Autonomous Vehicles

Published on January 24th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


Importance of Tesla Superchargers, Battery Upgrades, Electric Car Benefits… (My EV Summit Presentation)

January 24th, 2016 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

The topic/title I was given for my presentation at the EV Transportation & Technology Summit was “EV R&D and the Future.” You can jump right into the presentation below. In addition to that, or alternatively, you can read more about the backstory and a summary of the presentation in the text below the video and slides.

My initial inclination with “EV R&D and the Future” was to write about “promising” EV battery chemistries and projected improvements in battery cost, as well as expectations regarding future electric car models and electric car sales.

However, data collection for our new report — Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want — was wrapping up, and I asked about including findings from that in my presentation, to which the main organizer gave an enthusiastic vote of support.

As I practiced the presentation on innocent lay people (aka relatives), I felt more and more that I needed to kick things off with some of the core benefits of electric vehicles. After all, that’s what provides electric vehicles with a notable future. Plus, many people are still more or less unaware of these benefits.

As you can see if you watch the presentation, the core benefits I highlighted at the beginning included:

  • help combatting horrible and deadly air pollution
  • help combatting global warming
  • help with energy independence, and guarding against oil price spikes and general price volatility
  • the fun of instant torque and electric driving
  • the convenience of home charging

EVsdisplacePHEVsOnce I jumped into “the future,” I highlighted a chart from a McKinsey report that our wonderful advisor Bob Wallace often shares that tries to show when exactly electric cars are competitive purely on a financial basis. Note that this chart ignores the 5 benefits listed above.

The benefits above combining with pure financial competitiveness will together produce a key moment in the evolution of electric cars, the history of automobiles as a whole, and the history of society and human survival themselves. As you can see in the video, the exciting finding is that the Chevy Bolt’s battery cell (and projected battery pack) costs put the Bolt competitive with conventional gasoline-powered cars at $2.50–$3.00/gallon of gasoline. (Note that the battery cell costs come from GM/LG Chem, and I had to make assumptions to estimate full battery pack costs.)

Battery Prices and EV Domination TeslaEstimates from various analysts put current Tesla battery pack costs at a point that makes Tesla vehicles competitive with conventional ICE vehicles (again, purely on a financial basis) with gas prices somewhere between $3.25 and $3.75/gallon. And, most exciting of all, various estimates put Tesla battery costs at a point that would be competitive with ICE vehicles at sub-$2.00/gallon to $3.00/gallon once the batteries are being produced at the Gigafactory.

The Tesla Model S is already outselling the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Audi A8 & A7, and every other large luxury car on the US market, and is in a similar place in Europe. So, currently projected competitiveness seems to match well enough, and I’m confident the Gigafactory and Tesla Model 3 will expand that competitiveness considerably.

I then spent a little time highlighting current EV battery leaders, and then finally jumped into the types of batteries and startups that could lead to the next big step forward in the EV battery space.

Then I discussed some of the goodies from Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want — before the report was fully written and had a name.

EV Charging RatesSetting the stage regarding charging rates was important, imho, as a lot of people don’t realize that Tesla Supercharging is about twice as fast as DC fast charging available for other electric cars… and no other charging network on the planet offers anything close to its rate of charge (~170 miles per 30 minutes). No other charging network, of any speed, is as usefully installed and integrated across the US and Europe, either.

Unsurprisingly, our well educated survey respondents hugely prefer Tesla’s super-fast charging network. 65% are significantly or MUCH more attracted to an EV that can use Tesla’s Supercharger network or a theoretical comparatively fast network. Only 10.5% of respondents don’t really care about having access to such a network.

Tesla Supercharger demand

Similarly, potential EV drivers indicated they were more likely to buy the Model 3 than any other electric car on the market or coming to market in the next few years. 56% of respondents indicated this preference, compared to 33% for a 2nd-gen Nissan LEAF, another 20% for a Tesla Model S, 18% for the 2nd-gen Chevy Volt, another 17% for the Tesla Model X, 17% for the Chevy Bolt, and nothing close to these percentages for any other electric cars.

Current EV drivers favored Teslas even more, with the top three choices for their next EV purchase being the Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model X, and Tesla Model S.

Battery Upgrade PotentialThere were also interesting results regarding range requirements, range–price tradeoff preferences, and battery upgrades that I’ll highlight in more depth in articles coming in the next week — or you can just check out Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want and/or the video above for more discussion on those matters.

I closed the presentation with a reminder of what disruptive technology is and how such tech comes to take over the market.

Thanks again to all of the readers who answered the surveys that generated the findings for this new report, and thanks to Doug Kettles for inviting me to present at the inaugural EV Transportation & Technology Summit in Cocoa, Florida.

Complete our 2017 CleanTechnica Reader Survey — have your opinions, preferences, and deepest wishes heard.

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

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About the Author

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.

  • Jeff Steiner

    One suggestion for future presentations is to include the Renault Zoé. I know it’s not sold in the US but we have one, we live in France and love it. In terms of cost per distance traveled in France a EV is about 2-3 times cheaper than a diesel car. More so for a gasoline car. Now that’s not the same in the US, as France fuel taxes are much, much higher. But it shows that in terms of fuel cost, EVs are cheaper in some countries. Also with your comments about upgrading EVs batteries, Renault has been able to increase the Zoé’s range not just with better batteries but also with better tires and systems in the car, like breaking that recharge the batteries. Renault looks to be increasing range about 5-10 km per year. We’re leasing for 3 years at €134 per month for 7,500 km per year and then €.10 for each km over that. We put nothing down. For us is was a great deal thanks mostly to government subsidies. Also you’re so right about EVs being fun to drive, they really are!

  • Hank1946

    I know this is not exactly the right place but does anyone know if there is anyone close to or have a way to connect a car battery pack to a PV storage system. If so which one’s are being worked on and are they for sale yet. Even new some of the pricing I have seen sounds kind of cheap. Tesla 85KHW at about $12,000. other 24KWH at about $6,000 or at least that’s what the articles said.

  • Doug Kettles


    While all of the presentations at the EV Transportation and Technology Summit were well received, the most enthusiastic kudos have been for the presentations by you and the other journalist. Thank you for helping make the Summit a success! BTW, we have scheduled a follow up Summit for October 18-19, 2016…hope to see you there.

    Best Regards,

    Doug Kettles

    • Thanks for that note, and publicly is even nicer! 😀

      Definitely hope/plan to be at the next one.

  • Excellent presentation, Zach. Thanks. It’s a shame to see so few views of this informative presentation on YouTube.

    • Just getting the word out. Sure the number will climb a lot.

      • Wayne Williamson

        just watched the first one and very much enjoyed….

  • Joe Viocoe

    Great presentation… Slides were awesome.

    I especially like the slide which pretty much says that even the EV detractors will eventually be driving EVs, they’ll just have to wait until they forget what their arguments were.

  • Nick Thiwerspoon

    A really superb presentation. I’ll be reblogging it (with acknowledgement, of course)

  • evfan

    Lots of great information, thanks!

    What stood out for me is the McKinsey analysis, which is interesting but only predictive up to a point. Even if that proves that a certain technology is the best choice today, people will not switch over instantly, for several reasons

    1) Folks might still hold off on buying an EV if they think the technology improves rapidly and they’ll get a better deal next year.

    2) People often compare EVs with computers or cell phones, which is somewhat true, but there are major differences. EVs require a bigger commitment because they are way more expensive. Nobody takes out a 72 month loan to buy a phone or laptop.

    3) Switching from landline to cell phone gets you a huge performance/convenience upgrade. Switching from ICE to EV is not a similar functional upgrade. Even though I love our EV, I have to acknowledge that modern ICE cars are great products as well.

    4) Spending corporate money is easier than spending your own. I am surprised that we do not yet see lots of EVs as rental cars or in corporate fleets. I expect this to change and that fleet adoption rates will lead private adoption rates in the years ahead.

    In summary, the numbers mentioned in the McKinsey analysis are necessary to drive EV adoption, but not sufficient. I give huge credit to the friendly lease deals of the last few years and believe we will still need them for a while.

    • neroden

      Switching from ICE to EV was a HUGE performance/convenience upgrade for me. Never going to gas stations! I’m actually driving about 10% more because it’s so much nicer!

      I’m still using a landline because I consider cellphones a downgrade. They randomly stop working because of network coverage, voice mail is unreliable compared to old-fashioned answering machines, they’re non-ergonomic. And for all this? They’re much more expensive!

      So, I guess my point on #3 is “your mileage may vary”

      • Dragon

        EVs are more convenient for daily driving within their range but less convenient for long trips that require a charger stop. Since most people spend 90% of their time or more on local trips, you can say EVs are more convenient overall, but a lot of people will disproportionately focus on the inconvenience of those long trips.

        A recent Cleantechnica article also pointed out that during popular holiday travel times, even the Tesla Supercharger network had wait times of 2 hours at some locations due to large numbers of users. That kind of thing is going to scare off buyers when being with family over the holidays is a major concern for most people with family in driving range.

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