Published on July 18th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


Wall St. Analyst Wants Elon To Exit The EV Market

July 18th, 2014 by  


They say that Wall Street is detached from the rest of America, and after hearing a story like this, it’s hard to disagree. A financial bond “guru” is urging Elon Musk and Tesla Motors to exit the EV market, and focus instead on building batteries. Boy does this guy miss the point.

EcoWatch reports that financial analyst Jeff Gundlach went onto Bloomberg radio, where he dishes out his idea that the world’s foremost maker of electric cars should get out of the car business. “I just think that the battery technology that Tesla has created is so far ahead of everybody else that it could really have broad uses,” Gundlach said. “If I was running BMW or GM or Ford, I think I would be open to the idea of just buying the batteries from Tesla.”

Boy, this guy couldn’t be more off point. Tesla’s battery technology is not that far ahead of everybody else; the only difference is the size of their battery. The battery chemistry is largely the same, though Tesla prefers to use thousands of small laptop batteries versus the larger cell setup of cars like the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt. But whereas those cars have 24 kWh and 16 kWh batteries (respectively), the Model S starts out with a 60 kWh battery, and can be as large as 85 kWh…more than three times the size of the LEAF battery. Triple the 81 mile range of the LEAF, and you get just over 240 miles, within spitting distance of the 265 mile EPA-rated of the Model S.

More importantly than any of this though is the fact that Elon Musk’s stated goal is to make every car on the road an EV. He’s also opened up his patents to the world, meaning anybody that wants to use his battery technology can use it.

This guy might be wealthy, but that doesn’t qualify him as an automotive expert. Stick to your mutual funds buddy, and let’s let Elon stick to what he does best; build awesome electric cars.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Ruri Hoshino

    Lets be truthful if not for Tesla there would be no EV market.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, Nissan would be getting more love. Tesla has out shown, but Nissan is plugging right along.

  • sault

    More misguided hype from the same types of people that brought us the 2008 Financial Meltdown. The huge amount of interest around Tesla cars and the company’s future potential are what forms the basis for the company to get into battery pack production in a big way. They designed a smokin’ hot car and did the hard work to make it a viable production vehicle. Without that, their battery technology wouldn’t have a growing market to satisfy. The DEMAND for EVs should drive what SUPPLY Tesla provides in the way of EV battery packs. You can’t turn that around and expect it to make sense.

  • chat lou

    Keep on doing what y are going pal.
    Elon Musk will continue on shining. While u sound a bit off ..track spec not knowing what u are talking about..!

  • spec9

    Isn’t this an old story . . . or did another stupid person say the same dumb thing? Elon Musk needs to build CARS . . . what they developed was the first really successful and profitable EV. He figured out how to crack a market where so many failed.

  • Roger Pham

    Tesla is doing very well just to maintain the current direction. However, to fulfill the vision of every future vehicle to be EV’s, perhaps a new Tesla model can incorporate 15 kWh of Li-ion battery and about 120 kWh of high-density battery for 300 mile range with 3-minute recharging. The 15-kWh Li-ion pack is to cover about 40-50 mi of daily driving on “low-cost” home electricity. Too bad, the high- density battery cannot be charged at home, but it can be charged in 3 minutes at the station for extended-range driving. The high-energy battery only has to provide base load, so it needs only 50 kW of power max in order to reduce the cost. At 60-mph cruise, a 3000-lb car only needs 15 kW of power. The low-cost and high density of the extended-range battery is what will allow all future cars to be EV’s, to compete with ICE vehicles.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Roger, why don’t you avoid silly-land and interact with us as a rational grownup?

      Fuel cells will win if, and only if, they cost less overall than storing electricity in batteries. No one can predict that with certainty at this point in time. Batteries appear to have the lead. Things could change.
      The 3 minute charge time is very unlikely to be a determining issue, especially seeing how it will be useful only a half dozen times a year for most drivers. And it will be a PITA for the rest of the time for them.

      • Roger Pham

        Shhhh…don’t mention the dirty F—- C—- words, or it will bring needless negative responses. An EV can have two different types of battery, one for power and daily low-cost charging, and the other for extended-range driving. Let’s think rationally as engineers to design a future EV that everyone would want and can afford it, and will cost very little to operate.

        • Bob_Wallace

          That’s a bit better, Roger, but you’re still missing the point. Brainless cheerleading isn’t appreciated here.

          Make your case rationally and see how well it holds up to public scrutiny.
          Use the number range you gave for fuel cells and a range of reasonable battery prices and show us how a PHEV with a fuel cell range extender would compete with a high range EV. You might have a valid point. Let’s see the point in plain English.

          You might wish to start with the Volt as your model. They have a decent EV range for most drivers and enough power to handle long highway trips.

          • Roger Pham

            The Volt did not have the ingenuity and creativity of Mr. Musk. If he was behind the creation of the Volt, it would be the best-selling EV today. The Volt could have been much better designed.

            However, Tesla will not consider a combustion engine. A high-density, low cost, and very durable extended-range battery in addition to a smaller Li-ion battery may be more acceptable. This will allow many times more EV’s to be made for a given quantity of Lithium battery, and will bring greater profit to Tesla. No calendar life degradation nor heat-related degradation for the extended battery will means fewer warranty claims for Tesla and higher resale value.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Roger, if you’re just going to BS and not address the point why don’t you find another place to spend your time?

            Now, take your own numbers and tell us the cost range of a PHEV with a fuel cell range extender.


          • Roger Pham

            OK, for the 85-kWh Model S:
            $40,000 cost of battery pack divided by 85 and multiply by15 = $7,000 for the 15 kWh pack, saving of $33,000, and 1070 lbs of weight.
            Adding 50 kW of FC stack for $3,500 and $1,500 for H2 tank, so $33,000 -3,500 – 1,500 = $28,000 off the sticker price of the Model S 85-kWh.
            Weight of FC stack at 3 kW/kg is 36 lbs and the H2 tank at 5% at 4kg = 80 kg, or 176 lbs.. So, 1,070 – 36 – 176 = 858 lbs lighter and $28,000 less.

            A few hundred more lbs can be saved due to downsizing of wheels, tire, suspension, frame, motor, differential and transmission, inverter, etc due to the massive wt. savings from the battery pack, with more $ saved from lower material cost. Many thousands dollars less! A $80,000 car can cost under $50,000 yet can use low-cost electricity for daily commute.

          • sault

            $470 / kWh for the Tesla battery pack??? Are you kidding me??? Where are you getting these numbers? This is WAY higher, probably 50% higher, than all the ESTIMATES of how much EV batteries cost. Where did you get this estimate, anyway?

            And if you think you can buy a 50kW fuel cell stack for $3,500 and an automotive-grade H2 tank for $1,500, you are not looking at the same numbers that most other people are looking at.

            Seriously, you are seriously biased. Your numbers are unrealistically pessimistic for batteries and unrealistically optimistic for fuel cells. Please go check your numbers and if you still maintain your claims, post links to where you are getting these numbers and I will gladly show how full of it they are.

          • Roger Pham

            FC may cost as little as $47/kW.

            H2 tank costs around $450-600 per kg, depending on volume. A 4-kg tank should cost around $1800-2400.

            Tesla recently charged $40,000 for a 53-kWh Roadster replacement pack to swap out for a bricked one. The electronics are probably still useable from the old pack. It probably costs Tesla less than this 40k, but this pack is much smaller than an 85-kWh pack. Henrik, a Tesla insider and investor, recently mentioned $40-45k cost for the 85-kWh pack.

          • sault

            Here’s where you start to go wrong:

            “The cost of an 80-kWnet automotive polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell system based on 2012 technology1 and operating on direct hydrogen is projected to be $47/kW when manufactured at a volume of 500,000 units/year.”

            And note 1 says:

            “The projected cost status is based on an analysis of state-of-the-art components that have been developed and demonstrated through the DOE Program at the laboratory scale. Additional efforts would be needed for integration of components into a complete automotive system that meets durability requirements in real-world conditions.”

            First of all, Tesla MIGHT make 50,000 Model S vehicles this year, so it’s a BIG leap to try and use numbers based on the assumption that you are producing fuel cells at 10x the scale. Secondly, this study cherry-picks “state-of-the-art” components that work in the lab but have not been proven in operational testing, meaning they will probably cost a lot more to be weather-proofed, ruggedized, designed to pass crash-testing and a whole host of other real-world requirements that batteries and electric motors have already done.

            But don’t take my word for it, the Toyota FCV is going on sale for only $68,000. Let’s assume the rest of the car costs $20,000 to make (since it’s the same size as a Camry). $48,000 / 100kW = $480 / kW, or more than ten times what the oil lobbyists at the DoE claim a fuel cell should cost. Even if I’m off by 50%, that still makes the DoE 400% off, and that’s not counting how much money Toyota will lose on each car for many years.

            And before this post becomes longer than the original article, just remember that the $40,000 battery replacement cost was for a ROADSTER pack, a vehicle which Tesla doesn’t make any more, so it is impossible to make comparisons withe the Model S using this figure.

            Finally, it’ll still cost at last 3x more to operate a fcv compared to an electric because of how inefficient they are and hydrogen fueling stations cost at least 10x as much to install as a Tesla supercharger. Plus, superchargers can use the existing grid for supplemental power while a hydrogen fueling network would cost billion$$$ as we try to reinvent the wheel and make a redundant copy of our petroleum fueling infrastructure.

          • Ben Helton

            Before install, shipping, and taxes, the battery costs; $37,102 (60kwh) and $44,564 for 85kwh

            Source – David Noland,

          • sault

            Your link is busted.

          • Ben Helton
          • Ben Helton

            Your estimations for how you came to $480 / kw for a fuel stack is just ridiculous. The current price right now for a raw fuel stack is around $78/kw. Once including the other parts for intergration, high pressure components, etc, yes, this can add thousands on to the cost of the system at large, but it’s certainly not a $48,000 system at large. I’m sure the cost of the car factors in the billions of R&D cost the company has endured for 2 decades to make this technology safe, efficient, and ready for the market place.

            A $25,000 car usually costs only around $10,000 to make in materials, labor, factory costs, etc. The other portion makes up the company infrastructure, R&D, government regulations and red tape, profit, etc. It’s hard to say without insider info from Toyota, but I’m willing to guess the current price off the assembly line for one of these is somewhere around $35-$40,000.

            $30,000 is not much money to make to make up for the rest of the overhead right now, as the fuel cells practically have their own branch of Toyota to run, BUT, as the technology scales up, their ahead of the game position is going to be priceless.

            They’ll be ready to scale up to 100,000+ vehicles / year in no time (after all, they are the world’s largest auto manufacturer). If this trend ticks up like the Prius Hybrid, in 15 years, when they can make 1,000,000+ / year, the production cost will get cut in half, and the slice needed for overhead and profit will be able to get these vehicles to around $30,000.

          • sault

            “The current price right now for a raw fuel stack is around $78/kw.”

            The way you just pull numbers out of you-know-where without providing a source is just ridiculous. Look, this car is basically a Nissan LEAF with a tiny battery plus the fuel cell power train. If Nissan can SELL a LEAF for $28k, how much do you think that vehicle costs without most of its batteries? $20k for the Toyota FCV without the fuel cell is about the best estimate out there, and if it’s lower, that makes the fuel cell even MORE expensive. And you are not looking at recent auto industry history if you think Toyota will make a profit on these things right off the bat. So even if the FVC minus the fuel cell costs $30k (you still didn’t explain what would make this car, sans powertrain, cost more than the purchase price of a Camry, just sayin’), that still means that the oil lobbyists at the DoE were off by a factor of 5 on their price estimate for the fuel cell. Your estimate of $78/W puts you at at least a factor of 2.5 off, btw.

            “They’ll be ready to scale up to 100,000+ vehicles / year in no time…”

            Yeah, not so much. The FCV is a purely a compliance car and Toyota has no plans to ramp up production this fast. How could they, when there are basically no places to fill them up? Trying to compare the FCV to the Prius’ production history is fundamentally flawed for this exact reason.

            Sorry, but the FCV will be a footnote in automotive history while the pure-electric Model S is already causing a paradigm shift withing the industry. Seriously, why would somebody want to pay 3x as much to fuel a car with a lot less storage space (because of the hydrogen tanks), especially when there’s nowhere to get hydrogen fuel and hydrogen filling stations cost 10x as much as a quick charge station to build? It just doesn’t make sense unless your aim is to keep oil companies relevant as we transition off of petroleum for motor fuel.

          • Ben Helton

            $78 / KW is the current price (in low production) and this is not just balogna information, this comes from a CEO of a business installing hydrogen stations.

            That number goes down when production goes up. These things don’t require truck loads of raw materials the way that batteries do, volume will play in its favor, not against it.

            The DoE estimates are based on producing 500,000 / year ( a tiny fraction of current yearly automobile sales)

            Call it a compliance car all you want, but for the folks who care about the environment, and the air quality in the cities we live and raise our children – this is most welcomed. When priced around the same as the Gallons of Gas Equivalent, the public doesn’t care enough to to worry about finding a plug everywhere they go. I mean, for crying out loud man, a Six Flags would practically have to have a small power plant next to it to accomodate a world of BEVs that all wanted to plug in on a busy day.

          • sault

            “$78 / KW is the current price (in low production) and this is not just balogna information, this comes from a CEO of a business installing hydrogen stations.”

            Again, no linked source, just something you heard from someone who has a vested interest in perpetuating the myth that fuel cell vehicles are viable.

          • Ben Helton


            you display you’re gross lack of understanding when you say things like this;

            “And how do batteries require “truck loads of raw materials” while fuel cells do not? Fuel cells still need separators and electrodes just like batteries, right? And since fuel cells wear out a lot faster than batteries, they will need to be replaced or refurbished (the platinum catalyst tends to get degraded over time and the membrane too) once or twice over the lifetime of an equivalent electric vehicle”

            A fuel cell requires about the same amount of resources and metals that are required in a modern catalytic converter (per Toyota). if your Primary Energy Source is a battery, you’re looking at supplementing that fuel cell for a 1000lb+ battery pack (of refined materials).

            And your comparison to Six Flags needing 3 power plants for hydrogen vehicles is just downright stupid. Nobody would need to be charging their vehicle the whole time while they are not travelling (vs. the foolish BEV paradigm where there are ‘billions of outlets – everywhere you go’).

            The people driving normal cars would just fill up when and where its convenient for them, without worrying about finding a stupid charging cable everywhere they go, every time they go somewhere.

          • sault

            “A fuel cell requires about the same amount of resources and metals that are required in a modern catalytic converter (per Toyota).”


            In my experience with them, the catalyst tends to degrade after a few hundred hours of use. You do know that any little bit of carbon monoxide from the outside air will slowly poison the catalyst while the 3-way catalyst in a converter doesn’t have this problem, right? Don’t lecture me on things you CLEARLY are ignorant about.

          • Ben Helton

            “Bottom line: Toyota’s FCHV will use around the amount of platinum now used in catalytic converters in clean diesel cars, and Toyota expects to whittle this down to less than diesel cars require.”


            The reference I make for Six Flags; most people travel to places like this. They also do it in one day. (travel for a few hours, go have fun for the day, travel home at night)
            The paradigm of a Battery Electric Vehicle world is this; you should be able to plug your vehicle in, anywhere you go! (let’s not even get into how people should have to pay for this)

            In a place like Six Flags, they will often have 5,000+ parking spots. If Six Flags had to provide refueling ability for these travelers that bring the money to their park, they would have to accommodate with at least Level 2 charging, right? Level 2 charging is 30A @ 240V (7.2KW)

            If say, 2000 of those cars needed charging, we’re looking at a 14.4 MW electrical demand. Yowsers….

          • sault

            And if 2000 fuel cell cars need to fill up, the station will need 30 – 45 MW of electrical supply (after paying $2 million to install the station).

          • Ben Helton

            ” In England,ACAL Energy’s FlowCath hydrogen fuel cell is the first in the world to break the 10,000hr endurance test without significant degradation in performance. This 10,000hr endurance test is the equivalent of driving 300,000mi, comparable to the best light-weight diesel engines or the 1.8ℓ i4 gasoline engine in my 1989 Toyota Camry”


            About the only real argument any of you Muskologists have is that there are not many fueling stations right now. The days of this being true are numbered… As to your negativity of human progress – well… I’m afraid that may be stuck with you for a lifetime, unless you decide to kick the habit! (it’s like smoking cigarettes.) You just gotta stop, or it will do you in.

          • Offgridman

            Well Sault got back to you with the specific numbers before I had a chance to. But still if you are going to compare the costs of what FC may cost, then be fair and compare that with the costs forecast on the batteries coming out of the gigafactory. With groundbreaking already happening and site designation by the end of the year, the cheap batteries will be here way before your maybe economical fuel cells.
            This is the same game you played with me the other day when I was explaining the problems of hydrogen coming from natural gas. You threw up some numbers that it was only fifty percent, which I finally tracked down as coming from US production. But our consumption of hydrogen is 95% imported and it all comes from natural gas.
            So carry on with your support of FCEV and their ridiculous upfront and residual costs. It really seems like you have some fossil fuel stocks that you want to make sure that the value of isn’t lost. Because it is in the pockets of those polluters that our money will go if the FC cars succeed instead of putting the electricity from the wind turbines directly into batteries. Because like your FC’s the tech for hydrogen from renewables still isn’t commercially viable.

          • Roger Pham

            Good points and good discussion, Bob, sault and Offgridman, to see that both BEV’s and FCV’s will soon be cost competitive with ICEV, and will use clean solar and wind energy instead of fossil fuels. I’m not really partial to any, and I can see that both will succeed to satisfy diverse consumer preferences.

          • Offgridman

            Affordable FCEV? Possibly for former high fuel usage vehicles ie: construction or cross country trucking where the requisite battery size for long term power needs just isn’t economic. But for passenger cars where the battery research that should have continued 25 years ago with GM’s first electric foray is now happening and will have the packs at half of the size and 2-4 times the energy density in ten years, doubtful.
            And as Sault and I are trying to explain if that hydrogen is coming from natural gas converted by a grid that isn’t renewable yet you are just pulling a double whammy on the environment with the continued fracking and use of fossil fuels to convert the hydrogen. And on the economics of its usage by the same costs of extraction and conversion, it would make a lot more sense to use that natural gas directly in those big vehicles.
            As a suggestion could you please go read the wiki page on the GM EV-1 for some perspective on how GM spent millions fighting the carb regulations when they already had a 150+ mile EV ten to fifteen years ago. And how not only the engineers but even the CEO regret not following up on their electric car program.
            FCEV’s are going to keep people trapped into going to fueling stations model, rather than doing it cheaper at home, work, or charging stations putting electricity directly into batteries.
            And until we get our grid converted to all renewables, and the hydrogen is coming from water the major ones to profit from the FCEV model will be the fossil fuel companies and their unregulated destruction of the environment doing the fracking to fill those cars.

          • sault

            And if we’re going to make most of that hydrogen from natural gas, why don’t we just build much cheaper natural gas combustion cars and sidestep the hydrogen middleman entirely? (This doesn’t make any sense either, but it is a lot more efficient than wasting all that energy converting natural gas to hydrogen and then to electricity).

          • Roger Pham

            @Offgridman and salut,
            The good news is that the H2 to be sold at the retail stations will be cheaper if made from solar PV DC power from nearby rooftops. Solar PV energy is so cheap now, soon will even best the retail cost of NG. Electrolyzer now can deliver high pressure H2 at 3,000-5,000 psi at high efficiency that will only require a modest compression step to 10,000 psi. You see, NG is cheap at Henry Hub, but by the time and the effort taken to distribute it, the cost can double. The H2 will be cheapest if made right at the point of sale, no further distribution cost.

            Rooftops of buildings surround an H2 station can be leased for mounting of solar PV panels. No inverter needed since the Electrolyzer uses DC power. Ditto for power from regional wind turbines via DC lines. Raw DC power from RE can be under 4 cents/kWh when the middlemen are cut out and the H2 station owner owns all the RE power collectors. No distribution cost for those direct-use power.

          • Roger Pham

            By contrast, BEV charged from grid electricity at 12 c/kWh pays >3x for energy cost. If FCV requires 2x energy per mile but uses RE at <1/3 the cost, then factoring in the amortization cost of the H2 station and profit, may come out with comparable energy cost per mile.

            If you don't accept the above, then consider a BEV with 15 kWh of lithium battery for 50-mi daily commute, plus 4kg of H2 and 50-kW FC for extended driving.

          • sault

            How does a fuel cell car magically get to use renewable electricity at “<1/3 the cost" while a BEV cannot? What is a hydrogen fueling station powered by solar PV if not a quick DC charge station with a bunch of expensive and unnecessary hydrogen nonsense in the way? You don't make sense.

          • Roger Pham

            A BEV usually is charged at nite at home from grid electricity, so the average residential rate of 12 cents/kWh. Since there are few BEV’s on the parking lot, it does not make economic sense for the owner of the lot to provide low-cost direct solar charging.
            An FCV pulls up to the station for a quick 3-minute fill, so one station can serve a lot of FCV’s daily, hence spread the cost out widely.
            The bigger picture is that the energy cost for BEV’s is low enough at 12 cents / kWh compare to other cost that it will not be an important issue that would motivate direct solar charging investment.

          • sault

            “A BEV usually is charged at nite at home from grid electricity, so the average residential rate of 12 cents/kWh.”

            Actually, many utilities have special rates for plug-ins where you can get much lower rates for charging at night:


            “Since there are few BEV’s on the parking lot, it does not make economic sense for the owner of the lot to provide low-cost direct solar charging.”

            How do you know how many EVs will be parked in any given location?

            “An FCV pulls up to the station for a quick 3-minute fill, so one station can serve a lot of FCV’s daily, hence spread the cost out widely.”

            Sure, but since FCEVs use 3x as much energy as an EV, you will need 3x as many solar panels and other infrastructure to support the same number of vehicles.

          • Roger Pham

            Ahh, a FCV does not use 3x the energy as a BEV. Simple math:
            Power plant to wheel eff of BEV: .93% transmission x .80% charging x 75% battery to wheel = .56%
            Solar PV to wheel eff of FCV: .66% electrolysis x .95% compression x .60% tank to wheel = .38%
            .56/.38= 1.47 for efficiency of BEV vs FCV. FCV only requires 1.5 x the energy of BEV.

            That is for non-winter temps. In frigid temps, the energy consumption of the Tesla Model S was found to be double that of fair temp., while efficiency of FCV goes up due to waste heat utilization, so in that case, FCV’s efficiency can double that of BEV.

          • Roger Pham

            Correction to above:
            It turns out that battery to wheel of BEV may be as high as .8, due to Li-ion battery having lower internal resistance than NiMh. So, grid to wheel eff of BEV would be 0.6.

            Tank to wheel efficiency of FCV may be lower, around 0.53, thus brings down the eff to 0.34. Thus, .6/.34 = 1.76 advantage to BEV, not 3x advantage as you claimed.

          • sault

            And since we’re talking about a direct comparison using solar energy to “fuel” these vehicles, the EV doesn’t have to deal with grid transmission losses and DC / DC charging is much more efficient. Therefore, the EV will have an efficiency of:

            0.95 (DC / DC charging) * 0.85 (plug-to-wheels) or 81% efficiency, which is a 2.6x advantage over the fuel cell vehicle. Keep in mind this is the BEST CASE efficiency for a fuel cell vehicle and things only go downhill when you get into more real-world scenarios.

          • sault

            Your numbers are, once again, biased against EVs. Charge efficiency is actually 85 – 86%:


            And lithium ion batteries have MUCH higher efficiency than 75%. Charge / Discharge efficiencies are ACTUALLY 80 – 90%:


            So the efficiency you would have calculated if your numbers weren’t biased would be 0.93 * 0.85 * 0.85 or 67.2%

            Where did you get the numbers for a fuel cell vehicle? The fuel cell itself can have efficiencies of 40 – 60%:


            However, you can only get these high efficiencies at around 12% loading and it tapers off above 50%. Therefore, you will have to buy around 3 times as much fuel cell capacity than you need to achieve these high efficiencies. If you want to run the fuel cell at max loading, efficiencies drop closer to 40%:


            Your compression efficiency is also a little high. A kg of H2 contains 33.34 kWh of energy but takes 2 – 3 kWh to compress:


            So you get

            0.66 * 0.93 * 0.5 = 31% efficiency.

            If you have sources to back up your numbers, please post them. If not, you need to realize that your beliefs are based on information biased against electric vehicles and biased for fuel cells.

          • Roger Pham

            Look into the thermal efficiency of the following link, and you will see that efficiency is at almost 60%, at up to 25% of max load. At 15 kW required for cruise or base load a stack of only 60 kW would be needed for max efficiency.

            New high-pressure electrolyzers can supply high pressure H2 at thousands of psi at 78% efficiency. Very gradual electro-chemical isothermal compression can double the efficiency of mechanical compressor.

            I can see that you are expressing efficiency as from power-plant-to-inverter efficiency at 67% for BEV, which is OK, vs mine which was from power-plant-to-wheel efficiency at 60%.
            To calculate solar-to-inverter efficiency for FCV:
            0.66 x 0.95 x 0.6 =0.376.
            Dividing 0.67 by 0.376 = 1.78 the relative efficiency of BEV vs FCV. Still works out pretty much the same as the 1.76 number I gave you before.

          • sault

            Exactly, so you have to pay for 4x as much fuel cell capacity as you really need just to get these high efficiency numbers. And with fuel cell systems running at $200 – $400 / kW (going by the Toyota FCV), it would cost $12,000 – $24,000 to have that 15kW output to extend a vehicle’s range.

            Additionally, “very gradual” hydrogen compressors would be much more expensive than regular compressors and however “gradual” you would want to make the compression process would determine how many vehicles a station could serve each day. Go for efficiency and you lower the stations hydrogen output, so this is a tradeoff, not a solution to the problem.

            As for my efficiency calculations, I take them to the point where FVCs and EVs all share the same components. After the inverter, they’re all the same.

          • sault

            But those same solar panels can charge 3x as many pure electric vehicles at a fraction of the cost because you don’t need an electrolyzer, hydrogen storage tanks, pumps, as much maintenance, etc. All for what benefit over EVs, exactly?

          • Roger Pham

            FC-H2 as extended-range battery is a lot lighter, more durable, and has near infinite calendar life, not affected by heat or state of charge, and cheaper per kWh of capacity, plus fast charge in 3 minutes. If you are concerned about the high cost of FC stack, just get a smaller stack, perhaps 25 kW, for base load power until it will get cheaper. The 15-kWh Li-ion battery pack will allow daily charging at lower cost and provide most of the power.

          • sault

            “FC-H2 as extended-range battery is a lot lighter, more durable, and has near infinite calendar life, not affected by heat or state of charge, and cheaper per kWh of capacity, plus fast charge in 3 minutes.”

            Again with this un-sourced claim! How come you can’t provide any proof for this magical battery? And you still didn’t answer my question. Since electric vehicles are so much more efficient than fuel cell vehicles, why can’t they just use the power from the solar panels directly? In reality, the expensive electrolyzer plant and the inefficient hydrogen fuel cell are the “middlemen” wasting 2/3 of the clean renewable electricity coming off those panels (compared to an electric vehicle) and getting in the way of those electrons turning the car’s wheels.

          • Ben Helton

            Magical battery? – that’s a fuel cell he is talking about. Try to throw fairy dust on it all you want, it’s still real, and its much better than lithium ion for storing energy. If you need proof of that, you have no business in participating in this discussion.

            “In reality, the expensive electrolyzer plant and the inefficient hydrogen fuel cell are the “middlemen” wasting 2/3 of the clean renewable electricity coming off those panels (compared to an electric vehicle) and getting in the way of those electrons turning the car’s wheels.”

            Do you have any idea how much energy goes into making an 85 kwh battery?

            Here’s a new middle man for you; giant empire running 200 giga-factories.

          • sault

            LOL…if you think fuel cells have “near infinite calendar life” you are full of it when you say you know anything about this technology and put forward supposedly “insider info”. And a fuel cell DOES NOT store energy, it converts it, so lets chalk up another misconception for you.

            And, DO YOU have any idea how much energy goes into making batteries? YOU’RE making the claim, so YOU have to provide evidence instead of just asking loaded questions. And what kind of factories do you think will churn out your mythical 1,000,000 FVCs a year? How much energy and resources will they use?

          • Ben Helton

            You don’t know what you’re talking about. SMR represents 48% of US production. The other 52 percent is made up from extracting out of oil, coal, and of course, electrolysis.

            Want to know about upfront costs?

            Before install, shipping, and taxes, For a Tesla, the battery costs; $37,102 (60kwh) and $44,564 for 85kwh. Just…. a….. Battery….

            The fuel cell stack is down to about $78 / kw. That;s about $6200 for an 80kw stack. Your argument had a lot more ring to it, back when the cost of fuel cells were around $80,000 / kw. That’s where the old saying came from ‘the million dollar car’ <- but that's no longer true. These things will get cheaper than a brand new, modern, internal combustion engine.

            But go ahead, keep poo-poo'ing extremely fast moving technology. I'm sure you probably weren't early to jump on the Internet band-wagon either.

          • sault

            “You don’t know what you’re talking about. SMR represents 48% of US production.”

            Nope, YOU don’t know what you’re talking about:

            “Currently, the majority of hydrogen (∼95%) is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming or partial oxidation of methane and coal gasification with only a small quantity by other routes such as biomass gasification or electrolysis of water.[15]”


            And quit claiming a Tesla Model S battery costs $40k without a valid source to back it up!

            I’ll ask again since you never answer my question, but why would you pay 3x as much to fuel a FCV even though there are basically ZERO hydrogen stations to begin with? What’s the benefit of throwing away all this energy and money compared to pure electric vehicles?

          • Ben Helton

            Original comment I was refuting;
            “But our consumption of hydrogen is 95% imported and it all comes from natural gas.” Not true.

            But go ahead, try to label me as stupid with a reference number that includes three sources of hydrogen, not just the single one, natural gas.

            I know what I am talking about here buddy.

            And the source for the battery info is from, when a reporterwanted to purchase an upgraded battery from Tesla (for the price he spent he could have bought another vehicle).

            Check it out; under Cost Breakdown. 😉

          • Offgridman

            I don’t know what I’m talking about, but there you go cherry picking your numbers, or as others say around here comparing apples and oranges.
            Right from your own reference the end installed cost of a 85 Kwh battery was 18,000$, now granted that was due to the trade in value of the old battery, will the old used fuel cells have anywhere near the same trade in value.
            As in my talk with the others it doesn’t matter how much hydrogen the US produces, if the majority of what is used is imported, and the majority of what is imported comes from fossil fuels then you are doing nothing to help our environmental problems and just making the fossil fuel producers richer with your clean FCEV.
            If you are going to use the numbers for fuel cell vehicles as what may be, can be, or will be, then be fair and do the same with the battery costs, and as we have heard from Musk batteries coming out of the gigafactory may be under 200$/Kwh. Not as you have done pull the battery cost from a retail price from 2 years ago.
            But since there is no current commercial sales of fuel cell vehicles to equal and compare with battery vehicles. There is no widespread commercial production of hydrogen from water and renewable energy. And thus no commercially sold clean hydrogen at any of your proposed easily accessible refueling stations this whole comparison is moot.
            If your fuel cell vehicles can ever at least match the price of a similar quality BEV’s, and if there are enough sources of clean hydrogen at enough stations for us to make our several times a year long trips to visit family at a reasonable cost, then yes I will consider buying one. But in the meantime you will understand that I am going to follow through with my reservation and purchase the Model X in the next year or two, which will be filled for free for our local driving off from the surplus from our solar panels, and for the various trips around the country the supercharger network is now complete enough to keep us filled up for free during meal breaks to do that also.

          • Ben Helton

            I should have guessed; you have a reservation for a vehicle you’ve never seen or driven. Your dedication to Muskology is undeniably strong, I’ll give you that.

            Let me ask you (since Musk told us that they were breaking ground in June); Where is this magical gigaland being built? What are they using in the batteries that can bring the cost down so low!? Is it Unobtanium? I knew they wanted to go to Mars for a real reason!!

            And btw…. that $18,000 only bought him a difference of 25kwh. That’s $720 per KWh of battery upgrade! OUCH!
            (And these prices are as of 7 months ago, but nice try on your 2 year spin)

          • Offgridman

            Oh dear! Your feelings get hurt because the facts of the current market situation are discussed and you dare to criticize my god Musk. Maybe I should just stamp my feet and go off in the corner and cry….. Nah!!
            Fact the article you referenced was originally published over 18 months ago discussing what happened two years ago, so no spin.
            Fact there is no commercially available clean hydrogen for any of the fuel cell vehicles which are also not commercially available in any numbers close to current BE vehicles.
            Fact, my god has followed through on the two previous models of battery vehicles as to performance and other specs.
            Fact I need a four wheel drive vehicle with a long range that due to batteries can be filled for free here at home and while on long trips.
            Fact ground has been broken on a site outside of Reno, Nevada that fits right in with Tesla’s plans for the gigafactory, but as was explained to the shareholders meeting final decision will wait until the end of the year
            Statement of faith, I will wait for the delivery of my Model X from someone that has followed through on his statements before, and hope that your support of clean fueled FCEV’s actually have some proven market numbers before you come interrupt my worship again

          • Ben Helton

            Dude, what planet are you on?

            Could you explain to me this sentence;
            “Your feelings get hurt because the facts of the current market situation are discussed and you dare to criticize my god Musk. Maybe I should just stamp my feet and go off in the corner and cry”

            My feelings got hurt because I criticized your god?

            I think you drank too much Kool-Aid man. You weren’t supposed to drink that much!

            That article, BTW, was published 7 months ago. (check out the oldest comments) yup… 7 months old. This year is 2014…The article was written Dec 2013.

            You have still a long time to wait for your vehicle that you’ve never driven yet. They don’t even have any out getting road tested yet!

            If your god cannot produce a simple SUV with doors that stay sealed at highway speeds, imagine what happens when one of these bad seals goes to crap when you’re on your way to Mars!

          • Ben Helton

            You’re absolutely right.

            Tesla wants before install, shipping, and taxes; $37,102 (60kwh) and $44,564 for 85kwh

          • Ben Helton


            $37,102 (60kwh) and $44,564 for 85kwh

            Let’s do some 5th grade math here;
            $618 / kwh for pack number one!
            $524 / kwh for pack number two!

            (Shhh) We will keep this secret safe with us. We’ll just go with the $470 figure. Sounds better, being under $500 and all. 😉

          • sault

            Again, these are UN-SOURCED price points. Please provide a link that isn’t busted to back them up. Otherwise, just admit that you are biased against Electric Vehicles and illogically support fuel cell vehicles (or just the oil companies that want to use them to distract us from REAL progress with EVs)

          • Ben Helton
          • Ben Helton

            Oh, now you shut up, now that your foot is in your mouth.

            Come on Sault, don’t have a legitimate source for your estimates that are “50% less” than my well documented source?

            Is that your MO? You just call people liars until they prove you wrong? I guess an apology is decency beyond you.

          • sault

            Hope you like the taste of your own Nikes:

            “By most estimates, the battery for the Model S that I drove should cost between $42,500 and $55,250, or half the cost of the car. But (Tesla Tech Officer) Straubel indicated that it is already much lower. “They’re way less than half, actually,” he says. “Less than a quarter in most cases.”

            Straubel says more can be done to lower batter costs. He’s working with cell and materials suppliers to increase energy density more, and he’s changing the shape of the cells in ways that make manufacturing them easier.

            As a point of reference, the Model S lineup (non signature) ranges from$71,000 for the entry level 60 kWh car to $81,000 for the standard 85 kWh version and another $10,000 for the P85 (85 kWh Performance Edition).

            Using the “most cases” reference from JB Straubel, that would most likely mean that the standard 85 kW version Model S would be a safe bet to have battery costs at “less than a quarter” – that translates to a total maximum cost of about $20,250 or $238/kWh. Pretty cheap.”


            So yes, using a one-off instance of a battery upgrade, something that Tesla does a very small number and makes their innovation and economies of scale moot, is totally disingenuous. Face it, you are biased against EVs and have drunk the kool-aide for fool cell vehicles.

          • Ben Helton

            If you think current prices for lithium ion battery packs are $238, you’re very sadly mistaken with pretty much zero source to back you up.

            You do realize, when drivers would brick a 54KWh roadster battery, it was running them about $40k!?(and that is the ‘friends and family’ price) Do the math on that one, per KWH, eh buddy?

            “The 340th Tesla Roadster produced went to a customer in Santa Barbara, California. In 2011, he took his Roadster out for a drive and then parked it in a temporary garage while his home was being renovated. Lacking a built-in Tesla charger or a convenient power outlet, he left the car unplugged. Six weeks later his car was dead. It took four men two hours to drag the 2,700-pound Roadster onto a flatbed truck so that it could be shipped to Tesla’s Los Angeles area service center, all at the owner’s expense. A service manager then informed him that “it’s a brick” and that the battery would cost approximately $40,000 to replace. He was further told that this was a special “friends and family” price, strongly implying that Tesla generally charges more.”


          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s now 2014. 2011 was years ago.

          • sault

            Again, you’re cherry-picking one-off battery replacements for a vehicle Tesla doesn’t even make any more and it is extremely foolhardy to think you can extrapolate these few instances to determine anything about their current and future battery costs. How is this so hard to understand? You’re not doing your credibility any favors by making it so easy to highlight your bias.

            And look, Tesla’s actual price they pay for batteries is a closely-held secret. The best number we’ve ever gotten on their real costs is the Straubel quote I provided above (the $238 / kWh one). And guess what, once the gigafactory opens up, we will see a steep drop in EV battery prices, even steeper than the 10% reductions we’ve been seeing over the past few years.

          • Randall Mathews

            Roger, I just read “Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars and the New Lithium Economy “by Seth Fletcher, and I am utterly convinced that you would enjoy the information and its presentation immensely. Kindle edition is only ten bucks.

          • Ben Helton

            I can say (with some insider intel) that the stacks are running around $78 / kw right now, not $70… but that’s still really close.
            But to counter that, the battery packs in the Tesla run between $524-$618 / kwh. =)

            Cheers, mate.

          • sault

            “I can say (with some insider intel)”



            I can pull this figure right outta my…

          • Roger Pham

            Thanks, Ben, for all the info and references and for your expert participation in this debate. I was pulling numbers from memory.

          • sault

            LOL…just noticed that you either tried to fool us with (or don’t know the difference between) a kWh and a kW. How is this even a valid example (of anything besides your ignorance)?

          • Ben Helton

            Seeing as you want to call me ignorant;

            Fuel Cells don’t store power, they expel it. So when I said that fuel cells are running at $78 / KW, that would mean a fuel cell capable of providing 80 KWs (constant current) would run about $6240 for a fuel cell stack that cranks out (again) 80KW

            Now, on the other side of the spectrum, a BEV does not have an energy provider on board, therefor it all has to be stored, in a battery. Therefor, when we talk about the EXPENSIVE ITEMS in the different vehicles, it’s very important to realize that you are replacing the need for a $44,000 battery with a tank of hydrogen, and a $6300 fuel stack.

            why don’t you LOL at your lack of understanding the difference between a kilowatt and a kilowatt hour.

          • sault

            “So when I said that fuel cells are running at $78 / KW…”

            Yes, a completely unfounded claim with no numbers or reasoning behind it, but go on…

            “Now, on the other side of the spectrum, a BEV does not have an energy provider on board, therefor it all has to be stored, in a battery.”

            And a FCV doesn’t need an expensive hydrogen tank, or a massively expensive facility to generate the hydrogen in the first place? Are you even trying to be serious?

            Look, like I said above, THE BEST figure we have for Tesla battery prices is (nobody outside the company knows exactly what it is) about $20k for the 85kWh battery. They are ALREADY SELLING this vehicle and they have big plans to grow the company.

            Meanwhile, Toyota has a $68,000 FCV going into extremely limited production and will only be available in Japan to begin with. Now if they EVER start selling that same vehicle for $26k, I will eat my words and totally believe your claims. But that’s not what they are doing, is it? What makes this vehicle cost so much? It’s the same size as a Camry and only seats 4 people. So please enlighten us all on what could adding $42k dollars to its sales price that we don’t know about. I mean, if your biased claims about fuel cell prices are accurate, they must be using ground-up unicorn horns in the vehicle’s paint or something! More likely, it’s just that the fuel cell system in that vehicle runs anywhere from $200 – $400 / kW or even higher if Toyota is losing money on each one (highly likely).

  • Here’s my two cents (if that).

    Wall street wants things to trade. Things like commodities make Wall Street, London and Zurich traders boatloads of money. Batteries are closer to commodities than an integrated car company stock. An integrated car company can put its high volume and high value profits from one business into another – with little to no skimming from the outside. This upsets Wall Street because they can’t trade and make money from this exchange. Even though there’s enormous amounts of technology in batteries, it’s the raw materials and low labor costs (process optimized and automated) of batteries that Wall Street wants to insert itself. Hedge funds and private equity would love to insert itself into Tesla Batteries, Inc. and send manufacturing over to China as quickly as possible. Offering up the patents probably didn’t please Wall Street or private equity either.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Speaking of sending things like battery manufacturing to China –

      BYD, the Chinese electric car/bus company is opening a factory in Brazil where it will manufacture its buses and bus batteries for the South American market.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Yes, China is now to rich to do low cost manufacturing. And that is wonderful.

  • Roger Pham

    Mr. Musk is a creative genius who has revolutionized the BEV industry, the space rocket industry and the solar PV industry. If he wants all near-future cars to be EV’s, he is invited to look into other batteries type that may be more energy-dense, lower in cost, and faster charging time. Hint: how about a battery type that can provide 1.5 kWh/kg specific energy, ~$15-20/kWh specific cost, and 3-minute charging time? All what is required to advance this type of game-changing battery technology is Mr. Musk’s genius to PACKAGE this type of battery in to an ultra ergonomic and glamorous vehicle that everyone would like to buy and can afford to buy!

    • Bob_Wallace

      ​If there was a battery like that then Elon would likely be using it.

      And if there was a way to power H2 FCEVs for half the cost of EVs then we’d probably be predicting that FCEVs would dominate and Tesla would probably be building fuel cell cars.

      But, Roger, reality bites fantasy in the butt….

      • Roger Pham

        Well, Bob, don’t under-estimate Mr. Musk’s ingenuity. The issue isn’t just about cost alone. The issue is really about making EV’s so appealing and so practical and so sustainable (fossil-fuel-free) that everyone would want to buy it and that most buyers will want to pay for it.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Right you are Roger.

          Have you checked the wait list for getting a new Tesla S EV? And have you looked at the enthusiasm for the announced Tesla X EV and the ~$35k Tesla 3 EV?

          Elon’s designed a path to bring affordable, desirable EVs to the mass market.

          Will he and the other EV manufacturers win or will the FCEV manufacturers win? Time will tell. (And I don’t care who wins, as long as we quit using petroleum.)

          But, remember, it’s going to cost more than twice as much per mile to drive a H2 FCEV based on today’s realities. FCEVs are going to have to be very much cheaper to purchase than EVs in order to take the market and no one has shown a route to getting there.

          • spec9

            Quit petroleum and switch to natural gas? No thanks.
            BTW, Elon has made his views on fuel cells quite well known. I think you know where he stands on the issue.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Well, yes he thinks Elon should just build batteries. But he’s a shallow thinker who is interested only in making money.

    Not doing something to help the world. (While also making bucket loads of money. ;o)

  • AhmetA

    Add your point that battery is not the same with battery cells. I think this man think Tesla like Panasonic or Samsung SDI firms. Battery is part of cars’ body structure so it have to be designed with cars’ structure in mind. So every company whose builds EV have to design their battery.

    • JamesWimberley

      A good point, Ahmet. I don’t think I’ve seen you before here, so welcome to the club. And keep the comments coming!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Perhaps, down the road, we’ll see factories offering a small variety of assembled battery packs that designers can pick from when working up a new EV.

      With multiple companies using the same size/shape/connection pack volumes would increase and prices likely fall.

  • TedKidd

    Net worth certainly is no proxy for intelligence…

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