Batteries

Published on June 9th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan

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What’s Actually New In The Electric Car World?

June 9th, 2016 by  

We cover electric car news obsessively and enthusiastically. In fact, it’s quite hard for us to keep to 10 or fewer electric car stories a day. Nonetheless, there are some key underlying themes that don’t tend to change much, so I thought it might be worthwhile to step away from the news cycle for a moment to do a long article on these underlying points.

If The Auto Industry Transitions To Electric Cars “Too” Quickly

This is a point that is critical to realize but that flies over the heads of many an EV discussion. Let’s quickly run through the main points:

  • The auto industry is big.
  • The auto industry has put an insane (for real) amount of money into machines and buildings focused on building ICE (internal combustion engine) cars, money that can’t really be recouped if the industry transitions away from ICE cars — these are called sunk costs.
  • To stop using those investments would be like not renting 10 homes you own, just letting them sit there and all the money you put into them go to waste (probably a bad analogy since the scale is hard to present in a comparative manner).
  • Auto companies have a lot of their competitive advantages built into IP (intellectual property) related to ICE cars.
  • Executives at major auto companies have a lot of their career advantages and knowledge baked into ICE cars.
  • To move away from ICE cars without much competitive advantage in EV technology leaves these companies and their executives exposed to competitors, and, like with the sunk costs mentioned above, essentially means throwing away years of investments.
  • The larger a company and its dominance of an outgoing tech, the more difficult is the pivot to the incoming tech that replaces the outgoing tech (as a general rule). Think Kodak, Blockbuster, Peabody Energy, etc.

This is not new, and Fiat Chrysler Automotive boss Sergio Marchionne explicitly acknowledged it not long ago, but I think it is still a heavily under-acknowledged point.

Aside from anything regarding dealership networks and the matters I discuss below, a quick transition to EVs just puts the large auto companies in a very difficult and risky situation, so they genuinely don’t want the transition to happen quickly.

For more detail on the topic, I encourage you to watch the following presentation from Tesla Motors co-founder Marc Tarpenning, which I wrote about back in 2013. It is one of my all-time favorite (top 10, or even top 3) cleantech presentations.

This is not going to change anytime soon. Large automakers are going to be desiring a slow transition to EVs for many years or even decades (if they can hold things back that long) to come.

So, what does news regarding the auto industry’s approach to EVs really come to? Basically:

  • Announcements about increasingly (or not) competitive electric cars that move us closer and closer to an electric future.
  • Interesting tidbits about the current and planned Tesla electric cars that move us toward that future much more quickly.
  • Interesting tidbits about the other early-stage electric cars that early adopters are enjoying or considering.
  • Overall studies on how quickly (or slowly) the market is actually moving.
  • The horserace of electric car sales (which I admittedly enjoy a great deal).
  • Policies that will accelerate or decelerate the transition to electric cars.
  • Whether or not some automakers will make it to the end of this transition.

long range electric cars

Batteries Are The Hearts Of EVs, And As Such…

The heart of an electric car is its batteries. Batteries are also what has held back the industry, because they have been quite expensive, resulting in a higher upfront price for an electric car than for a “comparable” gasoline car. (Note: I don’t think a gas car with the same interior & exterior as an electric car is actually comparable, because of these electric car benefits, but I realize that few consumers are aware of the benefits of electric cars, and still even think that electric cars have more downsides than benefits. Oh, my!!)

But battery tech has been advancing at a rapid clip, even if it doesn’t seem like that on a month-to-month or even sometimes year-to-year basis. The arrival of cost-effective lithium-ion batteries (first through consumer products like laptops) resulted in these batteries replacing previous options (like lead-acid batteries) that could never really compete on a mass scale. Steady and significant improvements in lithium-ion batteries over the past decade have really been key to the EV market’s growth. This could be considered news, but it’s really an experience curve that is quite predictable, has been obvious for awhile, and I’d say cannot be stopped. Tesla has accelerated the progress by scaling up demand and production (thus, economies of scale) and making manufacturing improvements faster than would happen otherwise, and other EV leaders in the industry (such as Nissan, GM & LG Chem, and BMW & Samsung SDI) have contributed to that accelerated progress as well.

Here are a few charts to highlight the progress that has been made and is projected to be made in the coming years:

Battery-Prices-and-EV-Domination-Tesla EV Battery Prices Li Ion Battery Prices EV battery prices Battery Price Projectiosn


 

While we can and do cover news on this progress, if you step back a bit, there’s not really a “need” to do that. We can cover each meter that a wave moves toward the shore, but the bottom line that we are all aware of is that is is headed there and will arrive, at which point we will be able to feel it run up our toes, feet, and maybe even legs. 😀

The important thing within the industry, on a more detailed level, is which companies are pushing forward harder and will lead the way into cheaper and cheaper batteries. But the thing is: most automakers are leaving it to battery producers to scale up the production. Tesla has taken charge and is accelerating the transition via the Gigafactory in Nevada, and there are now signs that Volkswagen is aiming to follow Tesla’s lead. One could also say GM is doing so to some extent through its partnership with LG Chem, and Nissan and BMW are as well with their battery partners, but these are more indirect and slower approaches from what we can see on the outside. (Remember point #1: automakers want the transition to go slowly….)

So, what does news regarding EV batteries really come to? Basically:

  • Individual data points on battery prices, and how quickly they are coming down.
  • News about battery factories that will help to bring down costs and grow supply.
  • Scientific advancements that are seldom useful enough to make it to market and are almost always over-hyped by the universities and startups behind them, and then by the media. (We have tried to step off of this pedal.)
  • Tidbits about battery chemistry and design that the nerds in all of us can have some fun reading and chatting about. 😀

Road Trips (aka Super-Fast Charging)

Electric drivetrains are nicer for drivers, since they offer instant torque, a smoother and quieter drive, much more efficient (read: cheaper) driving, and one-pedal driving thanks to regenerative braking. They also offer the superb and convenient benefit of home charging, and sometimes workplace charging, which essentially means spending seconds charging (plugging in and unplugging the charging cord … if you don’t just use wireless charging) rather than spending a ton of time finding gas stations and filling up at their smelly and noisy locations. (Can you imagine having to go stand on the side of the road once a week or so to charge your phone?)

volta_chargingStill, aside from the upfront cost of batteries/EVs, a remaining downside to them is that public charging is slower than filling up a gas tank. As I noted above, this doesn’t matter much of the time since you can often charge at home or work. But it does matter for the famed road trip that we all seem to dream about, and occasionally take.

In a fully electric car made by a conventional automaker, your best option on a road trip is DC fast charging that requires ~1 hour of charging after ~1–2 hours of driving … if you have fast chargers along the route you want to take and located conveniently enough for charging and then making it to your next stop without running out of electricity. Needless to say, that just doesn’t cut it, and the result is that it relegates these electric cars to city or, at best, regional cars. (Note: there are plug-in hybrids that try to get around this, but you are adding a lot of complexity, extra parts, costs, and other tradeoffs with a mixture of two types of vehicles. Plug-in hybrids are good options for many people for the time being, but I think they are unlikely to compete on the mass market.)

Super-fast charging (what Tesla calls Supercharging and I’ve called Level 4 charging) is the bare minimum to get around this blockade. With properly sized batteries, it allows a few hours of driving and then charging while you take a short break to stretch, use the toilet, eat something, and maybe check the latest news on CleanTechnica. 😀

Tesla-Superchargers-Spain

There is talk of super-fast charging for non-Tesla cars, but absolutely no network for that, while Tesla has built expansive networks of Superchargers across North America, Europe, and increasingly China and Japan.

So, what does news on this front really come to? Basically:

  • Tesla’s ongoing expansion of Supercharging.
  • The increasing potential that another super-fast charging network will one day be developed, but how much later after Tesla’s?
  • Growth of the slower charging networks that support EV life but don’t quite cut it for long road trips.
  • Tidbits about super-fast charging ideas and advancements.

Conclusion

In sum, am I telling you to ignore EV news sites like CleanTechnica, Gas2, and EV Obsession? Of course not. It is fun to watch the story roll out, and it is fun to see if it changes course a bit from what we expect. I just thought it would be interesting and maybe helpful to step back and look at the bigger picture of the EV industry. This story will really be no different in one year, two years, or (fill in the blank) than it is today. If you enjoy stories, it is fun to read the middle chapters as well as the beginning and the ending, but it is also nice to sometimes step back and think about the whole thing in an abridged way.

With that all said, I’m now wondering, why do you read electric car news? Here’s a survey on that matter:

Create your own user feedback survey

By the way, if we want to step back and take an even bigger view of all of this, we have this deep EV history. Many of the same matters as above, as well as some others, were a big deal ~100 years ago. One could say that the decades when EVs had all but disappeared were just middle chapters as well.





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

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.



  • Mike Dill

    Zach, you need to update the battery graphics with the new Tesla pack price at $190/kWh. All of the charts are now obsolete! Fun stuff happens as we wait.

  • Shane 2

    “short break to stretch, use the toilet, eat something”
    Bravo, the North American euphemism “bathroom” in place of toilet is annoying. So often we hear “bathroom” used for a room that has no bath!

  • OneHundredbyFifty

    EVs represent a disruptive change on an unprecedented scale. The effect on the auto industry will be rapid in comparison to their size but gradual in comparison to what is about the hit the oil industry. The reason is that the oil industry is a threshold issue. When supply exceeds demand, the price of oil will drop to the price of the lowest cost producer making massive investments such as Alberta and the fracking infrastructure become worthless. This effect is leveraged and will bankrupt $100’s of billions in the oil industry. Cheap gasoline will forestall the inevitable but only for a relatively short time. Depending upon how successful the oil companies are at rigging the system, it could be postponed for years but not decades. The auto industry is driving this whole thing but the real story is what is about to befall the oil industry. The interesting thing to do is to then play the game of what would be the logical thing to do and see if it happens.

    For example, a few years ago I looked at the McKinsey graph and thought to myself, ‘if that is right then the oil industry will have to lower prices dramatically. That will weaken the EV industry (they hope kill it) and lead to a massive shift to low milage vehicles locking in a few more years of high demand for oil.’ That happened. Now one can make a good case that the reason is the collapse of OPEC or the emergence of Fracking or Iran coming back into the market. But at the end of the day, Saudi Arabia has always moderated these things and now they are not. Why? Given that they are the lowest cost producer they can weaken all of their competition by keeping the flow going. And now that the end game is in sight they are doing just that. Is it simply EVs, probably not but I think that EVs are part of the calculus and it is time to start talking about that. And if the price of gasoline continues to sit just to the right of the line on the McKinsey graph then we can reasonably deduce that it is a significant part of the calculus.

    I would argue that the middle of the book is important to:

    – Investors
    – People looking at career prospects and opportunities
    – Policy makers thinking about how to build policy to protect the economy from a disruption measured in Trillions over less than a decade.
    – Voters looking to assess options – Will we elect someone that is going to create policy to retrain workers in shifting industries or will we leave them to rot?
    – How will we adjust the infrastructure so that cars have the charging infrastructure they need?
    – Environmentalists – Which areas should they leverage in order to most effectively leverage their resources.
    – And lastly (yes sadly it will be helping these guys) – anti-renewables, anti-EV activists looking to disrupt the disruptive change.

    So keep up the great work Cleantechnica. Reporting on how the story is unfolding is more than fun, it is an important service to inform the all stakeholders so that better decisions can be made and opportunities engaged.

  • Matt

    I’m amazed that the 3 price projects, made in 2012, can be so different in 2013. $200 different at the start! One this is clear, it is hard to project where you are going when you don’t know where you are.

  • FruityPimpernel

    Zachary,

    Not mentioned here, but looming over the whole future of the auto business (electric and ICE) is autonomy and specifically robo taxis- when they arrive, who will make them and how they will deploy them, how quickly cities adopt them, whose lunch they eat, how fast they cannibalise both ICE and EV sales of privately owned vehicles…..

  • Bob Fearn

    “To stop using those investments (ICE cars) would be like not renting 10 homes you own, just letting them sit there and all the money you put into them go to waste.”
    Crap comparison. Those 10 homes are not a threat to life on this planet!! Burning fossil fuels ARE a threat to this planet.
    It is tragic that even EV enthusiasts think that we can continue to piss around with fossil fuels while CO2 and methane levels reach unprecedented levels.

    • Well, right. I was just putting it in the perspective of the automakers (who don’t seem to care or realize what they are contributing to).

  • Armen Hovannesjan

    Yes, there are still several open issues with EVs the ICE users do not have at present.
    #1. Incompatible charging interfaces (Try to charge your Nissan Leaf or the Rimac Concept One at a Tesla supercharger. Please don’t!).
    #2. Lack of a wide network of charging stations – ideally off-grid, self-powered by a modular generator mix (e.g., solar, wind, hydro or tidal), with sufficient power storage capacity. (The mainstream manufacturers of ICE-cars are trying to bypass the present range and charger situation as well as potential loss of their own revenues by well promoted semi-EVs (hybrides)).
    #3. Good EVs are still less affordable than the ICE-driven cars.
    This, to mention just three inconveniences a potential EV customer faces.
    Another topic is the EV thermal management system employing not quite environmentally friendly fluids, instead of using something like Schukey technology.

  • Bob_Wallace

    I seriously doubt that we’ll see the government build a rapid charging system in the US. And I don’t see enough profit potential for third party construction.

    Until there are enough 200 mile GMs, Fords, BMWs, etc. to create a market for a privately owned rapid charging system that system will not get built.

    Until the rapid charging system is built for GMs, Fords, BMW, etc. those EVs will not sell in large numbers.

    It’s a “Who will go first?” problem. Tesla solved that by building the cost of the system into the price of its EVs and building the system. Soon after starting to sell their Model S one could drive one of their EVs from coast to coast, charging rapidly.

    Lots of people are going to opt for the EV that they can drive 500 miles a day without spending hours charging.

    • bwollsch

      What if GM did the same thing Tesla is doing? GM doesn’t want to spend the money, but what if they added $1000 to the cost of the car with the proceeds going to Chargepoint, NRG or some other vendor to build out the network. It could be tied into the OnStar system for activation at the pump. Or charge the $1000 and give the money to Tesla for access to the superchargers.

      • Bob_Wallace

        If GM provided rapid charging for their Bolts I think sales would be a lot higher than otherwise. GM could join with Tesla, start their own system, or assist an independent company to establish.

        Right now you’ll have to pay extra (over the $37,500 price tag) to have your Bolt fitted out with the ability to charge rapidly. And there’s nowhere to rapidly charge.

        For me that would be a deal killer. Why would I pay more ($2,500 more than the Tesla 3 plus more for the Bolt upgrade) for a car I couldn’t take on a trip of any length?

        • bwollsch

          Elon has said that supercharger access will be extra on the Model 3, definitely not part of the $35,000 base price. How much more? We don’t know yet. My point was to say that if we could get GM would charge the car buyer a one time fee, to access one of the tree supercharger options, more Bolts would be sold. I’d pay a little more for the Bolt to get it a year to a year and a half early, if it came with supercharging.

  • Brian

    Excellent article, Zach; thanks for the perspective! I need to watch that Tarpenning video again. Batteries and DCFC networks are surely the keys to other players besides Tesla getting in the game. The Car&Driver editor’s letter this month was a strange mix of pessimism (about Tesla) and optimism that the rest of the industry will suddenly provide all the EVs the market will need / want. I’m really starting to appreciate our (early adopter) role in getting the word out. All the pieces are there to make EVs the compelling choice, but the masses need to get the message. Much work to do!

    • Yes, someone sent that letter along. Pretty ridiculous/horrible op-ed to my eyes.

  • dRanger

    As a science fiction/fantasy fan, I always love EIA predictions. They are so “out there” and can be counted on to not improve. I think their crystal ball is clouded with some kind of black gunk.

    • nitpicker357

      Yeah, I have this weird fascination with EIA predictions, too. But then, I like webcomics, too.

    • lol 😀

  • Mike Shurtleff

    Zach,
    I love it when even a strong proponent gets conservative on the numbers …because they are so good, they are just hard to believe.

    On your second graph, that one lonely blue triangle is $145/kWh, just below the $150/kWh top of the gray cost goal area. Also, this was announced last year, not this year. You are also missing Tesla’s recent information their pack costs are now down to $190/kWh. I was just catching up on what Electrovaya has now for lithium ion battery product. James Ayer should have dug a little deeper. 150Wh/kg (not great & not bad & better than 5 years ago) and 9,000 cycle life by using flexible ceramic separator. They are claiming potential for half the cost. I never know for sure what that really means, because of wide spread on lithium battery costs & prices, but I’m guessing closer to Tesla/Panasonic and GM’s LGChem batteries in production cost. 9,000 cycles for a lithium battery with an NMC cathode is impressive!

    $145/kWh and $190/kWh production costs mean we are “currently” all the way to the second orange arrow on the first graph, …so that one is also conservative.

    Not your fault, but predictions on that second graph are just silly. $400/kWh to $600/kWh in 2015? Lithium Ion cells have been between $300/kWh and $400/kWh for a long time now. Prices are dropping, not going up. How long ago did the Volt 1.0 come out? Same discussion back then as for Lithium Storage batteries now. Price of units is $1,000/kWh +/- a few $100/kWh. I kept pointing out lithium cell were costing <$400/kWh and most thought I was nuts. Then GM announce the Volt 1.0 battery pack was $500/kWh. Thank you GM. Same here. Production costs are already much lower than most can admit to themselves. Seems to low, particularly with Lithium Storage systems priced so high. High costs are from new tech market, not real cost of production. They will come down fast.

    Further on second graph predictions: Lowest cost ever is $150/kWh all the way out to 2030? …and flat from 2025 to 2030? …predictions to almost $300/kWh (need grid lines) in 2030? Plenty of lithium out there.
    Again, not your fault, but predictions on that first graph are wacked!

    "Something is coming. Something wonderful!"

    You guys are all great! What you're doing here if great!
    Kind regards, mike

    • MaartenV

      Mike,

      You beat me to it, but these figures are way too conservative.
      First, these graphs are old. The institutions who made them used the well-researched figures from one to three year before they published these graphs.
      Second, they mix PHEV and BEV batteries.
      Third, they use market forecasting techniques instead of technological development rules like More’s Law.

      If you go looking for More’s Law for batteries (MLfB), you will find that there has been a decline in the amount of $$/kWh between 14%-16% a year for more than a decade. Conservatively translated, that gives a halving of the prices every 5 years.
      Which is exactly your observation. You thought $400/kWh in 2011 and GM says $200/kWh in 2016. (Pack price at 150% of cell price). Tesla is a little below that curve.

      With all the big and small revolutionary breakthroughs we hear all about, and who are mostly not good enough to make it to commercial production because there is a better breakthrough, there is no reason to think this will stop.
      Expect $100/kWh in 2012 and $50/kWh in 2026 and $25/kWh in 2031. And if MLfB is closer to four year than five year this will happen even sooner.

      A disruptive technology will conquer the market following an S-curve. If the established players try to delay this by pushing the upper part of the S into the future, new players will take their place. The only hope for the current carmakers is to try to pull the bottom of the curve closer to the present. Getting on board and owning the technology, like GM, VW and Nissan are doing, before Apple and other new entries into the market make them obsolete.

      • Mike Shurtleff

        Moore’s Law is particular to circuit density, but you probably already know that. Yes, Solar PV and Batteries are following their own remarkable industrial production learning curves.
        You meant $100/kWh in 2022 (not 2012) and I agree completely!
        I’m less sure about $50/kWh in 2026 and $25/kWh in 2031. I don’t know where costs will reach limits. I think they will go below $100/kWh and that’s enough for disruptive change.
        …and I was clearly wrong to think Solar PV might stop at 4c/kWh. 2c/kWh is now sounding more realistic for Solar PV. Who know where these technologies will reach harder to break limits?

        • MaartenV

          The phenomenon that Moore’s Law describes, can be generalized to a number of technologies. A few years ago I have read a paper showing this for two or three dozen technologies. Batteries was one of them.
          And like the end of Moore’s Law is often promised by experts for the last thirty year, the end of the improvements for batteries is equally impossible to predict.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            Industrial learning curve applies to production of many technologies.
            Moore’s Law is particular to transistor density on an IC.

        • Carl Raymond S

          “Swanson’s law” is what you’re looking for. Says that the price falls by 20 percent for each doubling of cumulative shipped volume. So that’s kind of inverse logarithmic, applied to something growing logarithmically, comes out as a straight line? Maybe not, but close enough for a ballpark near term estimate.

          • OneHundredbyFifty

            Swansen simply applied experience curve theory to PV. It was first observed in aircraft manufacturing and then found to apply to most manufactured products. https://handlemanpost.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/experience-curves/

            We see it in solar, we see it in wind power, we are seeing it in battery development. It has been seen in flat panel displays, and pretty much any other disruptive product. https://handlemanpost.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/up-to-date-cost-curves-for-batteries-solar-and-wind/

            As you point out this is different than Moore’s law. Moore’s law is experience curve x feature size reduction so it shows MUCH larger benefits MUCH faster. However experience curves are already really fast.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            No “Swanson’s law” is particular to Solar PV panels. Another specific case of an industrial production learning curve. Yes, they are all exponential decay curves. Yes, straight line on a log plot.

          • Carl Raymond S

            I don’t like the term “learning curve”, as it’s more a mechanisation curve. The prices fall as volumes reach the level where more, larger and faster machines can complete greater percentages of the production process.
            It’s also time for expansion of Swanson’s law, as many products follow this behaviour, though the coefficient may vary.

      • Thanks as well for adding more context and improving the conversation!

    • Thanks. Great stuff. Thank you for carrying on the discussion in a helpful manner.

  • app_farmer

    There has been talk that Tesla wants to open supercharger technology to other carmakers. Personally, I think this makes the most sense. Likewise, if they will allow competition in the charging network, itself, infrastructure will grow much more rapidly. Naturally, Model S owners would have to pay for such charging, but it will help to ensure availability when they get to the point that superchargers actually fill up on a regular basis. It would also make the charging more like fueling an ICE vehicle. I can go to any-brand station and fill up. Similarly, I can charge any cellphone with any charger, Apple aside. It should be the same for Level 4/supercharging.

    • Tesla offered it years ago. No automaker has accepted the offer. All they have to do is build cars that can use it, and help pay for the cost of the network.

    • J.H.

      The public DCFC charging network will evolve without every EV manufacture paying for that infrastructure, as Tesla did. Tesla was forced to do it because it did not exist. Historically the auto industry did not sell gas. The infrastructure will be build by people that see it as an untapped market place. I opened my first public site and its is driven by small wind.

      • neroden

        There’s no business model for it. Electricity is so cheap, and chargers other than “at home in my garage” are used so infrequently, that the best business model for charging is to give it away as a perk.

        The only low-speed chargers which seem to have a viable business model are perks for patronizing a business (restaurant, hotel, shop).

        The only high-speed chargers which seems to have a viable business model are Tesla’s, which act as a selling point to encourage people to buy more Tesla cars. (Most of the Tesla Superchargers are charged to the *marketing budget* in Tesla’s accounting.)

        I don’t see a viable model for stand-alone sales of fast charging. You have to charge a high price to recover your fixed costs; instead of using your expensive charging spot, people will instead go to the free charging sites which offer charging as a perk and recover their costs through food sales, hotel room rentals, or car sales.

        • J.H.

          You may have seen my business model; http://cleantechnica.com/2015/08/08/wind-orchard-energy-chasing-wind-for-electric-cars/.
          My plan is two build infrastructure every 50 miles along high traffic corridors in eastern Colorado from Denver to the state line with Nebraska, (pilot program). Some sites may have an onsite energy production source and some may not. As far as a business model, each site may be different. I like to think of it as a satellite locations. But these sometimes remote locations, will be price to the equivalent current market price of gas. Know freebies. As the industry grows, so will the company.

          • bwollsch

            What is the output of your charger? For the upcoming 200+ mile EVs, it would need to be 100kW or higher. Do you have both CCS and Chademo plugs?

        • The viable business model for DCFC is for taxi and ride-share. Ordinary Joe may take two distance trips a year. Taxis want to fill/top up daily. A large percentage of the taxi fleet is already hybrid (in Oz). The industry will go BEV for the same reason(s).

          • Calamity_Jean

            Many taxis where I live (Chicago IL, USA) are hybrids also. I see ex-taxis being used as private cars, which tells me that hybrid taxis make enough more money than gasoline taxis that it’s worthwhile to sell gasoline taxis before they are worn out to the point of being undriveable.

        • Will traditional gas stations jump on board and add a few EV stations to their locations?
          Gas stations make more at their stores then they do selling gas. So it would make sense to me. And with their big huge flat roofs blocking the sun & rain; they could add solar rooftop panels.

  • markogts

    “(We have tried to step off of this pedal.)”

    And rightly so. There is no “miracle technology”, only plenty of kaizen and steady homework to do.

  • Maureen jones

    Surely it has more to do with what the ‘customer’ wants?

    • Mike333

      LOL.
      You’re TOLD what you want. That’s why most of you are driving SUV’s and Trucks. But, you knew that.

      • 😀

        • Carl Raymond S

          The Tesla store at 22 Martin Place, Sydney is new. It’s in the heart of the CBD – the foot traffic is constant, 100’s per minute during peak.
          It’s on my way home twice a week and I peek through the gap in the huge “Opening this Winter” poster, at about 6pm. Tradesmen normally work 7-3, and there’s been activity each time I go by – so they are paying a bit of overtime to get it open quickly. It’s two floors, each the size of one end of a tennis court – double staircases with glass sidings – it’s going to look fab. I can’t see a way to get cars to the top level, so that’s probably where they take you to do ‘paperwork’. Apparently there will be supercharging in the basement.
          My guess is a couple of weeks till ready. (Rem: our winter is Jun,Jul,Aug).

          (Yeah, I scrolled through your page looking for not too idiotic place to post this.)

    • Carl Raymond S

      Bad habits are hard to break, and people feel comfortable with what they grew up with. e.g. At my local hardware store, they have petrol mowers and electric mowers. The electrics are just one hundred dollars more expensive – the price of a few spark plugs, an air filter, and half a dozen tins of fuel (especially if you put any value on your time). Yet the petrol mowers are still out-selling the electrics. Not everybody reads cleantechnica. Not everybody is an analyser. Customers need to be educated. Once they’ve experienced it, they won’t miss vibrating noisy smelly lawn mowers and noxious refuelling. Ditto for cars.

      • bwollsch

        Except for having to get the electric cord out, unwind it. Watch where you are mowing so you don’t run over the cord, go back around the tree so you don’t get tangled up, then wind the cord back up when you are done. And let’s not forget, not everyone has a plug on the outside of their house either. I have a neighbor that has an electric mower. His wife gets out there with him and handles the cord so he can mow. I’d like to have an electric mower, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cut the cord to my electric trimmer while trimming the hedges. I think I’ll wait for a solar/battery powered mower.

  • markogts

    Hey, you forgot a blockbuster: the charging standards war! With my Chademo, I feel like the Spartans in the movie 🙂

    • ha, true… guess i lumped that in with

      *The increasing potential that another super-fast charging network will one day be developed, but how much later after Tesla’s?

      *Growth of the slower charging networks that support EV life but don’t quite cut it for long road trips.

      • CB

        We just did a road trip with our little Spark EV and I found something out!

        The Chargepoint Keywatt systems by ies are way better than the ABB fast chargers. I read somewhere that there’s some mismatch between Chevy’s port and the ABB machines that can be fixed by sanding down the plastic… but we’re not gonna do that just yet.

        We also tried the 50kw Australian charger (MOOOAAAAR!!!) …but it didn’t work. Still super-happy with Chargepoint and 24kw…

      • bwollsch

        Yeah, but even if you did have a 100kW charger network (or higher), would a Leaf be able to charge at that rate? And even if it could, does it really make sense to have to stop every hour to charge? I think it makes more sense to think about the supercharger network for cars that have a minimum of 200 miles of range. An hour and a half to two hours is probably the sweet spot for charging and pee/lunch breaks.

  • Marion Meads

    “…essentially means throwing away years of investments.”

    When investments become liabilities it is better to throw them away but the best course of action is to profitably repurpose them. That’s where creativity comes in. The most adaptable one will survive the transition.

    • Wilibald Oplatek

      We can already see how some of the big brands are striding towards their own demise simply by refusing to adapt. They are accumulating an increasing lag in compelling EV development, they haven’t even started thinking about a long-range charging infrastructure, and they rely on others to lower the battery prices for them. A recipe for a failure, assuming Tesla maintains the exponential curve.

      • Bob_Wallace

        They aren’t at risk yet. Tesla is a few years away from one million cars per year and the world manufacturers about 90 million each year.

        If they let Tesla get to five million before they get serious about long range EVs then it’s likely some of the smaller companies could go under. And the big boys could lose some market share.

        • Wilibald Oplatek

          Tesla could get to 5 million in a decade. Coincidentally, thats the time frame after which Norway bans ICEs and BMW declared to do nothing in that time.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Possibly. But large companies such as GM and Ford could jump in with both feet in half that time or less.

            I suspect most traditional manufacturers have multiple 200+ EVs planned out on computer. They’re probably running test mules in order to confirm their electronics designs.

            Punch the Go! button. Build (or cause a major battery company to build) Gigafactory scale production. Start the car through the ‘new model’ process. Product could be cruising out the door in about three years.

            The idea for the Volt emerged in 2006. GM had a prototype smacked together in 2007. And they rolled product in 2010. Many traditionals are already building lower range EVs. They’ve got the basics down while GM had to invent the PHEV in their ~four year window.

          • Wilibald Oplatek

            There is no supplier chain that could support a hasty transition of the entire car industry to the EVs. Tesla has been building their chain for some time and will continue to do so. If e.g. VW suddenly decides to mass-produce EVs, there will be no batteries, no inverters, no motors to build them from. The time to market may not depend on the OEM’s wishes at all.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Construction on Tesla’s Gigafactory started in 2015 (site prep in 2014) and the plant started partial production in 2016. It is expected to be running full tilt in 2020.

            Companies that build motors can ramp up in the same sort of time frame.

          • Wilibald Oplatek

            Let’s hope they will 😉

          • OneHundredbyFifty

            Disagree, traditional public companies cannot move at the pace of private companies and / or companies that are run like private companies (Tesla – Musk calls the shots). Musk is designing his company not only to rapidly produce cars but to rapidly produce factories. He recognizes the disruption that he is creating and he has been designing his company to drive it from day 1. Traditional auto companies are structurally not able to move at the same pace.

            Once Model 3 is running off assembly lines and vetted, traditional auto companies will not be able to catch up. They may remain in the game but they will not lead it.

            Batteries are the driver and that is driven by both technology and scale. Some will match Musk in technology but Tesla will remain the leader in scale. They will have captive customers (themselves) and I suspect will sell batteries to anyone else that wants them, thus assuring the scale advantage.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Batteries will be made by battery companies, few if any by car companies.
            LG Chem and BYD are scaling at about the same speed as Panasonic/Tesla. They, and others, have by now carefully studied the Gigafactory and could pull off their version rapidly. It’s just a matter of having some sales contracts in hand.

            I would not bet on Tesla leading on scale. The top ten traditionals manufacture 1 to 10 million cars per year. They’ve got the stamping and assembly plants. They’ve got the windshield, wheels and seat suppliers lined up. All they need is to line up the battery, motor and electronics suppliers.

            Nissan builds 5 million cars per year. Nissan know how to build good EVs and how to build large numbers of cars.

          • “If VW suddenly decides to mass -produce EV’s” they could build a battery factory ASAP in China. Where factories might take 5-6 years in the US/Europe, China can make a factory in 1 – 3 years.

          • OneHundredbyFifty

            “But large companies such as GM and Ford could jump in with both feet in half that time or less.”

            Probably not. No doubt the start-ups at Apple, Tesla and others are (or will be) snapping up the best ICE production engineers. How many young really smart kids aspire to go work for GM? How many for Tesla? How many smart production engineers at GM don’t see the writing on the wall and haven’t been frustrated at the glacial pace and intransigence of their current employer.

            This is all going to play out like Saddam’s military in the first Iraq war. Much was made of their awesome power due to the elite guard using the best Soviet Tanks. But when the shooting war started they all threw up their hands. It was over before it started. The system had rotted from within due to weak leadership and nothing was left.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The time frame is a decade.

            Many traditionals are already selling lower range EVs and the quality seems OK. Complaints are about range and the cars only being sold in compliance states.

            That tells us that they have the engineering staff and knowhow.

            GM went from no PHEV to the Volt selling in about four years. Going from a 80 mile range to a 200 mile range EV should take less time once the decision has been made to go there.

            Plus, I think it highly likely that most traditionals already have 200 mile EVs at some stage of design. And some are likely testing.

            But I repeat myself….

          • Carlos Lemos

            That’s at least 5 more gigafactories. I hope next one will be the next big announcement. 😀

    • Mike333

      Apple faced that dilemma too with the iPad verses their computer line.
      They were initially hesitant about bringing out the iPad, and wondered would it decimate PC sales.

      Well, it did hurt PC sales, but, they had iPad sales to fall back on. Dell did not.

      If you protect your current investment, when clearly a new wave of product is ready for production, you risk your total business.

      Dell had to be taken off the public markets.
      I suggest Ford and Chrysler will also be reminded of that bit of business history.

    • neroden

      Hanging on to a doomed investment just because you sunk a lot of money into it already is actually known as the “sunk costs fallacy”, and it’s quite famous.

      Famous because it’s so *common*.

      • ToddFlach

        The technical term used by psychologists for this the “endowment bias”. It applies to anything we already “own” or possess. We choose to keep what we have instead of replacing it with something clearly much better and which will”pay for itself” in a reasonably short amount of time. I see it all the time personally on all levels. Some business leaders however “get it” and divest things which appear to be “worth keeping” at first glance.

    • OneHundredbyFifty

      Yes AND, much of the investment can be re-purposed to EVs. After all, Tesla is using Toyota production equipment that they bought for pennies on the dollar during the recession to build their cars.

  • J.H.

    I think that there isn’t enough being said about the GM Bolt. Production starts with in the next few months (4). I think GM needs to be commended for stepping out of the box. They will own that market place for the time being. Their early entry in to the 200 mile plus range will pay off big to their shareholders.

    • We’re covering any news we see on it, but not much is out there. Will definitely aim to cover its introduction obsessively.

      But yeah, that reminds me of something else I was going to publish….

    • We but the Bolt on the cover of the current edition of ECI. Five page feature story. Will write more soon.

      Maybe Zach will run a guest post 😉

    • Wilibald Oplatek

      The Bolt goes 200 miles and drops dead (no charger out there to juice it up in under an hour). Comparing to that, the supercharger-enabled Tesla is essentially an unlimited range vehicle, giving it an infinity/200 range ratio advantage.

      • J.H.

        So you drive 100 miles 1.5 hrs and stop for lunch at a DCFC. That works for me.

        • and then another 1.5 miles and another lunch?

          like i’ve said before, it’s a great regional car, but it’s not for road trips. GM will tell you the same.

          • J.H.

            I have a 200 mile destination that I drive twice a week. That range is perfect for my needs. By the time that I get to that next 100 miles, its time for a beer. I can’t make this trip in an i3.

          • MaartenV

            The Opel Ampera-e is ready for long road trips.

        • neroden

          The problem is, WHAT DCFC? Tesla Superchargers are the only DCFCs for most of the US. Seriously. Example: I live in upstate NY. Look at the non-Supercharger DCFC maps. There ain’t any.

          • J.H.

            find some friends and build them

          • Bob_Wallace

            The point is, J.H., very rapid chargers for non-Teslas just aren’t in place. And car companies aren’t doing much at all to get them there.

            There’s nothing apparently wrong with the Bolt. It could be a great car for many but it simply sucks in terms of being a long distance car at this point in time.

          • Hank1946

            Not only that how many 1 1/2 hour drives and then stop for lunch do you want to make on a cross country trip?

      • OneHundredbyFifty

        With 200 mile EVs entering the market the range anxiety discussion is
        no longer relevant.
        http://cleantechnica.com/2015/02/03/ev-range-anxiety-myth-dispelled/

        Range anxiety is a non-issue until EV penetration is quite high since most households have 2 cars and most people only take one car on vacation. IOW, take the ICE for long trips use the EV for everything else. Or, rent a car for vacation. Why pay top dollar to own and drive a car based on features that you will use 1 – 2 weeks a year. The economics are much better to rent the vacation car and own the one that is optimized for what you do most of the time.

    • Mike333

      The problem with the Bolt and the i3 is they don’t have a corporate cheerleader, like Musk. There isn’t a VP that’s driving development, and has the power to make monthly changes. So, there is no news until corporate makes some. But, their update cycles are very long and slow.

      • Great points.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Nissan (and Renault) had a corporate cheerleader. But I’m afraid Ghosen got burned a couple of times and pulled back.

    • OneHundredbyFifty

      Yes, I am hopeful that GM really does enter the game in a very real way. To keep the industry moving forward we need multiple, credible players competing to push each other forward. GM has done a nice job with the Volt and made good decisions compared to the rest of the industry. They may stay in the game but I think that Tesla will lead us all the way through the disruption.

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