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Published on March 28th, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan


One Thing I Think Elon Musk Is Wrong On

March 28th, 2015 by  

One of the wonderful things about my job is that I get to read and write about awesome stuff all day — awesome technology, awesome companies, awesome people. And there’s no denying that Tesla accounts for a big chunk of that awesomeness. We cover Tesla rather obsessively, because it does and creates stuff worth covering. Elon Musk is something like the Thomas Edison of our time, imho. I love the guy, and I love most of what he says and how he says it. (Full disclosure: I’m also a Tesla stockholder.)

However, he made a blanket statement recently that I think was misguided, and this statement feeds into anti-EV hype that puts up social barriers to EV adoption where technical barriers don’t exit. Here’s the statement which I think is off the mark: “200 miles is minimum threshold for an electric car. We need 200+ miles in real world. Not 200 miles in ‘AC off, driving on flat road’ mode. … Anything below 200 miles isn’t passing grade.”

Again, let me emphasize that I almost always agree with Musk, and I can’t even think of another instance in history where I didn’t. Also, I’m sure some people will side with him and some with me here. My aim in writing this piece is simply 1) to get more people to realize that this “range requirement” is largely a mental construct that people have formed in their heads rather than a practical need, and 2) to get people to stop spreading this anti-EV (we may as well say anti–Nissan LEAF or anti–BMW i3) hype.

I was planning to write an article about this anyhow, but then saw somewhat similar statements in a Tesla Motors Club forum thread and added a long post of my own there, so I am basically modifying that a bit to make it into a CleanTechnica article.

A Blanket that Doesn’t Fit the Bed

The thing that really irritates me about such statements is that they are thrown over the entire public like a blanket covering every last one of us, and stating in some kind of matter-of-fact way “what works” for us. To be more specific, the blanket statement is that lower-range EVs (EVs with <200 miles of range) don’t work for people, aren’t practical, etc. Of course, hundreds of thousands of people have such EVs, so the implication is basically that they are living in sacrifice and living with a vehicle that is fundamentally worse than a gasmobile. Obviously, I hugely disagree with that point. (See: 8 Reasons Electric Cars Kick Your Car’s Boot.)

Lower-range EVs like the current Nissan LEAF *do* work for a lot of people, and are even more practical for a lot of people than a gasmobile. Hundreds of thousands of people drive these cars — perhaps even >1 million now (worldwide). And from anecdotal evidence and studies (which, yes, do contain limitations), many of these drivers are happier with these EVs than any car they’ve ever had (unless they also own a Model S). These cars work, and actually work exceedingly well, for a lot of people.

It’s been ~1½ years since I’ve seen research on this topic, but at that time, what I found was that only 31% of Americans in a nationwide poll were “familiar with” the Nissan LEAF. However, many respondents made elementary errors when it comes to the differences between a LEAF and a Prius — in other words, they actually had no clue what a plug-in car was. If LEAFs and similar EVs work for hundreds of thousands of people, while the large majority of the population doesn’t have a clue what a LEAF is, imagine how many more people might be in the same shoes as these early adopters if they had a little hands-on experience.

Yes, it’s obvious, ~60 or 70 miles of real-world range doesn’t work for many people. Just as it’s obvious that $70,000+ is too much for most people to spend on a car. But a current LEAF or other on-the-market and non-Tesla EV would probably be the best vehicle a person could buy for the price it costs for tens of millions (my est.) of Americans and hundreds of millions (my est.) of people worldwide. The top two barriers to adoption, imho, are: 1) lack of knowledge/experience (I guess that’s two in one, but I’m calling it one), and 2) anti-EV hype that convinces people they need 5 times more range than they actually need.

Let’s Look at Some Data

Just as there are many people who need 200 miles of range, there are many who don’t even need 20 miles of range (that has been my story in several different cities for ~11 years). Conflating what some people need (for example, upper-middle-class people who are able to buy a $100,000 car) with what most people need is not what the EV revolution needs. So, let’s get to some actual data to figure out what people need….

Whoever runs solar journey usa has already done some good work on this front, and thanks to Bob Wallace for finding what she/he has put together.

How Many Cars in Your Household?

Cars per HouseholdFirst of all, the typical anti-EV claim is that people occasionally need or want to drive long distances (again, we are ignoring the small subset of people who drive hundreds of miles a day on a daily or weekly basis). This may be for vacations, weekend away trips, to visit friends or family in other towns or cities, etc. One reason that argument breaks down if used as a blanket statement against EVs like the LEAF or BMW i3 is that most (American) households have 2 or more cars. If you are going on vacation, for a weekend away, to visit family or friends, etc., there’s a very good chance you are going with your family and can take the longer-range vehicle if you are planning to drive a hundred miles or more and don’t have good charging options. Or, if one of the household members is staying home, you can very likely swap cars for the day/weekend.

How Much Do You Actually Drive?

In the next chart and graph, look and see what % of one-way trips are over 80 miles, or for that matter, what % is over 40 miles.

Distance Distribution Car Trips

Car trip distance cumulative

Remember, too, that there are those people (mentioned above) who drive 100+ miles on a very regular basis. Obviously, these people are not the norm. Take them out of the equation, and how would the above chart and graph look?

Of course, these are just individual trips. What if someone doesn’t have good charging options away from home and they are out all day? Here’s one more graph and a chart from Rob (more are in his article about the matter), showing total daily distances:

Daily distance car distribution daily distance car distribution_cumulative

Nearly 80% of days, we don’t go more than 50 miles. Combining this point with the “# of cars in the household” point, I imagine that millions of households would be absolutely fine with a short-range electric car. If they realized the benefits of convenient home charging, instant torque, less maintenance, lower operational costs, etc., buying an EV would be a no-brainer.

When you add the fact that adding 100 miles of (unnecessary) range to a car adds tens of thousands of dollars to the car, it’s obvious that an 80-mile electric car is much more practical for a lot of people … (as if electric car sales didn’t show that already).


Back to Tesla

I think there’s little debate that Tesla took the best approach to EVs, but the Renault-Nissan Alliance certainly seems to have a legitimate interest in leading the way in this market, and by some standards it is doing so. It would be good if Nissan learned a bit from Tesla (I imagine it has) and surprised us with some great and varied EV offerings soon (we’ll see…). But I also think it would be good if Tesla spokespeople (including the totally awesome Elon Musk) and supporters didn’t play into counterproductive and factually incorrect blanket statements about “what works,” “what a real car is,” “what a practical car is,” etc.

Tesla’s next move (following the Model X) is an “affordable” $35,000 electric car with >200 miles of real-world driving range (the Tesla Model 3). I’m not saying that’s not a logical and even smart move on Tesla’s part. Tesla still has a lot of work to do to get to a level where it can produce the number of Model 3s that consumers will want. It’s a big challenge. If it offered a nice $20,000 electric car with 100–150 miles of range, I’m positive it would bring in even a lot more happy customers. But even if Tesla were interested in doing that, I think it’s safe to say that it wouldn’t be prepared to do so for several years. Having other automakers serve this cheaper market with lower-range electric cars is more of a benefit than a harm, imho.

So, I’m definitely not criticizing Elon and Tesla’s decisions regarding the Model 3 (I think they’re absolutely spot on), but I think the anti-LEAF, anti-i3, anti-just-about-every-other-EV statements should be dropped.

The Future

Battery prices are coming down, and we’ll have long-range *and* affordable electric cars in short order, but there’s a lot of room to improve how we get there and how fast we get there. Having a wide variety of electric models with different ranges and prices on the market is important, and I’m quite positive that most of the readers here on CleanTechnica appreciate the hundreds of thousands of non-Tesla EVs that are now on the roads.

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About the Author

Zach is tryin’ to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he’s also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada.

Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don’t jump to conclusions.

  • JanVyt

    Zachary, I do not think Elon is wrong. I think that what he he says is that in the medium and long run the only EV that will be sold in any volume are those that offer at least 200 miles range. Today, these cars are expensive and 100 mile cars are being sold, but that is only a temporary solution.. Of course you (and statistics) are right: we seldom need 300 miles range car. But what we need and what we buy are two different things.

  • Boyd Timothy Babcock

    The problem is that few people can afford a 70 to 120k car, Tesla is not profitable and Musks guidance is not realistic. But idiots still by the stock creating a house of cards. This does not even take into account that more companies are now starting to compete with Tesla in the EV arena. More pressure on Tesla. Its not a good stock for the long run.

    • Bob_Wallace


      Tesla has the second highest gross profit margin in the car industry. They sell their cars for 20% to 25% more than it costs to manufacture them.
      The losses the company show are due to spending on growth.

      Best you don’t get into the financial advice business. You’re a bit short on basic knowledge.

      Are the current Tesla’s too expensive for most people? Certainly. But that’s by design. Tesla’s idea is to start by building luxury cars because they can sell them at higher gross profit margins and generate more capital for business growth. Growing the company will let them expand and build less expensive cars which will sell at lower profits.

      In March Tesla should give us the first look at their “moderately affordable” $35k, long range EV. ($32k is the average selling price of new cars in the US.)

      As they expand to meet the demand for the $35k Model 3 they’ll create the capital and bring down the cost of batteries that will let them produce even less expensive EV a few years later.

      • Boyd Timothy Babcock

        That is not profit. If you make one car and sell if for twice what is cost to make does not make a profitable company and Tesla is not a profitable company. Can this make a turnaround and pull it off? Sure but its getting harder to believe it as the years go by. The WSJ has an article that shows at best Tesla can not turn a profit until 2020. Unreasonably high stock evaluations are due to hoped for future profits. You can jumble the numbers all you want but in the end the bottom line is Tesla does not make money nor is it expected to for several years.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Boyd, please don’t be dense.

          I explained GPM to you. And I told you why Tesla is spending more money than it earns from manufacturing cars and its other activities.

          If Tesla was not spending to grow it would be a very profitable company.
          I’d suggest you be careful about the information you get from Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ, but in this case they are probably correct. Tesla, the company, has reported that they don’t expect to show an overall profit until about 2020. It will take the next few years to finish the Gigafactory, set up the assembly lines for the Model 3 and get their storage systems flowing out of the factory.

          Anytime stock prices are higher than what one can justify based on the current operations of a company you can be assured that investors are looking at what that company is doing and expect the company to be worth far more in the future.

          If you look at the stock value of coal companies the price has dropped by 80%, 90%, or more not because they aren’t selling coal today. But because investors are looking into the future and seeing an industry that is dying.

          • Boyd Timothy Babcock

            I suggest you take your nose out of Musks ass and smell the roses. The company is far from the next big corp. I will take WSJ over your man crush bull shit.

          • RobertWicks

            Even talking about profits with Tesla is somewhat dicey. They are beneficiaries of huge government subsidies, which may or may not be maintained.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tesla receives ZEV credits which it uses to offset taxes on profits.

            ZEV credits are not included in Tesla’s gross profit margin accounting.

          • RobertWicks

            They still benefit from the tax credit to buyers. My point is that this is kind of meaningless talk, because Tesla’s long-term viability is completely tied up in politics.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, Robert. Do some research. Find out how much Tesla receives in ZEV credits and then look at what they are spending on expansion.

            Tesla has absolutely no problem getting expansion money. The small amount of taxes they save obviously helps, every dollar does. But Tesla would be fine without this.

            BTW, those ZEV credits are available to any car manufacturer who wants to earn them. All they have to do is build efficient cars themselves rather than “paying” Tesla to do it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here, I’ll do it for you…

            “Automotive revenue was $1.06 billion on a non-GAAP basis”

            “Automotive revenue included $66 million of total regulatory credit revenue, of which $51 million came from the sale of ZEV credits”


            So out of a total $1.06 billion in revenue $51 million came from ZEV credits. That’s 5% of the total.

          • RobertWicks

            Of course. But since Tesla only makes EVs, they benefit more than people who also make non-EVs. I think without the federal tax credits, Nissan would not make the Leaf. They benefit from that as well, but they would still have a profitable company without any EVs. I see no reason to believe that Tesla would still work without those credits. And Georgia got rid of the state credits due to budgetary considerations. Whether or not the feds do that is all about politics. Which is why I said that the future of Tesla is a lot more unpredictable than is worth arguing over.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Roger –

            1) Tesla makes a very good profit off the EVs they manufacturer.

            2) There are no federal credits or subsidies that figure into those profits.
            3) If the credits disappeared there would be a small (<5%) increase in Tesla (the company) annual losses.

            4) It is fully expected that Tesla will show a loss for the first few years of operation, as would any rapidly growing company. Take a look at Amazon's profit/loss statements. Are you going to argue that Amazon is on the brink of failure because they are still operating at an overall loss due to expansion costs?

            5) Nissan sells its EVs all over the world. It's kind of hard to argue that Nissan builds EVs because of US government subsidies.

  • JH

    I would say Elon is completely right on this. YOu can argue to your blue in the face that that a 90 mile range is good for the vast majority of your trips. But even if it cover 95% of my trips, i would not buy it if didn’t cover the last 5%. I don’t want the hazel of renting a car for long distance, nor do I want to stop at unreliable charigns stations every 50:th mile. Nor would I accept lack of AC or Heating. SImple as that. The Only ev that has the capability to replace a normal ICE car is the tesla. Simple as that, curettnly they have no competition whatsoever, which is kinda of a bummer. They should.

  • Robert

    “200 miles is minimum threshold for an electric car. We need 200+ miles in real world. Not 200 miles in ‘AC off, driving on flat road’ mode….Anything below 200 miles isn’t passing grade.”

    When I first read Musk”s quote I actually focused on the third sentence as being the most relevant “Not 200 miles in ‘AC off, driving on flat road’ mode”. Like you I’m am not really concerned about the 200 mile threshold. But many drivers (not me..I live in California) are rightly concerned about “real world range” *regardless* of the claimed number. It is well known that present day EVs have serious deficits with respect to range in very cold, very hot, hilly terrain, going into a stiff wind, frequent acceleration, keeping below 65 mph, etc. In other words fill in the blank as to what you feel is the minimum range for an EV. The point is that range should really be “real world”. Yeah, ICEs must deal with the same elements, but they have far greater range to begin with and they can fill up most anywhere in just a few minutes so reduced range due to the elements is not a relevant factor. I think it was great that Musk acknowledged that and knows those deficits need to be fixed.

    Regarding the “200 mile” part of Musk’s quote that bother’s you, sure 100 miles is fine for *me* and *you*. But you must look beyond me, you, and the .4% early EV adopters. What do the 99% (or whatever number) think or believe. What they think, even though us in the pro BEV crowd may think what they think is fantasy, is still important and must not be diminished, no matter how well thought out your graphs may be. So, even though I agree with you on the “200 mile” point, I agree with Musk far more, even though I found that point to be thoroughly secondary.

  • 10-Bar Commuter

    Musk was also very clear about something that is a frustration for many EV drivers when he clarified “real world” at highway speeds with A/C on, etc. While this article goes on and on about how an “80-mile” EV would meet most people’s daily driving needs for most days, the fact is that 80 miles isn’t even close to what a lot of us are getting. As soon as you factor in the effect of climate control, cold weather, hills and highway speeds that number deflates quickly. It’s actually quite often that I have to make sacrifices in terms of speed, route, cabin temperature or all of the above just to make a 50-mile trip that leaves me with a nearly dead battery by the time I pull into my garage.

    With respect to public awareness of what EVs are, which ones are available and what they’re capable of, I usually find myself talking to people who just want quick and simple answers to their questions. So when asked about how far my LEAF can go on a single charge, I reply with “about 50 miles” because anything more than that comes with a big asterisk. Usually they’re pretty shocked to hear this and I can elaborate on what I can do to make it go further but they shake their heads and make it clear that they want nothing to do with a car that would involve all of those crazy sacrifices that they never have to think about.

    Whenever I hear the range of any vehicle (Tesla included) I automatically cut that number in half in my head to know what distance I can drive the car CONFIDENTLY without extra planning that is completely unnecessary when driving a gasmobile. In ffact, if I could afford to own a Tesla and take it on long trips, a lot of those trips would involve mountain passes with 5,000ft elevation change and 180 miles from my house to the charging station on the other side. From what I’ve been reading, I’m not even sure I could do it with the 60Kwh battery. It would need to be with the 85Kwh to be safe, especially if we’re talking about winter weather…

    As my username, 10-Bar Commuter, indicates, I drive my LEAF to the very limits on most days and usually need some charging time in the garage before I can do any inter-ZIP code driving after work. I do this happily because I love the technology, I love how my car drives, and I love knowing that my next EV will be AT LEAST as good and I will only need to use public charging stations on actual road trips.

    But frankly, I think Elon Musk is right and Zachary Shahan is wrong on this one. You also need to remember that most people do not need a brand new car. So their motivations for spending tens of thousands of dollars more than what they need to for a used car are often driven by what they desire and what they fear–desire in terms of what the car would be capable of (pleasure to drive, simplicity of maintenance and range), and fear in terms of reliability and never getting stuck somewhere. One of the biggest fears when buying a brand new car is ending up looking like a fool for having spent gobs of money on something that failed to get you somewhere when you expected it to.

    As long as auto makers have to sell brand new cars, they need to appeal to consumers desires and fears. With EVs, 200+ mile real world range is the way to do that.

    I believe the lack of range is the single biggest reason the Nissan LEAF hasn’t sold 10 times as many vehicles in the last 5 years. Everyone who gets a chance to ride in my car gushes over how great it is. Were it not for the low range, many of them would surely be EV converts by now.

  • Adam Seed

    Tesla article

    An overall well written article, we can see that you love and appreciate Tesla and its creator as much as the rest of use do. I have to say that I would have interpreted Musk’s statement in a different manner.

    Although he used the specific figure of 200 miles (of range) I believe his main intent was to stress that the stated range should be a real world value, not an almost imaginary figure in lab perfect conditions. Musk is yet again trying to set Tesla apart from the rest of the EV market, in turn pushing it forward.

    While 200 miles is, as you have mentioned, more than adequate for the vast majority of the population I believe it is more the fact that the media and almost everyone involved with EVs have become fixated on range causing anyone even remotely thinking about one to dismiss the possibility of it. You don’t think how much range will I get out of this tank of petrol/diesel when you fill up do you? We weren’t taught to think that way whereas with EVs we have.

    Finally regarding 100 mile EVs I believe the limiting factor outside the US especially to be price. I live on a small island of around 70 miles in diameter (rough estimate) and because of this an EV would be a perfect fit, there are even a few public charging points scattered around. But there is no way I could even think about buying one due to the fact that they are incredibly expensive in the majority of Europe, even after subsidies.

    Here’s to hoping Elon can delivery on his promises for the Model 3 and truly bring EVs to the masses.

  • Vic Hristov

    Excellent read, and I love those charts! It’s all about infrastructure at the end of the day. As long as the infrastructure is there, I don’t think there will be a huge problem with 100-mile cars. Personally, I would buy a $20,000 new electric car with 100-mile range over the Model S, since I don’t see any justification to spend on obscene $70k on a car (that quite honestly, only the rich can afford).

  • Upperdowner

    There is so much discussion here that basically supports the Volt. Yeah, I know, it hauls around an ICE if it needs to go further than 50 miles and suddenly everyone is a purist. But it’s true the Tesla isn’t a complete solution for financial and other reasons, though they do a good job at what they do. But the Volt negates most of the points made here. I don’t care whether you like it – it is what it is. Saying all you have to do is ‘plan’ before you go to Alaska in a Leaf is ridiculous. Maybe if you are retired with no time restraints the real world tends to throw out. If I carry an extension cord I’ll do my planning just before I go to bed each night.

    Meanwhile I’ll do most of my trips all electric and when I have to go 300 miles I will without having to bring a book along while i wait beside the road and charge. I find it acceptable to be getting over 100 mpg lifetime average in a fine car (not a Prius) that is comfortable at 100 mph on the lonely stretches.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the Leaf is a ‘drive to Alaska’ car.

      The Volt is a good solution for some, for now. But let’s look ahead a couple of years. The Volt MSRP is $34,345. About the same as the expected price for the 200+ mile range Tesla Mod3.

      We might expect the Volt price to come down some as battery prices fall, but the ICE part of the vehicle is likely about as cheap as it will get. ICEs are very mature technology. The Volt might come down a couple hundred dollars per kWh, settling in around $30k by 2017.

      From there on the Volt is likely to start to fall behind in terms of purchase price. A drop in battery prices would drop EV prices about 3x more than the Volt (50 kWh vs. 17 kWh)

      • eveee

        I said that, but most people don’t like it when I say the Volt has a short design life. In only a few years EVs will make it much more marginal in the marketplace.

  • pari

    solid state battery’s could be a game changer for Elon yes / no 🙂

    • Bob_Wallace


      If they are significantly cheaper then, yes. It would mean that the selling price of the Mod3 would drop below $30k faster.

      If they are smaller and lighter as well then it would mean that more kWh could be packed into the same space and add no more weight to the car. That would increase range. Tesla could offer a higher range Mod3 or ModS for those willing to pay for more range.

      But first we have to see if they can actually come to market….

  • Zap

    Elon Musk did not actually say that below 200 mile range is impractical. Was he simply talking about people’s perception of what a “passing grade” is?

    • RobertWicks

      That’s the way I took it. In order for EVs to offer consumers something they will want to buy, this is what is required. May be wrong, may be right. I think even 200 miles might not be enough depending on the wintertime hit and people’s fear of stalling in a blizzard. It seems to me that the studies of how much people drive miss that point. It would be like analyzing how much of your living space you actually need, and then saying that 400 square feet is plenty, and then selling a bunch of houses with 400 sq feet and finding that larger ones are far more popular. Unless the real plan is just to ban non-EVs so that people do not have choices, then you have to deal with people’s “irrational” desires just as you deal with the other ones.

  • rockyredneck

    People rarely buy just what they need. If they did, there would be few bulky pickups on the road and even fewer hummers. For that matter there would likely not be Teslas on the road. Markets are far more complicated and diverse than that. Tesla entered the market with a luxury car. The high price is part of the appeal. A good move when you can only manage limited production, but once that niche is filled it is necessary to look at a larger market and an international one that is often far different from the U.S..

  • LogicDesigner

    @ZShahan3:disqus, I think both you and Musk are right, in different contexts. For the larger population, a 200 mile range is what will succeed in the marketplace. I’m a huge EVangelist, but I believe the honest truth is that we are never going to break 3% of sales with an 80 mile range.

    After the roughly $10,000 in rebates you can get in many states, the Leaf starts at $20,000, which is a decent price for a new car. Yet the problem is that there is only a tiny portion of the population who are willing to buy a limited range car in order to avoid the externalities of gasoline use. Most of us here fall into that category, but we are a small minority.

    For the average Joe, you can talk to him all day long about commute distances and multi-car families, but at the end of the day he is going to ask, “why bother?” The answers that most of us would give about the greater good will only affect the decisions of a small fraction of people regarding what is either the first or second biggest type of financial decision they will make in their lives. Musk is trying to make a car for someone who primarily cares about how his car affects his life.

    There was a guy commenting (I believe on GreenCarReports) about how he is going through a divorce and his wife got the gasmobile and he got the Leaf that he had once championed. Now he has two stories of calling a tow truck this past winter with his kids along for the ride. That is just an anecdote, but I think people just have an uneasiness with making a commitment to work around a limitation when life has a way of throwing curveballs.

    I think the Volt and the i3 Rex are good, no-compromise solutions but their prices still need to come down a few thousand dollars (hopefully the 2016 Volt will do that in a few months). In five or six years when the tax rebates start to phase-out, it will be these types of cars that will bridge the gap until the price of the Model 3 (without rebates) approaches that of an Accord at $22,000. I think it will be at least ten years before that will happen.

  • RobertWicks

    The thing about short range EVs is that they limit choices. You can’t just decide to go to a sale on the other side of town or to go visit a buddy you haven’t seen in a bit when he calls you saying he has some free time. That’s not a “need,” but a lot of people don’t “need” cars if we are going a fairly strict definition of the word. A car is also a luxury good, for many people. If you have mass transit, chances are, a car is a luxury good. And a very compromised luxury good is not really much of a luxury at all.

  • apawst8

    Musk’s point is that today’s non-Tesla EVs aren’t optimal for people because of range limitations. Your point is that an EV makes a great *second* car.

    The difference between your opinions is that Musk wants an EV to be a great *first* car.

  • chrisbrandow

    I think the important metric, which isn’t quite documented in this article, is something along the lines of “what % of drivers go over 150 miles in a single day. more than n times per year?” Once n becomes greater than 3-5, then people worry about what do with that. It’s the regular but occasional exceptions that are the problem for most people.

    I say this as a very happy owner of a Fiat 500e.

    • eveee

      chris – Ah if only everyone were as rational as you. look at the comments. One guy said people are not rational. I agreed. Somebody else said they travel 3 times a year over 150 miles. So they need a 200 mile EV. You tell me…

      Is that rational? Maybe. Maybe not. I am not paying 10k to go over 150 miles 3 times a year. But people do.
      And all this talk about traveling long distances. Like 600 miles? Thats over 8 hours. You gotta be young. What is it? The thrill and freedom of having a numb butt? LOL. Not me. After 2 hours, its… tedious.
      And I have yet to see anybody rise to the bait when I quoted the 13k savings over 5 years that an EV has over a compact ICE. Thats all it takes for me.
      Yes. People are not rational.

  • ByronBradley

    I totally agree with you, both in admiring Elon Musk and differing with his call for 200 mile range minimum for electric vehicles. We shouldn’t try to make EVs replace our biggest cars, which should be used infrequently for long trips hauling passengers and pulling a boat. We have strong gasoline-fueled cars for such rarer occasions. But such big, heavy, polluting cars should be mostly left at home while we use our other car, our lighter, smaller, quieter, cheaper-to-run, less polluting EVs for our TYPICAL use – around town. Most gas is spent there now and most of that could be replaced (ideally) with sun-fueled electrics making shorter trips.

    Such two-car systems would usually leave the big gas car at home, increasing it’s lifespan. But to incentivize both using the electric and dissuading the gas I would seek a policy change where the unused car is not charged for insurance except when it is used and all insurances and license fees would be based exponentially on the overall size and weight of the vehicle. The larger and heavier the car, the more the insurance and license. This helps pay for the road wear, blocked vision, excess pollution, and increased menace such large cars impose. It also creates an incentive to use the lighter more efficient car and save the big one for occasional purposes.

    Musk and others (such as here in Oregon) seek an infrastructure to allow long-distance travel by EVs. OK, but a more immediate and lasting need is for small electric cars (either pure electric or plug-in hybrid) tailored for frequent local trips “easily” fueled with sunlight (ideally) or even coal-generated electricity. This would go a long way fast to slowing our exacerbating global warming and saving a lot of money to circulate in our communities that now leaves our communities to pay for gasoline. It keeps our old gasoline cars but doesn’t use them much.

    • Jenny Sommer

      We got such a system. Changing plates. You pay the insurance and taxes for the biggest car and can swap plated between up to 3 cars.

      But you need some private property to park the car without plates.

    • 10-Bar Commuter

      I would really really like to see Tesla or any other auto maker jump into the market with SUVs and pickup trucks that can tow things. Electric compares really well with diesel in terms of torque needed for towing and imagine the transmission wear and tear over mountain passes if you don’t actually have a transmission to begin with.

      I really think consumers are ready to sign up for Electric SUVs and pickup trucks that can get 150+ miles of REAL WORLD range.

  • evjuice

    There are many things that an EV owner has a hard time explaining to someone who has never driven one. Instant acceleration at any time. The relentless increase in speed without the shift lag plateaus, smooth motors, silence, etc., etc. With that in mind, take this observation from an owner of a EV with 240 mile range. I call it the 3 digit comfort range. That is, as long as the range-to-go readout has three numbers showing (100+) then there is a comfort factor of knowing that any “emergency” (hospital, job call, inclement weather) driving can be handled with aplomb.
    If you have only driven EVs with an 80 mile range you may not know how it feels. The 3 digit buffer works like this. Once the readout goes to two numbers you have to constantly check it because it could ‘surprise’ you by flipping to 1 digit! (this is in RA territory if you are out and about away from home base) With 3 digits showing you are 90 miles from that shock. When we got our second 140 mile range EV this was really driven home. 40 miles in California where everything is spread out is not unusual and crossing from +100 to -99 is a huge psychological jump we only saw rarely on the first car. Even though thousands more charging points could help alleviate this RA, you have to concede that unplanned time at the charger is not always welcome if you have to be somewhere. (Charge Time Anxiety?) The comfort range of 3 digits totally eliminates any concern of CTA or RA when in town. I mean TOTALLY. Something needed for EVs to go mainstream.
    This is what Elon and JB are probably on about. They have repeatedly said that they could make a (heavier) 500 mile range car but that would be for the outlier requests. They could also build a lighter, faster 80 mile range car -also an outlier as proven by the very few who bought the 40kW Tesla when offered bone stock at less than $50K.
    Battery tech will double range again in 7 years so cars in the “almost 100” mile range will be at “almost 200” and that’s what Elon is talking about. A goal for future cars to meet what Tesla is doing now. Making EVs with a comfort range.

    • eveee

      You pretty much nailed it. It has to have some spare range. It doesnt have to be extreme. Not every car is designed to go 90mph for 300 miles. EVs don’t have to either. They may not ever be as cheap for long distance, but they need to be an every day go to car for emergencies, etc. 84 miles is too short for that particularly if highway, and cold weather range is less. Its different for different folks, but I think a real 120 mile highway range for me is the tipping point.

      I spent a lot of time thinking about it. There are those considerations you gave.

      There are two distinct categories. I think of driving time more than distance.

      Trips that are short, two way up to about 100 miles one way.
      And trips that are over 100 miles one way.

      Trips that are 100 miles or so are day trips and return. You are not going to turn around after you just drove two hours in one direction and drive right back. After you drive three hours in one direction its potentially an overnight deal.

      So for EVs, quick charge is all about driving distances more than around town commute, mostly city to city, but not over 3 hour, 200 mile drives. Thats why you need fast chargers. Thats a daytime trip to the beach, site seeing, etc.

      The over 100 mile, over 3 hour trips are weekenders and vacations.

      Not talking about the extreme roadies and far from urban country dwellers. Those are a smaller population best served by efficient hybrids and other solutions.

  • Al

    I only want 50 miles range and anything more than that just drives up the cost.
    Since, as an older married guy, I’ll always have 2 vehicles, I only need one for our trips out-of-town, etc. What I want for the 2nd vehicle is a “Personal Commute Vehicle”. My commute is only 16 miles round trip. I don’t ever see a need for that vehicle to go more than 50 miles

    But excess range is only one aspect where we are paying for more car than we need. Most of the time, I see these huge vehicles on the road with only a driver. Why do most of our cars require 4 seats, unless they are sports cars and you pay extra for the powerful engine and performance.

    I watched the X-prize competition many years ago for a vehicle with over 100 mpg equivalent. My favorite vehicle from that was the Evaro. I really like the 3 wheel tandem seating and efficiency of a vehicle like that. Shame we can’t get some mass-produced truly low cost commute vehicles for the 99% of our actual vehicle use.

    • eveee

      Al – Thanks for watching. I was in it (the X prize competition). And like you, I have this notion that a single driver mounting a 3 ton behemoth to drive to work is nuts. And quite a few people that own them agree. But some people are used to the luxury of traveling 90 mph in an inefficient vehicle and not planning trips. It has a certain appeal.

      I totally get what you mean about the practicality of an EV for commutes. I find an electric motorcycle too unsafe and unable to transport me in all weather. So I like the Lit Motors approach.



      I had quite a few conversations with those Evaro guys. Good guys, cool concept. There were many others I give a tip of the hat and my admiration to. I put a payment down on an Aptera.



    • 10-Bar Commuter

      “I only want 50 miles range and anything more than that just drives up the cost.”

      The peace of mind that goes with having 2-4 times your daily driving mileage has to with more than simply whether you can accomplish your daily driving without range anxiety.

      I really think, as a practical matter, you should have twice as much range as what you do for your daily driving, so if you only drive 25 miles between charges, a 50-mile range could probably work. However, that needs to be true range for any and all of the possible conditions you’d be driving in.

      Also important is the fact that if you find yourself needing to fully charge to 100% to meet your driving needs, you can expect to see battery capacity loss happening more rapidly than for those who only need to charge to 80%. So good maintenance of your investment is another important reason to have amply sufficient range.

  • RamboSTiTCH

    Elon is the spokesman for Tesla, not for Nissan or BMW. He has to be part salesman, especially when his investors are listening. He is recognizing and responding to the competitive rivalry in his arena. Tesla has committed to the 200 mile range through the installation of charging infrastructure that compliments the Roadster, Model S, and upcoming Model 3. There is a large portion of the population not yet subscribed to EV’s, he is not addressing the ones that are happy with a sub-200 mile vehicle. Yes, he welcomes the competition (as he always said he would), but the laws of marketing require that he differentiate Tesla from the competition.

  • Peter Egan

    These graphs show Tesla, in particular is on the wrong track. Car are sold on the basis that they can take us long distances in comfort – luxury in the case of Telsa. The data above says we go short distances – selling a car on the basis of the above data says we don’t need as much comfort or luxury. It says we should strip out the complexity and minimise the cost of electric cars. The Renault Dacia should be the model electric cars should follow.

  • Mike Shurtleff

    Number 1 item: COST
    …and lower cost than comparable ICEs is coming soon.

  • Edison sucks

    How can you compare him to Edison when Nikola Tesla, the guy whose name is the origin of the company, did so much more, hahaha.

    • Elon has apparently stated he thought more highly of Edison. And Elon didn’t name the company.

  • Inst

    It depends on what kind of car you’re looking at. The Leaf’s city car range is perfectly adequate for what it does, but a Leaf owner either has to give up on making long trips or own or rent a second car. Tesla’s range is in fact inadequate; with its present technology it requires supercharging stations to provide range extension, but ideally you’d want a car with 400+ miles of range. That covers daily driving distances of 400 miles, which is enough cover all the driving the average driver can sustain on one trip without breaks. Tesla’s Roadster with its current Model S batteries can do that, but that’s a modified coupe, not a sedan.

    • Joe Viocoe

      That covers daily driving distances of 400 miles, which is enough cover all the driving the average driver can sustain on one trip without breaks.

      If that is your measure of “adequacy”… then you are in a small minority.

  • Franta Vopicka

    There are a coupe problems to your reasoning:

    1/ People don’t buy what they need, but what they think they need and those are 2 very different things.
    2/ You work with the premise that you will always get the chance to fully charge your vehicle overnight, which I think is far from reality – you arrive late night, you get up early morning – will it charge to full range on a 110V outlet? I don’t think so.
    3/ Major advantage of EVs like Tesla is acceleration, but that eats battery miles fast. It makes no sense to build a car that accelerates like Porsche 911, but makes its driver anxious to even dare try.
    4/ Part of Tesla’s misson is to convince the skeptics and this is hard to do with a so-so product.
    5/ The statistics you present are just statistics put together by some imperfect method and not necessarily the truth. FIrst, we don’t get to see the error bars. Second, it may actually be representative of an average american car, but not necessarily of an average entry-level luxury sedan (Tesla 3 category) or of an average tech-savvy person (initial target group) or even new car (as opposed to used car) buyers. Third, the stats are actually hard to believe – when I lived in the US, I would make larger trips on weekends at least a couple times a year and I think I was typical among my friends. Fourth, the stats you present are from US, but the car has global ambitions.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Couple of points –

      “will it charge to full range on a 110V outlet? I don’t think so”

      240 vac outlets really don’t cost a lot to install.

      ” I would make larger trips on weekends at least a couple times a year and I think I was typical among my friends.”

      Which clearly puts you in the ‘typical’ category. Less than 2% of all driving days at larger distances. 2% of 365 is 7 days.

      • Franta Vopicka

        “240 vac outlets really don’t cost a lot to install”

        – will your parents and in-laws install it too?

        “Which clearly puts you in the ‘typical’ category. Less than 2% of all driving days at larger distances. 2% of 365 is 7 days.”

        – no it doesn’t. If you look at the graph “US daily driven distance distribution for cars” you can very clearly see that trips over 200 miles account for way less than 1 percent of the days. I would typically do over 200 a day when travelling. For instance, one day Phoenix to GC South Rim, other day to Kanab, etc.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Over time I think we’ll see 240 vac outlets for charging EVs become pretty standard at houses and apartments. If someone has an out of town guest they may give them access to the charger for the night.

          “2%”. The point is, the vast majority of drivers make more than a very small number of long drives per year. At four, by your count, that’s low.

  • CMCNestT .

    Elon Musk is right. People purchase cars based on “mental constructs”, not needs based on heavily researched data. No amount of “education” is going to change that.

    Sub 200 or at the very least sub 150 mile range cars will remain micro niche vehicles like the LEAF and i3. Purchased by people that read this blog and other similar enthusiast sites.

    If you want numbers with class leaders you need at least 200 miles of range. In the US Model S wedges in between 7 Series and S Class sales numbers. If you want a mainstream sedan that matches sales numbers with Camry and Accord you will need at least ~200 miles of range.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I think Elon is correct in that it will take a solid 200 mile range to really kick off large scale EV sales. Most people drive more than 200 miles so seldom that they will be to envision living with a car that needs recharging one or two times on a unusually long (for them) trip.

      Nissan (and fellow travelers) likely hurt themselves by not delivering a solid 100 miles. There’s something psychological about extra digits. 100 is so very much larger than 99. ;o)

      The first task is to boost sales to the point at which multiple battery companies start producing batteries at the “giga” level and competition kicks in all the way down the supply stream.

      Then, when batteries are commonly $125/kWh or less we’ll probably see multiple alternatives hit the showroom. Some people may be attracted to a 100 mile (or even less) range, sub-compact with limited features and a really low price.

      Others will likely be willing to fork out for a 400, 500 mile range. People who do big drives often will likely find it interesting if they can buy a car that they can drive all day and plug in at their reserved hotel room/overnight charger.

      I suspect somewhere around 200 miles will satisfy most people for a ‘main’ vehicle. 500 miles with a couple of 20 minute stops just seems like a great compromise between range and vehicle cost.

  • Brad Gibson

    Thanks for the article.

    We are a two Leaf household, and I think he’s right. All the data about 80% (or more for us) of our trips being handled by the current Leaf’s range are true. And it’s not enough. Not enough for us (we’re letting one Leaf’s lease expire and are, sadly, resurrecting our dino-burner), and not enough for the consumer market.

    We’ve done (and enjoyed) road trips in our Leaf with the kid and the dog–it’s fantastic if you’re looking for a bit of adventure, but it’s unrealistic to assume the general public is up for the range anxiety of driving in cold, rain or slushy conditions, the lineups at the quick chargers, arriving in turtle mode at a QC only to find that the unit is down, and so on.

    In the end, EV’s will be mainstream, when consumers (not EV enthusiasts) don’t have to think about them as EV’s.

    I’ll go further–200 miles is only a gateway–EV’s need to get to 400 miles, and a 5-10-minute recharge in order to fully take over. We’re a ways away, but we’re on the right track.

    We’ll retire our dino-burner again once we can pick up an affordable 200-mile car. Hopefully that will be enough for us to finally get rid of gas once and for all.

  • Callum la Grange

    Shame there’s not an ‘app’ that could assess your driving style and range requirements to help you decide if an EV would suit you.

  • Phil J

    Zach, The need for 200 mile range is not so much for range anxiety, but for effectively providing a longer life battery (and hence a long life car with a good resale value etc). A battery life is determined by the number of cycles it is subjected to. Having a large battery pack is actually a genius idea from Tesla. As your stats pointed out one doesnt need more than 80 miles for daily commute, which means the batteries will be subjected to a mild duty cycle providing it atleast a decade of live before any major degradation in storage capacity. On contrast, the leaf is in news for reduced range in the second/third year itself (depending on where you live).

  • The fact that Musks 200 mile minimum statement doesn’t pass muster when one looks at the data doesn’t really matter.

    The general public don’t look at the data, they go off their gut and their gut tells them 200 miles. It doesn’t matter that 200 miles is overkill, they simply won’t adopt EV’s en masse until that threshold is exceeded.

    Early adopters are more likely to look at the data and make an informed choice. I did. But I’ve got to tell you that I wish the LEAF had double its current range now my commute has doubled in length and my battery has degraded 25%. (I anticipated the battery degradation up to 30%, but not the increased commute). I can make it work by rapid charging close to work, but that 15-30 minutes of my day I lose each workday.

    • Coley

      Over what period/mileage has that degradation occurred over?
      Sounds like a big loss?

      • That’s over 65,000 miles.

        More than I hoped for. SInce 2015 models Nissan have a battery designed for hotter climates. Too early to tell if it is more durable or not.

        That’s the price you pay for being one of the first into a new car model/line.

        I would have anticipated maye 15% by now so it has degraded faster than I’d like.

  • 1Billiam1

    how green is a tesla really? production of the raw materials must be counted in an evaluation.
    ultimately i believe the phrase ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch’ might be applicable.

    • 10-Bar Commuter

      I would think that the production “green-ness” can be answered by the cost of production from raw materials, design, assembly, etc, etc. Ultimately, if it were a lot less “green” to build it should also be a lot more expensive to built. As Tesla moves from low volume luxury vehicles to higher volume, lower cost cars, they will not be able to profitably build them in a wasteful manner.

      So if they are able to build and price a model 3 to directly compete with a BMW 3__ and Mercedes C-class, I’m thinking they would have been about as “green” to produce as their competitors and far greener to drive.

      • 1Billiam1

        nope.. nice try. my point is tesla hurts the environment and costs a lot of money. Germany has how much energy produced with alternative energy?

        • Bob_Wallace

          The ModS does cost a lot of money. We’ll have more affordable EVs as battery prices fall. Look for >200 mile range EV for around $35k within two years and prices falling further over the years after.

          Teslas hurt the environment? Hardly. Teslas burn no fuel.

          Grids that use a lot of fossil fuels hurt the environment.

          Renewable energy resources, including wind, hydro, solar and biomass, accounted for 27.3% of German electricity generation in 2014. Germany is planning on getting at least 45% and perhaps as much as 60% of it’s electricity from renewables by 2030.

          • 1Billiam1

            so where do they get the raw materials for the tesla? wheres all the lithium come from? how is it extracted and how environmentally safe is the process? any safer than fossil fuels?
            Thats my point. Solar is really clean…but look at solar cell manufacturing too.
            There is no such thing as a free lunch.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Lithium comes from lithium deposits. The Nissan Leaf uses 4 kilos. How many kilos of petroleum does the typical gasmobile use in 100,000 miles?
            100k miles at 25 MPG = 4,000 gallons

            At 6.073 lb/US gallon that’s 24,292 pounds, 11,042 kilos.

            2,760 Nissan Leafs.

            The raw materials for a Tesla come from the same place as for a Buick. Difference is, the EV is likely to be driven a lot more miles before crushing.

            For both the Tesla and the Buick the answer is building them out of sustainable materials and recycling.

            Solar cell manufacturing can be, and usually is, very clean. Too much is made of early year Chinese solar plants which were just dumping their waste (and wasting a lot of valuable materials). Solar does create some hazardous waste which needs to be appropriately disposed of, but everything is relative. Including the price of lunch.

          • 1Billiam1

            Difference is, the EV is likely to be driven a lot more miles before crushing.”

            hehe , love it…. anything you want to make up?
            fact is the up front costs of a tesla versus fossil fuel cars make it irrelevant for comparison.

            so lithiumn battery production is green huh?

            show me how the htorium among other by products are dealt with safely.

            Fact is the the energy (electricity) created to paper the batteries to power the car…. is a net pollution effect.

            add it all up and there is negligible difference.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Why do you think people give up on their gasmobiles and take them to the junkyard, because the paint job is bad or because the engine/transmission are toast?

            Electric motors last a long, long time. Put in a new set of batteries after 120,000 miles and drive another 120,000 miles.

            Are you completely unaware that new technology generally starts expensive and then prices drop as efficiency and competition takes over? Any idea how much the first personal computers and cell phones cost?

            Do you not understand that as we move to EVs we are also replacing fossil fuel electricity generation with renewables?

            I feel like Rip van Winkle has strolled into town.

          • 1Billiam1

            hehe so you plan on changing how cars are sold…lol
            keep dreaming.

          • Bob_Wallace

            BMW is now selling through Amazon in Japan.

          • 1Billiam1

            no go back and see how the trucks bring raw materials to the tesla factory…
            hehe beautiful diesel trucks….

          • Bob_Wallace

            Patience, Grasshopper.

            These things, too, will change.

          • 1Billiam1

            so just wishful thinking? hehe no design ideas…lol thats because its never going to happen.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No idea for what?

            Electrified rail? A lot of the world’s rail runs on electricity, including the Trans-Siberian which is long enough to cross the US 2x.

            Electrified trucks? Already on the road in small numbers. 18-wheelers running on swappable battery packs could be done today. It’s less than 200 miles from the mine to the plant. Three ModS battery packs should get a load from mine to plant, swat out for a freshly charged pack.

            ” its never going to happen”

            Cars will never replace horses
            Man will never fly
            Humans will never walk on the Moon

          • 1Billiam1

            but still no links to show me…

            @60,000lbs (27,215 kilos) cargo container at 40 miles per hour (65 kph), with an all-electric range of 60 miles (100 kilometers)…


            it CAN be done…just not anywhere as efficient as diesel can do it in cost per hour operation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t got to show you no stinkin’ links… ;o)

            How are you using that word “efficient”?

            Electric motors are incredibly more efficient than internal combustion engines. So you can’t be talking about “primary energy” efficiency. Remember, Tesla is powering itself with wind and solar so there’s no inefficient coal plants in the mix.

            Time efficient? Hard to say. Would take only a minute or so to snatch a discharged battery pack out and stick in a new one. Every 200 miles. Not enough time for the driver to get out and pee. I doubt you can fill diesel tanks as fast.

            Economically efficient? Let’s use some numbers from a Tesla forum.

            They calculate that an 80,000 lb semi (the heaviest weight class) can go 300 miles on 450Kwh tesla battery.
            That sounds like 1.5 kWh per mile and 12 cents per mile with 8 cent electricity. (If we’re talking about using Tesla’s homebrew electricity the cost would be less.)

            Figuring the diesel version might get 8 miles per gallon and West Coast diesel running $3/gallon driving with fuel would be more like 38 cents a mile. Add in oil changes and more frequent brake rebuilds.

            You would need a second battery pack so one could be charging while the other is being used. But fuel savings will pay for that and more.

            “Carbon efficient”? No contest. Running the trucks on electricity rather than petroleum. Electricity from wind and solar.

            So how are you using the word “efficient”?

          • 1Billiam1

            how is all the plastic made..rubber metal formed.. how are thye solar panels made, the wind turbines made.. raw materials shipped.

            “They calculate that an 80,000 lb semi (the heaviest weight class) can go 300 miles on 450Kwh tesla battery.”

            you like making up numbers? You just pull those out of thin air? link maybe?

            as for efficient…
            mine the raw material for electricity
            create the energy
            transport the energy
            charge batteries
            then discharge

            efficiency means a percentage of power preserved in a process. are the batteries 100% efficient? is the charging process 100% efficient?

            you tell me the efficiency rating of them sparky.

            There is no such thing as a free lunch.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I know places where one can get very good food for inexpensive prices.

            Go through your list and find me something that can’t be done with electricity or bio/synthetic fuel.

            Then click on the image below to embiggen it. Study it carefully and see how little of our primary energy we now put to work and how much we waste. Look at the “wasteful” inputs.

            Use your brain to answer your own questions. Most of them are quite simple, you just need to do a little reasoning.

            Here’s a hint. Try to find a industrial plant that runs its machinery on coal rather than electricity.

        • 10-Bar Commuter

          Oh, I didn’t know that hurts the environment any worse than any other car manufacturer. What kind of environmental damage are they doing? Where can I find out more about this?

          Although I’m not even sure how it’s relevant to this article since the issue being raised is what kind of minimum range electric cars will need in order to sell in large numbers. Or are you specifically comparing them to other EV manufacturers? Are you saying the car maker’s environmental impact is a greater concern to car buyers than range?

  • Radical Ignorant

    Sounds like saying there is no need for cars with engines smaller than 2 litres.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    People are just wrong, because 90 % of trips could be handled with public transportation…

    • Coley

      If it’s available, around here it’s not.

  • MaryRachel

    You are assuming that people all live in houses. I live in an apartment. I’m also about a mile from a Tesla charging station. I live in LA. Most people in LA live in apartments or condos. I have a feeling this is the case in the Bay Area as well. I have no interest in a a Tesla because I don’t want to sit at the charger for an hour every two weeks which is what a 200 mile range gets me. My gas guzzling SUV has a similar range but I spend 5 minutes at the gas station. I’ll probably offend Elon’s sensibilities and get a Prius. The seem to come in more colors, every Tesla I see is either black or (gag) navy. In full disclosure the SUV is black.

    I’m amused that Elon is obsessed with range anxiety but does not consider charger impatience. I do realize a faster charging battery would add cost and bulk. I also stick to my opinion that the technology is not fully “there” yet.

    • Bob_Wallace

      SoCal Edison recently put up $350 million to assist with installing 30,000 charging outlets in their area. Mainly targeting apartments and workplace parking lots. Expect other utilities to follow suit as this means new markets for them. Business that can replace the market they are losing to efficiency and end-user solar.

      You don’t just spend 5 minutes at the gas station. Add in the time from when you leave your route to stop at the station and when you get back on track.

      Tesla is coming out with a higher capacity charger. Rapid charge times will decrease.

    • I think this is actually just a different matter completely, separate from range. I do think the charging options at apartments is the biggest practical barrier to EV adoption. Something like 99% of EV owners live in homes with a garage. Big things need to happen to get chargers at the homes of apartment/condo-dwellers. I think that’s a better solution than ubiquitous Superchargers. But it still requires a lot of work.

  • I think Elon wants the world to go 100% electric. 200+ mile evs would make batteries a slam dunk against ic cars. If there is no reason to built ic cars people will stop building them. Thats the goal…along with colonizing Mars.

    • This may be my favorite comment on the thread yet.

      Yes, I think the statement comes from an extreme perfectionism. 100% is the end target, but I want us to get to 5% as fast as possible. Once we get to 5% or 10%, a ton of people are going to realize that 200 miles of range is far more than at least one of their cars needs (maybe both)… and then there will be Teslas for everyone else. 😀

      • Bob_Wallace

        Teslas for everyone who isn’t driving another brand EV with an ~200 mile range.

        Assuming Navigant Research is right. Tesla will have $130/kWh batteries in a couple of years (GigaFactory up and running efficiently. 50 kWh * $130 = $6,500. About the cost of an ICE plus systems.

        Other car companies, according to Navigant, should get to where Tesla is within 2-3 years. You know LG Chem and other battery manufacturers are watching Tesla/Panasonic carefully and are rushing to close the gap.

        End result, there may be a lower range option but making a 30 kWh version is likely only going to save $2,500 and drop the sales price not a lot.

  • sak

    I think you miss the point. As musk said in many interviews, when a new innovative technology hits the marke It needs to be better than what exists by a meaningful factor not marginally better. So he didn’t mean having less than 200mile is not enough for the average joe but rather this is not enough to make people adopt EVs in masses (as evident!).

    It’s just like the safety on model S being 5/5 to show it’s safe and remove the prescription that batteries are ticking bombs. We all wittnessed how the media dealt with model S accidents and if it weren’t for the extra safety in the car (if it were an average car) then the public would have had a bad idea about Tesla and all electric cars for that matter.

    So he is just saying the bar should be higher, which I think is right.

    • eveee

      I would agree that a new tech needs to be better, but not necessarily identical. For one, this case is different because fuel prices are not going back to the good old days of cheap prices. For another, living with a new technology means changing habits. Not having so much maintenance, and not having to fill up because its charged overnight.
      A 200 mile range EV would have way more range than necessary to fill up at night and do urban driving.

    • I’m quite positive I didn’t miss that point, and I fully agree with that point. My specific points are:

      1) Blanket statements calling cars like the LEAF a failure are not productive, and are not correct.

      2) A 120-mile to 170-mile EV is going to be far more than most people need (esp if you include the fact that 57% of households have more than one vehicle), and with the price clearly being quite a bit lower than a >200-mile EV, it will be able to exceed a comparable gasmobile in more ways for a large segment of the population.

      I do agree the bar needs to be higher to get past the early adopters.

  • Carl Borrowman

    “Not 200 miles in ‘AC off, driving on flat road’ mode…”

    Musk seems to be at least partially speaking about what it will take for the majority of Americans to switch from the ICE vehicle they already have, know, and rely on in all kinds of weather, not the 10% or less (” tens of millions” of Americans) you are speaking of for which a Leaf would be fine.

    Whether they live in SoCal (100 degree plus weather) or the Midwest/East Coast (below zero weather), or are making their annual trip back home to completely opposite weather, I think the majority of Americans still want not only long range, but also something more than a “compact sedan” like the Leaf which can’t even provide adequate heat in true winter environments, which seem to be getting only more severe every year.

    My ’08 Sonata I bought used for $9K w/56K mileage on it is fine until I can buy a similar quality and size used EV for the same price. The Leaf is not even close.

    True, many drive short distances every day, thought it’s also true they probably don’t want to spend a half hour more to “fuel up” for the occasional very long trips they do take, and or do not relish the thought of renting vehicles for those long trips as an alternative to longer travel time.

    This isn’t an “anti-Leaf” bash, it’s simply a statement that the Leaf, as it is now, is not yet representative of a mature technology:

    “Battery prices are coming down, and we’ll have long-range *and* affordable electric cars in short order, but there’s a lot of room to improve how we get there and how fast we get there.”

    What this tells me is to keep my used vehicle until battery prices do come down and we have longer ranges with more affordable EV’s. If I bought a used Leaf (~$14K) now to replace my Sonata, it would take at least a decade before it began to pay itself off in fuel savings for me, before which time I might (probably would) have to replace the used battery for an extra $5K, blowing whatever savings I might have achieved. And, Sonata still has the best economic performance in the full size category for 2015: http://www.automotivescience.com/full-size-2015/4587769005

    The thing is, I believe EV’s are going to get a lot better, and from what you wrote, it sounds like you do to. Even better than ICE. However, until they do, the majority of Americans are simply going to see a higher priced vehicle with new technology and less range (and possible inferior climate control) compared to a lower priced vehicle with mature technology and more range (and superior climate control) across a larger set of vehicle classes (not just compact).

    The fact is, more Americans want an Altima than they do a Leaf. Hell, they probably even want a Versa more than they do a Leaf. Part of this has to do with range… though I believe a greater part of it has to do with MSRP. Asking Americans to pay $7K – $17K more upfront (before a “possible” rebate/incentive) for something that performs better in some aspects but falls short in others is probably not going to catch on. Once MSRP price parity is reached, or at least comes a lot closer than it is now, it will be a different story.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Your 10% is likely very low. Over 50% of all US households have two or more cars. 25% would likely be on the low side.

      • Carl Borrowman

        Regardless, we are still at less than 1% penetration.
        The Leaf as it stands now is not going to change that significantly.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The Leaf is the best selling EVs. And here’s what is happening to EV sales….

          • Carl Borrowman

            The Leaf is still the best selling EV because it is still the most affordable and practical EV, based off what is available today amongst the EV market, which isn’t saying a lot, because the market is still relatively nascent.

            The chart you posted reflects accumulated EV sales only, and even those are still a teency percentage of total vehicle sales. Put it next to a chart of ICE fleet count for the same years and it won’t look nearly as impressive.

            That’s great that it is growing, but put into perspective, it basically means that in reality all EV’s combined still make up less than 1% of total car sales. Why is that? Because they are still overpriced for the majority, and things like range are still a factor for many.

            Musk’s main point is that EV tech is not mature yet. It probably hasn’t even reached half it’s full potential. Within just the next five years, EV specs such as range are likely to double on average, and affordable EV’s will be available in more categories than just compact. And battery life will probably be longer as well. That is when we’ll start to see real competition to ICE.

          • Bob_Wallace

            In spite of low range and high price EVs are showing an impressive growth rate.

            New technologies generally start slow and expensive.

          • Carl Borrowman

            What exactly is the growth rate compared to ICE for the same years of the chart you posted?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Looks like sales growing for light trucks. Fairly flat for cars.

          • Carl Borrowman

            Doesn’t seem like an accurate comparison.
            You use a chart for accumulated sales from 2009 to 2015 for EV’s, then a quarterly for ICE, non-accumulative.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Annual cars sales are fairly flat from about 2004 through 2014 except for the recession dip.

          • Carl Borrowman

            I’m guessing accumulated sales would look just as impressive on a chart.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If number of sales per year was stable then the line would be a straight line.

            The EV line is curving upwards.

          • Carl Borrowman

            The EV sales chart you posted represents a total fleet count of accumulated sales, each year adding on to the total from the previous year. Of course the line is going to curve upward. The only thing that would prevent that from happening on such a chart would be if EV sales stopped entirely.

            Taken from ’09, the second chart you posted shows car sales going up from 5M up to 8M.

            The car sale line is also curving upwards for the same time period. It increased by 3M, where as EV has yet to reach 1M in total accumulated sales.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Carl, take a piece of paper and plot Year 1 =100, Yr2 = Yr1 + 100, Yr3 = Yr2 + 100, … out a few years.

            Then plot a second line where there is an annual increase of, say 10% each year.

          • Joe Viocoe

            If sales were flat… on an accumulative sales graph… the line would be a “flat 45 degrees”. So yes, a upward curve means acceleration of growth.

          • Carl Borrowman

            Yes, an “upward curve” from ZERO to what is still a tiny fraction of existing ICE sales. Of course it’s “NOT FLAT”.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Carl, why does it bother you so much that EV sales are accelerating?

            Did you put money on them failing right out of the gate?

          • Carl Borrowman

            Bob, it doesn’t bother me at all that EV sales have increased from zero. In fact, I think it’s rather natural that they have. Unfortunately, as you stated yourself, they have yet to affect the line of total car sales significantly.

          • Carl Borrowman

            Bob, it doesn’t bother me at all that EV sales have increased from zero. In fact, I think it rather natural that they have.

          • Carl Borrowman

            Bob, it doesn’t bother me at all that EV sales have “accelerated” from zero. In fact, I think it rather natural they have.

          • Joe Viocoe

            The point is… Sales are increasing. Much faster than hybrids did in fact.

            And you cannot climb a mountain without starting at the bottom and with ” a tiny fraction ” of progress

          • Carl Borrowman

            And that’s great. I just tend to look ahead towards the mountain instead of wallowing in the view from the foothill and exaggerating it to make it look like the mountain.

          • Joe Viocoe

            Equally, having a defeatist mentality because most of the journey is still ahead… is counterproductive.

            Let’s have realistic expectations. No new vehicle technology could overtake ICE in just a few years. It takes generations in reality.

          • Carl Borrowman

            Yes. Personally, I’m neither a defeatist or a pie in the sky optimist, simply a realist.

          • Carl Borrowman

            Yes. Realism instead of exaggeration. Let us have more of it here instead of trying to make mountains out of mole hills. I tend to find the happy medium between the two extremes of defeatism and pie-eyed over optimism in order to keep a balanced perspective.

          • Carl Borrowman

            I just like keeping perspective. For accuracy instead of exaggeration, keeping the size of the mountain ahead in relation to the foothill:

            EV: ~1M total in 6 years worldwide
            U.S. Auto sales: 16M in 2014 alone. 81M in the same 6 years.

          • Joe Viocoe

            How many millions of automobiles were sold in 1899? Compared to how many horses?

            Gasoline has a century worth of a head start. 6 years is a drop in the bucket by comparison.

            THAT is historical perspective.

          • Carl Borrowman

            Oh. It’s “historical perspective” you’re looking for then?
            In the late 1890’s EV’s outsold gas vehicles 10 to 1.


          • Joe Viocoe

            Yes, that is a well known fact that doesn’t even prove your point.

            Did you know that in 1880, Steam Powered cars outsold Internal Combustion gasoline vehicles equally as bad.

            Lead Acid was not viable… but Lithium Ion is as different as Steam Cars are to today’s Gasoline “Internal Combustion” Cars.

          • Joe Viocoe

            My point is that past performance of similarly named technology (yet fundamentally different)… is NO indication of future performance.

            So any lazy predictions made with excuses of “but they have sold poorly in the past”, or “but they had their chance 100 years ago”… is simply flawed logic and does not account for the actual, paradigm shifting changes in the technology.

          • Carl Borrowman

            Agreed. That’s why I don’t make lazy predictions or make excuses. Nor do I make the mistake of thinking EV’s will necessarily take off as fast as cellphones.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Have you seen anyone claiming that EVs will take over as quickly as cell phones?

          • Carl Borrowman

            Yes. I have.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Really? Anyone showing signs of clear thinking or just someone making an overly optimistic throwaway comment? Anyone publishing an article with that claim?

            Any examples?

          • Carl Borrowman

            Mainly just overly optimistic throwaway comments.

            The gist of it is usually EV sales will take over ICE as fast as cellphones did compared to existing landlines. Sometimes they even state a reason being because they also have li-on batteries.

            Others simply favor it as a general analogy, to the point where it seems to have become almost cliche, for example:

            “Compare it to the way cell phones took over from landlines, or smart phones over the basic cell phones and you will see what they mean.”

          • Bob_Wallace

            One can find all sorts of comments. Finding anyone willing to make that claim in a thought out article would be, I suspect, very difficult.

            Set aside the actual timeline for a moment and look at another part of the comment.

            People are abandoning landlines which are cheaper and generally have a higher quality signal. A factor other than cost has driven a lot of the uptake in cell phones.

            I think the convenience of plug in charging is going to be a partial driver for switching to EVs. It won’t override significant cost premiums, but will push people toward EVs at somewhat higher prices.

            EVs won’t take over the roads as fast as cell phones have taken over communication because people have far more invested in their current ICEV. Owning a land line phone and paying the monthly fee for a connection is cheap.

            I suspect EVs will take over annual sales much faster than many expect. Get some 200+ mile range EVs on the showrooms for <$30k and watch what happens.

          • Carl Borrowman

            I disagree that landlines are cheaper.
            I’m currently paying $11/mo with Republic Wireless for unlimited talk and text, plus I can use the phone w/any wifi at no extra charge. This is several times more capability than landline standalone phones, for less cost.

            I think the primary factors for cellphone popularity over landline have been mobility, exponentially greater capability (w/smartphones), and now even price being cheaper than landlines. None of which EV’s have been able to accomplish over ICE.

            “200+ mile range EV’s on the showrooms for <$30k"

            That looks to be the Nissan Leaf next year or the year after. Problem is, it will still be twice as expensive as several other hot ICE hatchbacks before incentives, and perhaps in some cases, even after. Still, it's an improvement of existing LEAF's, and so should naturally mean an improvement over it's existing LEAF sales.

            I can easily see manufacturers maintaining a price premium for such EV's over their ICE vehicles for the next 5-10 years.

            That's not to say EV sales won't still grow or even continue to consistently improve on an annual basis, of course, just that they will probably remain small in comparison to ICE for some time to come. More models, along with greater range and (later) an actual track record of reliability for longer than 10 years will naturally mean more sales.

            I still suspect upfront MSRP is the only real factor remaining which is preventing something like the LEAF ($29K MSRP before *possible* incentives) from outselling something like the Kia Rio ($13.6K MSRP). I don't think the majority of people are going to realize a $7K to $15K fuel savings for as long as they keep vehicles on average in order to make up the difference in up front pricing. Not to mention the general psychology likely being that perhaps the majority of people would still rather pay a little every month over the life of the vehicle for fuel and or maintenance rather than a lot up front.

            Part of my reasoning for thinking MSRP is the only real factor remaining is because of how well Tesla is doing in it's price range. It's not only outperforming other vehicles in it's price range, but those far above. I think this is where Musk is coming from. It has to be much better on many fronts in order to sway the majority from what they are already comfortable with.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “I’m currently paying $11/mo with Republic Wireless”

            How typical are those costs. And even more importantly, what percentage of cell phone adopters enjoyed prices that low when cell phone use was zooming?

            Why are you trying to use the current price of a technology that’s been available for 30 years with a technology with not yet 5 years under its belt?

            “”200+ mile range EV’s on the showrooms for <$30k"

            That looks to be the Nissan Leaf next year or the year after."

            I've seen nothing about a 200+ mile range Nissan selling for <$30k? Have you?

            Purchase price is the problem holding back EV sales. People would snap up millions of $20k Leafs and $40k Tesla ModSs. Higher sales would accelerate public and private charging outlet installations.

            Assuming we get 200+ mile range EVs for about $30k (after subsidies) from Tesla and GM in the next couple of years we should see the sales curve continue to accelerate.

            Higher sales volumes should bring prices down even further and create another upward bend in the line.

          • RobertWicks

            I’ve found that cell and home lines are roughly equal. Not a lot of difference, but the utility advantage that a mobile phone has gives it a distinct edge. I disagree with the first half of your price breakdown. I think people would buy a lot of Teslas at $40k, but I don’t think a $20k Leaf would sell by the millions. At $20k, you are getting, typically, people of modest means who need the car to be able to do everything. That’s not normally the group who will buy a car and save enough for the occasional rental. Considering the range limitations of the Leaf, I think it would have to be right there with the cheapest new cars in the USA, around $15k, in order to seriously be among the top sellers in its price bracket. And even that might not do it. It would probably sell largely to people looking for an extra car, even at that price.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you could purchase a car for $20k that would save you well over $1,000 per year in operating costs do you think many people would turn that down?
            BTW, over 50% of all drivers live in households with more than one car. A limited range EV could be the ‘long commute’ car for many of those households and a ‘more expensive to operate’ car be the ‘shorter commute/errand’ car that gets used for the very few long trips made a year.
            With 250 million cars on the road there are going to be millions of drivers who could make great use of a limited mileage EV for $20k.

          • RobertWicks

            Sure. I’d make that choice, compared to a new car of $20k. Unless I planned to keep the car for 10+ years and was near the edge of range utility. But at $20k, you get into a lot of short term price sensitivity. Installing an EVSE is 2-3 months of payments in cost up front, assuming a fairly simple install. That’s not insignificant, and I think could be significant impeding factor for people who are shopping in that price range. If people are shopping based on TCO, it’s almost always a good idea to buy used anyway. I just think that people who are accustomed to gas powered vehicles are not going to buy an EV at parity. I think they will only buy them at a discount due to range anxiety and the fact that using the vehicle may require them to occasionally plan their lives around its limitations. And I think Musk is correct on the range issue because by eliminating the anxiety, you reduce or eliminate the discount which will be required by consumers.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Few people need an EVSE. Most Leaf drivers will be well served with a simple 120 vac outlet. At 3-4 miles per hour and 10 hours parked that’s more than the average daily commute.

            240 vac outlets can be installed for about $250 if people need something faster.

            Saving over $1,000 a year means that a $5k purchasing premium will be paid off in the first five years and if a battery replacement is needed at ten years it will be paid for by the second five year savings. i am highly suspicious of the claim that batteries will last only ten years.

            Bringing in used vs. new and “near the edge of range utility” are red herrings. We’re discussing new ICEV vs new EV and the portion of the population who would find a limited range EV very functional.

            I do agree with Elon that 200 solid miles is the threshold for EVs to be taken seriously by a large portion of the population.

            And I expect that ten years from now we are unlikely to see many EVs with less than 200 mile ranges. (It takes only nine years to turn ‘100 mile’ batteries into ‘200 mile’ batteries with an annual 8% capacity increase. 8% is what we’ve historically seen over recent years.)

            We might see a low cost, low mileage EV down the road. Something with 50 – 80 solid miles selling for well under $15k.

          • Carl Borrowman

            I’m not “trying” to do anything, just putting out there what is available now and what I have as just one example in reply to your present tense statement:

            “People are abandoning landlines which are cheaper and generally have a higher quality signal.”

            “a technology with not yet 5 years under its belt?”

            To what “technology” are you referring specifically here?

            “I’ve seen nothing about a 200+ mile range Nissan selling for <$30k? Have you?"

            I just googled the MSRP for a 2015 LEAF which reflects a $29K MSRP and assumed it would be similar for the future longer range version. I suppose they could up the price for the longer range model while keeping the lower range model, I'm just not counting on that happening yet.

            "Assuming we get 200+ mile range EVs for about $30k (after subsidies) from Tesla and GM in the next couple of years"

            Any significant increase in range and or decrease in price is going to see "sales curve continue to accelerate". It's practically a given at this point.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The first deliveries of Nissan Leafs happened in December, 2010.

            I use that as the start date for modern EVs. What happened 100 years ago has no bearing on EVs today.

            OK, you saw nothing about a 150 mile Leaf for less than $30k. I didn’t miss anything.

          • Carl Borrowman

            I was under the impression EV’s use such things as powertrains, aerodynamics, composite materials, brakes, steering, etc. From what I understand, those things have all made significant advances over the years since the first EV’s were available. That’s somewhat more than “no bearing”, wouldn’t you say? Not to mention computer technology that wasn’t even available “100 years ago”, yet has been developed much longer than 5 years.

            OK, so you think the 200 mile range LEAF will be priced higher than the present day LEAF?

          • Bob_Wallace

            A move from a 24 kWh to a 50 kwh will cost money.

            Tesla does not think it can be done for less than $35k at this point in time. GM thinks $37.5k.

          • Joe Viocoe

            Neither do I.
            Hmm, maybe we’ve been in agreement the whole time.

          • Carl Borrowman

            The line for car sales is also going upwards, from 5M to 8M for 2009-2015, according to your second chart. A 3M increase in yearly sales alone, whereas EV’s have yet to reach 1M in total accumulated fleet size for the entire period from 2009-2015.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Annual cars sales are fairly flat from about 2004 through 2014 except for the recession dip.”

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, Q1 2011.

            It says cars sold. It does not break down into ICE/EV/etc. That would mean that the rising sales of EVs are included but they probably aren’t large enough overall to drive the red line significantly.

          • Carl Borrowman


          • eveee

            The EV growth rate is 100% per year. Thats double every year. That kind of growth rate can get you from 1% to 100% in so fast you better not blink. Now its not going to do that all the way up to 100%. ICE vehicle growth is not very high, and in fact, there has been some decline recently. It bounces around, but its not much greater than replacement rate.

      • Carl Borrowman

        Perhaps. If “U.S. households” were some type of standard nuclear family model as they might have been considered to be in the 50’s.
        25% is likely on the high side.

      • eveee

        Lets make it official. The number of two car homes is 57%.


    • Some good points. I’d just clarify a couple of things:

      1) I’m not saying the LEAF and similar vehicles will do it. But I am saying that it is a good (even great) car for a lot of people, and a 120- to 170-mile EV with a similar price would be a great car, with definite disruption potential.

      2) I’d guess that most of the people who want an Altima, Versa, or similar ICE vehicle don’t even know about the LEAF. In the survey from 2013 that I referenced, fewer knew about the Model S. The Model S is great at bringing attention to EVs, but the first thing people learn with they learn about electric cars is not that “a <200-mile EV is a failure."

      But, yes, costs need to come down (as the are) and range needs to go up in order to bring in the masses. I have no doubt they will. I'm just trying to help break down illogical social/perception barriers.

  • strez2Dmax

    IF your bubble is a permanent distance you don’t need much range ‘up your sleeve’ maybe. The ICE advantage at present is range is limitless as long as fuel is readily available. IF your were near your max travel ‘perimeter’ and you find an auction/swap meet/show/whatever another 50-100 kms up the road you have missed out. If your range is evaporating and you have a medical emergency/prang/bushfire/whatever you may have a real PROBLEM, not just inconvenience.
    I think Musk is right. Push the envelope to the max if you want to bury the petro industry once and for all.
    If Musk is wrong once he is probably still the Mother Theresa of the 21st century. 🙂

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Remember Musk lives in CA. From http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/bar8.htm we see the average male of working age, 20 to 54, drives an average of 100 miles a day. It’s probably much more than 100 miles a day on some days and less than others. So practically half the driving population in CA falls into the 1% category according to the above graphs. About 3% of the nation according to http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html. Then there is freeway driving in CA where keeping up with the flow of traffic means driving 70 to 90 mph. That cuts a 250 mile fully charged vehicle at 55 mph to only 150 miles. (See http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/7569-Range-and-cost-calculator/page3.) Now if you charge to the recommended 80% mark the mileage is further reduced to 120 miles. So the Tesla with a large battery pack probably does not meet the needed range of nearly 100% of the male population of working drivers in CA. So Musk’s blanket statement, considering he is a male of working age in CA, seems totally true to him. And since the state that buys the most Tesla’s by far is CA it also makes economic sense to him…

    • eveee

      Ivor – Yes. EV highway range is always lower, so an advertised 200 mile range would probably only get you 140 or so. Its highway speeds that kill range, much more than anything else except cold weather.

      I don’t get the example math. There is always a distribution. It can’t be “does not meet the needed range of nearly 100%…” Its a percentage.
      And that does not follow from a range of 120 miles … does not meet the
      …. 100 mile ….
      If the range were 120 miles and the average drive was 100, there would be more than 50% of the drivers able to meet their 100 mile requirement, if the distribution was bell shaped centered around 100 miles. Its not.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Evee, my math was wrong when I calculated average male drove 100 miles a day. I took the following table from the Department of Transportation and somehow doubled the average mileage.
        | Age | Miles |¬
        | 20-34 | 17,976 |¬
        | 35-54 | 18,858 |¬
        | 55-64 | 15,859 |¬
        So 48 miles instead of 100 miles if you assume the same number of people in each group and average their mileages.

        As for the second part, if my bad numbers were being used, then the deviation from the average would need to be known. I was pointing out a deviation of 20 miles more than average is very likely to occur during the year. Probably during a week. Making the car almost impossible to use for most males of working age in CA. Unfortunately my numbers were off by two though so this argument falls apart.

        The only thing I can salvage from my first post is that most people make the round trip from LA to SD or LA to SB on a fairly regular basis. Either way those are normal trips that can’t be made with a Tesla unless they are willing to charge in the city they visit. Charging at home is a wonderful luxury. Having to go out of the way to make a separate visit to a supercharger in the destination city is… tedious and aggravating.

        What I’m trying to say is for Californians the Tesla needs more mileage. About double what it currently has. Then we won’t be wondering if we need another vehicle in order to make the trip from LA to Vandenberg to see the F9H launch. Or to give up on hiking in the mountains because we aren’t sure of the charging. And a BEV with less mileage than the Tesla certainly is not acceptable. We shouldn’t be talking about sub 200. We should be talking about what’s it going to take to get over 500 miles.

        • Also take into account Tesla’s current customers, and even likely Model 3 customers. They are going to be above the median on income, and the more money a person has, generally speaking, the further they travel.

        • eveee

          Ivor – Hmm. I think a Model S wouldn’t inhibit you from driving LA to Santa Barbara or San Diego. There are supercharger stations in Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Hawthorne, Solvang, Tejon Ranch, and Barstow, to name a few. There are ones south to San Diego as well. Those are about 100 mile trips or so. If you travel 100 miles, you probably stay and visit.
          Those stations recharge in 30 minutes. But you could recharge in a quarter that time if you only needed to get back to LA. That would take all of 10 minutes.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Sure there are battery chargers in SB and SD. However the maximum sized Tesla battery if you are starting out at the recommended 80% charge mark so you don’t hurt the battery is about 120 miles of 70-90 mph freeway driving. If you charge when the battery gets down to the 10% level, at about 108 miles to the 80% mark it takes 40 minutes. Which is what you need to get back home. Not 10 minutes. And that is at a supercharger. See http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

            Taking an hour out of my day to charge a car does not make me happy. It’s a limitation that will hopefully come to an end when Tesla gets the 130+ kWh batteries in during the next few years. They should probably be called “California Batteries”.

          • eveee

            Ivor – Where do you get this one hour charge? Its a half hour for a 170 mile charge at a Tesla Supercharger station.


            Otherwise, I would leave the EV plugged in and eat or shop. Things are not ideal right now. Ideally, Superchargers would be like Hojos.

            You are supposed to charge to 100% for trips. It doesn’t hurt if its up at 100% for a short time and then you discharge it by taking the trip right after the charge, like taking off in the morning. At that rate you have more like 150 miles. More than enough to get you there with spare range. Thats if you have the 60kwhr pack rated at 210 miles. If you have the 85khwr pack….

            So say you arrive with 40 miles to spare. That would leave you at above the 20% level. A nice place to be for battery life. Then you do your visiting and you go to a supercharger. Since you still have some charge, and you need to go back 100 miles, you don’t need a full charge, just some more than half a charge. So its up to you whether you want to charge for 20 minutes or 30 minutes. Don’t see a big deal either way.

            If you really want the range, keep it under 70.

            Either way, there should be no problem driving 100 miles at highway speeds.

            If you miscalculated and lowered your windows with your arms waving outside, you could stop in Oxnard. 🙂

            Doesn’t sound like a limitation to me.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            At http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger it states: “Tesla Superchargers provide 170 miles of range in as little as 30 minutes.” Hence your comment.

            A little further down on that same page the next graph shows a 40 minute time to charge from 10% to 80%. That makes things more clear: “Charging from 10% to 80% is quick and typically provides ample range to travel between most Superchargers. Charging from 80% to 100% doubles the charge time because the car must reduce current to top off cells. Actual charge times may vary.” Now you know the context of how they got that 170 mile figure.

            Looking at the graph of speed versus mileage makes it clear what one really can expect to get with a 100% or 80% charge. For a fully 100% charged 85 kWh battery you only get 150 miles driving at 80 mph. Or 135 miles if you stop and charge when you bottom out at the 10% mark. Or a 105 mile range if you start at 80% and stop at 10%. So hence my first comment on having to spend, according to their data, 40 minutes to charge from 10% to 80% in order to get 105 miles for your drive home. Plus the minutes of overhead that it takes to go out of your way to get to the supercharger in town. (And we are talking about a new battery. Knock off another 10 to 20% the warranty allows the battery to degrade as it gets to be eight years old.)

            So what one ends up doing is driving in the slow lane, passing the trucks as needed naturally, to extend mileage. Tesla is the future. It is a great car. And I think everybody should buy one. However I wish the battery packs were twice their current size. Maybe 3x their current size.

          • eveee

            Yes, thats the well known lengthy time to top off the last 20%. You don’t need it to travel the returning 100 miles.
            Why on earth would one want to travel at 80mph to go 100 miles from LA to Santa Barbara? Not that you would. You would need a wad of ticket money.

            Its just that these conversations about cars get bizarre.

            OK, I get it. If you want to travel 100 miles, you need to look for a Supercharger. And in an ICE you could travel there and back. But don’t you have to make sure you filled up fully in an ICE before you leave?

            If you forget, or even if you don’t, chances are you didn’t accidentally happen to have a full tank before taking that trip. You probably had to make a special trip to fill it up.

            I guess you have to travel in the slow lane at 70 mph? LOL.

            I do get what you mean about speeds on interstates.

            I wish cars were hovercraft and no one else was allowed to be on the road every time I started my car.
            But I would settle for having no one behind me when I have to pull my car out of the driveway, and a line of only one car at the gas station, and gas a bit under 3.00 a gallon, and used cars under 15k with cheaper insurance……

            I agree, I would like to have all those things, but I know I am not going to get them, at least not all the time.

            The thing I am amazed by is people saying it only takes two minutes to fill a gas tank. It does if you don’t have to pay, wait in line for the guy buying cigarettes and lottery tickets, and the lady in slippers that just beat you to the door buying cigarettes…
            and reposition the car because someone didn’t pull forward at the pump…
            I won’t miss all that one tiny bit.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I think I followed everything you wrote. You are exaggerating a bit on the ICE refill problems. I rarely ever see a line and I pay with credit card at the pump. Does not take long but it sure is inconvenient compared to charging overnight.

            I think we agree BEVs are in their early stages. In another ten years Tesla’s will have battery packs that allow you to travel just as far as ICE dinosaurs. And we will rarely have to use chargers outside or our homes.

            Sure I see the point to this article. However I’m squarely on Musk’s side. A BEV with less than a 200 mile range is not appropriate for me.

          • eveee

            OK. I exaggerate a bit. But so do people who say it takes 2.5 minutes to fill up. Thats BS. Its takes 2.5 minutes to get to the first red light. And I am not exaggerating about waiting behind the people getting cigarettes and lottery tickets. It happens all the time. Everything depends on when you fill up. If you forget and want to fill up on a sunny Saturday morning when everyone else has the same idea of driving to the beach…
            If you fill up on a Tuesday evening at 9PM.. thats different.
            I totally get that a 400 mile range EV is what is best for you. And it will always be more expensive, unlike a gas tank. Batteries won’t become cheaper than dirt for a good while. Thats how batteries work. Will you be willing to pay? Don’t know.
            All I am saying is that you are passing up a few slower moving diesels and hybrids in your Corvette doing 90. Get my drift? Even if they are doing 75. or 80. 🙂 Not that I would do that.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I never run into any lines. I never go into the convenience stores the gas station may have. I step out and put my CC into the machine and fill out the questions then pump my gas and leave. Always about the same amount of time. I’ll measure how long it takes from the moment I change my destination to get gas until I’m back on the path and share it with you here. It does not seem to take long but I do very much dislike the whole affair.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I could fill a lot faster if I stopped at one of the higher priced stations right on the main road. They almost always have a pump open. But even then there’s the slowing down, pulling in, getting out, swiping, opening filler pipe, inserting nozzle, filling, replacing hose, closing filler, getting back in, getting back into traffic and picking up speed.

            It’s simply not the “two minutes” some claim.

            Where I get my gas is at Costco. That’s a two block drive off the main street with almost always a significant wait for the light to allow me to turn left. Then an average (I would guess) of two cars that will fill before I get my turn.

            Add in the occasional driver who inserts nozzle and returns to car to sit while the tank fills. The far too often driver who gets back in their car and checks their messages before pulling out. I’ve even had people sit and make a phone call after filling. And the guys who stand there for a while “topping off”, rocking their car to burp it, and putting in a few extra teaspoons which are destined for overflow/trap filter.

            Did I mention the truly clueless who take a long time trying to figure out how to insert their cards, which buttons to push, remember where their gas door was?

            (OK, I’m done ranting for a few minutes. I’ll stop before I get off on the people who stop their cart in the middle of the grocery store aisle to answer their phone and block others while they yak…. ;o)

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I don’t mind paying an extra few dollars for 15 gallons. So I’ll stop at a station that is conveniently along the way.

          • eveee

            Im jealous. That lady in slippers and guy buying cigarettes always show up for me. Then there is the attendant who isn’t behind the counter and I have to wait for.
            OK. I admit it, you’re probably right. I use a card some of the time and miss all that fun.
            But there still is that lady that won’t pull up. Gas is easy to get late at night, or when I don’t really need it. If I really need it, like the tank is empty before I drive home, or its nearly empty leaving in the morning, then its a hassle.
            I find the convenience stores much faster than the gas stations.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            “Why on earth would one want to travel at 80mph to go 100 miles from LA to Santa Barbara? Not that you would. You would need a wad of ticket money.”

            Uh, 80 mph is the standard speed everybody drives on CA freeways. Unless there is traffic. Or unless there is a cop somewhere. I’ve been traveling 80 for decades with no tickets. Actually closer to 85 to 90 in the fast lane. Unless you want to be one of those who block the flow of traffic…

          • eveee

            Ivor – I know people drive 80 in California. I know they get tickets. And I know people drive Winnebagos towing boats in the Sierra. Doesn’t mean it make sense.

            Are you really saying we should design EVs to go 90 mph because even though its against the law, drivers want to do it in California?
            I could see someone in Wyoming wanting and needing to go 90.

            Comments like yours are feeding those people who are saying take away the tax break for EVs over 40K.

            I will take my chances blocking the flow of traffic doing 70 in the slow lane.

            I really get that you think you can break the law brazenly. Really I do.

            Thats the problem with the US. Everyone thinks that if someone wants to do it and a profit can be made, it should be done. That and people believe that if everyone else is doing it, its OK to do it.

            Thats how we wound up with dirty, smoggy skies, and polluted lakes and streams. Everyone else was doing it.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Wow eveee, you really have a thing against driving over the speed limit. Let me assure you I don’t tailgate. I don’t thread my way through traffic. I never am the fastest person on the road. I’ve never been in an accident. I don’t participate in any form of road rage. And I drive defensively in many many ways.

            If the roads and conditions are safe there is nothing wrong with driving 80, 90 or 120 mph. 120 mph is what I consider a comfortable cruising speed where it is allowed. (Can’t wait to see you blow up on that one!)

            You probably should rethink your views.

          • eveee

            No Ivor, I don’t have a thing against people driving over the speed limit. I have a thing about getting mangled up in a car accident.
            How does it feel when you see gum balls in your rear view mirror?
            Doesn’t worry me a bit. I like that.
            If you go to traffic court, because they let you, and don’t jail you for reckless driving and take away your license, you get to tell that whole story to all the other people.
            While we are having fun, here is some multiple choice. Think of it as your DMV test.
            a. Law enforcement should be respected.
            b. Laws were meant to be broken.
            Bzzzz. Times up. Told you it would be fun. Drive safely.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Gum balls in your rear view mirror? What whole story? Is this slang from some particular region of the country I’m not aware of?

          • eveee

            gum balls are those pretty red or white flashing lights on that car fast approaching you from behind while you are doing 120 mph. Safely.

            I guess it is slang from some part of the country.

            “Gumballs is American slang for the flashing lights on the roof of a police car.”


            You mean you have never been to class for a ticket? Oh you haven’t lived. I know you have gone 120, but its nothing like the thrill of listening to people tell you why they ran all those red lights or drag raced in reverse on a bet…
            The funny thing was watching them look at each other and council each other that they shouldn’t have done that while still maintaining that drag racing in reverse was a good idea…..

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I’ve driven many of years at 120 mph. Which is why I think it is the ideal speed. Where it is legal. Here in California though I would have to be crazy to do that. No matter where, however, I stay at the flow of the average fast driver. Always letting other cars go a bit faster so police that may be watching are not attracted to me first.

          • eveee

            120 mph legal? Not in the US, that I know of. Not lately. I heard it was in Nevada or someplace years ago. Not in 2010 for sure. Got pulled over towing a trailer cuz we passed a cop pulled over at the side of the road in Wyoming. New law says you have to get in the far lane when passing parked emergency vehicles, cops, ambulance, tow truck…

            Want to go fast on an EV for less bucks?

            Look no further. Forget 120 mph. Try over 200. Forget about range. A few minutes on this and you won’t care.



          • Ivor O’Connor

            I like safety. No need to wallow about though if you are driving safely. I also fear injuries and unpleasant deaths. So please no 200 mph motorcycles!

          • eveee

            Aw shucks. I though you liked fun. Whats the sense in being extreme if you don’t do it well. OK, do 120.
            Sorry. I couldn’t resist. LOL. No I am not getting on one of those things either.
            Ill wallow around a bit at 70, you go on and chase that motorcycle at 120 for a while.
            I was going as fast I could towing a trailer with a ton of vehicle and tools. I don’t trust myself going much faster on a 2400 mile cross country like that…
            In Utah, the stretch by Bonneville. You can see where you are going in a straight flat line, …. for … miles. But so can the cops… awful tempting.
            You don’t just do 120 in any car, I bet.
            My x says her friend drove her through Kansas at 180 in one of those real bad Dodges with the wing. They never caught her. Same thing in Oklahoma. But its a real bad place to get caught. You gotta have cool nerves.
            And I was a passenger in a Mopar doing over 100. Seemed easy in that car. But not every day. I know I have limits.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Somehow I don’t think you understand me yet. I’m not a speed freak. Laws are crazy slow. However I don’t go 10 mph faster than any of them unless by mistake. Or unless the flow of traffic is significantly faster so I am not sticking out. Then I carefully make sure I’m not the fastest and always stay alert. I try very very hard not to do anything reckless and always drive defensively.

            This whole conversation started because I said driving from LA to SD or SB at the normal speeds, that is keeping up with the flow of traffic in the fast lane, means an average of 80 mph. Tesla 85 kWh batteries at an 80% charge will drop to about a 10% charge in 100 miles at that speed. Which makes these “short” trips something that must be planned. Having smaller battery packs that don’t even do what a Tesla does would make planning even more difficult.

          • eveee

            If you don’t think I understand you, don’t worry. Few get my sense of humor. I understand you better than you realize. I totally get that you have your own sense of whats appropriate. You made that clear. I was just testing the waters to see that you did and what they were.

            I do remember where this started. I do understand people drive 80 mph in LA to drive even less than 100 miles, even driving a very short distance. What I don’t understand is why and I don’t think you can explain it with reason. The only reason why is because you want to, not because it has a logical reason behind it.

            People do things like this. It feels good to go fast. That doesn’t mean its based on reason. Its based on emotion. And thats OK. The emotion I mean.

            But I once again check your math. And I find it hard to believe that an 85kwhr Tesla is down to 10% in 100 miles. First of all, and you seem not to get this, when you travel a long distance you can and should charge to 100% with no problem. And there is no penalty in doing that. Its not charged to 100% long enough to make much difference if you go long distance soon after you charge. Time matters, too, not just voltage. Second, the Tesla is range rated at over 60 mph, not just 55. Third, traveling at 80 mph does not increase drag by 2x over 65 mph. Fourth, the normal range of a Tesla is 265 miles. How on earth is the range going to drop by almost two thirds going 80 instead of 65? Its not. You got it wrong.

            Take a look at the curves at the bottom of this page. You are not even close. Way off. You have to be doing a lot more than just going 80mph to crush range that much in a Tesla.


            If you are staying away from a Tesla because you think driving 80 will limit its range to travel to Santa Barbara, forget it. Go test drive a Tesla. Get the P85D. Put your friends in the back seat and tell them to strap in.

            Ever drive one? You would be mad at me. I did. And I never even floored it once.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            That computer simulated curve is hard to read but put a flat ruler against it horizontally and read what you get there. It looks about the same as the graph I had pointed you to before. Certainly under 150. Then take off 30% and you are right at my 100 mile range I keep mentioning. And that is with a new battery.

            You might be asking why I take off 30%. Those curves show 100% going to 0%. In real life you would recharge at around 10%. When traveling you are only going to charge to 80% because that only takes 40 minutes. You are not going to spend 75 minutes for a full 100% charge unless absolutely necessary. So 30% is 10% off the bottom and 20% off the top. Leaving you with about 100 miles of real high way driving.

          • eveee

            I have no idea where you get this 30% from. All you need to do is have more than 20% remaining and only if you are really trying to stretch the cycle life of the batteries. Its really isn’t necessary, but its a pretty good idea.

            Just for fun, lets look at the 60kwhr pack. You drive from LA at full charge at 80mph 100 miles and the remaining charge is?

            70 miles at 80 mph or 41%. No problem.

            Then you supercharge in Santa Barbara for the return. How long does it take? You are guy in a hurry, so you charge it up to 80%, because the last 20% is slower.

            From zero it takes a half hour to 80%. But from 41%, it only takes 15 minutes. Yay! You can almost see that lady in slippers at the gas pump across the street. So you wave.

            Now it gets interesting. You have only 80% charge and your return at 80mph for 100 miles. According to the curves, you can go 80% of normal range at 80 mph. (170/210 miles) So from 80% charge, you can have 136 miles at 80 mph. Thats kind of how you are figuring, right?

            So whats that leave you with when you return? 36/170 = 21% of charge.

            I don’t see a problem. And you even filled up in 15 minutes.

            Unless your roll down the windows and stick some two by fours out the side.

            See. Musk does drive in California. He’s waving to you as he passes you on the highway driving to Santa Barbara doing 110. And he has that lady in slippers in the back seat. There she is. She just wet her pants.


            You made a whole bunch of unnecessary conditions, but I met them all with a standard 60kwhr pack.
            Just get the 85kwhr pack if you don’t want to even think about it.

            Or just stop worrying and be happy. 🙂

            Gee you’re a fun guy to blog with. Even if you don’t get my jokes, you didn’t get mad at me for my stupid sense of humor. LOL.
            And you didn’t get mad at me for not agreeing. I hate those guys that are angry. One blogger said, “oh no, not another angry blogger”.
            Spread cheer.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Now I think you are just making numbers up. Or else you have not looked at my references. I can’t continue if you don’t pay attention to my reasoning.

          • eveee

            Not at all. I am dead serious. You aren’t calculating correctly.
            An 80% charge of a 60kwhr battery will get you 100 miles at 80mph with 20% charge left to spare.

            Go thru the numbers carefully.
            Put all the battery range numbers referred to 80mph usage.
            All the following numbers are for the battery adjusted for 80 mph driving.

            170 miles for a full charge.
            136 miles for an 80% charged battery.

            From 80% charge after 100 miles, you have
            136 – 100 = 36 miles left.

            36/170 is 20%

            Go over it again carefully. You’ll see.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            1) When traveling you only get 80% charges.

            2) When traveling you try to recharge at the 10% mark.

            3) When traveling you probably use the AC, there may be hills, you probably have more than one person in it, etc., 10%.

            4) Use their latest graph of the P85D at 85mph here http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/blog_images/driving-range-for-the-model-s-family-chart1.png

            Conclusion: 120 mile range is the real world mileage of their best vehicle during the first year. I’m sure the batteries are not as bad as in laptops that lose 50 to 80% of their capacity in a few years but at the end of eight years they may lose another 10% making the best range that can be expected of the P85D an even 100 miles.

          • eveee

            Ok. Are you coming to the same conclusions? You can drive a 60kwhr Tesla 80mph for 100 miles with 80% charge and still have 20% left. But you won’t be able to 10 years from now, so if you want that get the 85 kwhr.
            But your last statement is too pessimistic. Look at the graph. What do you see for 85 mph, 85 kWhr?
            200 miles.
            You’re not going to have trouble going 100 miles. Not even charging to 80% and leaving 20%. Those numbers mean you only use 60% of the battery. What’s 60% of 200?
            And I calculated based on 85 so it’s not close.
            Which reminds me. Isn’t this a subtle hint that you want want to go 120? 🙂 me too.
            To 1,2,3,4 yes. Except that I am more conservative.
            You want your P85 tesla to last forever?
            Charge to 80% for daily commutes, discharge to no less than 20%. Battery life is not linear. You might get 50% more life like that. Even more if most of your charge cycles are less discharged. Stay in the middle of the discharge percentage.
            For long distances, charge to 100%, if needed, but drive soon after charged to limit the amount of time at 100%.
            Let the battery cool before charging if it’s a hot day, if you can.
            Norway and Arizona are extreme temperature places that limit EVs, but Tesla does OK. It’s their big battery. But that is where 80 mph for 100 miles might not work as well.

          • eveee

            Ivor – take a look at this video. This guy drove to Berkeley from LA and used Superchargers on the way. On the way back what I saw was that he charged at Harris Ranch then made it into LA. And he said something about going 80 mph… he makes a comment near the end.

            Our calculations must be conservative. He did it all easily..
            without wallowing… LOL.

            but used the 85kwhr pack


            1. is wrong. It doesn’t have to stop at 80%, it only really slows down when you are much nearer 100%.

            2. Recharge at the 10% mark? This guy never let it get below about 16% or 20%.

            3. Forget about it. Just don’t roll the windows down with the air conditioning on and a two by four sticking out.

            This guy made the trip with his wife, daughter, and a fish, …. yes a fish on board. He may have taken some of his daughters stuff in the trunk since he was taking her to college in Berkeley.
            No way he turned the air off. I couldn’t hear the daughter whining… LOL. Thats SOP for a teenager.

            So the last one is overblown.

            He made it from Harris Ranch. And he kept up with traffic on I-5. If he can do it, you can.


          • Ivor O’Connor

            I don’t like having to correct you all the time. Please just do the math and read up.

            “1. is wrong. It doesn’t have to stop at 80%, it only really slows down when you are much nearer 100%.” …. Don’t fight me on this. I merely copied verbatim directly from the Tesla website. Furthermore I linked it so you could read it at the Tesla website. Yet you insist they are wrong?!

            “2. Recharge at the 10% mark? This guy never let it get below about 16% or 20%.” … And what has that got to do with anything. Nothing. I said you don’t want to let it discharge past the 10% mark as a rule of thumb. They did not even let it get to the 10%.

            Then you go off on other subjects totally not related. Please keep to the point. If I got something wrong then let me know. Tesla is a wonderful product and is the start of a new paradigm. However the range can and will be improved dramatically over the next 20 years. Knowing the strengths of the Tesla is good. You also should know the weaknesses and adjust your expectations correctly. So you don’t get hurt.

          • eveee

            10%? What does it have to do? Why charge time of course. You must calculate charge time taking remaining charge into consideration.

            How long does it take to charge from 40% to 90%?

            Who’s not sticking to the point? Charge time. Charge time. Charge time.
            Remember the lady in slippers?

            Knowing strengths and weaknesses? Gimme a break. Look at the video and see how this man went from LA to Berkeley and back. He knows the strengths and weaknesses.

            He stops to eat lunch. He gets back and the car charged. Thats how its done. The longer you drive, the longer the break. The longer the charge. Thats why charging times with the Tesla Supercharger work. They already figured that out. By the time you need a break, so does the car.

          • eveee

            Now I realize your other mistake. You don’t wind up with 10% remaining on every trip. In fact the guy in the 864 mile trip video never got that low. And you don’t want to, either. And charging does not slow down that much after 80%. The last 20% only takes 15 minutes.
            So you should arrive in Santa Barbara with 40% left, and it would only take you a half hour to fully charge from 40%. That would make it a breeze going home with even more remaining when you arrive, a whopping 40% or 70 miles.
            Go ahead and charge to 100% for long trips. Just drive off and get on your way right away after full charge and its fine. And all that with a 60kwhr pack. Easy.

            You would only need the 85kwhr pack if you wanted to go from coalinga to LA all the time, 200 miles, straight without stopping and fast.

            This guy averaged 80 until he hit the grapevine and traffic in LA. Then his average went way down, but he still managed about 65 mph.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            No mistakes on my part. I said you probably want to look for a charger when you get to the last 10%. In other words you don’t drive the Tesla until it no longer moves like when the EPA calculates the maximum mileage possible.

            And for the last time do your homework. Or at the very least read and follow the links I have given you in the past. I’ll explain it in detail to you one last time. The last 20% does not take 15 minutes like you say but doubles the charging time. Verify this by going to Tesla’s main website, http://www.teslamotors.com/, click on the menu item at the top of the page that says “Supercharger”. It takes you to http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger. Then RTFP!!! I’ll copy it, again, for you. It says: “Charging from 80% to 100% doubles the charge time because the car must reduce current to top off cells. Actual charge times may vary.”

            If this is not clear to you please call them and have them explain it to you.

          • eveee

            Ok 35 minutes in the graphic for the last 20%.

            Since you will have 170-100=70 or 40% remaining when you arrive in Santa Barbara, it only takes you 12 minutes to get to 80% from 40%.
            So add half the 35 minutes to get 10% more.

            A 30 minute charge time to 90%.

          • eveee

            Yeah. But you didn’t tell me where its legal to drive 120 mph. Really. Where is that? I really want to know.

    • Great research. 😀 I think that is a big part of where this comes from. And maybe not even that much his needs, but those of Model S buyers, who are definitely not the norm, even if they are in some groups or locations. 😀

  • jeffhre

    I see it as less of a mental construct and more as a competitive construct. Not exactly practical or following a utilitarian curve, but good for sales nonetheless.

  • tibi stibi

    i only use a car once a year to go on holiday 1400 km one way.
    i like to drive that in one day, so for my an ev is not handy jet. but if would not mind driving 2 day’s and than it is easy done with a tesla.
    the only problem now is that a tesla is really expensive to rent 🙁

  • Steve Grinwis

    With a 200 mile real world range, you would never have to think about range, at any point during your normal driving around. With a 68 mile theoretical range, that’s definitely not true.

    My 68 mile theoretical range plummeted to less than 25 miles of actual range during the horrible winter we got this year. There were days I drove to work in my electric car, and had to watch the battery gauge and balance on the knifes edge of being cold, having the windows fogged up on me, and being able to get home. That’s not an experience that’s all that pleasant. There were entire weeks where I was driving into my driveway with low-battery warning lights consistently every day. All this despite driving like a grandma, and achieving a 98% eco score, at least, every single day, and running the heat as little as I could get away with.

    I was not able to drive out to lunch. I would not have been able to make any side trips. I couldn’t visit my parents in the next town over, even though it’s only 10-12 miles away.

    With a 200 mile range, I would not even have noticed, or cared. I would have been comfortable, I would not have had to watch the battery gauge like a hawk. I would not have had to alter my normal driving patterns.

    The other issue, is that this year, my electric was brand new. What about in 5 years, when I only have 90% remaining battery capacity, under ideal conditions? This winter, I often made it home with less than 10% charge, and I was still cold, and I was still super cautious. I guess I’ll sell the car the first winter I don’t make it home?

    Elon has the right idea here. If you want electric cars to go completely mainstream, you have to make them a fire and forget option, everywhere. We’re not there with the 60-70 mile range EV’s of today, in cold climates that turn them into 30 mile range EVs.

    • vensonata

      Steve, thanks for the nitty gritty of cold climate Ev experience. It is important that people stay real even if it takes the sheen off of electrics. They simply need to be better and they will be in 2 years.

      • Steve Grinwis

        So, we’re already seeing the improvements, and they’re two fold:

        1) Improving the ability to provide heat to the cabin more effectively. They’re doing this with heat pumps, harvesting heat from the electric motors, only heating the part of the cabin that’s occupied, electrically heated front window defrosters, all kinds of really cool things! My car is essentially first gen still, and has none of these aids.

        2) Larger battery packs. Bigger battery packs with more warm range, also have more cold range!

        You combine the two together, like what the Soul EV has done, and you get a vehicle that can reliably deliver 60 miles of range, even at – 25C. I think we’re rapidly getting there, but, first gen Leafs, iMievs, and such, aren’t quite there for super cold climates.

        Mind you, we did have the coldest February in recorded history, so, if I can make it home in that, I can make it home in anything… And it always started, which is more than my gasmobile driving compatriots could say about all their machines…

    • eveee

      Steve – Yes. Some of todays batteries are just not good at cold temperatures. I sometimes wonder why they don’t just put a battery warmer in the car that works from the charger. If you can pre warm the seats for the driver… 🙂

      • Steve Grinwis

        My car has a battery warmer. As far as I can tell, my losses come entirely from the cost of running the heater.

        • eveee

          Steve – I see. Its the resistance heater thing. Wow, thats pretty bad.
          Does the battery warmer just heat the battery while charging?

          Thats another thing. Cars are poorly insulated metal cabins with uninsulated glass. A real nightmare from heating/cooling perspective. The pasts ICE vehicles have really set a bad trend of inefficiency.
          I wonder if even a modicum of insulation and some tricks with the windows would yield some results. EVs are switching to heat pumps, too.

    • Right, but what about an EV with 150 miles of real-world range? Is that a failure?

      • Steve Grinwis

        Not a failure, more of a stepping stone. Better things will come along after it to replace it.

        Much like the original iPod wasn’t a failure, but we can’t conceive of people buying such a poor performing, small capacity device that only does one thing, so to, in 10 years, will people look at poorly performing electrics with only 60 mile ranges. All electrics will be 200 mile+ ranges, fast charge in less than 30 minutes, and throw down blistering 0-60 times that would embarrass today’s generation.

        It doesn’t matter that people only listen to several hundred songs a day on average, it’s so cheap and easy to make a device that stores thousands upon thousands, that there is no reason no too. That’s where we’re headed with electric cars.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Also: If you pay close attention to these comments, and the people who all own and drive electrics every day? Virtually all of them are asking for more range. And we’re all pretty much electric fanatics. That should speak for itself.

    • eveee

      Hey Steve, talk to Ivor. He wants to go 80mph for 100 round trip miles. And he doesn’t think a Tesla can do it. I did the math for a Tesla and it can be done and even with a 15 minute charge for the return and 20% remaining on return at those speeds and distance. ( without a two by four sticking out the window and the AC on full blast )

      But he doesn’t share our love of speed. Wants to wallow around at 120mph. (joke flag)


      Its strange. The real problem is range/charge for round trip travel short enough to be a day trip and you don’t have much time, while traveling at California speeds, – not all day one way travel. For all day travel you have to stop for lunch and dinner. Plenty of time to charge. Hojos comes to mind. Supercharger stations should have restaurants. And restrooms.

      I prefer to think of driver hours for long distance. I don’t care what anybody says. 3 hours and I am looking for a bathroom break and some food. Thats 200 miles. We have just gotten used to having a tank with more range than our bellies and bladders.

      It just gets silly talking about the number of people who are willing to hold it longer than that. Sure you can travel from SF to LA in 5 hours at 80+ mph without a stop. But why? And where is the inconvenience in the pit stop?

      I would hardly call it an inconvenience.

      You get into this funny area of n tuples of full charge. For any fraction of a full charge, the charge time is less. So 300 miles one way does not have a very long charge. But 400 miles does have a longer one.

      Worst case for charge and range? You have to travel 200 miles one way and return the same day. Thats 6 hours driving and you sure aren’t going to turn right around without staying a few hours. I don’t see farther than 400 miles round trip in one day. The number of people like that is so vanishingly small you can forget it. Apologies to those who are doing what I just said never happens, LOL.

      No matter how I figure it, it comes out to a real number of 200 miles is all you really need. For everything. Real miles. Not without AC or cold weather. After that, I totally agree with you. No way more than about 200 miles is ever really necessary. You don’t need 400 miles to deliver equivalent experience to an ICE. Its just a little more time charging than filling up, and only when traveling round trip daily under certain circumstances.

      For all day long driving, the charge gets buried in the pit stop(s).

      • Steve Grinwis

        I agree.

        • eveee

          Yes. For the complete icing on the cake, I would say add 20% for battery degradation over time. That would be 240 miles. After that, forget it. More money on batteries is cash burnt and you know, it makes the vehicle heavier and slower.
          Who needs it?

  • JamesWimberley

    “… most (American) households have 2 or more cars.” Actually it’s only a majority (58% to 42%). “Most” suggests more than that to me. To decarbonize transport, evs have to reach out to the 33% of one-car households. Many of the carless 9% ride buses. In the rest of the world, multi-car ownership is much rarer. The current situation is enough to grow the US market, that’s all.

  • Joseph Cunningham

    battery energy density will improve over time so having a vehicle travel 200 miles will weigh less than current models today as well as having the giga factory buiding at larger volume will reduce cost over time

    • No argument there! 😀

      It’s more about the stepping stones.

      • Offgridman

        After reading through your article I was under the impression that you misunderstood Musk’s statement, and after going through 121 comments with your replies I’m sorry but the same opinion still holds.
        Nothing was said that everyone needs 200 miles of range, in fact earlier in the statements the ability to produce 500 mile range was possible, but the costs make it impractical.
        Several times though here you have said that Tesla needs to address perception change, and let people know that they don’t need the ranges that they think. However Tesla is already in the middle of addressing the basic EV versus gasmobile perception change.
        As you have pointed out there are already several fine EV’s showing people that they don’t need the longer ranges.
        Tesla does not need the confusion of splitting their message, just convincing people that EV’s can replace gasmobiles, and that ‘range anxiety, anxiety’ is immaterial is enough for them to do. Yes people need to learn that some of the shorter range EV’s can meet their needs, but this just isn’t true of all.
        Tesla is in the middle of addressing all of the gasmobile market, I think it is a bit of a stretch to expect them to also teach people how little total range they need.

        • I’m not looking for Tesla/Elon Musk to teach people this. I’m just looking for it/him to not hype false propaganda.

          • Offgridman

            Excuse my poor phrasing last night, I shouldn’t have tried replying soon after our long drive home yesterday.
            I guess that we each took the statement differently due to varying circumstances. In order for an EV to suit all of my every day needs it will need to be able to get 150-200 miles in any type of circumstance. High temperatures when the AC is needed, or sub 20°F when heat is necessary plus still going that 150 miles without any charging infrastructure available around here yet. So hearing that the Model3 will be reasonably affordable and have 200 miles of any condition range sounds perfect to me. Especially for my wife who one day a week has a 230 mile round trip commute and fortunately there is a supercharger in the area of her destination.
            I know that we are the far outliers and very rare in the amount of miles needed from a vehicle. But there are also some of our neighbors that will do the 65 or 100 mile trip every day in order to make decent money in the cities and have the inexpensive life of living in the country. So to get everyone driving EV’s all of the time some of these longer range vehicles are going to be needed. So it is good to see that some are coming sooner rather than later because due to right wing extremist politics that are common around here I suspect that it will be a long time before we get the charging infrastructure to support the shorter range vehicles.

          • No worries at all. I think my first response to the statements was also that I was impressed and knew that would make many Model 3 buyers happy. I think it’s a perfect move for Tesla and the Model 3. I think it was largely other things and this being a big messaging pet peeve of mine the triggered the article.

            Anyhow, I’m sure many people are very excited for the MOdel 3 to finally arrive. 😀

          • Offgridman

            “people are very excited for the MOdel 3”
            😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
            😀 😀 😀 😀
            😀 😀 😀
            I know of at least this many……. oops, forgot me.

          • Did you add one for me? 😀

          • Offgridman

            No I was just figuring for locally around me.
            But I see that you covered it, thanks.

      • Joseph Cunningham

        well i think elon musk will promote his cars first but also he is saying what he beleives would actualy comply to the majority of situations if for example you operated a car with standard brakes with no hills or excessive weight this would work fine however increase weight more hills and you probably will replace the brake pads often i know regen braking on a ac ev car but I hope you get the point , not all marathons are the same .

  • AreBeeAZ

    Having both a Leaf and a Tesla in our household there are real world limitations to the. leaf. If you do highway driving. The range becomes much less, Very very quickly. Include the reality that many trips are round trips without recharging , for instance down the highway to your doctor followed by the other errands of the day 60 to 80 miles of range can be limiting. Recharging does take a while. That being said, for the local commute to work and back only, We LOVE the Leaf.
    We charge both vehicles every evening. By the way we also LOVE OUR TESLA.

    • No arguments there.

      And just to confirm: the LEAF gets a passing grade? 😀

  • Joseph Cunningham

    valid point to having a 200 mile vehicle has to do with charging intervals and avoiding getting to low on the batteries to ensure longer kilowatt percentage at the end of the battery life a vehicle with low kilowatt charge would be working at a
    higher percentage and could shorten battery life as well as reducing range over time with a 200 mile range battery it reduces the percentage of battery use reducing
    charging intervals and help ensure a longer battery life which actually make elon musk correct with the 200 mile car

  • Johnny Le

    Zach, I’m a fan of yours as well. I read most of your articles, but what is your definition of a passing grade? In school, passing grade is C or 70%. Right now EV is only accounted for a few percentage of new car purchases. That clearly says it doesn’t work for over 70% of buyers. The model S is an awesome car, but I’m not sure if I can say that it has become a mainstream car. So without 200-300 mi range, it’s not even worth my time looking into it, even though my daily commute is a 15-mile round trip.

    Both beaches and mountains are about 2-3 hours from here, and even though I only go a couple of times a year, I do not want to get a rental or stop a couple of times with a couple of hour waiting each to recharge.

    I wish EVs are built like desktop computers with spare hard drive and memory slots that you can insert additional batteries into the spare slots. I know car battery is heavy but I don’t see why it can’t be sliced into 5-10 of 40-50 lb pieces that I can stack in the garage and slide in for long trips.

    • You make some good points. But I stand by the thesis published above.

      I don’t think range is the huge limiting factor. I think it is basically perception, and it takes time for perception to change. It is changing, fast, and will do so more and more as more attractive models hit the market. But if the LEAF already works well for hundreds of thousands of people, what about doubling the LEAF’s range to 170 miles? Will that car be a failure?

      If only the Model S were on the market, or only high-end electric cars, we wouldn’t be nearly as far along as we are, imho.

      I think Tesla is nailing it. I wouldn’t change a thing about its company approach. I would just modify this one messaging point, as I think it is fundamentally wrong and spreads a myth that is hurting the overall EV market.

      • No way

        In this case I think you have a better chance of getting everyone to go vegan. 🙂
        I admire the effort but changing peoples minds, their wants and needs (real as imaginary) is mission impossible. So the faster the car manufacturers move into the 200+ miles area the faster the segment can try to get not only the innovators but also the early adopters on board.
        Maybe that will even be enough to get into the early majority stage.

        In the mean time the BMW i3 REx is a great solution, giving you a BEV that works for most trips and a range extender to fend of imaginary or real range limitations.

      • Johnny Le

        You said the perception is changing fast. Can you show some data to back this up because the model S is selling almost as fast as the LEAF for twice the cost? What exactly has anybody done to change this perception? The existing ICE cars provide 200+ mile range. Why would someone choose a lesser option? At the end of the day, what works for your family is more important than the environmental stuff.

        • Sales increasing 2-3 times over year after year: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/07/plug-cars-increase-100-2013-increasing-100-2012-200-2011/

          I’ve stated it a few times, so I think this is the last time for me: if you don’t need 200 miles of range in one of your cars, you don’t need it. The assumption that every car needs 200 miles of range is the problem I’m addressing.

          If 150 miles is more than enough for all of your needs, why pay $10,000 more for another 50 miles of range? It’s nonsensical. And where is the assumption that we need 200 miles or more actually coming from? Show me some solid data and I’m happy to change my perspective. Making a broad and influential statement that isn’t based on solid data irritates me.

          • No way

            There are a lot of potential buyers for <200 miles EVs. But to really open up the markets we need a lot more than the 80-ish mile BEVs available today.

            I can only speak for my country, Sweden, and I can tell you a bit of the statistics here (even though we are good at statistics I could not find the perfect publication looking into long range trips though, there should be more EV related publications in the future).

            The average daily distance was 40 km (25 miles), looking good so far.

            Long way trips (200km/124 mile roundtrips or more) are done at an average of 11,5 trips per registered car per year. (here I really would have liked to have better statistics, knowing about the percentage of cars that do long range trips, how long and a percentage of the number of trips the individual cars do).

            27% of the longway trips were for work or studies. The rest basically for recreational, vacations, visiting friends and family.

            44% of the population did at least one longway trip in an average month.
            With a perfect correlation between income and likelyhood of doing a longway trip per month on average.
            In the lowest income (except students and kids) bracket $15-20k per year only 24% did a longway trip or more per month on average. And in the top bracket, above $200k/year the number was 74%.

            One number I think you would approve of is that 30% of the population used public transport at least once a week. Not relevant to this comment but interesting anyway. 😛

            The average ownership was almost exactly one car per household (slightly above). With 25% of households not owning a car, 52% owning 1 car, 20% of households owning 2 cars and 3% owning 3 cars or more.

            One of my favourite argument for BEVs are the households with 2 cars or more. 23% of households in this case owning 2 or more cars, replacing one per those households with a BEV would be about 12%.
            Replacing 12% of the car park could look like 12% of new car sales being BEV's for about 12 straight years. Wouldn't that be awesome? A great number and a great potential for even short range BEVs.

            But to aim higher more range and/or combined with with an ICE as a PHEV or range extended BEV will be needed.

          • Agreed. I think Tesla is going to dominate the >200 mile segments. But other manufacturers could serve a lot of people by bringing 120- to 170-mile EVs to market.

            Good stats. 😀 Just for clarification, do those trips include flights or are they just driving trips?

          • No way

            I didn’t include any stats relevant for flights/trains/boats. Out of the total long distance trips, for all ways of traveling, 68% of the number of trips were done by car.
            Oh… and one statistic more that I missed. Out of the longway car trips 50% were less than 280 km (174 miles).

            It was interesting to see your stats for the number of cars owned by US households. I knew that they own a lot more cars and how addicted they are to their cars but that it was that extreme I would not have guessed.
            It makes that market into a pretty massive potential one for shorter BEV’s too once they drop in price so people there see the economical benefit too.

          • No way

            And in 2014 there was about 320k sold. Making it a 60% increase in sales and an 80% increase in total EV’s on the roads.
            For 2015 predictions are around a 40% increase in global sales.
            As always when going from very low numbers to a bit less low the high increase percentages drops fast.

          • Coley

            When the price drops to a reasonable level then the adoption will really take off, £17000 (and that’s with the £5000 incentive) for the leaf doesn’t make economic sense.
            Just why they are so expensive is a puzzle given they haven’t got all the expensive ICE ancillaries?
            And in my recent personal experience,dealerships aren’t interested in pushing them.
            Price and perception are the biggest limitation, not range.

          • eveee

            Zach – You put your finger on it. The reality is that batteries determine cost. The manufacturer could offer more battery. Will the buyers purchase the larger battery?
            Its not like ICE. It will always cost you more for more range. But there are practical limits to what range is useful if you have to pay more.

          • Thanks. I think I didn’t spell that out enough in the article, assuming everyone understood this. Anyhow, it has generated a lively discussion, which I’m assuming has helped a good number of people to expand their knowledge and understanding. 😀

          • eveee

            Mission accomplished. Lively discussion now in overdrive. Understanding expanding… Space… the final frontier.


    • JamesWimberley

      “I do not want to get a rental…” Because rental is scarce, and expensive through adverse selection. The success of Uber suggests that IT is changing the sharing/rental market very quickly. The full exploitation of the technology probably requires insurance to switch from vehicles to drivers. We can however easily imagine a rental/sharing system that is cheaper and more convenient than exclusive-use ownership, and avoids its tradeoffs. Drive 300 miles by yourself for a class reunion? Fast sports car. Drive 300 miles for a family camping trip? SUV.

  • mlhoheisel

    BMW, Nissan and other producers of “urban” electrics are ICE car makers who have huge incentives to just produce BEVs that are marginal niche products for the tiny market of fanatics who want an electric regardless. They don’t want to produce a Tesla S killer because it would primarly cannibalize their own most profitable market segments. A BMW “S Killer” would steal sales directly from 5 and 7 series. They are happy giving the impression that electrics are econo boxes that aren’t for most people. The fact that some people are in fact happy with a Leaf is not a counter argument to what Musk said. People who are satisfied with a Leaf will still be satisfied. Musk is stating facts about the global car market. Electric cars will be a niche product if they have the range and recharge time of a Leaf or i3. It’s like arguing that an Apple Newton did have some people who really loved it and used it. That doesn’t change the fact that it took the features of the iPhone to really change the world.

    • Honestly, I think my point was missed a bit on the range. I think 84 miles is fine for a ton of people, but how about 120 to 150 miles of range? A huge portion of the population would be more than satisfied with that much range.

      I agree that we need to have affordable cars at that range or higher to transition the car market. However, we need to get there from many angles, and with many options on the table. The LEAF, i3, and other comparable vehicles go a long way in advancing the EV revolution. Saying they aren’t enough for some people. But making a blanket statement that an electric car with under 200 miles of range is a failure is not helpful, imho.

      • eveee

        Zachary – Well said again. If the real highway range is 150 miles, and 57% of households have two vehicles, does it make any sense for two vehicle households to have both vehicles over 200 mile range? No.
        Are there some that need over 200 mile range that only have one car? Yes. How many is that? Even less.

        See, thats why I agree with you. An SUV, truck, full size sedan, mid size, compact, and subcompact are not all the same. Why are we trying to squeeze all EVs into one category, then?

        It makes no sense. If one size fits all were true for ICE, they would all have the same gas mileage. They don’t.

        I think Elons thrust from the beginning was to legitimize EVs, and take the stigma out of them. He has already made himself an overachiever. He wants outright market dominance.

        If he does not fill in the low end, someone else will.

        • Thanks. And you said it even better. I could delete half of my article and stick this in its place. 😀

          • eveee

            Haw. Thanks. I am usually too wordy.LOL.

    • JamesWimberley

      It’s certainly unfair to see Nissan as merely hedging, like Fiat-Chrysler. Ghosn has said his whole company (including Renault) is spending $5.6bn on evs. That’s a very large bet.

      It’s better to see the carmakers as distributed along a spectrum of commitment to electric traction, from the pure-plays Tesla and BYD through Nissan to GM, VW and Kia, then Ford and Toyota, and Mercedes, Peugeot-Citroen and Fiat bringing up the rear. Unless something disastrous happens to the market like the sudden removal of all incentives in China or the US, we can expect the average commitment to increase over time.

      • Coley

        Agreed, but Nissan really needs to put a boot up the dealerships backsides, to say they are lukewarm regarding selling EVs is putting it mildly.

  • darth

    I have owned a Leaf for almost 6 months and love it. I live in the Washinton DC metro area and my normal commute is around 40 miles per day (round trip). Some days I have to make side trips, but these are infrequent and in this area there are so many ChaDemo chargers now it is really not an issue. Ideally a little more range would be nice, around 120 or so. This is mainly due to the cold weather drop-off which reduces the range of the existing Leaf to around 60 miles (when it is < 10F). A little more range would also allow more pleasure trips without recharging or range anxiety, like visiting my sister who lives 40 miles away.

    I think Musk will be proved right or wrong depending on how fast/far battery prices fall in the next 5 years. If they fall by half, you could double your range with zero price increase.

    Certainly most drivers don't understand EV operations. I have explained many times how charging works but it definitely requires a mind shift. The concept of "you don't have to charge it all the way, just enough to get home" is totally foreign to ICE owners, because you always just fill up the tank. I have literally charged at ChaDemo stations for 10 minutes sometimes, because it was all I needed. That is really no longer than a gas stop.

    • Thanks. Yes, I think ~120 to 150 miles is the sweet spot. However, if battery costs come down enough, range will jump to 200+ for median-priced vehicles, which is enough to throw the revolution into high speed.

      • Radical Ignorant

        I’d compare it to engine size. There are 4liter monsters and 1 litre citty commuters. And both are doing good. Market is big and there is place for lot of options. Of course smaller range (engine) is small pain in the neck in some situations. But some people won’t pay much bigger price for getting rid of inconvenience which happens very rarely.

    • eveee

      darth – how refreshing to hear from an experienced EV owner. My driving experience always comes away astonished at how calm and relaxed I feel. Its just quiet. And low vibration. No humming, buzzing, and thrumming. Especially at traffic lights, its eerily quiet. A real treat.

    • Calamity_Jean

      Not all ICE owners.

      “The concept of “you don’t have to charge it all the way, just enough to get home” is totally foreign to ICE owners, because you always just fill up the tank. “

      You and I yes, but my sister-in-law is constantly broke and fills to the level of her available cash, or just enough to run until payday if less. When I paid for a full tank of gas for her last summer, she told me it was the first time the tank had been full in almost a year. She totally gets “just enough to get home”.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Reminds me of high school days when I would get my normal $2 worth to carry me through the week. (That was about 7 gallons.)

        • Calamity_Jean

          I remember when gas was $0.39 per gallon, around the time I got my first car after college. You and I must be pretty close in age.

          • Bob_Wallace

            When I graduated from high school gas was routinely 28 cents a gallon. I remember once when a gas war got it down to 19.

            And once when I drove to the Smokies for the first time gas in Gatlinburg was 48 cents a gallon. I bought a gallon and drove a few miles where it was affordable.

            (I’ll be 71 in a few weeks.)

  • Marco in Seattle

    Great article. My family is going to buy an EV and a 30 to 40 mile range would be sufficient. Anything more than that and we would rent a car, take a train, or fly.

  • Michael G

    Musk is absolutely right. I won’t buy a car if I don’t think I can go 200 miles in it.

    Just for the record, I don’t like cars and didn’t even get a driver’s license until my late 20’s but in the US, with public transit being what it is (and isn’t) I really need a car to get to work, shopping, and have a social life. We are a 2 car family but like most we can’t afford 2 *new* cars so one is for getting around town but not long trips because it might not make it without a breakdown. The other >newernew< car without a range of 200 miles because then I would have to rely on the *old* car for longer trips and by the time we can afford a new-ish car the old one isn't reliable enough to make it without constantly checking for towing services.

    FWIW, our old car (a Civic) has 200K miles and our new-ish Fit has 20,000.

    • If we’re bringing anecdotes in (which I knew would happen)…

      I’ve been living car-free for ~11 years. First in Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC (10-15-min bike ride just about everywhere), then in Silicon Valley (only for a few months, to be fair, but bike+Caltrain was excellent for my needs), then in the Netherlands (Groningen — bike capital of the world in some respects, nuff said), then in Charlottesville, Virginia (10-min walk to my office and the downtown pedestrian mall), and now Wroclaw, Poland (walking works excellently for just about everything, but then there are also good biking & tram/streetcar options). I’ve used carsharing programs and rental cars a bit, but I’ve honestly had such little need for a car that it has made much more sense to live without one. I’m not generalizing and saying everyone can live in such a way, but I’m emphasizing that an 80-mile LEAF would even be far beyond my needs. We’re planning a move to Florida (my home state) later this year. With a baby, I’m thinking about which EV to get. I could easily afford a Model S, but I could also find some other use for $20,000-$40,000 and get a BMW i3 or LEAF instead, and our driving needs would be so limited that it’s just really hard to justify a long-range EV I don’t need. I’m honestly on the line, but “needing” the extra range is certainly not a factor. If I got a Model S, it would be for the extra safety and simply because the car is so awesome. Again, this is just my situation, and I’m sure it’s atypical, but bringing in atypical anecdotes seems to be popular in such discussions.

      • Michael G

        Like you I lived happily without a car until I was 28 but I then moved to Chicagoland and it was impossible. I gave it away when it died and I moved to the SF and very happily went without a car for 4 years. Then I got married and we moved to Silcon Valley and a car became again a necessity. Public transit would have taken me 1.5 hours to go to work where a car can go in 15 minutes, and biking is impossible on that route. Shopping for more than bread and milk is impossible here without a car. I see Leafs and Teslas all the time and wish, wish ,wish I could justify one but I can’t for us right now. Everyone does the best they can with what they have.

        • Yes, it’s a much, much better quality of life being able to bike/walk places, imho. Of course, such places are more expensive, but typically similar to what you save by going car-free. But sometimes it’s not an option (or not a good option). I do look forward to living somewhat like a normal person in Florida and living the EV life, but I know it’s not the same as comfortably walking and biking for transport.

        • eveee

          Michael – I have a 15 year old car and can’t afford anything. When I do get some money, and I replace it, I will go for a used Prius. If I really feel flush, I will get a used Leaf for about 14k. For two people, one for city, one for longer range.
          New cars don’t make much sense to me. Until then, the cars are cheap, and run cheaply, and I get over 30mpg. Thats the best I can do.

          • Michael G

            I’m not sure what your point is so thanks for sharing, I guess.

            I have been studying “new vs used” for years with numerous spread sheets and statistical analyses and you are absolutely right, a new car is a bad deal. The most expensive few moments in some people’s life is driving off the lot in a new Caddy or BMW. If you want to impress your neighbors, then just wait until just after a prestige car is 3 years old and all the leased vehicles come off lease – then their price falls off a cliff and you can have all the teutonic leather and cup holders you want for the price of a goodied-up Corolla.

            Cars like you and I are talking about are a different matter. Few people lease a Prius C, and people that buy a hybrid or econo-car are like you and me and hold onto them until there is nothing left so the price differential between a new car and a (very hard-to-find) slightly used one is tiny. In which case, you are just as well off (or better) buying a new base Fit, or Prius and holding on to it for another 25 years (the age of my Civic – still going strong).

            If you are buying a 10 year old car – they all cost pretty much the same, but there are no 10 y.o. Leafs or Volts.

          • eveee

            Michael – I was just responding to your comments regarding practical owners buying practical cars. These blog excursions can get lead into the realm of fantasy. 🙂 The real secret is that a used Leaf can cost you as low as 14k. Thats a sweet spot. I don’t know why they are so low, but a used vehicle with 30k miles or less for that price is a good deal.
            I checked Edmunds for cost of ownership and its over 13k less over 5 years. Its unbeatable for a normal work commute. For a two car family its perfect.
            Just as you say, alas there are no ten year old Leafs or Volts. There are 10 year old Priuses, but unless they are Gen 1, they are all over 7k even if they have 250k miles on them. Ok, I exaggerated, but not much. Seems like you are not the only one that decided it was best to buy a Prius and drive it forever.n 🙂
            While I see Prius sales falling a bit, I don’t see any softening in the used market. So much for low gas prices causing changes. The same people that would buy a gas guzzler before will go out and buy one now.
            IMO, gas has to fall much further than that to reduce the trend in efficiency. Habits have become permanent from a decade of high gas prices. Gas costs will rise just like they always have. Meanwhile EVs get cheaper and cheaper….

          • Michael G

            If you live in Hawaii driving 200 miles puts you underwater, but in CA, it is hard to drive anywhere interesting under 100 miles round trip, at a minimum.

            For us it is 100 miles rd trip to the beach over steep mountains. If we want to go off the beaten path a little, add another 50 miles. To San Francisco it is 100 miles rd trip if we drive only to the border and back. Add in 50 miles for getting around. So 150 mile range is minimum. A 200 mile range is necessary to allow for battery degradation or we can’t use the car after a very few years.

            Our kids live in a college town 200 miles away. I can see stopping half way for a 20 minute recharge but when we get there and stay in the cheapest motel we can find where do I recharge over night? The other side of town and walk back?

            Rent a car? That would triple the cost of the trip plus the inconvenience and cost of getting it the day before so we can leave early in the AM to beat the heat in the CA Central Valley (even with tinted windows AC struggles) and get there in time to have lunch and go exploring.

            If a 50-75 mile range Leaf works for you, great. It would not work for me. Which is why I think Musk is right.

          • eveee

            The point is not what works for you or me. Its that different drivers have different needs. If Elon says all EVs must have 200 mile range its analogous to an ICE mfr saying all ICE shall have shiny chrome bumpers , big V8s, and 12mpg, because everybody loves power and shiny. LOL. OK. I exaggerated. 🙂
            You get the idea. One size does not fit all. You wouldn’t like it if Musk declared all EVs only need 84 mile range, right?
            Just saying there will be different EVs for different needs.
            One blogger commented that car buyers are not reasonable. I agree.
            Consider that trip.
            How much does it really cost you? I get that a rental is more expensive than driving your daily car. And maybe more inconvenient.
            But how much extra does it cost you to own that SUV instead of renting one the few times you need it? If you really are driving the kids all the time, then heck, its way better to own the SUV.
            But what I see is tons of SUVs driven to work by people with no kids at all.
            I totally agree that for now, you are using your best choices. That will change as your kids graduate.. I am sure.
            So just like the typical family changes to a bigger car as the family grows.. needs change.
            For now, if you are an EVer, you are a bit of a pioneer.
            The public charging system is not worked out, yet. Tesa is still adding stations.
            Talk of long range EVs is just that. Talk. The need is not really there in large volume and the expense is just too high.
            But as a daily commuter, there is no equal.
            The 5 year cost of a Corolla is 13k more than a Leaf.
            Musk is trying to break into the SUV crowd with the Model X. Maybe there will be Superchargers in college towns. That would be nice.
            Or even better, IMO, overnight chargers all over the place and some Superchargers in between.
            Really, overnight charging will always be the number one method of charging EVs. Its where the electricity already is.

          • Michael G

            Perhaps if Musk had said “For EVs to completely replace ICEs we need 200 mile range” it might have gone down more easily. I competely agree that with the cost for range for EVs not as trivial as for ICEs, there will be a variety of car ranges.

            On a personal note, we don’t own an SUV. We have a Honda Fit – the cheapest car they make – 45 mpg hwy 35 city in our driving experience. It has no options whatever. Base, base, base. Great commute car, great for long trips. That is what we will look for in an EV.

            However, I was looking at small cars recently and to my surprise, the smaller SUVs like Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV-4 get about the same fuel economy as their std. cars. And they are all coming out with smaller, more fuel efficient mini-SUVs like the Honda HR-V – which may come out as a hybrid if it is successful (I am sure it will be).

            So people are getting concerned with fuel costs, and it is showing up in what the auto makers design and build.

          • eveee

            Michael – Yes. You said it best. Lets put it in quotes.

            “For EVs to completely replace ICEs we need 200 mile range”

            But then Zach might not have written such a great article that we had so much fun with. LOL.

  • vensonata

    Perhaps it is because the only car failure Elon has had is the 160 mile range Model S. He cancelled it because of low demand. That was the signal, at least for higher end cars, about what people preferred when given a choice and having to pay extra for extended range. His experience though, only applies to pricier cars. Most people don’t have “luxury money” for range that is rarely used, hence the popularity of the Leaf.

    • Exactly. This was on my mind. If he is basing his statements on what his customers want, that obviously has huge failures when trying to extend to the rest of the population. Model S owners are not the norm, of course. 😀

  • BtotheT

    Edison >_>

    Also, I’m glad he’s setting the bar high and with the batteries of tomorrow we should be able to hit that mark, enabling short roadtrips. A lot of consumers seek practicallity but they also don’t care for evident limitation in their freedom of choice. But if you have a ~100 mile electric most will need a second car for longer excursions and ICE more than likely, so there goes the 10-15,000 saved.

    I wonder if Elon despises Edison like I do, I mean his company’s named Tesla.

    • What about a range of 150 miles? That’s a lot of range.

      I don’t think Elon came up with the company name, but I’ve not seen anything indicating who did. http://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/26/co-founder-tesla-starting-tesla-video/

      • Bob_Wallace

        150 miles would work for almost all. But it adds an extra stop on all day (500 miles) drives and would mean stopping in less than two hours after the first leg.

        150 + 120 + 120 + 120 = 510

        200 + 180 + 180 = 560

        (And that assumes driving until almost ’empty’ before charging’.)

        If someone could market a (solid) 150 mile range EV for $20k they would have a real winner. At a price that low I think people would be willing to tolerate an extra stop now and then.

        • Will E

          EV is cheaper to produce than ICE car. battery price down density up, theres your 20 K EV.

          • Coley

            Then why are they so much more expensive than a comparable ICE vehicle?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Battery cost.

            Coming down rapidly.

          • Coley

            Aye, but surely not having an engine/gearbox plus all the ancillaries negates the cost of the battery pack?

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s very hard to figure out what battery prices are. It’s pretty clear that prices were a lot higher when the Leaf, ModS and other EVs were introduced.

            I’ve seen prices around $500 to $800/kWh. A 24kWh pack in the Leaf at $500 would be $1,200.

            The cost of the ICE and support systems in a compact car should be a lot less to produce.

          • Coley

            The replacement cost of a leaf battery is just under £5000 ( or £4000) if you are part exing it, yet other comparable cars in the nissan range are considerably cheaper!
            Without the govt grant the cheapest leaf would be in the range of£22000

          • Batteries are the big cost. For a lot of people, EVs are cheaper after 3-5 years of ownership, but people don’t typically think through costs that carefully, so I agree that bringing down the upfront cost is critical.

        • Good points, as always. 😀

        • eveee

          Bob – Look at those numbers. I think of driving times.
          The first line and one charge is 270 miles. And you added the practicality of quick 80% supercharging.
          Thats 4 hours. Nobody is going to drive 4 hours and then return in the same day. Practically nobody.
          The 200 miles is for people driving round trip 200 miles at 80 mph. Its extra margin.
          Its nearly unanimous. Not only do you need 200 real miles to soundly beat ICE, any more has diminished benefit and becomes more and more unnecessary.
          That word needs to be spread.

          • Bob_Wallace

            In the sailing world there’s a common saying that 90% of the boats purchased for cruising never leave the dock except for day sails. People imagine that their needs will be larger than what they often turn out to be.

            Potential EV buyers are likely to be telling themselves “Someday soon I’m going to drive from Dallas to Yellowstone”. They’ve probably been telling themselves that for years.

            A solid 150 miles would likely serve 90+% of all drivers. But that less than 200 miles and extra stop on the long drive days they almost never encounter will scare off a lot of drivers.

            That 80 mile an hour stuff is BS. It’s limited to small stretches at best, under ideal conditions. You wouldn’t make it five miles around here at 80 before you got pulled over.

            I drove from the east to west coast last year and rarely did anyone pass me while I was driving 70 mph. And more that once I saw them later as they sat alongside the highway with a ticket writer in attendance.

            Furthermore, checking speeds for I-5 in the San Diego area right now there are no 80 mile zone reports. A couple of 75s with the majority in the 60s.


            Looking at all sections of LA I5 there are no sections currently returning average speeds above 60.


            Perhaps late at night in sections between LA and SD one can get away with 80 mph, it’s not happening right now at a high enough level to pull the average speed up anywhere close to 80.

          • LogicDesigner

            “That 80 mile an hour stuff is BS.”

            I guess it depends on where you live. Here in Texas the speed limit is generally 70 mph on the interstate and the speed of traffic is 80 mph in the left lane. We call it the “Texas Ten”. You have to be going 85+ in order to get pulled over.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The claim was about driving 80 on I-5 in California.

          • eveee

            Whats the fastest you can drive legally in the states? 75? Elon has been pretty good about allowing that people drive fast. I think the message is that you need to design for just about everybody. But not every .. single… body. You need different vehicles to different things.

      • BtotheT

        If I was on a road trip driving 3 hour spurts would be better than 2 in my opinion.

        As to Tesla’s name origin, you’re right it wasn’t Elon

        “On Jan. 25, 2003, Eberhard went on a date to Disneyland with Carolyn, his now wife. They walked around the park, settling into the Blue Bayou, a restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

        It was about as romantic you could get at Disneyland.

        He had been pitching her on car-company names for months, but the right branding proved elusive. This was to be a high-performance car that happened to be electric, so any overly “eco” or “engineery” name sounded tone-deaf — volts, surges, and leaves would be set aside. It would have to be easy to say and remember, and sound like a car company, not another high-tech startup.

        Eberhard wanted to give credit to the man who patented the type of motor he planned on using, the AC induction motor, invented by the Serbian-American genius Nikola Tesla.”
        ~Business insider

  • JamesWimberley

    Musk isn’t a Galahad, he’s a businessman. Like Edison. Hyping your own stuff and dissing the competition is normal behaviour.
    However, you can ask whether the latter is good sense for Musk. He sells a premium product in what is still a small market. Generally, luxury producers do well if the whole market is expanding. Entry-level smartphones help sell iPhones. People who still have $25 candy bars don’t know what they are missing.

    • Thanks, James. Knew I could count on you for a very pointed and insightful comment.

    • Omega Centauri

      Agreed. By dissing EV competitors, he is potentially slowing the growth of the entire EV sector. And Tesla needs the improvements in the EV supply chain that will come with scale. Perhaps he’s afraid of the competition, which is mainly small projects within major auto-companies, which could expand in the market once their parent corps think the time is right?

      • Philip W

        What does Elons’ statement have to do ‘dissing EV competitiors’? Nothing.
        Elon Musk is actually encouraging all the other car manufacturers to build EVs, too, because he knows exactly that Tesla can’t do it alone.

        In fact a lot of other manufacturers have already anounced EVs with 200 mile range that are in a similar category than the Model 3, so they also think 200 mile cars is something that the market wants.

        • If he’s saying that any EV under 200 miles of real-world range gets a failing grade, he’s dissing the LEAF, i3, i-MiEV, etc.

          • Philip W

            Depends on what he meant with that.
            If he meant failing grade for completely replacing ICEs (which I think he meant) then I wouldn’t count that as dissing those other cars.
            Those first generation EVs were never meant to be the ultimate ICE killer in the first place.

          • Yes, very true.

            And if he’s saying failing grade for a Model 3, I’m fine with that. Perhaps I was reading the statement too broadly. But he specifically says “an electric car,” not “the Model 3.”

          • Philip W

            He might have phrased it with too much room to interpret.
            Not usual for him since he seems to be very careful with phrasing normally.

          • jeffhre

            Actually not unusual, since everything will be re-read out of the context in which it was said. Detractors (EV haters?) will widen or narrow the scope of what any EV advocate says, as they see fit in enhancing their arguments against EV’s.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think Elon is saying that 200 ‘solid’ miles is the threshold for an EV that will be seen as “acceptable first EV” to most people. And with an ‘all situations’ 200 mile range once can drive all day for only a slight time penalty over driving an ICEV.

            Some may find that they don’t need 200 miles and we might see lower range options hold a portion of the market. If there is significant cost savings. (The difference might only be $3k and not enough to support a lower range model.)

            I suspect the first generation of EVs did damage to sales by calling themselves “100 mile range”. Critics quickly pointed out the worst case range which is closer to 60 miles.

      • I was wondering about the latter as well. Timing is critical for Tesla, and Elon knows this very well. He hasn’t been shy sharing that Tesla and SpaceX were inches away from going under.

    • Johnny Le

      I don’t think so. Elon just understand the customers better. If you have two options: one car with 300-mile range and quick refill and another with 100-150-mile range and take hours to recharge. Which one do you choose? It has to be at least comparable with the existing technology to compete.

      • The obvious point is that it depends how much you need. People who drives a lot have a hard time realizing that a great portion of the population doesn’t drive 100 miles in a single day any day of the year.

        • Johnny Le

          You’re missing the point. If you want to take over an existing market, you can’t accomplish it by offering inferior options.

          • Taking over the market is a process. Even with a product that is better and costs less, there’s a huge lag due to consumer awareness and perception. I get where the 200-mile statement is coming from, and I simply think it’s counterproductive.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You don’t have to match every single feature. You just have to meet the minimum for some features and exceed at others.

            The print quality of dot matrix printers was terrible compared to electric typewriters, but they drove typewriters into extinction because they excelled in ways other than printed letter “beauty”.

          • Johnny Le

            What ways do you see EVs excel to the point that it could drive ICEs to extinction? The only way I see is for gas price to rocket to $10/gallon and electricity price to drop due to cheaper and more efficient solar panels, but those things are external forces independent from EVs. Tesla has been doing a great job, but ICE cars can have OTA updates and can be autonomous as well. So in the long run, I’m not sure if EVs have a lot of advantage.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Cost to own/operate. $1,500 or more a year considering fuel and maintenance costs.

            Convenience. Not having to visit filling stations dozens of times per year. No need for oil changes, maintenance stops.

            Quality of ride. Smooth, silent acceleration. Faster acceleration from a full stop.

            Eventually on cheaper purchase prices. When battery prices bottom out.

            And then, there will be some point at which most countries will accept that we simply must quit burning fossil fuels. We will do whatever it takes, from putting a significant price on carbon on up.

          • Johnny Le

            I think you’ve sold me on the oil change stuff. I just hate, hate doing that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Another advantage. By putting the batteries under the floorboard like Tesla does, the car becomes a lot more stable. Cornering is much better. The front “frunk” becomes available for storage.

            And, in the event of a head-on crash you’ve got a sweet crumple zone ahead of you instead of an engine that can get shoved back into your lap. (I had one join me, but fortunately it decided to sit in the passenger seat which as vacant at the time. Anyone sitting there would have lost their legs.)

          • Will E

            The EV market will soon take over ICE market.
            Solar and Wind take over FF market.
            there is an odeur of money in EV and renewables and for all the reasons you point out.

          • Will E

            can ICE exist next to EV.
            dont think so.

          • #1, Convenience: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/02/20/1-reason-electric-cars-will-dominate-car-market/

            #2, Torque: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/30/1-reason-electric-cars-can-dominate-car-market/

            Everything else is far behind these two. Of course, *I think* improving public health and stopping global warming are very important, but most don’t buy based on that.

            The cost savings will also be huge, but we have a few years to get to that.

            Other ideas here: http://planetsave.com/2013/12/09/7-reasons-electric-cars-kick-cars-boot/

          • Bob_Wallace

            Don’t underestimate global warming.

            I think millions and millions of people what to do something personally to help curb climate change. Switching to an EV and greatly lowering their personal footprint is going to help drive sales. The price and range have to get to move into an acceptable zone.

            And the hate of oil companies is likely to move a few people.

          • The latter is something we’d (the EV industry as a whole) would do very well to highlight. What “real Murican” wants to be using a bunch of oil from the Middle East or Venezuela?

          • And regarding global warming, yes, I agree that’s a portion of the population, and a growing one…

            Potential buyers shouldn’t have to work hard to find all of the benefits. They still have to, unfortunately, while being slammed repeatedly with anti-EV range hype. 😀

          • Bob_Wallace

            I suspect a lot of people included ‘doing something personally’ in their decision to put solar panels on their roofs.

      • GCO

        You have a choice between a car that costs you 10c/mile just to fuel, and another that’s 2c/mile. Which one do you choose?

        50$/month vs 150+$. Which do you prefer?

        • Johnny Le

          That helps but the argument in this article is that people don’t drive as much, so for me it’s more like $30 vs $6/month. If I have to rent another car a couple of times a year to go to the beach or go hiking, then that’s a wash, just more of a hassle.

  • Jim Smith

    yawn…another idiot who thinks he knows better. If people only want 80 miles of range, why don’t ICE cars have a tank which only yields 80 miles of range?

    • vensonata

      Yawn…another person without manners, who thinks he knows better. Jim, the gas tank is not comparable to a battery, the power density of gas and trivial cost of a gas tank does not relate meaningfully to an expensive battery bank, that is why cars don’t have a gas tank with 80 miles of range. Have a coffee.

      • Jim Smith

        i am not the one telling everyone what they need or want. am i? nope. Your statements are too nonsensical to reply to…

        • vensonata

          You mean you don’t have an answer?

    • Let’s remember that 1) people can’t fill up their gas tanks at home, and 2) it doesn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars to make the gas tank a bit bigger.

      • Jim Smith

        1) is irrelevant.
        2) is also irrelevant.

        People do want more range. current EVs do not meet the wants or needs of most people.

        • lol. Jim, these are not irrelevant points.

          Yes, people do. And other people don’t. And there’s a huge difference between the Model S and current EVs (>100 miles of range in difference). If there are hundreds of thousands of people who are happy with the 84-mile LEAF and converting people to EVs, there are many who would also be happy with 120 or 150 miles of range.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Jim. This is your one warning to not call others names.

  • Philip W

    Of course most people don’t need 200 miles, but most people think they need it or at least want that kind of range in their car. The article focuses too much on the needing part (we have plenty of articles about that already) and too less on the what-does-it-REALLY-take-to-go-100%-EV.

    In my opinion it’s far easier and faster to just build an affordable 200 mile vehicle than trying to convince hundreds of millions of people that they don’t need 200 mile range. Such campaigns would require billions of dollars and even then it wouldn’t be safe that a lot of people changed their mind. That money is way better spent on R&D.

    Zach, I don’t think I ever disagreed with you, but now I am. Elon is doing what seems to be the most promising way to abandon ICEs as fast as possible. He always has the big picture in his mind and is thinking far into the future.

    • Do you not think it would be helpful if Elon Musk didn’t make a claim that electric cars have to have 200 miles of range or more?

      Obviously, there are a lot more people in electric cars with under 100 miles of range than in electric cars with more than 200 miles of range, and there are over 100 miles of range between those two groups that is getting very little attention from manufacturers.

      • Philip W

        Hard to say. But I don’t think that his claim makes people that already know they that don’t need 200 miles suddenly think differently.
        His statement seems to be directed to all those stubborn people that really don’t want to settle for less than 200 miles. Maybe he can make those people feel understood and therefore push them to go for a Tesla?

        But maybe we’re just interpreting too much into it. Since Tesla will build the 200 mile car anyways he could’ve just said it to get more free PR for the Model 3 🙂
        If I look at all those comments that already accumulated under this article it seems to be working very well xD

        • 1) Yeah, maybe.

          2) Yeah, maybe. 😀

        • jeffhre

          I need a thousand miles. And 5 minute recharging for 200 kWh of that thousand mile pack. In about a 2 sq foot battery pack, that weighs about 125 pounds, and costs just under $1000. That should allow me reach my goals. I’ll hold out for the Tesla generation 12.

      • Jim Smith

        “Obviously, there are a lot more people in electric cars with under 100
        miles of range than in electric cars with more than 200 miles of range”

        that is due to the market not providing what people want…yet. Cars with under 100 mile range will not sell once 200+ comes out.

        • There’s the Model S, and Elon has indicated of course that they are supply limited, but may need to start stimulating demand in early 2016. If the Model S is fulfilling demand for that segment, how much extra room is there really? The Model S is beating other high-end cars from Mercedes, BMW, Audi… yet more LEAFs have been sold. Obviously, the LEAF is filling demand below the $70,000 price range that is helpful to the cause. To say the car fails is not helpful.

          When we can have a 200-mile electric car for the price of the LEAF, great! But until then, what’s the use in bashing a great option?

          Furthermore, when we can have a 200-mile electric car for he price of the LEAF, would a 100-mile electric car for ~$10,000 not be useful and a better option for a lot of people? Would it be a failure?

          • Johnny Le

            The Model S is beating other high-end cars from Mercedes, BMW, Audi. Is the LEAF beating other cars in its price range? Accepting its limitation is why EVs still only accounts for a few percentage of the car industry.

          • It’s a good point. But there’s a lot beyond its range that goes into the matter — dealers, auto awareness amongst median-priced car buyers vs high-end car buyers, Tesla’s free press, myths like the one I’m trying to help expel here, how much Nissan is actually able to supply potential buyers (Nissan has had battery supply problems just like Tesla has, and its segment of the market is clearly MUCH bigger). But yeah, I think you still do have a good point.

          • Coley

            When that option appears I’ll be trotting along to the dealers, the leaf as it stands would be ideal for me but not at the £17000 entry level.

        • eveee

          The Model S does sell in substantial numbers compared to the Leaf. And yet Leaf sales have not ceased. Its a matter of cost.

          • Jim Smith

            sure it is. once 200+ miles hit at a mainstream price, like the Bolt and Model 3 will, 80 miles will not sell. that is my point.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There is a market niche for lower range EVs as long as the price is right.
            Look at the people who are now buying lower range EVs.

          • eveee

            What about 120 miles or 150 miles for 10k less? I agree that 80 mile range will probably not sell.
            The deal is, there is no one size fits all for ICE, why should there be for EVs?
            Its all down to cost. Some car buyers spend without regard for price, but others look at price and settle for whats practical.
            My bet is that the 57% of two car families won’t buy an EV for long range.
            Every technology has its sweet spot. EVs is low O and M, pollution, quiet, high torque.
            Its not range.
            Bending the technology to make it do what it does not do well is not the best way to use it.

            Its ridiculous to make the technology a cookie cutter replacement for ICE. We have done a lot of silly, inefficient things with cheap oil. With expensive FF and EVs, those inefficiencies are a thing of the past.

  • Babam

    In order to have the convenience of the current style of mobility, we can look at range per fueling versus the average distances between fueling stations. Our current ratio has developed through the century and has achieved optimum ratio that very seldom you get stranded for lack of fuel and you can go anywhere, often unplanned and fuel would always be within reach. The ratio is 10 mile range for an average spacing of 1 mile between furling station based on actual 350 mile average range to 35 miles between fueling stations. To deviate from this ratio would mean a lot of inconveniences and you would need to adjust the current style and patterns of mobility. It took us 100 years to evolve this system and it would serve as a good statting guide when we switch over to EV and supercharging stations. A pure EV range of 120 miles, in order to become as convenient as today’s cars should have superchargers spaced out every 12 miles.

    But evolution towards optimality could be also achieved by changes in driving behavior and changes to our lifestyles given an evolving disrupting EV technologies so that a more appropriate spacing ratio is achieved.

  • mikgigs

    if less than 50 miles, why you americans not using bicycles? like in europe

    • I did. Actually, in Florida I biked (and drove), in Chapel Hill/Carrboro I biked and used transit and carsharing a bit, in Charlottesville I mostly walked but also biked and used transit a bit, and in Silicon Valley I biked and used Caltrain.

      • mikgigs

        I am not doubting you, Zachary. Probably you are biggest expert in sociology of clean technology. I also use a bike for Caltrain, but afraid of theft.

        • Thank you much. And I wasn’t taking it as doubting. And to be clearer, I think I should have had a smiley emoticon in that comment.

          I worked for years trying to convince more people of the benefits and ease of biking. I think that’s still a noble cause, but not going to affect the masses. However, EVs are ready for the masses, imho, and I can’t see a future in which they don’t take over. Just trying to speed things up 😀

          Again, appreciate it! Thanks!

  • TedKidd

    Elons starement, if you understand the evolution of his thinking, isn’t so much “what is the minimum viable product I can sell”, he left that thinking to big auto.

    His thinking has always been more focused on the market psyche. What the consumer BELIEVES is the minimum acceptable product.

    Clearly his ability to successfully think this way is second to none. Anybody that thinks otherwise can of course go build the car they think the market will accept and see how it sells.

    I have a fair amount of electric car experience, and spend a significant amount of time thinking about this problem. I think Elon is right. Early adopters will accept less, but early majority won’t.

    Early majority is the market he wants to pander to.

    • Right. But repeating what people think instead of working to change perception is counterproductive, imho. I’m in the business of changing perception. 😀

      • Philip W

        And you should keep doing that of course, but you have to admit that you can never reach, let alone convince all people that they don’t need 200 miles. And Elon is thinking about all those people.

        • Of course I can’t. But Elon can certainly reach a large number of them. And shifts in public perception occur all the time. It’s a large way in which society evolves. It comes from one person, then another, then another breaking down a myth or an outdated idea and helping others to think rather than assume.

          • Oil4AsphaltOnly

            I’m in agreement with TedKidd about the consumer psyche. I agree with you that we need to change people’s perceptions, but their misconceptions can’t be changed by words of a few talking heads.

            When people ask me about my leaf’s driving range and charging time, I try to tell them how conveniently it handles every need I throw at it except for the long trips out of town (the wife and kids would rather ride in the minivan). Even though they’re a multi-vehicle household, they can’t get past the perceived limitations of the shorter range (it’s always about the what-ifs). People feel like they shouldn’t have to change their lifestyles to use an EV, regardless of how more convenient it is in reality. It takes ~20 minutes of back and forth before the light bulb finally lights up.

            Perceptions are changed by all of us readers (and writers) and in direct conversations with our friends, families, and neighbors. I think Elon’s words won’t be as much of a disservice on public perception as you think.

          • Thanks. Very useful perspective. Agreed — getting into the early majority requires going far beyond what is “logical.” And habits die hard, no less so when they are habits in perception,

          • jeffhre

            Reach them? With sound bites maybe. The only people actually listening are the ones already convinced, or the ones who want to find an inaccurate tidbit to prove that EV’s are horrible.

            For the average person, hearing Elon Musk preach to them that their conceptions of what they personally need after they have viewed 100 years of automobiles – isn’t going to sit well, as they pay the bills, corral the kids, and worry about what will happen at work tomorrow.

            Might not be the perfect approach to win hearts and minds.

      • Jim Smith

        who are you to tell anyone what they “need”? Mind your own business and stop pretending you know better.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’m sorry Jim. I missed the memo that announced you now ruled the world.

          • eveee

            I remember a commenter saying “not another grouchy blogger” LOL.

      • TedKidd

        1. Arguably he has, more than any other single person.

        2. His primary business is to sell cars.

        3. His stated goal is to deliver a car that entails “no sacrifices” and no apologies. IMO, cars with less than 200 miles of range come with apologies.

        Selling EV’s is hard and very complicated, particularly if they are handicapped.

        I like that hes set a high bar instead of telling people they should settle, accept “less.”

        He’s removing objections where ever possible and creating pressure on other manufacturers to build real electric cars.

        I’m a hardcore EV enthusiast, I love my Smart, and I’m saying these cars everyone but Tesla makes are a joke. They are not defensible to critics, more importantly they are not sellable to early majority – which is the group that MUST be appealed to.

        • 0. Agreed.

          1. Agreed. Awesome stuff!

          2. Technically, but he has been very clear on multiple occasions that his goal is to speed up the electrification of transport, and a blanket statement like those above don’t help with that, imho.

          3. True. And I’m fully behind their plans for the Model 3. Think they are perfect for what is possible. But they could do all of that just as well and successfully without bashing all the other electric cars on the market.

          • eveee

            Zachary – 3. a major point. Elon has had a bad habit of bashing xxxx. This is not good sales technique. He has muted it somewhat, but its still one of his weaknesses.
            In his zeal to overcome doubters, he may not always achieve his goal of promoting EVs.

          • Yeah, I have felt in the past year that he has been cutting back on this. But I fully agree. He has brought a wonderful number of fans in. Soooooo many people who would never consider an electric car otherwise think Tesla is option. But rather than support the LEAF/Volt/i3 markets (as he theoretically should, based on his stated goals), he has done the opposite and turned people away from them who might otherwise be very happy with one of those. It’s a shame. All in all, Elon is a living legend and I hugely appreciate what he has done. However, there’s almost always room for improvement! 😀

          • eveee

            Yes. He was openly scornful of the i3. I can see how he feels the S is better and I know he wants them to succeed. I just hope he continues to get more friendly and sociable. He has been much more human and vulnerable in his recent public meetings. Probably a little easier for him now that the Model S is considered quite likely the best car ever.

  • Martin

    Just for the sake of discussion I will throw some other data in.
    I grew up in Europe, average daily drive is 20 – 50 km, (15 – 30 miles), trips over that are planned for days or weeks, and can be as long as 500 – 1500 km (300 – 950 miles) over 1- 3 days.
    European’s do not own second cars, or pick up trucks, for most of the people.
    Now I live in Canada, most of my live owned only one set of wheels.
    Because I do own a company, I have to keep track of my daily travel.
    My daily travel is anything from 40 – 90 km (25 – 60 miles), but depending of location of job can be as much as 150 – 200 km (95 – 130 miles) per day.
    Sometimes I do travel up to 1500 km (950 miles) in a 24 hour period.
    In the past I do have traveled on roads without a gas station or house for 200-300 km (130 – 200 miles) or even longer distances.
    Now in my opinion the ideal EV would have a range of about 100 – 130 miles, but even better would be a EV with a range extender that could get you to a distance of about 200 miles +, just the same way as we all carry spare tires, and hope never to need them and all of us should carry emergency equipment and hope never to need that either.
    All of us have insurance as well, and hope never to need that either.
    Now, in my opinion again, a range extender could be:
    A: spare plug in battery, trunk area
    B: small trailer with battery, plug in again, perhaps rented
    C: ICE range extender, build in or separate( small in trunk area or outside)
    D: ICE range extender, small trailer again, perhaps rented
    Currently hybrids do cover some of these options, some Volt and other hybrid owners, do not fill up for months or longer, but it is nice to have that piece of mind. 😉

    • Martin

      Please remember that people like myself, contractors, trades people, who do a lot of driving for a living are an vital segment of the population and carry tools and gear, hard to car share or rent, would like to change/ have to change as well.

      I do remember one company trip, on a major highway to a big city, and no gas station for 600 km/400 miles and did see motor cycles with jerry cans, not common in Canada, but those stretches of roads do exist here

      • Martin

        Difference between Europe and North America:

        Europe longer trips are planned, over 50 -100 miles.

        North America, lots of people after a days work, go to the lake beach for a few hours and then head home for the next workday, total drive for the day 100 – 150 miles.

      • No argument. I just wouldn’t call that the norm.

        • Martin

          One other thing Zach,.
          In the province were I live, in the past in a small town, both gas stations closed, nearest town with a gas station was about 60 miles away (one way).
          EV’s could have been charged at home.

          Distances in Canada between places tend to be longer than the US.

          • Canada: Yeah, I can imagine. Of course, the US has some rural areas, but the East & West Coast are pretty heavily populated.

    • Mike Dill

      I -REALLY- want the range extender. In ten years it will be a quaint artifact, but until the IHOP’s and Denny’s get fast chargers in a few years, i will still want the convenience.

  • Will E

    Elon wants to produce for the masses and the masses want 200 plus range whatever the logic and math is.
    A car is no logical mathematical purchase. as battery prices fall, and more Kwh density, that is no issue for future range and price.
    It is easier to produce a 200 plus EV car for low price, than to change the mind of the people.
    Elon Musk wants to end the ICE age forgood.
    BMW and Nissan are gascar producers.
    I think he wins this one,
    he thinks future wise
    you argue history wise.
    big fan of yours

  • onesecond

    Elon Musk wants to end the ICE for good. So his goal is to make cars that are obviously better than ICE cars in every aspect. I think that is where his statements are coming from. If all people were rational, noone would buy a pure ICE today, cause they are wrecking the planet and there already are different modes of transport available for all the different needs, including plug-in hybrids and even renting a car.

    • Agreed. In the podcast with Chris, I mentioned that I thought it came from a somewhat counterproductive, obsessive perfectionism. Great to have, in some respects — look at the Model S. But also leads to some false notions when it comes to mass production and taking over a market. 😀

      I think everyone agrees that bringing down the cost of batteries and making more competitive cars at the same price as conventional gasmobiles is what is needed. But assuming much of the public can’t figure out that 200 miles of range is way beyond their needs when they can charge their cars at home is a mistake. 😀

      But, yeah, I agree with you — it’s about his aim for a better vehicle in every single respect.

      • onesecond

        I’m not so sure about the figuring out part in a country where over 40% are still not on board on evolution. Better to hammer home that electric cars are better with a hammer as big as possible and that’s what Elon is trying to do, I guess. To shift the automotive industry with education alone could be a much harder task. But of course I respect very much everybody’s efforts to shed lights on what actually suffices.

        • No argument with this. Just think that he doesn’t ned to be saying such things like quoted above.

          • onesecond

            In respect to the customers I think you are right. But I think he prefers to put pressure on the other carmakers to expand battery production as quick as possible to drive the price further down. He did say that Teslas most valuable impact is on the other carmakers. On the other hand these carmakers already pledged to bring affordable 200+ miles EVs to market in two or three years. I guess Elon is looking further into the future and what he can do or say to enhance the technological improvement and not so much into the market right now. After all it would be a catastrophe if the market share stayed like that.

      • Guest

        I would not say it’s counterproductive or obsessive. It’s just business. He has to create cars that the irrational consumer will buy just as onesecond points out. I suspect Elon agrees with you that the average person does not need a 200 mile range, but he believes the Model 3 needs to have a 200 mile range to sell a lot of them.

        I bought a Fusion Energi because I believed I needed the longer range. After driving it for a couple of months I immediately decided that it will be my last gas engine. Similarly, I think once people buy their first 200 mile electric car they decide that the next one only needs 100. At that point Elon will be saying the market is now ready for a short range model 3.

      • Coley

        One other thing, I don’t know about America, but in the UK there is zilch advertising for EVs,the only one I have heard is for the Leaf on Classic FM and that only ran for about a fortnight.
        Most people look at me strangely when I mention I’m interested in buying one!

        • Indeed. I think the LEAF advertises a little, BMW a little, and others very, very occasionally (probably just part of some sort of requirement to show that they are “trying” to sell the cars). Hard to get people to buy a new technology they don’t know a thing about and don’t see advertised….

  • Defendor

    I agree. Elon’s statements are rather self serving.

    Outside of vacations, I almost never drive more than 60 miles in a day.

    So 200 mile range would be a waste. It would be fine if it were free, but it isn’t. You pay more for a bigger battery, it weighs more, costing you performance and efficiency and it takes up more space, and something like 200 mile range also won’t help on vacation when I drive 600 miles in a day. So it is mainly just useless extra cost/weight to me.

    I would like around 120 mile range, to give me a huge cushion on my normal driving.

    120 mile range would be possible with a battery nearly half the size/weight/cost.

    • Matt

      Yes, 120 would take all the fear out of all daily driving. For plug-in hybrids I think the sweet spot is likely 30-40, so you almost never go to get gas. Even if you are doing a day trip, how often do you go more that 100 miles away? So if you can charge once there. And that 0.5-3 times a year trip you do that is long, can be planned for.

      • BtotheT

        Technically the daytrip would only have to be 50miles away if you intend to drive back.

      • Jim Smith

        i do not want to have to work/plan around my car. i already have to do that with gas. I just want to go when i want to go. I want less planning and less structure. Not more.

        • eveee

          Me neither. That’s why I plug in over night instead of hunting for a gas station when I need to get somewhere or its late at night coming home.
          The real hassle is highway range. Move real higher way range over 120 miles and there would be a lot more EV sales. How many would buy a 120 mile EV at 20k, and how many 200 miles at 35k?

        • MrL0g1c

          This article isn’t about you.

        • TedKidd

          Cars are a huge investment. Most people dont want sacrifice, even if its just perceived.

          My EV range IS sometimes inconvenient, particularly since I like driving it SOOOO much more than my TDI.

          Ultimately I want 1 car instead of 2. My next EV will be better than ICE in all ways instead of just some ways, and I will no longer have a “backup.”

        • Brooks Bridges

          The article repeatedly says there are people who need more range. It’s not about forcing these people to make do with lower range – it’s pointing out many people are not you and don’t need long range. Can you not accept that your needs are not everyone else’s needs?

          • Jim Smith

            i am not the one telling others what they need. that would be: Zachary

          • Aku Ankka

            You are the guy telling everyone that they don’t know what others need, but you do. Based on your own wants.
            And yes, Zachary is showing what people as a group need, based on actual data and research. What a concept.

        • An EV will by and arge reduce your need to work around the vehicles limitations not increase it. Remember that with an EV you don’t have to go to the gas station.

          Here’s an example from yesterday.

          Wife says hey if you’re going out to get gas for the mower my car needs gas. So I stick the LEAF on the charging unit and take off with the gas can. Saturday, traffic is horrendous. Gasbuddy tells me Sams has the cheapest gas and is only 2 miles away. I go and get the car filled up. Shit! Who left the door open? Its freezing today as I stand waiting for the car to fill up. Sams don’t carry ethanol free for the mower so I head off to the station I know has it. They have closed permanently. I search for the next station, 3 miles away. Traffic is horrible. Get the ethanol free gas and head home. Traffic is STILL horrible.

          I get home after 1 hour and guess what? The LEAF is fully charged and raring to go. I’m exhausted after driving through all that traffic.

          My next riding mower will electric. My wife’s next car will be a plug-in hybrid. My next car will be all electric.

          The inconvenience of filling up with gas outweighs the inconvenience of exceededing the electric range once in a while.

          • Jim Smith

            “hey honey, turns out i don’t have to work today. lets go to the beach. Oh wait…the Leaf only will get about 65 miles with the AC on. well, guess we cant go.”

          • Incorrect. We’d take the Altima.

            Remember the gas car I spent an hour hunting down several grades of gas in?

            For that once a year excursion I can live with gasmobile.

    • Thanks. I think you made my point more elegantly than I did. 😀

      • ecotrials

        Zachary was not telling anyone what they need. He is just saying that once you figure out your needs, you don’t need 2-3 times that. If you do, then you haven’t figured out your needs. So adjust your needs. Now, you don’t need 2-3 times that. So if you drive say 1500 miles per day (ridiculous if you drive the speed limit), Zachary is saying you don’t need 4500 miles of range. It’s the second need in the sentence you seem to have missed. You’ve made your point I guess, so can we just stop the bickering. You don’t need to beat a dead horse. Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to tell you what you need.

        • Thanks. Thought that was clear, but obviously not clear enough for some people. 😀

    • Johnny Le

      You drive 600 miles in a day but you would stop for lunch and dinner. 300 mile range would give you 4-5 hours of driving, putting you nicely into those time frames. Stop every 1.5-2 hours for the sole purpose of charging is ridiculous.

      • eveee

        I find all this talk about range impractical. Are you really going to travel over four hours without food or bathroom break? You have to get gas by then, too.

        Think about it. 200 mile range would do. Your stomach and kidneys are the limit. That’s 3 hours at highway speeds. A half hour break, and away you go. Charge overnight. Two quick charges in the day, and you have driven 600 miles and 10 hours. You can drive another three hours, for 800 miles, but ….
        How many people drive over 10 hours and 600 miles a day? Or want to.

        • No way

          The last non-EV I owned easily did 1000 miles per fillup and took about 2 minutes to fill, 3,5 minute in total. Highway cruising speed at about 140 km/h (to keep normal trafic flow) or 87 mph for those internationally impaired. 😉
          When visiting relatives or going somewhere for vacation, being able to do it at a relaxed pace and not having to drive non-stop then about 3,5-4 hours before a stop is normal (at least for me and the friends and relatives I have to base that opinon on).

          So that’s about 305-350 miles of range. And let’s say that the batter is best used and to charge fast enough should be to 80% (pretty standard for BEV’s). Then we are looking at a 380-438 miles range.

          A lot of BEv’s will of course be sold with a lot less range than that. And adapting to more frequent stops than you really want or need is not that hard. And the advantages of driving electric are so many that some sacrifices will surely be made in the transition. But to get close to the ICE’s at their own game will take some time and effort.

          • eveee

            I see no point in 400 mile range if it cost me an extra 20k. Not when 200 mile range will do. There are very few places where one can travel at 87 mph for 1000 miles. And they will be even fewer in the future. How much does that cost now compared to air travel?

            I travelled cross country towing a trailer. Yes, that slowed things somewhat. You need level ground, no wind, fast bathroom breaks or a potty in the vehicle, and food and bunks in the vehicle to really make time. Sounds like a diesel bus.

            Thats the only way you could average 87mph. To average 87 mph you either need to make no stops and drive over 87 mph a bit more than less. Stop signs, traffic, police, a cow, an accident, weather, hills, curves…
            I found that practically nobody averages speeds over 75 mph because of these things. Its a challenge to average the highway speed limit.

            For ordinary people driving ordinary cars, driving over four hours is a penalty not a luxury. A real luxury is an air porter to a plane, and a waiting rental car with a short drive to a nice accommodation.

            Long distances of 10 hours daily driving and over 600 miles is a grind, not a luxury. When driving cross country, the question is, ” do you mind driving?”

            If one can afford an EV, one can afford a second ICE car or occasional rental.

          • No way

            I don’t see that point either for that cost. But cost of batteries are going down and at $100/kWh (which Elon has talked about being something he wants to reach) someday in the future then it’s more like $6k or so.
            What I’m rather saying is that it’s my point where the want for more range stops.

            I do not say that anyone should drive 1000 miles in a stretch. I said that was how far I could easily go on a tank. Meaning that a gas stop would likely not be needed on a 400 mile trip.

            87 mph being the speed when on the highway, not an average speed. And cows? Stop lights? I’m no a highway, there are no such things. 😛
            And there are no hills or curves where you can’t keep that speed either here on the highways. (and you don’t need to drive through any cities, almost all are going past cities and the few that goes through are just short stretches where people drive at around 62-68 mph).

            Police and accidents are very rare. And since 140 km/h is the normal pace no cop would ever stop you for that here.

            Not having to drive is a luxury. I often share the driving duties equally with the other people with a driving license in the car at the time. And what I wouldn’t give sometimes to spend my time on an airplane to a place of my choice instead of having to visit some of my or my partners relatives. But it’s not that easy… 🙂

            Of course there are different solutions to the problem. Owning an extra ICE is not though here since the taxes, fees and insurance are really high even if you don’t even drive the car.
            And a lot of people would like to be able to do what they want and need to do with what’s most likely the second most costly thing in their life after their housing.

            People adapting to a lesser standard than they are used to is often a hard thing to do.

          • eveee

            Your case is unusual, and you have to do the best you can with it. Not many people do that, but you do have the need.
            For me, anything over 600 miles is probably cheaper by plane. I don’t have the time, either.
            I travelled 2400 miles, but that was because I had to tow. And it sure is a grind. If I could have travelled a little slower, I might have had time to enjoy it. But 10 hour driving days,,….

          • No way

            I have still not said that I would do a 600+ mile trip. What I said was that the range of my former diesel car was over 1000 miles.
            The normal longest trip I do is about 450 miles one way, have almost half of my relatively close relatives at that distance. I did do a 2 x 780 mile trip (there and then back a few days later) not too far ago for a wedding and a christening. But those kind of trips are very rare, not once a year or even once every other year…maybe every 5th year or so on average. I would have taken the train or a flight if i were alone or just going there and back. But we were a full car and had a few days to take a bit of a vacation too

          • eveee

            So where would the break point be for you for you to increase range by doubling from 200 miles to 400? 10k? 5k? 3k?
            I never heard of a sedan with range over 700 miles. The mercedes would do that with a 20 gallon tank and 35 mpg.

          • No way

            For me if offered 400 miles instead of 200 it would probably be worth over 10k, a bit depending on how far the economy was already stretched since there is always a personal upper price limit for a car no matter if it’s an ICE, BEV or what range it has.
            On the other hand if someone offered 300 miles for $5k more and 400 miles for another $5k (10k above the 200 mile car) then I would probably get the 300 mile one.

            It’s all in theory since the options (at least affordable non Model S/X ones) are not there yet. It might differ a lot once it gets down to real business.

            Really? I guess we are spoiled with highly efficient diesels here. I could easily list 20 models, and more so if you count different configurations and motors on the same model, that has a range over 1000 miles on a tank.
            But then again with the high petrol prices, almost 4 times as much as the extremely cheap US petrol price it’s been a process over time.

          • No way

            By the way… cows on the highways. Where did you find those? Unless you are talking about India or so… 😛

            I have encountered horses on the well… highway is not the right word but the main road, Route 1, on Iceland.
            And sheeps in New Zealand, but also not on a highway (don’t know if they have any, I didn’t travel on one there during over 3 whole weeks).

          • Coley

            There is a short stretch of highway to the North of Christchurch and considerably more on the North island;)

          • eveee

            Cows… heck, elk, deer, moose, raccoon,…. you get the idea. There are places you have to slow down, just because you don’t want to hit a deer at high speed at night. Probably not cows on the main highway, but on some high speed lesser roads…
            Deer can be found in Wisconsin, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, …
            Its very common to hit a deer at night in Wisconsin. Depends on the season and the local animal population….
            You can go all out in Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, generally. In Wyoming you have to watch the weather and the seasons, because it can snow. In the Midwest its thundershowers and tornados, and hail.

          • No way

            On lesser roads I definitely understand your point. We have our fair share of mooses, deers, raindeers, wild boars, badges. Which can be a problem at the beginning and at the end of the trip before getting out on the highway where there are animal fences and animal overpasses and such.

          • eveee

            There are very few main interstates in remote places. You have to travel on high speed two lane roads. The speed limit is lower at least in part because there are so many hazards like that. At night, the deer are so thick, you have to keep a constant look out for them. You see those shiny points of light and you know you are looking at their eyes reflecting. Cows have fences. Deer don’t. And forget about fences in places like Wyoming. Its just lucky that the elk are not as plentiful as deer in Wisconsin. The deer tend to stay away from well travelled interstates just because its noisy, not because of fences. And deer and elk can easily clear a six foot fence.

      • jeffhre

        I like the 300 mile range, if it is at highway speeds for traveling. Though as defender said, it’s dead weight around town. As charging speeds go up, the only purpose I could see for battery swaps would be for drivers to bolt in smaller batteries for local driving, after a long trip was finished. Then use a 150 mile battery for daily driving, which could be treated gently, and rarely even actually need a full charge.

      • Defendor

        Since this happens about 1/year. I could just rent a car for the long trips, or take a train, or fly, etc….
        Even 300 miles won’t help because my annual trip is to Atlantic Canada. I would need a 600 mile battery which is just silly.

        It just makes a lot more sense to have a battery sized to 99% of your trips instead of the 1% that really don’t fit well.

        • Word.

        • eveee

          For the extra 10K to buy a longer range battery, you could travel a lot of air miles……

          Honestly, if its more than 500 miles, I would rather fly.

          • I refrained from admitting it several times, because at the moment, it is very bad for the climate, but I’m in the same boat. Aside from not enjoying 5-hour drives, I have a lot I want to do — I don’t want to spend 5 hours locked behind a steering wheel when I could fly instead and be productive or at least rest (a form of productivity) in the meantime. With the price of flights these days, in the US & Europe, it’s hard for a 5-hour (or more) drive to compare with flying in many cases…

          • eveee

            Zachary – Dont refrain, ride a train. 🙂 Oh I am having so much fun. The extra Co2 is not because its a plane, its because its longer distance. The CO2/mile of an auto is .25kg/mile, but a plane is .18/mile for long distances.


        • Bob_Wallace

          Yep. The car just needs to be “acceptable” for that other 1%. An extra few minutes added to very long, infrequent trips is likely to be acceptable to most.

          Reality. It’s going to take more than a decade to move ~100% of new car sales to EVs. Those who feel that 200 miles isn’t enough for them will not be buyers in the first few years. As time goes along capacity will almost certainly increase. Capacity has been growing, on average, 8% a year. At 5% a year we would move from 200 miles to 300 miles in less than nine years.

  • EnTill

    It’s not a matter of having just enough range. Sure, most trips are covered by today’s EVs but not all. When people buy something they not only want the product that just barely covers their needs, they want to have leg room in case they need it. They want that little extra. They want to have the option of going on a long trip should the need arise. The ICE gives you that, the EV does not and that is the problem.

    • JamesWimberley

      In what way does a Leaf remove the option of a long trip? You need to plan it and take longer coffee breaks, that’s all. Ah yes, I mean driving to Yukon …. This Real Men stuff is a carefully nurtured fantasy for 90% of Americans and 99% of Europeans.

      • Jim Smith

        now i have to plan. not to mention the Leaf is butt ugly, tiny, has horrible performance, and has horribly cheapo interior.

        • Jim, what use is it for you to bash the LEAF.

          A lot of people love how the LEAF looks (just as a lot don’t).

          The LEAF is certainly not tiny. 😀 It’s a 5-door compact car. That size has a lot of appeal beyond lower cost.

          I don’t know what aspect of performance you are referring to. It doesn’t have $71,000 performance, but it is much nicer to drive than any $28,000 gasmobile I’ve ever driven, or $50,000 gasmobile for that matter.

          I’m not a fan of the interior, but it reminds me of a Toyota Camry, which matches the price segment better than an i3, of course.

          • Jim Smith

            “or $50,000 gasmobile for that matter”

            wow. a Leaf drives better than a BMW 330? put down the pipe.

        • Shane 2

          I don’t find the leaf particularly ugly. The I3 with that variable side window height .. now that is ugly.

          • Ross

            Yeah, I’d take the Leaf over the i3 any day purely on looks.

        • MaryRachel

          Have you guys seen the alleged Tesla SUV prototype that is allegedly driving around the Silicon Valley – at least that’s where my BFF spotted it. It’s hideous. It looks like an egg or a BMW X6.

          • MaryRachel

            Ok I just saw the BMW i8 $140K of horribly, hideous. The i3 is less hideous, it kind of looks like Godzilla’s head. It’s cheaper than the egg shaped alleged tesla so I’ll give them an even score or less hideous.

        • John Moore

          Jim, don’t be a hater. The LEAF is a wonderful car. I love the way mine looks, and owners have an incredibly high satisfaction rate.

        • Moohamed

          Clearly you’ve never been in one, I love the looks on peoples faces when I pass them in it, I hear their ego deflating till I get at least a Km ahead. Looks? Who cares, it is a tool, nothing more, I don’t care what my wrench looks like so long as it turns the bolt with out stripping it!

          I drive 64Km every day, at 100Km pH, the leaf does this with out issue, in -60 weather it started and got me to work with out issue, try that with a diesel or gas vehicle!

          Storage? It holds the 100pounds of dog food and my groceries no problem, and my tool boxes.

          Interior? Nice cloth with a satin black look, hard to get out of but again it is a tool I don’t live in it.

    • That is quite obvious, and I wasn’t arguing that. My argument is that you don’t need 2-3 times more than you need. Many LEAF owners initially planned to charge their vehicles every night, and ended up charging them every other night. They have more than enough range to not stress. There are many people who simply don’t drive more than 30-40 miles in a day (who wants to?). That’s ~half the range of a LEAF.

      • Jim Smith

        who are you to tell anyone what they need?

        • Jim, it’s a general “you.” I’m not speaking about any specific person and telling them to change. Believe me, that’s not my game. If yo are offended by the idea that an 80- to 150-mile EV works for many if not most people, and is not seen by them as a failure, than I encourage you to enjoy your day on a comment thread that doesn’t irritate you. 😀 Or keep trolling this one. 😀

          • Jim Smith

            ” If yo are offended by the idea that an 80- to 150-mile EV works for many if not most people”

            i am offended when people make statements like this: ” My argument is that you don’t need 2-3 times more than you need.” You are telling this person what they need. you have no clue what they need.

          • Aku Ankka

            No. He is telling that MANY OR MOST drivers do not ACTUALLY need it. They may want it, they may THINK they need it, but if they ACTUALLY need it can be studied more rationally than how individuals usually do it.

            And the whole “hey you don’t know what everyone of us needs” is such a totally ignorant nonsense that it’s barely worth responding to. It is not necessary to know what you as an individual need, but what distribution of needs is.

          • Moohamed

            troll, clear at this point, it is people like you who seem to prove that some need to be told what is reality.

            FYI When it comes to offending no matter how hard you try you’ll offend some one, so I aim to do so to the best of my abilities!

        • Coley

          Isn’t it time you changed the record?

          • Jim Smith

            isnt time the low information elitists stop telling others what they need and mind their own buisness? If a 80 mile range under ideal conditions is all you need, great. But most people, need and want more range.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Perhaps if you read with comprehension you wouldn’t have such a twist in your bloomers.

          • Jim Smith

            talk about reading comprehension…try reading the comments here…that is what i have been replying to.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I read just about every comment posted on this site.

            And I went back to Zach’s original comment before replying to you. That’s why I knew you were going off on Zach without actually reading what he said.

          • Moohamed

            Then how have you failed so miserably to grasp the information? This may be the core of your gross comprehension of the facts!

          • Coley

            I live in a rural community but still do less than 40 miles per day and that’s more than most here, the only thing that stops people moving to vehicle like the leaf is upfront costs, not range.
            Nobody is ” telling” anybody anything just pointing out the blindingly obvious.

          • Aku Ankka

            “Most people” as in “here’s what _I_ think others need”. Who is being patronizing and overreaching now?

            If you have actual research material, links, please do share. Otherwise make sure to properly scope your statements as your opinions. And do not mix wants with needs.

          • Moohamed


      • Johnny Le

        Forget about EV and ICE. Forget about how many miles you or I need to drive a day. Think about this: I give you a car, and you can choose between two cars of the same price. One gives you 300-mile range and five minute refill; the other 100 mile-rage and a couple hour refill. Which one do you choose? Why would you limit yourself by picking the 100-mile range?

        • JamesWimberley

          Perhaps because it’s much cheaper to run? Plus, the world.

        • jeffhre

          120 billion dollars of respiratory disease, medical and lost work productivity each year?

          But, yes. Setting aside my sarcasm, that was my point above. Why are people who care about nothing but buying that next car, going to choose one that has worse performance for the same price, regardless as Zach was saying, of what their true needs are. Is it preferable to explain to each person that they really only need enough range to accomplish their normal tasks. Stage a range needs intervention for every buyer. If so we’re going to be nominated for worlds worst sales people.

          Do most Tesla drivers buy the cars because they really really need a frunk, faster acceleration, higher top speed and a bigger touch screen than a Leaf? If so, then shouldn’t Nissan install a better motor with a larger touch screen and start marketing the 2015 Leaf as a Mercedes S class killer?

        • Truthiness

          All other things equal? Id choose the electric car with 300 miles and a 5 minute refill thank you very much. And if 10,000 mile range with a 10 second fill was an option I’d pick that. But all other things are never equal and all cars have compromises. I believe the author is correct that spewing 1 size fits all requirements for electric cars is not good for increasing their adoption.

          • I just don’t know how it is that that point didn’t get across to people better. One of my subheadings was, “A Blanket that Doesn’t Fit the Bed” … 😛


        • Moohamed

          Savings, less maintenance requirements, reliability.

          Only a fool will take some thing that is unnecessary and costly just for the off hand chance they want to go farther when there are a great many other options available.

          In other words he have a surplus of waste full fools!

      • Yasea

        But that chart is per trip. Doesn’t that mean that 80% of the trips done by the general public are less than 40 miles per day, 90% of the trips is below 100 miles and 99% is below 200 miles. That would make a 99% usable vehicle much more attractive than a 80% or 90% usable vehicle.

        • He gave two charts. One per trip and another per day. Scroll down.

    • Omega Centauri

      I think its more along the lines of handling unexpected demands. “Honey I’m going to be late coming home, something came up, I gotta drive to San Jose for business” kind of thing. Its great to have an EV that can cover 99% of your needs, and 80% of the 1% can be planned around. Its that last .2% that may keep you awake at night.

      • Jim Smith

        exactly. most of these commenters think they are smarter/better than everyone. You need what you need. You want what you want. Do not let these idiots dictate that to you.

        • Mike Dill

          The company I work for supports electric vehicles. If i need to go down to San Jose, for example, the company will pick up the cost of a rental. My car dealership also has a deal where they will get a rental for me for my vacation.

          No range anxiety.

          • I’m not sure what the comment you replied to was, but some electric car manufacturers offer a number of free rentals each year too.

          • Mike Dill

            the deleted comment above mine had a concern about the problems around not having an alternative vehicle in the situation where there was only one car. I was noting that there are already som places that provide alternatives. I expect that this will get ever more common going forward.

            My company also has a van for ride sharing that can be checked-out during the day,

          • eveee

            Mike – You got my vote. Then if you want to do some shopping, your clear to go. Workplace charging makes so much sense. Outside your home, your car is parked there longer than any other place. And its in the middle of the day when the sun is shining on all those solar cells! And the electrons from your rooftop solar can be charging somebody’s car at work. The electrons don’t care who.. 🙂

        • jeffhre

          Relax. You’re obviously the smartest one here.

          • Jim Smith

            certainly seems that way

      • jeffhre

        True, it’s not just pragmatic though. If that is what someone decides will work for them, why try to convince every buyer otherwise? Even if the one doing the convincing is right.

      • GCO

        Wrong, those 0.2% are what quick-chargers are for.

        Owned a Leaf for over 3 years, and had no problem dealing with the unexpected, like picking up a sick kid from school mid-day, then returning to work including a detour to the pharmacy, or giving a 50-mile ride to a friend unfit to drive on Friday night after my usual 40-mile daily commute. Zero problem.

        Yes, some unplanned trips required a 10 or 20-minute quick-charge, which is slower than a 5-minute refill. Except I almost never need to do this, once a month at the most, so overall I still spend much less time at the station than with my previous car.

        I’ll never buy a gas-mobile again. Driving electric, waking up every morning to a full “tank” (and a cabin at the right temperature) is much more relaxing.

        • Thanks, GCO. I honestly don’t understand how people can be so ignorant to these options in a discussion where they are encouraged (repeatedly) to think things through a little bit.

          Great to hear that the LEAF is working well for you. I imagine a 150-mile LEAF would also be a good option, then. 😀

        • eveee

          It’s interesting. You point out one of the overlooked aspects. Quick charging at home or on the road to get additional daily around town miles. 6.6kw is about 20 miles per hour charge. I wish it were a little better. That’s onlt 10 miles per half hour. Did you get to use chademo?
          That gives you 65 miles in a half hour. It’s so fast you could cut it down to 15 minutes for many emergency trips.
          As you say, you seldom use quick charge, the rest is overnight, so your charge time is less than fill ups.
          One really has to adjust thinking to understand EV advantages. You were smart and figured out how to use one to your best advantage. Maintenance and fuel is next to nil. A real city car winner.

          • GCO

            What I referred to as quick-charging was indeed always DC quick-charging aka “level 3”, ie CHAdeMO. That’s really the only way to get a decent range boost in 10 to 15 minutes.

            I also almost always started at low SoC: when less than half full, the battery accepts its maximum charging current, adding about 3 miles per minute.

            I wouldn’t call 6.6 kW aka level 2 anything but slow, and even more so on my old Leaf with the original 3.6 kW charger.
            I’m lucky to have CHAdeMO QCs around; at 12~15× the speed of L2, it’s a no-brainer.

            Re maintenance, I recently had my first expense, at 40kmiles: tires + alignment. 🙂
            Fuel is 100% solar so effectively prepaid for the next 30 or 40 years, at about 1.5c/mile.

            As a Nissan ad was putting it [link]:

            The question isn’t “why electric”, it’s “why gas?”

    • GCO

      As the majority of US households have more than one car (see stats above), the “long trip” excuse is a red herring.
      How many families split to go on multiple road trips simultaneously?

      • Steve Grinwis

        You’re assuming here that both trips will long trips, and won’t having any opportunity to charge at either end as well. Even with my ponderously slow 3.3 kW charge rate, it only takes 5 hours for a complete top up of my Smart ED. If you got visit Grandpa 100 km away, but you can plug into the 220v compressor plug in his garage, you’ll still be charged by the time you’re done visiting…

        • GCO

          Of course, EVs can accommodate long distances, it just takes a little more time (esp without quick-charging) and/or planning, but the main thing is, for most families, this will never be an issue to begin with.

          I think we are on the same page, but maybe I didn’t word it as clearly as I should have in my previous comment.
          My point was, in a multi-car household, it’s highly improbable that all vehicles would be going on road trips (say, over 100 miles / 160 km) at the same time.
          One of those cars could therefore be an EV without impacting traveling speed/convenience one bit.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Perhaps I should have worded it:

            “You’re also assuming”. You can fairly trivially go twice the rated distance of your EV, without it taking any additional time, if you’re going to stop somewhere that charging is available anyways. This is what I ended up doing on some of my EV road trips. I go to visit family, and plug in while I’m there! No issues. So, while you are correct that it’s unlikely that you’ll need two cars to travel long distances at the same time, it’s also true that you could accommodate medium range road trips without any inconvenience if charging is available at your destination.

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