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Sunday, January 28, 2024

60 Thousand Places To Plug In

January 1st, 2024

I periodically check out the alt-fuel map that the US government maintains. 

You can see in the image above that there are just over 60 thousand places in the US where you can plug in and charge an EV at Level 2 or faster.

Here's the link: https://www.energy.gov/alternative-fueling-station-locator#/find/nearest?country=US&fuel=ELEC&ev_levels=all

March 2023

When I looked at the same map in March of 2023, there were nearly 50 thousand plug-in spots. So more than 10 thousand plug-in stalls were added in less than a year.

Going even further back in time, to one of the first times I looked at this site, there were only 10 thousand public charging spots in the US in 2015 (sorry I didn't grab a screenshot back then).

So EV charging infrastructure is rolling out faster now than it ever has. This is vital to EV adoption. As discussed here, this US infrastructure will change to the North American Charging Standard (NACS) in 2024 and later. 

This move to NACS is important. For EVs to go mainstream, charging has to be easy. You cannot expect people to understand all the various charging options, connectors, AC or DC, and on and on. Once NACS is widely adopted, there will be one connector that "just works." That same connector at home, at work, on road trips... You just plug in and charge up. The Plug-n-Charge standard will make billing easy.

Happy electric motoring in 2024!

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Talkin 'Bout My Generation

I don't blog much about solar here compared to the EV content. Usually, our solar panels sit on the roof, quietly and ardently generating energy from sunshine. However, in 2023 a lot happened: we replaced our roof (that was complicated with solar panels up there); the virtual power plant (VPP) that our utility, PGE, runs had a big rule change. The VPP rule change meant that we had to contact Tesla to enable a new feature on our Powerwall systems. All of this seemed worthy of a 2023 review.

New Roof

The roof replacement has to be the first thing covered since this means the panels were off the roof for a good portion of the summer. We're north of the 45th parallel so the summer months are by far our most productive. So this downtime ate into the heart of our generation time.

Our roof replacement was scheduled for June 12th through June 14th. Roughly speaking, day 1 was old roof removal, day 2 was new roof installation, and day 3 was skylight installation and final cleanup.

With the scheduled removal & reinstallation (RnR) of the solar panels. We wanted to have the panels off the roof for as short a time as possible. We have two solar systems on our roof. A 4kW system from a local installer (Sunpath Services) and an 8kW system from Tesla (SolarCity).

May 26th

Tesla Solar panels removed

June 5th

SunPath Systems panels removed

June 12-14th

New roof installed

July 5th

SunPath Systems solar panels reinstalled. Panels were off for 31 days.

August 12th

Tesla solar panels reinstalled. Panels were off for 79 days.

The Tesla RnR took almost 3 times as long compared to Sunpath. With the Tesla PV system as the larger of the two and offline for all of June, all of July, and half of August, we missed the bulk of the solar production for the year.

The good news is that we installed a 50-year roof, so that shouldn't be a problem ever again for these panels.

Side note, we were picking nails and other things out of our lawn and shrubs for days after this roof work, even after they magnet swept multiple times.

Virtual Power Plant

We signed up for our electric utility's VPP in 2021. To be eligible, you had to have home batteries, such as the Tesla Powerwall. When the program started, the utility paid you $20 every month. In return, your battery is available when they call on it to supply energy to the grid; you could opt out of the VPP events.

In June of 2023, the rules changed. Under the new rules, rather than just getting paid for enrollment, you now get paid for participation. The program pays $1.70 per kWh that you export to the grid during a VPP event and you can select the level of participation (up to 80% of your capacity).

With our 3 Powerwalls we have about 40 kWh of storage, so that's about 32 kWh that we could export. A full 80% participation would be $54 earned per event.

We had a total of 12 VPP dispatch events in 2023. As you might expect, most were in the summer (7 events in June - Sept). The other 5 were in January, February, and December. This surprised me. You expect the grid to be strained during the summer months with the AC units on high and dispatching the VPP seems like a smart way to avoid turning on the peaker plants. Maybe these events are in response to outages or maybe these events are testing new VPP controls.

VPP Incentive Payments

January - May we received the standard $20 per month credit. In June the new program started there was a quick 1kWh test. We received a $1.70 credit. In July, there were two small events and we received $32 in credit. August had a small event and we received $9. Our September bill had multiple events and received a credit of $157. This was a big credit and paid our next couple of electricity bills.

In total for 2023, we received a total of $325 in credits from our utility.

We Stopped Exporting

There were two dispatch events in December of 2023 and our system didn't participate. I emailed PGE and asked them if they knew why my system was not exporting. They said there have been multiple software changes to both their system and the Tesla systems. Now to participate, I had to enable Powerwall exporting in the Tesla app. They sent simple instructions to go into the Powerwall settings and enable export "Everything."

Going into the app, I didn't see any export setting. I double-checked the instructions. I was in the right place, but the setting was not there. Another email to PGE. They said Tesla had to enable this and then it would appear in the app. So I called Tesla Energy. Happily, I was not on hold for very long and the person who answered the phone (Justin) understood what I was asking for and was able to resolve it. He said to wait one hour and the setting should be there, if not reboot my phone and check again. Of course, I could not wait an entire hour before looking. The setting appeared in about 10 minutes and I enabled it.

Side Effects

Once this feature was enabled, the next morning when we hit peak time (6AM-10AM), our Powerwall exported all of its energy down to the Backup Reserve limit. That was not the behavior I expected. By going into the TOU settings and tweaking sell prices, I was able to leave this setting enabled (to participate in VPP events), but not have it completely drain the battery during every peak time.

Now we had Export Everything enabled and good daily battery behavior. We're ready for the next VPP event.


In 2023, there were several times our Powerwalls kept our house running when the grid failed. The longest outage was for 3 hours on August 7th.

Solar Year In Review

Above I explained how we had all of the panels off our home for most of the summer for a roof replacement. That put a big dent in our production. The older 4kW panels produced 3,246 kWh and the Tesla 8kW panels produced 5,113 kWh, for a total of 8,359 kWh. For comparison, in 2022 we generated over 20,000 kWh. So in 2023, we generated less than half of our typical production level just by missing 80 key days.


Throughout 2023, we sent 1,937 kWh of energy into the grid. A large refrigerator uses about 1,575 kWh annually. So we exported enough energy to run our neighbor's fridge for a year with enough left over to power their EV for about 1,000 miles.

Wrapping Up

2023 was an action-packed year for our home energy systems. For 2024, we should go back to our full production level. And 2024 will be our first full year under the new VPP rules. Earning another $300 or more in credit would be nice.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Tesla 2024 Vehicle Production

Historic Tesla Quarterly Vehicle Production and 2024 Estimates

EV sales are increasing each year and 2024 will undoubtedly continue this tread. As interest rates in the US are reduced throughout 2024, the pressure on vehicle sales in general (EV or not) should be relieved.

Each year on The Tesla Life, we attempt to estimate Tesla's global production for the upcoming year. Last year, my estimate for 2023 was 1.93 million. The actual production was 1,845,985, or 1.85 mil. So I was only off by 4%. Of the three hosts/panelists on the show, I was the closest. However, one former panelist, Russel, guessed 1.88 mil and edged me out by 50,000 vehicles. He was only off by 1.5% (impressive). 

I want to beat him (and the other panelists again) this year. So I'm going to crunch the numbers in many ways and come out with a guess at the end of the post.

Contest Rules 

We have to publicly share our guess on January 17th which we generally do live on the show. The guess cannot be a range, you only get one guess (no bull number, bear number; no plus or minus 5%...). You can be as specific as you want (e.g., 2,345,678 vehicles) or round it. Rounded values will be expanded with zeros as needed, so a guess of 2 million is considered 2,000,000. You can use any tools you want to generate the estimate, if you want to ask ChatGPT or Grok, go for it. And the most painful part of all, you don't get to update your guess, no matter what news comes out, no matter what Musk says in the earnings calls; no changes.


You can see Tesla's quarterly production data back to Q4 2020 is charted in the graph above. One of the ways I've generated estimates is to simply use the trendline feature in Google Sheets. I plotted the trend as Linear, Exponential, and Polynomial and then added up the quarterly results. This gave me results from 2.22 to 2.39 million for 2024.

The next method I used was to look at the quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) growth. From Q4'20, this has been an average of 10%. Extending this into 2024, resulted in 2.03 mil units for 2024. Our lowest result yet. 

Rather than comparing this quarter to last quarter, a quarter is often compared to the same quarter in the previous year; this is called year-over-year (YoY). Looking back further in time, it's not surprising to see a larger growth value average of 47%. Using this YoY value gave an estimate of 2.71 mil (our highest yet). 

If we look at year-over-year, then we have to look at year-on-year (YOY). 2023 was 35% higher than '22. 35% growth would be 2.49 million. However, 2022 was 47% over '21. The average of these two YOY values is 41%. Using this YOY value gives a value of 2.60 mil. 

Next on our list, we'll look at the great work by James Stephenson on X. As you can see in the log scale chart above, James has chosen 2020 as his anchor year and established a 50% sales growth rate. Our estimation game is about Production, not Sales; so let's make a few tweaks to his model and then extend it into 2024. Doing this yields an estimate of 2.58 million; very close to the YOY result.

Looking Forward

All the estimates that we've made so far are based on looking at historic data and various ways to extrapolate that into the future. Now let's flip that around and see if there are big factors that will impact 2024. We briefly touched on interest rates in the opening. This will impact sales more than production, but there is some connection. If inventories get too high, production lines are taken down for upgrades, parts are not expedited... 

There are expansions of multiple Gigafactories planned or underway in 2024. Berlin and Austin have both been operating long enough to be fully staffed and ramped up to high-volume production. This was not the case in early 2023. Giga Mexico, Giga India or any other new location will not be a factor for 2024's production volume. 

As I'm writing this, news reports are coming out that Giga Berlin will stop most output for two weeks due to Red Sea disruption. Tesla has dealt with supply chain problems in the past, so I don't think this will be too big of a factor. Giga Shanghai is the most important factory for out put considerations. 


When Tesla's Robotaxi platform comes to market, you can expect a significant increase in production volume. This vehicle will have the fastest raw materials to final vehicle time of any mass production vehicle. With the bulk of the vehicle from a single casting and most of the interior being inserted with the structural battery pack and no paint, these vehicles will be popping out of the factory truckloads at a time. However, I don't expect to see this car until 2025 at the earliest. 

Estimate Summary 

 2024 Tesla Vehicle Production Estimates 
Linear 2,270,000
Exponential 2,390,000
Poly 2,215,000
QoQ 2,028,427 (Lowest)
YoY 2,714,490 (Highest)
YOY23 2,488,050
YOYAve 2,602,700
JS Method 2,580,544
Average 2,410,901

So I've generated 8 estimates and a mean value of those 8 as a 9th estimate. So which one should I use? Or should I go with something else? There's the joke 2,420,069 if you want to throw some Musk humor into the mix (this isn't that far from our average) or even the press the 2 key and run your finger to the right for 2,345,678. Both of which are within the range of estimates that we've generated.

In the past two years, I've been a little optimistic. Since I was over by 4% last time, let's take that average and reduce it by about 4% for something like 2,314,159. 

Leave your estimate in the comments below.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Power Outages & VPP Events

Portland General Electric Power Outage Map Jan 13th 2024

It's been a busy couple of days for our Powerwalls.

Virtual Power Plant 

On Friday, January 12th our electric utility, Portland General Electric, held a VPP event. The event was held from 5PM until nearly 8PM. During the event, we exported a total of 21.6 kWh. This is the first event where we were able to participate at the full 9kW rate available in this program. Previously we were only at the default 3kW export rate.

The we were paid $36.72 for the energy we sent to the grid. This is not a huge amount, but we buy the bulk of our electricity during off-peak times for 5.160 ¢ per kWh and when they have an event like this, we sell energy to the utility for $1.70 per kWh. That's a 3,200% gross margin.

Power Outage

As you can see in the outage map above, over 135 thousand people in my region are currently without power in their home. We've seen snow, sleet, freezing rain, high winds, and falling trees across the area. The winter storm was the result of warm moisture air from the Pacific running into an arctic blast.

Our Powerwalls went into StormWatch mode early on Saturday morning. The power outages started in the early afternoon. So far, we've been lucky and our grid connection continues to operate. The batteries are full and on standby in case that changes. 


It's interesting that these events occurred on back to back days. They both require home batteries but they are very different. In the first case, we're supplying energy to the grid to help keep it stable and operational. While in the second case, we're keeping the battery full in order to support our home if/when the grid goes down.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Tesla 2024 :: What To Expect From Tesla This Year

Following Tesla is never boring. 2024 is just starting and there is already writing on the wall that ensures that this year will be no different. The refreshed Model 3 will be coming to the US. The Model Y (the best-selling car in the world) will be refreshed. More Cybertrucks will hit the streets. The semi will move beyond its beta with Pepsi and much more.

Highlander Comes to US

Tesla refreshed the Model 3 last year. This new version of Model 3 was codenamed "Project Highland." Highland offers significant chassis and suspension upgrades; improved build quality; reduced noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH); added range; and colorful LED ambient lighting. The long-range highland boasts an impressive range of up to 353 miles.

Currently, this variant of the Model 3 is available in China and Europe today. In 2024, expect to see this vehicle rolling off the lines in Fremont.

Model Y Update :: Project Juniper 

Similar to the Model 3 update, Model Y will also be getting revamped. The question is, "What portions of this update will be just to catch up with Highlander, and which will be leapfrog concepts?"

The catch-up items: suspension upgrades (changes to the suspension geometry, suspension bushings, and rear subframe mount), minor chassis aero improvements (adding more range), stalkless, ambient lighting. These items are expected in Juniper. 

To be a true Tesla project, more than just just catching up is required. Tesla does not play the innovation game lightly. They make bold moves. Model Y is their best-selling vehicle, but that won't hold them back. Innovation is Tesla's lifeblood. Will they integrate some of the Cybertruck advancements into Model Y? If so, Juniper could have a 48 Volt architecture, steer-by-wire, a power frunk, and/or "Etherloop." The latter seems the most likely.


Call it the $25,000 Tesla, Model 2, Robotaxi platform, or (my preference) Model Next; we will be hearing about this vehicle in 2024. In a late 2023 interview with Sandy Munro, Elon Musk said the design was nearly complete. 

This vehicle will be a game changer for Tesla and the entire auto industry. If we're lucky, Tesla will hold an unveiling event in September of 2024, with deliveries starting in Q1 of 2025. Given that Tesla is currently working on increasing Cybertruck production rate, this is an aggressive prediction but a possibility. Either way, we'll see leaks about this vehicle throughout 2024. 

Here are some of the features we may hear about: entire chassis single casting, steer-by-wire, brake-by-wire, brake-by-motor.

NACS - J3400

Tesla has won the charging wars in North America. CHAdeMO and CCS will fade into history as the Betamax and laserdisc of EV charging. This year we'll see Tesla roll out support for various legacy automakers to start using their Magic Dock Supercharger stations and we'll see adapters coming from these same legacy automakers that allow their CCS vehicles to use the native NACS stations as well as Tesla destination stations. 

The other exciting NACS news to expect in 2024 is the official adoption of NACS (aka SAE J3400) as the official charging standard of the US. The US government still needs to update the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) recommendations to acknowledge NACS. When they do, this will mean for a new EV charging station installation to qualify for Federal infrastructure incentives, most of the handles must be NACS.


Our first peek at Roadster was so long ago (December of 2017). Tesla has really been dragging their feet on this one. The justification for the slow roll is that the Roadster is "dessert" and that other projects (Semi, Cybertruck, Highland...) are more important to Tesla's mission than a new sports car. 

So what will 2024 hold for the Roadster? I going to assume, not much. Tesla's 2024 focus will be on increasing Cybertruck production, 4680 volume, Highlander production in the US, and bringing Juniper to market. So sorry Roadster, you might have to wait another year.

If you're a Roadster reservation holder, I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see anything that elevates the Roadster's importance in 2024. It would be cool to see a demo of it hovering via the compressed air COPV tank. 

50s Diner - Rock-n-Charge

We've been hearing about this Tesla diner for some time now. Tesla is creating a place where you can pull in, plug in, and have food delivered to your car while you're charging up. The property has been purchased, permits have been issued, and construction has started. 

I would not be surprised if Tesla integrated ordering into the center screen and/or the Tesla app. With any luck, we'll see a ribbon-cutting slash grand opening in 2024.

Full Self-Driving (FSD) v12 

Version 12 of FSD went out to employees in late 2023 and should be released to other Tesla owners in early 2024. V12 is special, it is the first version to have end-to-end neural nets. V12 has no human-written code included. The inference engine will conduct object recognition, path planning, and vehicle control. 

With any new architecture change like this, there is an initial step backward in performance. This is the stacked sigmoid method that Jim Keller is known for articulating. The new system has the potential for better results, but you cannot start there. Instead, the new architecture starts at the low end of its performance and iterates from there until it has reached the saturation point (asymptotic or point of diminishing returns), and only then do the limitations of the architecture become apparent. Only then (once the limitations are known) can you design the next system to overcome these limitations. Said another way, you must climb the current hill before you can have a view of your next challenge.

In retrospect, end-to-end neural networks is the obvious answer. If human-written code could have solved the autonomy problem, the DARPA Autonomous Vehicle Challenge would have been claimed soon after it started in 2004. Over the 7 years that Tesla has been working on autonomy, the neural nets have been absorbing more and more of the work, now with v12 things have come to the ultimate conclusion; the neural nets now own all of problem-space from photons into the cameras to driving controls out.

Human-written software can't foresee and explicitly code for every situation or edge case that can happen in the real world. The fuzzy logic of AI systems allows for these unforeseen cases to be covered if the training data has enough similar situations for a general guideline to emerge.

Three years ago, here in this blog, we predicted that Tesla would not have true eyes-off-the-road autonomy until at least 2027. I'll be happy to see it arrive sooner, but I would not bet on it. Although, end-to-end neural nets with an occupancy network seems like the right solution. So once v12 enters the linear phase of its evolution (see image above) this year, we will see a rapid improvement in FSD performance. 

FSD in tunnels

So what can we expect to see for FSD in 2024? One of the things I'd like to see is autonomy in the vehicles in the Boring Company Loop Tunnels. This is a controlled environment. There's no cross traffic, no drunk or distracted drivers. This is the perfect place for the initial version of Tesla driverless vehicles.

Price Volatility 

In response to interest rates and other factors, Tesla's vehicle prices were volatile in 2023. You can expect more of the same in 2024. Hopefully, this time due to falling interest rates rather than increasing rates. 

In the US, the federal EV incentive has several changes in 2024. The good part of the changes is that the incentive is applied at the point of purchase. This makes the financing much easier. The bad part of the changes is that fewer EVs will qualify for the complete $7500 incentive. 

If you're EV shopping in the US in 2024, you should check the tax incentive rules and vehicles that qualify here.

Production Volumes

2024 will be the year that Tesla produces more than 2 million EVs in a single year. Tesla is yet to release 2024 production guidance. However, given that they produced about 1.8 million vehicles in 2023 and their growth rate, they should produce at least 2.2 million vehicles in 2024. A more detailed estimate will be published soon after Tesla releases their final data.

Cybertruck ramp estimate by Hyperchange YouTube channel

Cybertruck Production Ramp

The above is a bullish estimate from Gallilo Russel. With 2 million reservations, this fast ramp-up is vital to fulfill these and the new reservations that are coming in everyday. As each Cybertruck rolls out onto the streets, it is a rolling billboard for the distinctive profiled vehicle.

Given the many challenges that Tesla faces in producing a vehicle with so many never-been-done-before features, the first year of production is likely to be slow-going, starting with just hundreds per week and ending the year with a run rate of thousands per week. Galli and I agree that production will get to a half million per year, just not how fast it will get there. 

For my 2024, Cybertruck production, I estimate 25,000 to 35,000. However, on NYE 2024, I'll be happy if Galli's estimate is more accurate than mine.

Austin Nature Park Opens to Public 

The Giga Texas production site is enormous (8.5 km^2 or 2,100 acres). One of the things that is planned to be added to this space is a is a nature park that's open to the public. Plans have been submitted to the county and this area could open in 2024.

Knowing Elon's love of all things Monty Python, I expect to see a section of path dedicated to The Ministry of Silly Walks☺

Powerwall 4 - Ironman 

Powerwall 2 Plus and Powerwall 3 came out in 2023. These were nice advancements, but they used the same battery as the Powerwall 2. In 2024, I expect to see a LFP based Powerwall from Tesla. LFP batteries are more tolerant to temperature extremes. The drawback is that they're not as energy dense. So we may see the new LFP Powerwalls coming in at 10kWh instead of the 13.5kWh of the current NMC Powerwalls.   

Optimus Hackus 

In 2023, we saw Optimus sorting blocks, handling eggs, and doing yoga. In 2024, you can expect to see big advancements. Tesla will deploy an Optimus or two in Giga Texas to conduct a simple task and gather real world data. 

Tesla Lithium Refinery

Tesla broke ground on their lithium refinery in Corpus Christi, TX in May of 2023. This year we should see the first results of its operation. The goal of the 1200+ acre site is to reinvent lithium refining and increase the supply of battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

Tesla aims to deploy the first industrial-scale. acid-free lithium refinery. Their process eliminates the use of hazardous reagents and byproducts in favor of inert options. The byproduct from this facility, a mixture of sand and limestone, is useful in the production of construction materials, making beneficial use of traditional waste streams.

This site is also intended to eventually be a battery recycling plant.

Wrapping It Up

A global charging network opening to other vehicles, self driving cars, robots walking around, stainless steel trucks... 2024 is starting to look like the twenty first century, instead of just the 26th iteration of 1999. Even the retro 1950s diner will have the modern twist of EV charging and ordering via apps. 

I am long Tesla