

    EV’s are not perfect, but neither were IC’s when they were introduced. It took time, effort and government subsidies to get them to where they are now. EV’s are the same, as the technology matures, the subsidies will reduce.

    If you lot swallowed your pride and thought about it for more than a nanosecond, supporting EV’s gets you closer to the AGW alarmist’s and the debate would be narrowed to the actual problem. Can they prove conclusively that CO2 causes GW? Of course not. Have they spent 40 years trying to prove it? Yep, and come up blank.

    Quit giving them ammunition to divert the discussion with. You need to sell the sceptical view to the public, they then need to put pressure on governments who will not allow votes to walk out the door, even over GW.

    You are all clever guys. I have only spent 30 years in sales and marketing, but there is one absolute universal truth about delivering an acceptable product or service: consumers won’t buy more than one thing at a time. And the single most important message to be delivered is that no one has proven CO2 causes GW. Get the public asking that single question and you will get converts. Blind them with science about ‘cloud feedback’ or the effects of El Niño and El Nina and they will switch off. Tell them no one has proven CO2 causes GW then demonstrate some evidence from peer reviews that CO2 lags Temp. rise by 800 years, and that’s easy for them to digest.

    If we buy something from Amazon, most of us asses the reviews before we decide. This forum is the first port of call for anyone with the desire to ask a question, and it is seriously off-putting. It’s claimed to be the most read sceptical site on the internet but I provoked a meaningless and puerile argument with Isvalgaard (sp?) (sorry mate, it was quite deliberate, no offence) to see just how far it would go. The real problem is that anyone caring to look at the comments would have seen it.

    Hundreds of thousands (?) of people across the world love Tesla’s. This thread has just alienated all of them because you question their judgement, taste, motivation etc. by slagging off an expensive item they have invested in. Even if they don’t believe in AGW, you have still pissed them off.

    It all comes down to features and benefits. What are the features of the relative arguments (AGW Vs. sceptics) and what are the benefits? The biggest, demonstrable, undeniable benefit as far as sceptics are concerned is that the greens have won! The planet is greening, it’s what they demanded, it’s what they got. It’s positive, it’s measurable, its definable. On the other hand, the only ‘benefit’ the AGW believers can deliver is that rising CO2 causes increased hurricanes, drought, sea level rise etc. But even if it has happened by any fractional degree they care to name, it’s not by the 14% greening has occurred. So, what’s the trade-off? A degree of GW caused by increased CO2, delivering another 14% greening (or more) in 30 years’ time. Wouldn’t their kids just hate them if they prevented that bounty.

    And the cost? Some nutter at a congressional hearing demonstrated the sun hitting his bald spot as the Milankovitch effect manifested itself and melted Arctic ice as the earth tilted towards the sun. No one had the gumption to ask him what his arse was doing when it was pointing away from the sun. Nor did anyone ask him the benefit of ice at the poles, other than to drop into a G&T. So the stuff melts over the next 1,000 years, big deal. We lose some cities built precariously on river banks, estuaries and flood plains? That’s our own fault. We have known for hundreds of years that sea levels rise and fall and cities drown, so start building up the damn hill if you don’t want to run a risk.

    And whilst this site exists to challenge the AGW concept, if a frank discussion board exists, it needs to be by membership. That way you don’t get wankers like me coming on and causing trouble. By all means maintain an open board, but elect a few experts to deal with members of the public interested in the sceptical view. Assemble the questions they will ask and give them just 3 solid examples each that refute them. Not in a list, but by the selected experts engaging in discussion and ‘handing over’ the evidence in links etc.

    Openly calling Hansen and Mann et al wankers and ridiculing Tesla does no one any good at all, it sounds too much like the other side.

    • “It’s a bizarre concept with innumerable moving parts held together with nuts and bolts”

      which is why total cost of ownership for an EV is lower… there are so many less components to go wrong.

      For fleet car/van operators, in cities or with fixed routes, EVs are already cheaper to operate. That’ll grow as range extends.

      • True Cost to Own (5 years)

        Mercedes-Benz E350: $68,946… Average MSRP $71,940… Average price paid $60,510

        Tesla Model S: “There is not enough TCO data available for this model at this time. Please check back soon”… Average MSRP $134,200… Average price paid $134,200

        The average price of the Tesla Model S starts out twice as high as the 5-yr true cost to own of the MB E350.

        Data laughing at you… ;)

      • Of course once they start charging road taxes by miles driven instead of gallons consumed, the so called cheapness of EVs dissapears.

    • My post isn’t about the quality of Tesla motor vehicles. It’s about the fact that Tesla’s net losses continue to grow in proportion with increases in their gross revenue. The more cars they make and sell, the more money they lose.

      In three of the past four quarters Tesla fell short of the analysts’ projections, including Q4 2015, when analysts projected a minuscule profit…


      Source: Yahoo! Finance

      More importantly, as the lower panel demonstrates, Tesla’s annual net loss has been growing geometrically, despite increasing gross revenue.  Without a continuous infusion of new capital, Tesla would cease to be a going concern rather rapidly.

      Telsa Operating Income (Loss), Thousands of USD

      2013  ($61,283)

      2014  ($186,689)

      2015 ($716,629)

      Tesla Cash Flow From Operating Activities, Thousands of USD

      2013 $264,804

      2014 ($57,337)

      2015 ($524,499)

      Through Q1 and Q2 2016, Tesla’s operating income and cash flow have also been negative.

      Tesla’s Q3 2016 profit was greeted with cultish glee by Tesla cultists, like the author of the Clean Technica article featured in this post. Analysts not afflicted by the Tesla cult were quick to point out that Tesla’s Q3 2016 profit was due to much larger than expected revenue from zero emission credits (corporate welfare), changes in Tesla’s accounting methods and a brief dip in their capital expenditures.

  33. Ayre also conveniently forgot to cite the rest of Lutz’s comments in that interview…the parts about the new EV competitors that Tesla hasn’t a chance against, he said Chevy’s EV outperforms Tesla in terms of range, the major players (BMW et al) are introducing better EVs that they can actually produce in volume, Tesla hasn’t introduced anything worthwhile after their sports car (which he likes).

  34. Modern day DeLorean. Every shady deal he does to squeak by makes him more likely to fail spectacularly.

  35. The USA has a quarter of all the cars in the world. Which means if all became electric you would need to build a minimum of an EXTRA 900 x 1000 MW Nuclear power stations just to charge them up. (Thanks to Ristvan for his working out). This is based on the Chevy volt with an all electric range of 38 miles before recharge. So each time that electric cars become 1% more of that 253 million vehicles you will have to build an extra 9 nuclear power stations. The last nuclear power station to open in the USA took 31 years from planning to completion so coal or gas (maybe wind?) is going to have to fill the gap.

    Do I notice a lack of joined up thinking the same as here in the UK where 60% of all cars (20.6 million) have by law to be electric by 2030. That is because our politicians nodded through the Fifth Carbon Amendment in July this year without thinking through the implications. So 1,584,000 of the 1,500,000 cars made here are going to have to be electric every year until 2030. Maybe a good export market for Tesla. Plus we need to build an extra 80 x 1000MW nuclear power stations to charge them. The one that has just gained approval, Hinckley Point, is estimated to take 13 years from planning to completion.

    There are many words that can be said to the powers that be about their plans, most very impolite if not down right rude, but lets just say “DREAM ON”.

    • Don’t worry, Trumps election win in the U.S. will start a chain reaction around the world and all the liberal socialists will be outed eventually, thus, putting an end to this Green Unicorn Fantasy…..

    • Ristvan adds the additional demand to maximum US demand figures… when in fact electric cars will use power overnight, when existing capacity is underused.

      And there will be a parallel rollout of (e.g.) solar and battery…

      There’s enough excess capacity in the system to cope for a few decades yet.

      • Griff… The problem is that EV’s will get plugged in when their owners get home from work…

        The first thing commuters in the environmentally aware neighborhood of the future do when they get home is plug in their electric cars, and that’s the problem.

        “That’s a looming utility nightmare,” says Jim Pauley, Schneider Electric’s new senior vice president for External Affairs and Government Relations. “Utility infrastructure was built for something completely different,” he said, and neighborhood concentrations pulling new EV loads at 6 p.m. on still-hot afternoons could be disastrous for local distribution grids.

        That’s one reason he’s hoping to see continued, and expanded, federal incentives to build out infrastructure for electric vehicle (EV) charging. Targeted charging technology would let utilities “talk” to chargers and spread out the demand and underpin the incentives to integrate an array of “smart” technology across the electricity system.


        Two-way communication is the heart of all the “smart grid” talk, the digital controls that can let operators and consumers know and optimize electricity usage. In a recent interview in Washington DC, Pauley told Breaking Energy that communication starts at the generating plant and goes all the way into businesses and homes, where big loads like air-conditioning–and EV chargers–can be cycled by utilities. Communication is integral to municipal EV charging infrastructure, like the system Schneider is working on with Fort Collins, Colorado.


        The Obama Administration’s ongoing efforts for open interoperability standards for “smart” communications–akin to Internet standards that let entrepreneurs write programs that work across the web–are an important “enabler” for the smart grid, Pauley said. Schneider has been working with its trade associations in that effort, he noted.

        The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has also been important in leveling the playing field for demand response, Pauley said, with FERC insisting that grid operators treat removing load on par with adding generation. Schneider is also talking with state and local regulators, he said, to try to “raise the profile” of “smart” solutions…


        Paying up to $1 trillion in higher taxes and/or electric bills for a gov’t-controlled remote control to my circuit breaker box so that the gov’t can switch off some people’s power so a bunch of greenies can charge their EV’s during prime time should be a bad thing to anyone who pays taxes and/or an electric bill.

        If EV’s ever reach the market share envisioned by Musk and his ilk, it will lead to “neighborhood concentrations pulling new EV loads at 6 p.m. on still-hot afternoons” which “could be disastrous for local distribution grids.”

        That’s why we supposedly need the Smart Grid, the projected cost which has climbed from $165 to $476 billion since 2004. The odds are that the cost will ultimately be more than $1 trillion.

        The Smart Grid will supposedly return $1.2 to $2.0 trillion in benefits… Although those benefits never show up on consumer electricity bills…

        A 12% hike in my electric bill would be a Helluva lot more than $145/year. And, why on Earth would I want to pay 10% more for electricity, just so the gov’t can shut off my AC or pool pump when they think I’m using too much electricity? The projected benefits to the consumer/taxpayer are all speculative, useless, intangible and/or mythological.

        Building fires caused by electrical infrastructure
        Increase GDP from reduced electricity cost
        Environmental Impact: SO2, CO2 and NOx

        NO2 and SO2 were already well below the national standard and declining before Obama sent the EPA on an Enviromarxist jihad against American industry.

        SO2 is at, or very near, an irreducible level.

        CO2 is only a pollutant in the imaginations of Al Gore and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

        This “benefit” is idiotic…

        Access to competing suppliers

        I already have “access to competing suppliers.” I can freely switch from TXU to Reliant to many other electricity providers… Whoever offers the lowest rate gets my business.

        The article says, “The private sector can and will invest in all this energy-saving… but it will all happen much faster if the federal government provides, or continues, incentives and policies to spur it.” Irrespective of the degree to which the private sector and/or federal gov’t funds it – The cost will be born by the taxpayers and/or the consumers – Who often happen to be the same people.

        The purpose of the Smart Grid is 100% driven by the zero-sum steady-state economic philosophy of Enviromarxism, “with FERC insisting that grid operators treat removing load on par with adding generation.”

        The sole purpose of the Smart Grid is to give the gov’t the equivalent of a remotely operated main disconnect switch for every privately owned circuit breaker box in the nation… So that they can forcibly or coercively “treat removing load on par with adding generation.”

      • Given the direction recent governments have been moving. What are the odds that some bureaucrat will decide to add a new criteria to who’s power gets cut off.
        That being, how often the person has criticized the current president.

    • Wrong number. Let’s apply the KISS principle. 900 x 1000 MW is simply 900 GW. The US averages 450 GW today, powering EVERYTHING. To replace all US cars with equivalently sized electrics would add 110 GW. (For details:
      This is not to promote el. cars but rather to condemn Tesla: Where we need el. vehicles is in short-haul vehicles. Instead, Instead, we have luxurious Tesla supported by Government grants with the result that millions of people are still tormented waiting at airport terminals and living in inner cities amid unnecessary noise and air pollution. In this respect the Tesla car is an example of misappropriated funds for it cannot alleviate the traffic nuisance problems to a measurable degree.

  36. Currently, the US government is subsiding electric vehicles at up to $7,500/vehicles (based on battery size).

    Telsa have said their new Telsa series 3 vehicles will sell for $35,000 and have a range of 208 miles.

    If electric vehicle sales were to significantly increase in the US (US electric vehicle sales will be limited to rich guys as the general public will not pay $35,000 for a small car that has a range of 208 miles and requires 4 to 6 hours to charge at home), the US government would be forced to stop the subsidy as the US piggy bank is empty (accumulated deficit is now 105% of GDP). T

    In addition to cost, there are a number of practical issues (ambient temperatures above 100F and below 10F.)

    Range is not badly affected by lights nor windscreen wipers, but extremely cold temperatures can reduce the range of most electric cars by around one third. Some manufacturers reduce this problem by incorporating battery heaters into their vehicles, keeping the batteries warm whilst the car is on charge. 

    Using heating or air conditioning makes the biggest difference to the range of an electric car. Turn on a fan heater onto full blast and leave it switched on can reduce the range of an electric car by up to 30%. Manufacturers have worked around this problem in different ways: Nissan and REVA have a remote control pre-heat function that allows the car heater to be switched on whilst the car is still plugged in. Mitsubishi and Peugeot have heated seats which use much less energy. Volvo is experimenting with a diesel heater option. 

    1. Avoid High Temperatures
    The single most important factor in preserving the life of a lithium ion battery is heat. In cities where temperatures regularly near 100 degrees, EV owners need to be particularly cautious selecting and taking care of their cars. A number of Nissan LEAF buyers in the Southwest United States learned this back in 2012 when their cars began to experience significant range loss due to heat.

    2. Fully Charged Cars Are For Driving, Not Parking
    As a general rule, lithium ion cells last longer when they’re kept between 20-60% SOC as much as possible. This means different things for different plug-in models. The Chevy Volt, for instance, always reserves some of its battery in either direction—meaning that it’s never fully depleted or fully charged. As such, Volts rarely experience noticeable range loss.

    3. Don’t Use Quick Charging Unless Necessary
    High-voltage direct current charging can quickly recharge a typical EV to about an 80% SOC in under an hour. The downside is that some vehicles can experience significant range loss when regularly connected to a fast-charger. This is mostly due to the additional heat that is created by the quick-charge process compared to a Level 1 or Level 2 charging station.

    • William,
      Look forward a little will you?
      Subsidies will roll off over time. the value cost of EV’s have been steadily falling, the range has been steadily rising, the efficiency of the battery has been steadily improving, when you charge while you are sleeping the ‘wait’ time to charge is 0 minutes. The average price paid of a car sold in April this year was $33,560. The annual operating cost of a FF car is ~5x that of the Tesla.
      Electrified vehicles are coming as fossil fuel vehicles wane. Musk/Tesla will be vindicated as an early adopter and a successful technology and you will be forced to eat your words. You can fight this trend all you want, but you are already losing the war…

      • JJ, electric car nuts have been making that same claim for almost 100 years.
        1) More than half the cost of the Tesla isn’t paid by the buyer.
        2) Electric cars are being subsidized in that they don’t pay road taxes. Fix that and the cost of fuel will triple.
        3) Those estimates involve wild exaggerations regarding the life span of batteries and cost reductions in future batteries.

  37. As mentioned by George Winski, Tesla’s accounts payable and liabilities ballooned out during Q3. It went from $1.63 billion to $2.31 billion – a $628 million increase.

    And then you have to factor in the SolarCity bailout (since Elon and his cousins have huge equity in that disaster incl bonds) and the SpaceX circular finance. Fascinating entertainment but I can’t see it last much longer as the stock for both companies has been sliding over the last week despite the Q3 figures and the solar roof and Powerwall 2 presentation at Hollywood.

    If you really want to monitor this saga properly, join Seeking Alpha and read the articles by Montana Skeptic, Enertuition etc. The fanboi articles by Value Analyst and Randy Carlson are hilarious as are their comments.

    Tesla fully embodies “The Third Way”

  38. I am a car guy and have owned and drvien a number of sports and racing cars including Jags, Ferraris, Porsches, and quite a few Lotuses (Loti?) including my current Elise. I was, until a few weeks ago, a staunch defender of the ICE for all of the ressons noted above, plus I like rorty exhausts and rowing through gears. The Tesla may not work economically but the Model S is a blast to drive! Eyeball flattening acceleration and totally silent, plus it has the only navagation system I’ve seen with a proper map. I for one hope it lives on, and might even consider getting one if I wasn’t in love with the new Lotus Evora 400.

    • “Cube November 2, 2016 at 4:29 pm”

      Yes, electric motors have one moving part (Assuming field effect motors, not brush types), and deliver maximum torque the instant you apply maximum power. It’s one reason why we have traction motors in rail locomotives either diesel-electric or fully electrically powered. So BOTH need some energy reservoir, fossil fuel or electricity (Usually derived from burning fossil fuel). Electrically powered cars have to carry that reservoir in the form of ~1000kgs of batteries. Not terribly efficient. A solution is to carry some batteries and some fossil fuel, best of both worlds. You disconnect, mechanically, the fossil fueled engine from the transmission, and power electric motor(s) to do that work. It works and it is very efficient.

    • Second that!!!! You should try X model! It is large, larger than my other – BMW GT5, and it’s accelerating like mad. One thing I don’t like the large turning radius. I also wish the nest to Tesla motors and hope they will come up with model E to supplement in between the current S and X.

    • Second that!!!! You should try X model! It is large, larger than my other – BMW GT5, and it’s accelerating like mad. One thing I don’t like the large turning radius. I also wish the nest to Tesla motors and hope they will come up with model E to supplement in between the current S and X.

  39. The Tesla cash burn per vehicle sold is something on the magnitude of $50.000 per car. Selling a $35,000 car, the profit margin is going to be substantially less than the average $110,000 car they now sell. The average auto dealer in the USA sells something like 750 new cars a year. Tesla has 91 sales outlets in the USA. To sell 500,000 Tesla units by 2018, they would be selling over 5,000 units annually per sales outlet. Some sales outlets are in malls. Something simply isnt going to work here.

    • Until the blue bar stops going more negative as the green bar grows, Tesla will remain a government-subsidized Ponzi scheme…

    • It really doesn’t take much to make a true believer happy.
      Any vaporware press release and it’s straight to nirvana.

  40. Can’t afford to spend the time on this entire thread, but I will mention that it seems to me that it is a push between Teslas and conventional automobiles. Power conversion from gasoline to shaft in a conventional automobile is about 25-30%. Power conversion from coal to shaft in a powerplant is about 40%.

    But wait! There’s more! Add in the efficiency of conversion to electricity (say 90%), the transformer efficiency (say 95%), the transmission line efficiency (say 90%), and the stepdown transformer efficiency (say 90%), and the AC/DC conversion efficiency (say 90%), we get a system efficiency of about 26% (not accounting for battery discharge inefficiency, etc.). Not much different.

    But–but, wait! There’s even more! We have to realize that the Tesla is undoubtedly taking advantage of all the energy-recuperation strategies employed in a hybrid automobile (e.g., recovery of energy in the braking process, no power drain at a dead stop). That being the case, the PROPER comparison should be between Teslas and hybrids. And there, I think the game goes to the hybrid. Musk can easily declare defeat and convert his autos to hybrid, and people would buy them just as handily.

    As another interesting point of reference, I once had a conversation with a colleague on the merits of pure electrics vs.gasoline-powered automobiles. I did the calculation, and it turns out that the effective recharge power input to a conventional automobile (pouring gasoline into the tank, as chemical energy per unit time) is on the order of megawatts. Fairly simple and safe, so long as you are using chemical energy, but exceedingly dangerous if you are using electricity. I don’t think there will ever be “fast” Tesla rechargers, on this basis alone. Normal residential power service is not rated this high, I think.

    • An excellent summary. It’s pretty obvious that the people here extolling Tesla struggle with most engineering concepts (as well as financial ones). It’s probably what prevents their being jet engine designers (thank goodness!).

      A UK gallon of petro/gas contains 44kWh, no battery system can compete with that.

      • The funny thing is that I praised the ingenuity and technology of the Tesla automobiles. I think they are magnificent toys. What I criticized was the cult-like response to any criticism of Tesla Motors business model. We’ve now had 100’s of cult-like comments accusing me of being some sort of Luddite.

        The Society of Exploration Geophysicists’ monthly magazine is called The Leading Edge. One step beyond the “leading edge” is the bleeding edge. That’s where you bleed cash on science projects. Tesla is several steps beyond.

  41. Oh, yes. There is almost no way of putting out a lithium fire. You need a class D fire extinguisher, which basically smothers the fire with a metallic frit. (I once jokingly surmised that the only way to put out such a fire would be to douse it with molten metal. I was surprised to find this was essentially true.) I had to mention this point to a friend who owned a Tesla. He quickly got a class D extinguisher to keep with the vehicle.

    Lithium will burn oxygen out of water. And out of carbon dioxide. And out of sand (silicon dioxide). And out of rust (ferric oxide). And for God’s sake, don’t repeat the mistake of the Boston airport fire department, who tried to put one out with Halotron (a fluorinated hydrocarbon)–which was like putting out a gasoline fire with a blast of compressed oxygen. They were puzzled that the fire seemed to be getting worse.

    “Oh, that’s not likely to happen.” Yeah, and I can say the same thing about house fires. Or cell-phone fires, for that matter. It’s never a problem until it happens. But the public is woefully ignorant of simple matters of chemistry, so they cheerfully fork over money for a risk they don’t understand.

    • Too fracking funny…

      A large Li-ion fire, such as in an EV, may need to burn out as water is ineffective. Water with copper material can be used, but this may not be available and is costly for fire halls.
      When encountering a fire with a lithium-metal battery, only use a Class D fire extinguisher. Lithium-metal contains plenty of lithium that reacts with water and makes the fire worse. As the number of EVs grows, so must the methods to extinguish such fires.

      CAUTION Do not use a Class D fire extinguisher to put out other types of fires; make certain regular extinguishers are also available. With all battery fires, allow ample ventilation while the battery burns itself out.

      During a thermal runaway, the high heat of the failing cell inside a battery pack may propagate to the next cells, causing them to become thermally unstable also. A chain reaction can occur in which each cell disintegrates on its own timetable. A pack can thus be destroyed in a few seconds or over several hours as each cell is being consumed.

      Makes Willy Peter look friendly in comparison… ;)

      • Dear John,

        If the lithium electrode is an intercalated compound, this can be a compound in which lithium is not oxidized (as in lithium carbide). If that is the case, there is plenty of unsatisfied electrochemical potential to drive an exothermic reaction with atmospheric oxygen. (After all, hydrocarbons are normally considered to be stable compounds…but not when they are ignited in the presence of air. Same idea.)

    • Merc and the other western auto makers just don’t get it: EVs are a system of which the car itself is just one element. Tesla have rolled out a proprietary fast charge network that is twice as powerful as any public fast charge standard. They don’t have dealers and there are reasons for that too

  42. Had no one noticed the Bob Lutz is chairman of a company trying to sell a rehash of the Fisker Karma and that he worked for GM until 2010? He is one of Tesla’s competitors. Of course he would talk them down

  43. I owned a 2015 Model S (60kWh). I bought it for a couple of reasons:

    (1) I’m a tech geek and I like playing with new technology. At the time, I thought of the Tesla as a huge, self-driving iPad.

    (2) When I purchased the car, gas was over $4/gallon (premium). I thought I’d save some money on my 100 mile commute (50 miles each way).

    Tesla’s stated range for my model was 210 miles, so theoretically I’d be using only half the range and still have plenty of breathing room in case the unexpected happened. After the first month of driving, I started becoming anxious on my way home (mostly Interstate driving). There were times I’d get home and there would by just a few miles left on the batteries. The problem I quickly discovered is that the max range is one of those best case scenarios that was almost impossible to reach in the real world. So, a typical day would be to drive to work in the morning, hitting some stop-and-go traffic on I85. At work, I’d run out a few miles to lunch, maybe a few more miles to see a vendor, and possible run a few more miles to the post office. Then 50 miles back home, usually in some heavy stop and go traffic on the Interstate. Total daily driving was usually around the 130 – 150 miles, so I should have had at least a 60 mile buffer. Unfortunately, there were days I was 5 miles from home and my car would tell me I have around 12 miles of range. Many days on the last few miles to my house or when I was stuck in traffic, I’d get a feeling like one would get if they were in the middle of the dessert in a gas powered car and they’re low fuel light came on and were unsure if there was a gas station in the next 20 miles. It’s a butt puckering experience. The problem is that the range is only 210 miles if the weather is perfect, you don’t have to run the heat or a/c, you don’t use the electronics too much, you’re not in stop and go traffic, and you don’t drive too aggressively.

    To solve the problem, I installed a charging station at work. But that was a stop gap decision that really didn’t pay off. For one thing, my company would only allow me to use 110, so charging was slow. For another thing, I had to pay for the charger and an electrician, which cost me a bundle. At the end of the day, it was just not practical. Although I didn’t drive very far after I get to work, I frequently go 5 or 10 miles to a meeting and might be there a few hours. Or I might go 5 miles to lunch and be there for an hour. So, there was very little time to actually charge and it was a pain in the arse to plug in every time I got back from somewhere. It wasn’t much trouble, but gave me a tethered feeling.

    In the end, I kept the car 8 months. it was probably the worst financial decision I’ve ever made. The car was very nice, but I should have put a lot more thought into the day to day use of an electric vehicle. It was almost impossible to get rid of. Tesla didn’t want it back unless I traded for a new model. I went to several luxury car dealers trying to make a trade, and they really didn’t want it either. Most offers were $20k to $25k under what I owed. The best deal I got was from the BMW dealer that I had purchased 7 cars from over the last 20 years. I still lost $14k, but I ended up with a new 550i that was loaded for a lesser price than the original car, so that sort of offset the bad feelings.

    I’m sure Teslas are great for many people, but at the end of the day you sacrifice flexibility.

  44. Don’t dismiss all electric vehicles as rubbish. Years ago we had trolley buses which were brilliant but for the problems with the cost of the wires and the booms becoming detached from them at junctions. A friend of mine produced a system he demonstrated for a practical update of the system with a computer controlled pantograph that raised an lowered itself when it detected the wires above it. It was about quarter sized and used for children’s rides but proved the concept was totally practical.
    No one was one bit interested especially the eco lot as they were so obsessed with forcing car users to go electric they would not see that public transport was the place where it could be done so easily. It was then I realised it was not about the environment it was about removing individuality and maximising group control. with them of course being in control.

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