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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Winter Driving In A Tesla

Tesla Model S in the Snow, Image via caricos.com

Tesla has released firmware version 2017.50 and it has new cold weather features. We'll show you tips that work with this new firmware and tips that you can use in any electric vevhicle.

Old man winter's here and it's cold outside. The cold weather and road contions have impacts on driving regardless of the fuel source. In an EV, winter conditions have range impacts. If you want to maximize your winter driving range, there are some smart things that you can do in a Tesla to make winter driving comfortable and to maximize your winter range.

1. Preheat Your Car

Climate Control in Tesla App
Using the Tesla app, you can preheat your car while it is still plugged in. This allows the cabin to heat up using wall power instead of battery power, leaving more of your battery energy to move you down the road. You might even pre-condition 4 or 5 degrees above where you'd like it normally to further delay the use of battery power for the climate system once you are on the road.

It takes a lot less energy to maintain a warm temp than to raise the temp, so this tip pays off and now you get to step into a nice warm ride. #winwin

To use this tip, you must keep your car plugged in. Occasionally, new EV owners worry that leaving their car plugged in will damage the battery or cause a memory effect. With Teslas, the saying is "A plugged in Tesla, is a happy Tesla." There is memory effect concern with modern Lithium batteries. If you plan on leaving your can for any period of time, set the range down into the "Daily" region and keep it plugged in. This allows the car to draw power whenever it needs it for various thermal maintenance and connectivity actions.

1b. Scheduled Preheating

As I write this, there is no option to schedule a reoccurring climate control event in the app, but a major overhaul of the Tesla app is expected in 2018 and this is an oft requested feature so I would not be surprised to see it arrive soon. There are 3rd party apps available today that will allow you to pre-heat on a fixed schedule if this is a must have for you and you don't want to wait.

2. Pre-Heat The Battery 

Starting with firmware version 2017.50, Tesla added a new feature to precondition the battery. It might be more accurate to say that the app now displays this to the user since the car has had this feature for several years, but now the driver can see the battery temperature state.

When the battery is too cold, it is limited in many ways. It cannot charge or discharge at its full rate. This limits acceleration and regen. With limited regen, energy is wasted rather than recaptured and your range will be reduced.

When temperatures are near freezing and the battery would benefit from preconditioning, you'll see the snowflake icon and a blue region in the Tesla app. The blue region shows the portion of the battery capacity that is currently not available due to the cold temperature. To start the preconditioning, just turn on the climate control system. Climate control only takes a few minutes to heat or cool the cabin but warming the battery takes about an hour, so plan ahead when possible.

Using this feature will allow you to regain the blue region of the battery and increase your range and performance.

Just like Tip #1 above, to maximize range, make sure the car is plugged in.

3. Heated Seats

Model X 6 Seat Config w/ Subzero Package
If you live in a region that has a notable winter season or you just don't like being cold, it's worth it to get the subzero package when you buy a Tesla. It adds heated seat, heated wiper blades, heated washer nozzles, headed mirrors, and a heated steering wheel.

Heating the seats and the steering wheel is a much better way to stay warm than heating all the air in the cabin. Depending on the outside temp, this may be all the warming that you need.

4. Snow Tires & Alternatives


The above tips have been about keeping you warm and maximizing range. This tip is about keeping you safe. Winter driving can be dangerous. Make sure you use adequate traction control for the conditions and slow down as needed to maintain control.

If you live someplace with harsh winter conditions, then you should likely get winter tires and carry chains. Tesla sells traction devices that are made to fit their cars in their "shop" website.

I am fortunate that we only have a few days each year of snow and ice. On these rare days, I can generally work from home so I usually don't have to drive in the snow unless we're headed up to Mt. Hood for some skiing fun.

Even though snow and ice driving are not part of my typical routine, it's better to be prepared. I don't want to stranded if there is a surprise snowstorm while I'm out of the house. If we need supplies or there's an emergency, I want to be able to drive in winter conditions. To cover this case, I carry a set of AutoSocks in the car. These are light and easy to put on. They slip over the tire like a shower cap. Much easier to put on than chains and they work far better than I thought they could.

I'm not sure that you'd want to use them on a 100-mile skip trip, but they'd work great for a trip to the store on a cold winter's day. You can pick up a set here.

5. Smart Climate Control

When it's cold in the car, you might be tempted to crank the heater up all the way. Tesla's cars have powerful heaters that can bring the cabin temp up to 80F/27C quickly. This is usually a waste of energy. Instead of setting it on HI, just set it to the temp that you want, such as 72F/22C and let the HVAC system do its thing. This will avoid the overshoot that will likely occur if you are manually controlling the system.

As we mentioned in tip 3, make sure you are warming your seat when you're cold. If this is not enough, this can be supplemented with the cabin heater. You might notice that you can leave the HVAC temp a little lower than you normally would when you have your hands and buns already warm. This might also mean that all you really need to do is warm your feet, so you can direct the HVAC air to just that region.

If you turn on Range Mode in your Tesla, the HVAC system power is reduced. This can help in this case, but it is generally needed if you follow the tips above to preheat, seat heat, and use a smart temp.

6. Chill Mode

Depending on the options that you buy with your Tesla, you'll have 2 or more acceleration modes. They are: Standard, Chill, & Performance/Ludicrous/Launch. When you are driving on snow and ice, gradual acceleration is a good idea. Chill Mode acceleration can help keep all the tires gripping. Traction control certainly will still kick in as needed, but Chill Mode can help you lighten your foot a little and prevent you from needing it as often.

Chill Mode also seems to engage the regen a little slower, this means it can help when slowing down as well as when accelerating.

7. Driving Speed

Speaking of chilling, now that you have the cabin, battery, and seats warmed up and the climate control set just right, it's time to drive.

If you want to increase your driving range, one of the simplist ways is to slow down a bit. Drag is a function of the square of velocity, so even taking 5 MPH off your speed could have a notable impact on the range. When you are driving on ice and snow, slowing down is a good idea for safety too. Here, you have the additional benefit improved range.

8. Route Planning

Know Before You Go: As always, when traveling in an EV, make sure to allow for a margin of error on your routine planning and charging. You don't want to get stranded. Especially in the winter, road closures are possible and you may have to take a detour. Make sure you have enough charge to get to your next stop. If you have an app like PlugShare, it can help you find a place to grab a few extra killowatt-hours if the unexpected happens and you need a charge.

Anytime you stop and plug in, make sure to preheat the cabin and seats again before you unplug and get back on the road. If you've been driving and charging, the battery pack should not need to be warmed up again.

9. Clear The Snow

Snow Brush and Ice Scraper
If you stop to charge, this is also a good time to clear the snow that has likely accumulated on the car. Snow and ice can block the sonar sensors and can add drag to the car. I like to carry a brush-scrapper combo like the one shown above. The brush is great for the snow and the scraper for the window ice. You can get one here in blue or red to match your car (assuming it's blue or red :)

Bonus Tip 

The side view mirror defrost does not have its own setting. They are enabled when the rear window defrost is turned on.

Wrapping Up

I hope these tips help you stay warm this winter. Have a nice cup of cocoa when you make it to your destination. Be sure to wear a good coat, hat, and gloves for the trek. Drive Safely.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Profitably Powering The Tesla Semi

While talking with some EV-driving friends about the Tesla Semi, we got to the subject of paying to charge the truck on the road. At the Semi unveiling event, Elon Musk said that it would cost 7¢ per kilowatt-hour anywhere to charge in North America. To my surprise, they didn't think that Tesla could profitable sell energy for such a cheap price. One of these friends drives a Tesla and is a big fan of the company, so I was surprised to hear his skepticism. I asserted that they could.

Everyone has opinions, but let's look at some data and try to make it an informed opinion.

Wholesale Electricity Market

The US Energy Information Administration tracks US wholesale prices here:

Looking at the numbers for 2016 and 2017, you can see that wholesale prices are generally $30-$50 per MWH. That is only 3 to 5¢ per kilowatt-hour. There are times when it is 9 or 12¢, but just as many times when it is 2¢.

Tesla has acquired SolarCity and they are in the energy business. This gives them access to the wholesale market in many regions. Looking at the wholesale data alone, you could profitably buy energy on this market and resell it at 7¢ per kWh. However, this is only part of the picture.

Demand Charges

What makes industrial energy expensive are demand charges. Large industrial electricity consumers are charged per kilowatt-hour similar to residential customers, but they additionally have to pay a demand charge. Whereas industrial electricity rates are pennies per kilowatt-hour (generally cheaper than residential rates), demand charges are generally several dollars per kilowatt-hour. Depending on the usage, these demand charges can be up to 80% of the energy bill. Demand charges are designed to discourage big swings in demand from the grid. If industrial customers can use energy at a steady and predictable pace, then the utility can better serve everyone. Steady predictable usage helps prevent brownouts and the need for more expensive peaker plant sources such as diesel generators to be powered on by the utility.

Controlling demand charges the key to industrial electricity usage. If Tesla can buy energy for 3 to 5¢ and sell it for 7¢, they have a positive gross margin. If they have $8 per kWh demand charges on top of that, they have a big loss.

Applying this to Tesla Megacharger stations, there are three mechanisms that Tesla has to manage these demand charges: Onsite energy storage (Tesla Powerpacks), Solar energy production, Charging speeds. Let's look at each of these.

Onsite Energy Storage

Tesla's Megacharger stations will most likely have Powerpack energy storage systems as part of their design. Using these batteries Tesla can manage their grid demand. During a peak use time, rather than draw all the energy from the grid, they could, for example, draw 80% from the grid and 20% from their onsite batteries. This allows them to reduce the grid draw while not requiring the onsite batteries to take 100% of the needed demand. The batteries can then be recharged long after the semi is back on the road. This draws the same amount of energy from the grid, but it smooths out the load and reduces or avoids demand charges.

Utility Services

Once Tesla has Powerpacks installed, they could offer Peak Shaving and Load Shifting energy storage services to the local utilities. In many regions utilities have renewable energy goals. If they have to turn on demand standby sources (peaker plants) such as diesel generators, this could blow their CO2 budget and result in fees (in addition to the fuel cost).

If Tesla offered Demand Response Services to local utilities, they could have an additional revenue stream for these sites. Today, for Tesla to build an energy storage system for a utility, they have to go through an arduous approval process. However, if the Powerpacks are already installed and Tesla is offering this as a service, the upfront cost to the utility would be much smaller and the approval process to use the service could be much simpler.

Solar Energy

As we covered recently, a solar carport covering 40 parking spots (depending on where it is installed) can provide enough energy to power 100,000 Tesla Semi Truck miles annually. This is energy that Tesla can sell without buying it on the wholesale market.

Additionally, when solar is paired with energy storage, this allows for load demand management. The solar panels will produce energy during the day. Any semi charging that occurs when the sun is out would allow the onsite management software to determine the best combination of sources to draw energy from (solar panels, batteries, and/or grid).

Excess solar energy would be stored in the Powerpacks for evening use. The Powerpacks could then be recharged overnight at off-peak rates for morning charging events before sufficient solar energy has been generated for the day.

Charging Rate

Last on the list of things that Tesla could do to control Demand Charges is to slow the recharge rate of the Semis at the Megacharger. This is not something that they are likely to do, but it is an option. If they hit a case say at 8PM when the Powerpacks are drained, the solar is no longer generating and using grid energy is the only option. Then charging at 90% instead of 100% would reduce the grid load.

Capital Costs

Installing Megacharging stations with solar carports and Powerpacks will be expensive. Today, however, the markets are willing to invest in Tesla's growth. Projects like this, with significant capital outlays are only possible when they expand the market potential for a company. For Tesla, freight hauling is a new market with the possibility for huge future revenues, so the markets are again likely to fund this topline growth.

Gas Station Model 

I've been making the case that the energy sales alone could be profitable. However, it is worth pointing out that at franchise gas stations, the station owners make little or no money from the pumps. The profits from the fuel sales go to the parent company. The franchise makes its profit from the store. The coffee, Marlboro, and Slim Jim sales are what keeps the lights on at your local gas stations.

Tesla Megacharger stations are going to have amenities such as coffee shops and restaurants. Sales are more likely to be lattes and scones than Marlboros and Slim Jims though. These amenities sales will be a much higher margin portion of the Megacharger revenue.

Wrap Up

This post started with the assertion by my friend that Tesla would lose money by selling energy at 7¢ per kWh. A first-order approximation response shows that wholesale energy markets commonly sell energy for 3 to 5¢ and that reselling for 7¢ could be done profitably. Additionally, Tesla will generate their own energy onsite with solar panels. These require very little ongoing maintenance and will allow Tesla to sell energy without buying it from the wholesale market.

With solar and onsite storage, Tesla has all the tools they require to mitigate demand charges. Tesla has further opportunities to generate revenue with the Megacharger stations by offering peak-shaving and load shifting services to local utilities.

There will be a significant cost to build-out this infrastructure, but the market has shown a willingness to fund Tesla's topline growth and Tesla's market darling status does not appear to be in any danger. This will allow Tesla to raise capital as needed to fund this growth.

All this allows Tesla to branch increase their revenue, grow their infrastructure, and take a chunk of a new market.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How Many Solar Panels To Power A Tesla Semi Truck

I've seen a couple attempts to figure out how solar energy would be needed to "fuel" a Tesla Semi Truck. The analyses that I've seen have several flaws. They assume things like the panels must provide power at the same level as the charging system or that charging at night would cause problems. I'll show that neither of these are problems.

The primary failure of these analyses is that they confuse power and energy. I even conflated them in the title of this article (depending on how you read it). If you want to understand the difference between power and energy, you can read about it here. When you are looking at how far the semi can go, what matters for our purposes is energy.

The Tesla Megacharger stations will have onsite batteries and they will be grid-tied. This means that energy use can be time-shifted from the energy generation and the system could use net metering as well as the batteries as a form of energy storage.

If the energy can be generated and stored in onsite batteries, then the power levels that are needed can be supplied without taxing the grid. The level of power that is drawn from the grid does matter for demand charges and we'll cover methods to mitigate this in our next article. This just leaves us with one question:

Can solar panels generate enough energy to significantly supply a Tesla Semi?

To be clear, I don't mean solar panels on the semi truck itself. We're talking about stationary rooftop or carport solar panels. Will it take 4000 homes worth of rooftop solar installations or just a handful of rooftops PV panels worth?

Several years ago, we wrote an article that detailed how you could calculate how big of a solar array you'd need to supply your own EV. Now, we'll use the same tools and apply them to the Tesla Semi.

This is a two-step process: One, determine the energy need. Two, size the solar array to meet that need.

One: Determining the Semi Energy Needs

According to Tesla, their Semi uses less than 2 kWh per mile. To cover the worst-case, we'll use 2 kWh in our calculations. According to the Federal Highway Administration, a typical semi drives about 45,000 miles each year on average. Long-distance trucks travel upwards of 100,000 miles a year.

Using these datapoints, we can determine that a Tesla Semi driving a typical 45,000 miles annually will use about 90,000 kWh each year. A road warrior Semi would need 200,000 kWh. For context, in 2016, the average annual electricity consumption of a U.S. residential customer was 10,766 kWh. So a typical Tesla Semi will use the energy of about 8.4 typical U.S. homes.

Two: Determining Solar Array Size

Now that we know the typical and extreme energy use, we can size a solar PV system to meet this need. How much energy is produced by solar panels depends on where they are installed. Not surprisingly, sunny locations produce more energy. Since Tesla Megachargers will be installed all around the world. To get some idea of the impact we'll look at sunny San Diego and rainy Portland, Oregon.

Using the calculator at the National Renewable Energy Lab, you can determine that in sunny San Diego, to generate 90,000 kWh, you would need a 53 kW system. We have a 12kW system on our house. Assuming a similar rooftop size, 5 San Diego home rooftops could drive a Tesla Semi more than 45,000 miles.

Looking at rainy Portland, running the numbers, it would take a 78kW (6.5 rooftops) PV system. That is big, but not undoable. You can use the link above and plug in your own town and see for yourself how big of a PV system would be needed where you live.

Solar Carport at Intel Jones Farm in Hillsboro, Oregon
Above is a picture of a 400kW SolarCity carport. An installation like this in San Diego would generate 664,000 kWh/year. This would fuel a Tesla Semi for ~332,000 miles. That means each of these carports that covers 40 cars could fuel one of the 100,000-mile road warriors with miles to spare.

In Portland, a carport installation like this would generate 469,000 kWh/year, enough for 235,000 Tesla Semi miles.


Solar carports and rooftops can provide enough energy for hundreds of thousands of miles.

Now, if you hear someone say. "It would take football fields worth of solar panels to power a Tesla Semi", you know the truth of it. You now know that a 40 car solar carport could supply enough energy for 100,000 miles. That means coving a 400-car parking lot at the mega-mall or outlet stores with solar carports would deliver enough energy for over 1 million Tesla Semi truck miles.

If you hear someone say, "It would take the power of 4000 homes," you know that it is energy that matters and that it only takes 5 or 6 houses worth of solar to supply a typical Tesla Semi's annual needs.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Plug Your Ride

Our Affordable Tesla Fan Gift Guide was recently featured on the Plug Your Ride podcast!

I listen to a lot of podcasts and Plug Your Ride is one of my favorites. The host is Eddie Haskell. He's a Tesla owner and enthusiast that brings a fun slant to Tesla news as well as stories of his own Tesla ownership experience.

A regular feature of his show is Tesla tips and tricks. This week, I was surprised to hear in Episode 50 that his Tip Of The Week was a post from this blog.

To return the favor, I'm writing this post to plug his podcast. So here's a plug for Plug Your Ride from Cars With Cords. Thanks Eddie!

You can find the Plug Your Ride podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, or at their RSS feed.

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).

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Xmas Tree on a Model X

How we brought home our Xmas tree on our Model X. The affordable roof system we used, how it worked, and links to buy your own are at the bottom.

Thanksgiving is over and it's the time of year to go get a tree and put in your home so Santa has a place to put the presents after coming down the chimney. If you drive a Tesla Model X, you might be able to fit a reasonably sized tree in the back. But, a tree inside the car means a lot of needles and vacuuming after the hauling is done.

With most cars, the better option is to put the tree on the roof. The Model X does have a roof rack, so how do you haul a tree up there? And it had a glass roof; you certainly don't want to crack or scratch your roof.

Here's the hack that we came up with to solve this.

Tesla Model X with 3 glass grippers
I was looking for a suction cup mounted roof rack and there are several of them out there. Some of them were very expensive. I don't plan on hauling things on top of my Tesla very often, so the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a roof rack didn't appeal to me.

Looking at other suction cup products, I stumbled on handles that were made for lifting and transporting glass and countertops. These were much more affordable than a roof rack and they were rated for 200 pounds each. I would not be using them for their intended purpose, but it might work. They are rated for use moving heavy granite countertops so a ~65 pound tree would be a lighter load.

Thinking about the entire process, I also bought a cheap moving blanket to reduce the potential of scratching the car as the tree went on and came off the car.

The stuff arrived and soon after it was tree pickup day. I attached the handles to the car before we went to the farm. I wanted to see if they would stay on during the drive there. This would give me some indication if they would stay on or not for the trip home. The handles were easy to use. They have a lever to suck them to the glass. I found it easy to tell if they got a good seal or not with the lever. If it was firm when you moved it, it had good suction. If it was easy to move, there was no grip.

The roof of the Model X is curved; this made it difficult to get a good seal with both of the suction cups. I found it easier if I adhered the far cup first; this allowed me to push down on the near side. Remember, this is glass, to push too hard and break it. Finally, all three handles were mounted. We probably only needed two handles, but they were not that expensive, so adding a third one to share the load and add redundancy seemed like a good idea.

I made sure to place all the grips on the same piece of glass. This way, if the falcon wing door were to be opened (not recommended) with the tree on there, they would all move together. It would have been a good idea to turn on the child-proof lock for that door to prevent accidentally opening it. 

The handles stayed attached for the drive there (so far so good). We picked out our tree (a 7' locally grown Nordmann Fir) and had it bailed. Bailing is key to making everything else easier. Once the tree was bailed, we wrapped it in the cargo blanket. A few twists of twine holds the blanket in place, then up onto the car with the tree. 

We actually forgot our bungees, but it all worked out fine. They had twine to hold the tree in place. Bungees would have been way faster. With the tree strapped down, we hit the road, heading home. The large window of the X allowed us to easily keep an eye on the tree as we traveled.

We made it home and unloaded the tree. Here is the tree ready for lights and decorations.

Xmas tree, ready to be trimmed
If you want to use the same equipment that we used to make your own ad hoc Tesla Model X roof rack, the links to the items are below. If you do this, you do so at your own risk, be careful to not break your roof glass. I would not recommend heavy loads or bumpy roads.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

10 Years of Solar - 70 Solar Powered Cannonball Runs!

In late 2007, we had solar panels installed on our house. For me, the motivation for solar was to "fuel" the electric car that I had started driving earlier that same year. The 4 kilowatt PV system that we installed provided enough energy to drive an EV to drive about 16,000 miles each year.

In 2015, we added a second PV system, bringing our total up to 12.1 kilowatts. This allows us to "fuel" about 48 thousand solar-powered electric miles each year; far more than we drive. To go along with our second PV system, we added a second electric car to our home fleet.

In addition to fueling our cars, the energy that our PV systems generate is used to power the bulk of our home energy needs, TVs, computers, air conditioning... In the summer, they generate about 130% of our home's energy needs. This means that (via the path of least resistance), we're powering some of our neighbors' energy needs too.

Here is the graph of our solar energy production for 10 years.

The blue part of the graph is our original 4 kW system and the red section is the 8.1 more that was added in 2015.

In this chart, you can see the summer/winter ripple in the production graph as it moves up and to the right. This summer/winter delta grows as you move north on the globe. We are just north of the 45th parallel. Our summer/winter delta is even more exaggerated with our new system since most of the panels are east facing. Our roof-line does not allow for south-facing panels, but we didn't let that stop us from installing them. As you can see, they are still effective.

During our 10 years of production, we've made over 56 MWh, that is more than 56,000 kWh. As I mentioned above, we first installed our PV to fuel our electric car. So how far could this 56 MWh get us? The answer is nearly 200,000 miles for a car like our Nissan Leaf. With this energy, you could drive the NY to LA Cannonball Run more than 70 times. For another comparison, assuming you could drive an EV to the Moon (obviously, you can't, although you could drive one on the Moon since it does not require O2 intake for combustion) this energy could get you ~80% of the way there. We have a goal to generate enough energy to complete this Moonshot drive.

If you'd like to know how big of a solar PV system you need to fuel your own EV driving with solar miles (or smiles), you can check out this article for references and help with the math.

Friday, November 17, 2017

10 Years of EV Driving (Part 3 - WKTEC Awakening)

Our slow path to a 100% EV household.

In Part 2, my electric car dream had died. The only way I could become an EV driver at that time was to dedicate part of life to building an EV and managing batteries. At this stage of my life, early in a high tech career, I was not willing to do that.

In late 2006, I was on a documentary watching kick and filled my Netflix queue with them. One particular weekend early in 2007, in the days before streaming, the familiar red envelop arrived with the DVD for Who Killed The Electric Car?*. 

Watching this movie explained why the Saturn salesman laughed when we called in 1999 to try to buy an EV1. The suppression this technology made me angry, and it did something else; it re-awoke my electric car dream. 

I knew that it was very unlikely that I'd convert a car, my attempt from 2001 never got off the drawing board, so I'd have to buy one. I took to the internet. After some searching, I had four candidates: the Corbin Sparrow, the eBox, the T Zero, and the Zap Xebra

I went down the list trying to find details about each. The Sparrow and the eBox were expensive. The T Zero looked great, but they had only made a few prototypes and had no plans to produce the car. This left the Xebra. Luckily for me, there was a dealership in Salem, Oregon within an hour's drive from my house. We made an appointment to see the quirky three-wheeler.

Zapp Xebra
The Xebra website said that it had a top speed of 40 MPH and a 40-mile range. The salesman was blunt and said that was not true. You could go 40 MPH OR you could go 40 miles, but you could not do both. I had a 20-mile commute and much of the drive was on a road marked at 45 MPH, but maybe I could take sideroads, it might work. I took it for a test drive and with two men in the car (the salesman and myself), it was sluggish. There was a hill on the test drive; while ascending it we nearly came to a complete stop even with the accelerator to the floor. We live on a big hill. This was a dealbreaker. The Xebra was not going to meet my needs.

We tried to buy an EV in 1999 and were rebuffed. Now in 2007, it looked like once again I would not be able to find an EV within my budget that met my needs. I turned to the local EV club and lamented about my inability to find an EV. I said that I needed an EV that could go 45 MPH and have a 40-mile range at that speed.

To my surprise, I received a reply from someone with an EV for sale that he said met my needs. I was skeptical, but I'll save that story for part 4.

* If you own an electric car or are interested in EVs at all (and I assume you are if you are reading this) then I highly recommend that you watch Who Killed and its sequel Revenge of the Electric Car.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tesla's Failure, Better Than Success At Many Companies

The press has been spilling a lot of ink about the Tesla Model 3 production delays. Model 3 was scheduled to go to 5,000 vehicles produced per week by the end of 2017, but today, due to production bottlenecks, they are far from this goal and Tesla has conceded that the 5,000 units per week goal will not happen until March of 2018. This delay has been billed as a major failure by many analysts and many in the media. On this news, Tesla's stock price was punished, dropping from a high of $360 on October 18th down to $299 on November 2nd (full disclosure, I am long TSLA).

The "failure" proclamations from analysts and media made me wonder how Tesla has done compared to other car companies. Yes, Tesla has failed to meet their own lofty goals, but how does their Model 3 rollout compare to other car companies' launch of a new vehicle? Let's see.

Current Comparisons

InsideEVs has a Plug-in Vehicle Sales Scorecard that they publish each month. Based on all the stories of Tesla's "failure", I expected to see them at the bottom of this list. Looking at Model 3 on the scorecard shows that it is not at the bottom, far from it actually. Here's the scorecard:
Plug-in Vehicle Scorecard via InsideEVs
Honda began shipping their new Clarity EV in July 2017, the same month as Tesla began delivering Model 3. Tesla has delivered more than twice as many Model 3 units compared to the Clarity EV. Honda is not new to the car game, yet Tesla is outpacing them. I'll let you speculate as to why Honda's electric offering had been anemic. Similarly, Volvo started shipping their new XC60 PHEV in July too and Tesla has shipped about 100 more of their new car than Volvo.

The Cadillac CT6 PHV began shipping 3 months before Model 3 and yet Model 3 has out-sold this car by a factor of 2.

The BMW i8 has been shipping all year and Tesla has already delivered more Model 3s. There are more Model 3s on the roads than i8s.

I have not seen "failure" stories about every (or any) one of the vehicles that are below Model 3 on this list. The "failure" on Tesla's part seems to be having high demanding self-expectations.

Historical Comparisons

Looking back, for a previous breakthrough car that changed the way many people drive, the Toyota Prius comes to mind. In the Prius' first year of delivery in their home country, they delivered about 300 cars. Tesla has already delivered 367 Model 3s through Q3 of this year, with more coming in November and December. Tesla Model 3 year 1 will likely double that of Prius' introduction year.

In the Prius' first full year of production, they delivered 17,700 cars. Model 3's first full year (2018) will be significantly higher. It wasn't until the Prius' 7th full year of production that they were over 100,000 delivered annually. We should see more than 100,000 Model 3 in its first full year of production. Model 3's ramp to 100,000 will be 6 years faster than Prius'.

In the Chevy Volt's first full year of production, GM delivered 7,671 cars. Similarly, in the Nissan Leaf's first year of full production, they delivered 9,674 vehicles. Model 3's first year of full production will be an order of magnitude larger than these.


Tesla has not delivered to their own high expectations for Model 3's ramp. Certainly, the 400,000+ people on the waiting list would love to have their cars sooner rather than later. But compared to the plug-in offerings from BMW, Honda, and Volvo, Tesla is delivering.

Comparing Model 3 to the early years of the Prius, Leaf, and Volt, Tesla is delivering.

For the analysts that want Tesla to stop overcommitting and underdelivering, I say there are other companies that make very small commitments, you might want to invest in them. I would rather do business with, and invest in, a company that promises the moon and delivers greatness; rather than one that makes and meets pathetically small goals.

Looking at all of the plug-in cars on the scorecard list above, there is no question in my mind that Model 3 will be number 1, with a big lead on the pack, on the Plug-in Scorecard for 2018. Tesla may be late on their March goal for 5,000 per week too, but they only need to get to 1,000 vehicles per week to dominate the scorecard.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Optimistic Elon Musk's Moonshot Method

Elon Musk dreams big. In this entry, we'll look at Elon Musk's leadership style, the many missed delivery deadlines it has caused, and why (at the same time) it is the key to Tesla's (and SpaceX's) success. We'll also look at how his leadership style has polarized Musk's fans and critics as well as Wall Street analysts' responses.

Among Musk's list of big dreams are to populate Mars; transition all forms of land, air, and sea transportation to electric; create a highspeed human-computer interface; create cars that can drive better than humans; dig tunnels and move vehicle traffic underground; whisk people from any major city to any other major city on the planet in less than an hour (by rocket of course).

Among these big dreams are also many things that Musk has committed to deliver and then failed to meet the commitment. Bloomberg even has a page dedicated to tracking Musk's projects; be they successes, delayed, or failures. These product promises include AutoPilot 2  features, Model 3 deliveries, and much more.

Musk Standard Time (MST)

For those of us that have been following Musk for a considerable time, we've learned to mistrust his ability to estimate project timelines. Ashley Vance wrote about it in his biography of Musk. Perhaps Musk assumes everyone working for him can clear their life of all distractions and work 18 hour days for months at a time as he did during his programming years. Another possibility is that it's a form of the Dunning–Kruger effect where he assumes things are far simpler than they really are? Unlikely. Are the delivery dates from Musk blatant lies to dupe people to buy into the ideas and get employees to work super hard? Some of Musk's critics may think so, but again, unlikely. 

Rather, these timelines are likely the ones Musk wants to be true. He has thought long and hard about the solution, how it works, and its impact on the world. After such a thorough roseate visualization, it seems like something that should exist as soon as possible. This explains his optimistic estimates, but it is not an estimation method that you are likely to find in one of Steve McConnell project management books.

Let's look at some of these missed deadlines in a little more detail and then look at why this (despite missed commitments) is one of Tesla's greatest methods of delivering breakthrough products.

Note, the point of this article is not to point out the failures, there are plenty of critics that write such articles. Please don't stop reading in the middle of the next section and assume you know the article's full content. The discussion of these "failures" is for context, to make a point; they are not the point.

Model 3 Delivery Failures

In the Q1'16 earnings report, when asked about Model 3 production, Musk said, “So as a rough guess, I would say we would aim to produce 100,000 to 200,000 Model 3s in the second half of next year.”

Musk did call this a rough guess, but it was optimistic by an order magnitude. Instead of delivering massive quantities of Model 3, Tesla spent the second half of 2017 in "production hell" and deliveries are far below this rough guess. At the time of this writing, we still don't know what the final delivery numbers for 2017, but they are likely to be closer to 20,000 than to 200,000.

Speaking of Model 3 deliveries, Tesla was scheduled to start delivering Model 3 cars to non-employees in October of 2017. Halloween has come and gone and so far, the only people to own the keys (or key cards) to a Model 3 are board members and employees. In early November, reservation holders received an email from Tesla stating that Model 3 deliveries would be delayed 1 to 3 months.

Our final issue in the Model 3 space is the delivery of a $35,000 variant of the car. The initial configuration included the large battery pack, the premium package, and more. This puts the price well over $50,000. If you want (and can afford) the upgrades, that's fine. But many people are on the List for a Model 3 because they cannot afford a $50,000+ car. They are waiting for the $35,000 option (with maybe a few upgrades). This was scheduled to be available in November of 2017. Now, given the production problems currently with the Model 3, Tesla is not likely to add to the manufacturing complexity by allowing more configuration varieties any time soon; those waiting for a $35000 car will be waiting until sometime in 2018.

Other Missed Optimistic Commitments

Tesla Network: In October 2016, Musk announced the Tesla Network. This is the idea that the owner of a Tesla would be able to place their car into a Tesla operated rideshare network when they didn't need it personally. You could drive to work, then release your car to the network to autonomously chauffeur people around until you need it again. Going on vacation for a week? Your car could stay home and work to help you pay for it. The Tesla Network could be used to earn money and reduce your car payment. Musk said that the network was targeted to begin in 2017.

Autopilot 2: New Autopilot hardware was introduced in October of 2016. When the new hardware was deployed, it was missing many features that the previous hardware 1 systems had. Not only could the new system not autosteer initially, it didn't have rain sensing wipers or auto high beam headlights. Musk said that hardware 2 would reach parity with hardware 1 within 3 months. Many features have been added to hardware 2 since its introduction, but now in late 2017, it is still not yet at parity with hardware 1 systems. This is about 11 months late.

Model X Launch: The Model X was announced in February of 2012 with a targeted launch date of 2013. The target year of 2013 came and went and no Model Xs were delivered. 2014 rolled by without a delivery. Finally, in September of 2015, the first key fob was handed to a new owner. But Model X was plagued by production issues for another 6 months before any significant volume of deliveries began.

Full Self-Driving: Soon after the introduction of Autopilot hardware 2, buyers have had the option to pre-pay for full self-driving. In January 2017, Musk said self-driving features would begin to roll out in “3 months maybe, 6 months definitely.” Six months after January would be July. July has come and gone and you can still pre-pay for the feature, but, as of today, you still cannot use it.

Responses To Missed Commitments

When so many promised deliveries have been missed, why do Musk's words still carry so much weight? If Musk was viewed as just a wild dreamer, he would not have the following that he does. Musk is trying to do something that is important, something that's never been done before, and that many people would like to see succeed. When this is the case, many are likely to give you some slack on the schedule, as long as you are working hard and showing progress.

There is no question that Musk is personally working very hard towards these goals and pushing his teams to do the same. For example, during the recent Model 3 production constraint, Musk was working at the Gigafactory at 2 AM on a Sunday and sleeping on the roof to save time driving to\from a hotel.

In a recent note, an analyst from Cowen and Company said, “Tesla needs to slow down and more narrowly focus its vision and come up for a breath of fresh air. Elon Musk needs to stop overpromising and under delivering.” This is a typical response from an analyst. They are attempting to value the company and figure out how it will do in this quarter or the next. They want predictability, but innovation does happen on Wall Street's quarterly timeline.

The mistake that Cowen & Co and other analysts are making is to judge Tesla by the aggressive goals and missed timelines, rather than by results. Seeking Alpha writer, Trent Eady, said it well when he wrote, “If Musk promises you the moon in six months and delivers it in three years, keep things in perspective: you’ve got the moon.”

Musk has said that if investors want to buy into a car company that does things the traditional way, they should buy Ford. He has no intention of changing Tesla's behavior or culture to meet analysts' expectations.

Musk & the Moonshot

Modern businesses focus on meeting quarterly expectations. If you miss the Street's expectations, your stock is punished. When the stock drops, the board starts looking for new management. This had led many C-suite executives to think small. Looking for things that can be done in three months and things that can show a quick upside.

As we've shown, Musk does not think small. Rather, he uses what others have referred to as Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). These are Moonshots or go big or go home ideas. They are not guaranteed to succeed and they are not something that can be done on a fixed 3-month schedule. To accomplish something of magnitude, you have to be willing to fail and you have to be willing to disappoint the Street. This is not an option that most CEOs of publicly traded companies are willing to attempt. Discussing the culture of innovation at SpaceX, Musk said, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough."

The Power of Optimism 

If these audacious goals are likely to fail or at least result in unforeseeable delays, why does Musk put such an optimistic timeline on them? Why not state the goal with no promise of delivering it next year?

Danny Kahneman, the Nobel prize-winning economist, has an answer to this question. In an episode of Freakonomics Radio (How To Launch a Behavior-Change Revolution, dated October 25th, 2017) he says, "If you realistically present to people what can be achieved to solve a problem, they will find that uninteresting. You have to overpromise in order to get anything done. You take a problem like poverty. If you say I am going to reduce it by 12%, that may be realistic but no one will be interested. People want to solve the problem. Change is very unlikely otherwise. When you look at big successes, the people that carried out those big successes were unrealistically optimistic typically. This may be necessary to get the initial resources and it may be necessary to get the enthusiasm that is needed to achieve anything at all, because there is so much inertia that realistic promises are at a major disadvantage."

When you look at big successes, the people that carried out those big successes were unrealistically optimistic.
~ Danny Kahneman

Kahneman's comment was not about Musk, but it is very applicable. Musk is trying to do things that have never been done before.

By striving to do the impossible, man has always achieved what is possible.
~ Mikhail Bakunin

Musk's use of a short timeline gives a sense of urgency to the effort. It might mean the actual delivery will be late, but it arrives sooner than it ever would have if it had initially been given a realistic timeline. If you want to move people off the status quo, you have to present them with something exciting. A promise of something 10 years from now will be discounted to the point of insignificance and ignored by most.

Whenever Musk makes a new proclamation, you will find people that claim that it is impossible. This was true about the Tesla Roadster and every car that Tesla has delivered since. It was true about SpaceX landing rockets on drone barges at sea (or anywhere actually). Musk's use of big aspirational goals is an example of the "Kahneman overpromise" and it has been effective. 

Musk is often wrong about the timeline, but never in doubt about the goal. The deadlines come and go, but the commitment to the results are still there. These are not empty promises, but don't expect them to happen on a predictable timeline.

Those proclaiming something is impossible should not stand in the way of those that are doing it.

When you are doing the impossible, it is hard to deliver on a predictable schedule.

Fanbois or Cult?

Musk has become a divisive figure. Criticism or praise of him will bring about counterpoints and ensuing arguments between fanboys (or to be non-gender specific, fanbois) and critics.

The critics wonder how anyone can idealize someone with such outlandish ideas. While the fans wonder why anyone would be a detractor to someone that is trying to make our existence so much more interesting. Musk's unorthodox method allows for reasonable people to come to either conclusion, depending on their perspective.

Considering the recent Model 3 delays, Model 3 reservation holders are not thrilled that they have to wait longer for their vehicles, but they are not likely to cancel their orders en masse. Edmunds auto analyst Jessica Caldwell recently said,“Many Model 3 customers put deposits down on the vehicle more than a year ago before they even saw the vehicle, so it’s clear Tesla buyers don’t follow the usual logic-driven car-buying process.” If you have a reservation for a Model 3, it is not just a place in line for a car. For many, it's a statement about who they are, what they believe, and the future they want to help bring about.

People are not inspired by the something easily doable, nor by something obviously preposterous. The right place to inspire is to something just out of reach, like Kennedy's Moonshot. That is the place where Musk has targeted his publicly shared goals, at things that are hard, and it has captured the imagination of many.

These just-out-of-reach goals means that there are many unknowns. And there are things that are currently not possible. These are engineering problems that are yet to be solved.

I am eagerly waiting for the future to arrive. You have to want more and settle for what you get. 


If— By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!