Elon Musk Talks Tesla Plans Post Model 3 & Mass Transit Solutions

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The tension is building again as chronic innovator, visionary, world changer Elon Musk is leaning into the next iteration of sustainable transport. In a talk yesterday in Oslo, Norway, Elon spoke with the Prime Minister of Norway and touched on Tesla’s plans for what comes after Model 3, mass transit and urban mobility solutions, battery pricing, renewable energy … and, of course, the importance of putting a price on carbon emissions.

Elon Loves Norway

The discussion kicked off with Elon spreading some love on Norway. Norway has taken an aggressive approach to driving EV adoption in the country and, as such, has the highest concentration of EVs per capita of any country in the world.

Elon noted this and shared his vision for a sustainable economy which pairs sustainable electric power generation with sustainable, battery-electric vehicle transportation. Because of the work Norway has done to drive early EV adoption, it is already strategically positioned to pave the way for the rest of the world to a place run on completely sustainable transportation.

Supporting that migration, Norway has a surplus of hydropower generation resources due to the natural landscape of the country. Elon advocated making use of the natural hydroelectric resources of the country in a responsible way even advocating the use of micro turbines which can tap into hydro resources with a smaller impact on the natural landscape.

In summary: “I love Norway!” — Elon Musk

Tesla in Norway

Building on that theme, Elon shared that Tesla does its cold-weather engineering, testing, and validation in Norway and has made a large investment in charging infrastructure in Norway to the point where Tesla has invested more in Norway per capita than any other country outside the US. It’s clear that Tesla sees Norway as both a key market in the short term but also as a great model for other countries looking to transition to EVs to follow.

A Carbon Tax

As has been the approach for several of the last talks, Elon made a point of boldly using his platform to speak to the importance of taking action on climate change and CO2 and CO2e emissions (CO2e is “CO2 equivalent” gases — aka, other greenhouse gases). Putting a price on what are currently unpriced externalities that essentially amount to trillions of dollars in subsidies enjoyed by the petrol industry over the last hundred or so years is key to letting the market correct for these invisible risks.

With renewables like solar and wind already beating their hydrocarbon-based counterparts on price in many markets, putting a price on carbon and letting the market weed out the victor will only increase the speed at which we transition to renewable generation for our electricity. Flexing his cross-cultural fluency, Elon used the example of a petrol car speeding down the road and asked the audience to imagine a huge krone (Norwegian currency) sign on it because of the subsidies it is getting by being able to pollute for free. Polluting a resource owned and used by the citizens of the world must be taxed, as there are direct financial, health, climate, and security impacts to the gases currently being pumped into the atmosphere.

What’s Next for Tesla

Reiterating what Diarmuid O’Connell shared last week, Elon stated that there are “now almost 400,000 reservations for the Model 3” and even leaned into what Tesla is working on … or at least thinking about working on after Model 3. Specifically, mention was made of a 4th-generation vehicle and the promise of smaller cars that would be more affordable than the Model 3.

With Model 3 being affordable to ~50% of potential buyers, the fact that Tesla is looking at a compact or economy-sized vehicle post-Model 3, it’s clear that, while the Model 3 is a MAJOR accomplishment, it is not the crowning achievement for the company, simply the end of the first phase of the journey. Elon spoke very casually with the PM and, as at the Model 3 unveiling, Elon was in a very happy mood. It really feels like getting Model 3 out into the spotlight and, maybe more importantly, securing hundreds of thousands of reservations have taken a load of stress off his shoulders.

Urban Transportation Solutions

Having put the stress leading up to the Model 3 event behind him, Elon and team are back at the whiteboard, dreaming up next-generation solutions to either design and deploy in-house or to punt to the broader scientific and engineering community a la Hyperloop. As the discussion with Ketil Solvik-Olsen, the Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communications, shifted towards cities, the idea of Tesla building its own autonomous ride-sharing solution like Uber or Lyft once again reared its head. Here’s the dialog from that exciting piece of the discussion:

EM: We have an idea for something which is not exactly a bus but would solve the density problem for inner-city situations. I think we need to actually rethink the whole concept of public transport and create something that people are actually going to like a lot more. I don’t want to talk too much about it.

Moderator: Are you talking about the hyperloop?

EM: No, no. The hyperloop is great for going between cities … but … I have to be careful what I say. I very much agree with solving the high-density, over-transport problem. I think there’s a new type of car or vehicle that I think would be really great for that and actually would take people to their final destination and not just to the bus stop, which I think is great.

KS-O: So where do you see autonomous vehicles in this?

EM: Autonomous vehicles are key.


This builds on what Elon hinted at in a recently quarterly update and confirms that Tesla isn’t just building vehicles and battery packs but is looking much more comprehensively at transportation and toward building sustainable solutions for the entire spectrum. With Tesla being the second-largest EV producer in the world today, behind BYD, and plans to continue the crazy growth trend over the next few years, would Lyft and Uber stand a chance against a Tesla-backed autonomous ride-sharing service?

Granted, considering GM’s recent $500 million investment into Lyft and more recent $1 billion purchase of Cruise Automation, it’s clear that it won’t be a full court sweep by Tesla, but it’s not difficult to imagine Tesla moving into the market with a commanding lead in autonomous technology, battery pricing, and brand image all being rolled together to put the hurt on yet another set of incumbents in yet another market.

Batteries in the Future

Speaking to the challenges that batteries pose in the overall equation, Elon shared how the brightest minds in history have struggled to increase the capacity and density of batteries but are basically fighting against the laws of thermodynamics … even going so far as to say that improving battery technology is one of the most difficult problems we have been faced with. The Tesla approach to cracking the nut of battery price equation is to centralize everything, bringing in loads of raw materials and having finished packs coming out as the products … in short, the Gigafactory. Centralizing everything maximizes economies of scale, while at the same time cutting out non-value-add transportation and warehousing, which, when talking about something as heavy as batteries and raw lithium, can add up quickly.

You can view the full talk, discussion, and Q&A with Elon … which is one of the best discussions in the last few months … here. There is a brief intro, with Elon coming on around minute 18. It’s worth noting that the video didn’t play for me in Chrome but worked fine in Safari and Firefox (c’mon, Google, what’s up with that?!).

Screen captures from source video (here).

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

Kyle Field has 1638 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Field

174 thoughts on “Elon Musk Talks Tesla Plans Post Model 3 & Mass Transit Solutions

  • PRT has to be investigated to go between a train station and a football stadium or airport terminal.

    They Hyperloop should have a few transparent sections, say 20% of it should be transparent instead of steel tubes all the way. That would let some light in and allow us to see the world outside.

    • Transparent sections would be nice but would add cost, complexity, reduce reliability, reduce safety. It would have to be quantified.

      • How on earth would it reduce safety.

        Say every 5th panel is glass/plastic. In an emergency, you could walk to a glass panel and smash it with a hammer to get out.

        Having every 5th panel as glass would give the effect of tinted windows when going through it at top speed.

        • Well let’s hope you could walk to the glass panel. Isn’t the Hyperloop supposed to be partial vacuum?

          • Yeah, vacuum in the tube. I suppose the escape method would have to depend on the failure reason. No point getting out of the car into a vacuum…

          • …and that’s assuming the ‘cabin’/’car’ you’re in, slows down to a stop…

            If it stops too quickly, at that speed, in a vacuum…you could end up resembling anything from mincemeat, to pink mist, in a fraction of a second…

          • The design has brakes. If, for some reason, a panic stop was necessary airbags could be used.

            It’s hard to imagine any reason for a panic stop. All pods should be in constant contact. If one broke down for some reason the others in the tube would get that signal immediately and brake. The should be able to come to a stop in two minutes without any great strain on passengers.

            There’s already an escape hatch in the design. If the pod stopped people would exit and walk to the exit. It shouldn’t be a big deal to equalize the tube and outside air pressure before opening the pod.

            There’s no reason to get caught up in the “What if terrorists blow up the tube?”. If you are unlucky enough to be really close to the point of the explosion then you might get messed up. If you’re in the next pod back your pod would just stop.

            (We’re talking a really low probability event.)

          • Why is that?

          • The tube is under partial vacuum. The Air outside would put about 14lbs per square inch of pressure on the tube. Under those conditions you would need a sledge hammer to do any damage to it and you would be dead in less than a minute.

            I work on vacuum chambers at work. A 1 foot diameter quartz window has to be about 2 inches thick to hold up to that pressure. it is very heavy. A plastic window would be even thicker but still heavy. Steel tubes would be very strong, lighter, but still very heavy. It jut isn’t practical to make transparent vacuum pipes for the hyper loop.

          • Only some of the side panels have to be plastic/glass.

          • Yeah! For that really cool strobe light effect.

          • At very high speed there will not be a strobe light effect.

            If you look at slow motion footage of LED lights, say the DLRs on cars, they appear to flicker. That is because they are flickering but too fast for the eyes to notice.

            So at very fast speed, you would not notice flicker from inside the Hyperloop.

          • Good thing it never has to start or stop.

          • Have you ridden high speed rail? Around 200 MPH the landscape zips by pretty fast when you’re sitting right by the window and can look forward a track. At 800 MPH everything close up is going to be a blur. And there would need to be a long section of “windows in the tube” just to give you time to process what you’re seeing.

            How many people spend hours in a cubicle or room with the curtains closed and get by just fine without seeing outside?

            I can see a “where you are now” video option on the screen in front. “Now we’re traveling through Texas hill country where the land becomes a multicolor painting when the spring flowers bloom….” as you zip through at 3am in August.

          • The stuff up close is blurry but a mountain far away can still be seen from inside a bullet train.

          • (Window is moving at your speed.)

          • Same reason so few windows on subs that go to depth. Yes possible, but very costly.

          • Usually, if it’s stopped, it’s because it lost vacuum. Besides, easy to trigger pump shut down, or reversal with drop in module speed.

          • Hyperloop is 1/1000th atmosphere even though Musk said it was not a vacuum…semantics.

          • Thanks for the info

        • When I fly I can’t look out and see where I am. The air crew requires shades down. The initial idea is that legs would be only two hours long. Settle in, watch a movie, play a game or nap.

          If you really want to see I would imagine there could be a video that shows you images of where you are.

          • Video footage of the surrounding countryside.
            Flashing by at Mach 2.
            Hmmm.. I imagine they would provide barf bags?

        • Steel is much more resistant to pretty much any type of damage compared to glass or plastic. If I’m in a pod traveling at nearly the speed of sound I don’t want sections that can be tampered with, broken, shattered, shot at, vandalized, damaged by debris blowing in high wind, cracked by seismic activity, etc.

    • My eyes would be closed

    • Better would be a virtual view of the exterior with a good amount of “day light”source, all in an enclosed tube

      • Sure. Who looks out the window on the subway/underground/tube?
        Nobody. Because there’s nothing to see except darkness.
        Until you get into the station, the windows may as well be painted black.

      • I would rather watch a movie that watching a vertual view.

    • I can’t imagine any transparent material that would be up to the job.
      Remember that “vacuum” part of the design?
      It really sucks…

      • Even Yuri Gagari had a window to see the earth when he was in space.

        • I don’t think you grasp the difference between a window that is traveling with you vs. a window that you’re passing at 800 MPH.

          Hold your hand in front of your face and look at it. Now move it from side to side as fast as you can and see how much detail you make out.

          • After 40 seconds, I can see through the gyroscope:

            Granted, a lot more than 20% of the gyroscope is transparent, but out in the sun, you need less light entering the cabin.


        • Brunnel keep in mind the load on the window is dependent on the size of hte window. The little 6″ window he had was small enough that it didn’t have much load on it. Furthermore most maned spacecraft have the cabin pressurized to only about 10psi instead of the 14psi at sea level. That helps reduce the load on the window.

      • The London Tube (subterranean rail system) has windows but you can’t see anything between stations because it is dark out there (my first hand knowledge is four decades old so things may have changed but I doubt it).

        • Same for all subways that I’ve ridden (US, Europe, South Korea, Bangkok, Delhi, Istanbul, Lima). If you see anything between stations it’s basically ugly walls, wires and pipes.

    • I would like to see a transit system somewhere between high speed rail and Hyperloop, something more practical for urban and intercity.

      • Subways, light rail, city buses.

        • Those don’t seem to get the masses from point A to Z, just A to B, the last mile is important.

          • The last mile would be best served by small shared ride ‘mini buses’ and cars. Throw in better bike lanes and walkways.

            I expect we’ll see self-driving “scooters” in some locations/seasons. Something compact, self-balancing, self-driving, and room for some baggage.

          • Rather than reinvent the wheel and force it on people, it might be a good idea to ask them.

          • I don’t think anyone is envisioning using the military to force people onto mass transit…. ;o)

            The whole idea is to invent transportation systems that attract people.

          • The whole idea would be to do the marketing that finds out what people want. It will be their tax dollars, they should decide.

          • Yes and no. People have to sample some stuff before they want it. When the SkyTrain opened in Bangkok people had no idea what riding it would be like. Ridership was low. Now it’s packed.

            Sometimes our elected officials have to do the hard deciding work and create things.

            Not every type of transportation system is going to work for every city/neighborhood. That’s where the city planners come in. They have to do the studies to figure out what is most likely to be the best solution. And there are always public hearings, usually votes….

          • It does not sound cost effective to “sample” systems at $1 billion each. Ask people what they want and need, then proceed to propose solutions.

          • Unless one has tried something they do not know how it tastes.

            They aren’t likely to order a dish off a menu if they have no idea about what they would get.

          • Henry Ford said if he had asked the people what they wanted they would have said a faster horse. Steve Jobs said something similar. If you have what you believe is a good idea and the means just put it out there and see what happens. If you ask the people you will get a massive skew towards the status quo plus what they were told by the Fox Network.

  • Very intrigued by his mass transit comments around achieving density. Self driving cars can improve density, perhaps a doubling in ideal cases, but they’ll never approach the 15x density that well designed rail achieves (20,000 people per lane per hour). Very curious to see what his idea is.

    • Feels like / sounds like a three pronged approach…hyperloop for long distances @ uber fast high speeds. autonomous vehicles for the last mile or the rich and something in between. That’s not based on anything especially firm…just the feel I picked up from listening to it. This talk resonates with me differently for some reason…seems like there’s a TON just under the surface.

      • Yes, something smaller than a typical city bus, something that can run non-standard routes and pick up/drop off people at their destination.

        I can see an autonomous 8 – 20 passenger (variety of sizes) buses that use inhub wheels so that they can lower themselves to street/curb levels for easy egress. Not having to pay driver salaries should make it economical to run smaller vehicles at modest fares. And a central dispatch computer could create routes on the fly.

        • PRT?

          SkyTran is trying to prove that it works in Israel.

          • An idea has been on the internet for 15 years plus of cars that lock together and move as a train on main roads, going at speed, but allowing individual cars to separate at exits. So you can get a far greater density of traffic through. . Especially if two seater Smart car type.Yet still have door to door transport. This idea had the trains of cars running off grid power, via wireless charging on the main routes, then battery power just for the remaining last mile or few

          • Smart car type personal vehicles can run ‘two in a lane’ in addition to bumper to bumper.

        • Autonomous buses with a bus lane would be a good start, smaller size and more of them. Passengers should not have to wait more than 5 minutes.

          • I’m not sure we need the bus lane, at least long term. The faster speeds probably would help get people into buses sooner. Once traffic density dropped all lanes should be moving faster.

            Thinking about self-driving small buses, the type that could move people from ‘one neighborhood to downtown’ type transportation.

            A 10 passenger ‘box’ with a center curbside door. All seating faces the center of the box. Three across seating in each end and seats on each side of the aisle nearer the center. No one has to move to let anyone else in/out. Plenty of headroom to walk in/out.

            Probably wouldn’t need to be much longer than a full sized car/pickup.

          • Nice concept.

          • On roads which lead to the CBD, more lanes equals more traffic. All you accomplish by building up the road system is to draw people off trains.
            Same would apply to any measure that creates an additional lane space – somewhere, somebody who currently goes by train (or bus) says “great – no more train for me”.

          • Are there any cities where we need to cut peak hour traffic by more than 50% in order to keep the commute at a good flow? Especially if we eliminate fender benders and in lane breakdowns/out of gas.

            Set up comfortable, convenient shared transportation and the lower cost should get lots of people out of their cars. If not enough, then put a fee on cars with less than 2, 4 or some number passengers.

            I don’t see a need to build any more lanes. Just reduce the number of vehicles by increasing the average number of people per vehicle.

            What if you could make your daily commute from in front of your house to your workplace door, not have to drive, and do the trip for one fourth the cost of driving yourself? Don’t you think the majority of commuters would opt for that choice?

            Vehicle pulls up, already heated or cooled. No ice or snow to remove. You’ve got a comfortable seat with a drop down desk and place to plug in. No need to own a car, make payments and take care of maintenance/repairs.

          • But my point is that you can’t cut peak hour congestion. Any gains you make are immediately undone as people switch from train/bus to car. People prefer to drive, but they take the train when it’s faster than sitting in congestion. You would need to completely undermine the train system, before the roads became less congested.

            I laugh hardest (or groan loudest) when car drivers complain about subsidising public transport. It’s very existence of the public transport network that enables their congested drive to take place at all.

          • I haven’t spent time in a city where people commute to the city by train. There might be some cities where highway congestion is forcing people out of cars and into trains. Not in the West.

            If highway transportation gets faster/more convenient than trains then we could use multi-passenger vehicles with cheaper rates to get people ‘condensed’.

          • “There might be some cities where highway congestion is forcing people out of cars and into trains.”

            Every single city with a commuter rail system.

            People (on average) *strongly* prefer cars to buses. People (on average) weakly prefer trains to cars, but only if the trains run really frequently (like subways). If the trains run less frequently (like almost all commuter rail) they prefer cars to trains, but will take the train to avoid congestion.

          • So few people understand this. And so few people have ever really run the numbers vis a vis normal population growth. A doubling in roadway capacity is always gobbled up as soon as the lanes open.

          • “Are there any cities where we need to cut peak hour [auto] traffic by more than 50% in order to keep the [auto] commute at a good flow?”

            Nearly all of them, actually. You haven’t run the numbers, have you? Start with New York City, it’s the most obvious. True in San Francisco too of course; also Los Angeles. You don’t have to cut the peak traffic *everywhere*, obviously…. but there’s always at least one bottleneck where you have to cut the traffic by way more than 50%.

          • I drive in and out of San Francisco from time to time. Take away half of the cars at peak and traffic would flow nicely.

            Especially if cars were driving themselves. Not banging into each other, courteously letting other cars change lanes rather than blocking up lanes, etc.

          • Jeez – every major city in the US has horrible, utterly stopped, commute hour traffic now. LA, Portland, SF/SanJose Seattle, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, Philly/Newark/NYC, Baltimore, Washington, and on and on. Unless you’re referring to a small city / town somewhere, the entire US has reached gridlock in anything remotely resembling an urban area. What am I missing?

            The only technology that’s been proven to outpace population growth is well-designed rail at 20,000 people per hour per lane and it does work and when it’s faster than gridlock people do take it. Yes, in the Western US too.

          • No, you need the bus lane. It’s been proven that if you allow jerks with cars to drive in front of buses, they will do so and slow down the buses just because they’re jerks. Even four or five of them will wreak havoc on a bus schedule.

          • Did you miss the “at least long term” phrase?

          • Even in the long term, we will still have jerks. 😛

            I suppose if we had much stricter standards for driver’s licenses, then in the long term the buses might not need their own lanes.

          • Self-driving cars are not likely to be programmed to be jerks.

            Drivers who mess up (speed, abruptly change lanes, etc.) are likely to be ratted out by future cars. A disturbance in the force will be noticed and passed on to other self-driving cars in the area. At some point the local government will see that information feed as leading to an income source.

            Videos will be available….

      • Hyperloop is a fantasy. It’s not practical and will never happen. The people who actually know what they’re talking about have picked it apart.

        Driverless buses, on the other hand… that’s practical. Much more practical than driverless cars. And it lowers the cost of running buses massively. It can’t replace the function of rail, which is to move huge numbers of people all at once on a single route very efficiently — nothing is better than rail for that (Hyperloop is much worse which is why it’s DOA).

        But if driverless electric buses replaced all normal city buses, cities could run MUCH MUCH more frequent bus service for the same amount of money — most of the cost right now is the bus driver. The bus city service would probably be profitable — and that would be *huge*. Game-changing.

        • How about sharing the Hyperloop’s fatal flaws with us?

          • Vomit comit, cramped, no ability to branch, low number of trains per hour, small capacity per train, costs more to build than HSR, costs more to operate than HSR, lower capacity per hour than HSR. There are more.

          • Not passively stabilized, one break in the tube shuts the whole system, energy-inefficient… intermediate stops are expensive and difficult (destroying the mass transportation value)…

          • One break in the system shuts down that leg of the system.

            How often do you think a plane will fly into a tube, or whatever is likely to rupture a tube?

            The ‘loop is not designed as a local train. It’s designed to move people a long way in a short time. Some other system will hub off ‘loop terminals.

          • Was the Concord a vomit comet?

            Cramped only if it gets built very small. Current designs are pretty much the size of a regional jet.

            I’m seeing from 840 to 1,200 people per hour in a single tube.

            Currently about 6 million people fly LA to SF per year, around 16,500 per day. 840 x 24 = 20,160. 1,200 x 28,800.

            It’s actually more than 20k to 29k. That’s in a hour. The trip from LA to SF would be more like two minutes to reach speed, 30 minutes to travel, two minutes to decelerate. Realistically, not many people would travel during late night hours. The system would haul ‘next day’ freight in the wee hours.

            Cost compared to HSR has not yet been determined. It could easily be less since it goes on pylons and doesn’t need the same real estate.

            It certainly wouldn’t cost more to operate. Energy requirements would be much lower.

            Doesn’t need to branch. Hub and spokes. But no reason it couldn’t branch. The Quay Valley test track will include a ‘side track’ station off the main line.

          • I’m all for Hyperloop R&D. Having said that, I ran a mass and energy balance on the initial air-hockey concept and they screwed up the heat disposal calculations. They will figure that out if they build a test track that reaches full speed, steady state for 20 minutes and it will overheat. Fortunately, the MIT entry uses permanent magnets instead of air hockey, so they might have a chance there.

            Otherwise, I also remain skeptical until it really proves in some key milestones. I estimate R&D will be slower than people think. In the meantime, there are tried and proven technologies that can decarbonize the inter-city transport system, they’re faster than flying for key markets (like the entire eastern seaboard of the US), and they’re cheaper per passenger mile. If / when hyperloop is ready, well then install it then. In the meantime, I’ll be getting older and stuck in traffic in my autonomous car or waiting in long lines at an airport on the outskirts of town…..

          • Can you flesh out the heat problem? Where is the heat generated?

            Cost of the Hyperloop vs. elevated high speed rail. Take a look at some pictures of the Bangkok SkyTrain and the Hyperloop. Both need concrete pillars to elevate them. I suspect the HSR system is heaviers as it uses concrete and rail between pillars as opposed to steel tubes.

            Ground based HSR needs more real estate, elevated road intersections and sturdy fencing the entire route.


          • It’s a longer analysis than a blog allows, but in short, all that energy they propose onboard in batteries for both air-hockey levitation and for forward propulsion requires a compressor and the compressor generates heat (see Elon’s original paper from late 2014 which shows the need for heat dissipation via boiling water). Problem in their calculations was failure to account for the heat capacity of boiling water, where to put the boiled steam, and the tradeoff of water vapor volume vs. heat capacity.

            Oh, and I did figure out a cool way to make it work, but alas, not my area and the hyperloop folks were rather insular and focused on their own patent portfolio.

            Scaled up, steady state prototypes will reveal the real story for them.

            Oh, Thanks for the photos. In the grand scheme of the huge multi-lane freeways that these two systems are avoiding, both HSR and Hyperloop are much more efficient uses of land. Furthermore, both require concrete, rights-of-way, planning, and virtually identical lists of expenses to build. Yes, maybe less concrete if it’s lighter, but that’s probably a rounding error in the total construction cost.

          • Look at the footpads for the Skytrain and Hyperloop in the pictures.

            Look at the land covered by HSR and it’s buffer/fence.

            I would expect an air exchange system would pull the heat out of the Hyperloop tube. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s an unsolvable or too expensive to solve problem.

            Neither elevated light rail or HSR are adequate competitors with flight. HSR is fine for short distance runs, but not for going half or all the way across the US. The ‘loop, if it works, can be the fast way to get from region to region with rail systems doing the shorter runs.

          • Ample studies out there on the optimal mode for a given distance. Halfway across the US – 1500 miles – yes, flight or hyperloop for a couple hours (wow, that sounds long in that capsule). All the trips up and down the US Eastern seaboard – BOS-NYC, BOS-DC, NYC-DC, etc, HSR (real HSR, not Acela) would be much faster than flight. A network connecting all eastern cities, PIT, Ohio, Virginia, MD, and out to DTW and Chicago could be much faster with HSR than all the waiting and air traffic issues.

            The heat issue isn’t getting it out of the tube (that’s a non-issue), it’s getting it out of the compressed air. Need to read through the late 2014 proposal to see where the heat disposal is and where they propose the steam boiler.

          • Two housr would be a long time to sit and watch a movie? A nine foot diameter tube (what one prototype is using) allows for about the same interior space as a regional jet.

            Yes, HSR would be faster than flying from one city a short distance to another city. HSR would be the preferred choice here. Or it might be the ‘loop. That math awaits.

            Getting the heat out of the compressed air? The air is ejected as it keeps the pod centered in the tube and propels it forward. Air comes in the front, is compressed, is blown out the sides and back.


          • Bob, here’s a link that explains much better than my back of envelope calculation that showed that Hyperloop Alpha was not technically feasible. You really need to run the numbers against a design rather than conjecture for a productive discussion. I’m not the only one apparently who has found this flaw – there are many discussions on the web now.


            This person found an approach that uses liquified air; interesting idea.

            I also figured out a much more elegant approach, but again not my area.

            Pretty pictures.

          • At the end of the page the author states that he’s figured out the solution. I can’t determine if there was a problem or is a solution. It’s above my pay grade….

          • Yes, I hadn’t seen the 9′ diameter alternative. Definitely makes the proposition more attractive. Cool

          • Apparently Musk suggested a 12 foot diameter tube.


            Looking around it seems the Quay Valley test track may use 11 foot diameter tubes and I saw pictures of the Nevada test track with 9 foot diameter tubes.

            At this point test tracks are just full scale tests, not a final design.
            Perhaps a 12 foot tube means a much smaller pod diameter ….

        • I’m curious to hear more about hyperloop not being practical. I haven’t read into it much and hadn’t heard that.

          • See note just above on heat disposal calculations for the air hockey concept. Once a test track is built that can sustain operation for 30 or 60 minutes these issues will be observed and kick off another design iteration. Or perhaps others are already running more detailed energy balances. Perhaps this is why MIT chose permanent magnets.

    • I am also curious, and to be honest skeptical. Which likely explains his shyness about further details.

      If his plan can take half of the cars off the streets then we can dedicate the other half of the streets to high quality BRT on dedicated lanes on a high quality half mile gridded frequent network.

      • Not sharing the details is due to being the CEO of a publicly traded company that hasn’t firmed up details of that part of the business plan. They are likely waiting for 90% certainty of the timing of autopilot being ready for full autonomy before they publicly state plans that will have a massive impact on stock price.

        Elon not sharing is not a reason to be skeptical though…past results indicate they will deliver the seemingly impossible, albeit on a longer timeline than estimated 🙂

        • Well, yes, of course. Whatever he does will be well thought out and will work, and maybe slower than everyone wants. In the meantime the dearth of details means we all spin it into directions it will not go, so in my case it will not go where I doubt that it can go. But that is my vision not Musk’s. My guess is that the word “transit”, like the magician’s eyes are a misdirection. While I look at one side of a large concept, Musk will pull a rabbit out of the other side. And I will be left muttering something like: “but I hardly consider that transit.”

          • Could see more after quarterly report in May, or after any quiet period required for an equity raise.

    • You can’t service every residence with rail, unless we all live in high rise units built around the stations. Buses and cars traditionally feed the stations from the surrounding suburbs, so I think the market Musk is talking about is to replace those vehicles.

      The feeder buses are terrible, they run near empty half the time, or not often enough and wind convoluted, painfully slow routes.

      Cars feeding stations are also terrible, either you have to get up with the sparrows, park a km away, or build expensive and ugly high rise parking stations.

      It’s not hard to envisage a better solution with minivan sized autonomous vehicles.

      • Those parking structures can be built over highway interchanges and landscaped. People drive their EV a few miles to park and then board really long tandem buses that exclusively use the existing HOV lane. Driving-assisted technology can make a 100′ bus possible for high density commuting to employment centers. Parking downtown will become too expensive as redevelopment proves more lucrative.

        • Time how long it takes from the point where you enter the parking station to the point where you walk into the train station. Easily 5 to 10 minutes saved if an autonomous bus drops you at the train station entrance. So you’ve gained nothing in time by driving, and added the cost of many vehicles and a concrete construction (with it’s own carbon footprint). Just-in-time beats inventory – same concept.

          • Savings from not building parking lots could pay for the system.

        • Very aesthetic choice – now it’s a $1.7 million parking space!

      • A 35K gas burning vehicle, to travel 3km, to sit in a $1.2 million parking space – is that a problem?

      • Of course we can’t service every residence with rail – that’s why we need a portfolio of complementary modes. And only rail gets to densities of 20,000 people per hour per lane at 80+mph reliably without congestion slowdowns. So if you run a time-optimization model, it’s best role for rail is always as the backbone in the dense areas. Then it must be complemented with Ubers, minivans, protected bike lanes, protected walking sidewalks, etc. to feed it.

        Assuming, of course, that the objective is a fast transportation network immune to congestion slowdowns.

        • One example is 405 in L.A., people commute everyday one person per car. The air is bad by Friday afternoon and gets better by Sunday afternoon.

          • Perfect – yes. Run a 100mph train, elevated, down the middle of 405. 100mph, yes, with stops every 5 miles. Gee, do you think that would be a compelling proposition? I can be stuck in traffic and take a hour to go 15 miles, or I can take 15 minutes. Times 2 each day.

            And these systems need a good architectural plan in order to work and get people to / from the stations quickly and easily with rapid-bus, protected bike lanes/ bikeshare / bike lockers, and, yes, cars and parking. LA is a perfect market for an integrated system like this. LA’s current transportation system is an utter disaster with regard to time and lost productivity.

    • What role do you see “snail rail” performing? Are you talking a light rail system that feeds from suburbs into the city center or some other function?

      • Not sure what “snail rail” is – Perhaps most “commuter rail” systems in the US that run on 150 year old alignments? (quite literally – I’m not joking on the age of those alignments) Or are you referring to the crappy “light rail” systems that so many US cities have that run slowly, can’t carry numbers like the above, and are stuck at the same traffic lights with the busses? Or maybe just slow, inner city subways?

        The architecture of a good transport system would have 80mph, high-capacity (20,000 people per hour, 2-5 minute service) rail where there are over-crowded freeways currently. Feed these stations every 5 miles with rapid busses, protected bike lanes / bike share, ubers, personal cars, and light rail / slower subways. Not unlike the architecture of the roadway network with different classes of service for backbone vs. last mile.

        • Snail rail is today’s passenger rail system in the US. Even our “high speed rail” on the east coast is pretty slow by world standards. Passenger rail in the US is simply to slow for travel between cities which are not “next door” to each other.

          Light rail is not fast, especially if it stops several times along the way. But light rail can be a perfectly acceptable way move people into and out of cities.

          Are there any 80 mile per hour high capacity light rail systems?

          • “snail rail” – got it. Yes, these are the 150 year old alignments, currently used for freight mostly and some “commuter rail”. For the snail rail, make sure all routes are double tracked, which adds 1000% (yes, 10x) capacity over single tracked, and focus on freight. Each intermodal train takes 200 trucks off the highway.

            Passenger rail can run on the old freight routes, but to run 2 minute headways at 80mph in town or frequent service 200mph between cities, they need their own alignments.

            Outside the US, there are plenty of urban/metro area 80mph-ish trains. BART (originally spec’d at 80mph half century ago, heavy traffic has it throttled to 70 in all but one section now), Washington DC 75mph, half century ago, MARTA in Atlanta (not a great implementation). The US pretty much stopped rail development after 1970 and the “light rail” that cities like to use to day “hey, look , we put in transit”, runs at 55mph and often is stuck in traffic.

            Very doable. And a pair of tracks on a high-capacity system is as wide as a 2 lane road and yet carry the equivalent of a 32 lane wide freeway. All electric. Ready now.

  • Attention, Marion!!!

    Musk has now mentioned a less expensive EV to come. Time for you to start complaining that it’s not yet available to purchase….. ;o)

    • And smaller yet….isn’t the Model III very small already?

      • It’s about double a Fiat 500 in size.

          • It isn’t a land ship. But it isn’t small.

          • The Model 3 might be small to you as an American but to a European or an Asian it is not, these things depend on context.
            I have a Model S which I bought because at the time it was the only electric car with a usable range (even so going from Brisbane to Sydney took 3 days and 2 days return for what in an ICE car is a long one day trip, but then I don’t take 2000km trips very often and things will improve by the end of 2016 re SuperChargers). So far I have had 3 minor very low-speed prangs in this and a Tesla loan car (thankfully not involving other vehicles or pedestrians) trying to negotiate parking garages which seem to be built for smaller vehicles and better drivers than I. I’ve had zero incidents in my previous car which I’ve driven for 150,000km over 16 years (narrower but actually a little longer). I would have bought a Model 3 instead of the S if it had been available at the time, even if the price was the same simply because a smaller car suits me better.

          • I agree that the Model S is HUGE. It’s probably the biggest thing (hah) that I dislike about it.

      • Model 3 fights the BMW 3-series.

        Who will take on the 1-series.

        • Well…except that the BMW i3 doesn’t have level 4 charging which is two problems – the car can’t charge at level 4 speeds and even if it could, there’s no level 4 network for it (unless they grow a pair and jump on board the Supercharging network).
          Range is also a sizable gap.
          Autopilot is another feature that is absent in BMW.
          The tech in Teslas far exceeds other OEMs.
          Those are large gaps but not insurmountable. If BMW came out with a 200 mile car that could charge on the Tesla network and announced a major purchase or licensing deal with mobileye…I would seriously love to drive an i3. It’s a beautiful car (to me) and I absolutely love the life module concept. Truly…I would be over the moon if this happened and, I happen to know that Zach is secretly (or maybe not so secretly) in love with the i3. 😛

          • BMW has the technology. They also got a very successful car business going. The market for EVs is still tiny.
            The i3 is arguably the most advanced EV on the market. Ibguess there will be the i5 before 2020.
            Automatic driving and charging stations (150-300kW) are a joint effort in Germany.
            There are tons of driving assist features in German cars. They own Here which is already acquiring data from over 80.000 data points every day.
            When the hardware is ready they will put everything in millions of new cars at once.

            It’s understandable to be enthusiastic about EVs but living in a a Tesla hypebubble won’t help.

          • Please expand on the 150-300kW charging stations. Are there any plans for a network to begin to mirror the Tesla one (but with higher power/reduced charge time ? If no coordinated network, how and when will these be deployed. This is not a sarcastic comment but a plea for more information.
            Best regards.

          • Thank you for those links, Fastned already has 38 sites so are in a good position to provide higher power charging when there are vehicle that will accept it I see. CCS is also heading that way, let’s hope the world will start to transition to sustainable transport in meaningful numbers soon.

          • I attended the launch of the latest Mercedes C class coupe last weekend, and it already contains many of the autonomous driving features, much the same as the Tesla. MB is catching up real fast in this area…

          • Will VW/Audi/Porsche have any money left to spend on EV development after all the fines and lawsuit payouts?

          • That up and down side window waistline … yikes.

      • Not ‘small’, I would say mid-sized.

        Perhaps it’s the N.American mentality towards cars. The land is vast and ‘cheap’ in many places, so cars are sized accordingly – with the emphasis on comfort. Whereas most places in Asia/Europe, would be better suited to an even smaller car; especially considering the vast majority of road-journeys taken, are done so alone or with one passenger.

        A commercial ‘response’, from Tesla, to the Fiat 500/BMW Mini, would go a LONG way towards cementing the feasibility of EVs in the collective psyche of ‘the people’.

        I wish Nissan would create a 200-mile Leaf that’s actually pretty…then I’m sure Elon would be happy to concentrate on other sections of the market – namely – the Pick-Up phenomenon…

        • People equate cars with freedom, mass transit not so much.

          • That’s true. But if we make public transportation comfortable, convenient, and affordable then many people would use it for the routine stuff. They can leave their personal vehicle at home in the event they decide to runaway….

          • This is exactly why high speed trains rule Europe. Fast, cheap, reliable city to city transport… MUCH quicker than flying in many cases.

          • Indeed – and make public transport faster than the alternatives (driving). Not technically hard to do in any urban area in the US that suffers from terrible gridlock during all commute hours and weekend hours (the times when people actually want to go somewhere). 80mph urban trains, separated from auto roadways. People would find that quite compelling vis a vis stuck in traffic.

      • As far as I can tell there are no specs yet. Just a statement that it will be about 20% smaller than the Mod S. That would make it the size of a Toyota Camry. Mid-sized car.

      • Look at Musk standing next to it at the presentation. It would be the same if I stood next to audi TT looking like a toy car.

      • It’s 3000 lbs (1400 kg) to carry a 98 lb (45 kg) person. Well, with her bag and running shoes she could be 50 kg!

      • Is it? 20% smaller than Model S with an even more compressed dash? I suspect the Model III will have more space than most equally prices luxury options.

        I think this also ignores that Musk is trying to lead in future changes. I can see a world in which Fiat 500 is not a small car. Who knows what the plans are but no doubt the Model IV or whatever can be Fiat 500 dimensions or Mini dimensions and kill in a cheaper market.

    • Yes Bob i notice that too.
      When the model 3 was released i set 2 possible announcements; one being a smaller vehicle aimed for the first buyer single in the sub $20k area or more and the other being a battery enhancement, these i feel will come post 2020 when the mod 3 is bedded down and deliveries are well and truly rolling out the doors of Tesla.

      • Perhaps not sub $20k. But purchase price is not what buyers should be looking at. More important is out of pocket expense during (and after) payoff.

        A $35,000 EV costs the same per month as a $28,000 ICEV when one compares monthly payment + electricity to monthly payment + gas/oil.

        (Fully financed, 4.5%, 72 months, 13,000 annual miles, 12c/kWh, $3/gallon.)

        A $27,500 EV would cost the same per month as a Toyota Camry (MSRP $23k). The fourth generation Tesla should be shooting for about $25k.

    • No need to bait her lol, I will do it for her. This next model is what, 5 years or more away? Almost not even worth talking about…yet.

      • I expect a Model Y announcement just after the 3 comes out (Jan 2018ish)…then another a year later. I’m an optimist.

        • The Model Y is the one I was hoping for instead of the 3 🙁

          • In time 🙂 What’s exciting is that we finally have cars that are both practical, good looking and finally forcing other manufacturers to build equally compelling cars.

      • Disagree. This tells us where Tesla intends to head next. It may take a few years but Tesla seems to be going after the full range of automobiles.

      • The looked at S and X at every different angle, talked to each owner, there is absolutely nothing left to say unless you go in repeat mode overe and over the same things. All they can do is speculate about future.

    • Indeed, it seems the top selling cars seem to be the corollas, civics, golfs, camrys, etc that “start at $18,995”. That will be a big market.

      • A $25k 200+ mile EV should be a Camry-killer. It’s all about monthly out of pocket, not initial purchase price.

        (Of course there will need to be more education so people understand that.)

        • Agreed on that Camry competition. I do think that there will need to be a very compelling Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) advantage to compel people to switch. Overall TCO parity would be insufficient to move a market with such momentum. Part is education, but perhaps not all. Even a fully educated consumer might perceive petrol as more convenient, lower risk because of battery questions, etc. Note I said “perceive” though – we on this thread know the facts pretty well. Point being is parity is insufficient to unseat such an entrenched market.

          And a good chunk of that TCO advantage needs to be frontloaded into the original cost of the vehicle. If automakers think that because a typical Camry burns $20,000 of gasoline over its life vs. $6,000 of electricity, so they should be able to charge $14K more for the EV version – they’ll fail. IMHO.

          The good news: the early market tried prices in the high $30Ks for a small EV and failed to gain mass market share – They’ve worked down the battery price curve and they’ve learned and are now headed for much more aggressive value proposition and I think that will work beautifully.

          • Some people will respond to total cost of ownership, others may be more responsive to monthly costs over the next year or two.

            Lots of people are short term thinkers. Long term thinkers seem to be less common.

  • Give me enough taxpayers money and I will move the earth.

  • This information needs to get put in people’s faces more often. A lot of people will respond to something that is hurting them and their children right now but wave away extreme weather sometime in the future.

    Save money. Better health. Save money. Cleaner air. Save money.

    • How about a digital sign in Times Square under the national debt sign. The new sign would monitor CO2 emissions.

      • That’s actually a pretty good idea.

        • Will put you in charge of that, take it and run with it. I think we plant the seed first with NREL.

          • Maybe the Mayor of New York (Bill de Blasio, democrat) would do it if asked.

          • This site is full of number cruncher s and thinkers. May be the mayor needs help designing the sign. At least gather data that is already there and apply it to count down clock.

      • They could make it an “avoided costs” sign expressed in dollars.

        • exactly, Now who has the phone # to the white house, maybe Bob?

      • That’s a big project. Most of us are not prepared to make that happen.

        But what we can do is tell other people about the health costs of fossil fuels. We can watch for appropriate opportunities to write it in comments for web sites we visit. Write an opinion piece for the local paper, most are starved for input.

        • Maybe we can use this site ?

          • This site frequently talks about the health costs of burning fossil fuels. We need to each make an effort to reach a few people who aren’t the sorts to read sites like this one.

            Someone talking about the high cost of health insurance or health care? Good opportunity to slip in a fact or two about fossil fuel’s role.

            Someone complaining about wasting tax dollars? Good opportunity to ….

            Someone complaining about the cost of wind or solar/ Good opportunity to ….

  • Well said 🙂

    • Thanks for that link.
      For those who do not comprehend Norwegian the main English part starts after 19:30. After the Musk/minister discussion a second speaker takes the podium for the remainder of the video for a solo presentation. If you are solely interested in the Musk part you could stop watching at that point (but the second talk is also in English and no doubt will be of interest to those concerned about public transport and toll road charging systems).

      Musk makes a comment in the discussion with the minister about the problem of urban car congestion that implied to me that he has plans for an autonomous Uber like service. This has been speculated before but I had not seen such a clear (to me at least) indication that he is planning to go that way, albeit not in the near future.

  • I remember reading that an electric airplane could be feasible.

    If that’s the case then one could forgo any hyperloops, since an electric airplane is approximately a hyperloop with wings but without the need for new infrastructure.

    • VTOL aircraft may be noisy.

    • Solar Impulse is proving this out…albeit at an extremely minimalist implementation but it’s flying… Batteries are heavy…so as that changes, electric flight becomes more practical.

    • Airplanes are too slow.

      • darn right, go for transporters! 🙂

      • I was thinking of electrified passenger jets.
        (800 km/h or 1200 km/h on a relatively short distance doesn’t make a big difference and I don’t think vacuum-tubes crossing the big oceans would be cost effective).

        • People have talked about extending the ‘loop across oceans but I think that’s getting way, way ahead of the data.

          If the ‘loop works, is affordable, etc. what we could do it to run a tube up to Alaska, use planes to hop to Asia, and get back into a tube on the other side. Same for going east. Tube to the NE Canadian coast and fly to the UK/west coast of Europe.

          Electrified passenger jets could be a solution. As could fueled jets running on biofuel or synfuel.

    • The problem with the Jetson’s flying car is air traffic control and crashes into people’s roofs.

      • I’d assume a potential flying car would fly on autopilot (after all flying automatically is easier than driving automatically.)

    • Electric airplanes will be feasible eventually but they are not feasible yet.

      Two other points:
      — airplanes are the one thing for which “energy density” actually matters, since you have to haul the batteries or fuel into the *air*. So battery planes will be worse at carrying weight than fuel-powered planes
      — airplanes don’t scale up well. Trains can simply carry waaaaay more people per hour. Trains scale up massively. They scale up better than any other method of fast passenger transportation. This is actually due to the passive stabilization of the conical wheels, which allows trains to be *very long*.

      • Absolutely. Trains have been running for years in many places around the world carrying 20,000 people per lane per hour – old tech, it’s fast, it’s economical, it’s electric, it’s a 100% known technology. Go for Hyperloop R&D, yes, and in the decades while we wait, we need to electrify transportation. (Most people in the US have never experienced good rail systems, so there’s a misperception and a misunderstanding of the facts in the US in particular. Other countries get it though)

    • Thanks for sharing 🙂 This was just before the video above.

  • So where’s the video of the interview?

    I particularly like the bit about the autonomous urban minibuses. Reminds me a LOT of a conversation we all had one here a few months ago…

    You read it here first, folks. Even B.E.S.S. (Before Elon Said So).

  • Thanks.

  • Add another $15 trillion per year in AGW adaptation costs. CO2 lasts for a minimum 1000 years. And people argue that RE subsidies should be reduced!

  • Autonomous buses are MUCH more plausible than autonomous cars. The reason: buses go on a fixed route. You can scout all the obstacles in advance and make sure the bus can handle the conditions on THAT route.

    Cars could drive… anywhere. The “wild west” unpredictability of the environment is why autonomous cars will not be safe in general for decades if *ever*.

    • The entire road system is nothing more than the sum of many fixed routes.

  • Hyperloop is a plane which is very very safe

  • Video discussion works fine on a chromebook. Not sure what your issue is.

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