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I watched in horror last week as Tesla's CEO Elon Musk attempted to turn a New York Times reporter into the next Ralph Nader and kill his company. It brought back memories of the Chevrolet Corvair that died as a result of GM's decision to fight what turned out to be false allegations instead of just making the car better. Sadly, even though they made the improvements, folks walked away from the
car because they believed it to be unsafe. Technology transitions are painful, and moving from horses to cars in the first place wasn't easy either.
Great story about the challenges new technologies have in displacing powerful incumbents. It took the automobile companies 30+ years to significantly displace horses.
The rooftop solar industry has the same challenge in displacing the centralized utility industry business model. Low cost distributed (rooftop) generation is inevitable, but will take time. We still need some centralization of electricity supply, just as we still need centralized servers for data. But the reality is that in many places it is cheaper to generate the electricity you need from your own rooftop solar system. The fact that consumers can generate power more cheaply than the utility can supply it effectively kills the utility business model - with no practical solution in sight.
I wonder how many of your readers - and fellow electric car supporters - have a rooftop solar system?
Good point, I have a pretty big solar plant on my roof (about a decade old now). Thanks for the comment!
Glad your solar is working ;) Because rates went up so much your payback was probably even better than you thought.
There is symbiosis between natural gas companies and EV companies - NG will provide the kWh that these cars need. And NG can displace oil as transportation fuel, at least as long as NG is cheap.
I think the utilities are very much in favor of EVs - their profits are regulated based on their net assets, and EVs will require a lot of generation, transmission and distribution assets. Nevertheless, the pure oil/coal/gas companies have no role in the EV ecosystem, so they will push back the most.
Regarding Tesla, the car is good and it was a herculean effort for Musk to get that far. His big mistake is to get in an argument with someone who buys bits by the bucket.
Rob perhaps you should educate youreself on the history of cars in particular the electric ones !
I suggest the information from the Encyclopedia Brittanica a good place to start but who am I
Hey Rob thanks for writing a political opinion piece it's just what we need !
Now a few questions how is electric better or cleaner than gas when electric uses mostly coal to produce and then travels over wires where much of it is lost overcoming the resistance of the wire ?
In Rob's world coal is cleaner and better than gasoline !!!
Yes everyone Rob lives in a stgrange world and now he or his fellow leftists will come back and say yeah but you can use solar or wind yet solar or wind have never shown to be viable solution to producing large ammounts of electricity reliably.
So Rob sounds like you must be a shill for big coal judging things by you're own methedology used in this article DOES BIG COAL PAY YOU ROB ?
PS I like many Americans are sick of the nonsense politically bent opinions and the politicization of everything please stick to some form of reson instead of opinon based on you're politics and the monied intrestes who support you then acting all holier than thou attacking monied intrestes as if you have nothing to do with that sort of evil thing PLEASE SAVE IT !
No coal is only 44% nation wide. We are mostly nuclear or hydro electric where I live. (we have a lot of wind and solar too). Silicon Valley.
Here is a good resource: http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=65&t=2
Actually that is incorrect, about 44% is coal and many of those plants are clean, but most of the rest are either nuclear, hydro electric, or natural gas all relatively clean. Their are some dirty oil fired plants that run at peak but cars typically charge at night when there is an excess of power.
I own a Model S and it replaced a super charged jag, that was highly acclaimed by top gear. My other car is an SLS AMG. I've been a car buff for 50+ years and owned an array of sports cars and sports sedans. In the past 40 years, the only American cars I owned are a 67 Camaro and a Jeep Wrangler.
Biggest problem I've had with American cars is quality, pure and simple. Poor handling, gas mileage and how they ran after 2 years was icing on the cake.
Then along comes this guy Elon Musk who re-invents the American automobile, creates a potentially new industry and builds a great looking car that is fast, handles well and fun to drive. I walk past my SLS AMG most days in favor of the Model S. Even putting solar in my home.
Come on folks, how long will it take to get past the big lies of industries that fail to deliver and tie you to a technology that is unsustainable? Think. Is this the guy you really want to see fail?
Hey I still drive that Jag (2004 XKR) fun car. The performance Tesla S would dust it though at least to 60. And no I don't want to see him fail but I liked the Corvair too.
Come on man how can you be so unaware ?
Inconvienient FACT.... Electricity must come from something and in our case this means coal and fossil fuels for the most part !
In FACT all "Renewables" combines account for less than 15%
So are you drinkinng the same Kool Aid Rob is and trying to tell us that Coal is cleaner and more "Renewable" than gasoline ???
Whether it needs to come from some place or not is irrelevant. If we spent some of that 5 billion in oil subsidies on improving solar, or batteries, both of which have been at a near stall for decades, we might not even be having this conversation. The reality is, oil will run out. Its not "replaceable" using bio-fuels at this point, nor does that solve the problem. The environmentalist groups are, sad to say, filled not just with people that are as stupid, in many cases as people that own oil stock, but just as badly informed, so actually appose sound ideas, like larger wind systems - Hint: The smaller you propeller, the faster you have to spin it to either produce/get enough energy from it. So.. a 50 foot wide one will kill birds, since they can't see it, but a much larger one turns slowly enough they can avoid it. Duh! The same thing can be said about just about everything, including nuclear. A big plant, which has to trade off between stability, structural integrity, etc., and actually doing what its designed for, is dangerous, likely to break easy, and you end up storing the stuff you need to keep safe, like the waste, right next to the bloody stuff that, if the cooling system goes wrong, will turn your waste into just one more source of poison. There are what are called "pebble" reactors. Much lower temps, less complicated, they don't use rods, so don't produce the same sort of "waste", and their main issue is they don't power half a damn state. If you are worried about them being broken, damages, flooded, etc., you could still build a plant the size of an existing reactor, and have like 20 times the space in there to "protect" against any disaster you might think of. But, simplest solution is just to build the thing so that if, somehow, what ever cooling you do need (remember, its not running like a high end, rod based reactor), fails, you could dump stuff into it to shut it down, and just replace the whole thing (which would easily fit into one of those "waste" containers they already use to ship rods), instead of having to both ever taking it apart to repair it.
OK, maybe some of that is wishful thinking with pebble reactors, but.. the point is, the energy industry wants to get the biggest bang for its buck. They don't seem to give a crap if the "bang" is 100GW of power, or a 1GT explosion. But if you don't go for stupid big, just to get more power, with one plant, you don't need to worry about one big explosion either.
But, yeah, point is, there is a lot of dumb to go around. I had one clown actually claim that solar concentration systems, which generate steam, like any normal power plant, to power turbines, used the same "panels" as the ones you have on your house, so it makes no sense to build such a thing, instead of spending money on putting them on everyone's roofs. Uh.. No, those "panels" used in solar "plants" are called "mirrors". The only thing that might use the "same kind of panel" would be, maybe, if one of the workers there was a complete solar nut, and put one on his electric car. Sigh...
As for the whole Tesla mess. I read one of the articles on it, detailing just what the data recorder itself said. It ***outperformed** its own estimates, based on charging times, distance, etc., in every leg but the last one, where the battery was only actually charged to 28%. The "author" tried to intentionally sabotage the tests, but the Tesla people, having gotten burned before on Top Gear, recorded every single thing the fool did.
The only controversy here is in why news agencies have to keep making up controversies, instead of reporting the truthful fact that one side has it right, and the other side is lying through their teeth, then claiming they didn't, or that someone else did, or we somehow "misunderstood" them.
A lot of Tesla owners here (and we have a ton of them) also went solar. Not much coal (actually not aware of any) in California, mostly nuclear, and hydro electric, with some oil fired for peak. East coast is different I know. But coal is only 44% nation wide. I will say, where coal is heavy it trends to be colder and cold isn't great for electrics.
Rob -- interesting article, but you have a romanticized view of the horse as a public transportation model. In fact, manure in city streets was a huge pollution problem that created great concern among city planners. I'm not sure where you get the idea that there was a fight between farmers and the oil industry about the horse vs the car -- I'm guessing that is something you invented to make your point about relative power of entrenched special interests.
The analogy with the Corvair is interesting, but the difference is that in the early 1960s the channels of communication were much more limited than now. Although Elon Musk is not doing himself any favors by being so aggressive toward John Broder and the NYT, he's being aided by thousands of people who are providing a lot of technical information that potential Corvair buyers could never have received in that era. In short, times change and the rules by which fights are won change. See my blog on this topic: http://mb-bc.com/?p=842
The point on horses were they were entrenched even more than gas is today. I've owned horses, and agree horse poop was/is a big problem. They take daily care as well. But on trails, like they had back then, and without gas stations and hard rubber tires, I'd still prefer a horse.
GM funded a massive amount of anti-Nader work (I'm guessing you forgot) it was the conflict that killed the car.
The electric car has already existed, won many converts and was going strong when GM squashed the concept back in the 70s. The NYT article reminds me of articles printed back then, not actually telling consumers you will die like they did in the Pinto, but inferring the technology was never going to give the consumer the ease found with an internal combustion engine. They then proceeded to forcibly buy back all the electric cars that had been purchased. But being all techie and all that I'm sure you know all this.
The Tesla or any other electric based vehicle will always receive negative reviews because the reviewers' motives will always be to funnel the consumer toward petroleum using products. That's where the money is, and money talks, etc., etc.
E2verne: I think you're referring to General Motors' EV-1. That was available between 1996 and 1999, not the 1970s. There is no valid connection between Ford deciding to absorb the cost of lawsuits they anticipated with the Pinto's vulnerable gas tank and GM's decision to scrap its electric car project. You also might note that GM offers a car intended to run exclusively on electricity now, the Chevy Volt.
People who drive electric vehicles (especially high-end Tesla models) know the technology is new. They know the technology will get improve and the prices will drop. But that's OK! As Scott Nash, the CEO of MOM's Organic Market, wrote in his blog ( http://scottscompostpile.com/2013/01/11/early-adoption/ )
“I’ve decided to buy a Tesla because of this article I recently read in the NYT. Here is an excerpt that sums it up…
Though Tesla’s products are not yet affordable to the masses, this is a car that a lot of people can aspire to, and maybe even stretch their budget to buy. No single new model can overhaul the auto industry, but the Model S, along with its charging network for long-distance travel, suggests that Tesla is playing for keeps. If the car’s appeal can be transferred to higher-volume models, the Model S could become the Model T of an approaching petroleum-free era.
Were it not for the early adopters who are the first to support environmentally friendly technology, such products wouldn’t be available to anyone.”
It will take more than a Republican president and a silly NYT article to kill the EV industry.
Folks said the same thing about Solar during the Carter years and lost their shirts. I'm just saying... Those subsidies and incentives do make a difference. But electrics are getting better all the time and it doesn't look like the Republicans will win any time soon so you're making a reasonable bet.
You better do you're homework as using electric motors to move vehicles IS NOT A NEW IDEA !
In FACT electric cars were very popular in the early 1900's !
FACT at the turn of the century in 1900 approx 38% of all cars were using electricity while only 22% used gas and 40% used steam
This FACT provided by the Encyclopdia Brittanica so don't even try to attack the credibillity of those figures :)
Do us all a favor and please don't be like Rob writing and commenting on things you do not know anything about it just makes you look bad
The fact that you are missing is that electrics were killed by gas in the 1920's largely because of range issues and battery development then stalled for nearly 80 years while gas advancements continued. Electrics still have that range problem as a result. Ironically it was Nicole Tesla who died trying to fix that.
Some irony in the name there.