As proposed, structures will rise on the surface area parking lot at 708 Davis Street and serve as an electric vehicle battery changing station and visitor center for Better Place Inc.

The proposed project [click image above to enlarge], based on architectural plans by Stantec Consulting Inc., would consist of a group of interconnected structures including a long, narrow building with roof deck, a drive-through garage bay, metal equipment containers behind screen walls, and and several…signs. The proposed structure would be clad with ACM (aluminum composite) panels, channel glass (Bendheim), and corrugated metal.

708 Davis Rendering Detail
Located at the southeastern edge of the Northeast Waterfront Historic District, the proposed changing station project is scheduled to be reviewed by the Architectural Review Committee of San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission tomorrow.
As the site currently appears, without the deck on which models will apparently congregate:
708 Davis Street Site
Plans And Review for 708 Davis Street Station As Proposed [sfplanning.org]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Well, I read somewhere that the average charging time for the Nissan Leaf is a little over 2 hours, so if people really need to recharge away from home, they’re going to need a place to lounge around/hang out (don’t know what the charge time is for the Ford Electric Focus).
    Maybe Better Place Inc. will get a beer and wine license and serve drinks on that roof deck.
    [Editor’s Note: While we correctly reported “changing” in the body of our report, as another reader correctly notes below, we blew it in our original headline, since corrected above.]

  2. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    …forgot to include the obligatory “j/k” on that last line; the sponsor of this project obviously isn’t going to want to facilitate people drinking and then driving an automobile shortly thereafter.

  3. Posted by lol

    This is not a battery CHARGING station, but a battery CHANGING station, also known as battery swapping. Like automated and without human intervention in mere minutes. This resolves the charging time conundrum.
    Nissan/Renault EVs feature swappable batteries. I am not sure if Tesla S batteries can be swapped in Better Place locations.

  4. Posted by Schlub

    This is surprising, but great. Haven’t they been trying this battery swapping system for a while now in Hawaii?
    It’s very progressive, but without a chain of similar stations throughout the country it won’t be so useful. In a small closed system like Oahu it seems to make a lot of sense, especially given the expense of getting gasoline to the islands.

  5. Posted by lol

    They built a huge network of gas stations across the world. The problem is similar, and these stations are less daunting and expensive to build.
    The Tesla S can go 300+ miles and the technology is only at its infancy. High-end EVs are already reaching a mileage capacity similar to an average ICE car. You can go anywhere in the country with a gas-powered vehicle. Why not electric?
    Their biggest issues are 1) competition from build-in ICE infrastructure/vehicle and 2) political will. The 2 are connected. The ICE monopoly/lobby will do anything to kill competition.

  6. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    There’s another small problem with battery swapping which is more of a social rather than tech issue. Batteries degrade over time as anyone who’s used a laptop knows. So when you swap out your brand new battery it might be replaced with an older unit with 80% of the range. In the long run it all evens out and that’s why it is more of a people perception issue.
    —————-
    The design of this building reminds me of the funky white painted concrete stuff that was built in the early 1970s.

  7. Posted by lol

    MoD,
    Interesting question. It works both ways I guess. Say you are 90% into the lifetime of your original battery but you do get to swap to a newer model on average.
    I assume this is all part of the leasing system of EV batteries. A good thing about this battery swapping system is that it takes care of the issue of what to do at the end of the planned battery life. For built-in batteries, you’d have to go to the mechanic.
    Another big plus for such a system is that the stations do not need extensive work, and can be easily reverted to their former use.
    We have so many lots with skeletal remains of former gas stations. Some have become car dealerships, repair shops, others are just sitting empty. All are underutilized. They are a huge environmental clean-up job in waiting. No such thing for swapping stations. You can even put them in basements of condo buildings, or on parking lots of supermarkets.

  8. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    lol, thanks for the clarification. I looked at the original headline (see the editor’s note above) and then my eyes glossed over the word “changing” in the copy below.
    I wish nothing but the best to Better Place. Hopefully they won’t have to deal with a plethora of incompatible swappable batteries when such cars become more commonplace.
    It never ceases to amaze me how many surface-level parking lots are still operating in The City.

  9. Posted by marko1332

    Build it; more jobs, more revenue. Better Place replaces the eyesore that exists there today.

  10. Posted by anonanon

    MoD,
    I’m not sure it’s a simple people perception issue if good and bad batteries are treated the same when a swap occurs. Something similar to Gresham’s law might apply, i.e., similar to “bad money drives out good,” bad batteries will drive out good ones. People didn’t buy the “it all evens out in the long run” argument when there were good and bad coins in circulation, so why would they for batteries?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gresham's_law
    If something similar applies to batteries, changing stations will only have bad ones and you will only go there to exchange one crappy battery for another. George Akerlof won a Nobel Prize for showing that something similar to Gresham’s law applies to used cars due to information asymmetry.

  11. Posted by roger rainey

    Absolutely nuts. All electric car sales are no where near projections, and are on the decline. That is, if they are not being recalled for fire safety hazards. No way am I going to let somebody stick some condition-unknown battery in my car and fry my ass.

  12. Posted by Delancey

    If parking spot meters can have credit card readers (and the ability to phone home when expired), why can’t they also have metered charging ports? (Yes, I know, would have to run high current electric to the meters. It’s still doable for many locations.) Then you get to charge the driver a marked up electric rate for the top-off convenience, and charge them for parking too. Maybe tie into Muni’s electric system? They’re getting the parking money anyways.
    The charging cable would have to be a standard one, locking both to the car and the meter, and able to function safely in all weather.
    —-
    On battery SWAPPING (please, “changing” is too like “charging”):
    The new pack vs. old pack issue could be addressed by never selling a new car with a new pack. You just get a random pack from the dealer’s swap station–just like when you buy a full propane tank for your grill. Or maybe a starter pack that gives you 30 miles’ range to the nearest swap station and then is taken out of service and shipped back to the dealer.
    Also, why do battery swaps have to always be done in fixed locations (with high infrastructure costs)? Park your car, pull up the smartphone app that lets you choose a truck-borne swap service, give them a time window and a one-time PIN to unlock your battery, and your car is ready to go by the end of the work day. Took you less personal time than gassing up and nobody panhandled you at the pump.

  13. Posted by k

    still trying to figure out what the idea behind that bizzare roof deck is …. it seems like there could be nice waterfront view, but I thought the whole idea for this was swapping your battery, not looking sexy and hanging out.

  14. Posted by lol

    roger rainey,
    It’s ironical that a few gas-powered drivers will use fire on 2 cars to explain why they do not want electric cars.
    And they do that while sitting in their ticking fire bomb and its 15 gallons of gasoline.
    As someone wrote in the a few days ago in the press, the fires occurred weeks after the accident. The occupants had plenty of time to exit the vehicles ;)

  15. Posted by redseca2

    Yes, it is very possible that within 50 years or so, the thought of driving down the street with a giant tin can full of gasoline under your seat will seem totally crazy. Like lighted candles on a christmas tree, or leaving a kerosine lamp or candles going in in your baby’s room because they are afraid of the dark.
    Remember that when the gas powered car first started there were no gas stations and hardly even any paved roads, but they quickly got out of beta mode.

  16. Posted by lol

    RE: what if people use these stations to dispose of poor batteries.
    Most batteries have to have a leasing system. Say you pay $$$/month for the cost of the battery and you do not have to worry about a quality issue. Battery quality and durability can be checked electronically. If it goes under a certain threshold the battery would be sent to the recycling facility or whatever aftermarket there is. If the battery has been messed with due to a poor recharging history, the center could take whatever correcting action on this battery to put it back on the right track. And a customer would not have to do anything.
    Also, you could imagine a system that would inform you where to find a 100% charged battery closer to you, or a 80%, or a 50%, depending on your needs. You could even plan your trip using your onboard computer and the battery would be earmarked for you in advance at a convenient location.
    Just musing there. We have lived so long with gas that its logic is imbedded in our behavior. We see no evil in seeing massive fuel trucks zooming through the city. Charging stations would see no such traffic…

  17. Posted by redseca2

    The model is more like cross country horse-drawn stage coaches and omnibuses, or even the pony express, where the horses were swapped out every 20 miles or so for fresh ones at a combined lodging, food and stable facility.
    200 years ago this was down to a science, with published schedules for routes like London to Edinburgh, or Paris to Berlin.

  18. Posted by Delancey

    Even laptop batteries report the number of full duty cycles they’ve experienced. Swap stations can retire battery packs that have seen too many cycles, or that will not take a “suitable” charge.
    The amount you pay for a fully charged pack can be a function of the duty cycle count of the new pack and of the pack you’re turning in. Of course, that would invite tampering with the duty cycle counter, but it would be hard to do with battery packs having unique visible and digital IDs burned into them, and going to random charging stations that report the cycle count plus ID to a common database. Much harder to pull off than rolling back an odometer, and less lucrative, too.
    BTW, gasoline is not a uniform product. I always get 29 mpg driving to LA on SF-purchased gas, and 27 mpg doing the reverse on LA gas. (driving same time of day and speeds both ways) And don’t get me started on Oregon crapjuice that turns on the check engine light 50% of the time.
    But I still think they should be pursuing valet style swap-where-you park services. This isn’t done with gasoline because gasoline vapor is goddamned dangerous and cannot be permitted to occur save in controlled places. Solid state batteries do not have these issues.

  19. Posted by Kg

    No rendering complete without palm trees.

  20. Posted by anonanon

    As long as you have two ways to get a full battery (swapping or charging), it’s likely that you’ll have an issue with Gresham’s law. Assuming that there are good batteries and bad batteries, if you have good battery, it’s a keeper and you would try to avoid swapping it out. If you have a bad battery, you’d more than eager to swap it.
    And it’s likely that there will be good and bad batteries not just based on their duty cycle. A battery manufacturer may make Model X but then later release model Y which is compatible with X but differs in capacity, charge time, and weight. Let’s say Y is superior to X in those respects. Wouldn’t you hate swapping a brand new Y for an X that’s near the end of its life-cycle? On the other hand, if you have an old X, you’d probably be more than eager to do a battery swap. Maybe a new X for an old Y would be a fair swap.
    So forcing all batteries to be swapped as if they were equal would probably make the changing stations repositories of bad batteries. People would realize that and be reluctant to utilize them.
    So we need some form of rating system so that, in the interest of fairness, car owners have to pay extra for a battery upgrade or get paid for a downgrade. However, unless that rating system is near flawless, we will run into the information asymmetry problem Akerlof described for used cars.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons
    For used cars, you have the Kelly Blue Book rating based on mark, model, year, mileage, color, options, etc. But that’s not a flawless rating for individual cars. It doesn’t tell you whether a specific car is a total lemon or if it’s way more reliable than you would assume based on its mileage; it doesn’t tell you whether it’s been driven by a teenager who would drag race it at every stoplight or a little old lady who would only drive it to church on Sundays. The seller of the used car would probably know all those things, but the prospective buyer wouldn’t. That’s the information asymmetry.
    You could have a similar form of information asymmetry for used batteries in that you know how well your current battery performs, but the rating for the battery you are swapping to might be off. Let’s say that you realize that the battery you just swapped to underperforms its rating (maybe that particular unit had some defect that wasn’t picked up by the rating system, sort of a “lemon” in used-car terms). What do you do? You swap it sooner rather than later. On the other hand, if you think it performs better than its rating, you keep it. So without a sufficiently good rating system for individual batteries, changing stations will have a tendency to attract the batteries that are underperforming their rating possibly due to defects that aren’t captured by the system. Again, there is a real risk that changing stations become places where you go to replace a crappy battery only to return with another crappy battery.

  21. Posted by Delancey

    anonanon, I hear you. But batteries are very simple systems compared with entire ICE automobiles. They store charge, and deliver charge. You can tell a problem battery during recharge (you kind of notice when your laptop battery needs “only” 45 minutes to take a full charge–that means it absorbed a lot less energy than it used to).
    The selection bias can be a positive effect (retiring worn out or defective batteries, per the minimum charge threshold). The cost of having to eat (and dispose of) the worn out batteries is very much built into the pricing model.
    I’m not sure why you think the newer better model Y would be priced the same as an X. That seems to me as silly as trying to get a used car dealer to treat a 2006 model as the same as a 2007 model. The swap stations will usually have better info than the consumer, including the complete swap history of that battery unit. Just like houses that change owners more frequently, a battery pack that’s swapped more often than others of that model *relative to its location* also raises a flag. But again, this is a positive. Higher capacity and more efficient technologies can be slipstreamed into the compatible cars. While battery technology doesn’t move at the pace of Moore’s law, it is improving steadily.
    But all this supposes some regulations or contractual agreement that prevent the swap stations from inserting a battery that cannot store at least X% (80%?) of its original rated capacity.

  22. Posted by anonanon

    Delancey,
    “I’m not sure why you think the newer better model Y would be priced the same as an X.”
    All I’m saying is that if they were priced the same, you’d have a problem. And if they are going to be priced differently, you need a rating so that you can compare the value of a Model X that’s been recharged 59 times to a Y that has been recharged 233 times. Moreover, that rating had better be accurate at the level of individual units or you’ll still have a problem due to information asymmetry like in the used car case described by Akerlof.

  23. Posted by Delancey

    There’s multiple ways to deal with this in game theory, and I’m sure the VC backed folks doing this have considered the problem. Look at it this way–for a fixed price you get a charged battery that will perform within a +/- 10% envelope. Gas stations change over from winter formulation to summer formulation without notice or labeling, yet nobody bitches, and believe me you can experience a more than 10% mileage change. Your pump gas might be “up to 10% ethanol”. Wouldn’t you like to know the % that day you pumped? You will be able to know the duty cycle count of your swapped-in battery, though I suspect most people won’t care after the first few times.
    Consumers trying to game the system is a given. Should Best Buy stop selling TVs because a bunch of scammers are going to buy a big TV for this weekend and then try to return it after the superbowl? No, Best Buy knows this and has ways to manage it, and their TV margins cover the cost of the scammers.

  24. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Delancey – the difference in MPG you observe on your SF-LA-SF trips might be more of a function of prevailing wind than gasoline quality.
    Good point about the ability to track the history and measure the capacity of a battery. That should be easy to accomplish with accuracy and without being vulnerable to tampering. I wonder how the swap station would market the options. “We have a six month old unit with juice for 300 miles at $59 or have this three year old unit that is good for 200 miles for $33. Either way you get a free car wash for only $10 more.”.

  25. Posted by ttu

    Delancey: “No rendering complete without palm trees.”
    And of course notice the mature lesbian couple right beneath the palm tree. Hilarious! This can’t get any more stereotypical than it is.

  26. Posted by lol

    A lot of interesting stuff in this discussion. The beauty of electric cars and batteries nowadays is that all the information can be in the open. If someone gives a lemon to a swapping center he could be charged a fee. Because there are ways to revert some of the damage the center can put it on a recovery cycle.
    Also, if the centers are ubiquitous, batteries could be swapped at a very decent clip, ensuring an averaging of the quality.
    Anyway, it’s not rocket science for the consumer as long as the system is simple and open.

  27. Posted by [anon.ed]

    Really? I feel as if it’s not particularly interesting when people weigh in with hypothetical problems before they’re fully conversant with the business model. As if the batteries can’t be checked by a machine before they’re eligible to be swapped? That was merely garden variety pessimism, at best.

  28. Posted by tipster

    I’m thinking of starting a “real and costume jewelry” swap station. There will be real diamonds and duds mixed together and if you give me a real diamond, there will be a less than 100% chance you’ll get a real diamond back.
    Would anyone hand over a real diamond or would you always give them a fake?
    So although they can check for a complete dud battery, the reality is that if you have a perfectly good one, you’d have to be some kind of nut to give it to them. Not only that but you have to pay full service prices to get your dud, because you have to pay for the labor. The prices will be so high that the only reason most people will goo there will be to give them a battery near the end of its life. But the joke will be on the customers because near-end-of-life batteries will be the only batteries they have.
    But not to worry, the fact that their business model makes absolutely no sense doesn’t matter if they can get a bunch of do-gooding hopefuls to become “investors”, who of course will lose every dime but won’t care because they think they are saving the planet.
    As far as I can tell, that’s the whole purpose behind this venture: to separate investors from their money. It doesn’t HAVE to have a business model if there is an endless stream of liberals coming through and feeding them cash. Thus, the need for a “visitor’s center” at this location. I don’t recall Exxon having one of those at their gas stations! “Better Place, Inc” gives the whole concept away.
    The microlending web sites are currently filling this niche. No one actually makes money and no one actually cares. Liberals hand over small sums of cash and think they are making a difference. Some of the money received gets siphoned off for “operating expenses” so who really cares if their business model works or not? As long as people keep donating, the microlending sites will keep losing their money for them. It’s the American way.
    And for that purpose (separating liberal “investors” from their money) this site works as good as any. Thumbs up.

  29. Posted by lol

    tipster of course forgets to mention that each and every diamond part of this diamond exchange has an imbedded chip that gives the 3 Cs of the stone and can communicate real time with both the diamond exchange and the consumer.
    Bad analogy. Nice try though.
    You can always trust tipster to “rain” on the parade of hope and progress.

  30. Posted by [anon.ed]

    If you think I’ll ever read what you say when you type that many words, Tipster, you’re completely mistaken. I don’t have to. Your long track record has proven that you’re a one note player.

  31. Posted by anonanon

    lol,
    “Also, if the centers are ubiquitous, batteries could be swapped at a very decent clip, ensuring an averaging of the quality.”
    Assuming that electric cars will have enough range for your typical daily drive, you will rarely have a need to swap batteries since you can just recharge the car in your garage at night. You know how well your battery performs. If you are happy with the performance, you will be reluctant to do anything that will force you to swap it for an unknown entity; if you are unhappy, you will be more likely to show up at the change station.
    Speaking of which, I have a couple of cell phones that I’d be willing to swap. They are intermittently flaky and subject to random crashes, but you probably wouldn’t realize that if you just tested them for an hour. If there were a change station for cell phones, I’d bring them there in a split second.

  32. Posted by John

    Folks might want to read up on Better Place’s plans and systems deployed so far. To answer one question, batteries are owned by Better Place, not the individuals (compatible cars do not include a battery in the sale price).

  33. Posted by Delancey

    Given the locale the roof deck could be used for a free lap dance with every battery swap.

  34. Posted by tipster

    As I said ten months ago:
    As far as I can tell, that’s the whole purpose behind this venture: to separate investors from their money.
    And what a surprise: the CEO is stepping down. After hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Maybe lol and anon.ed will bail them out before they finally collapse, they were so gung-ho on this obvious money pit.
    http://blog.sfgate.com/bottomline/2012/10/02/shai-agassi-ousted-as-ceo-of-better-place/

  35. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    From The Associated Press today, Trailblazing Israeli electric car company to fold:

    Israel’s trailblazing electric car company Better Place announced Sunday that it is shutting down, less than six years after unveiling an ambitious plan that promised to revolutionize the auto industry by reducing the world’s dependency on oil.

    Better Place was…developing nationwide networks of charging and battery-swapping stations that it hoped would eventually spread globally. But the company experienced repeated delays in getting off the ground…Better Place raised some $850 million from investors like General Electric Co. and HSBC Holdings PLC and the European Investment Bank. Israel Corp., controlled by billionaire Idan Ofer, was the largest shareholder in the venture.

    R.I.P.
    I don’t think that this was an “obvious money pit”, despite what the popular media would have you believe, most startup companies fail, even ones with sound business models.

  36. Posted by anonanon

    Brahma,
    While this might have been the most sound (well, maybe “courageous” would be better than “sound”) business model in the history of the world, I still can’t say I’m particularly surprised with the outcome of this venture.

  37. Posted by lol

    One fails, one strives (for now). Let’s cross our fingers Elon Musk manages to cure the “range anxiety” syndrome.

  38. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I swap my used propane tank for a full one every couple months or so. I’m usually in a huge hurry because I have steaks on the grill getting cold … it is a quick and reasonably efficient process (that would be improved if gas stations had more than 1 clerk on duty at a time).
    Now if electric cars were as common as gas grills, I think their business model would be a huge success.

  39. Posted by anonanon

    Except the propane tanks are probably more fungible than electric car batteries that deteriorate with each charge cycle. Plus propane tanks are inexpensive items so there is not much at stake.

  40. Posted by eddy

    One element to the battery issue with the tesla is that each car is digitally tracked at a very extreme level of detail. The theoretical pricing model could be developed that accounted for an individuals specific use of a battery ensuring like kind exchanges are built in. Anyone that has ever exchanged a rusty tank at blue rhino knows what a score it is to walk away with a brand new pristine propane tank. You could easily hedge this issue with the proper diagnostics and dynamic pricing for a battery exchange program.

  41. Posted by anonanon

    Yes, track every property of a battery and its usage history at an extreme level of detail to avoid any risk of information asymmetry. Then price it dynamically. Sounds really easy and I’m sure the public would embrace the simplicity of such a scheme. Probably, someone would come up with a Kelly Blue Book for batteries with a pricing formula taking the various properties as inputs, in which case changing batteries would be no harder than buying a used car.

  42. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I’m sure some smart engineer would devise a way to distill all that information down to a single number. Then the battery rental cost would be priced based on the depreciation of the asset while its in your possession. You could buy insurance against unforseen accidents; actuaries would use data and models to determine the cost of that insurance. Its all do-able and compared to actually inventing and commercializing an electric car (which Tesla has now done), its actually pretty trivial.

  43. Posted by anonanon

    Presumably, this kind of technology will never flourish unless there is healthy competition between multiple battery manufacturers. And it will never go mainstream unless there is competition between multiple car manufacturers giving consumers choices. Hence, you are looking at the problem of assigning a value to any kind of battery based on its make, model, year, and detailed usage history. Seems like it would keep that smart engineer quite busy. And the public better perceive the the formula as fair or it would be pretty useless.
    And if you assume that you need competing car manufacturers in order to create a mainstream market, you probably need some form of battery standard, like AA batteries for small electronic devices. People are used to being able to take a car of any make to any gas station, so that’s what this type of technology would be competing against. Now, if multiple car manufacturers are going to enter the field, the last thing you need is a format war like VHS vs Betamax or HD DVD vs Blue Ray. It’s one thing to get stuck with an HD DVD player that cost a couple of hundred bucks and another to get stuck with a $50K car that turned obsolete. Even a remote possibility of a format war would probably put a chill on the market for this kind of technology.
    BTW, Tesla in not exactly the first company to invent and commercialize electric cars and Better Place is not the first company to try the battery exchange model.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car#1890s_to_1910s:_Early_history

  44. Posted by The Market has Spoken

    You are massively over-analyzing this “problem” (if it even is a problem).
    I pay 60 bucks to fill up my car and it gets me about 250 miles on a tank of gas. My car’s size and performance are comparable to the Tesla Model S Performance edition … so I would say that the current Market Price of a battery-swap recharge on that Tesla is about 60 bucks.
    What it actually costs to do that is totally irrelevant to everyone except the manufacturer or owner of the battery pack. End of story.
    The Market has spoken.

  45. Posted by anonanon

    Would you pay 60 bucks to swap out your battery if you can recharge it home for a small fraction of that cost? Probably only if you either absolutely had to or it was a really crappy battery.
    As for the market having spoken, I guess that’s true for Better Place.

  46. Posted by lol

    Range is the big issue, as always for EVs. Whatever your car’s looks, safety, drivability, if it can only do 60 miles on a charge, it won’t sell, battery swap or not.
    Which is why Tesla was really smart from the get go. They put the bar at 150-200+ miles of range and built a real car around that principle. And they delivered.
    Consumer Reports, who are not known for being nice guys, gave a 99/100 score. The highest score ever given to any automobile.
    And Tesla is also a commercial success in the making. The market IS speaking, and it’s not done.

  47. Posted by anonanon

    Supposedly, Tesla’s “secret sauce” is their battery management technology. Not only do they collect a lot of information, the do really clever things with it in order to achieve superior ranges for their cars. However, even with a decent range, at some point, you run into the problem that Better Place tried to address with battery swapping. Tesla is trying to address the problem with their Supercharger network, but I’m not sure it will be enough for people used to ubiquitous gas stations where you can fill your tank in a couple of minutes (as opposed to getting your battery half-way charged in half an hour). That problem, together with their price point will make it challenging for them to become more than a niche product for the affluent.

  48. Posted by lol

    Tesla is expanding its network of free charging stations from 9 to 27 before late June.
    The principle is that everyone has to do a pit stop for lunch or late breakfast or dinner. The money you save on gas can be used on a very decent lunch where you’ll sit at an actual table for 30-60minutes, giving you time to recharge your batteries for the next 150-200 miles.
    Say you leave at 8AM on a road trip. You have a full charge that allows you to do 220 miles with a 20-40 miles safety. The pit stop is at 11:30AM. You take a nice brunch until 12:30PM and have ~180Miles or 3 hours worth of driving in the batteries. Total, you’ll have made 400 miles in 7 1/2 hours which is very reasonable.
    Now, the big unknown:
    Auto safety guidelines already advise people to do such breaks. But drivers always tend to drive longer between pit stops, and make these pit stops shorter than recommended. An imposed rhythm is a not-so-minor cultural adjustment, but Tesla is getting much closer to what the consumer does in reality than any other prior attempts.

  49. Posted by anonanon

    Car & Driver tested a 2013 Tesla Model S and got 211 miles at highway speeds of 75-80 mph. That would imply taking a one hour pit stop for every three hours’ worth of driving. (Actually, slightly less than three hours.) Some might find that ratio excessive. And that would assume that there are Supercharge stations in the exact right locations on your route, something that’s not going to be the case for a many years to come, if ever.

  50. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    My typical day is a 12-mile roundtrip commute. I could do about 20 of those on a single charge.
    On weekends, I rarely drive anywhere. At most about 30 miles into the city. I already rent a 4×4 to drive up to Tahoe, so if I go electric that doesn’t change. I fly to LA or San Diego because I hate the drive.
    The Model S, as is, is just about the perfect car for someone like me. And I’m clearly not alone as the streets are flooded with these things.
    Supercharger stations and battery-swapping are just icing on the cake.

  51. Posted by lol

    Yes, there’s the issue of the “you can’t make money from giving away almost-free power”. Gas stations were built because there was a financial incentive to do so.
    I could perfectly see a future where roadside diners would provide charging stations and include it as part of their sales pitch: “Charge-while-U-Eat” ;)
    Please note how the discourse has shifted from “you can’t go far from home” to “you can go far from home but it’s constraining”. This is a giant leap, and more are to come.
    When I see a Tesla, I think “want”. I didn’t feel that way about a Prius. They made electric desirable at long last.

  52. Posted by anonanon

    No doubt the technology behind Tesla is impressive, but as of now, it’s for people affluent enough to blow 70 grand or more on a commute car, which is a niche market. A regular middle-class family with a bunch of kids probably couldn’t afford one or afford to pay for airline tickets for everyone instead of driving when going on a longer trip.
    It’s cool car, as it should be at that price point, but hardly one that addresses mainstream transportation needs at this point even though it’s heavily subsidized by tax breaks for buyers, state credits, and federal and local incentives to the tune of up to $45K per car.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324659404578499460139237952.html
    Essentially, tax payers are paying a lot so that rich people can have a nice toy.

  53. Posted by lol

    Fossil fuels are not cheap.
    We’re waging endless wars to secure energy resources. Detroit was bailed out. Drivers are subsidized across the board. The environmental effects of fossil fuels on our way of life (and the costs of disasters and upcoming adjustments) are still to be quantified.

  54. Posted by anonanon

    Sure. And probably around 70 percent of the electricity used to charge Teslas comes from burning various kinds of fossil fuels.
    It’s really ridiculous to give zero emission credits to electric car manufacturers when the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions may well exceed those for regular cars.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324128504578346913994914472.html

  55. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Oh come on, anonanon. Power plants are powered from domestic fuel sources (ie coal, gas, hydro and nuclear). Cars are powered on refined oil, 50% of which is imported. There is no equivalence. That money leaves the country every single day. Preserving the status quo is against all our self-interests.

  56. Posted by anonanon

    I’m not saying that we should preserve the status quo. I’m just saying that thinking that driving an electric car doesn’t result in the burning of fossil fuels and large carbon-dioxide emissions is silly.
    As for oil, it seem like domestic production is on the upswing. The latest government numbers from February of this year has the US producing 11.7M barrels/day surpassing Saudi Arabia’s 10.85M. That’s up about 33 percent since Feb 2009 when US production was 8.79M barrels/day (and 9.46M for Saudi Arabia).
    http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=50&pid=53&aid=1

  57. Posted by lol

    With ICe engines, you’re basically stuck with oil.
    With EV, you’re using whatever source is used to generate electricity. It’s much more forward looking.

  58. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    The car is cool.
    It goes fast.
    It does what I need it to do.
    And I can recharge it at home for about $1.50.
    I just do not get the doubters.
    In the tech world, we call these people “late adopters.”
    They are the EV equivalent of aging parents, who are just now getting the hang of using a cellphone and writing email … 20 years later.

  59. Posted by anonanon

    I don’t think anyone doubts that a Tesla is a cool toy for the one-percenters. The remaining 99 percent who subsidize the toy with their tax money will likely be the “late adopters” who hardly know how to use a cellphone.

  60. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    My point is its NOT a toy. A Lamborghini is a toy. The Tesla fills 100% of my day to day needs and requires me to make no compromises with regards to style, performance, capacity or range. There are about 10 $80k+ cars parked on my block alone so this is not out of most peoples’ price range.

  61. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    * not out of most peoples’ price range, where I live. In lowly San Mateo …

  62. Posted by anonanon

    It’s obviously very much a toy in that nobody really needs a car that does 0-60 mph in 4 seconds in order to drive to work. It’s a product that appeals to a niche of affluent buyers who like to think of themselves as “cutting-edge” or “green” (or both). For the vast majority of Americans that don’t have 10 $80k+ cars on their block, Teslas are pretty irrelevant other than that they subsidize them with their taxes.

  63. Posted by lol

    I don’t think anyone doubts
    My BSMeter (TM) beeped very loud on these very simple words.
    I am thinking of designing an app that would make whatever is after these few word flash in red blinking characters. You know an unverified theory is being sold as truth.
    In that case, the BS being sold is that Teslas are toys. Someone has an obvious agenda (anti-elitist-wealthy-liberal, climate change denier, etc…) and whatever rebuttal brought to the debate will lead to the propagation of more unproven and partisan theories.

  64. Posted by anonanon

    lol,
    I argue that because of the high price, Teslas are, at this point, more toys for the rich than vehicles that are changing mainstream transportation in the US. I then essentially get two rebuttals from the Tesla fans:
    1. Anyone who doesn’t embrace Tesla’s offerings is a “late adopter” — you know the kind of idiot who can barely operate a cellphone. (And who presumably didn’t buy a Segway right off the bat or upgrade to Windows Vista right away.)
    2. Any form of critical thinking concerning Tesla is BS and whoever is guilty of it must have some form of obvious Neanderthal agenda.
    I think the intellectual prowess of these rebuttals speaks volumes about the people who are making them.

  65. Posted by lol

    1 – Your “tax-subsidy” argument is flawed. The entire auto industry is subsidized in the first place.
    2 – You haven’t proven that they were “toys for the rich” more than a Bimmer or an Audi. Plus low cost of ownership makes up for the high price tag. A car’s cost is not solely purchase price.

  66. Posted by R

    True lol, but Tesla is subsidized a LOT more than the rest of the industry.
    And cost of ownership? Way too soon to tell, as cost of ownership needs to account for maintenance and repair costs (who knows) and depreciation (resale cost). Just saying electricity is cheaper than gas isn’t cost of ownership.

  67. Posted by lol

    I’ll add that this brand of criticism already occurred in the past 5 years or so. In that order:
    “it was tried before and it failed”
    “who needs an electric sports car? It will never sell”
    “designing a real sedan is another story. They do not have the know-how”
    “it will never sell”
    “it will have tons of defects”
    Now that that supply is dwarfed by demand, the last argument is “it’s a toy for the rich”.
    Then they’ll deliver the SUV
    Then they’ll deliver the smaller cheaper sedan

  68. Posted by lol

    R,
    Per Tesla, resale value is pretty high. But it’s distorted by the fact that they can’t deliver fast enough.
    Yes, time will tell. But so far so good.

  69. Posted by Watcher

    A while ago you were up in arms about the safety issues of passenger vehicles and dismissive of the ability of automotive technology to rapidly improve.
    But put a battery under the hood and it’s all OK?
    Bizarre.

  70. Posted by R

    You can’t even begin to guess resale value on a car that hasn’t even been available for a year. Check back in 5 years.

  71. Posted by lol

    Watcher,
    I am for more having more transportation options in SF. That’s not very relevant in this debate, is it?

  72. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    @lol don’t forget:
    “It doesn’t go far enough on a single charge to …
    … drive to the grocery store (solved)
    … drive to work (solved)
    … drive to work and back (solved)
    … drive to Tahoe (solved)
    … drive to LA (coming soon)
    … drive to Vegas (maybe in 5 years?)
    … drive to New York (who does that anyway?)”
    Basically batteries only need to hold enough charge to wear out the driver. 12 hours of continuous driving is more than most people can handle. Truck drivers are limited by law to 8 hours per shift.
    That’s a fourfold improvement in battery capacity is all that’s needed to solve the range question forever — we have already improved range by about 10X since 2000.
    The technology will get there, but some people never will. Not voluntarily. Not until they have no choice.
    They’re called “late adopters” for a reason.

  73. Posted by R

    Lawmakers in North Carolina embracing change.

  74. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    How do I put this delicately? Those people are idiots. As are the people who elected them. And I’ll say it to their face.

  75. Posted by anonanon

    lol,
    “1 – Your “tax-subsidy” argument is flawed. The entire auto industry is subsidized in the first place.
    2 – You haven’t proven that they were “toys for the rich” more than a Bimmer or an Audi. Plus low cost of ownership makes up for the high price tag. A car’s cost is not solely purchase price.”
    There are plenty of ICE vehicles in the $100K range that could rightly be described as “toys for the rich” and that do little to address the mainstream transportation needs of the US. But at least people who buy them don’t get a $7500 federal tax credit and thousand of dollars in state credits.

  76. Posted by anonanon

    “we have already improved range by about 10X since 2000″
    The 1999 GM EV1 had a range of 100-140 miles with NiMH batteries. (Did Mr. Early Adopter get one of those?) Are you saying that range has improved by 10X since then? If so, it speaks volumes about your knowledge about technology.

  77. Posted by lol

    R, a very interesting development. It could perfectly be senseless ideological posturing as hinted by Jimmy.

  78. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    You have to consider not just range but also payload.
    EV1 was a 2-seater. Tesla has 7 seats. EV1 real-world range was about 90 miles; Tesla does 210 miles+ according to Car + Driver.
    Battery capacity is 85 kWh on the Tesla vs. 18 kWh on the EV1 – a difference of 4.7X.
    Better battery management gives about a 2X improvement in useful life. Straight capacity (amp-hour) numbers don’t tell the whole story.
    But its impossible to convince an ideaologue like you with facts or numbers …

  79. Posted by lol

    Yes, it’s a real car that people want to use.
    Failures in previous experiments always boiled down to the same principle: do not expect people to make a giant leap towards you. If you meet them 2/3 of the way you’ll have more chance at success. If you meet them 90% of the way, even better. I think Tesla is at these 2/3 so far and will eventually bridge that gap.

  80. Posted by anonanon

    “EV1 was a 2-seater.”
    Tesla sold a roadster until 2012 with a range of 245 miles according to the company website. Feel free to come up with a tortured explanation as to how a distance of 245 miles is actually 10X longer than a distance of 100-140 miles when you take everything into account. Should be entertaining. Yes, “range” means the distance you can drive on a charge and you claimed it has improved by about 10X since 2000.
    “Tesla has 7 seats.”
    Seems kind of disingenuous to claim that a Model S has 7 seats without mentioning that two of those would be optional child seats in the rear trunk space.
    “But its impossible to convince an ideaologue like you with facts or numbers …”
    I guess calling someone an “ideaologue” [sic] is even better than “late adopter” if you don’t have an argument. So let’s see: a person who refuses tho uncritically accept Tesla as the salvation of mankind is an ideologue whereas someone who mindlessly spouts the virtues of the technology without understanding it is not.

  81. Posted by anonfan

    @anonanon…..brilliant and funny posts!
    (your links are convincing and make VERY interesting reading as well)

  82. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Ok, I give up.
    Tesla batteries as of today have a capacity of 85 kWH.
    EV1 batteries had a capacity of 18 kWh.
    So, explain to me using words and numbers how EV batteries have not improved by a huge margin over the past decade.
    And, furthermore, why they will not continue to improve by a similar margin over the next decade.

  83. Posted by anonanon

    The capacity of the batteries may not only depend on the battery technology, but also the size of the battery pack.
    The 1999 EV1 2-seater had a curb weight of 2908 lb with the NiMH batteries that yielded 26.4 kWh. (The 18 kWh number is probably for lead-acid batteries.)
    The 2012 Tesla Roadster had a curb weight of 2723 lb and a 53 kWh battery pack.
    The 2013 Tesla Model S 5-seat sedan (7 seats if you don’t mind stretching the truth a little) has a curb weight of 4647 lb, so it’s conceivable that its 85 kWh battery pack is a little larger than those of the smaller cars. But in any case, the high-end 85 kWh battery pack of the 2013 Model S sedan yields just over three times more energy than the high-end battery pack for a 1999 EV1 2-seater. Comparing the EV1 with the Roadster, which is more similar in curb weight, gives us about 2X.
    No doubt, battery technology has evolved and will continue to do so. But I call BS on any suggestion that today’s commercially available electric cars have a range that is 10X of those that were around in the late 1990s.

  84. Posted by lol

    One big factor to consider is the cost of these batteries. Tesla greatly benefited from the mass production of laptop batteries. In the late 90s, slapping 1000 lbs of laptop batteries would have been inconceivable.
    A few numbers:
    When the Tesla Roadster was released, the estimated cost of the ~1000Lbs battery was $32K for 53KWh.
    For the Tesla model S, the top of the shelf 85KWh battery (~1200Lbs? I could not find any confirmation) is estimated at a $12K replacement cost.
    And it took only 4 years to get there…
    Now, if batteries are seeing an improvement in storage capacity, the big big element there is a much lower production costs.
    10-12 hours of driving could perfectly be conceivable in 5 years, though extrapolation is always a risky business in technology. I would imagine a 2000Lbs battery with double the efficiency of today (and at the same cost) would get the job done.
    By the way, during a conference call last month, Elon Musk hinted at a 500 mile battery. That’s a full driving day right there!
    The future will not belong to battery changers, but longer mileage on a single charge. Range anxiety: problem solved.

  85. Posted by anonanon

    Maybe we will see a 500-mile battery one day, but as of 2013, cars priced to appeal to the broader public have pretty crappy ranges, like 75 miles for a Nissan Leaf or 87 miles for a Fiat 500e. And their $28K and $32K MSRPs probably don’t reflect their true costs — Fiat’s CEO has said that they lose $10K on every 500e sold even after government subsidies.
    http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2013/04/chrysler-will-lose-10000-on-every-fiat-500e-marchionne-warns/
    And they are still pricey compared to a regular Fiat 500 or a Toyota Corolla, both of which are around $16K.

  86. Posted by lol

    True. The issue with historical manufacturers is that they all started by setting a price target and build a car around it. This greatly limited their options and of course they had to deliver something for their effort, hence a more-expensive-than-originally-thought and lower-range-than-originally-thought underwhelming EV.
    Everyone who has started in the early 20th century (even 19th century for some) is still in the mindset of the Model T: make a basic car accessible to everyone, then improve it and move up. But if your first model is a dud, this path becomes a dead end, and the perception will forever be that you tried and failed most probably because it cannot be done. But as you didn’t continue the effort, then these suspicions become common knowledge reflected in anonanon’s perma-negativity on the whole EV industry.
    Starting from the upper end of the market like what Tesla did was bold and counter-intuitive. If a battery is expensive, put it into an expensive sports or luxury car. Then work your way down as technology and economies of scale do their magic. And if you show you can make a profit, investors follow you and you have your chance to prove an affordable and practical EV can be built.

  87. Posted by anonanon

    lol,
    I disagree with the idea that the lack of mainstream success for electric cars is because of inept car manufacturers. To me, it’s simply because of the limitations of battery technology, which people have been trying to improve for hundreds of years. (Supposedly, Benjamin Franklin was the first to use the term “battery” for electrical devices in the 1740s.) Long before there were cellphones and laptops, there were many other applications driving technological improvements, both military, like non-nuclear submarines, and civilian, like transistor radios. Still, with the exception of a period around 1900 when ICE technology was really crappy, electric vehicles have never been competitive other than as golf carts. (It’s not clear that they currently would be competitive even in the category “toys for the rich” without massive government subsidies.) If making electric cars for the masses was as simple as starting with a high-end model, it would have been done long ago. Electric cars will be mainstream competitive when battery technology has improved enough to beat out ICE and hybrid technology, and that’s very much a moving target.

  88. Posted by lol

    OK, that’s the predicted “it would have happened already” brand of negative talk. Ben Franklin? Really? It took almost a century after Ben Franklin’s experiments to get a commercially feasible light-bulb.
    One quick question: why didn’t someone design the Segway before 2001?
    Quick answer: it was not feasible. Someone could have tried in 1980, but processor speed for instance wasn’t fast enough to handle the multiple parameters needed to adjust the balance in real time.
    Why wasn’t there a successful tablet in 2K? Many reasons but similar in nature to the Segway: Processors going fast enough to provide a seamless quality user experience were running too hot, for instance. Batteries were not good enough. display quality wasn’t there yet. And everything was just too darn expensive.
    There’s a time for everything. We are getting technologically ready for mass produced and affordable EVs. It’s happening.

  89. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I think, lol, that we’re missing one key point with anonanon. He can’t afford a Tesla. So no matter how superb a car they make, he won’t be able to buy one so it is “just a toy.” Kind of like a 5-series is “just a toy” because you can get the same functionality, more or less, in a Camry for 1/3rd the cost.
    And the perma-negativity … probably tells you a lot about WHY he can’t afford one.

  90. Posted by Watcher

    When you lose an argument, just tell your opponent he’s poor.
    Wow, you guys are just like Gandhi.

  91. Posted by anonanon

    lol,
    Regarding processor speed preventing certain products from being feasible in the past: the only thing that has held electric cars back has been battery technology issues, like capacity and speed of charging. If those issues could be adequately resolved, electric cars would be an awesome force in marketplace no matter how inept the car manufacturers may be. You seem to believe that these issues are in the process of being resolved as we speak and that electric cars are on the cusp of becoming vehicles for the masses. I’m somewhat skeptical of that idea given that the range issue is a hard nut to crack and that competing technologies, like ICE and hybrid, are gradually improving as well. I think that in order for electric cars to become mainstream in the near future, it would take a major breakthrough in battery technology going well beyond Tesla’s sophisticated toy for the rich.
    And Jimmy The Bitter, I could write a check for any Tesla there is in a split second if I wanted one.

  92. Posted by lol

    Watcher,
    I am NOT Jimmy nor do I agree with his post. Please judge my posts on their merits and not by someone else’s comments.
    If you have followed my posts in the past 6 years, I would never look down on any other poster’s perceived economical situation, simply because I have no idea what it actually is.
    An attitude and a financial success are not always connected. Heck, LMRiM was a perma-negative AND a self-proclaimed millionaire. You can be both, by birth, by chance or by your wits.
    My comments have to do with negativity towards EV tech which are proven more and more wrong as a few game changers plow their way through preconceived ideas. That’s the big story with EVs.

  93. Posted by lol

    anonanon,
    I am a bit more optimistic than you I guess.

  94. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I’m also skeptical that we will see significant battery capacity gains in the near future. The rechargeable battery market has been driven hard for the past two decades already by mobile device makers. Those manufacturers have recently taken a different approach by reducing power consumption instead of expecting greater capacity. They’re micro-managing power consumption by turning pieces of the chip off when not needed, even if for just a few microseconds.
    Electromechanical consumers of battery power on the other hand don’t really have many more ways to conserve power. Eighteenth century physicists discovered this long ago. Unlike the energy required to move data around, there’s a minimum amount of energy required to move a two ton vehicle through viscous air.
    As inefficient as conventional gas engines are, the energy content of gasoline takes up the slack. Pound for pound, gasoline contains an incredible amount of potential energy. It is tough competition for any other method of energy storage whether it be flywheels or batteries. And when batteries can compete with gasoline’s energy density, look out for safety. A collision that splits open a battery pack could dump an enormous amount of energy in an instant.
    I hope we see more battery capacity soon because not only will it will make electrical cars viable, it’ll also allow iphones to go weeks between charges. Until then electric cars will fill their niche in everyday commutes and be excluded from road trips. But that’s OK because the vast majority of mileage is local short distance commuting and errands anyways. E-cars are a real tool for the most common need. Just don’t expect to make it to Tahoe in one anytime soon.

  95. Posted by lol

    Uh? Lake Tahoe is 188 miles away from SF, and Teslas have enough juice for 200+.
    About the amount of energy stored in EVs: well, we already have exploding gas tanks all the time during major accidents and no one is questioning the rationale behind gasoline-powered cars.
    Only one quart of gasoline is enough to kill someone and we’re regularly hauling 60 quarts of the stuff right under our kids’ feet.
    It’s amazing how we’ve learned to accept this incredibly dangerous mode of storage.
    Then one single EV catches fire a few hours after a crash with no casualty and all the pitchforks are out.

  96. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    It wouldn’t be very prudent to attempt such a trip with so little margin for error, especially considering the need to climb 7000+ feet and possible traffic jams along the way. Even with 50% more capacity it seems kind of risky. And if you find yourself caught out of juice on the side of the road the AAA and a jerry can of gas can’t get you back on the road.
    I agree that people underestimate the danger of gasoline. Auto builders have done a pretty good job at limiting the risk, no Ford Pinto problems lately. I think that battery builders will need to go through the same safety evolution and will eventually come up with safer designs. But the risk is novel with little real life experience to lean on.
    I’m wondering how Hollywood will portray the calamity. Instead of the classic orange fireball, a JJ Abrams style horizontal blue flash?

  97. Posted by lol

    Yeah, you’re right, it’s not yet doable. No cold sweats, 1/2 hour at the Folsom supercharger will get the job done. There’s even a pizza place right across, and a premium outlet to spend all that money you didn’t spend on non-renewable-but-highly-flammable-geopolitically-and-environmentally-questionable-liquids ;)
    for actual real life experience:
    http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/archive/index.php/t-12755.html
    The way back is a breeze apparently.

  98. Posted by anonanon

    lol,
    A couple of thoughts:
    Given that about 80 percent of the electricity generated in US comes from burning fossil fuels, charging an electric battery is hardly the most renewable activity there is. If you truly want to do planet Earth a favor, you’d probably do better by planting a sustainable and edible plant in your backyard than by taking your Tesla for a spin to Lake Tahoe to go skiing. Then again, if all you want to do is to convince yourself that you are “green,” owning a Tesla might do the trick provided that you are gullible enough. (If you want to convince others that you’re “green,” a Prius might be a better option since it would be less likely to come across as “conspicuous consumption.”)
    As for gasoline being flammable, it sure is. It’s an interesting topic, but not necessarily one that is all that flattering to alternative propulsion technologies. Gasoline has an engine density of about 46 MJ/kg. That’s a lot. In fact, it’s about ten times the energy density of TNT. However, in order to unlock all that energy you need to mix gasoline with oxygen. (TNT, in contrast, has oxygen built in.) If gasoline-powered cars weren’t able to suck in enormous amounts of air for free, the internal combustion engine would be dead as a technology. So while a 20 gallon tank of gas may theoretically contain the equivalent of the energy of ten times the weight of the gas in TNT, it can’t be released all at once because the need of an oxygen mixture. Any explosion would be at a tiny fraction of the theoretical energy content of the gas tank.
    So let’s consider alternative propulsion technologies — batteries, flywheels — whatever is the flavor of the day for the technology of the future. Even if you go from theoretical to practical when it comes to energy storage and take into account the fact that there are other technologies that are more energy efficient than an ICE, you are still stuck with the fact that in order to match the range of an ICE car with a 20-gallon tank, you need to be able store the energy equivalent of a fair number of sticks of dynamite. What happens in a collision? Energy doesn’t just go away and if all that energy gets converted to heat in a split second, it might not be a very pleasant experience.

  99. Posted by lol

    yes we are producing power with fossil fuels today, but there are options to purchase or produce your own renewable energy. Solar panels at home, hydro-electrical in the mountains.
    for instance, say you have charged your car with your home solar panels. You recharge in Folsom (solar from Tesla SCs. You get to Tahoe which gets much of its power from hydro.
    There you go, almost 100% renewable.

  100. Posted by anonanon

    “Given that about 80 percent of the electricity generated in US comes from burning fossil fuels”
    Rereading what I just said I realize it was incorrect. Electricity generation in the US as of 2008 per Wikipedia was
    71 percent fossil fuels.
    19 percent nuclear.
    9 percent renewable.
    The point still stands, though.

  101. Posted by anonanon

    lol,
    If you are thinking of electric cars as something more than a means for getting Silicon Valley VCs to Tahoe via a pit stop in Folsom, you might want to think again when it comes to renewable energy.
    If you were to replace hundreds of millions of ICE cars with electric ones, hydro wouldn’t be able to generate the energy needed. Whatever little there is left to build out would give rise to vicious battles with environmentalists.
    Solar? Might work in Arizona in the middle of summer when the sun is shining and you really need electricity for air conditioning. But try it to generate heat in Alaska during the darkness of winter and you will get a sense of the fickleness of the technology.

  102. Posted by lol

    sure. But most of your trips are local. Put some panels on your roof and voila, your car mostly runs on solar. Solar works wonders in SF. No need to go to Arizona. Heck, even northern Germany or GB has solar. A friend of mine has set up 100s of systems all across Britain these past few years.
    But I agree that Northern Alaska will not go solar anytime soon ;)
    You are pretty prone to preconceptions, anonanon. Just saying.

  103. Posted by kddid

    Amazing how the conversation turns to the most expensive car in the EV fleet, rather than looking discussing the current perfect transition car that exists – the Volt. I have one, and love it. Great build quality, and runs on electric for 98% of my trips, has unlimited range due to it’s “extended EV” ICE engine, doesn’t need new infrastructure but can take advantage of it as it’s built out, and costs me 1/3 the per mile cost as my beloved Honda Civic. Only bad thing is that Chevy can’t figure out how to market it to really rich people or regular people. It’s sad that the Tesla outsells the Volt, given the number of $40K kinda-luxury cars out there. I guess the striver class that buys a 3-series BMW does not feel that the Volt has the same cache as the bimmer, and they can’t yet afford to hang with the 80K-Tesla-cool-kidz club (who invariably have 2-3 other cars to take to Tahoe, LA, etc.)
    Also, if you’re going to compare electrics to ICE, get your facts right. Energy mix is very location-dependent. In CA our electricity mix is way cleaner than the national mix – we use more renewable than coal (14.2% vs. 13 in 2011), and way more natural gas and nuclear. And we are on track to be at 25% renewables in 10 years. So buying an EV here (and investing in charging stations) is a huge environmental win, since most trips are local (2009 NHTS report says each driver travels an average of 28 miles per day, and each trip is about 10 miles, and social/recreational trips which include vacations only average 11 miles).
    For those of you EV-defenders on this thread who are not in the Tesla market, I highly recommend the Volt – I got a great lease deal since it’s purchase price was a bit above my budget. And no, I’m not a shill for Chevy.

  104. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    We are planning a remodel right now to get an extra bathroom and I plan on creating a parking space for my new EV in the process. We are at the beginning of a long journey though, so we will see how it turns out.
    @Jimmy And I’ll say it to their face.
    It is probably not worth your time to go out there and tell them, but if you decide to do so, I can recommend lots of nice places to visit. I was stationed in North Carolina and discovered that it is actually a very diverse and interesting state. I can particularly recommend Chapel Hill, which is sort of the Berkeley of The South. Don’t miss the Outer Banks either.

  105. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    lol has a good point about home solar charging. Most home solar systems are smaller than the roof area (tiny footprint houses in SF excepted) because it doesn’t make sense to produce more power than you consume. PG&E doesn’t write checks to home solar installation owners, they only reduce your bill by the amount of power you put back into the grid. But if you have an electric car then your home electricity consumption goes up and it makes sense to install a few more panels and harvest more free, renewable energy.
    ————-
    After reading that Tesla motor club account of driving to Tahoe I think that Tesla should change their slogan to “We put the adventure back into driving”.

  106. Posted by lol

    MoD, be aware that most of the adventure in this message board you linked to is for the 60Kwh folks. These 40-50 extra miles make all the difference.

  107. Posted by anonanon

    kddid,
    I think plug-in hybrids like the Volt make a lot more sense than the likes of a Tesla since they solve the range anxiety problem in the here and now. Never understood why people get mesmerized by the Model S just because it’s fully electric. Now, Tesla has been doing very well in the luxury car market segment this year, but a lot of that may be due to pent-up demand. Once all the people of the kind that would by a Tesla have gotten theirs, demand may well ease.

  108. Posted by lol

    anonanon,
    I agree that it’s a special segment. But the Roadster experience led to the 30% cheaper Model S which will probably lead to cheaper SUV and sedan models.
    The Chevy Volt is a fantastic option, and many people have developed a specific behavior: they make a point of filling their gas tank as rarely as possible. It’s the opposite of range anxiety, where you will enjoy NOT having to go to the pump.
    This is not “Tesla OR Volt” or “Tesla VS Volt”, but “Tesla AND Volt”. They complete each other, until they have to compete with each other as they evolve towards mainstream EV options.

  109. Posted by anonanon

    lol,
    I disagree with the idea that hybrids and pure electric cars aren’t already competing with each other (and with ICEs, of course). They are competing both in terms of technology mindshare in general and brand recognition for individual products. If I were forced to bet any real money on the possibility of either becoming a mainstream technology, I’d take hybrids in a split second.
    Case in point, the MSRP for a Fiat 500 starts at $16K. The electric version, 500e, starts at $32K. (And Fiat’s CEO has claimed that they lose $10K on every 500e even after government subsidies, which means that without government intervention, they would probably need to be able to charge close to $50K per car in order for it to be a viable product.)
    So the regular 500 has a highway rating of 40 mpg. With the average price of a gallon of regular gas in California being around $4 according to AAA, the heavily subsidized $32K for a 500e would buy you not only a regular 500, but also 160,000 highway miles’ worth of gas to go with it. If you drive around 10,000 miles per year like I’ve been averaging, that’s 16 years’ worth of driving. Where do people line up to buy a 500e on those (heavily subsidized) terms? And that’s for a vehicle that doesn’t address the range anxiety issue and has a range of merely 87 miles.
    That’s the reality of “affordable” pure EV technology in 2013. Like I said, if I had to bet, it would be on hybrid.

  110. Posted by anon

    How are hybrids not already mainstream technology? There were half a million sold last year. That’s like saying that the Toyota Camry is a niche vehicle , because there were only 400,000 sold last year.

  111. Posted by anonanon

    “How are hybrids not already mainstream technology?”
    There are well over 250 million registered passenger vehicles in the US so hybrids represent a very tiny percentage. I think they are well on their way to becoming a mainstream technology, but whether they are quite there yet, one can always debate.

  112. Posted by Rillion

    Comparing one year sales figures to total number of cars on the road is hardly a useful comparison. Like saying that someone that made $500,000 isn’t doing well because you know the net worth of Americans is huge compared that guy’s one year salary figure.

  113. Posted by lol

    There are more than 2 million hybrid vehicles in the US. http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=93&t=4
    This technology is already dated, in a way. The Chevy Volt is a much better alternative.

  114. Posted by anonanon

    So hybrids represent less than 1 percent of the cars is the US and just over 3 percent of the new cars sold (14.5 million in 2012). I’d say that’s still a niche product.

  115. Posted by lol

    A few years from now I hope automakers will include hybrid technology as a standard way to improve fuel economy. The technology is mature and much less expensive than before.
    Of course if the government could impose more strict fuel economy rules we’d get there faster. They imposed seat belts, then air bags. These are well accepted now because lives saved speak louder than anything else.
    Better fuel economy would make us less dependent on foreign oil which would mean more coherent national security.
    Today, we feed the Saudis whenever we go to the pump. That money is then used indirectly to fund all brands of islamism. And we have to send our bravest to fight these guys. That’s a very pricey gas we’re using.

  116. Posted by anonanon

    Of course, some people believe that the boom in US domestic oil production will be bad for the Saudi government.
    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1772114/Comment-Coming-American-oil-boom-bad-news-for-Saud

  117. Posted by lol

    Anything that can help is music to my ears.

  118. Posted by anon

    No need for the government to impose strict fuel economy rules – that’s incredibly inefficient and environmentally wasteful, as it prioritizes buying new stuff over simply keeping something that you already have and using it less or not buying anything.
    If the goal is to decrease overall gasoline usage in the US, there is only one way that make sense – higher gas taxes. Ideally, it would be a higher gas tax tied to a lower payroll tax (revenue neutral), that way we’ve increased the incentive to work at the same time as decreasing the incentive to use more gas.
    Someone who decides to not drive or just hang on to their 10 year old car and drive it 5 miles less a day is far more environmentally friendly than the dude who goes out and buys a Tesla. And under my plan, that first guy would get extra cash to pump into the economy any way he likes.

  119. Posted by R

    “as it prioritizes buying new stuff over simply keeping something that you already have”
    You don’t understand what federal fuel economy rules are.. they don’t apply to you the consumer.. you can drive whatever gas guzzling old jalopy you want. It’s on the manufacturers to produce more efficient new vehicles for sale.

  120. Posted by anon

    You don’t understand what federal fuel economy rules are.. they don’t apply to you the consumer.. you can drive whatever gas guzzling old jalopy you want. It’s on the manufacturers to produce more efficient new vehicles for sale.
    I completely understand what the rules are, but the rules exist for a reason. There’s a goal in mind. And that goal is to reduce gasoline used. There are better ways to accomplish that goal.
    If overall gas use goes down by X percentage, why in the world should we care if a couple vehicles don’t meet some MPG standard?
    The real reason is that it’s politically expedient to force rules on industry and simultaneously dole cash out to consumers via direct subsidies. But that process is incredibly inefficient and provides all sorts of negative incentives.

  121. Posted by R

    “I completely understand what the rules are”
    Obviously not, or you wouldn’t have said:
    “as it prioritizes buying new stuff over simply keeping something that you already have”
    Now your gas tax argument is an entirely different subject, and may be the right way to go. But has nothing whatsoever to do with “buying new stuff.”

  122. Posted by anon

    Um, the subsidies in place for electric and hybrid cars have always been linked to the rules for fleet fuel economy – if not in the exact same bill (most of the time) then in related bills that are dreamed up by the same groups in the house or senate. If you want to blatantly ignore the obvious link, then yes, the two are separate. But in the real world one doesn’t happen without the other. I assumed that to be obvious – I’ll spell it out more clearly for you next time.

  123. Posted by anon
  124. Posted by R

    Ok, you’re right, I was wrong.
    I thought we were talking about fuel economy rules and you were talking about tax subsidies. Which in your world are the same.
    My bad.

  125. Posted by anon

    lol mentioned that if the government implemented tougher fuel economy rules we’d improve fuel economy faster.
    I mentioned a way to get to better fuel economy immediately without having to wait for huge portions of the US fleet to turn over, but that would also have the same long term effect on the US fleet.
    You noted that subsidizing something has no effect on behavior.
    Weird thread.

  126. Posted by R

    Reading comprehension be damned!

  127. Posted by anon

    Yes! You can do whatever you want! We’ll just make laws that affect what people can sell you and for how much! But it doesn’t change what you can do!

  128. Posted by lol

    Heavy gas tax in EU leads to smaller cars for the less affluent, while the upper crust enjoys their bigger (presumably safer) cars.
    This wouldn’t fly as well here, where everyone wants to be able to own a behemoth.

  129. Posted by anon

    It’s hard to see how increased CAFE standards are going to lead to a different result? Behemoths for the middle class?

  130. Posted by lol

    Cheap gas here (yes, per EU standards our gas is still cheap) allows almost everyone to be able to afford a used behemoth (like a Yukon or a F150, with their 17MPG)
    With European-styled gas taxes, a gallon would be around $8. The used big SUV/truck would still be affordable but few would accept to pay the prohibitive gas. Your construction worker would come in a Prius instead of his beat up truck.

  131. Posted by anon

    And because automakers will need to hit fleet economy standards, they’ll have to continue to change the structure of their pricing scheme to sell more small cars to counteract the larger, less fuel efficient models. This may not mean higher prices for trucks, but it will mean lower prices for small cars (selling them at a loss), which will produce the same effect that you mention (low income driving small cars, etc)
    Or, the more likely alternative is that more laws will be passed to poke holes in CAFE standards that allow trucks to drive on through (as has continually happened) – and then we’ll have done nothing to actually reduce gasoline use.

  132. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    “Change the structure of their pricing scheme …”?
    There I thought the solution was to build more fuel-efficient cars. Which would involve technological innovations.
    “Changing the structure of their pricing scheme” will do nothing to hit the CAFE standards which will require large cars (e.g. the size of the Mercedes S-Class) to get 46 mpg by 2025, per Wikipedia.
    The good news is that the 2013 S350 Diesel already gets 25 mpg, so they only have to increase fuel economy by 84.0% (I know precision is important to you) and they’re there!
    So, no new technology needed. Just “change the structure of your pricing scheme” and it’ll all work out.

  133. Posted by lol

    Fuel efficiency for that Benz could be achieved by switching technology, either going all EV, or taking the approach of the Volt. The ICE can only go so far, and if reducing curb weight is not an option, then upgrading the technology has to be.

  134. Posted by anon

    Or the driver could simply decide to drive less, achieving the same result. If only there were a way to nudge drivers to do that (for all cars)…
    It’s quite easy to say that CAFE standards are going to require Mercedes Benz S-Class vehicles to hit 46 mpg by 2025 (!!!), when that’s 12 years away. Remember that in 1997, everyone was told that carmakers in California would be required to sell 12% of their cars as zero emissions vehicles by 2005. The watering down started in 2001, and the state-supplied subsidies (either direct dollar amounts on sales or preferential treatment like HOV stickers) started in 1999, yet we’re still nowhere close to the 12%, even eight years late.
    If our goal had instead been to reduce gas usage (or emissions) by a set amount, we could have easily achieved that with one change – an increased gas tax.

  135. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I’m sure that high gas taxes will be wildly popular. Raising the gas tax would be as welcome (and likely) as eliminating Prop. 13.
    Sometimes politicians have to use the tools they have at their disposal, imperfect as they may be.

  136. Posted by lol

    Yeah, but “Tax” is a 4-letter word that every politician knows to stay clear from.
    Also, if you make gas more expensive. You’ll cut a huge proportion of Americans from their jobs simply because geography of cities had cheap gas baked in.
    I recall when living in SoCal in the late 90s, fast food workers were commuting to Santa Barbara from Lompoc or Santa Maria at a time when gas was around $1. A daily commute of 80 to 150 miles a day for $8-$12/hour still worked out because of cheap gas. Gas cost them one hour of work or less. Then gas doubled in less than 3 years and the economics around these jobs changed. Some had to add extra shifts to make it worth it. Some switched to more local less paying jobs. But if affected people and businesses.

  137. Posted by anon

    Yes, I understand that. I just don’t understand why you’re continuing to believe things like large cars hitting 46 mpg by 2025, just because some laws have been passed saying that it will happen.
    My desired way may be politically impossible, but so is yours. The difference is that the current plan allows constant can-kicking and passing of the buck – “I voted for 46 mpg by 2025, it’s not my fault.” You’re actually still thinking that 46 mpg by 2025 will happen!
    Lastly, I don’t really think that a gas tax is as politically impossible as you think, as long as it’s bundled with something else, like a decrease in the payroll tax. It just needs a champion to sell it – “Everyone gets a check for a $1000, but gas tax goes up by $1.50 a gallon”

  138. Posted by lol

    I’m all for it. I’m just telling you it’s a really hard sell. We can’t even get a Universal Health Care system like the rest of the developed world.

  139. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Ok Anon. You obviously have a Ph.D in Physics. Tell us why a car with the footprint of the S-class CAN’T get 46 mpg.
    And by that, I mean prove it using actual physics (hint: F=ma) and not hand-waving.

  140. Posted by anon

    Tell me physics has anything to do with the market or human psychology.
    We know that making something more expensive causes less of it to be consumed, all else being equal.
    Government mandates don’t guarantee that something will happen. I have no doubt that it’s technological feasible to create an S-class sized car that gets 100 mpg (46 mpg is too easy). That really has almost nothing to do with anything that we’re talking about. Do we want to use less gasoline? Or do we want to create cars as big as an S-class that get 46 mpg? The two are only tangentially related at best.

  141. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    We know that making something more expensive causes less of it to be consumed, all else being equal.
    Well, the real estate market doesn’t work that way.
    So, no, I don’t think we know that at all. Your hypothesis assumes rational actors. Nothing could be further from reality.

  142. Posted by anon

    Perhaps you need to focus on the “all else being equal” part of my statement. Real estate is very, very different from a commodity like gasoline.

  143. Posted by anon

    And are you really claiming that gasoline usage would potentially go up if we increased the cost and no other factors changed? That’s bizarre.

  144. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I don’t think it would change much at all. People need to move from point A to point B for various immutable reasons (e.g. drive from home to work).
    Our urban planners have determined that the way to do this is by car. Many places have no viable public transit alternative to driving.
    You can argue whether this is good or bad, but the reality remains that people have to move around in order to survive. And the way you do that unless you are one of the lucky 10,000 who own a Tesla, is by burning gas.

  145. Posted by lol

    Jimmy,
    As I said earlier, driving behavior can change based on economical factors. Like the Santa Maria residents flipping burgers in Santa Barbara who had to find local jobs because gas became too expensive.
    A similar predicament has hit the further reaches of suburbia all across the US. There’s a new limit beyond which people will not want to commute. Poor quality of life is one of them, but gas expense is also a big factor. What worked with $1/gallon does not work the same way with $4/gallon.

  146. Posted by anon

    Jimmy – amazingly enough, if prices rise, urban planners will begin to plan cities differently as the preferences of citizens change. Citizens will vote for public transit expansion, etc.
    You can phase in a tax over time or subsidize low income folks’ gas if you’re worried about it being regressive, but the worry that it simply wouldn’t work just isn’t realistic.
    Me personally? If gas were more expensive I’d probably work from home another couple days a month. Or maybe I’d cough up the extra few grand for a Volt over my Mini, and over time GM would be able to build the car at a cheaper price as more people bought them. Or maybe I’d simply eat the cost. It doesn’t particularly matter. Total gasoline used in the country would go down, and we’d have more revenue to use for whatever (as I mentioned previously, I’d prefer it be revenue neutral and combined with a payroll tax cut).

  147. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    The price of gas increased from about $1/gal in the late 1990s to about $4.50 today, an increase of over 400%. In that time, our government has brought us … high speed rail from Bakersfield to Merced!
    So yes, you’ve completely refuted my argument. Congratulations.

  148. Posted by anon

    Are you claiming that gas use per capita did not decrease during that time?

  149. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    No, but there are other factors, such as mass unemployment and increased fuel efficiency of the vehicle fleet.
    Expansion of public transit was not one of them.

  150. Posted by anon
  151. Posted by anon

    Where in the world did I claim that expansion of transit would lead to lower gas usage? That’s an absurd argument.
    My claim was that higher gas prices lead to less gas being used.

  152. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    The chart is a good example of a common logical fallacy. Something about correlation and causation springs to mind. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

  153. Posted by anon

    So your theory is that there is no correlation between gas prices and gas usage? Um, ok.

  154. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    There is likely a weak correlation. There is a stronger correlation to vehicle fleet fuel economy, population density and employment levels. Among other things. Your argument vastly oversimplifies a complex problem with many externalities.

  155. Posted by anon

    Again, so your theory is that raising the cost of gas would not decrease the usage? That’s all that I ever claimed.

  156. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I think you stated amazingly enough, if [gas] prices rise, urban planners will begin to plan cities differently . Amazingly enough, in the most recent two decades, THE EXACT OPPOSITE occurred. Suburbs and exurbs have vastly increased in size, scale and popularity. Mass transit is as unpopular as ever. People still love gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs and the F-150 remains the best-selling vehicle in the country.
    How many more ways can I say “you’re wrong.”

  157. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    My statement was, to be precise, that “raising the price of gas would NOT NECESSARILY reduce fuel consumption.”

  158. Posted by anon

    You’re seriously going to claim that urban planning of the past two decades did not change at all from the urban planning of the two decades prior to that, when gas was much cheaper? Do I need to pull out the urban density statistics that you yourself brought up? Do I need to bring out the transit usage statistics (which are up massively over the past two decades – the lows were hit in the late 80s/early 90s)? Do I need to roll out the average density of suburbs built over the last 20 years compared to the 30 years prior? (hint: Las Vegas and Phoenix suburbs are much denser than Cleveland suburbs).
    Where is this “exact opposite” that you speak of?
    I only spoke of what the likely market response would be to higher prices and decreased use – planners changing the way that cities are built, which we can already see in many places. Your only solution is a centrally-planned solution of regulations and subsidies to the chosen few. Can you show me how your plan would work? How it has worked? In any industry?

  159. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Examples of centrally-planned solutions that worked:
    Solar panel production in China (result: huge decrease in solar PV cost worldwide).
    High speed rail in France (result: fast, environmentally friendly and relatively cheap connections between most cities there).
    DoD-funded research into communications and networks (result: cellphones and the technological foundation of the internet).
    Centrally-planned, socialized healthcare in Finland (result: reduction in infant mortality from 65 per 1000 in 1935 to 3.38 today (France is lower at 3.34). In contrast, the free market healthcare system in the US delivers an infant mortality rate of 5.9 per 1000.
    Just a couple examples from around the world where central planning is better than the free market.

  160. Posted by anonanon

    “Solar panel production in China”
    In what sense is the prominence of Chinese solar panel producers a result of central planning? China has risen to prominence as a manufacturing country in general after instituting free-market reforms. What’s so specifically centrally planned when it comes to solar panels?
    Case in point, China’s largest manufacturer by capacity as of 2011, Suntech, was founded by a Chinese-born Australian entrepreneur who got his PhD from the University of New South Wales. He returned to China in 2001 to found the company, which received private equity funding from Goldman Sachs prior to going public in 2005. Supposedly, the “central planners” at Goldman made a bundle on the deal.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suntech

  161. Posted by anon

    LOL at calling the US system of healthcare “free market”. Switzerland, the Netherlands and Singapore have the closest approximations of free market healthcare in the world (and I’m in certainly in agreement that the US healthcare system is an embarrassment – I’d love to see more market reforms introduced).
    And I’ve got no problem whatsoever with government planned infrastructure projects like HSR or government funded basic research. Very, very different animals than trying to curtail the use of a commodity through fuel efficiency regulations and targeted subsidies.

  162. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    You can argue whether this is good or bad, but the reality remains that people have to move around in order to survive. And the way you do that unless you are one of the lucky 10,000 who own a Tesla, is by burning gas.
    Darn it if there was only some other possible way for human beings to move around that didn’t involve burning gasoline. It is just such a crying shame that there is no other technology that involves moving people from one place to another that doesn’t involve an internal combustion engine. It is really just a tragic shame that we have no other choice but to build more and more freeways in an attempt to defeat traffic congestion.

  163. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Darn it if there was only some other possible way for human beings to move around that didn’t involve burning gasoline. It is just such a crying shame that there is no other technology that involves moving people from one place to another that doesn’t involve an internal combustion engine. It is really just a tragic shame that we have no other choice but to build more and more freeways in an attempt to defeat traffic congestion.
    That’s just what I’ve been saying!

  164. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    And in regard to Chinese solar panel manufacturing, your 2005-era information appears to be just a tad behind the times:
    http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/04/how_chinese_subsidies_changed.html#disqus_th

  165. Posted by anon

    Has solar energy use contributed to a fall in coal energy use in China?
    Aren’t we specifically looking for a fall in gasoline use in the US as the primary goal behind CAFE and subsidization of electric cars? Or is our goal simply to create a new electric car industry?

  166. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    You asked for examples of successful, centrally-planned solutions to problems. I delivered four examples. Now you’re changing the subject.
    A centrally-planned government funded effort to create an electric car industry can and will work. The public-private partnership that created Tesla is an even better model in my opinion and follows the successful Chinese model for solar panel production.
    It’s worked in other industries and other countries and it will work here too.

  167. Posted by anon

    What was the problem that those four examples solved? You named what they created, not the problem that they got rid of.

  168. Posted by anon

    And really, of your examples the healthcare one is bizarre. No one thinks that the US healthcare system is more market-oriented than other countries except for the incumbent companies making dough off the current system. I would argue that Obamacare (which I support) introduces more market elements than currently exist.

  169. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Let me spell it out for the slow-witted:
    #1. Solar panels: price of solar power has dropped 80%, is now more competitive with coal.
    #2. High speed rail: reduced time to travel between cities.
    #3. Cellphones and the Internet: improved communications.
    #4. Socialized healthcare: reduced infant mortality.
    Now, whether the lack of affordable renewable energy sources, long inter-city travel times, poor or non-existent electronic communications and high infant mortality rates are “problems to be solved” or not I suppose depends on your perspective on those issues.

  170. Posted by anon

    Let me spell it out for the slow-witted:
    #1 – did this lead to a decrease in coal used? You stated that it’s “more competitive” with coal, but that doesn’t mean that people are actually buying them instead of coal.
    #2 – I’ve already stated many times that I favor massive increases in government spending for infrastructure, so not sure why you’re bringing this up to prove your point. Infrastructure is a government responsibility.
    #3 – See #2.
    #4 – See other posts. There’s not much market-oriented about the US system.
    Again, for the billionth time (but you seem kind of slow), why is providing only a carrot (subsidy) better than providing a carrot (payroll tax rebate to be used for anything) and a stick (higher cost of gas to support alternative modes/companies/etc).

  171. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Its better because your approach is a non-starter in Washington.
    What’s actually being done is what can be done.

  172. Posted by anonanon

    Jimmy,
    Again, what’s unique about solar panels when it comes to Chinese manufacturing?
    BTW, good job linking to an article about bankrupt solar companies and unsustainable gluts in support of the success of central planning!

  173. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    They succeeded in reducing the cost of solar panels by 80%. Who cares if a few companies die along the way? They will be consolidated.

  174. Posted by anon

    They succeeded in losing more money, but they’ll make it up in volume!

  175. Posted by lol

    The way I see the solar business is a bit similar to how the global network of internet cables was built 13-15 years ago. Expectations were very high, a ton of money was invested and lost (or “misplaced”). An incredible forward-looking infrastructure was built that is virtually free to use for everyone today.
    The sale of Global Crossing’s assets in 2002 for pennies on the dollar is one of the main reasons for almost free and efficient cross-continental internet traffic. You can Skype to a phone anywhere in the world for single pennies a minute and the carrier still makes a profit. Same thing for calling cards, thanks for rock bottom VoIP access.
    Now Chinese companies are purchasing bankrupted solar companies, and are using dirty tricks to bankrupt more. Shame on western countries for not playing the game and reacting way too late in the game.
    Is that a good thing? Yes (cheap solar) and No (loss of control over an industry that might grow exponentially). Overall, cheap solar is good I think. We still need someone to install it, which creates jobs.

  176. Posted by anon

    There are no doubt some good side effects. IMO though, we could have produced the same results with a heavy carbon tax on coal and a simultaneous lowering of the employer-side of the payroll tax by the equivalent dollar amount. Incentive to come up with other options for energy along with an incentive for EVERY industry to hire more people. Wins all around, except for coal companies unwilling to diversify into other energy.

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