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Plug In Drivers Not Missin' the Piston

This is the Kodak Moment for the Auto Industry. Electric vehicles are here to stay. Their market acceptance and growth will continue....

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Affordable Gifts For Tesla Fans

Tesla vehicles are not cheap, but that does not mean that you can't find a few affordable "upgrades" for your ride or the Tesla fan on your shopping list. If you are looking for an affordable gift, we have several great options and many are under $10.

Puddle lights The Tesla logo projects from the bottom of the door. These are quick to install, no tools needed, and they look great.
Tesla shield puddle light
Wheel Decal: Add a nice pop to your wheels. Available in red and carbon fiber pattern. Sits in the imprinted stamp for easy application.
Tesla Wheel Decal (red)
Valve Stem Covers: Tire air valve covers with the Tesla logo. Less than $10, easy to install. A great stocking stuffer.
Tesla Logo Valve Stem Covers

The Elon Musk Biography: Musk refused multiple writers, but eventually agreed to sit down with Ashlee Vance. Read (or listen for audiobooks) about Musk's childhood, formative years, and the adventures of his fearless grandparents that give Musk his daring outlook.
Elon Musk Biography
Tesla Hoodie: Stay warm this winter and show your support for the Tesla.
Tesla Hoodie
Tesla Coil Arc Lighter: Last on our list is a Tesla lighter. This is no ordinary lighter. There is no lighter fluid in this one. Like the car, it is electric. And it never runs out of spark because you can charge it up from the USB port in your car. If you drive a Tesla, your car does not smoke, and you may not either but lighters are good for campfires, candles, fireworks, and much more.
Tesla Lighter

EEI Takeaway

Electric transportation is coming – no longer a question of if, but how fast

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tesla Semi: 500 Miles in 2020, 1000 miles in 2030

I just watched a conservative "news" program interview a trucker that said the Tesla semi truck was a farce, that it would never work, that 500 miles was not enough range, and that the recharging network would never be built.

Some people don't want to accept change. As Halt And Catch Fire put it "You are the future...nothing is scarier."

My dad was a truck driver. He drove for Chevron, Blue Bell Potato Chips, Navajo Express, and was an independent driver when he finally retired from trucking. We lived in Portland, Oregon. When I was in middle school, during school breaks, I'd ride with him up and down the west coast. Seattle and back in a day, or an early start and a long drive to Los Angeles for a day or two and then back on the road heading home.

How would Tesla's 500-mile truck work for these runs?

Portland to Seattle is about 175 miles. This means that you could make it there and back and still have more than 100 miles of range left. If the loading docks where you pick up and drop off have chargers, you'd have even more range without ever stopping explicitly to charge.

Heading from Portland to LA is different. It's about 965 miles one way. And you have to drive through the Cascades in southern Oregon and over the Mt. Shasta pass in northern California. The drive to LA would require at least one charging stop, considering the mountains, likely two stops.

There's a Tesla Supercharger in Grants Pass and that would be a good spot for a Megacharger too before heading over Mt Shasta. Driving through the mountains, the Tesla Semi would have far more power than a low geared diesel. Performancewise, diving the torquey Tesla Semi with a full load would feel like running a diesel with empty cargo holds, except you'd have a load that you'd be getting paid for.

The way the driving rules are written, truckers are required to take (and log) breaks on long drives. The Tesla charging times will align very nicely with these. And because the Tesla Semi will be able to move swiftly through these mountain passes, you be able to go farther between breaks.

After 25 minutes charging at Grants Pass, the semi will be able to climb the pass without breaking a sweat. Then it's literally downhill from there. The regenerative breaking in the semi will slow the descent from Mt Shasta to Redding while recharging the battery. From there the semi should have enough charge to make it to the Bay Area. Another 30-minute charge and a logged break anywhere between Sacramento and San Jose will be enough to complete the trip to LA.

So the trip to LA can be done with 2 meal breaks where both the driver and the truck recharge a little.

The two trips I illustrated here both happen to have worked out well. You certainly could find coast to coast trips where it would be much more difficult to stop every 500 miles. But if you are using those examples to say "the Tesla Semi is a farce that will never work", then let me offer this in another light. Fleet managers are not dumb, they are only going to use battery powered trucks where they work well. The diesel-powered truck will still be part of their fleet to cover the longer routes. This is until the battery-powered semis can handle those too.

Let's look at one technology comparison. When digital cameras came out, they had a horrible resolution and the major camera companies like Kodak dismissed them. What Kodak did not see was the growth curve of the technology. Digital cameras soon had good enough images for sharing on the dial-up internet, then on broadband social media, and today you can buy digital cameras with resolutions that are better than film grains.

So the battery-powered semis will be used for select routes in the beginning. The ones that can be done without charging (like Portland to Seattle and back, the shipping dock to the warehouse, or on regular well-defined distribution routes). Another option for early Tesla Semi routes are ones with charging conveniently located at required break intervals such as Minneapolis to Denver with a dinner/recharging break in Omaha. From from these humble starts, the technology will keep improving adding about 100 miles by 2023, for 600 miles of range, then 700 miles in 2026, and hitting 1,000 miles of range in 2030. This will open many more opportunities.

One thousand miles might seem impossible, but that prediction only requires a modest 7% improvement each year. Lithium-ion battery technology has been advancing at just this rate for over a decade and it shows no sign of slowing. During some years it has advanced 9 or 11%.

Just as battery advances allowed mobile phones to shrink and talk times to improve, over the next decade battery tech will now allow semi recharge times to shrink and ranges to improve.

The game has changed. Fighting that fact is like fighting the tide.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

10 Years of EV Driving (Part 4 - My First EV)

Our slow path to a 100% EV household.

In part 3, the documentary Who Killed The Electric Car? spurred me to shop for an EV. While EV shopping, I contacted my local EV club. One of the members said that he had a vehicle that would meet my distance and speed needs. I was cautiously optimistic.

I went to meet Don Blazer. Don was an EV advocate and had partnered with EV Bones to bring Chevy S10 EVs Oregon.
Chevy S10 Electric Pickup
The Chevy S10 Electric was not an aftermarket EV conversion. It was built as a 100% battery electric by General Motors. It was the cousin to the GM EV1. General Motors had only leased the EV1, but the S10 EV was intended for fleet owners. Some fleet owners refused to lease vehicles. They would only buy them. This meant that some of these trucks had escaped the crushing that claimed nearly all of the GM EV1s.
Crushed GM EV1s
Don was selling an S10EV that had spent its working life at Disneyland. When its days as a fleet vehicle had ended, it went to auction. EV Bones had bought it. They updated the batteries with Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) that had been salvaged from EV1s.

The truck had a top speed of 70 MPH and a range of 40 miles. This worked great for my 20-mile round trip commute.

In February of 2007, I bought it and I was, officially, an EV driver.

I loved it. The smooth, quiet acceleration, the simplicity of charging up in my own garage every night. Starting out each morning with a full charge for my day's drive.

For nearly any car model out there, you can find a group of enthusiast owners. Owning an EV was like that for me. I had never been a 'car guy' but suddenly I wanted to tell everyone how awesome it was to drive an EV.

I joined my local EV club and I started taking my electric truck to events all around the Portland area. I went to sustainability fairs, Earth Day events, 4th of July parades... and I started blogging.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Tesla Semi Truck Strategy

Tesla has held the unveiling event for their Semi Truck in November of 2017. It was clearly the biggest fanfare a semi truck reveal has ever received.

Tesla made some big claims about the truck's capabilities:
  • 80,000 pounds of load capacity (max allowed on US roads)  
  • 500 miles of range (at max load and freeway speeds)
  • Speed of 65 MPH while loaded and going up a 5% grade
  • 400 miles of recharge range in 30 minutes
There will be two price and range options for the Semi. The short-range (300 Mile) semi is priced from $150,000, while the long-range (500 Mile) semi is $180,000. These prices are far less than most were predicting.

Like Model 3, the Semi uses the Tesla 2170 battery cells from the Nevada Gigafactory. With 500 miles of range and about 2 kWh per mile, the long-range truck would have about 1 megawatt-hour worth of cells.

Is the Semi Profitable to Sell?

Depending on your source, the current estimate for battery production is between $140 to $280 per kWh. Assuming Tesla is on the low end of this estimate, the 1MWh size pack would cost $140,000 to produce. With the Semi priced at $180,000, that only leaves $40,000 for the rest of the truck and profit margin.

If you were only to look at things as they are today, the Semi would be a horrible business with little to no margin. However, Tesla will not start selling the Semi in any significant volume until 2020. Battery prices have been (and will continue) to drop. By 2020 and each year after, the profit margin that Tesla makes on each semi will improve.

And there is another thing to consider. Tesla will be selling energy to these trucks. When Peterbilt or Mack Trucks sells a truck, other than spare parts, the sale is done. They don't have a significant ongoing revenue stream.

Energy is the Ink Cartridge

For Tesla, supplying energy for these trucks will add up. Truck drivers drive an estimated 140 billion miles every year, and a single semi drives about 45,000 miles a year on average. According to the Federal Highway Administration, long-distance trucks travel upwards of 100,000 miles a year. Tesla has said that they will sell energy at the wholesale rate of 7 cents per kWh. Applying this to 45,000 miles. That is 90,000 kWh or $6300 each year for each truck. When there are 1,000 or 10,000 trucks on the road using Tesla energy, this will be a significant ongoing revenue stream for Tesla.

This is not unlike the printer and ink cartridge or razor and blade business model. If the truck generates an ongoing revenue stream, it is not paramount that the Semi is profitable on the day it rolls off the lot.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

My First Referral!

When I started driving a Nissan Leaf, I loved it. I took friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers out for rides and drives. I know that several of them bought a Leaf or another EV after that.

With the Tesla, I still take people for test drives and show the car at events, but I don't (or didn't) know of anyone that specifically bought a Tesla because of me. That is until now. I just received notice that someone purchased a Tesla using my referral code. This is great news. They will be driving an awesome car, they'll get free Supercharging for life, and I'll get the referral prize that I wanted, a Tesla wall charger etched with Elon's signature.

As I posted here, I've been using a simple 120V outlet to charge our Model X since we bought it over a year ago. This new unit will charge the car 5 to 6 times faster. The 120V outlet has worked fine, but there are times when faster charging would come in handy and this will allow me to leave the portable EVSE in the car, so I'll have it as a back up if I ever need it on the road.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Electric Lawn Mowers

Gasoline lawn mowers are serious pollution machines. If you drive an EV, then you already know the benefits of electric motors. These same zero-emission benefits apply to lawn equipment too.

In addition to the fumes that come from the mower, the EPA estimates that over 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment. Older less efficient two-cycle engines release 25-30% of their oil and gas unburned into the air. These fumes are smelly and carcinogenic.

If you are looking to replace your old gas mower with a new electric one, Amazon has electric mowers listed as part of their Cyber Monday Week Deals. Here are a few of them to consider (click on the link to see the Cyber Monday discount deal).