Friday, July 6, 2012

New Tesla Model S Review in the WSJ: "I Am Silent, Hear Me Roar"

The WSJ car guy is quite taken with the new Tesla Model S:

The Model S—indeed, high-performance electric vehicles in general—will take some getting used to, even a new vocabulary. We currently don't have a good term for EVs' distinctive concentration of mass, with batteries slung low as possible and centroid to the vehicle. While traction batteries are heavy, and mass is bad for acceleration and agility, the lower center-of-gravity often compensates with higher levels of cornering, especially when a car wears rubber like the Signature Performance edition's sticky 21-inch summer tires. How about "corner-levering mass"?
Isn't it interesting that it took a new car company to do this?

General thoughts: The base model is not that expensive. I'll bet my current car is my last internal combustion engine. It's bearish for oil. The post-collapse world imagined by Kunstler is not going to happen. At least if you are already fantastically rich, it's possible to be a groundbreaking entrepreneur. This plus thorium power plus autopilot for cars means the marginal cost of transportation for goods and people falls to nearly zero. What will that world look like? Stores come to you... most retail especially bigbox is obsolete. What if retailers or other consumer destinations offer you a free charge for visiting?

Millions of electric vehicles charging at night means grid energy storage ("vehicle to grid"). Whenever not driving, EVs can sell the electricity from the battery during peak loads and charge during off-peak. Does that mean the price of power will be the same all the time? Someone has already coined the term "carbitrage" to describe selling back energy from the EV battery.

P.S. Guess who makes the batteries? The "more than 7,000 Panasonic nickel-cathode lithium-ion 18650 cells are warrantied for eight years and 100,000, 125,000 or unlimited miles, depending on pack size."


Stock Chump said...

I'll take your bet :) I guess it depends on how much money you make

I don't think most people will be switching over to battery power, it is just too expensive.

I am willing to bet that this computer (purchased in Feb2012) will be the last computer with only a traditional hard drive.

Makes me wonder if STX and WDC are value traps (no position).

CP said...

Agree about HDDs.

portland_allan said...

RE: autopilot for cars, have you seen the Google car video? It's very impressive. I don't have it at hand, but could dig it up if your interested.

I expect OTR shippers will be the early adopters. They are perennial complainers about driver shortages (mainly because they pay crap for the working conditions, but anyway...) Imagine a convoy of 5 double trailers going down the interstate with one driver in the front and all the rest following him until the pulling into a special truck stop where local guys climb in the cab and make the proverbial final mile deliveries.

CP said...

No, post the link for us. I can put it on FP too.

Good point about the truckers.

What else will happen? Insurance premiums go down?

Do people end up sharing cars? Carpooling becomes easier?

You could have semipublic transportation, but nicer and cleaner because people who chew gum can be banned from riding.

portland_allan said...

Link to Google self-driving car story. They originally announced it at an IEEE key-note last fall. I was left thoroughly impressed.

CP said...

Nice, I'll post it in the links post today.