Monthly Archives: September 2014

Tesla Selects Nevada for Gigafactory Battery Plant – But Can They Deliver?

The worst-kept secret in years … Tesla selects a Nevada site near Reno to build their battery factory.

The key questions that the battery and car analysts are raising among all of the excitement, include:

1. Will the factory get the cost of the car batteries low enough so that Tesla can actually price its Model III near the $40,000 range that is being promised. Many analysts are saying no.

Rendering of the Tesla Gigafactory to be built near Reno, Nevada
Rendering of the Tesla Gigafactory to be built near Reno, Nevada

2. Will the plant be built and operating by 2017 and in time to launch the Model III that year?

3. And finally, Tesla is saying by 2020, the factory will be able to produce enough batteries for production of 500,000 Teslas. To achieve this goal, and assuming the company means EVs with their branding, as opposed to also including platforms made for other brands, in 2020 they would likely have to sell:

– 300,000 Model III
– 100,000 Model X
– 100,000 Model S

While not impossible, especially with the growth opportunity in China, by comparison BMW sold 294,000 3 Series sedans in all of 2012. So the Model III, which Elon Musk has said is targeting the 3 Series and Audi A4, would have to match that volume.

What do you think, can they reach this level of sales in roughly 6 more years?

A Toothpick – Your Ticket to Uncovering Water Leaks

A toothpick? Yes, a simple toothpick placed on your water meter can help you determine if you may have a leaky toilet inside or broken irrigation pipe somewhere in your yard.

With California experiencing its worst drought in more than 100 years, many residents are looking for ways to cut back on water usage. These include installing low-flow shower heads, cutting back on the length of showers or watering lawns less often or even replace them.

But perhaps one of the simplest and most important water-saving steps you can take is simply to find out if you have leaks inside or outside of your home. For many Californians, finding and fixing leaks is probably the easiest way to achieve the state’s 20% voluntary reduction in water usage.

So back to the toothpick. According to EBMUD, make sure all indoor and outside faucets are shut off tightly and no one is using water. Mark the needle(s) on your water meter by laying a straight pin or toothpick exactly on top. Do not use any water for half an hour. If the needle(s) moved, you probably have a leak.

EBMUD Water Meter
Place a toothpick so that it is aligned with the needle on your water meter. Source: EBMUD

This Web page from the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has a simple explanation of the toothpick test, but customers can also request a water saving kit that includes more detailed instructions. Check with your water utility to see if they offer a similar kit and tips.

Understanding Elon Musk and Tesla

I’m a HUGE Tesla fan and Elon Musk fan boy. Tesla is simply one of the most important companies of our lifetime. The Model S is an amazing and important car, but when Tesla launches the Model III in about 2017 – it will probably be looked at as the most pivotal vehicle in the last 100 years.

Elon Musk’s vision is not really about building a great car company, but rather being the company that is a change agent and is a key catalyst for getting consumers and the other auto companies to embrace electric vehicles. Along the way, Tesla is becoming a great auto company that is building not just good EVs, but some of the best cars ever, period.

Tesla Motors logo
Tesla Motors logo: Source Tesla Google+ page

And the company is changing aspects of how cars are manufactured, sold and serviced. And then think about their Supercharger charging stations, the Gigafactory battery plant that is coming in a few years and the amount of robots used to build their cars – right here in America, in the high-cost-of-living Bay Area.

A lot of people simply don’t understand Elon and Tesla. They are focused on whether Tesla ismaking a profit? On how many cars they sold in the most recent quarter? This type of myopic thinking simply reveals that a lot of people still simply don’t comprehend what Elon and Tesla are undertaking. Tesla is a bit like Amazon in that Amazon is still losing money, but they are becoming world dominating – that is their larger goal. Making a profit can come later.

Tesla is also not looking to become a dominant auto company or even necessarily the largest manufacturer of EVs long term. The ultimate measure of Tesla’s success will be how much of a force their success was as a catalyst in the transition of GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes and Toyota, etc away from ICE-powered cars to electric?

I’m betting that Tesla and Elon will achieve their vision and goal – but unfortunately not for many, many years. The first major inflection point for EVs will not come until after the Model III is launched and EV sales likely won’t explode until around 2025.

Tesla Concord Site For Gigafactory – Transport Batteries by BART to Fremont Factory

So hey Tesla Motors – here is an interesting thought. The Concord Naval Weapons site is extremely close to the West Concord/Martinez BART station. The Warm Springs BART station, expected to open in late 2015, is about 1.5 miles from the Fremont Tesla factory.

So … if Tesla built the (or one of) Gigfactory(ies) at the Concord Naval Weapons site, you could lease the tracks from BART in the middle of the night, run special freight cars, and transfer the batteries from the Gigafactory almost entirely on BART trains (electric power) from the Concord plant to the Fremont factory.

Not only would this of course cut down carbon emissions, it would reduce transport times, make future Tesla’s even “greener” and the batteries could be stored at the battery plant and delivered just-in-time for assembly, reducing storage and capital costs.

And, as part of the deal to lease the tracks from BART, Tesla could offer to build Super Charger stations bundled with Solar City parking structures that generate power for the chargers, clean power for the stations and the trains; complete with Tesla battery back-up electricity storage.

What do you think Tesla Motors?

What’s The Difference Between a PHEV, HEV, BEV and EREV?

Have you been drooling over the Tesla Model S but perhaps have set your EV (electric vehicle) sights a little lower?

Maybe you’ve been thinking about a Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf. But while both of those cars are electric vehicles, each are actually a different type of EV – each with different advantages and disadvantages.

If you are considering the purchase of an electric vehicle in the near future – but are confused by the choices and different types available on the market, below and here in the Loren-Green EV pages is a quick guide to the different acronyms and types of electric vehicles:

EV – Electric Vehicle: The acronym “EV” tends to be used both as an all-encompassing term for any vehicle powered partially or a vehicle powered entirely by a battery. This would include hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully-electric vehicles.

PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle: “PHEVs” are hybrids, often with longer-range battery capacity than non-plug-in hybrids, whose batteries can be charged by plugging them into an electrical outlet or charging station. Electric power-only range varies from the teens (Honda Accord PHEV – 13 miles; Toyota Prius PHEV – 15 miles) to the low-20 mile range (Ford Fusion and C-MAX Energi – 21 miles).

  • Examples include the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Ford Fusion and C-MAX Energi models and more.
  • Here is a nifty tool that will calculate your annual estimated cost for gas and electricity for every major PHEV on the market. It also has a nice little touch that will estimate how many times you will need to go to a gas station.

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle: “BEVs” are electric vehicles that operate on 100% battery power. They are also often referred to as “all electric vehicles” to differentiate them from PHEVs. Examples include the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Smart EV, Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, BMW i3 and more.

HEV- Hybrid Electric Vehicle: Examples include the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Lexus RX-400h Hybrid, Lexus CT-200 Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and more. Here is a complete list of currently available hybrids.

EREV – Extended Range Electric Vehicle: With extended-range plug-in hybrids, the electric motor always powers the drivetrain/wheels. However, when the battery reaches a certain level of charge, the gas motor kicks in to charge the battery – providing the “extended range.” Examples include the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 with Range Extender.

Still confused or have questions on the different typos of EVs? Check out my EV definitions page and links to additional resources, or ask me a question in the comments box.