Tesla & Rivals May Kill The Petrol Car As Early As 2025

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Originally published on RenewEconomy.

The response to our article on Monday “Tesla Motor’s Elon Musk just killed the petrol car” was as fascinating as it was overwhelming. It is on track to be the most read story on our web-site to date.

The response was fascinating because it came from a mixture of those prepared to imagine the future, and read the signs of change, and those focused on short-term issues – be it meeting production schedules, reducing battery costs, or the immediate future of the Tesla share price.

Then there were those who simply didn’t want to know. The oil industry is one of them. It is making predictions, and seeking capital, as though the EV didn’t exist. The nuclear industry also wishes it wasn’t so. “This is bullish*t”, tweeted one of the most prominent nuclear advocates, still clinging to the old centralised energy model.

So we thought it would be useful to explain more about how it is that Musk has killed the petrol car. And for that we went back to Stanford University’s Tony Seba, the academic who predicts that fossil fuels, coal and oil in particular, will be redundant by 2030.

Seba tells RenewEconomy that the latest developments at Tesla, with the huge response to the sneak preview of its new Model 3, and the rollout over at General Motors of the Chevy Bolt, confirm his predictions. They may in fact accelerate them.

Seba’s message is not one that sits comfortably with incumbent industries, the auto and oil sectors in particular. He thinks that new internal combustion engine cars will not be on sale by 2025. Anywhere in the world. And there may not be many internal combustion engine buses, trucks, and tractors either.

This graph below is the key to the story. It comes from Seba’s Clean Disruption book released 18 months ago, and is a forecast of the declining cost of electric vehicles as battery storage costs plummet. The release of the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, both at around $US35,000, put developments ahead of his curve.


It means that within a few years, high-performance EVs will cost less than the average car in the US. Within five years they will be competing with low-cost Buicks.

“For the past 100 years, the auto industry has told us that if you want high performance you have to pay big bucks,” Seba says. “So when you get a car with a better performance than a Porsche and a cheaper price than a Buick, that’s the end for both Porsche and Buick.”

But that’s not the only point. Seba argues that electric vehicles will cost 10 times less than internal combustion engines to charge. Electrons are easier to move than petrol and diesel. Solar powered charging stations will deliver refills at zero marginal cost.

Maintenance will also be significantly cheaper. An international combustion engine has more than 2,000 moving parts. An electric vehicle has fewerthan 20 moving parts. It will have negligible maintenance costs.

Seba explains more: “The Internal Combustion Engine is 17-21 per cent efficient while the electric motor is 90-95 per cent efficient. The EV is 5 times more energy efficient than the ICE car.

“Combine that with the fact that it’s cheaper to transmit electrons (electricity) than atoms (gasoline or diesel) and you get that energy costs/mile are 10 times cheaper for EVs.

“This number of course changes according to local conditions (as you know electricity vs petrol costs vary widely depending on taxes, transmission costs, subsidies, industry protection, etc.), but I haven’t seen a market where energy cost per mile for EVs are less than 5 times cheaper than energy costs for ICE cars.”

Seba worked his predictions on a 200-mile range (320kms) EV costing $US30,000 by 2020, cheaper than the ICE alternative and with huge fuel and maintenance savings.

“Assuming both these cars (GM Bolt and Tesla Model 3) do in fact go to market 2017 and the industry catches up to them by 2018, it fits my forecast perfectly,” Seba says.

“This means that 2020 would be the tipping point for the disruption, the point at which it would make no financial sense to purchase an ICE vehicle for the average vehicle buyer. Follow the EV cost curve and by 2025 all new vehicles will be electric.

“Interestingly, the median new ICE car in the US is now $US33,000 (compared to his forecast of $US31,000) and the EV cost curve may be accelerating beyond the 16 per cent per year curve that I predicted.

“So, in fact, the end of the ICE vehicle era may happen faster than my 2025 prediction. By the way, this is not just the end of the ICE car era. My prediction is that by 2025 all new vehicles will be electric: cars, SUVs, trucks, buses, tractors, anything that moves on the ground with wheels.

“When digital cameras disrupted film cameras, it didn’t just happen with low-end cameras,” Seba says. “It happened with all cameras. It’s the same dynamics with vehicles.”

These predictions do two things: they validate targets, such as those by India’s roads minister for all cars to be electric by 2030; and they make policies such as the Dutch ban on internal combustion engines from 2025 appear a little redundant.

And here it is worth reinforcing a point we tried to make yesterday. These predictions do not lie in the success or otherwise of Tesla, or the ability of Musk to meet production targets. And they also do not assume that individual ownership of vehicles will be as paramount as it now is.

Musk, you see, is not alone, he is just blazing a trail. FoxConn, the makers of the Apple laptop, predicts it will be making EVs at a price of $US15,000. Ford, Seba notes, has announced plans to invest $US4.5 billion in electric vehicles, not necessarily to capture the lion’s share of the market in units sold, but to become a “mobility company”.

GM is also investing in the “mobility services” business, snapping up interests in companies investing in lifts and autonomous cars. Google and Apple are investing heavily in similar technologies.

Tesla also has a “master plan”, as we noted on Monday. This does not centre around selling units so much as miles or kilometres travelled. Morgan Stanley says Tesla’s future will rely not on EV deliveries, but the network of service and free charging that is “critical to delivering mobility service-based revenue in the future.”

Seba says a similar transition is happening in the electricity supply industry, where the plunging cost of solar and of battery storage is changing the rules of the game from a centralised to a distributed model, also based around a “zero marginal cost of production”, rather than the increasing marginal cost on which the fossil fuel industry relied.

There are three reasons for this change in focus in the auto industry, Seba says. Cars are moving from internal combustion engines to electric, they are being driven by computers rather than people, and they will be shared rather than owned.

“Change comes from the outside,” Seba says, referring to the photo, computer, media and telco industries. “ECs are computers on wheels. Companies offer free charging. We are moving to zero marginal cost.

“You can power hour house with your car. If every car in Norway is a full EV, they will be able to store one half of the daily electricity demand.”

And there is one other things that may change too. The use and need for car parks. If Seba is right, and car sharing dominates over individual ownership, then car fleets will be significantly smaller and car usage will switch from 10 per cent usage and 90 per cent parking, to 90 per cent usage and 10 per cent parking.

That’s a lot of car parks lying under-utilised. It may turns out that cheaper real estate is on the way too.

Reprinted with permission.

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Giles Parkinson

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.

Giles Parkinson has 596 posts and counting. See all posts by Giles Parkinson

180 thoughts on “Tesla & Rivals May Kill The Petrol Car As Early As 2025

  • “If Seba is right, and car sharing dominates over individual ownership, then car fleets will be significantly smaller and car usage will switch from 10 per cent usage and 90 per cent parking, to 90 per cent usage and 10 per cent parking.”
    90% usage? Nope, I’m not buying it. You might have noticed there are long periods during the night when traffic is minimal and two horrible spikes in traffic at the beginning and end of daylight hours Monday through Friday. You need enough cars to cover the peaks and then many of these cars will sit around taking up lot-space 8 pm to 4 am.

    • 90% use v 10% parking does seem a stretch, however if car ownership wanes in the face of far cheaper automated shared vehicles, what impact might it have on the way these morning peaks happen? How many more commuters will change their patterns, blending shorter robo-taxi rides with other public transit options for example? Much greater use of shared ridership in robo-cars and robo-minivans on busy routes (comparable to Lyftline) looks one likely way to tackle urban and suburban commuting peaks. I wonder also what scope there might be to maximise use of robocars/vans in off-peak times. Might they be used to shuttle goods around in the wee small hours/or between passenger pick-ups? Even if they are not designed as goods vehicles, if they can earn even some income why not maximise slack times to use them for courier/fast food delivery jobs? The low demand times will of course also be the hours in which BEVs can recharge ready for the next rush. And of course when our shiny new robot overlords have stolen all our jobs, rush hour will be a thing of the past anyway 🙂

      • Right now in some places people want the current mass transit to be more frequent, say buses every 5 min, instead of 15-30 min, that would bring up rider ship.

        • Probably true of trains too. But if cars can be autonomous, than so can trains and busses, which means you don’t need to consider how much drivers cost, and how many you need. Then, what if they were all electric? Then if people used their mobile phones to communicate their location, and where they were going? Seems to me an awful lot of opportunity for optimization. The computers can figure out what to send, and when.

          Also, how would you design the train if each car could drive itself?

          • Autonomous trains have been in commercial operation since the early 1990s. Google Vancouver Skylink and Docklands Light Railway. The only reason we aren’t using them everywhere are:
            (1) people are paranoid about automated trains when there are grade crossings. This is silly because the train driver can’t really stop the train in time to avoid hitting someone, but people are still paranoid.
            (2) train driver unions have prevented existing systems from converting

      • Think of all the cabbies and pizza delivery boys out of work.

        • Ok, I’m thinking of them… and now?

          Pizza boys also have to worry about delivery drones! 🙂

          • I don’t want pizza delivered by drone!

          • Right. Those spinning blades would cool it off too much.

          • you can put the pizza on top of the drone instead of under it 😉

    • If I was a ride-sharing company wondering what to do with all these idle cars in the wee hours, I would start offering their services for cargo delivery between businesses or direct from warehouses to consumers.

      A fun effect of automatic and low-marginal-cost cars will be to make home delivery of purchases much cheaper and more common. So consumers will likely do their grocery shopping online and then choose to pay a premium for immediate delivery or pay much less for an off-peak delivery.

      • No idle time, cars would be brought in for charging, cleaning, routine maintenance, just like other fleet operators I’m sure.

        Also, there would be less activity, not more. Use the grocery shopping example, a single vehicle would be able to delivery groceries for multiple clients on a route, instead of all of those people individually driving. Delivery vehicles would be operating mostly in residential areas where there is significant underutilization of road capacity. The busiest roads in any city lead to the concentrated commercial activity areas, not away from them.

        • Good points, but groceries is just an example. Generally speaking, if a product or service experiences a significant drop in price then people will find more ways of using it.

          By my (very) rough estimate, the cost of operating a $35,000 electric vehicle (paying the driver a minimum wage of $15 per hour) is about three times the total cost of ownership of the vehicle (which is also less then an ice equivalent). So the total cost of operating an autonomous Model 3 is a fraction of what it currently costs to operate a small vehicle.

          That means many use-cases will become economically viable that were not beforehand, and that should increase traffic. Maybe the increase will be off-set if people move around less often, but I doubt it.

          • Autonomous cars open the door to spontaneous carpooling.

            If you’re willing to share a ride with others then you could input your destination and the time you need to arrive. “Central Control” would then instantly add you to the database of riders and, if available, can send a shared car by to pick you up.

            The current problems with car pools involve mostly rigid schedules. No problems if you are letting the system design your carpool trip by trip.

            We could see neighborhood ‘pooling taking riders to local higher capacity vehicles for longer commutes and then riders moving to smaller vehicles once in the general area. Sort of like driving to the nearest rapid rail station and taking a taxi from the terminal station.

          • Taxi.
            Just add the “share” option to make it even cheaper.

          • Correct. I thought of that but left out the ‘shared’ word, senior moment perhaps….

            I travel a lot in countries where buses and trains are mainly how people travel longer distances. It’s common to get off the bus/train and find taxi/minivan drivers recruiting passengers heading to the destination they are currently serving.

            There’s another potential advantage to spontaneous carpools. In a regular ‘pool you may find yourself having to ride with someone you really don’t like. With a spontaneous ‘pool it could be possible to discretely input “Don’t put me in the car with the person in the front/rear right/left seat ever again” and never ride along with that person again.

    • Self-driving cars can take themselves off to park when they are not needed. We’d probably end up with parking lots in lower value areas where the cars would park and be charged, waiting for their next passengers.

      Our city streets would be freed of cars parked along the curbs.

      Self-driving cars create the potential for ‘spontaneous carpools’. If “Central Scheduling’ knows where you are located, where you are going, and when you need to arrive it can route a vehicle by your front door and pick you up. If you’re willing to share a ride with others then your cost would be considerably lower.

      I think a lot more people would ‘pool if they had the flexibility of arranging their ‘pool on a daily basis. If you’re going to have to work late or go to a different location than your normal routine then you’d just override your normal schedule and inconvenience no one.

      We could even see neighborhood four passenger cars which moved riders to larger capacity vehicles for longer commutes. Vehicles set up with drop down laptop tables so people could work while commuting.

      • Now I get the advantage of self-driving: “Self-driving cars can take themselves off to park when they are not needed. We’d probably end up with parking lots in lower value areas where the cars would park and be charged, waiting for their next passengers.”

        • You just wait until you get older.

          Taking a nap while driving on a boring highway will be another advantage. Now when I do that it scares the hell out of my passengers.

          • Heh. True. And getting some reading in. And I guess if it could drive itself alone, it could be handy at picking up kids from school in the afternoon

          • the greatest advantage will off course be more posting time 😛

    • Those spikes could be dampened greatly by better communications between commuters/cars so that each car carries multiple people; their start/finish points and start/finish times being coordinated to allow this to be convenient. This communication should include mass transit; one set of mass transit getting people into/out of the city, the other getting people around the city during the rest of the day.

  • when you consider the adoption rate of smart phones or microwaves or other new technology, this is possible, BUT
    this implies a ramp in battery production – not to mention cars themselves – that is currently not planned.
    GIG factory takes 3-4 years to complete – we will need 100, plus the raw materials… not possible
    there is not the capacity to reach this goal

    • Martkeing people are very smart. They want, no need your money to keep their jobs… Limited battery capacity isn’t as big a problem if you are willing to think outside the box. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the big manufacturers start offering special short term lease plans on internal combustion car while you wait for your battery to be built. Or if GM offers you subsidized Lyft rides (GM owns a portion of Lyft right?) while you wait for you new electric car. Either of these plans would lock the customer into their ev car/option and retain customer loyalty… I thought of these ideas while in bed procrastinating getting up. The real marketing people will be able to solve this capacity issue if they are forced to compete with a market disruptor.

    • There are dozens, if not more, battery factories being built around the world. Some I sure will be as big as the giga factory

    • Orders and Pre-Orders are big motivators in the business world. In my view once EV meet the min requirements to be useful. I think we are getting really close with the next batch of vehicle with their 200 to 300 mile range and a prices that is getting closer to it ice counterparts the savings in fuel alone will start to really drive demand for them. As the demand goes up and it is clear that it isn’t going to go back down we are going to see battery planets going online very quickly. Their is money out there to build but no one wants to build 100 factory if 95 of them are going to be ideal for that next 10 years. Once production starts going up and battery packs start to become a bottle neck new factories will start going online. How much of a limiter it will be is unknown. Remember it might take years for a factory to go online 100% but even 10% production levels will start to have an effect on availability.

      • Mandatory use of synfuels for trucking and all remaining ICE.
        Or even simpler
        Carbon tax on crude.


  • If the electric powertrain gets cheaper than the gasoline powertrain, that will have huge consequences. However, extrapolating exponential growth is dangerous. Assuming vehicle costs scale with battery costs is also silly. I’m not sure how cheaper batteries save you any money on windshields. I think I’ll stick to GTM Research over Tony Seba.

    • EVs will likely reach purchase price parity (PPP) with ICEVs within the next five years. Estimates place the point when batteries are somewhat above $100/kWh and the Gigafactory is expected to open with $130/kWh costs.

      Once batteries drop below the magic PPP then we should see rapid market switch. (Or even somewhat above PPP when the difference is paid back in a couple of years of operating savings.)

      “The single most important factor in achieving a compelling and affordable mass-market BEV [battery electric vehicle] is its relative cost,” Nykvist and Nilsson wrote. “It is commonly understood that the cost of battery packs needs to fall to below US$150 per kWh in order for BEVs to become cost-competitive on par with internal combustion vehicles.”


      “The tipping point for the mass market to move from internal combustion engines to EVs is between $US250 and$US300/kWh. Once it gets to $US100/kWh, it is all over. I think we will get to $US250/kWh by 2020. By 2030, when batteries are at $100/kWh, gasoline vehicles will be obsolete. Not on their way out, obsolete,” said Mr. Seba to RENew Economy, while noting that he thinks that “mass migration” to EVs will start between 2018 to 2020.


      Just above PPP the big switch should start up and accelerate as battery prices continue to fall. The limit on market acquisition by EVs should be only battery manufacturing capacity.

      • Yeah, I basically agree with all of that. I’m just disputing the silly assumptions in this article: perpetual 16%/year cost reductions and a fixed vehicle:battery cost ratio of 3.

        There still might be a lot of inertia due to availability of charging in your parking spot, rational/irrational consumer preferences, people who take long trips regularly, etc. I don’t think the transition will be complete. Consider that there are still tens of millions of Americans with landline phones. That doesn’t make investments in landline infrastructure very profitable, but if landlines caused global warming, it would be a problem.

  • Even i am not expecting any EV in my country the next 20 years, i am happy with these expectations.

    • Why do you think your country will manage to resist the inevitable for another 20 years?

      • Well, they are not working on it they even dont know that there is a car can go with no gaz! if you talk about Electric car they think of automatic transmission.

        • If the rest of the world moves on you’ll have no choice but to buy electric vehicles unless you want to become like Cuba. You must be underestimating your country. There will be some EVs in your country 🙂

          • No worries, we’ll ship old ICE cars (with AC naturally) over to North Africa for at least another 15-20 years from Europe.

          • Sure clunkers will be shipped but if all the new cars being made are EVs then inevitably they’ll start to transition as well, even in poor countries.

          • very right, right now we buy used cars from europ and with europ movijg forward to EVs Used ICE cars will become shipper and we will have enough for years

          • You will probably start seeing some used EVs coming from Europe to Mauritania within 5-10 years.

          • I hope i am the first to own an EV in my country, it will be very fanny feelling

    • What country?

      • My country is Mauritania.

        • I googled “Mauritania cars” and some of the images I saw were for BMWs and Mercedes. It looks like there are some people with money in the country.

          I wouldn’t bet no EVs for the next 20 years. There might be a few driven by people have the money. But more likely, I think we may see less expensive EVs coming out of China and India over the next few years. Some may make it to Mauritania and less developed countries as new cars. Others should start trickling in as used cars.

          Your country looks like a place I would enjoy visiting. I hope you get past your current problems so that it’s safe for westerners to travel.

          • Its safe. my bosses are all westerners(australia, spain, americans, finish). they never have problems. i hope you come then you supervise me to instal my solar energy system for my AC. i hope you dont come in the summer.

          • I’m a winter (northern hemisphere winter) traveler.

            I’m putting your country on my list.

          • wellcome. the american i tald you is mining manager in my company where i work, his name is Shaune micheal ball you can goole him or search him on FB if you want more info from trustable source

          • Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind. I doubt I’d come this year as I’ve already made plans. I’ll probably be visiting Africa but at the northwest corner. I’m planning a couple of weeks in Morocco along with time in Spain.

          • Morocco is our north border

  • No mention of motorcycles?

  • It’s quite plausible. What could throw it off?

    – A technology shock: a unsolvable shortage of lithium etc, a complete stall in battery progress, a breakthrough in ICEVs or FCEVs. These are all very unlikely. ICEVs have been under development for 100 years. The VW diesel scandal strongly indicates that there are no breakthroughs left to take.

    – A policy shock. This would have to be the sudden withdrawal of subsidies in several major markets, as we saw with solar in Spain and the UK. This is somewhat more realistic (austerity!), but not much. Urban air pollution is a threat to the Chinese Communist Party, and they don’t have domestic oil. In the USA, the electric utilities are fully behind the ev transition (in complte contrast to rooftop solar) and the oil industry has not geared up significantly to lobby against. The are industry and Wall Street now have big stakes in electrics. IMHO it’s too late now to stop.

    Seba, like Jacobson, is winging it on heavy trucks. The heaviest I’ve seen are BYD’s three-tonners. There aren’t any heavy ((20-tonne and up) ev trucks on sale yet, so a takeover by 2025 is a stretch. I would guess 2020 for the first real products and 2030 for the switchover in the new market.

    • Yes they may be no over 3 ton EV trucks yet, but the heaviest trucks 200- 400 ton monsters have been driving on diesel-electric for decades.
      Simply because a diesel only power train does not have the torque.
      So with some battery improvement by 2020 and further by 2025, the fuel use of heavy equipment cloud be reduced by up to 90 % (my opinion), have electric with a small on board generator.

      Once that happens the next step would be larger ships, there are already small ones (up to 200 tons) that are BEV’s.

      After that int would be air transport, same thing small on board generator, with BEV and solar ‘paint’ and wireless charging for on ground travel.

      With us emitting 30 billion tons of CO 2 per year, we WILL have to reduce that within the next 15 years or so to half or less and down even more later.

      But maybe I am just an optimist!?

        • While mass passenger car electrification (and that of buses) seems all but inevitable, trucks will be tougher to crack in terms of electrification. I won’t be holding my breath for big-rig EVs. Light vans? Yes. Hybridised light trucks? Yes. EV tenders hauling semi trailers around a dockside or a manufacturing site? Yes.

          But I see little to no sign of a long haul EV trucks happening any time soon. The way haulers bleat about diesel costs, they would jump at any cheaper alternative if it stacked up commercially. Natural gas is the only such competitor to diesel for the foreseeable future.

          Why don’t heavy EV trucks stack up now or any time soon? Truck fleet operators have lots of other non-fuel costs and other issues such as drivers hours headaches and such, so need every ounce of weight to be spared for cargo to maximise the volume they haul on each trip.

          The current generation of battery technology would render them waaaaay too heavy and nowhere near energy dense enough. This cuts into payload and hits profits.

          What could change the practicalities/economics of all this would be robo-trucks. No driver = simpler and more flexible operating options and perhaps dramatically different ways to configure tractors and trailers.

          • Using the cells Tesla now gets someone could build a 18-wheeler that could drive on battery power, fully loaded, for 200 miles. The battery pack could be swapped out in a couple of minutes for a charged pack.

          • I hope we see it soon Bob, to hasten the death of diesel in particular. The haulage industry does seem to lag the car and bus businesses in terms of innovation. Is it simply a conservative trade by nature or is it an operational issue? Battery swaps have not worked as a solution for automobiles (RIP A Better Place). Is there a more compelling reason why they should work for heavy haulage? One might think the way haulage works with big central distribution hubs and satellite depots could suit such a solution but I am not aware of any such trials anywhere.

          • Better Place failed due to the CEO’s behavior. Flake, IIRC.

            Car swapping isn’t needed due to rapid charging and low frequency of long drive days.

            Trucks can run 24 hours a day, days on end, and can’t afford to stop for recharging.

          • Conservative trade by nature.

          • I wonder what the average power requirement is to keep an 18-wheeler rolling on flat ground. An interim solution could be to have a few hundred kWh of batteries behind the cab and in the rear rig chassis that supplies 2 huge electric motors / differentials in the 2nd and 3rd axles. The first axle up front could be powered by a small diesel engine sized more for the average power requirement and mostly used for highway travel. Add in some intelligent software to manage state-of-charge along the route and it could work like a charm.

          • Here are my numbers. See if you can spot a logic/math error….

            There are 37.87 kWh in a gallon #2 diesel (Wiki)

            An efficient loaded 18 wheeler can get 8 MPG (RMI), thus is using 4.7 kWh worth of diesel per mile.

            The 18 wheeler is about 45% efficient. Out of the 4.7 kWh used about 2.1 kWh is turned into kinetic energy, the rest into waste heat.

            Running on a 85 kWh Tesla ModS battery pack the 18 wheeler could travel 39.9 miles.

            In order to travel 200 miles the 18 wheeler would need a about 5.5 packs to allow for the 10% inefficiency of the electric motor/drivetrain. Round up to 6 packs per 200 miles.

            Actually this is overkill in terms of batteries. It doesn’t account for the energy recovered by regenerative braking. But let’s stick with 6 packs to be overly safe.

            One claim has been that batteries would be too heavy. The ModS pack weighs 1,200 pounds, so 6 packs would weigh 7,200 pounds.

            An 18 wheeler can carry up to 300 gallons of diesel. At 7 pounds per gallon that’s 2,100 pounds. The dry weight of a Detroit Diesel engine is 2,763 lbs. So at least 4,863 pounds for the ICE version. Add in cooling and exhaust system and you’d be well over 5,000 pounds.

            80,000 pounds fully loaded. 97,000 in the EU. An extra 2.5 tons should not be an issue.

            Cost. Once the Gigafactory is running full speed cells should be $100/kWh or less and packs could be around $125/kWh Six 85 kWh packs would be under $65k. 20,000 gallons of fuel, 160,000 miles per year? At $3.50/gallon that is $70k.

            Not included, electricity for charging batteries. If an 18-wheeler could average 2.1 kWh per mile then the cost per mile would be roughly 23 cents per mile (using 11c/kWh commercial electricity cost). 160,000 miles per year would cost $35,960. A roughly $35k fuel savings would pay for a battery pack in two years.

            Oil changes, brake rebuilds and engine maintenance for diesels are all expensive. More cost savings here.

            I see a specially built tractor where the battery pack slided in from the front and between the wheels. Pull into the swap bay, the front of the truck opens to allow battery pack to be snatched out and a new one slid into place.

            Put the cab and sleeper over the battery pack. The Tesla battery pack is not very thick. 6x Tesla might be no more than 2.5 feet high.

          • Seems mostly solid, although a diesel engine might be 45% efficient, the actual portion of fuel energy that ends up moving the vehicle is probably a lot lower due to other losses. Not including regen possibilities probably helps even this out.

            One thing I would add is an electrified big rig would need less maintenance like you said, which translates into less downtime that it could be making deliveries instead.

          • 18 wheel tractors are between 10 and 20 thousand pounds. Truckers want to keep the tractor weight low, because they have a combined weight limit per axle. Not sure exactly how that works out.

            They might swap batteries easily by driving the tractor over a pit and dropping them below. Pit servicing is an established method.

          • Pit servicing is another way. But when there’s lots of salty slush on the roads there would have to be special efforts to keep the crud out of the charging/storage area. With front end extraction a quick spray off as the truck entered the bay would wash all that stuff off the front of the truck.

          • If we go with your numbers of 300 gallon of diesel per tank at 8 mpg that means a typical truck will go 2,400 miles per tanks. Even if we assume a truck refiles every day that means a truck drive can drive up to 11 hours in a day but must take a 30 min break every 8 hours. Based on my reading an EV Tracker Trailer would need around 6 hours of drive time or around 420 miles better say 450 miles to be save more than double your est.

            This means you will need 12 to 16 packs at 14,400 to 19,200 pounds that will be much higher issue with weight. If you can get drivers to agree with more frequent stopping / swapping you might be able to get that time down to 3 to 4 hours but then you also have to have infrastructure to swap those batteries out. You would need a swapping station every few hundred miles people think that the SC network is hard think about designing a swapping network that goes everywhere trucks goto. It would take decades to get that level of coverage.

            We would most likely see these start in heavy traveled regions like Western US and the northeastern US. Lots of trucking many of them shorter range less area of coverage. I would guess the first gen would likely be the lighter smaller truckers that do local delivery for places.


          • At this point in time putting enough batteries in a tractor to drive more than about 200 miles is not possible. Putting enough batteries in a tractor to drive 200 miles seems to be.

            The cost difference between driving using petroleum or electricity is enormous. Bottom line, pulling over for a few minutes every three hours or so adds a little labor cost and doesn’t get the freight to the door quite as fast but it saves a hunk of fuel cost.

            You would need swap stations. Probably every 50 miles or even more frequently. But reflect on the fact that at one time there were no truck stops with diesel pumps – we built them.

            If this (or something similar) were to be put in place then what would probably make sense is to set up swap stations on a single very heavily traveled route. Have a set of tractors that did nothing but shuttle trailers from one end to the other, handing off to fueled tractors for any significant distance from the last swap stations.

            Get the bugs out. Expand.

            Remember, Tesla first built a set of Supercharger stations that were strung out on a single route that allowed driving between the east and west coasts. Then they expanded.

          • See my comment below. The infrastructure for an interstate highway trucking system does not seem that daunting. Costs and efficiencies can improve some, but given battery advances, it looks feasible. Also, I don’t think the extra cost of a second pack per truck to provide swap are out of the question. That deserves another look. Given your calculation that fuel payback is fast, the extra pack just looks like a bigger battery and a different calculation. What do you think? Can two batteries be managed economically?
            The Balqon truck has 125 mile range from a 320kwhr pack, fully loaded.

            Those specs would improve with a better battery tech.
            It would need about 4x that to operate a swap system with 240 mile stops, 640kwhr on the truck and an equal swap pack. At $100/kwhr, thats 1.28 million each.

            I don’t see any aerodynamic improvements on Balqon’s truck, so I imagine that number might even be cut in half due to improvements in aero drag.


          • I found this –

            “Most long-haul, over-the-road truck drivers average from 100,000 to 110,000 miles per year”

            If the truck is team driven (wife/husband teams are not uncommon) then the truck may travel 200,000 miles in a single year. That might be the lifespan of the batteries.

            The second set of batteries needed for a swap system is simply the next year’s set purchased early.

            BTW, I see the swap system working best as a battery leasing system.

            I calculated 6 85 kWh Tesla packs for 200 miles or 510 kWh. 2.55 kWh per mile.

            Balcon is 320 kWh per 125 miles. 2.56 kWh per mile.

            Self-back patting to commence….

            Designing an electric tractor from the ground up allows for the sort of innovation that Tesla did with the S. Aerodynamics move to the top of the ‘must list.

          • Long-haul, over-the-road is not important.

            What’s most important is to nail down the local delivery sector: taking the containers from the factory to the railyard or port, and from the railyard or port to the wholesaler or retailer. And the smaller trucks from wholesaler to retailer need to be converted too.

            This is most of the trucking business. The long-haul is a minority, and apart from specialty movements, frankly shouldn’t exist at all; it’s much more efficient to put containers on trains.

          • Best bet would be to select a track from 1 LTL site to another. A lot of fright gets moved from LTL sites to other sites before finally delivery. Since so much fright will hop though these way points there are trucks that do nothing but hall fright from point A to point B and back. If I was going to setup a testing network that is where I would put it.


          • Correct. The LTL site connections are key. Also the full-container routes between railyard/warehouse/port/factory/store.

          • Good thoughts. Lets imagine it. There is a continuous fleet of trucks traveling across the US, say I-80. Every few hundred miles, say about 3 to 4 hours range, about 200 to 240 miles, there is a pit stop for swap. Its about 3000 miles across the US. That means we have between 12.5 and 15 stations, each with a pack ready to swap. If we assume only one truck per station, and the trucks all start out at one station, then there are two packs per truck. One on the truck, and one charging in the station all the time. In the 3 to 4 hours between swap stops, the backup battery packs can easily be charged even without fast charging, which should extend their life.
            The economics and logistics of this could easily be worked out.

            I cannot imagine making 15 swap stations like that across the US being that difficult. For the most part, trucks require service stations spread across the interstates already.

            Existing diesel repair and service shops are already pretty extensive. That is not to say that an equivalent EV infrastructure would not be substantial. Its just that by comparison, its doesn’t seem that much greater.


          • I one looks at the early Supercharger maps it’s clear that one planned a trip from one SC site to another. Then with more buildout it became less important to plot the route from SC to SC and easier to simply look for the nearest along the route as needed.

            If you click on the bottom image it will open up as a GIF and show the development of the SC system over time.

            If we decided to build a battery swap system for trucks then we’d do the same thing. Start with a limited area and limited routes. Expand over time.


          • Yes. Its just charging as needed. Add to that destination and other slower chargers and the network works fine. As the SC network grows, it will become simpler. Still like the plan ahead reservation system for now. It would be relatively easy to program Teslas with destinations and even schedule in advance to ease SC crowding.

            Hey Tesla, you listening?

          • Just for fun, here’s what the SC map should like like (in the US) at the end of this year. From May 30, 2013 to December 31, 2016 is 3.5 years.


          • Start with I5 from LA to Redding. 545 miles. Two swap stations. Build a half dozen tractors. Build 12 battery packs. Buy Tesla S90 packs and cobble the tractor together.

            There’s a proof of concept test.

            That should take freight from LA to SF and to the big Walmart distribution center in NoCal. If needed, hand off trailers heading into Oregon and Washington to diesel tractors.

          • Yes. Ideally, its a conveyor belt running most of the time. It could be very efficient. You think the one swap pack per running pack idea is alright?

            One truck would be arriving every 4 hours. One could do the math further to figure freight hauled per day volumes and payback.

            Its getting interesting. Within the realm of practical possibility, IMO.

          • I assumed one. It might be more. But if a battery pack is used up in a year of so with heavy (200k mile per year) use then the financing cost of having extra batteries wouldn’t be high. The life of a battery pack might only be a couple of years with frequent swapping.

          • Sorry. You seem to assume all freight goes from LA to New York city or something. There are at 2 main tracks that go from costs to costs just looks a Telsa map. Then you must have stations from those main tracks to city’s. Telsa isn’t even touching some states yet has 1000’s of stations in the US.

          • You don’t need extra SCs in for city distribution. That can be handled by short haul trucks. Take a look at the SC map. Show I 80, I 70, E-W routes covered. Plenty of N-S covered. For a car company that started 5 years ago, thats not bad.
            Only Arkansas and N Dakota don’t have SC. Nebraska, Iowa do if you count Omaha.
            The network is growing rapidly. By the end of 2016, those exceptions are eliminated. Everywhere in the continental US will be within range of a Model S, or less than 200 miles.

          • I am saying it took 5 years for them to build their current network and it still doesn’t cover 2 states. Building a cross country network is going to take years and this assumes that someone decides to create packs that can be easily and quickly swapped out that is based on a standard design that will work across manufacturers. I can see how it can be done. Truck manufacturer designs a standard and include both the ability to supercharge and swap the batteries. Then the same manufacturer does an agreement with one of the bigger truck stop groups like TA. They agree to work as part of a program were people lease the batteries and can swap them out at an TA location as a certain price / rate to cover electric cost. Then the manufacturer would have to find someone to buy there new design. I could see some companies at least testing the tech out in small runs. If it works well I could see company’s increasing the use. As Truck Stops see more volume they will stock more bricks. Recharging bricks and recycling bricks will be something done onsite.

            The problems or issues are as followed.
            1) A manufacturer has to put money into designing the truck and charging packs.
            2) Has to negotiate some kind of deal with a major truck stop s?
            3) Who pays to install the equipment at the truck stops?
            4) How is the revenue divided?
            3) A company has to pay for the truck and a contract to swap the packs.
            4) Enough need to be sold make it all profitable.
            5) The manufacturer has to decide to open up the pack design so other manufacturer can use them as well or others will have to make their own versions making it harder for truck stops to support more than 1 brand.
            6) Other manufacturer might decide to make there own version simple as a way to diffant their own brand dividing the market.
            7) Drivers would have to take regular breaks to replace packs. Batteries are just to heavy to do more than around 4 hours worth per charge.

            The advantages if done correctly.
            1) Reduce fuel cost. The per mile cost of electric is much lower than diesel.
            2) Cheaper overall maintenance cost
            3) Packs would be replaced and maintained at the truck stops without affecting truckers so less downtime for a trucker.
            4) Truckers would no longer having to run the trucks well sleeping worse cause the truck stops install level2 power outlets to keep the packs topped off and provide things like air conditioner and heat well they sleep.

            Can it be done yes but it would take at least one company to put big bucks down into developing the system and at least a few other trucking companies to decided to buy into the system. Costs that will go into the millions.

          • “Can it be done yes but it would take at least one company to put big bucks down into developing the system and at least a few other trucking companies to decided to buy into the system. Costs that will go into the millions.”

            And that’s why we still live in caves and hunt with sticks and rocks. No one was willing to invest in “the next best thing”.

          • I like your summary.

            1. Been done, but not swappable. That could be changed. Maybe now that the Model 3 is out, and attention is focused on low cost EVs, one of the mfrs will wake up.
            2. ? Maybe.
            3. Same model as SC. Comes out of vehicle sales.
            4. If the economics are there…
            5. Done. Tesla already made IP open.
            6. No one is in the market. Its wide open. Competition will help, not hurt.
            Given Tesla already made an open standard, its hard to see a closed one competing.
            7. Four hour drives are just about ideal. Drivers do all kinds of crazy stuff like pop pills, and forego stops to eat and relieve. I can’t see any way I want that compared to drivers taking a break every four hours. Much safer for other drivers. Besides, give truck drivers a chance to go to the bathroom every four hours and eat for crissakes.

            I think we already know a standard design that can easily be swapped out, don’t we?

          • Alternative to swap is to put overhead wires on the truck lane on the steep inclines.
            Th regen on the declines covers the flat zones. Provision sufficient inclines such that stopping is optional.

          • Could be a combination. You could have inductive charging spaced a distance apart. Works better for cities with stops.

          • You could couple relatively batteries with overhead powerlines on highways, the truck uses a panthgraph to power the engine while on highway.

            My bet is that MB is experimenting with such a setup. And it would be quite cheap to electrify the German Autobahnen.

          • That’s another way to electrify highway freight.

            I’m not an advocate of ‘only one way’. For me it’s about what works best in terms of function, cost and public acceptability.

            But back to batteries, capacities are almost certainly going to increase.

          • I think the “killer app” for battery-electric trucks is the *short haul*. 18-wheelers are relatively efficient on the highway but notoriously inefficient in stop-and-go driving. The short haul needs to be converted ASAP, and we can worry about the long haul later.

          • Balquon already has a 125 mile range fully loaded — and if you think about it, most trucks go one way loaded and the other way empty, so the practical range is longer. That is already good enough for the majority of local haulage.

            Hopefully lots of manufacturers will be making these ASAP.

          • Yes. The biggest inroads for trucks is in short haul where diesels are particularly inefficient by comparison.

            But there is competition if fuel prices go higher.

            Long haul trucking with individual drivers is afforded by low fuel prices and demand for station to station delivery. On an energy basis per mile, rail is better.

            The Balqon MX30 has 125 mile range with LiFeP batteries that are less than half the energy density of those from Tesla and costlier.
            Those batteries would turn that truck into one with 300 or more mile range and 30 minute charge times. Battery swap in minutes is also possible.

            The cost/kwhr, kw/kg, and kwhr/kg are all better from the Tesla batteries.

            The area where EV trucks are making inroads is in short haul.
            Balqon is not the only one making big tractors.



            Get this,

            “Trucks are notoriously inefficient, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculating that medium- and heavy-duty vehicles account for about one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector, but only make up about 5 percent of vehicles on the road. In June, the EPA and the Department of Transportation joined forces with a proposal to turn this trend around and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from heavy duty trucks by about one billion metric tons for vehicles made between 2021 and 2027.

            According to the EPA, oil consumption and greenhouse emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are expected to surpass that of passenger vehicles at the global scale by 2030. In a category that includes not only tractor-trailers, but also garbage trucks, school buses, big personal vehicles like Ford F-350s, and vans, BMW’s new electric truck could pave the way for critical industry innovation needed to curtail air and climate pollution.”


            More on the BMW truck.


          • I really look forward to seeing battery-electrics replace all the short-haul big rigs. This could happen today. It should be accelerated.

          • The vast majority of tractor-trailers are driving very, very short distances. Those trucks moving things from the dock, or the railyard, to businesses 10 miles away? Or maybe as far as 50 miles away? Those are most of the big rigs. We should focus on converting *them* to battery-electric.

            And Balquon *already has one* with a 125 mile range, fully loaded, which will handle nearly all of this local tractor-trailer traffic.

            For truly long hauls, containers should be on the railroads. It’s much cheaper, already.

            This removes most of the trucking business. The remaining long-haul trucking is a niche market.

    • At this point, even existing batteries are “good enough” that cost reductions due to experience curve will push BEV to be cheaper than ICE for passenger vehicles > $35k within a couple years.

      But Oxis already has a development path to 800Wh/kg for their lithium-sulfur cells… So I suspect there are a lot of advances yet to be realized.

    • “The VW diesel scandal strongly indicates that there are no breakthroughs left to take”

      From casual talks with an auto engineer, compression combustion using gasoline may be the last major breakthru ie: using gasoline in a diesel engine. Higher temperature gives a more complete burn but i am not sure about NOX emission issue.

      I agree on China, the fear of revolt will drive EV sales. For many Chinese consumers, an EV will be their first cars they own. They have no fond memories of driving an ICE car.

    • Just the sheer magnitude of maintaining 100% growth per year of gigafactories. Or the challenge of building and starting up one Gigafactory per month for the next 7 years. These are huge projects. The sheer ramp up speed could throw it onto a more extended timing.

    • How about a price shock? There’s plenty of lithium, but suppose delays in mining development means the price of lithium goes through the roof for two years. Or the same for cobalt. Or graphite. Or nickel.

      The raw materials price shock would cause a delay in the ability to bring the prices of the cars down, thus delaying the transition.

      This is the single most likely scenario for delaying the transition, I think. It’s important to finance those lithium and cobalt mining companies…

      • Doubt it takes any longer to expand mining and process of raw materials than to build a battery factory. It’s just a matter of the battery manufacturers making sure they’ve got their material steam set by the time they go into production.

  • I hope earlier!

  • This is almost an interesting piece of marketing material, but you ignore far too many obvious and real hurdles which we are not, and will not be, ready to overcome for this to be any more than pure fiction. Not the least of which is there is no way to ramp up production enough to meet those goals in time. Another is that far too many people live in rural areas where this is not only unrealistic but not possible with current or on the horizon technology.
    Good fiction though.

    • Why not? The car industry invests billions every year. As with renewable power generation, we are talking about a shift in the direction of investment rather than its total.

      US production of military aircraft, 1940: 6,086
      US production of military aircraft, 1944: 96,318
      (increase of 1,580% in 4 years)

      I leave it to others to rebut the “rural areas” myth. In what world is 200 miles between fast charges (today’s technology) not enough? Do all Real Men pee in empty whiskey bottles while evading the sheriffs in nonstop joyrides?

      • Wow, those numbers are impressive and encouraging. We CAN turn on a dime. What is your source?

        • We just have to go to a “war footing”. 🙁 Unfortunately this has not been seriously done in the US since the “moon shot”. The governments since 1980 have focused on tax breaks for the rich, instead.

  • The Tesla gigafactory will produce enough batteries for 500,000 cars per year by 2020. Gm, Nissan and Ford combined may be able to source about the same. That is 1 million EV per year by 2020 in the U.S. That is 25% of total car sales. Europe should be able to do the same. China…more. These are realistic numbers less than 4 years out. So Seba may be accurate regarding 2025.
    Along with the EV revolution it appears they discuss the decentralization of the grid. PV and home storage seem to upset the nuclear advocates. And of course coal barons are apoplectic at the idea that people may just not need them anymore.
    Home storage batteries will be slower to appear but are easier to design since weight is not an issue. They may also end up not being lithium based but perhaps flow batteries and sodium batteries which are now available. The car industry needs every last grain of lithium for its massive project.

    • I hate disagreeing with articles like these because I really wish they were true but I think this guy is so far off he can’t be taken seriously.

      Your own numbers I am afraid are about as far off or more then the articles numbers. 1 million EV’s by 2020 is NOT 25% of the US market, it is more like 5.8% (1 million divided by US 2015 production of 17 million vehicles). Also keep in mind Tesla as well as other manufacturer’s are selling these cars all over the world making that total number absolutely abysmal compared to total global vehicle sales….So by 2020 we are still only at 1% or 2% of global sales, to think in another 5 years only EV’s will be made is sadly laughable.

      Again I hate to disagree because I want this as much as anyone else but it just isn’t realistic. Even if you completely disregard all other political, social, economic, etc barriers and just focus on production it is basically insurmountable by 2025. We would basically need every manufacturer to immediately begin building or transitioning all their facilities to only build EV’s in the next few years and what are the odds of that happening? ZERO unfortunately… It is quite obvious that most manufacturer’s still don’t care one bit about EV’s and I constantly meet people who care just as little…

      The first Toyota Prius was built back in (1997?) almost 20 years ago. I thought back then that we were starting to appreciate being “green”, celebrities arrived at events in a Prius, and almost 20 years later look where we are… Things will have to be drastically different this time to make quicker progress…

      • I agree that 2025 is an unrealistic date because the world is just not going to build ~200 Gigafactories amount of manufacturing capacity that rapidly.

        But starting shortly after 2020 (the Mod 3 and Bolt have a couple of years on the road, the GF is running full capacity, LG Chem is selling as many batteries as they can produce, and everything is working as hoped) we could see a massive number of large battery factory starts as the world’s battery manufacturers realize that they need to get busy and capture a share of this enormous developing market.

        The Prius is not, IMO, a good example of what is likely to happen. Many thought the Prius an unattractive and too small car. As we see several manufacturers move into the EV business we’ll see a variety of sizes and looks as companies identify buyer clusters.

        • I agree the Prius may not be a good example but I was just trying to illustrate that I thought 20 years ago we were going to start transitioning to more sustainable transport and almost nothing has happened since.

          The Prius may be a better example to prove that these car companies need to stop building such “unique” looking EV’s. The Prius sells well in the hybrid market (#1) but doesn’t sell well compared to the best sellers in general. Many of you know I have stated my opinion many times on this topic. I personally believe companies like GM delibarately make cars like the Bolt look “unique” so as not to hurt sales of their traditional money making gas vehicles. These are the types of challenges, among others, that we need to overcome before real change will start happening.

          Tesla will start to effect the $35000-$50000 market in 2018-2020 with the Model 3 and hopefully within a few short years after that they will release their economy car and then real change will (again hopefully) start happening. This timeline again shows we are far past 2025 before EV’s become the majority much less 100% of sales.

          • With the potential for incentives and O&M savings, Tesla may really be affecting the $25k – $40k market…

        • I think a key distinction is that hybrids will always have a cost premium over ICE-only, because they have both powertrains. Increasing volume can reduce that cost premium, but never eliminate it. EVs replace the entire powertrain, so finally, we have an alternative that with enough technological progress and volume, could be cheaper upfront than the ICE alternative. Gas is only a small fraction of total lifetime vehicle costs, so it’s always going to be a challenge to sell a more expensive car based on gas savings.

          • “Gas is only a small fraction of total lifetime vehicle costs”

            Brian, I had assumed fuel is a massive proportion of total lifetime vehicle costs but realise I actually have no idea other than what it costs me to fill up each time. Do you happen to have stats on this? It would be very interesting to see figures and ideally a comparison between the US and Europe.

          • Yeah, it depends a lot on the gas prices, how many miles are driven, appropriate discount rates, etc. I’m writing from an American perspective (perhaps a qualifier would have been appropriate). Gas prices over the past 10 years have averaged somewhere around $3 / gallon here. If I drove a 30 mpg car 150k miles, that’s $15k spent on gas. I also probably spent $20k to purchase, $5k-10k on maintenance, $10k on insurance, plus loan interest, taxes, etc. My numbers are rather imprecise, so here’s AAA’s 2015 breakdown assuming 15k miles per year:

            Total cost: $8698/year
            Fuel: $1681/year
            Financing: $669/year
            Depreciation: $3654/year
            Insurance: $1115/year
            Maintenance: $766/year
            Registration/Taxes: $655/year
            Tires: $147/year

            Source: http://newsroom.aaa.com/tag/your-driving-costs/

            By their numbers, fuel is about 20% of total costs. Obviously it’s more for some people and less for others. So maybe it’s not always a “small” fraction, but it’s not the main driver of consumer choices.

          • Here’s mine.
            400.000km driven
            ~50.000€ fuel cost over 10 years.
            14.000€ insurance/taxes
            10.000€ maintainance and service.
            30.000€ car, no resale value.

            roughly half the cost is fuel in Europe if you really use your car.
            If you use it less the car gets more expensive per km.

            This car was exceptionally cheap per km (26€ct/km), the average km price in Europe is over 0.46€/km.

            Did the math for a 40.000€ Model III the other night (200.000km, 3000€ resale value after 10 years, the insurance is cheap, no motor taxes at the moment, 4000€ electricity and some maintainance+tires+lamps+stuff) and I came back with under 19€ct/km. Would be even better if you drove more.

            Forgott road toll but that doesn’t make a difference anyways as you pay for both…

          • Insurance is insanely expensive. Even if we don’t have fully driverless cars, any form of automated braking / automated steering / automated collision avoidance will cut car insurance bills.

          • Thanks Jenny, Brian and Evee,

            Fascinating stuff. Fuel costs were lower than I had expected. It looks to me as if a UK equivalent would be between a quarter and a half of lifetime ownership costs depending on mileage and initial cost of the vehicle. Jenny’s calculation suggests that the case for Model 3 and subsequent comparable EVs is more or less a slam dunk in Europe.

          • “Gas is only a small fraction of total lifetime vehicle costs”

            You obviously do not live in Europe. 🙂

            EV gains in the fields of fuel costs and tax.

          • But we will need some other form of taxes soon. The Mineralölsteuer is used to maintain roads.
            Km and tonnage based Autobahn tax would be great. Can be folded into goods transported.

          • Here in the US the rural roads and city streets are maintained by property taxes. Only the big multilane roads are funded by the gas taxes.

            Frankly we don’t need all those big multilane roads and we should not have most of them. Where they exist they should be toll roads.

        • LG Chem is working on it 3rd Gigafactory or at least that is my understanding. I have no idea it plans for growth but it looks like LG Chem is preparing for some serious growth.

          • LG is not building a single large plant like Panasonic/Tesla but multiple battery factories. They expect to be able to manufacture enough cells for 450,000 EVs per year by 2020. That’s just under the P/T goal of 500,000 EVs per year.

            LG is online to furnish batteries for the GM Bolt and supply another 20 or so manufacturers. That suggests that GM is going to be battery limited and unable to match Tesla’s production even if they can drum up the demand.

            LG is also building most of the electric parts of the Bolt and shipping them to GM to be put in a GM body.

      • 4.2 million cars…not vehicles, sedans. That fell to 2.2 million in 2009. Realize that Tesla is sharing that market. This is not about pick up trucks.

        • Well I certainly hope
          It does become about pickup trucks soon since they occupy 3 of the top 10 selling slots in the us vehicle market and the amount of emissions from them rivals all other cars combined because they tend to burn twice the fuel per mile.

          Yes it will be difficult to electrify an F250 that tows a heavy trailer all day, but with each battery improvement that gets closer.

          • What makes sense to me is PHEV large pickups. Give them enough battery range to do the normal to/from worksite travel on battery power.

          • Especially in the short-ish term when batteries are close to $100/kwh and clearly save $ over petrol, unsubsidized. The PHEV would allow sustained towing.

        • Fair point but we are talking about 100% EV’s right? So the next problem is no one has even announced a pickup truck, the best seller in the US….

      • Lets envision something more realistic, shall we? Model 3 pre orders skyrocket sending shockwaves through boardrooms. VW already reeling from Dieselgate, whips their slaves, I mean engineers, in a useless frenzy.

        Musk, embarrassed by his underestimation of both Model 3 and PowerWall orders, is forced to increase GF production and immediately plan more production.

        Meanwhile, Nissan, losing face to both GM and Tesla, makes inroads with LGChem. GM, meanwhile, ramps in hybrid and PHEV stuff.
        Ford advances its plans for an EV secretly, while announcing a PHEV truck.

        With MB, BMW, and VW pushing for more EVs LGChem capacity quickly gets used up by 2020.

        All that is already happening, portending the near future.
        But get this, battery capacity is increasing greater than5% per year. At that rate, capacity doubles in 14 years. Between that and production improvements, less than half the number of GF are needed, perhaps as low as 30%. Now we are down to 60GF. Those are happening dynamically, so its some number above that. And then there is auto growth or decline.

        Its not realistic to expect that kind of GF growth in 9 years.

        Biggest impediment is large existing ICE and oil company investment and lobbying, IMO, not tech or even finance.

        • “Biggest impediment is large existing ICE and oil company investment and lobbying, IMO, not tech or even finance.”

          How do ICE and oil interests slow the development of EVs? Gas is already cheap, they won’t be able to cut the price much more, if at all. And over a quarter million people reserved a Tesla 3.

          • Mostly through back door lobbying efforts. Things like limiting dealerships for Tesla that Michigan and other states are doing. Extra taxes on EVs. That and spreading FUD thru Faux Noise networks, like they did for the Volt.
            They may or may not be successful. I am just giving them credit for trying. 🙂

  • That with would require 100 gigafactories and all of the upstream supply chain that goes along with them. That’s 100% per year growth. Or one Gigafactory constructed every month. Construction and contracts would have to have started yesterday and it would take a moon-shot level of government funding I’m afraid.

    I’d love to see it. Think about the 2012 Nissan Leaf that was revolutionary at the time and was going to usher in a flood of change and 4 years later still sells about the same number and has the tiniest of market shares.

    People, we are hyperventilating after last Friday. Time to get some rest, wake up and get back to the difficult work of changing the world. And yes, get some popcorn because the mid 2020s will be super entertaining to watch unfold.

    • Elon has estimated 200 gigafactories are needed. The model 3 will force many automakers to get on board and start cranking these out, but still, 200 is a lot.

      • The GF being built is designed to produce batteries for 500,000 EVs a year. Currently the world manufacturers 90 million light vehicles a year. Simple math, 90 million / 0.5 million = 180. 200 is a good talking number.

        • Build and open one Gigafactory per month, which is very aggressive and optimistic, that’s 15 years or 2031. Or 100% growth exponentially until 2026. Or 30% exponential growth, a reasonable rate for rapid growth, through 2040.

          • There’s no reason that we couldn’t start construction on several at once, spread around the world. It comes down to a decision that the market is going to switch to EVs and that battery supply will be the pinch point.
            I won’t be surprised if we hear of no more (or only one from Panasonic/Tesla) before 2020. But if the P/T GF and Mod3 do as assumed I expect multiple starts between 2020 and 2025.

          • Definitely agree. These ramp ups in any manufacturing situation almost always follow an exponential growth curve. Hence, one under construction now. Begin construction on 2 more this year – 100% growth. 4 in 2017, 100% growth, and so on. That would get enough capacity by 2026. 100% growth in manufacturing is extremely difficult to maintain without some sort of coherent wartime like, government subsidized effort. 30% growth is generally as steep as private sector can sustain for many years. This doubles every 3 years, slides decimal about every decade. Takes about 2 decades from now to go from 1 plant to 100 plants.

            and, for the record, 30% sustained growth would put us at 7 Tesla Gigafactories in 2026 and a comparable number of LGChem. Maybe throw a few BYD in there too. So well on our way, but far short of supplying the worlds motor vehicle demand.

      • Growth happens so many ways that I think counting gigafactories is simplistic and also conservative.
        Existing companies with battery factories build more factories. They extend existing factories. They speed up lines. They run more shifts. They improve energy density.
        Now companies with similar skills, though not necessarily batteries try their hand at batteries – some succeed.
        Successful blueprints are made available to others through franchise deals.
        People with the secret sauce in their head (or laptop) defect chasing mega bucks.
        Stuff happens.
        If a gigafactory is 5 billion, remember that the three gorges dam cost 30 billion. 6 gigafactories in China to get the ball rolling?

        • I think we’re saying the same thing. A “Gigafactory” is just s proxy term for 35GWh/year of battery manufacturing capacity. Could be any shape or scattered across multiple locations. And the exact forces you describe are always the forces that drive a hot market to grow at 35% per year. Even at that rate, there will be a lot of carnage. Look at the PV market and all the dead companies and failed factories. And yet enough had a better manufacturing mousetrap to drive cost down and volume up.

          • Battery construction and performance will get better, too. More bang per buck. More bang per factory.
            We shouldn’t assume everything by a GF yardstick. Who knows what production will actually be by the time GF opens. Probably more.

  • “That’s a lot of car parks lying under-utilised. It may turns out that cheaper real estate is on the way too.”

    Don’t forget petrol stations.

    • Petrol stations will be converted to EV quick chargers for the self driving, shared fleet.

      • Doubt it. Gas stations, at least in the US, don’t have space for EVs to sit for a half hour and charge.

        I’d guess a lot of the charging and parking will be in the parts of the city/community where land values are lowest. Perfect for brownfields. The ground wouldn’t have to be cleaned up as much compared to get it ready for housing. Just get the really nasty stuff up and pave it over.

        Many old factory sites that need cleanup are likely to already have big electric wires closeby. Cheaper to hook up the chargers.

        Autonomous cars may not need rapid charging. Parked overnight they will be ready to go. Some can cycle in for a top up when the morning rush is over.
        The fleet could be a mix of lower range EVs (~100 miles or less) and more expensive higher range EVs (~200 miles). A lot of cars aren’t going to drive 100 miles in a day, especially if they can plug in for part of the day.

        • Quickcharging should be in under 10 minutes not at the current rate and eventually under 5 minutes.

          • Possibly.

        • Heck, use the brownfields as land for solar / wind farms and use the space between the rows / turbines to charge cars. If the system is set up right, a good portion of a solar farm’s production can be kept DC electricity and used to directly charge EV batteries. Saves on some of the inverter cost for the farm and lowers energy losses during charging. This would be mostly between the morning and evening rush hours, but this is also when charging is most needed.

          • The US could produce 40% of electricity now used with panels covering less than 6,000 square miles.

            According to the EPA we’ve got 23,400 square miles of brownfields. That’s 4.2x what we’d need for solar.

            Ane solar could always go over car parking.

      • Petrol stations will become toxic waste sites until the old tanks are removed and the soil is cleaned up.

        After that, the ones in cities will have buildings built on them. The ones in rural areas will probably remain convenience stores.

  • Here are writer’s assumptions.

    250Watts/mile: Probably true for small and medium size cars. Will not hold for lead footed drivers, long range high speed trips, and SUV’s/Minivans/Trucks.

    16% sustained cost improvement over ten years: Very unlikely! There may be a downward bump when economies of scale take effect, but reduction of four to five times in ten years is way too optimistic. I should say, though, that of all three assumptions this is most plausible.

    final cost = 3x the cost of battery: This is total illogical assumption. Costs of other materials, manufacturing techniques and software/electronics is completely unrelated to battery price. If they somehow go down they will also go down for gasoline/diesel cars.

    As far as all these car companies becoming ‘mobility companies’, it is more of a knee jerk reaction to disruption that Tesla and other mobility companies (including city bike programs) have caused.
    Not a serious article, IMHO.

    • The cost of ICE cars can’t really go down further.
      We already have 8000€ cars.

      The BEV for 15.000€ will be 2-5 times cheaper than that 8000€ car though.

      I think Tesla can manufacture about 300k cars in their factory by 2020, they will need a new factory now.

  • Thanks I awoke from a nap wondering about what the author of clean disruption thought about 300,000 pre orders! I thought I saw a recent quote of $150 per Kwhr as what Tesla had now? Soon we can extrapolate once battery back details and delta between a 60 70 80 90 KwHr Model 3 would be…

  • The problem with many leaders in industries about to go obsolete is their selfish short sighted thinking. Many of them likely believe its ok to prolong the status quo and deny change long enough to retire rich.

  • Let’s get rid off all SUV’s and big sport utility trucks. Most of these polluting behemoths are driven by only one person. One person doesn’t need a 4 ton tank to drive. I’m all for electric cars and busses replacing dirty gas cars and busses, as soon as possible but my fear is that big electric trucks and SUV’s will replace the dirty gas ones. We should build barrier protected bike lanes to encourage cycling, and build BRT dedicated bus lanes in cities. Studies in Bogota, Columbia, as well as cities in Brazil, clearly show that dedicated bus lanes dramatically increase ridership, speed up the transit, and get cars off the road. Also slowing the speed limit down in towns and cities to no more than 35 MPH would save lives, and allow solar electric velomobiles like the ELF, made by Organic Transit, to replace cars for short commutes. Most car trips are less than 10 miles, which would be perfect for a small solar electric velomobile like the ELF, that recharges in 7 hours, goes 30 MPH with an electric motor and pedaling, requires no registration or license, and cost a fraction of a car, so it is very cheap to own. Longer trips can be done with the Tesla 3 Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, and other electric cars, as the battery range improves.

    • Once in awhile try standing in the shoes of others….

      • So you don’t believe we live in a car centric culture that worships the car? You said that in a previous post .I really don’t see how you could argue with myt statement. Try riding a bike on the side of the road, in most cities and towns. It is a suicide mission. Big SUV’s and trucks fly by you, and almost kill you. Many cities in Europe have barrier protected bike lanes, which minimizes cars on the road, and promotes bicycling. Most of our roads don’t have barrier protected bike lanes which is why few people dare to cycle. Even if we had self driving autonomous cars that you could call to your house, we still need to encourage alternatives to the car, which presently are few. Electric bicycles can now go 20 MPH powered by only the electric motor. If we could get parked cars off the road, and have a dedicated bike lane on every major street, electric bikes which are much cheaper than polluting cars, could replace dirty gas cars for most trips. Cars are the problem. We need alternatives for people to travel without needing a car as much. Self driving autonomous cars and car pooling, solar electric velomobiles like the ELF, along with barrier protected bicycle lanes, and dedicated bus lanes, would greatly reduce are need for expensive polluting cars. Electric cars will soon replace dirty gas cars, but we still need alternatives to our car centric car is king worship culture.

        • “You say you want a revolution

          Well, you know

          We all want to change the world”

          Fact is, Brian, many of us have been trying to change the world for several decades and that’s been only minimally (hardly at all) successful.

          If we want to avoid extreme climate change then the route which is most likely to succeed is to find ways to get green house gases out of people’s lives without them even noticing that it’s happened.

  • neroden’s Tesla promo:

    “Lower-end vehicles drop sales in a recession. Luxury vehicles are relatively immune. (This is because rich people can still afford cars in a recession; it’s middle class and poor people who lose the ability to afford new cars.)

    Notice Tesla’s market positioning. It’s very deliberate, going from the top of the market down. All the other EV-makers tried to start at the bottom of the market, which is wrong.”


    • A very smart move on Tesla’s part.

      Do you not understand why? It’s been explained to you. Very recently.

  • Seba is clearly assuming that the electricity used to charge the auto batteries comes from non-fossil generation. This is a very large leap of faith. To the extent that fossil fuel is still in use, then the fuel efficiency will not be 95%, but more like 35-50%.

  • You forgot they run on coal dude.

    • Right.

      And you ignored the fact that there are no 100% coal grids and that coal is dying away at an amazing rate.

      Thanks for the FUD. That completes our monthly need. Please deliver any more you have on hand to a different site.

  • Most of us have been caught up swooning over sports cars while regarding EV makers as the vanguard of the environmentalists. Tesla is leading a crank to make people feel good driving their glam while telling us they’re virtuous. We also need EV’s for transport, farming and tradies.

  • There is so much talk about getting the cost per kw down for batteries in order to make the transition to EV’s possible, but I think there are other dynamics that are just as important. The big one is on the weight side. If the weight of the cars can be lowered then that dramatically changes the equation: It takes energy to move mass. There is still the hope that the cost of carbon fiber can be driven down to the point of viability. There has been some promising developments in that area recently. Image how much further the Model 3 could go if it weighs 1/3 less.

      • No one is going to want a ICE car anymore… they are so 2015 now.

      • Yes, long term we can lighten up our cars once the cars without crash avoidance systems are off the road.

        It may not take 15-20 years for cars limited to city use where speeds are lower. Self-driving city cars shouldn’t need the crash resistance of cars driving at highway speeds.

    • Over time we’re likely to see cars (aside from the batteries) become lighter. And as battery capacities increase we’ll need fewer pounds/kilos of batteries to drive the same distance. 200 miles is sort of a threshold range for making EVs practical (assuming access to rapid charging). It’s just a starting point.

      The ideal range might be a solid 300 mile range (range in worst possible driving conditions). That would make it easy to drive all day long with a single meal stop.

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