This article is coming way sooner than I intended to write it, but so much has happened this week in the electric vehicle world that I felt it necessary to cover it. As you’ll recall from earlier in the week, New York Times reporter John Broder test drove a Tesla Model S from Washington, DC to Boston to find out how well Tesla’s supercharger network works, and claimed to have run out of power on the way. I updated my post with Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s reaction already, but he’s now backed up his allegations that Broder lied about his article with facts. From Musk’s blog about Broder:
In his own words in an article published last year, this is how Broder felt about electric cars before even seeing the Model S:
“Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate.”
When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts. Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth. You are a news organization where that principle is of paramount importance and what is at stake for sustainable transport is simply too important to the world to ignore.
Following the Top Gear test where Jeremy Clarkson claimed to have run out of energy (even though the car had 45 miles left on its battery, tests showed), Tesla now turns on extensive data logging for every journalist test drive. It appears Broder didn’t know about this when he decided to write his article. The major facts from Musk’s investigation from the car’s “State of Charge” log show that Broder’s test car “never ran out of energy at any time.” He claimed that the Model S battery was drained completely at one point and had to be towed on a flatbed truck. The data log also points out that the he was going from 65 to 81 miles per hour, while Broder claimed to have set the cruise control at 54 mph, with periods of driving as slowly as 45 mph.
Musk’s also claims that Broder lied about the amount of time he actually charged the car. At one stop he specifically writes that he charged the car for 58 minutes on his second stop, where the log indicates that he was on the Supercharger for just 47 minutes. Musk claimed the car was charged to 90 percent of capacity on Broder’s first stop, 72 percent on his second and just 28 percent on his third – despite him claiming to have being super careful and nervous about making the charge.
Broder challenges Tesla with a similar argument we’ve heard EV critics here, that until electric cars are as “easy” as gas cars to fill up, then the hassle of finding a charger and taking the time to fill up negate any benefits the car has. The problem with Broder’s logic and this critique is that when you buy any car, whether its gas, diesel, CNG, or electric, you’re going in knowing that you need to plan your long trips around stations that have the required fuel. I’ve been on several long distance trips with a friend who owns a diesel where we went out of our way to find a station (in the US diesel is far less common). Broder claims that the test was primarily to show how the supercharger network functioned, so he decided against using any other EV charging stations, of which he passed dozens. If you really owned a Model S and were planning on a long distance trip from DC to Boston, you’d most likely leave with a full charge, Broder didn’t. If your battery was running low, you’d check any number of EV station finding apps, from Recargo to Chargebud to PlugShare, and get off at the next fastest stop and fill the tank up with enough energy to get you to the next station. Further, if you were planning on breaking the trip up, you’d charge the car while you slept, especially if it’s cold out, so that the car could condition the battery before disembarking for your final leg– Broder didn’t do that either.
I can hear a lot of people still grumbling now that since waiting 30 minutes to an hour to fast charge your car versus the 5-10 minutes a normal stop at a gas station takes is too much of a hassle for long distance trips. There’s a few problems with that line of thought however.
- Cost: filling up your car with electricity vs. gas or diesel is a winning proposition every time. It costs far less to drive the equivalent distance, often in a magnitude of 3-5x or higher per mile vs a standard car. That doesn’t even include the fact that Tesla is offering a one time charge of $2,000 to free charging for its higher end cars. Given the choice of $70K Audi A7 or a $70K Tesla Model S, you’re not only going to get better performance from the Model S but the cost of ownership over time will be less for the Tesla. You can use this handy chart from Teslarumors.com to calculate the actual difference. Even for me in New York which has some of the highest priced electricity, it’s about 3 times cheaper per mile to drive a Model S than a 40mpg highway car. Finally, for those who keep harping about the fact that you can’t get a Tesla on the cheap, we get it– and so does Tesla. Which is why after the Model X, they’ve publicly stated that they’re working on a new ~$30K smaller sedan. tentatively named the Model C. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could buy one of these sooner than you could a comparable Saab. At least Tesla was smart enough to start their mass market sales strategy with higher margin sedans to guarantee profits than risked a low margin low sales flop.
- Time at Fuel Stations: Yes, it’s faster to fill a gas tank to full than any commercially available fast charger in 2013. That will change quickly over time though. But as many EV owners will tell you, the amount of time they spend at charge stations is nill compared to their gas powered cars. For most drivers, you’re going to fill up at your home and possibly at work, and that’s all you’re ever going to need. On top of that, your car will be warm and toasty for you on a cold winter morning, preheated by the grid for you at the time you tell it to be (or conversely air conditioned in the summer). Therefore, the weekly or biweekly trips to the gas station are going to be eliminated. On the occasional long distance trip, you’ll plan the trip around whatever fast chargers are on the way, and while the extra hour or two you spend charging isn’t ideal, unless all you do is 100-200 miles one way commuting, it’s going to be a rare occurrence anyway. The total time over the cost of ownership visiting fuel stations in an electric car for the average driver is going to be less. Not like any of the commenters on the web who whine about charge time have much to do but visit car blogs and spend hours of their life complaining about charging a car they might never own ;).
- Infrastructure Improvements: As I’ve stated many times before, the rate which EV fast charging stations are being deployed across the world, especially the US, is rapidly increasing. While it’s interesting to read journalists accounts of charging networks, I prefer hearing how Tesla’s own drivers feel about their driving experience (much as I prefer reading what Saab drivers think vs. most auto journalists). I have yet to see any Model S owners who comment on articles or on Tesla’s own forums surprised by the range or have their expectations not surpassed by the capabilities of the car. Even on the Verge’s recent test drive of a Model S up the California Coast, at a Supercharger station in Gilroy noted how many Model S drivers were already using the 4 month old network and impressed.By the time Saab is ready to enter the EV market, the charging network will be in a much more advanced state than it is now. To base your expectations on ownership of a nascent EV charging infrastructure at this point is completely unfair to the actuality of what it will be like to own one of the first Saab EVs. Just today alone Mayor Bloomberg announced an initiative to put 10,000 curb chargers across the city over the next few years (Hugh, I hope this solves much of your worries as mine about parking a new Saab here).
As I write this now, CNN journalist Peter Valdes-Dapena is taking the exact same route for his own test drive, and is posting live-updates to Twitter. You can see him charging at the Delaware station a few hours ago in the picture on the left. While the temperature is ten to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit above what it was for Broder, it’s still pretty cold out. So far, no major issues, and I’ll be posting his experience with the car as soon as his article is up. He’s been leadfooting it apparently and with no issues, so something tells me his account will be different than Broder’s.
But as I drove into Connecticut, I realized something amazing. Not only did I have enough battery range left, I had plenty. I had at least 40 miles — more than an entire Chevy Volt’s worth of electricity — left to play with. I sped up, cruising over 70, riding in the left lane, mashing the gas pedal just to feel how fast the car could shoot from 65 to 80. I was practically giddy.
In the end, I made it — and it wasn’t that hard.
So summing it all up, total cost of ownership and total time refilling your car will most likely be less with an EV than a regular car for most commuters. It just requires you to reprogram your brain and habits about how you interface with your car. For those unwilling to learn to deal, feel free to be a curmudgeon and wait. For those of us ready and excited to make the switch, fret not, it’s not as painful as the critics contend. Over time the advantages of EVs will continue to distance themselves with cars. As much as I’d rather be following direct Saab news, what Tesla is going through now directly impacts Saab’s future around the world. Whether or not we like it, Saab is now tied to EV technology, accept it and move on. There are important lessons for NEVS to learn about the market and mistakes that the first manufacturers make. As customers, we need to be aware of these pitfalls and as the first Saabs are developed, press that they be dealt with. While there are headaches and discouraging growing pains in the EV market now, hopefully Saab can time their introduction at a pivotal moment to minimize this and take advantage of the increasing upside not only technology improves and costs decline, but infrastructure ramps up to handle the market.
62 thoughts on “Electric Updates 2: Reality Check”
Really interested in Peter Valdes-Dapena’s take on the car as he seems to be conducting a really fair test from what I read so far. I love that these cars are monitored to this point where Musk can fight back with actual stats.
A $30,000 Model-C sedan, huh? Well they’re having a hard enough time producing the Model-S version, so I could only imagine how many decades one would have to wait on that list. Might be interested though. Would be nice to have a version that a normal human being could drive.
Hard time? They’re at 20,000 per year rate now, and on track to increase capacity even more with the Model X line.
Yes a hard time, as in the fact that the waiting list is pretty long at this point and has been for a while. They’re having no problems producing them, but the demand is certainly excessive compared to what they can put out. This is a very expensive car and people really do want it. Now imagine what the demand would be if you cut that price by more than half. They wouldn’t be able to keep up and would certainly need to expand to more than double of what they are capable of producing right now.
Sorry, I thought you were implying that they weren’t able to deliver a product, my bad. I completely agree with you that there will be a huge demand for a premium EV at a lower price point– so does NEVS. Hopefully your logic spreads to other members of our site who think that if Saab produces one they will fail. I tend to think there will be waiting lists, not lots full of inventory with no one buying with the Saabs of yesterday they wish to see return.
They’re operating in essentially beta stage right now, which is not dissimilar to how GMail started as invitation only and Mailbox, the new iPhone app is starting too. The curve for deployment (in Tesla’s case, production) is exponential, not linear. So I’d expect production bottlenecks to continue to improve at that pace, considering their suppliers have shown little problem scaling up production. It’s a question of final assembly, which they’re ramping up pretty well. At their current pace, they’re projected to meet preorder demand this August.
And on the other recent electric car thread here, I posted the NY Times response to Tesla’s response. Seriously, trying to be unbiased—-I think the Chairman/CEO/Owner of Tesla is reacting horribly to this. I think the Times writer was probably honest—-though frankly, he was so biased against EVs, he shouldn’t have been involved in the first place. The NY Times is a rag—but still, I believe the car did conk out and Tesla is now scrambling to shoot the messenger.
The car conked out because he didn’t actually fill it up properly. It’s like if you left a gas station when your car indicated you didn’t have enough range to get to the next station. Then you lead footed it all the way there. Then you told everyone you went slower than you actually did to the station. Then when confronted with evidence that your account was wrong, you had no explanation.
Jeff: This is an interesting evaluation that I think is fair.
And even that’s incomplete, as Rebecca pointed to his statement about charging for an hour in Norwich but then forgot to mention he charged for less than 50 minutes. I’m with her on the idea that it’s probably not a conspiracy by Broder or the NYT, but I will say that he’s guilty of hyping up the story as a “look, the electric car isn’t ready for primetime…here it is being loaded on a pickup truck!” sideshow. As I read his own rebuttal, I find myself in disbelief that a respected journalist for the Times could be so dumb as to not even bother looking for a public charger on his way, or doing simple math to calculate that it’s faster to drive in the right direction and fill up at a level 2 charger than drive 60 miles backwards first. Ugh– any reasonable person who buys an electric car would wait the extra ten minutes, or charge the car up at a Level 2 charger on the way. The infrastructure is in its infancy, yet I don’t see many people returning electric cars back to the dealers, quite the opposite.
The fact that a journalist from the Atlantic is trying to get Broder’s back at the Times isn’t exactly a huge shock to me either, if you catch my drift. Next time you accuse either publication of being blatantly leftist, try to remember this episode 😉
The most objective take I’ve seen on the whole matter is by Engadget’s Editor Tim Stevens. Here’s the quote that sums it up best for me,
I agree with you. This author was not impartial at all. I think he went overboard in making the car look bad. But there’s also truth buried in there that gives one pause—-the realization that the very expensive car can’t do some important things that a sub-$20,000 car can do. That said, the NY Times should be ashamed of themselves for hack journalism—but I’m not surprised by it. It’s not the first time they’ve done it and it won’t be the last.
Sorry, buy the other problem with the Tesla S is that it already looks dated.
Says the guy who wants Saab to produce 1980s era 900s brand new, right? 😛 No doubt, I like them too, but come on, Teslas are dated? Hatchback sedans aren’t dated, they’re the direction JC was headed and most carmakers these days. I actually think the back end of this is sexier than Jason’s 900 (which you’ll see soon in better detail). I don’t love all the chrome on the trunk or grill, but I like the proportions a lot and chrome is a prerequisite for a lot of luxury buyers these days. The electric skateboard layout of the car is first of its kind for a production car and will be the basis for many cars in the next decade.
Honestly, the Tesla looks “cool” because it’s different. That doesn’t equate to “better” or “timeless.” In fact, I think the 9-5 sedan, circa 2002-2005 (that version) is a more handsome looking car, by far. Still a head turner after so many years.
It’s not just “cool” or different, it’s useful. It has almost as much interior cargo space with the seats down as a 2005 9-5 Wagon (63cuft vs 73). Compared to my 9-3, it has almost 20 cubic feet more. That’s pretty incredible to me. Check this graphic from the CNN article I updated this post with to see a cutaway of the Model S. I hope the EV1 and EV2 take a similar approach to battery placement.
Well I guess I am one of the “curmudgeons” as I am not particularly excited by the prospect of electric cars. I don’t buy into the environmental “green” hype around them, and since you need to generate massive amounts of electricity to run them I do not see them as intrinsically more “sustainable” than other vehicles.
One of the things that makes electrics cheaper to run per mile to “fill up” is that currently there are no road taxes or other special taxes levied on the power used to propel them. This is a temporary situation, governments will find a way to reclaim that revenue if electrics become sufficiently popular. (They have already been carping about reduced revenue being brought in due to high-efficiency hybrids and smaller cars.)
Then you have depreciation and the cost of replacing batteries. (How long will that expensive battery pack last when subjected to frequent quick charging? That’s going to affect the resale value, or the cost of ownership if you keep the car a long time.)
Oh, and with the addition of a remote starter (a popular accessory) your conventional car can also be warm and toasty for you when you go out to it in the winter or nice and cool in the summer. 🙂
Not if you park it in your garage 😉 Takes a good 5 minutes to warm the car up or cool down if the garage isn’t perfectly insulated (like mine).
I’m not sure if you have actual scientific studies to back up the claim that electric cars gobble more energy than their fossil fueled counterparts, but I have others that show the exact opposite. Feel free to post them here.
While road taxes on a per mile basis are certainly coming down the line, so too are lower prices on batteries and EV components. The cost benefit per mile will most likely stay in line with its current rate or close to it.
Battery depreciation is a factor, but Tesla, Nissan, Toyota and ABB/GM have publicly stated that they’d like to initiate buyback programs for their batteries at the end of their usable lifecycle in cars (which is 8 years away for the early models at the soonest). Check out this video that explains their potential uses, like advanced UPS, which was posted in 2012 but dates back two years.
You could always park head-in and use your automatic garage door opener first. 🙂 But I keep collector vehicles in the garage and the daily drivers fend for themselves in the elements.
I’m not saying that electrics use more energy than convential vehicles, but they still require very large amounts of electricity that need to be generated and distributed, then of course there are issues with manufacturing and disposing of or recycling batteries. Thus I find the environmental claims for these vehicles to be very suspect. Frankly though I don’t care about that, my concerns would be real-world usability and long-term viability of the vehicle.
I would have to be very convinced before plunking down my own hard-earned money.
No doubt Jersey. I actually admire your buying strategy, wait for depreciation curves to level out then make your move. But unfortunately the car industry doesn’t really cater primarily to you as a customer, they’re targeting new car buyers. And the switch to electric represents a huge paradigm shift– instead of paying higher costs on years 1-X for energy, they’re asking you to pay more up front for guaranteed savings.
True, but the marketability of a vehicle on the used market does have some affect on new car sales. Few people want to buy something that they either cannot sell or are going to take a financial bloodbath on later.
My own preference is to buy very used at minimal cost for my own ride, but as a family things are a little different. The wife prefers to buy new, a habit she had well before we got together. So as long as funds are OK we buy a new one for her (for cash, no payments) and keep it usually for about 12 years or so. Then it gets recycled into the extended family as a well-maintained used car for some more years.
We’ll be due to replace her current ride in about 5 or 6 years so we’ll see what things look like at that point.
I’d say the used market for Priuses (Prii?) is the best indicator about how well the used market for cars with large batteries is. They seem to hold their value as well as any other car in their size class, yet they obviously consumed much less fuel then any car in their size class over their life.
Your model of holding onto a new car for 12 years actually is strongly in an electric car’s favor. All of these manufacturers have cycled their batteries millions of times cumulatively, and the results are coming in fast and furious. One interesting footnote about battery life is it’s apparently conversely related to the warmth of the climate it’s exposed to. Check this chart near the middle of the page for information.
Every mile you drive an electric car you save money in fuel costs. The longer you own it, the more you’ll save. Most of these new cars come with 8-10 year, 100K to lifetime battery warranties. Given that the cost of batteries is decreasing as we’ve covered here many times, in 8-10 years it’s hard to project exactly how much cheaper they will cost, or how much you’ll be able to resell your battery to a battery reuse operator. But I can say with a fair degree of certainty it will be less than the amount of money saved on fuel. I don’t have the time or energy tonight to post the math, but I’ll get to it soon.
I’m not sure what happens in a hybrid when the batteries get weak as those cars have an IC engine to take up the slack. (I don’t find the mileage of the Prius particularly remarkable, it’s about the same as a 1980 VW Rabbit diesel.)
A pure electric is probably going to be more sensitive than a hybrid to the condition of the battery pack as the car will be 100% dependent on its batteries. The number of charge/discharge cycles is not the only issue with battery life, age also takes its toll. There are just too many unknowns and “what ifs” at this point for my liking. The manufacturers seem to be talking about an 8-year battery life. That’s not long enough. So even if Tesla or Saab or whoever brought out an “affordable” electric car tomorrow, I would still pass on it.
Perhaps in 5 years or so we will have more definitive information. For now I’m content to let the early adopters do the beta-testing on their dime.
Also, Prius resale is good because it’s a Toyota. Toyota resale is generally always good (as is Honda). Plus, there are a limited number of used hybrids available—so supply/demand comes into play. The jury is definitely out on whether EVs as we are planning them today will actually be the car of the future. I think there are probably better choices—-and I think it might be a monumental mistake to plow trillions of dollars into building up a charging infrastructure globally because the electrics might end up being a very short bridge to fuel cells/hydrogen or something else that is clearly superior. Then we will be stuck with the bill for the infrastructure. We need to move slowly and methodically on this and make sure we know what we’re doing. There is plenty of oil, regardless of claims that we’re “running out” (which simply isn’t true). We have decades of supply left. And I’m not convinced that compressed natural gas can’t be fitted in somehow—-lord knows we have an enormous supply of that. I see the founder of Tesla as a bit of a huckster. I hope NEVS builds an EV that is less gimmicky—-something very functional and practical, without the boy racer glitz to it, (looks that at least for me, that wear thin quickly). And this up front huge cost because of savings on fuel—-that goes away quickly if governments and local municipalities start in with per mile taxes—-which of course they will, as they always need more and more money to spread around—most of the time spent on things it wasn’t even collected for. The highway trust fund (gas taxes) in the U.S., state and federal—-goes toward a lot of things that have nothing at all to do with maintaining highways, roads and bridges. Politicians love to be “Big Daddy” and spread the chips around. It’s a crock. Then you’ll have a car that cost a small fortune, per mile taxes that erase the savings on fuel and dead battery packs in 8-10 years too, that cost another small fortune to replace? One big priority for families and average income people is to design these cars to that the replacement batteries of a 10 year old car don’t surpass the value of the 10 year old car. Having a worthless paperweight in your driveway would not be a good feeling—-Jersey Saab couldn’t pass it down to extended family if the cost to make it road worthy was enormous. There is a lot of thinking to do about the shallow water and sharp rocks at the bottom before we dive into this. It could end up being the fiasco of the industrial age if we embrace EV technology that is being pushed by carnival barkers like Mr. Tesla.
We have decades of supply left.
That is just wrong. We have centuries of supply left. 🙂 There is no urgent need to make this massive switch on the crash-program basis that so many seem to be pushing for. You hit the nail on the head, the politicians have made electric cars into yet another way to wield power and loot and spend other peoples’ money and forcibly impose their values on those around them.
I tend to start out with cars that are already 15 years old, it’s hard to see any of today’s electric cars being viable that far down the road. Yes, we occasionally buy new for my better half, but in order to beat the depreciation racket we keep hers a very long time, at least a dozen years, sometimes more (last one was more like 16 years) – so a car with an expensive battery pack that is dead after 8-10 years definitely does not work for us in either scenario.
All the claims of great long-term savings are too pie-in-the-sky for my liking, all dependent on very favorable outcomes down the road. I’m just not willing to gamble my own hard-earned dollars on that.
I think many of us are figuring that all out. EVs can end up being the Sony Betamax for the new century—-in and out in a flash. The way that won’t be the case is if they can dramatically lower prices while at the same time, dramatically increasing range. I don’t know how likely that is. If NEVS does, it, NEVS will be the new Apple.
The reasons why batteries are the projected winner rather than CNG (which takes tons of energy just to mine and then compress it, let alone the methane leak pollution might make it more polluting than coal) are extensive and better suited for another post. The idea of projected savings aren’t pie in the sky, the payback time for electric cars is coming down rapidly, from 8 years to an average of 6 this year.
The big question isn’t if its worth NEVS’s time to make an electric car, they will most certainly do so. The question is how can they manage component, production, tax and transit costs with Chinese sourced materials to lower costs of a premium EV. In other words, how do they make a $60K Tesla Model S for $40-45K. That’s what we’re all anxious to see. Whether or not electric cars are a good investment or scalable over time isn’t up for debate here, it’s fact.
A fact? How? Who is making a profit selling rechargable battery operated cars, besides Mattel and Radio Shack? (“Electric” is a bit of a stretch unless you drive with a long extension cord still plugged in.)
I thought we covered it here already, but Tesla is forecasted to reach profitability this year. The reasons why are explained in this video.
Interestingly enough Musk talks about how surprised he was that China was uncompetitive with component prices, even with their cheap labor. He claims it was cheaper to source from California than from China, by an order of 10-20%, which he estimates because of logistics (shipping etc). Which means NEVS is going to have more of a challenge than I thought.
Jeff: With all due respect, I don’t trust Musk as far as I can throw him. He appears to be the epitome of a jive turkey. That goes for California being cheaper than China and for profitabilty this year (forget “cooking” the books—-if they show profitability, those books have been hit with napalm. He’s working feverishly to prop up the stock price—-and apparently, “tall tales” are not at all beyond him. When they crash—-I’m sure the “believers” are going to point fingers everywhere—-Exxon did it, conspiracy, world wasn’t ready for a visionary, etc. None of that will be true either. It’ll be a simple case of wrong product at the wrong time, too much money, not enough car.
Tesla is forecasted to reach profitability by? By Elon Musk? Do you know if any third party financial analyst agree with that? They haven’t had a quarter yet since going public that hasn’t shown a loss. Look, Musk is hugely successful—-at times, smug arrogance works well in business—-but other times, not so much. Laughing at the EV company Warren Buffet owns a share of really doesn’t elevate Tesla—-just makes Musk look like an a-hole.
It goes without saying that EVs only make sense when charged with electric power that is from regenerative sources, like windmills or photovoltaic facilities. There is an estimate that upon replacing the complete fleet of 40 million cars in Germany by EVs, about 40,000 additional windmills of a modern powerful type will be needed. I would not be suprised if we would end up at 60,000 though.
Regarding costs, already now, at least in Germany, recharging a car like the 80 kWh Tesla S wouldn’t come cheap. Assuming an 80% charging efficiency, and hence 100 kWh of energy, it will presently cost about 25,- Euro. Compared to about 45 Euro a similar Diesel car would consume for the same stretch (assuming “Autobahn”-speed).
Driving an EV is presently significantly more expensive than an ICE car. But for how much longer? Battery prices will hopefully go down, while mineral oil will assumably become ever more expensive.
Agreed, battery prices will continue to drop. But I can guarantee you that taxes will continue to rise to make up for the shortfall of less petroleum being consumed. In the long run, there will be no financial benefit to EV’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually become more expensive than ICE’s because any new tax structures put into place to make up the revenue shortfall will be even more progressive (read: expensive) than existing taxes. Greedy government at work.
Except for those pesky tax breaks they’re offering for electric vehicles now.
If the technology was any good it would not require tax breaks or subsidies, which are going to be temporary in any event. If and when electric car sales really pick up you can bet that the politicians will find a way to tax them. They just can’t help themselves, and road maintenance does of course need to be paid for.
You mentioned that …the payback time for electric cars is coming down rapidly, from 8 years to an average of 6 this year. Aren’t those projected savings and the payback time based on the current price of electricity with no road taxes applied, and assumptions about what the price of battery replacement is likely to be a decade from now? Since nobody has a crystal ball, all those assumptions about cost savings rely on future developments unfolding in a specific way, which they may or may not do. That is practically the dictionary definition of “pie in the sky.”
The idea of whether electric cars are a good investment, or are scalable over time, is not at all an established fact and is still very much open for debate.
I’ve always found it interesting how the U.S. can give out all kinds of tax credits and exemptions when its flat out broke.
Easy: The cowards in Washington, DC borrow from China and will just leave our young children saddled with crushing debt when they become adults. It’s immoral actually. Sick. Some of us are trying to elect representatives who understand the horrific damage this is causing—-but we are outnumbered by a good many people who want “free stuff,” who have their hands out and want, want, want—-and don’t care in the least what it does to the next generation and the one after that. It’s twisted for sure.
Which proves my point. Someone must pay for those tax breaks.
The charging efficiency is about 90% according to readings done by actual Model S drivers on the Tesla forums, so assume a few Euro less. And if we’re talking Sweden, the average rate in Sweden is €0.2/kWh, so it’s closer to 18 to fill the Tesla’s battery. So comparing to a 40mpg diesel car, it’s a €25-27 Euro savings per 300 miles, which over the course of one year is somewhere between €1350-€1500. Over the course of 4-6 years you would need the car to be less than €5000-7000 more to reach break even. Or along the same lines, you could include the tax savings that various governments allow, in Sweden I think it’s up to 16,000kr/year.
In other words, and with very general assumptions about NEVS’s LFP batteries, as an example if you were planning on spending €30K on a new Saab in Sweden (pardon using Euro instead of kr it’s just more consistent with the above math), if it cost €35K you would break even around year 5. If you were getting an €1800/year tax credit, you would break even before year 2 and from then on be saving a substantial amount a year (somewhere around €1350-1500 depending on your mileage, plus an extra €1800 for years 2-5). And that doesn’t even include general maintenance items related to ICE components, which is probably a topic for another post. Let’s assume it costs €2500 for diesel a year (55 tanks at €45/tank), and €1000 for electricity for a year (55 charges at €18). So as a baseline, you’re looking at total cost of ownership over 6 years for a base price €30K ICE Saab at €45K, and a base price €35K EV Saab before tax credits at €41K. After tax breaks of ~€9000, you’re at €33K for total cost of ownership over 6 years vs. €45K.
In other words, NEVS could charge €47K for the equivalent €30K Saab for a 6 year payback. I’m hoping they stay closer to €35K like I suggested.
Tesla S is simply too big and too expensive to hit the sweet spot. I hope NEVS produces something more practical.
The size is as I would guess, a result of the space needed to accomodate the batteries. And the price is determined by the battery costs, and I am afraid that NEVS will not be able to come up with a miracle in that regard. I would not be surprised if a 9-3 with an 80 kWh battery (if that would even fit into the small car) would be around 90.000 dollars.
Thylmuc: If your prediction is right—-90K for the EV 9-3 (or even 60K), NEVS needs to abandon this now. That would be utterly futile, to go through the investments they are taking on—-to offer a battery operated 9-3 at those costs. If you’re right, they need to rename NEVS to “National Emerging Vehicles Sweden” and focus 100000000% of their attention on the Phoenix with a nice turbocharged 4 and a diesel option—-and give up on the EV fantasy.
Sorry, I need to correct myself. Looked up prices. Ok, the price for the “simple” Tesla S with 85 kWh battery is USD 79,900 (without including tax reduction). From the price difference to the 40 kWh model, USD 20,000, the battery costs will be ca. USD 37,700, i.e. the car without battery costs 42,200. Lets assume that Saab can offer the 9-3 “naked” somewhat cheaper, like 30,000. The resulting price for an 85 kWh version would then be USD 67,700, and hence, much lower than my first a-bit-to-wild guess.
Our earliest indications about NEVS’s target price is that they’re targeting a medium size battery for a much lower price than Tesla offers for their $50-$62K Model S. Please don’t guess at their business model or pricing strategy yet.
Again, for those who don’t want to read through the whole comments thread, even Tesla will be bringing a mass market ~$30K electric car to market within the next 4-6 years. The range will probably be more in the 75-150mile range as is the case with the Focus electric. NEVS claims to have a higher energy density than either, so I’d hope that a Saab will be able to go a good bit further for the same price.
Lower than your first guess, still too high though. Jeff: If in six years, the best Tesla can do is a “cheap” car (in today’s dollars, you guess 30K and adjusted for inflation, it’ll probably be mid-high 30s by then?) that has a range in the neighborhood of 100 miles? So a 2018 EV from these geniuses will still have a 75-150 range if it’s at all affordable? To me, that doesn’t bode well for EVs in general. My hope and strangely, my expectation, is that in six years, we might be at the point where an EV can be sold in the 20s that will have a range closer to 200 miles. Maybe I’m an eternal optimist—-but I think prices can drop quickly and progress can be made quickly too—-but who knows. Still, for an EV to be someone’s primary car, I think things have to fall closer to my prediction than yours.
I have no clue what Tesla’s Model C will actually be, just going on the comments I’ve seen in videos from Musk. Supposedly it’s being designed as a smaller version of the Model S (obviously with styling updated to reflect 3-4 years of progress). Here’s a rendering from the Tesla version of SU.
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I’m being conservative with my estimates, but if the infrastructure is built out properly I see no reason why a $30K 150 mile range electric car wouldn’t sell amazingly well. How freaking far do you have to drive in a day? Seriously? For most people, a full charge at home will last them until they get back to plug it back in with room to spare.
I’m guessing you’re assuming that fast charge times stay the same, which I don’t. Higher voltage charging standards are already being developed by ABB and others to make refill times much closer to that of their gas equivalents.
Similar to today’s KIA Optima in looks (actually not quite as sharp in my opinion, but that’s subjective of course). Also has some cues from the Hyundai Elantra of a couple years ago. Anyway, my commute in a day varies—-but is almost always under 150 miles, with some exceptions. There are times when I have to drive 100 plus miles one way (Northern, Virginia to Baltimore) and you’d be surprised at how many people make commutes daily that are about that long, in my area. I think there might be charging stations available—-as this is an Airport that I drive to. So I’d probably be able to drive one way and plug in while I work, then have enough juice to get home. Now, that said—-several times a year, I do drive over 200 miles one way. I would say—–conservatively—-5 times, sometimes more. But there are also quite a few times when I’m between 100-150, so that 150 range would have to be really very close to reality, not pie in the sky. Also, what do people do if we lose power (which happens more often than you’d think)? Could a gas generator charge an EV?
It’s about the same size as my -11 9-5, and I paid more than $70 000 US for that car.
Everything is relative.
Tesla got a better stance at “luxury” than Saab, and is able to sell at luxery prices I guess.
I belive its better as a small player to sell less with a bigger profit than try to go all in and ramp up production and sell cheap with less profit per car.
If success, a good name is created with the luxery brand and its easyer to sell cheaper cars by the numbers.
But that’s just my 2 c
Over 70K for an ’11 9-5? Wow, that’s top of the market. But the good news is that unlike driving a Tesla, you can drive a couple hundred miles on a trip if you want to, without calling a tow truck.
Or you know, you could drive a few hundred miles, recharge for almost an hour, and drive a few hundred more.
Yeap, if I get 3-5 hours of juice, it’s time for a break anyway.
I like the ev idea for many reasons. All the wories of range is (today) relevant. But tomorrow, we don’t know. And most people seems to reject ev by todays facts.
By the way….I got the perfect environment for ev testing around here….nevs, you hear me? 🙂
I will of course close my eyes when you passes….NOT!!!
Jeff: I consider “a few” to be three. If we can charge for an hour and drive 300 miles, I think I’d be on board, if the price was within $5,000-7500 of a comparably equipped and comparably capable gas engined vehicle. That would win me over. The other thing is that the 300 miles would need to be “carefree” miles—-meaning heat or ac working, ambient temperature not relevant, carrying cargo or people in the car (added weight). I don’t want to have to “turn the AC/heat down” to make it to the charging station. So if what you describe is available in a 9-3 for around $40,000, I think that’s a winner (for psychological reasons, make it $39,999.). TT: If someone is in the market for a car today, they can only go by what’s available, not “the dreams of tomorrow.” If your time horizon is a few years from now, yes, it’s possible that there will be great developments and I hope NEVS is at the forefront of them. I just hope these aren’t empty promises.
I think in most cases car testers suffer from biased writers…remember how often a Saab car was dumped down because the Key was in the middle etc…
Nevertheless, the articles place the finger exactly on the right point: why do one needs an extraordinary powerful electric car when you cant drive it over longer distances? I like Tesla and I appreciate the great things they do, but, honestly, a powerful car is mostly a car people want to cruise longer distance with higher speed. And the time from A to B is only dependent on the overall average speed. Look at Le Mans where Audi wins with a Diesel not because its more powerful than a gasoline-driven engine, but just because they don’t need to come in that often like a gasoline-empowered one to take fuel while the car is quite fast still.
In other words, a car that is very powerful but does not last and recharging takes too much time (meaning everything longer than filling a gas tank) is virtually impractical for many car users that are used to drive their power-cars on long distance. However, most of car drivers do not drive long distances and still want to have a powerful car! There the Tesla makes great sense and nothing meets this demand better than this beautiful car.
What we can learn out of such tests? Indeed, we should clearly indicate what needs do we have for a car. And as great a e.g. Mercedes E63AMG or a Saab 9-5 Aero is for long-distance driving, a Tesla is great for people that drive within the car’s range as they will never face problems with limited distances. Perhaps its time to bring the debate on electrical car on a more objective and solid basis: for me this means that electrical car do have their market and make sense if my every day distance is covered by the car’s battery, if I wants to drive longer than the battery lasts, gasoline/diesel-cars are the choice.
I said that already often here. Saab was far ahead of most others to consider BioPower. I believe that once we solved the issue to make bioethanol out of any organic waste, THIS is the future as the car technology exists and does not that much new resources and environment (charging stations etc.) like the electric vehicles. However, in the city, there is no reason electric cars will be the number on choice.
WFG: I agree with you—-but I also think about the market for new cars and it’s not many people who can afford to have a very expensive in town car and also a very nice, safe, reliable road trip car. My point is—-a good many people buy a car that needs to do both—-maybe primarily shorter trips but then weekend trips to a cottage or to take care of elderly parents a couple hundred miles away. Or visit their kids at college or drop their kids off at college—-also hundreds of miles away. Maybe things are different in Europe or Japan—-where people are more heavily concentrated and the land mass isn’t as challenging as it is in the U.S. and Canada. And maybe in China, people are clustered into cities and rural areas aren’t served at all—-farm equipment will always run on gas/diesel and people ride bikes. I really don’t know. But I can speak for myself—-and many others—-a very expensive car that isn’t capable of long distance driving is a toy for the rich, not a solution to our transportation needs. And the notion that we need to have a “second car” or rent cars for long trips? Isn’t that a concession that is somewhat ridiculous for many of us? The “second car” would most likely be a very inexpensive car that isn’t as safe, reliable or comfortable on the long trips—-just when you NEED a safe, reliable, comfortable car the most! I suppose renting is an option—-but also a hassel. Not everyone lives near a car rental agency. You often need two drivers too—-you and a passenger drive to the car rental place, one of you drives the rental back and the other drives their car back home. Same thing when dropping off. For weekend trips, ridiculous. I could see doing that for vacation once or twice a year—-but not once or twice a month, which is when many of us drive beyond the range of an affordable EV. The anwser might really be—-a small city car EV, very, very affordable and spartan—-for tooling around close to home. Small, seating 4, good stereo system, but cheap. Then, people would actually have the money leftover for a really nice road car too. But it seems to me, Tesla has it backwards. $75,000 for the short distance city car, which looks awful big to park in a city by the way—-and a used Escort for the car you’ll be driving 400 miles to see Grandma. LMFAO.
I’d rather have the car I take the most trips in to be my nicest one, plain and simple. Logic seems right to me.
For long trips, I want the car with the most comfortable seating and ride—-so I don’t arrive with a bad back. For commuting—-20 minutes each way—-I’m okay with the little junker or I should say, smaller car.
Agree to disagree. Cumulative time in the commuter car is going to be much greater for me than the long distance car.
I could set you up with an electric (rechargeable battery) scooter. That would be friendlier to the environment than your Tesla. You’ll get fresh air too.
The sarcasm even misses the point Angelo.
I agree with you Angelo V. That is actually the “bug” in all the EV business. If our way of travelling is not changing very much, the szenario you are describing is correct. Though I do see a market for all this EVs particular for the city, I am still wondering why almost nobody (except “our” old Sabb company) considers Bioethanol. There is not much investment to make but just to copy nature’s way to utiilize every organic material for transforming it to ethanol. Nature knows how to do it and actually, if you are a educated dreamer, you can consider making ethanol out of water, CO2 and light..sounds familar, right? One shoudl watch the explaination of Bioethanol by Saab about 4 years ago. Indeed, every organic mass that we woudl transform to ethanol would not end up producing atmosphere-killing methan, etc…ok, its a bit simplified, but true in the very end.
On the other hand, to solve the limitations of EVs, we need to develop new batteries, burn even more natural ressources, establish charge stations everywhere, and have to find ways to produce smart electricity…its a lot to do and knowing nature’s possibilities, I would go for the first option.
I live in an area where I need studded tires 6 month a year. I have minus 35 celsius several times each winter. And I got 110 km between fueing station today (gas and diesel).
I would love to be able to get my car fuel during night.
During the winter, I connect the car to the grid anyway just to preheat the engine and cabin….so why not fuel up at the same time.
Time will tell if I’m going EV, but I sure want to.
Exactly. Glad you understand.
The other observation I have is that the whole “It’s an electric future at Saab, get used to it.” isn’t doing Saab/NEVS any favors—it truly isn’t. Nor is it helping them to tie their fortunes to Tesla’s. Tesla could very easily become a 21st century Tucker and NEVS better have a business plan that transitions from gas/diesel ICE cars to the energies of the future—-and if they put all of their eggs in the EV basket, they’re doomed to failure. There’s been some encouraging rumblings about Saab coming back with ICE cars—-the vehicle of choice for the vast, vast majority of buyers now and years into the future. To throw a wet blanket over that by writing it off as “the past” and focusing on electrics—-might just be sweeping their best chance at success under the table while highlighting something most of us aren’t ready for yet and have no plans to purchase anytime soon.
No matter how much $$$$$ GM gets (on the backs of economically devastated taxpayers no less) or how big a push this failed program has received—-the Volt continues to be a disaster for them. They are really trying hard (with help from many in the media) to put a good face on it—-“improving sales” (helped by deep discounts to an already money-losing car). The fact is, this bomb is way below expectations, which were somewhat conservative to begin with. The only possible silver lining is that GM uses what they are learning to improve engineering in the future for similarly powered vehicles. But really, the true lesson for the General should be to focus on segments that actually make money—cars BUYERS (not political hacks) want, so Toyota and Honda don’t continue to eat GM’s lunch.
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