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Randy Carlson  

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  • Tesla Has A Graphite Problem [View article]

    What do you know / think about these folks?

    It's unlikely Panasonic would source anode material from CALiB, but Panasonic's Si anode development is probably at least as far advanced as this California startup. CALiB claimed to be scaling up their process for production volumes more than a year ago....

    Panasonic announced a silicon-graphite 'alloy' anode cell a couple of years ago. (the '4Ahr cell'). This cell was ~310 Wh/kg, so there was probably only a small amount of silicon in the 'alloy'. I would think Panasonic (a long time leader in LiBs) to be at least as far along as CALiB.
    Jul 4, 2015. 12:13 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Announces Model S Cars Get Driven Less Than What The Average U.S. Driver Drives [View article]

    Do get over this. Tesla doesn't write the rules, they just play the game. And, the rules apply to everyone.

    If Tesla has, in fact, been defrauding the CARB, the Attorney General of the State of California will deal with it.

    Here is what I wrote about the swap demonstration two years ago.

    For what it's worth, I was short TSLA (via puts) at the time, a position that worked less well than I had hoped...
    Jul 3, 2015. 01:28 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Tesla's Model 3 Compete? [View article]
    John Bingham, Davewmart,

    I understand the 'gut feel' that the battery should be larger, I 'feel' that way, too. However, if you put in the numbers for specific energy (343Wh/kg) and shrink the Model S dimensions by the cube-route of 0.8, then the numbers in the article are what you get. Could I have the model wrong? Of course. But before just going with 'gut feel', it might be worth while to look at a model that deals with the knock-on effect and related items.

    One thing that was perhaps not as strongly stated in the article as it should have been is how important lowering the foot wells, seating position and overall height are to achieving efficiency and smaller battery size. If the overall vehicle height is to be scaled - along with the other dimensions - the seating position MUST be lowered or you 'squish' the occupants. And, if you don't scale the height, the proportions of the car don't remain the same as Model S, and first-order, the Cd would be expected to increase.

    The significant thing, I think, is that if these apparently ambitious goals for weight, drag and battery size are not achieved, Tesla will probably have difficulty reaching positive margin at $35k in the entry model car. The car gets heavier, the motors bigger, the battery larger, and every thing more expensive if the design starts to 'miss' on drag, motor efficiency, or battery specific energy...
    Jul 2, 2015. 02:30 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Has A Graphite Problem [View article]
    The implicit assumption in this article is that Tesla/Panasonic will continue making LiBs with straight graphite anodes. While this is a possibility, especially in the relatively near term, over the longer term (next few years) Tesla / Panasonic are very likely to begin incorporating silicon into their anode material.

    Silicon stores much more lithium in a given volume or weight than does graphite. As silicon is added to the anode material, several grams of graphite are removed from the battery for each gram of silicon that is added. (The exact ratio will depend on the details of the anode material design and how 'completely' the added silicon is utilized as lithium storage medium. Ratios > 10:1 are possible.)

    Should Tesla / Panasonic shift to Si-Graphene, the amount of graphite (the graphene) will become negligible in comparison to the amount of silicon, and the amount of silicon will be much less that the corresponding amount of graphite originally used for a given battery capacity.

    If/when Tesla/Panasonic (and other LiB makers) figure out how to make Si-Graphene material economically and in the necessary quanty - and this is a process problem, not a cost of materials problem - the use of graphite in LiBs will all but disappear.
    Jul 1, 2015. 04:35 PM | 15 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Motors roundup: Gigafactory and Fremont plant hit higher gear [View news story]

    Interesting thoughts on China. Tesla does face a market in China that is different than what they see in the US or Europe.

    While my personal 'China experience' is limited, I have seen what may be a relevant Tesla use case there. When traveling (several years ago, before there were 'Teslas'...) with a client selling equipment to government agencies in Shanghai, we were driven to a number of facilities in and outside of the city - 'missions' that a short range BEV could not have performed. Missions of the kind I experienced would have been well supported by a Model S and a SuperCharger facility within the city. Tesla's China SuperCharger strategy may, in part, be aiming to support these kinds of 'missions' and enable an 'executive use case'...

    They will need to get more SuperCharger stations along inter-city routes if they are to support the inter-city travel use case, but there are likely issues of compatibility with the China national standard involved - and it is not clear exactly how 'established' this standard is, and where 'negotiations' have been relating to this issue. I think Tesla is on track to solve this one and that they will begin better supporting the inter-city use case, but I am not sure this use case is as important (for sales) in China than it is elsewhere...

    In the context of a 'business use case', it seems to me that Model X will be very well received in China. Model X is a practical way to move a larger 'executive team' around (6 pax + driver) that would support a China use case I have witnessed several times. This is a quite different 'use case' than taking the family skiing, or the kids to soccer practice which are typical US use cases postulated for Model X.
    Jun 30, 2015. 11:22 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Announces Model S Cars Get Driven Less Than What The Average U.S. Driver Drives [View article]
    out for now,

    So, have you done the heat balance calculation? Is, or is not the equilibrium heat balance temperature of a planet higher as the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere increases?

    You may have got 100% on the final exam, but I'm afraid you still don't get credit for the homework if you haven't turned it in.
    Jun 29, 2015. 12:43 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Announces Model S Cars Get Driven Less Than What The Average U.S. Driver Drives [View article]
    All this philosophy about global warming / climate change makes nice conversation, but I would think it useful if at least some of the participants would pick up a physics text book, understand Plank transfer and do the radiant heat balance calculation. It is very obvious that understanding of the related physics is not widely shared...
    Jun 29, 2015. 11:59 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • GM Pokes Tesla With Chevy Bolt Development Progress Report [View article]

    It is far from clear to me that the end-to-end distribution losses for H2 are less than those for electricity used to charge BEVs. The losses associated with compressing alone (700bar!!!) are large compared with losses in typical grid distribution of electricity. Remember, if the car's tank is to be 'charged' to 700 bar, the 'station' pressure needs to be higher, and as the car charges, the pressure in the station tank goes down, and must be pumped back up, etc. If the hydrogen is distributed by pressurized trucks, then this pump-up / bleed down / pump up again process repeats. Moving the hydrogen around as a 'super cryogen' doesn't make this easier, or more efficient... Even the commercial space launch business is moving away from LH2 fuel to methane and/or kerosene because handling, storing and transporting (within the rocket!) is too much hassle.

    I can understand the use of H2 as a 'seasonal storage' medium when renewables vary seasonally and are 'overbuilt' so demand can be largely met by renewable generation even under unfavorable conditions. H2 provides a way to make use of the substantial excess of renewable electricity that will exist in an optimized, fully renewable electric grid. (studies of the economically optimum renewable grid for the US show that on an annual basis, the electricity produced is about THREE TIMES the amount dispatched to the 'guaranteed' load!)

    But if one is going to store seasonally excess electric energy as H2, then one will almost certainly be using some of the H2 in utility scale fuel cell plants to supply grid load under minimum production / maximum demand conditions. Utility scale FCs can be high temperature, solid oxide type and able to use H2, CH4, or any mixture of the two. This means that H2 for use in utility scale FCs can be stored, transported and utilized by mixing it with natural gas and taking advantage of existing NG infrastructure. Pure H2 for use in low temperature, automotive fuel cells requires separate, parallel infrastructure for storage and distribution.

    It seems to me that there is a very compelling, marginal utility argument for using H2 via utility scale SOFC plants connected to the grid to charge BEVs, rather than to create a parallel, arguably less efficient H2 distribution infrastructure to fuel FCVs that weigh more, have poorer performance, etc.

    The refueling time argument, with SuperCharger class recharging stations for road trips looks to be going away. Cars a little smaller than MS, batteries a little better, the knock-on effect leading to significantly lower battery capacity, increased SuperCharger power (think liquid cooled cable) and we are likely looking at charging times in the neighborhood of 15 minutes for road-trip refueling. This isn't theoretically as good as pumping gasoline or hydrogen, but it is getting close and in real-world cases, it will be a wash...

    It may be interesting to reflect on the need of either an H2 refueling station or a SuperCharger class recharging station to have a 'storage buffer' to even-out toe flow of energy. Refueling / recharging happens at very high rates because the refueling time / recharging time needs to be minimized, and to deal with congestion issues, provision in general is made to refuel / recharge multiple cars simultaneously.

    In the case of an H2 refueling station, this might take the form of a high pressure tank, or tanks holding tens, to hundreds of 'cars worth' of H2 at a pressure substantially greater than the 700 bar (10,000 psi) to which cars are to 'charged'. This 'tank' can easily be a pressure vessel several times the size of a car, and the 'compression energy' in the gas can easily exceed the energy in a ton of TNT.

    A SuperCharger class recharging station, even a comparatively large one (for instance Tesla's Tejon Ranch station) can effectively smooth their demand peak with ~1MWh of storage (that's a dozen MS85 battery packs). The hazards of catastrophic failure of the battery 'surge tank' are fundamentally less (less energy is stored because the grid responds quicker than a fleet of delivery tankers) and the energy release on failure is thermal (fire) and easily contained (a concrete enclosure to 'collect the slag').

    The only apparent advantage to HFCVs is the ability to sustain the multi-trillion dollar business model of supplying 'fuel' to cars and trucks...
    Jun 29, 2015. 11:50 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Announces Model S Cars Get Driven Less Than What The Average U.S. Driver Drives [View article]
    Tesla was both wise and entirely right-minded in announcing this 1 billion mile "milestone".

    One of the most significant challenges for Tesla as a new-entrant carmaker is establishing in the minds of the general public that the company exists and that they make real cars that real people drive on real roads. In this context, the only relevant significance of 1 billion miles is that "1 billion" is a "big boy number". Taking advantage of this fact to raise awareness of the company and the fact that they make cars was exactly what thoughtful, competent management should have done.

    All Tesla shareholders should applaud their company's management.
    Jun 29, 2015. 12:54 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Model 3 Delay? What Will Be The Next Shoe To Drop? [View article]

    The obvious thing going on here is 'karmic resonance'. This was the 13th launch of this version from Florida, and there are now 13 Republicans running for President. It was clearly an oversight in planning that allowed this resonance to grow to fatal effect...

    Jun 29, 2015. 12:12 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Motors roundup: Gigafactory and Fremont plant hit higher gear [View news story]

    This antidotal collection of used Tesla prices is interesting to talk about, but the absolute number of cars listed seems much smaller than what I would think to be the turnover of used Tesla's. Do we have any quantitative sense of a) what fraction of Teslas changing hands pass through Tesla, and b) what is the total volume of used Tesla sales, including all channels?

    In the return from any substantial fleet of leased vehicles there will certainly be a distribution of 'well taken care of' through 'viciously abused' cars. The one vehicle cited, the price of which increased by over $6,000 is suggestive of Tesla's resale operation having done considerable 'restorative work', and that in turn suggests that we may be looking at the 'beat up' members of the lease-returns fleet, and that all, or nearly all of the 'well cared for' CPO cars don't last long enough in Tesla's hands to even appear on the lists...

    I cannot say that this is the case form the data presented, but on the other hand, the present data doesn't really say otherwise...
    Jun 28, 2015. 09:50 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Tesla's Model 3 Compete? [View article]
    I'm sure Gwynne can handle this one.
    Jun 28, 2015. 06:23 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Motors roundup: Gigafactory and Fremont plant hit higher gear [View news story]
    I too have been hearing a great deal of 'smugness' from 'industry' people. I really don't think they grasp what they are up against...
    Jun 26, 2015. 11:55 AM | 21 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • GM Pokes Tesla With Chevy Bolt Development Progress Report [View article]

    You first tell me that what I said was incorrect, then proceed to explain why it is precisely true...??
    Jun 25, 2015. 08:31 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • GM Pokes Tesla With Chevy Bolt Development Progress Report [View article]
    It is perhaps more relevant to point out that Tesla has already delivered more than 50,000 Model S all electric cars, every one of which had an EPA range greater than 200 miles...

    This isn't about how far ahead GM is, it's about how very far they are behind.
    Jun 25, 2015. 08:27 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment