The stuff that cannot be plugged in face much larger hurdles. We are not about to see battery-powered airliners, container ships, over-the-road trucks, or farm equipment anytime soon. Even cars, which are by far the easiest vehicles to run on batteries, have seen most examples fail because they are unworkable or highly impractical. Of course, the big problems are that batteries still don't store a lot of electricity (which limits range), are damn expensive, and require significant time to recharge.
Personally, I still believe the best idea so far is the Chevy Volt. It solves the range and recharging problems by using a gasoline engine as range extender to get folks home even if they have miscalculated their battery resources. It uses the existing refueling infrastructure to cover for emergencies or just damn-I-forgot-to-plug-in-my-car-last-night carelessness. Motor Trend awarded it their 2011 Car of the Year. The Volt is interesting because it is a middle-class car that assists it owners in the process of learning how to be electric car owners while not subjecting them to some frightening experience if they get it wrong.
There are those who believe cars like the Volt are merely transitional vehicles—that eventually if we are going to have cars, they will have to be all-electric. Their strategy is to build a car with serious driving ranges. This means they will need a bunch of batteries which makes them both heavy and expensive. But hey, there are already heavy and expensive cars out there. They are VERY nice cars so if an all-electric car must compete with them, it had better be a fine set of wheels.
Meet the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year—the Tesla Model S. Because it needs around 7000 lithium-ion batteries to provide it with its nearly 300 mile range, it will weigh over 4500 pounds and cost nearly $100,000. Since you can buy the latest Lexus LS for less than $85,000, the new Tesla is up against some serious competition. Check out the numbers. The Tesla can compete with anything in its price range in terms of performance. And while we know nothing about its reliability and build quality, the pictures show an extremely handsome car that won't embarrass it's owner at the country club.
There are plenty of social reasons why nobody should be building a $100,000 car. But there is one good reason why this is a fine idea. New technology is very expensive so there is some value in recouping some of those R&D expenses by charging the early adapters a premium price. Tesla promises that its next models will have lower prices which demonstrate they believe this strategy. Now if only they can sell enough model S's to keep the doors open until their middle-class cars hit the street. This is a formidable task. There is vast unused automotive production capacity out there. Cars are insanely difficult to build and there are already many companies that do it very well. Tesla is getting help from both Mercedes and Toyota, so powerful actors want them to succeed. Even so, Tesla will be very fortunate to make it.
From the January, 2013 issue of Motor Trend
By Angus MacKenzie
The 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is one of the quickest American four-doors ever built. It drives like a sports car, eager and agile and instantly responsive. But it's also as smoothly effortless as a Rolls-Royce, can carry almost as much stuff as a Chevy Equinox, and is more efficient than a Toyota Prius. Oh, and it'll sashay up to the valet at a luxury hotel like a supermodel working a Paris catwalk. By any measure, the Tesla Model S is a truly remarkable automobile, perhaps the most accomplished all-new luxury car since the original Lexus LS 400. That's why it's our 2013 Car of the Year.
Wait. No mention of the astonishing inflection point the Model S represents -- that this is the first COTY winner in the 64-year history of the award not powered by an internal combustion engine? Sure, the Tesla's electric powertrain delivers the driving characteristics and packaging solutions that make the Model S stand out against many of its internal combustion engine peers. But it's only a part of the story. At its core, the Tesla Model S is simply a damned good car you happen to plug in to refuel. more
Temple of Tesla: Touring Elon's FactoryWe Visit the Clean Room Where the Model S is Born
June 28, 2012
By Frank Markus
Skeptical as to whether Elon Musk and Tesla are really making a serious go of the car business? A tour of the Fremont, California assembly plant certainly dispelled our deep skepticism. See if you agree.
Our tour was on Friday June 22nd. Keep in mind that Tesla took up occupancy in the former Toyota/GM joint-venture NUMMI plant in October of 2010. The floors gleam in bright white epoxy and most everything that's not white is Tesla Red in the parts of the plant that are being used for Model S production. We started out upstairs, where all the engineering and plant management takes place in one great big open room, and everyone from plant manager Gilbert Passin to the newest hire intern sits at an identical Ikea workstation. Elsewhere on the second floor, the electric motor, reduction-gear transmission, and inverter are assembled (we were not shown this area). Let's head out onto the floor and see how the first Model S production cars are built.
Hellooooo in here: Motor Trend's Jessi Lang easily finds some open space for her television spot introduction. Tesla is only occupying about 20-25 percent of the 5-million-square-foot former NUMMI plant. Current plans are to build 20,000 cars per year on one shift with the 430 manufacturing employees currently on staff. Adding a second shift would double that -- which could prove necessary if the Model S and its Model X crossover sistership meet sales expectations. Should sales outpace expectations, Passin believes the plant could build 100,000 vehicles per year without greatly stretching the current equipment. more
Elon Musk: Tax Carbon, Don't Subsidize Electric CarsAlex Davies | 13 NOV 12 |
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk would rather see the government place a tax on carbon emissions than increase tax credits for buyers of electric vehicles, he said last night.
At the event where Motor Trend named the Model S its Car of the Year, Musk was asked if Tesla was hoping for an increase in the $7,500 federal tax credit for buyers of Tesla cars.
"I would certainly back some increase on the tax credit," he said. But, he continued, "the right thing to do is to place a tax on carbon."
He compared greenhouse gas emissions to cigarettes and alcohol, as heavily taxed vices. "It seems like common sense, really."
If carbon is not taxed, he added, then subsidizing electric vehicle purchases would be "the next best thing." more