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  • Volvo Makes An SUV Out Of The BMW I8 To Compete With Tesla [View article]
    Mr. Wahlman,

    With 82 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque for a 5,000 lb vehicle, pure electric mode will be torturous and in some cases, unsafe. So the amount of pure electric driving will not be 20 miles in reality as hardly anyone will operate this vehicle in that mode. It might as well not have a pure electric mode at all. The only way for it to have anywhere near acceptable performance for a luxury SUV of its price will be to also have the downsides of an internal combustion engine - vibration, noise, pollution, gasoline carbon emissions, and odors.

    May 25, 2015. 07:08 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Volvo Makes An SUV Out Of The BMW I8 To Compete With Tesla [View article]
    One thing to note is that the electric motor in the XC90 T8 is only 82 hp. So if you are driving in "Pure Electric" mode and you only have 82 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque to move a vehicle that weighs somewhere around 5,000 lbs is a recipe for one of the most unpleasant driving experiences for an unfortunate new owner of a Volvo XC90. They'll be the laughingstock of their circle of friends. We'll get to see if this new Volvo XC90 can beat a Ford Pinto or Datsun B210 in 0-60 times... somewhere around 18 seconds?

    PHEV's will lose to pure BEVs due to physics. You have to either skimp on the battery drivetrain or skimp on the ICE drivetrain. Or severely cramp the passenger room. Pick your poison. The solution to range anxiety is more high speed chargers > 100 kW and to have a charging station at home and/or work.
    May 25, 2015. 05:03 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla's Share Price Means That Everyone Else Is The Winner [View article]
    Volte-Face Investments,

    Your focus on traditional IP play is messing with your mind and your projections. Typically in the tech world, a focus on using IP as an offensive weapon means that the company is lacking ideas and vision. Tesla is still conducting research and development to get IP, but has stated that they have volunteered to have a non-aggression pact with respect to their IP. They don't want to be bothered with competing on the legal basis for IP, they'd rather slaughter the competition on the product side with faster innovation and product development lifecycle. To compete on the legal basis is a distraction. That doesn't mean that they won't defend themselves... Tesla and Mr. Musk are famously litigious when it comes to perceived injustice.

    As for the batteries, Panasonic does not make Tesla's batteries. Panasonic makes Tesla's cells to Tesla's spec. Tesla's cells don't work well in a car without designing a proper battery enclosure system to mitigate the inherent dangers of high energy cells. No one else, so far, has bothered to go down this road as they are content to wait for other battery chemistry advancements. So far, for mass production, no one else has bothered to go with Tesla's approach and they hope that the technology and lifecycle issues with NMC v2 will be solved in order to make it to market in 2017/2018 with a cell that has lower specific energy, but possibly make up for that at the pack level. However, Tesla's cells are not going to be the same by that time period either and forgoing liquid thermal management has thus far been problematic as the range in the cold is severely curtailed and the damage in hot conditions has been significant. Therefore, it is likely that the current approach by the various manufacturers will see a result that their cell and pack level specific energy will be significantly worse than Tesla's solution for quite some time to come. This directly translates into inferior products from non-Tesla manufacturers due to lack of access to the best technologies.

    Then we get to the issue of mass manufacturing. Last year, Tesla sold more GWh of cells than any other automaker. See:

    LG Chem's marketshare dropped into the single digits. If you look closer, you will realize that the cells made for BEVs are different from the cells make for hybrids and for plug-in hybrids. Panasonic's Osaka factories are likely to be capable of at least 7 GWh of production in 2016. By 2017, Tesla will likely have at least 14 GWh of cell production on tap between the first phase of the Gigafactory and Panasonic's plants in Japan. If you look at the planned expansion of all the other manufacturers that make advanced cells (eliminate non-competitive chemistries like LiFePO4), you will see that Tesla will have a far higher level of production than anyone else devoted to BEV production.

    Then we get to cost. Tesla's battery has the lowest cost per kWh of any mass produced BEV and their pricing is so low that many so called battery industry experts still get their cost projections wrong. Tesla charges about $280/kWh at retail price for their battery. That means the cell costs are under $200/kWh, with an SAE report saying $160/kWh. That's before the cost reductions going into the Gigafactory. Other competitors typically pay 80-100% higher per kWh. This dynamic is unlikely to change in the near future - everyone's price is dropping, but Tesla's price points are still likely the lowest by far.

    Further, Tesla is the only mass manufacturer to use AC induction asynchronous motors. Everyone else has gone the easier development route with synchronous motors, but even the hybrid versions used by BMW for instance has permanent magnets. That increases the mineral usage, specifically of rare earth minerals for which the Tesla drivetrain uses none. It takes more time to develop the AC induction motor controller and software for automotive use, but it is worth it for high power applications and for scaling to high volume. Your basic industrial AC induction motor is not well suited which is why Tesla had to develop and build their own AC induction motors. For true mass scale, the manufacturers will have to move away from their current synchronous motors. Tesla's motors represent the state of the art for mass produced electric motors.

    Then we get to charging. Tesla is the only manufacturer with a true L3 DC charging network. Achieving a true 100 kW charge rate is a significant landmark, as that is the minimum necessary to support a reasonable long distance travel cadence. The existing CHAdeMO and CCS standards are limited to 200 amps, which means they top out at 80 kW with a 75 kW typical charging rate. So even as the manufacturers churn out products that will eventually handle 100 kW charging, they are starting from scratch to build a real L3 DC charging network. They have not yet even begun while Tesla has been building a real L3 DC charging network for quite some time with the right considerations of charge rate, number of plugs per site, and the geographic location of each site. If you look at the L2 DC charging networks of CHAdeMO and CCS, you will see that they really are not even starting. The sites are typically not set up for inter-city travel, there is typically only a single plug, and at any one time, 15-30% of their charging network is out of service. This can be fixed by the 2018 timeframe, but they haven't actually started yet even given the recent DC charging announcements by both Nissan/BMW and other manufacturers as well as 3rd party charging networks. They have to standardize new charging stations, plugs, get the products approved, and then start building sites. The existing CHAdeMO and CCS DC charging infrastructure will be seen as a huge waste of money, just like the Blink L2 charging network that deployed a slew of useless 16-24 amp EVSE's at mostly the wrong places and have fallen into disrepair while soaking up lots of investor and taxpayer money.

    Tesla's advantages are numerous and the automakers that currently spend billions battling each other with ICE technology will have to start diverting funds to EVs in bigger chunks. That will leave them vulnerable as they have to fight a two front war while they have mostly outsourced everything except for sales, management/accounting and ICE drivetrain development.
    May 22, 2015. 09:51 AM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Sorry Tesla, But No Battery Cigar [View article]
    There's no mention of Tesla's actual big play in stationary storage - commercial and utility scale stationary storage using their NCA cells and battery management systems priced at $250/kWh. Tesla expects this demand to be 80-90% of their stationary storage demand, and yet the author does a poor job of discussing only the PowerWall portion.

    Even that portion that does start to look at the PowerWall product does not examine the difference between the 7 kWh version and the 10 kWh version or really the prices for the other products. Instead, we get a bit of hand waving. How about depth of discharge on lead acid battery systems and how that affects lifespan? How about the cost differential with AGM versus wet lead acid and the maintenance issues with wet cells? How about the vented room or enclosure necessary for wet cells?

    Then of course, we get treated to P/E ratio comparison with some major auto companies. Of course, the implication is that the author believes that Tesla business is exactly like other automakers. But the reality is that it is not like other automakers other than the fact that they both make vehicles for consumers. Beyond that, there are a lot of differences.
    May 20, 2015. 01:37 PM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Turns Out A Tesla Supercharger Costs 2 Or 3 Times What Elon Musk Said [View article]

    In this thread alone, the number of errors and misconceptions you lay out is funny enough, but then your constant pivoting when people point out your errors is completely laughable. You still can't tell the difference between the various DC charging locations, networks, charging levels, and economics.

    It isn't the Tesla level 3 charging network that is in economic jeopardy, it is the existing DC Level 1 and 2 charging networks that won't be able to make back their install costs before they are hopelessly obsolete. Go ahead and find the costs for upgrading a 50 kW CHAdeMO station to > 200A. You'll find that they'll have to pull out all the existing wiring and replace the entire EVSE. A few can upgrade from 125 amps to 200 amps, even that is not Level 3. Given that a combo CHAdeMO/CCS 50 kW EVSE currently costs $35,000 to $50,000 for each plug, figure out the number of charges x fees it would be to make that back. Of course, Nissan and BMW are both still pumping money into the losing proposition that is Level 1 and 2 DC charging. They simply don't have a real Level 3 standard to use, either on the EVSE side or the vehicle side.

    Even with an aggressive growth plan for the number of plugs for Level 2 DC charging, the problem is that they need 3x the number of stations to cover the same length of road. It really isn't designed to support long distance travel.

    Once SAE or the CHAdeMO standards bodies sort out real Level 3 charging, Tesla can adapt to it. Of course, CHAdeMO is likely dead in the U.S. going forward, as the entire existing L2 DC charging infrastructure will be obsolete soon enough with their own 2nd generation BEVs, unless they want to ship those 2nd generation BEVs with crippled DC charging standard support. Remember, the connectors in both SAE Combo 1 and CHAdeMO plugs are limited to 200 amps.

    Simply the economics for DC Level 3 charging is rough for those hoping to make money on usage fees. The vast majority of the electricity used in BEVs is obtained from the home at very low rates. The costs can be borne by an automaker or a government, but private DC charging networks is likely a fail for a very long time. Level 2 AC J1772, on the other hand, is likely to be and will need to be far more successful. The install costs are far lower per plug (10x) and the resulting electricity use compared to the attraction effect makes sense for shopping malls and other businesses. Even AC Level 1 will have uses, especially in long term stay places like airport parking lots or cruise ship parking lots.

    In the end, Nissan and BMW are wasting their money on Level 2 DC build out - they could help build a long term useful Level 2 80 amp AC charging network, but they'd rather waste lots of money in a failing attempt at making their soon-to-be-dead plug relevant. They're not happy about it - Tesla is forcing Level 3 far faster than they wanted it to happen. Without Tesla, Level 2 would be the state of the art for far longer, possibly 5 more years than it otherwise would have been.
    May 14, 2015. 01:42 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla: 3 Drivers Of Long-Term Powerwall Sales Growth [View article]

    I don't know where you are getting 365 cycles. That's 36.5 a year. The warranty period covers about double that, to around 700 cycles. As per usual, the warranty coverage is lower than the design lifespan.

    As for the rest, we do need more information.
    May 14, 2015. 08:13 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla to adapt cars to China's charging standards [View news story]
    Ah, here is an article that far more accurately describes the current EV standards problem in China:

    Your characterization of GB/T as some sort of finished standard ready for deployment is incorrect.
    May 13, 2015. 10:31 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Turns Out A Tesla Supercharger Costs 2 Or 3 Times What Elon Musk Said [View article]
    cparmerlee, I think you are still not getting it. The existing CHAdeMO and SAE Combo 1 connectors are limited to 200 amps. At a common 360-400 volts, that limits the total power to 80 kW. The existing cars and EVSE's shipping with either of these standards are thus limited to 80 kW.

    The CHAdeMO and CCS EVSE's that are being deployed over the next year are mostly limited to 125 amps, or 45 kW in the real world. None of these really support long distance travel. In SAE parlance, these are all DC level 2.

    Only Tesla is deploying DC level 3 chargers in North America or Europe in the next year. The Tesla connector already supports 333 amp power delivery. For anyone else, they need to go to the standards committees and get new connectors approved. Then the standards needs to be made into products, both in new vehicles and in new EVSE's need to be designed, tested, and shipped. That's not happening within a year.

    So again, only Tesla is shipping either cars or charging stations that are really DC level 3 to support long distance travel. You can also see this in the way the other DC chargers are deployed. The vast majority are deployed to support intra city travel for vehicles with very limited range.

    Further, with the CHAdeMO adapter, Model S owners can utilize the 45 kW CHAdeMO network to supplement Superchargers.
    May 13, 2015. 09:53 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla: 3 Drivers Of Long-Term Powerwall Sales Growth [View article]

    You should know better than this. The NCA version of the PowerWall is expected to have 1,000 to 1,500 cycles lifespan. In a car, that corresponds to over 200,000 miles. Probably far higher, since most people cycle the pack with much smaller depth of discharge. So we're looking at a likely 275,000 to 400,000 miles. The big news was also that the design life of the cells is 15 years.

    At a 60% discharge level, NCA is likely to have somewhere around 2,500 to 3,000 charge cycles to 90% degradation. That's 350,000+ miles.

    Now, in deep daily cycling to 5,500 cycles, Tesla chose to go with NMC. It shows that Tesla is willing to go where they need to go to make the technology work for the right situation.
    May 13, 2015. 04:14 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Turns Out A Tesla Supercharger Costs 2 Or 3 Times What Elon Musk Said [View article]
    cparmerlee wrote, "The point is that these non-OEM networks are growing faster than Tesla can hope to keep up with."

    Ah, here is where your obvious lack of driving a BEV experience shows through.

    There are *zero* non-Tesla charging stations in the U.S. that support a reasonable long distance driving cadence. The best 100 kW Combo stations actually top out at just under 80 kW in actual real world performance. And virtually no stations are built that way and virtually no shipping vehicles can actually leverage that (taper curve on the Kia makes 80 kW a moot point).

    Further, if you actually look where these stations are, for the most part they are not set up to help you get between major cities. Good luck traveling between D.C. to New York on CCS. Or LA to San Francisco. Or San Francisco to Portland. Or Portland to Seattle. Or Denver to anywhere.

    Further, these stations are almost all single plug. Right now, there are 429 Supercharger stations, but 2,349 Supercharger plugs. With 188 Supercharger stations in the U.S., there are about 1,100 plugs. In contrast, there are about 1,000 CHAdeMO plugs in the U.S. and that includes the slow 25 kW variants that are really not much faster than Tesla's HPWC that is part of their destination charging program.

    Again, as a non-BEV owner, you don't actually understand the utility of Tesla's Supercharger network in contrast to everyone else's charging networks.
    May 13, 2015. 11:14 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Turns Out A Tesla Supercharger Costs 2 Or 3 Times What Elon Musk Said [View article]
    Mr. Comendador,

    At least Hawthorne, Barstow, Gilroy, and Mojave Desert Superchargers have battery systems.

    You also didn't account for the expansion of existing sites.

    The Jalopnik article was incorrect. Musk mentioned that at the time, two Superchargers had grid storage units. It's strange that you would fall for this mistake, as the number of solar supplemented Superchargers is obviously larger than two. The early Supercharger locations - Hawthorne and Tejon Ranch both had solar arrays in 2012. The initial Chinese Superchargers in Beijing and Shanghai also have solar arrays that were quite prominent.
    May 13, 2015. 11:00 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Turns Out A Tesla Supercharger Costs 2 Or 3 Times What Elon Musk Said [View article]
    Simply, you put out an article and didn't bother to include all the materially pertinent parameters that could affect your calculations. In the end, you actually don't have enough information necessary to make the assertion that you made in your original article.

    You use's 20 under construction, but you apparently don't realize that *none* of the Chinese Superchargers show up as under construction before they are operational. These are merely the ones that various people have found because either a permit was discovered or ground was broken. The actual costs of a Supercharger likely to be in the neighborhood of 75% incurred before ground is broken. When ground is broken, all the hardware is enroute or already delivered to the location.
    May 12, 2015. 04:43 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Turns Out A Tesla Supercharger Costs 2 Or 3 Times What Elon Musk Said [View article]
    Actually, he's also missing another key ingredient. The book value of the Supercharger network is both the constructed station *and* the unfinished ones. In other words, Tesla has already ordered the equipment and paid for various services before construction of a Supercharger even breaks ground. Black and Veatch has architectural plans already drawn up that is customized for each site in order to apply for the building permit. This could be 6 months or even a year before the building permit is granted for a site. Supercharger hardware, including the large distribution cabinets and the Supercharger hardware itself is likely ordered significantly in advance in order to make sure it is available for when the contractor has the permit and is ready to go. If a site is delayed, then that hardware is stored. The construction itself, after breaking ground, can be as short as 3 weeks, but can be as long as 3-4 months.

    Dividing by the number of open superchargers makes no sense.

    Further, some Superchargers have solar panels. Others have battery systems. Some have both. That also increases the costs. Some are substantially larger. We also don't know how much of the equipment was ordered in advance. It is possible that Tesla ordered a substantial amount of inventory in advance in order to secure a better price.
    May 12, 2015. 03:54 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla: Pressure Increases For Big Second Half [View article]

    "Those cars don't build themselves. It takes people, plant and supplies"

    Yeah, that big capex spending going on as well a chunk of the opex is for the expansion of people, plant, and supplies. It should be clear to everyone that Tesla is investing in expanding the production capability. They've been expanding production and this year, a big jump in production capacity is going to happen. They have been upgrading pieces and parts of the factory to be able to double capacity - this should be very clear to all analysts. Even last year's factory shutdown and re-alignment has to do with this production ramp. What we don't know is the exact cadence of the production ramp.

    In terms of production, we have:
    2014 Q2: 8,763
    2014 Q3: 7,785
    2014 Q4: 11,627
    2015 Q1: 11,160

    You can see that prior to the factory shutdown, they hit a peak of just under 9,000 a quarter. After the factory shutdown, they stretched themselves to 11.6k in the following quarter, but that took a lot of extra labor to do that. This past quarter, they did 11.1k, but with much lower costs and 1 fewer week of production.

    During the Q4 2014 earnings call, in response to BoA's Lovallo, Musk said, "Exactly, we have got to get Model X -- because we have a ton of CapEx related to Model X and we also have also invested in a bunch of things that actually, our volume numbers that are really better associated with Model III, so that our $0.25 billion paint shop upgrade is intended to be able to handle 10,000 cars a week."

    The expansion of the factory includes building both Model X and Model S. It's not a strict 50%-50% split. When questioned about the Model S and Model X split, during that same conference call, Musk said, "... if we are producing I would say 800 Xs a week, and several weeks is several thousand cars. So it's really tricky to predict it from -- I'd much easier predict next year, assuming people like the car, that is where you start to see -- I don't know -- 40,000, 30,000, 40,000 leased, 50,000, call it 30,000 to 50,000 Xs next year."

    Tesla is definitely looking to exit this year with double the production capacity plus a little more than entering this year. The question at this point is the exact ramp of the Model X. We know there are thousands upon thousands of deposits, enough for roughly 1.5-2 quarters of full single line production. If they are able to hit 75% of full single line production (9k), then the production this year looks like:

    11k (S) + 12k (S) + (12k (S) + 2k (X)) + (11k (S) + 9k (X)) = 57k

    There's plenty of room for variance, including a big beat. Also remember that RHD Model S "D" variants launch in UK, HK, Australia and Japan in Q3.

    The capex spend for the paint shop ends in Q3. The capex spend for the expansion of the 2nd production line ends in Q3. The capex spend on the phase 1 Gigafactory starts to taper in the 2H.

    May 11, 2015. 12:54 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Can Tesla Pull Off A Fourth Quarter Miracle? [View article]

    We simply don't have enough parameters to directly compare yet. The LG version is showing end of life at 60% capacity, which is lower than what people usually quote for end of life. It makes sense for stationary storage, but we don't know the specifics of the Powerwall numbers. We also don't know the depth of discharge numbers.

    Since the daily cycler is NMC, it is likely that both solutions have similar lifecycle characteristics.

    Interestingly enough, the LG version has a narrow temperature rating... only down to 0 degrees C. It is air cooled, which means the lifecycle given is for lab conditions. In the real world, temperature variance will degrade the LG version far more substantially and the amount of energy available at lower temps will be substantially lower. It depends on exactly where you put the two units.

    Warranty is also only 7 years in the LG version and the voltage is lower, so it doesn't match as nicely against some of the newer high efficiency inverters.
    May 7, 2015. 04:51 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment