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  • Tesla Motors's (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk Hosts 2015 Annual Shareholder Meeting (Transcript) [View article]
    Neil,
    While you are right about no PM's in the drive motor there are still plenty of PM motors and solenoids in a Tesla:
    (2) heat pump motors
    power seat motors
    side view mirror motors
    cooling fan motor
    HVAC blower motor
    power windows
    door handle actuators
    power door locks
    regen braking motor

    Certainly I have missed a few.
    Jun 18, 2015. 11:38 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Volkswagen Thinks It Will Undercut Tesla On Battery Cost [View article]
    Cecil,
    "Because it has abdicated its role as an engineering business long ago. "

    That's pretty cynical even for me. But really, I think it is an important point about the auto business. The NUMMI plant is a great example. For over 20 years they produced GM badged cars and Toyota badged cars on the same line. Toyota engineering. Everything was the same but seat cloth and colors. The Toyota's outsold the GM vehicles sometimes 2:1 even though the Toyota's were sometimes $1,000 - $2,000 more. It made no logical sense but Toyota (and the Corrolla) were very fashionable at the time. We consumers are sheep.

    Fortunately for Tesla they are very fashionable at the moment. As long as they are in fashion (and that can go on for a decade, but probably not forever) they will be capacity constrained.
    Jun 17, 2015. 06:09 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Volkswagen Thinks It Will Undercut Tesla On Battery Cost [View article]
    Vulpine,
    "You may not appreciate the Model S controls compared to the E-150 but others might; it's a matter of getting used to the changes and trying to determine what is more efficient over the long term"

    My point was not about Tesla copying a Mercedes design. Tesla buys the SAME control stalk. The way the auto industry works these days is if you don't have the time, money, expertise to build a part you partner with a manufacturer who can sell it to you. This is why Elon partnered with Mercedes to help design the Model S. I don't see that as a bad thing.

    My bigger point is that it is not manufacturing or design secrets that will gain Tesla success. It is marketing, because the car business is first and foremost a fashion business. In that respect Tesla has it's greatest weapon because we have not seen a car chief with the sales ability of Elon Musk since Lee Iacocca. And Iacocca saved Chrysler (for awhile) with mediocre product.
    Jun 16, 2015. 03:49 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Volkswagen Thinks It Will Undercut Tesla On Battery Cost [View article]
    Vulpine,
    Not sure what plants you have been in, but I have seen robots manipulate and move just about every part on a car. It does depend on the plant and the production rate. I never said that all plants are exactly the same. But the claim has been made over and over that the Tesla plant is more advanced because they use robots. Tesla uses the same robots that Ford, GM, Toyota have used since the 1980's. It is a fact that Toyota helped Tesla set up the initial Model S assembly line. I have a great deal of respect for Toyota's manufacturing prowess, but do you really think they developed a better assembly line for Tesla than Toyota does for themselves in Georgetown? The bottom line is that no car maker has a competitive advantage because of robots or other automation. Factory automation technology is available worldwide.

    It is probably a good bet that the current design/ production problems with the Model X are because this is the first car Tesla is doing without training wheels (if you don't believe this, check the steering column controls on a Model S and a E350). That is not to be mean but it is expected when you take a relatively green engineering staff and give them a huge task like the Model X. This proves my point that the Tesla design and manufacturing staff is not much different than at other manufacturers and therefore is also not a competitive advantage.
    Jun 12, 2015. 11:20 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Volkswagen Thinks It Will Undercut Tesla On Battery Cost [View article]
    Neil,
    It ain't so.

    I was trained in the Toyota Production System at NUMMI. I do know the layout of the Fremont plant fairly well because it is an old GMAD plant. I also know the press plant and know where the Schuler press came from that Elon bragged about getting for free. There is always a reason something is free. I have examined many of the posted photos from many sources that Tesla posts. The Tesla assembly line was laid out with help from Toyota and is state of the art, but is not significantly different from other body shops. The Kuka robots in use are industry standard. Yes Kuka's need to be programmed but it is not like web or app programming so being in the bay area is not an advantage. In fact the Kuka sales office is in Shelby Township near Detroit, so if Tesla needs factory help they are a four hour plane ride away. So you see Tesla is using standard Detroit methods, and are buying from Detroit.

    In fact logistics is one of the bad things about the Fremont plant and one of the reasons that both GM and Toyota left the plant. I understand that Tesla was bootstrapping their company and could not refuse a free plant that saved them hundreds of millions. Still, I think that it would be a real mistake to put the Model III in that plant. Cash flow may demand it but they will not get over 200k/ year assembly squeezed in with the Model S and X. The plant will probably not be efficient with that mix. Tesla will never achieve 500k units/ year production at the Fremont plant and you can take that to the bank.

    Your rumor about Tesla line workers being programmers is hilarious. Are you saying that the person installing the seats is a programmer? The person installing the battery pack is a programmer? With that said, many new hires in GM and Ford auto plants have two and four year degrees with math and quality statistics being favored. The argument of Tesla having a competitive edge because of smarter line workers does not stand up to the laugh test. How has China become successful at manufacturing, because they are smarter?
    Jun 12, 2015. 10:57 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Volkswagen Thinks It Will Undercut Tesla On Battery Cost [View article]
    Neil,
    Care to share with us how many assembly lines you draw your conclusions from? I have worked at 15.
    Jun 11, 2015. 10:53 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Motors's (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk Hosts 2015 Annual Shareholder Meeting (Transcript) [View article]
    DavDaddy,
    "It only means that is rare when compared to say iron, or sodium."

    Nooo. Rare Earths are a column on the periodic table and has to do with how many valence electrons are in its outer shell (hence the level of reactivity). Nothing to do with economic or physical rarity.
    Jun 10, 2015. 12:00 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Volkswagen Thinks It Will Undercut Tesla On Battery Cost [View article]
    Cecil,
    You seem to regularly come up with inside information about Tesla, such as their QC system is based on the Six Sigma program. Are you working for Tesla?

    You seriously wasted a lot of column inches on automotive quality control when it is clear you have no real-world knowledge of auto manufacturing.
    May 29, 2015. 01:08 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Volkswagen Thinks It Will Undercut Tesla On Battery Cost [View article]
    TechTalker,
    "Also, do not give Panasonic all the credit for Tesla's cells. Tesla has a proprietary patented design and Panasonic manufactures this design"

    Show me a Tesla Patent for battery chemistry:
    http://bit.ly/1aAUs1q
    Tesla's patents revolve around the pack construction, charging, thermal management, etc. Right now, Tesla really does need Panasonic's secret sauce.

    Also, the Gigafactory agreement has the battery pack being assembled there with operations being supervised by Panasonic.
    Mar 20, 2015. 08:44 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Comprehensive Look At Tesla's Home Batteries [View article]
    Neil,
    You can lash out but you really are trying to make engineering claims that are baseless. A) MWh are not the same as MW and cannot be used to figure out the peak capacity of a generating SYSTEM. B) Energy and power, as used by engineers, is different. C) You have been using a lot of column inches proving a lot of nonsense that has little to do with battery storage and less to do with generating capacity or efficiency. JRP is right. The blended cost structure of generating electricity throughout the day varies considerably.
    Mar 15, 2015. 06:21 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Comprehensive Look At Tesla's Home Batteries [View article]
    Neil,
    You are making a lot of assumptions that are wrong. Unlike finance where the units are always dollars, energy calculations must have correct units.

    You are using gross TWh figures that you found on Wikipedia and then assuming you can back into a power plant capacity from that. The capacity of a plant would be rated in MW, not MWh.
    Mar 13, 2015. 08:05 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Comprehensive Look At Tesla's Home Batteries [View article]
    Blue Sky,
    You keep repeating that 9% of electricity is hyrdo. The DOE claims 6%-8%. Hydro runs low in the summer when all the air conditioners are running. There really is some good information on hydro power (and electricity storage) at the DOE web site you should check out http://1.usa.gov/1KWLgvD. The DOE is examining expansion of off-shore tidal and wave hydro generators but mostly in the Pacific. Other than that hydro generation will remain capped.

    You ignore the inefficiencies of hydro storage. You can lose 15% running a turbine, then another 15% to pump back up, especially if you include transmission losses. That is one attraction of the battery storage method. The round trip losses will be much less, maybe one third less. The Ludington site I referenced is linked to a nuclear plant where fuel is relatively cheap but installed capital is large. Keeping that capital working overnight offsets the pumping and transmission losses.

    You are looking at electricity storage as an engineering problem to solve. I do not. All of this technology is known. I look at it as an economic problem. With low demand for utility bonds, poor payback for many alternative energy solutions (including battery storage), and Public Service Commissions who do not want to change quickly (i.e. raise electricity rates drastically) how are any of these things going to take off quickly? That is why from an investment standpoint I recommend taking a wait and see approach. I don't see battery storage being a money maker for Tesla. It will help them fulfill their agreement with Panasonic. Perhaps Solar City will get a bump from this since they will be the ones selling and installing the storage batteries.
    Mar 11, 2015. 12:03 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Comprehensive Look At Tesla's Home Batteries [View article]
    Neil,
    "If grid A sends electricity to grid B, and grid B sends electricity to grid C, then one might argue that grid A can constructively send electricity to grid C."

    If only life were that simple. In fact transmission losses can equal 10% or greater to transmit several hundred miles even with "stepping up [voltages] high enough". To transmit inter-continental could wind up losing 25% of your electricity. The cost of those losses quickly pays for a generating facility closer to the point of use.

    You also assume that the grid interconnections have infinite capacity. They do not. There are bottlenecks in the grid interconnections. We will never transmit electricity across the continent due to the inefficiencies, but with billions investment in transmission capability we will be able to more effectively use wind farms and solar electricity within regions. Part of that will be electricity storage but all of this infrastructure will be built in fits and starts. If you have a long investment horizon buy copper mines, Siemens, and GE, and IBM.
    Mar 11, 2015. 11:31 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Comprehensive Look At Tesla's Home Batteries [View article]
    Neil,
    The upgrade of the grid is an issue. Transformers and their associated switchgear (i.e. substations) are one of the key parts of the grid and will take decades to upgrade. Since this is an investment web site, how do you think the investors and bond holders of this equipment will react when told we are just going to write off their equipment and they (utilities and their investors) just have to take it on the chin? That solution will not fly.

    As for the electric demand, you are not entirely correct to say that there is this steady increase forever. Conservation and efficiency efforts have had surprising effects. Some areas of the country are indeed using LESS electricity than a decade ago. Autos take a huge amount of energy and will impact the grid negatively. There are dozens of papers on it and it is not so simple as to prove it in a short remark with a few numbers as you have done. Also, the needs vary considerably in different regions of the country.
    Mar 10, 2015. 02:12 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • A Comprehensive Look At Tesla's Home Batteries [View article]
    Randy,
    The Ivanpah Solar facility is over 400 MW, as big as a decent sized coal plant! I could not find how long thermal storage lasts, but I believe the working fluid is sodium with large underground reservoirs. There is also a huge helio stat that you can see from the air when traveling from Denver to San Francisco. That is probably the Nevada plant you mention. These are a great solution in the desert.
    Mar 10, 2015. 02:00 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
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