Idiot Analysts

Many analysts have written quite a bit about electric cars. Much of it seems well thought out, or is published by reputable sources. Lets take one recent article. It is published by Forbes, which is a reputable source. The article is Tesla is the Underdog In The Electric Car Revolution.

Lets look at some of the text. It says "Microsoft introduced the first tablet computer in 2000. Apple didn’t unveil the iPad until a decade later." Well how true is that? Using Wikipedia, you will find "In 1987, Apple Computer started its tablet project, which considered release of devices of three sizes, with the one eventually released in 1993, Apple Newton, ". This is clearly before 2000. The Newton wasn't a big hit, but it was certainly a tablet computer, and it was introduced in 1993, which is before 2000.

The article also says "In 2008, it (tesla) released the Tesla Roadster, the world’s first highway-legal electric car." Well there were many early electric cars. Wikipedia says "In 1828, Ányos Jedlik invented an early type of electric motor, and created a small model car powered by his new motor. In 1834, Vermont blacksmith Thomas Davenport built a similar contraption which operated on a short, circular, electrified track.[5] In 1834, Professor Sibrandus Stratingh of Groningen, the Netherlands and his assistant Christopher Becker created a small-scale electric car, powered by non-rechargeable primary cells.[6]" These cars clearly predated highways, as well as much legal regulations. So perhaps they don't really count. Lets consider modern electric cars. Wikipedia also says "In the early 1990s, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the government of California's "clean air agency", began a push for more fuel-efficient, lower-emissions vehicles, with the ultimate goal being a move to zero-emissions vehicles such as electric vehicles.[42][43] In response, automakers developed electric models, including the Chrysler TEVan, Ford Ranger EV pickup truck, GM EV1 and S10 EV pickup, Honda EV Plus hatchback, Nissan lithium-battery Altra EV miniwagon and Toyota RAV4 EV." Clearly these are highway legal cars. These were made by GM, Chrysler, Ford and Toyota.

So in a few minutes, I found two significant factual errors in a article which purports to speak in an authoritative way about finances and Tesla Motors. It is clear that there is a shortage of fact checking at Forbes on simple matters. If they can't get simple facts straight, how trustworthy is their nuanced financial analysis? I fear there may be even less fact checking on important matters. So don't take any article on the Internet at face value. This is quite unfortunate, as major sites like Forbes used to have very high quality articles. I tried to find a way to contact the author or Forbes, but there wasn't anything obvious.

Tesla will crush all competitors

Tesla will crush all other car makers. This is pretty clear once you look at the facts. The most expensive part of an electric car is the battery. The battery size is a function of several things. First, is the desired range of the car. The Nissan Leaf originally came with a 24 kwh battery. Its advertised range was 100 miles, but you had to drive at 29 mph on flat ground without using the heater or AC. A more realistic range was about 70 miles. The next factor for battery size is the weight of the car. A heavier car will require more power to speed up than a lighter car. It will also require more power to go up hills. The last factor is friction. There are many forms of friction. The tires have rolling resistance. Fortunately there are low rolling resistance tires. There is mechanical drag, due to things like the gear box, CV joints and bearings. And finally, there is air drag. Power to overcome air drag is related to the speed of the car cubed. There are two factors that contribute to drag. The first is frontal area, that is the cross section of the car. The second is the coefficient of drag (cd). This is how much drag a vehicle has compared to a flat sheet with the same cross section. Of course batteries have a significant weight, so the longer the range, the more the batteries will weigh.

Tesla - low coefficient of drag

And this is why Tesla will crush the other car makers. Their first car was the roadster. It was reasonable light and had a reasonable low cross section. Its coefficient of drag was between 0.35 and 0.26, which is pretty typical for a car. As a reference point, The 1984 Pontiac Trans Am had a really low coefficient of drag (in its day), and it was 0.299. More recently there have been lower drag cars. The Nissan Leaf has a cd of 0.28 or 0.29. My Prius has a cd of 0.25. The Tesla Model S cd is 0.24, the Model X is 0.24 and the Model 3 is 0.23. The 1006 GM EV-1 had a cd of 0.19, which is the lowest drag of a production car. They were originally using lead acid batteries, which don't store much energy. So what does all of this mean? It means that the Tesla can go further with a given sized battery than a car with more drag. This means the Tesla battery will cost less than their competitors, everything else being equal. In addition, Tesla cars are mostly made out of aluminum, which makes the car lighter, further contributing to having a long range.

Tesla - long battery life

Since the battery is the biggest cost of an electric car, a reasonable consumer will ask how long the battery will last, and how much it will cost to replace. Tesla has the gigafactory and makes the least expensive lithium ion batteries. There is also reasonable evidence showing their batteries last longer than others. There are some older Model S cars around with 300,000 miles on their batteries. Their newer batteries are most likely longer lasting than their early batteries. It is quite reasonable to count on 300k or more miles for a Tesla battery pack.

Tesla - the competition

I watched a review of the Audi e-tron. It uses rectangular batteries which are sure to be more expensive than Tesla batteries. It is a SUV which marketing says will sell well. They didn't say what the coefficient of drag was, but it clearly has a large cross section. They say the car will come out in late 2020. It will have a 95 kwh battery pack and a range of 220 miles. This is because it has too much drag. The Tesla Model 3 has a 75 kwh battery and a range of 310 miles. The e-tron battery will cost quire a lot of money, which will move the purchase price of the car up.

The Jaguar i-pace is also a SUV. It has a 90 kwh battery and a range of 234 miles. The base price is 69,500 dollars. Wikipedia says 40% of the cost of the car is the battery. I suspect that Jaguar is losing money on each car they sell.

Unless other electric cars are made lighter, and have lower drag, or perhaps they have magic batteries that cost less than Tesla, they will be crusted by Tesla.

Some history

Electric cars were cutting edge in 1992, which AC propulsion started making electric cars. It is now 27 years later. so they are no longer cutting edge. It is too bad that the major automakers have been asleep so long. Tesla has shipped roughly 500k cars. It isn't a race any more. Tesla has won, and all other car companies has lost. They have themselves to blame. AC propulsion approached every major car makes in the world in the early 1990's and they all had their head in the sand. Tesla didn't. Perhaps they didn't have existing gas cars. Perhaps they were less risk sensitive. In any event, they saw the future and the rest of the companies didn't. Except for the GM EV-1 and some 'compliance' cars, nobody else was making electric cars. Evolve or die.

Quick charging

Either an electric car can quick charge, or it is just a city car. The Fiat 500e can't quick charge. It also had a range of about 100 miles and a 24 kwh battery. When it was low on juice, you had to plug it in to a 120 or 240v outlet. It will only charge at 6.6 kw. This means that it will take over 3.5 hours to charge. It it a compliance car, which Fiat never really wanted to make. It will not replace a gas car, as you can't drive it more than 100 miles without waiting hours for it to recharge.

The Tesla supercharger will charge at over 100 kw. There is an option for the Model S P100D to have two charging ports. My Model 3 charges faster than the new Model S 75 which I drove a bit. As a car becomes more charged, the charging rate will decrease so the battery doesn't get cooked. In general, it is not good to charge a battery quickly, as it reduces the battery life. There are specialized batteries that can be charged quickly. They are more expensive, and wear out faster than standard batteries. In general, a rough rule of thumb is to charge a battery at 1/10 its total capacity to maximize its life. That means if you have a 100 kwh battery pack, you should charge it at 10 kw.

There are some European chargers being built with very high charging rates. I have read of chargers up to 350 kw. This is not the rate the car will charge, but the maximum rate the charger can produce. If you have a 2018 Tesla 75D, you will never see 100 kw. I wonder if these high power chargers will reach mass production. Even if a car is made that can charge at such a high rate, it will almost certainly reduce the battery life. The 2020 Tesla Roadster will have a 200 kwh battery pack. Perhaps it could use a high power charger without greatly reducing its battery life.

Tesla Roadster 2020 - The supercar killer

Tesla has promised a new generation Roadster in 2020.Unlike some other car makers, there is a working prototype that people have driven. You can see it on Jay Leno's Garage. According to Tesla 0-60 mph will take 1.9 seconds, 0-100 will take 4.2 seconds, 1/4 mile will take 8.8 seconds. The top speed will be over 250 mph. It will have a range of 620 miles. The base price will be $200,000. This is certainly a lot of money, but the least expensive Ferrari is $214,553, the least expensive Lamborghini is $200,000, and the least expensive Audi R8 starts at $138,700. The Tesla is faster than all of them. In fact it is faster than any production car, no matter the price. The Koenigsegg Agera RS has a top speed of 285 (its 0-62 mph time is 2.8 seconds) and only 25 were made at a cost of approximately 2,100,000. Not exactly a production car, and its 0-60 is much slower. The Bugatti Chiron has a base price of 2,700,000 and a top speed of about 261 mph. The 0-62 time is 2.4 seconds. There will 500 produced. So the new Roadster will be far less expensive than the hypercars, and probably as fast or faster in every way.

Nissan Leaf 2012

I put in a reservation for a 2012 Nissan Leaf. That didn't go well, and I ended up making them Weasel of the Month But Nissan has gotten much worse. Phillip Carlson bought a 2012 Leaf and he said "I bought an electric car from Nissan with 5 years warranty on the battery. They claimed 175km range. From new I only ever got 120km. Now I can BARELY get 35-40km during winter or even 25km if I use the heater. The warranty says the battery is bad if it drops to 9 out of 12 bars, which mine has." The Leaf doesn't have active temperature management of its battery, unlike all other EVs that I know of. Even in 2019 they don't have liquid cooled batteries. Phillip also said "I took it in and they claim the battery is totally fine and there's nothing wrong with it and gave me a $33,000 (AUS dollars) invoice for a new one!!!! Nissan just won't listen and I've run out of all hope. I paid $53,000 for this car and it's pretty useless now." So later on Nissan said they would sell him a refurbished battery pack for $10,000 AUS plus labor. I don;t think this is a good strategy to make money selling EVs. It is possible that Australia's consumer law may force Nissan to buy back these cars at purchase price, which is what I would certainly demand if I owned one.

Porsche Taycan Turbo S 2020

The is yet another 'tesla killer'. The 6op end Turbo S starts at $185,000 and has a EPA range of 201 miles. The car does seem to be quite quick and I find it really impressive that a car that weights 5,132 pounds is as quick as it is. However, Tesla doesn't make any cars with a range as low as 201 miles. The 0-60 time is stated as 'under 3 seconds', which is quite quick, but not as quick as the Tesla Model S Performance at 2.4 seconds. I think the Taycan is competing in price with the Tesla Roadster, which will cost $200,000 and has a range of 620 miles. It also has a top speed of over 250 miles per hour and a 0-60 mph time of 1.9 seconds. These specs are better than any other supercar or hypercar. The Taycan may sell to loyal Porsche owners, but I predict low sales. Just for laughs, the Tesla CyberTruck top end model costs $69,000, has a range of 500 miles and a 0-60 time of less than 2.9 seconds. So you could buy two of them, and still have lots of change compared to the Taycan. Another thing I find quite amusing is the name 'Turbo' in an electric car that doesn't have a turbocharger. Porsche says it is used to denote 'fast'. I think it really means 'you are an idiot for paying so much'.

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