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Rick Krementz
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Entrepreneur, Technophile, Telewarrior Career Coaching Business Brainstorming Entrepreneur Coaching
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Harvard Business School
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  • Tesla S-85 Performance - A Test Drive

    I finally got around to a Tesla test drive. S-85 Performance, in suburban NJ. Traffic prevented much of a workout.

    Yes, it has (more than) decent acceleration. There is the huge 17 inch monitor - I wanted to know what all the little doodads and icons did, but did not have the opportunity to play with it.

    Having heard all the "Wows!" from the Tesladors, I was hoping to be thrilled. It was a very nice drive, and extremely quiet (5 stars!). But, orgasmically Wow? Well, not for me. Perhaps my expectations were too high.

    I thought the lack of infrastructure was interesting. Tesla has been selling at the Short Hills (NYSE:NJ) mall since November, yet they do not have *any* way of recharging. In the showroom, the cars are not even plugged into basic 120v, event though the cars are alive - dashboard lights, etc., including one saying needs to be charged, no electricity available. There was a wire attached to the car, but I guess it just goes under the car, not to an outlet. The sales guy said there was some issue with the mall management.

    In a remote part of the lot there are a few spaces allocated for Tesla - BUT no charging stations! (not even 120v). I asked about charging, and the sales guy muttered about some of their loyal customers taking them home to charge. November to April - no charging? Hmmm. The incentive to buy the car, park and shop is missing.

    I asked about bricking. I mentioned that rumors said the bricking problem had been solved; what were the hardware or other changes done? "Hmmm, well there might not have been any hardware changes, but we now communicate better to customers, with texting, emails, and even phone calls when the battery is low." Well, I guess it is better that communication is better, but it still sounds like parking the car for a few months is still verboten. Especially in cold weather, when the battery has to be kept warm.

    I asked about seeing the warrantee - nope, can't see it until after I make a deposit on the car … which seemed a bit odd. I asked about the $600 per 12,500 miles required warrantee. Some writers have opined that meant cheap maintenance - a max of only $600 per year.

    Well, I drive about 30,000 miles per year; the sales guy confirmed that is about $1,800 per year maintenance - about 5 cents/mile. The car uses at least 150 watts continuously (and over 1500 watts in extremely cold or hot weather) even when fully charged, so that is another few hundred dollars per year. The tires are expensive, apparently wear out fast, and are not covered by the warrantee. Some writers have mentioned annual tires at several thousand dollars - but I guess that depends on how you drive.

    In short, ignoring battery depreciation, it's several grand a year for maintenance. Some people calculate battery depreciation at 40 cents/mile; I could not get a straight answer whether driving 30,000 miles per year was considered excessive and would actually be covered under the warrantee.

    In comparison, I often drive a Prius. Not because it is green, but because I get c. 50 mpg, which saves me thousands in gas over my last car, a GM Suburban V8. The Prius has free maintenance for the first $30,000 miles, as does BMW.

    Like all $100,000 cars, she is superficially very appealing. And, just like a magazine cover girl, that superficial attractiveness doesn't translate into wanting to take her home for a permanent (and expensive) relationship.

    I will pass.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Tags: TSLA, TOYOF
    Apr 07 5:17 PM | Link | 86 Comments
  • Nigeria having oil problems
    A lot of people are concerned with Peak Oil together with the rising internal demands of oil exporting countries. While some of the Peak Oil enthusiasts are, perhaps, way out in left field, there are definitely some potential supply concerns in our future.

    Nigeria, generally considered Africa's biggest oil producer, just announced they are importing oil. See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601207&sid=aUL6cdVxk_GU.

    Is the beginning of the end? Probably not, as the Nigeria problem is more about refining capacity that crude. On the other hand, Nigerian production is constrained by pipeline damage, rebels, and domestic terrorists.

    One  of my pet theories is that when Russia feels poor, they will need to increase the price of oil. I think Putin can with impunity disrupt Nigeria, since Nigeria is not a particularly close friend of the USA. Nigeria has a lot of AK-47s (Google AK-47 and Nigeria, 350,000 hits), http://www.mynaijanews.com/content/view/2207/228/ claims that 50,000 guns were imported "just in case" for the election.  http://www.mynaijanews.com/content/view/2207/228/ claims thousands of these guns were sold to militants a few months later.  Could  Comrade Vladimir be providing a little export assistance?


    Disclosure: None
    Tags: energy, Peak Oil
    Dec 17 1:34 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Gigaton - some Big Energy ideas

    The Gigaton Throw Down has published a 150 page report on their view of the big energy bets for the next ten years. (see it at http://gigatonthrowdown.org/files/Gigaton_EntireReport.pdf

     

    They analyze nine energy technologies that have the potential of displacing at least a billion tons of CO2 each within the next ten years.  A gigaton by their calculation is 205 gigawatts of installed power, which is about 5% of US energy consumption. Some of their analysis is pretty good, some a bit over-optimistic, and they forgot a few biggies.

     

    Their rundown:

     

    Biofuels: yes, but a close reading shows that ethanol, in any flavor, really does not make much economic sense on a macro scale. Ignores/understates the additional cost of erosion and fertilizer for cellulose ethanol, assumes a near zero cost for those feed stocks, and assumes a huge amount of currently non-agricultural land can be used in the future with some unspecified technology. Does not address that simply burning the feed stocks of cellulose alcohol produces more energy (as electricity) than ethanol, and a lot less expensively. Biodiesel is mentioned, but no explanation of how it will become an important part of the energy picture energy. Algae is considered a lot father away than ten years.

     

    Building efficiency: yes, major requirement is change in the building codes.

     

    Concentrating solar: yes.

     

    Construction materials: yes, mostly focuses on concrete manufacture which consumes huge amounts of energy. Talks of low-energy cement, but with little background of how that would actually work or be implemented.

     

    Geothermal: qualified yes. I think it overstates some of the risk associated with it.

     

    Nuclear: qualified yes. Does not discuss "mini-nuclear" (sub 10 MW plants) for distributed energy production at lower risk. Also does not mention waste disposal issues, or the use of the Mariana trench.

    Plugin electric vehicles: big no, and quite realistic analysis.

     

    Solar photovoltaics: yes.

     

    Wind: strong yes, underestimates wind resources of deep water offshore wind and high altitude.

     

    Does not include any information on OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion), which can produce many times current world total energy.

     

    Does not include any information of hydrokinetic (waves, tides, and currents). The estimates for the amount of capturable energy in these resources vary tremendously, but the high estimates are many times the entire world's requirements.

     

    Does not include any information on anhydrous ammonia. While not technically a fuel but an energy carrier, it can bridge the gap from making electricity and using it as a transportations fuel. Ammonia can run in most internal combustion engines with some modifications. Ammonia burns cleans; it's exhaust is water vapor and nitrogen gas. Ammonia and its byproducts are not greenhouse gases, and already is produced in a huge scale. One hundred and twenty millions tons were produced last year, about 50 pounds per capita worldwide. It is the most produced chemical in the world, other than petro-fuels. The technology of storing and distributing is already well known, and there is a significant infrastructure in place already. There are over 3,000 miles of ammonia pipelines in the US - compare that to zero miles of ethanol pipeline. The biggest use of ammonia is as a fertilizer, and it is used very widely as a refrigerant gas.

     

     

    Since the report limits the horizon to ten years, it does not mention extra-terrestrial solar, or fusion (cold or hot). There are, of course, many niche energy solutions that may have good investing opportunities, but cannot be expected to produce a substantial amount of energy.

     

    Disclosures: no stocks mentioned. Long a number of renewable energy technologies.

    Jun 26 1:53 PM | Link | 4 Comments
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