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Plug-In Drivers Not Missin' the Piston Electric vehicles are here to stay. Their market acceptance is currently small but growing...

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Tesla Model Y Roof Rack Impact On Range

We've installed a roof rack on our Tesla Model Y. 

I wanted to know if this would have any impact on our range / driving efficiency. The good news is that we have a ~170 mile round trip drive that we made just before the rack was installed. Then after the rack was installed, we made the same round trip. I collected data for both drives so this made for a good chance to compare.

This drive is mostly freeway speed driving on Interstate-5. Of course, there are a lot of variables that impact range (e.g., tire pressure, speed, weather, elevation changes...). The nice thing about this comparison is that it's nearly the same route, similar weather days, same vehicle, same driver... So this is about as apples-to-apples as we can get.

Before the roof rack was installed: 

Distance: 167.90 Miles
Energy Used: 42.52 kWh
Drive Time: 3 hours, 4 minutes
Ave Speed: 54.75 MPH
Temp: 67°F there, 69°F back
Efficiency: 253.4 Wh/mile or 3.95 miles per kWh

After the roof rack was installed:

Distance: 170.18 Miles
Energy Used: 40.40 kWh
Drive Time: 3 hours, 12 minutes
Ave Speed: 53.18 MPH
Temp: 73°F there, 79°F back
Efficiency: 237.4 Wh/mile or 4.21 miles per kWh 

Well there you have it. Looking at these numbers, there's no significant range impact from the roof rack. In this comparison, the drive with the roof rack was actually more efficient. This was not because of the roof rack, it was likely the slightly lower speed or the warmer air temp reducing drag.

To be clear, this was with no cargo on the roof; just the installed roof rack.


The roof rack had no notable impact to the driving efficiency or range. Other variables such as speed, temperature, elevation, tire pressure... have far more impact on range than the presents or absence of the aerodynamically shaped Tesla roof rack.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

The Decade That Changed Everything

A few years ago, I shared a scary Halloween story about how the entire economy is going to collapse over the course of this decade. This year, I thought I'd share the more positive side of that "collapse"; rebirth. 

Only when looking back, with a few years of perspective, can you really see the things that make a decade stand out. During the decade, when you are living it, it's hard to know the day-to-day things that will define it. Now, it's easy to see that things like water beds, big hair, M-TV, neon leg warmers, shoulder pads, and hammer pants define the decade of the 1980s. What will define the 2020s decade? 

We're less than halfway through this decade, and it's certain that things like the pandemic and the insurrection will cover pages in the future history books, but I'm interested in things that will influence the culture of that future society that's reading that history book. I think it's starting to become clear that the phase-out of fossil fuel usage, is truly underway. It will take a generation for it to come to fruition, but it is making more progress now than it ever has. 

This is the decade that will cross the chasm; this decade will be the tipping point.

EVs, solar, and wind power are not new, but steady efficiency improvements and advances in battery technology have taken these to a new level of performance and grid integration. 

Performance improvements have made them more desirable, increasing demand; allowing production levels to increase; allowing the price to be reduced; thereby further increasing demand. It's a positive feedback loop, a virtuous cycle, and it's gaining momentum.

Phasing out fossil fuels will be a big change. At one time, people smoked cigarettes in nearly every place. They smoked on airplanes, in restaurants, and in workplace offices. Today, looking back on that time, we wonder why that was ever allowed. It just seems dumb that this behavior was tolerated. It didn't matter if you were a non-smoker, a child, or infirmed, you were subjected to secondhand smoke in everyday life. It seems unthinkable that you couldn't sit down in a restaurant and have a meal without being engulfed in carcinogenic fumes. 

Similarly, a few decades from now, people will look back at today with similar incredulity at the days when we were sitting in traffic jams surrounded by tailpipes. They'll look back at parents in cars idling in queues for school drop-off and pick-up, all the while spewing out deadly emissions while little lungs are breathing nearby. They'll wonder why we used fossil fuels for more than a century; especially after the turn of the millennium when the downsides had become painfully obvious.

For fun, let's look at how an academic in 2035 might look back at today in an attempt to understand why our society was so slow to move to the inevitable renewable future.

Term paper, December 2035, The Societal Dissociative Disorder That Allowed Continued Fossil Fuel Usage In The Early 21st Century 


The paper investigates the phenomenon of "Societal Dissociative Disorder" (SDD) and its implications on the continuation of fossil fuel usage during the early 21st century. By the year 2035, the consequences of climate change have become apparent, necessitating a critical analysis of the societal and psychological factors that hindered a timely transition to renewable energy sources.

Drawing from extensive historical records and contemporary research, this study examines the psychosocial mechanisms that facilitated the perpetuation of fossil fuel dependency. We propose that SDD, a collective cognitive and emotional disconnection from the long-term consequences of continued fossil fuel use, played a significant role in prolonging the reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

This paper shows the global energy landscape during the early 21st century, highlighting the dominance of fossil fuels and their pervasive influence on various sectors of society. Subsequently, it explores the cognitive biases and socio-political dynamics that contributed to the denial and minimization of climate change impacts, thereby reinforcing the status quo.

Furthermore, our research identifies the powerful interests and industry lobbying that constructed barriers to comprehensive climate policy reform. By analyzing case studies of historical environmental movements, we demonstrate how entrenched economic interests and disinformation campaigns perpetuated SDD and effectively hindered meaningful climate action.

Moreover, this paper delves into the psychological underpinnings of SDD, examining the mechanisms of psychological distance and temporal discounting that blunted the urgency of transitioning to sustainable energy alternatives. We draw parallels to other societal issues where dissociation from long-term consequences has been observed, providing a broader framework for understanding SDD.

Finally, the paper explores successful initiatives and strategies that ultimately led to the transformative global shift away from fossil fuels. By learning from past mistakes, this study offers valuable insights into overcoming SDD and fostering a collective consciousness that prioritizes sustainability, clean air, clean water, and environmental stewardship.

In conclusion, this paper highlights the relevance of addressing SDD as a key aspect of driving societal change to sustainable energy practices. Only by acknowledging and confronting this psychological phenomenon, can generation alpha be better equipped to navigate complex global challenges and avoid the mistakes of the early 21st century.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Tesla's 2 Million Vehicle Production Year Will Have to Wait

Looking at the production volumes from Tesla last year, it sure looked like this would be the year to hit 2 million vehicles produced in a single year. Fremont and Shanghai Gigafactories were going all out and Giga-Berlin and Giga-Austin were ramping.

The battery cell constraints that have held them back in previous years were resolved.

My hopes for 2023 were high. Tesla sent more reasonable guidance and said that they were expecting to produce 1.8 million vehicles. Tesla is not known for softball targets. They set aggressive targets. They may not always meet them 100%, but they still deliver incredible results. 

I hoped they'd blow past the 1.8 million guidance in November; allowing December's production to push them over the 2 million mark. 

It does not appear that 2 million will happen this year. Tesla announced early in Q3 that they'd be shutting down lines during the quarter for maintenance and upgrades and that's exactly what happened. Q3 of 2023 is one of the few quarters where Tesla didn't set a new production record. It still has impressive year-over-year growth, but it's about 50,000 fewer cars than Q2'23. 

Given all of this, here's the new 2023 estimate. 
Our production prediction for Q4'23 is 555,000 vehicles. If achieved, it would be a record quarter and the first time that they've produced more than half a million vehicles in a single quarter. That would bring the year's production to 1,906,000. This is well ahead of Tesla's guidance, but short of the 2 million I wanted to see. 

Regardless, 2023 already has over a million vehicles rolling off the line with the iconic T logo on the hood. That's millions of vehicles without tailpipes deployed. Far ahead of any other auto manufacturer. 

For Tesla to meet their guidance, they'd have to produce 450,000. They've done more than that in Q2 of this year, so it looks very likely that they'll meet their production target and maybe even a little upside surprise to end the year. 

Disclaimer: I'm long TSLA. Feel free to use my referral code http://ts.la/patrick7819.

Friday, October 13, 2023

The 4 Horsemen of the Auto & Oil Industry Apocalypse

This was originally posted on October 1st 2020. Since today is Friday the 13th of October, it seems fitting to republish it. Enjoy.

It's October, it seems appropriate to start the month off with an epic horror story.


The automotive and oil industries are, collectively, the largest industry on the planet. We fight wars for oil resources, their lobbyists hold sway over every aspect of our government. The value of assets under their control is worth trillions of dollars... 

Regardless of their massive size, things are about to change. There are four megatrends that will ride roughshod over this behemoth. During times of inflection, giants can fall: Kodak famously missed the digital revolution; Blockbuster missed the transition to streaming. During this transportation transition, which brands or companies that we know today, that seem indelible, will fall to Death's scythe and fade into the annals of history?

We still take photos, just not with Kodak cameras. We still watch movies, just not from Blockbuster. Soon, we might be saying; we still drive cars, just not powered with petrol. 

The 4 Horsemen that are upending the 100-year-old status quo are: 

  1. Electrification of Transportation 
  2. Declining Ownership & Mobility as a Service 
  3. Self-driving Cars
  4. Pace of Innovation 

These 4 will shake up the auto and oil industry more in the next decade than we've seen since Henry Ford reinvented the vehicle production line. New players will emerge, some old players will adapt, others will die as we start a new chapter in human history. As a species, we're now evolving beyond petro-sapien and the world will be reshaped. 

Let's look at each of the Doomriders.

Horseman #1 Electrification of Transportation

Our first and biggest harbinger of doom is Electric Vehicles (EVs).

California Governor, Gavin Newsom, issued an executive order on September 23rd, 2020 that requires all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state by 2035 to be zero-emission. California is one of the largest car markets in the US and if the other gang of 13+ CARB states follow, this will seriously curtail gas car sales. A lot can change in 15 years, but the direction is clear. 

The legacy automakers are heavily invested in their internal combustion infrastructures. The factories and supply chains they've established are not simple to change from combustion vehicles to electrically powered ones. Converting them will be expensive and auto companies are not flush with cash. The assets and know-how that once enabled them to be profitable are now (or are soon to be) stranded assets and liabilities. Legacy automakers have been reducing their dividend payments as their stock prices decline and their debts grow. Declining combustion vehicle sales will reverse the economies of scale that these vehicles enjoy today; further pushing the downward spiral of the auto-pocalypse.

While the legacy automakers are tied to an anchor pulling them down, Wallstreet seems to be tripping over themselves to fund electric car start-ups. Tesla has had round after round of capital raises, most recently a $5B capital raise in 2020, and $2.7B before that in 2019. The market has rewarded Tesla with a higher stock price each time they raise money, viewing these as 'growth accelerators'. This applies to other EV upstarts as well; investors seem far more interested in small start-up companies in the growing EV market rather than large companies in the declining ICE market.

Tesla recently shared the below graph at their Battery Day event. 

This graph is for the 1st half of 2020 and you could argue that 2020 had been anomalous in many ways and not a valid sample for future predictions. However, times of crisis accelerate transitions so perhaps this is a better view of the future. Bloomberg estimated that at least 50% of global car sales in 2040 will be electric. If the trend in the above graph continues, many of the legacy automakers will not survive. 

Several trends are driving EV adoption: 
  • Battery technology has been continuing to improve by 5%-7% per year. This means that each EV generation is slightly more capable than the previous. Range, towing, recharging time... are all related to the battery, and all are improving each year and projected to continue to improve into the foreseeable future. 
  • Battery cost has similarly continued to decline (see graph below). This allows capable EVs to move into lower price-points. A recent Forbes article said that Tesla's upcoming $25,000 EV would be "game over for gas and oil". Additionally, this price reduction allows larger packs, with more range and more performance, to be used in high-end EVs. There are now multiple EVs with more than 500 miles of range announced for 2021. Five hundred miles! 
  • EVs are popular with buyers because they are smooth quiet rides that require less maintenance and are far more affordable to fuel. JD Power reports that EV buyers have very high satisfaction rates and most never want to own another gas-powered car after owning an EV.
  • Government incentives. Many municipalities are encouraging EV adoption to meet CO2 reduction targets. The incentives use a range of carrots and sticks. These could be tax incentives, sales tax waivers, parking privileges, carpool (HOV) lane access even with a single occupant, increased gasoline taxes (making EVs a better alternative)... 
All of these trends are pushing more of the market into electrified transportation, whether the legacy automakers are ready for it or not. The impact of this transition will not only be felt by the auto industry but also by gas and oil.

According to TradeArabia, EVs are expected to offset oil demand by 1.2 million barrels per day by 2025. ExxonMobile, once a stalwart of the Dow Jones Index, was recently removed from the index after serving 92 years as a member of the elite company list. The transition to electric 'fuel' is in its infancy, and the impacts are already causing giants to stumble.

Horseman #2 Declining Ownership

“The things you own end up owning you.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Next on our list of creative destruction is a generational change in how cars are viewed. If you were born in the US before 1990, when you turned 16, you wanted a car. A car meant freedom. Freedom to go see your friends, to go on adventures, to go on dates and (if it went well) to steam up the backseat windows looking for paradise by the dashboard light.

Teens today live in a different world. Much of their social life is online. They don't need a car in order to hang out with their friends. Cars are no longer viewed as the iconic symbol of freedom. A car is just a method to get from A to B (if travel can't be avoided).

The mentality of a car as merely a tool opens up many opportunities for change. If you live in an area with a dense enough population, rideshare or scooters are options for most trips. If you want dinner, meal delivery is only a few taps away on a smartphone; similarly, grocery delivery is just another app. On the rare occasion that you need a car for something like a weekend getaway, you rent one (Getaround, Turo...). Collectively, these are called mobility as a service (MaaS). 

As the Fight Club quote goes, “The things you own end up owning you,” and this is especially true with cars. Owning a car is demanding both financially and timewise. Using MaaS means that you don't have to buy a car, pay for gas, buy car insurance, pay for maintenance, fluids, tires, parking... If all of your mobility needs can be met without owning a car, this is appealing to many.

MaaS is easiest in an urban or suburban environment and the percentage of the population in these sections of the country has been steadily increasing for decades. This means that MaaS adoption trends will likely continue to increase too. 

Another trend that is enabling the decline in car ownership is working from home. The pandemic has caused many employers to rethink their office policies. If you are not commuting daily, the need to own a car is also reduced. 

Horseman #3 Self Driving Cars

Our third disruptive horseman (or should that be horseless carriage man) is autonomous cars. This technology is not yet here in any significant manner, but it. is. coming.  And when it does arrive, many fleet managers and vehicle shoppers will not consider buying a car without it. 

This technology puts automakers in competition with big tech companies like Google (Waymo), Amazon (Zoox), and Tesla; as well as a swath of start-ups. This is not a fight that legacy automakers are equipped to win. They will have to find technology partners and hope the partnership is fruitful. Again this is a gauntlet that some legacy automakers may not survive.

This threat is enabled by the first two horsemen. When vehicles are fueled by electricity, they are cheaper to operate. When the driver can be removed, they can run 24/7 further amortizing the cost thereby making them yet again cheaper to operate. The first company to make a seven-nines reliable autonomous driver AI system will be in high demand.

Horseman #4 Fast-Paced Innovation

Our ultimate horseman sits atop the fastest thoroughbred of this apocalyptic harras, Innovation.

Transportation is likely to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 100 years. These extraordinary technological advances are causing an epic shift to multiple trillion-dollar industries. Before the emergence of this wave of EVs, starting with the Volt and the Leaf in 2010, the industry had stagnated. California tried to use mandates to force automakers to bring EVs to high-volume production in the 1990s, but the automakers sued the state and the mandates were overturned (See Who Killed The Electric Car?). Fighting innovation with legislation can (at best) delay it, but it's not a winning long-term strategy.

Cars of the future will be connected, voice-activated, frequently updated, self-driving, have real-time traffic, streaming content, productivity apps, entertainment, and things that are yet to be invented. The software-driven high-technology in-car experience will mean that new software will be needed on a regular interval. The days of releasing a model year and then only touching it again if there's a recall are soon to be over. 

Can automakers attract the talent needed to provide all of this in-car software or will they cede this part of the market to the likes of Car Play and Android Auto?

Expecting a group of laggards and Luddites to change gears and become technology leaders is a big ask. The cultures ingrained in many of these companies will not allow this to happen. Hybrids have been the only significant drive-train breakthrough in decades and even that technology has never crossed the chasm to become mainstream. An industry that is used to a new transmission or valve timing method every 10 years or so, is not prepared to deliver "computers on wheels" that act more like smartphones than cars. 


The giants of the past are getting hit with a perfect storm of change. The role that cars play in our lives is changing, the expectations of personal transportation are changing, the fuel source is changing, the ownership model is changing. Perhaps these giants of the past could have navigated any one of these changes, but the near-simultaneous confluence of all 4 Horsemen will mean that they must adapt quickly or die. Some will acquire or partner with innovative start-ups in hopes of catching up. The culture clash will be enormous and this is unlikely to make it a fruitful alliance. We'll see which companies can reinvent themselves and which will fade into history along with the buggy-whip manufacturers that they once displaced. 

It is not too often that a change this big comes along. We certainly live in interesting times. 


Creative destruction (German: schöpferische Zerstörung) is a concept in economics that describes the "process of industrial mutation that continuously revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one".

Disclosure: I'm long Tesla

Sunday, October 8, 2023

1000 Miles in a Tesla Model Y

We just crossed the 1000-mile mark in our Model Y. We ordered it in late July, took delivery in early August, and hit 1k miles in Early October. Can you call it a 'kilomile'?  

1000 miles is enough to drive from Portland to Los Angeles or Portland to Grand Junction, Colorado. Our trips, however, were daily driving, not a road trip (not yet). From our home in the west Portland suburbs, we've taken a couple round trips to the PDX airport. Our longest trip was to Corvallis. The space in the Y allowed us to load two bookshelves and an office chair in the back for delivery in Corvallis. This has been a fun vehicle to own.

Long Range FTW

The nice thing about the Corvallis run is that we were able to leave our home with a 90% charge, make the 175-mile round trip and arrive home with more than a 15% charge remaining. This included freeway driving speeds and all the elevation changes for the Cascade range. There were multiple opportunities to Supercharge if we needed to, but with the long range, there was no need to extend the travel time; we could comfortably make it home and recharge while we slept using our cheap overnight electricity rate.

FSD Evolution

We've been using FSD Beta for these drives. For me, it removes a lot of the fatigue out of driving. I remain attentive while using FSD, because it is beta and it does make mistakes. The attentiveness that FSD beta requires is different than the attentiveness of driving. Using FSD beta, I'm able to have more situational awareness. It has been nice to watch the FSD progress since V9 we had in our Model 3 to V11 that we have now in our Model Y. Version 12 is coming soon and could be the first version to not bear the beta tag. However, don't confuse this with a final release. V12 will likely be an RC version and will still require a human minder behind the wheel for some time.

Battery Degradation?

Long-time readers of the blog will know that I track the degradation of the batteries in our EVs. In 2011, we purchased a Nissan Leaf and the battery degraded faster than I wanted. After that experience, I keep an eye on the battery health of all of our EVs.

I'll be collecting data on the Model Y for the many years that we plan to own it. The good news is that Tesla batteries don't degrade nearly as fast as the Leaf packs did. 

In our first 1000 miles, there's no degradation to report. 

You can see the line in the graph above wiggle a bit. This variation in capacity is normal. The measurement always has some level of noise based on many factors (e.g., temperature, SoC...). The graph above is zoomed in on the top 30 miles. If we pulled back and looked at all 330 miles, the waves would wash out.

I'm tracking the battery health with TeslaFi. This is different from previous vehicles where I used LeafSpy or TMSpy. The TeslaFi website makes it easy. You don't have to charge to full to see the expected range. The header bar for your vehicle information includes a rated range, a personalized range, and an estimated rated range at full charge. 

If you want to try out TeslaFi, you can use my code (patrick7819) to double your free trial period from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. 

Over-the-Air Updates

During the 60 days that we've had our Model Y, we've received two software updates already. The August 30th update delivered FSD Beta v11.4.4. The second update occurred on Sept 20th and brought improved Autopilot visualizations, improved camera views, Hebrew language support, and a few other minor improvements. I'm excited to hit the install button every time one of these arrives. 

Wrapping Up

The first 1000 miles have been fun. We just installed the roof rack to add even more utility to the vehicle. I'll be posting annual updates to log our Tesla-fueled adventures as well as keeping an eye on the battery health. 

If you'd like to buy a Model Y (or any other Tesla product), you can use my referral code: https://ts.la/patrick7819

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Selling The Dream - Parting Ways With A Tesla

Did you sell or trade-in a Tesla? If so, regardless, if it was a Model 3, Model Y, S or X, there are a few things you should know. 

We recently sold our Tesla Model X via a Kelly Blue Book Instant Cash Offer. These are the lessons that we learned and they apply when parting ways with any Tesla vehicle.

If you've sold, traded in, ended a lease, or even totaled your Tesla, here are a few things you need to know. Below, I'll be referring to selling your Tesla, but most of this applies anytime you will no longer be the owner of the vehicle for any reason.

Selling a Tesla is a little different than selling other cars. You still have to certify the odometer and transfer the registration like other cars, but there are a few additional things that you have to do on the Tesla side of the house too. Since I just went through this, I thought it would be worth mentioning here.

There are three important, Tesla-specific things that you must do.

1) Do a Factory Reset
You don't want the new owner to hit Navigate, Home and end up in your drive way and you don't want them scrolling through your recent destinations or favorite locations list. You need to clear all of that out. 

You'll find the Factory Reset option in the menu under Controls \ Service
This will remove ALL of your custom settings. All of your streaming radio stations, gone. All of your favorites destinations, gone. Seat settings, garage door, charging schedule, gone gone gone... you get it. You should only do this if you have sold the vehicle. You'll have to enter your Tesla account password to initiate this process.

2) Remove (or reformat) Your Dash Cam Drive

Sentry Mode uses the vehicle's cameras and sensors to record suspicious activity around the vehicle when it's locked and in Park. Most Teslas now come with a 128 GB USB drive in the glove box for Sentry Mode video storage. Many owners upgrade this drive for more hours of logging. If you upgraded your drive to a bigger SSD or the like, remove your upgraded storage and install the (freshly formatted) drive that came with the vehicle (if any). If you're still using the drive that came with the car, you should delete the content. The easiest way to do this is to reformat the drive. You don't want to give the new owner the footage of the last 100 times you got into your car.  

3) Remove the vehicle from your Account
Warning: I would not do this step until the payment for your vehicle has cleared. The app lets you know where the vehicle is located and allows you to restrict its top speed. If there's a payment dispute, these features might be helpful features to allow you to get that resolved. 

When the deal is done and you're finally ready to say your last goodbye, open the Tesla app and then: 

  • Tap the profile icon in the top-right corner.
  • Tap Add/Remove Products
  • Under 'Remove' tap the vehicle that you no longer own
Again there will be confirmations and warnings. 

Hopefully, the new owner loves the vehicle as much or more than you did.

Disclaimer: I'm long TSLA. Feel free to use my referral code http://ts.la/patrick7819.