The Electric Car

The electric car is going to take over the world.  Soon.  Let me explain.

75% of US consumers and over 85% of US millennials own smartphones.  Perhaps more amazing is that 1/4 of people in the world use a smartphone today.  Ten years ago a prediction that this would be the future would have been met with scorn or laughter. In fact, in 2005 few if any of the futurists would have even been able to imagine the kind of device most of us now depend upon.  Naturally, the release of the iPhone in 2007 changed everything, but it is likely that the smartphone era was inevitable. Steve Jobs just ushered it in a few years early.

In June of 2012 Tesla released the Model S and the results will be equally transformative.   Current predictions of the future of electric cars are as wrong as any predictions about the future of mobile phones made in 2005.  It is likely that electric car penetration, at least in the US, will take off at an exponential rate over the next 5-10 years rendering laughable the paltry predictions of future electric car sales being made today [1].  

These predictions are so wrong because they misunderstand the pertinent forcing function. Their assumption is that electric car sales will slowly increase as the technology gets marginally better, and as more and more customers choose to forsake a better product (the gasoline car) for a worse, yet  “greener” version. This view of the future is, simply, wrong. The reason electric cars will take over our roads is because consumers will DEMAND them.  Electric cars will be better than any alternative, including the loud, inconvenient, gas-powered jalopy. The iPhone demonstrated that smartphones are infinitely better than the feature phones which dominated the world in 2007. The Tesla Model S has demonstrated that a well made, well designed electric car is far superior to anything else on the road. This has changed everything.  

Elon Musk has ushered in the age of the electric car, and whether or not it, too, was inevitable, it has certainly begun. The Tesla Model S has sold so well because, compared to old-fashioned gasoline cars:

  • It’s more fun to drive, with smooth, transmission-less acceleration. For most of us it is the fastest car we have ever owned.
  • It’s quieter at all times and nearly silent at low speeds.
  • It is always “full” every morning one drives it and you never need to go to a gas station.
  • It has a user interface - including, notably, its navigation system - as superior to that of other cars as the iPhone was to earlier phones.
  • It is connected to the Internet.
  • It continuously gets better with automatic updates and software improvements.
  • It’s more roomy and has a trunk in the front (the “frunk”) AND a spacious back.
  • It comes with an app that allows you to manage the car from your phone.
  • It allows you to drive in the carpool lane and to sign up for a cheaper energy usage plan at home (obviously these incentives won’t last, but they will help get us to the tipping point described below).

Apple’s competition eventually figured out that they either join the revolution or lose their business (e.g., Motorola and Nokia) and began to effectively compete with the iPhone. It is not clear how long Tesla’s competitors will take to realize that they are living in the past, but one can assume that some will eventually figure out the score [2]. In the meantime, cheaper Teslas will appear and begin to take more and more market share and soon three trends will drive the exponential increase in electric cars on the road.

  1. All electric cars will become cheaper and cheaper.
  2. The range of these cars will soon match or exceed that of gasoline cars. [3]
  3. Gas stations will start to go out of business as many more electric cars are sold, making gasoline powered vehicles even more inconvenient.

The last of these is actually vitally important to understand.  Gas stations are not massively profitable businesses [4]. When 10% of the vehicles on the road are electric many of them will go out of business.  This will immediately make driving a gasoline powered car more inconvenient.  When that happens even more gasoline car owners will be convinced to switch and so on.  Rapidly a tipping point will be reached, at which point finding a convenient gas station will be nearly impossible [5] and owning a gasoline powered car will positively suck.  Then, there will be a rush to electric cars not seen since, well, the rush to buy smartphones.

It is hard to know just what the timeframe of this change will be, but I bet it happens much faster than pundits are predicting.  Electric cars, unlike other alternative fuels have a built in delivery network.  Objections that our existing grid cannot possibly support the new load they represent [6] do not impress. On the one hand, most charging will be done in the evening when there is plenty of capacity. On the other hand,  the potential exists for a huge rollout of home solar power over the next decade.  The bottom line is that we will have plenty of time to figure this out and solve it.  We will have to because consumers will demand their electric cars.  

The future of automotive transportation is an electric one and you can expect that future to be here soon.


Thanks to Sam Altman for having read an earlier version of this post.


[1] US predicts electric vehicles won't make a dent by 2040

[2] There are already over 20 models of electric cars currently available, from all electric, like the Tesla and the Nissan Leaf, to many hybrids. Here's a list of plug-ins those currently available, but expect it to change rapidly.

[3] The current range of a Model S tops out at about 300 miles. GM is planning to launch a new electric car called the Bolt with a range of  200 miles to effectively compete with Tesla. Battery technology is difficult, but it would be extremely surprising if the available ranges don't double again in 5 years or less.

[4] In 2012, the average net profit margin of privately owned gas stations was 1.6%. This article, which ought to be written tongue in cheek, but isn't, describes how happy gas station owners ought to be since their margins (temporarily) went up to 3% in 2013.

[5] By the way, if I'm right then this implies that over one hundred thousand former gas station locations will be available for cleanup (and I bet this won't be easy or cheap) and redevelopment. This could be an extraordinary business opportunity in of itself.

[6]  See this discussion on Quora. 





57 responses
Great post. There a few key economic reasons missing, that make the electric car superior to a gasoline powered car.

* Fewer moving parts results in lesser maintenance costs and lesser depreciation.
* With Tesla in particular, there are no price discrepancies. I know how much the car costs and don't need to haggle.
Clearly the future is the electric car, however the timeline will simply depend on when a tesla mass market vehicle is released. You estime 5-10 years on a big uptake in electric cars, which would make sense since during that time Tesla will have released their 30K model for the masses.

Currently, Tesla's are luxury cars for the affluent. There are other more affordable cars like the leaf, but lack the styling and technology and brand excitement as Teslas.

So unlike the iPhone, the future of the electric car is far more forseable and based soley on when those cars are priced at points available to the normal consumer. By that time hopefully they other major sticking point for consumers will be resolved as well which is Range issues. In that there will be many more charging stations across the country for consumers or battery swaping stations.
This is a great, fun analysis. I'm not sure if I buy the tipping point argument though because it misstates many gas stations' purpose. There is the functional need to refuel, which goes away. But I'd be curious what their profitability is just as a waystation - a place to stretch your legs, use a clean restroom, and grab a snack. Admittedly, I love crossroads towns like that on a road trip, but I just think of them as something fundamentally different than a place to get gas. Gas stations in predominantly urban environments where land is at a premium, are doomed by both real estate prices, Uber/Lyft, and electric cars. Oddly, I think this could make electric cars the intermediate solution to the last mile problem - combustion would still service the big parts of the country with low population density and relatively fewer roads and crossroads, but it will be more economical to park on the outskirts of town and take public transportation/Uber, which would be increasingly electric, into the city (a travel dynamic already happening to a large extent).
I think one key thing phones had going for them was a built-in replacement cycle that doesn't seem the same as for vehicles. Before the iPhone mobile operators in the US and abroad had multiple years "training" users to upgrade their devices every couple of years. It's hard to think of a device with as smooth an obsolescence curve as mobile phones, even today.
Electric cars will come, but the skids are not as greased as the mobile operator distribution dynamic...

One other point is that the iPhone was subsidized. Apple was and still is in a phenomenally unique position position of having operators subsidize a premium product that also has scaled economic advantages over its competitors. I don't think Tesla is yet at the market expanding price point that Apple and other smartphone makers were able to get to so quickly.
Fab post! It's happening before our very eyes, ~17k Tesla's sold last year, 3/5th that number already sold so far this year.

Some questions though

1. With the iPhone the enabling technologies (chips, camera tech etc) were sufficiently mature for the adoption tipping point to happen as quickly as it did for smart phones, does that also apply here? Leads to a related question

2. There is no 'Moore's Law' for the most critical/expensive component of electric vehicles - batteries - any thoughts on how this might impede the exponential penetration rate predictions?

Thanks for sharing!
Seyi
I became dumber having read your article. It was poorly punctuated with bad grammar. It was a beginning sign of what I was about to read was going to be crap. I do agree electric cars are the future or will hold a sizable share of the market. So, I agree with you on that point. I just think your poorly written article won't do its intended job of persuading others. Which makes one question, "What was even the point of writing this?"

You know who would disagree with you? Elon Musk. In interviews, he has stated gasoline powered vehicles will coexist with electric vehicles for a long time. So it puts a lot of your blanket statements and assumptions in serious doubts. I guess if you're from YCombinator, you must know be pretty knowledgeable about start-ups, more so than Elon.
Contrary to all the points you make, sales of electric vehicles in the US are down solidly year over year in each of the last three months and are running well below 2014 levels this year so far. Consumers are not DEMANDing them, as you say as their market share is declining given total auto sales are rising.

http://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scor...
Combine electric and driverless cars and the transition will be very quick. However it will highly reduce the number of cars purchased as most vehicles that are dormant for most of the day become more highly utilized. So the total number of new cars required to make the gas to electric transition will be much lower
Excellent electric cars predated Tesla by quite a while, many are arguably better, and so it's not clear why you're toadying up to Musk.
Sorry but you miss the one thing that has not significantly improved since year zero: the battery.

Until someone makes a significant breakthrough in mass produced batteries the electric car will not be truly practical.

Go plot the computing power of a phone, year by year, and it will broadly meet Moore's law. Now do the same for energy density of the battery in your phone. Creeping up very slowly. In fact it's the incredible improvements in efficiency of the chips in your phone that make it feasible at all, masking the limitations of the battery by managing to do more work with less power with each new version.

There are plenty of organisations out there who would happily pay a billion dollars for a better battery (imagine if your iPhone could last a whole week between charges), the fact no-one has one suggests it's hard and unlikely to arrive very soon.
Yogi Berra quote "Predicting is hard. Especially about the future." I think it's dangerous to bet the farm on your guess, but I don't disagree that a number of extremely important lines have been crossed recently with electric vehicles. One is obviously performance. Another range. Yet another, quality. And another, reliability. None of these are small things. Musk is in my opinion as a student of prior revolutions (manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, engineering in general, communications (radio and computer), electronics) deserves accolades. He is in the Edison category with this car, the battery factory, space travel. No kidding. His car factory alone is a model of the future, and I agree with you, his machine has iPhone-like transformation potential. It ALREADY makes economic sense and as he attacks his own product's shortcomings and as the product attacks its own infrastructure limitations, I think it will be huge. I've watched the other car manufacturers sidestep this field for DECADES, and now, a lot of foreign and domestic outfits are waking up to the potential that Tesla has revealed and been the first to exploit. That he could do it in an industry so threaded into the political environment (witness the battles against internet sales of cars in many states directed by dealers AT Tesla!) is testimony to what he has accomplished. I am a year into a 3-year lease on a vehicle, and at the end, Tesla will be on my list for a replacement. The salvage value of the cars, their undeniable quality, their feature set, and their operating costs demand close evaluation against fueled alternatives. (I have done hundreds of engineering-economic evaluations over my 40+ year career and this one smells like it has potential.

So, don't bet the farm, but don't be too surprised if a number of your predictions wind up being closer to the mark than farther. I do hope so. A new growth industry, centered in the USA, a huge market, rich and tech-appreciative, that needs such industry.... bring it on.
It's not just cars. For those of us who prefer to travel on two wheels rather than four . . . electric motorcycles will also eventually dominate the market, given enough time. I've commuted about 20,000 miles on a Brammo Empulse R, and it's the best bike I've ever owned.

It will take real infrastructure change before electrics are truly a completely viable replacement, but it is likely coming. Recharge speed (and availability), not battery capacity, is the limiter in the parity of electric vs. gas.
I believe in electric cars and can't wait to own one. But in your list of reasons, only the first three relate to electric cars. The remaining six have nothing to do with the power train....
While I agree with you that electric cars will quickly take dominate the market, I think that there are a few very important distinctions that will make electric car adoption slower than that of mobile phones.

Mobile phones (smartphone or otherwise) has a general lifespan of 2 years, while cars can easily be maintained to last anywhere between 5-15 years. Combine that with the fact that purchasing a car is much more of a significant purchase than a phone, and you're looking at an industry that turns around slower by nature.

Therefore, my pushback is that electric cars maybe adopted faster than we expect, but its a little ridiculous to me to expect that they will have penetrated the market at the rate smartphones have.
Profit margins don't matter. What matters is total profit. Grocery stores are also notoriously low-margin. Like gas stations, they turn over their inventory rapidly. So 1.3% margin on inventory, times 6 or more turnovers per year, yields a nice return on investment. Department stores for example have higher margins, but don't make as much money.
Smartphones existed before the iPhone. PDAs existed before the iPhone. Mobile phones existed before the iPhone. Tablets existed before the iPhone. Given how fast mobile phones were mass adopted, literally no one would be shocked by a prediction that the iPhone's actual major improvement at the time-- a finger touch screen that worked with accuracy and precision-- would be developed and people would want it on their devices.

Nothing was ushered in early, and it was absolutely inevitable. When you have the basic point correct, I don't know why there's such an attraction to pretend none of the above things already existed in favor of some iPhone world changing mythology.

This bleeds into your car take because Telsa didn't usher in any of this either. If it did, why does the Nissan Leaf drastically outsell it? Drastically. Like, it's not even remotely close.
In your references, number [3] needs a correction. The 2016 Volt has a all-electric range increase to 50 miles. The Bolt is an all new all-electric car from Chevy with a target range of 200 miles.
The answer to our grid issues are thorium salt reactors, they are cost effective and clean nuclear, the US designed then in the 50's. Solar is a temporary solution but these are an open-minded solution to our ailing grid here in the United States.
Great post - I certainly hope that Geoff’s forecast proves correct. The “tipping point” argument should generate some discussion:

When 10% of the vehicles on the road are electric many of them will go out of business.

But how do you get from 10% EV penetration to “many gas stations out of business”? Some other possibilities are: physical concentration of the gas-pumping retailers; automated gas pumps become accessories to other retailers who already have the asphalt; the retail price of petrol goes up.
 
I agree with Geoff that consumers will react strongly when it becomes really inconvenient to refuel. It’s above my pay grade whether that is 25% or 50% EV penetration. When does the refueling “tipping point” effect grow large enough to offset the (decreasing) EV price premium? 
 
What else might bend the curve of EV adoption? It wouldn’t surprise me if self-driving cars were a more direct cause of an inflection in EV market penetration. I think automated taxis are likely to explode in the cities that have favorable density, travel patterns and demographics. And I will eat my hat if the robo-taxi companies chose to deploy fleets of ICE vehicles. EV taxi fleets could contribute EV growth promoters like:

  1. Building out fleets of Robo-taxis drives down the numerator of EV cost/benefit

  2. In urban zones the market for private autos shrinks as people find they prefer using over owning. So total EV penetration goes up with the shrinking ICE denominator. 


Even if the EV takeover is slower than Geoff hopes, we can look forward to a much cleaner and more convenient future. EVs are essential: the road to a low carbon economy goes through the electrification of transport.
This was such a banal POS. And who gives a shit if Sam Altman read it. He isn't an expert. Next time you want cred get Secretay Chu to read it. You YC guys need to stay out of science until you learn to at least write with substance and discipline. Thank you for adding another piece of dribble to the Internet.
"It is not clear how long Tesla’s competitors will take to realize that they are living in the past..." Not long: http://insideevs.com/gm-ceo-assembles-task-forc...

We're already at 200-300 mile range. At 300-400 miles, range anxiety goes away.

Tesla's battery plant investment is the catalyst that will break the chicken/egg problem of battery cost and efficiency (Chinese investment did it for solar panels).

With Solar power available from home and at charging stations, all kinds of mayhem no longer cripples mobility.

To the extent that gas stations are bait for overpriced junk food, good riddance. To the extent that they are convenient, charging stations will be too.

Seems that the reason electric cars have not taken off are not technical; but rather aiming low.
Been driving mostly electric for 4+ years (Nissan Leaf), almost never go to gas station. They are done, and almost always better options for stops. Almost nothing for maintenance and service for 4 years (less than $200 total), service department not needed. Better experience all around.

I'm done with gas, a little more range and the hardly driven 2nd gas car changed out for electric.
I'm surprised that no one's pointed out how marginal the benefits are that your suggesting for the electric car. The smart phone, on the other hand, had more than 1 total game changers. Example, combining music player, camera, and phone in one device. If you bought one device you no longer needed 2 others. The iPhone was also magical. You could squeeze and expand images type that tiny keyboard with remarkable accuracy as well have light saber apps and of course good old shazam. Electric car popularity will grow but it won't be close to smart phone growth...unless there are some game changers waiting in the midst.
So true
I agree.
I am holding out for an electric truck.
Good overall analysis. I wouldn't count on the gas station closures being much of a thing. They make all their money on lotto tickets/smokes/drinks/snacks/carwashes etc. and just use the gas to get people to stop there.
I own an electric car and have tracked its performance carefully, and studied the hell out of the details. Geoff Ralston doesn't know what the hell he is talking about.
"This could be an extraordinary business opportunity in of itself."

Here's an interesting prediction that Amazon will soon buy a gas station chain: https://youtu.be/XCvwCcEP74Q?t=6m44s
I agree and my current job is to design EV off-road 14 seater 72 volt control system. Waiting for that upcoming feature on EV for fast three years.
Geoff,
Spot on with the comments about the electric car. This is part of a much bigger story around renewables though. If you look at PV cells, wind, batteries in both the transportation and energy industries a much bigger picture emerges. I wrote a case study on this, check it out and let me know if you like it:
http://contechadvisors.com/s/case_study_renewab...
Great article. Its won't be in the History books though, only because a small Canadian company known as Research In Motion brought the world the first smartphone called the Blackberry in 2002. Which has inspired Apple and others to mimic their invention.

Carry on.
Great points, maybe this answers questions http://www.inc.com/travis-wright/what-startup-k...
As electrics become dominant, what's the solution for people without garages? Faster charging stations?
Electric cars and gasoline cars are substitute goods. iPhones enabled work that was previously not possible on a feature phone, so they were not substitutes.
What about the geopolitical impact of gas consumption decreasing so dramatically? Which wars will be avoided? Which new wars will be started? How will this affect Middle East policy?
Great observation Thomas. If you look at electric cars as a pure replacement, then yes they are substitute goods and must therefore compete on a level field w.r.t. performance and cost, but what if there was additional utility? Here's a thought: What about the battery? The car's battery is connected to the grid during the day at work and during the evening at home. Considering the capacity, there is economic usefulness in the car being considered a grid storage device. While one car is not significant, 1 million cars would be. Musk has mentioned this several times btw.
I think that using the principal of storing energy, and manipulating its use; of
generation, experimenting: found logic that is not present...I found presence of voltage in the atmosphere, by testing with a volt ohm meter
axis of planets, made by our creator. ..I dot know much about.
Great post there are numerous documents and graphs showing penetration time of everything from electricity to computers to microwaves in the average US home.

2 key points in these documents.

1. The cycle from product release to 20/80% penetration has been getting shorter for the past 120 years.
2. The manufacturing price reduction cycle for products has shown similar increase in speed.

So price drops accelerate with penetration, these curves accelerate each other in a positive feedback loop since price drops allow more people to purchase the product.

Another key point that was missed is how the world has moved to higher densities which means lower commute distances which is another advantage for the implementation of electric cars. My job 10 years ago needed a 1 hour 1 way journey each way. ~65 miles. Today I have a job 15 miles from my house with many offers in a 20 mile radius due to increased density. Plus I have work from home days so I don't go to the office as much either. A bolt or other plug in is becoming more palatable to me and will be on the list of possible cars to purchase for a replacement in the next 2 years.

For people who are farmers, it will be a much harder sell because they have a lot of towing and great distances to travel. But since their numbers are decreasing, long term they are less and less of a factor.

ON the negative side, cars last A LOT longer than they did 20 years ago. The average car age on the road is 11.4 years. http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/06/autos/age-of-ca...

This means people will take much longer from a cost benefit perspective to change. Where with smart phones there were major cash incentives and a number of built in life cycle accelerators vs cars.

I agree with the author that electric cars will be increasing much sooner than 2040, I just think 2030 will be a more realistic target, BUT there is one wild card.

Automated cars. If automated cars have as significant impact on Insurance (much cheaper), road density, free time (driving office, time with family), less cars since they can be sent between family members, etc it could be possible to shorten the cycle since a new car with automation and electric drive could have more than one financial or life style incentive for a person to change. Think smart phones they are a communications device, a game system, a web portal, a music device, etc etc etc. It becomes a no brainier to get one at a relatively close price point.
Ridiculous. Yet another "world changing vision" brought to you by an entitled, elitist cadre of the Bay Area who fail to understand that the rest of the world doesn't live like they do.

The opening premise "well, a lot of people adopted smartphones rapidly, so they'll adopt this too" already smells like snake oil: people adopted smartphones because they were BETTER in almost every conceivable way to the previous generation of phones.*
*would they have done so, if one had to charge the phone for 12 minutes for every 1 you talked? I doubt it.

Let me debunk the list of putative "improvements" individually:

"It’s more fun to drive, with smooth, transmission-less acceleration. For most of us it is the fastest car we have ever owned."
- Maybe it's more fun to drive. A vanishingly tiny % of people in this world buy cars primarily based on their "fun". Nobody gives a flying hoot about 'transmissionless' acceleration, nor does 'fastest' really matter in a world with speed limits.

"It’s quieter at all times and nearly silent at low speeds."
- I've never once heard someone buying a new car based on how quiet it is. Never. (OK, I *have* heard of motorheads not buying a car because it's not loud enough.) Considering some of the instant off/on tech in the newest cars, they're exactly as quiet as the Magical Tesla while idling, ie silent/off. And aside from older cars which will naturally phase out of the system, the bulk of noise from a highway is tires, not engines.

"It is always “full” every morning one drives it and you never need to go to a gas station."
- Simply, completely, thoroughly wrong. Well, unless you sleep 3 days at a stretch.Further, I don't know about you, but I drive more than once just in the morning.
According to (https://www.cars.com/articles/2013/11/how-quick...) the nominal charge for a non-special installation (ie a normal outlet) is FIVE MILES PER HOUR OF CHARGE. That's ridiculous - 60 hours to "fill the tank" to the full range, or (roughly) needing to charge 5x the driving duration.
The average commute in the US is 25 minutes. Assuming highway speeds, that's 25 miles. That means to stay 'level' in terms of range, the car will need to charge 5 hours for each leg of the commute. Go to visit a friend in a city 250 miles away? Sorry, we can't go to a movie, my car needs to charge *four hours* for us to get to the cinema and back.

"It has a user interface - including, notably, its navigation system - as superior to that of other cars as the iPhone was to earlier phones."
- I can't really refute iphone-zealotry, that's religion, not fact. It probably does have a better UI than most other firms, as they really made the most of the newest touch-screens and systems (and had no aesthetic legacy to maintain), but this is likely to be adopted relatively soon by other automakers. Nothing particularly special here, except indeed being a little ahead of the likely curve.

"It is connected to the Internet."
Christ. You know that you should really be paying attention to the road, right? 4g works well enough for map updates, which is really all the driver should care about. And personally I find the modern paradigm of everyone sitting in the car watching their own movies, playing their own games, reading their own narcissistic social media addiction reprehensible. We already suffer from an atomized society generally, you're saying it's laudable to encourage this? I have an alternative entertainment that is perfect for trips in the car with your kids or friends: "conversation".

"It continuously gets better with automatic updates and software improvements."
The Tesla is comparable to a fixed-hardware console. Ever bricked your Xbox360? In any case, electronic systems in petro-cars also get better with updates and software. Nothing new there at all.

"It’s more roomy and has a trunk in the front (the “frunk”) AND a spacious back."
Now you're just trying to be silly. Who gives a crap where the trunk is? It has ample storage space, indeed. But then again, so does a minivan. By that logic, minivan sales should be skyrocketing?

"It comes with an app that allows you to manage the car from your phone.
It allows you to drive in the carpool lane and to sign up for a cheaper energy usage plan at home (obviously these incentives won’t last, but they will help get us to the tipping point described below)."
I tend to prefer sitting IN my car when 'managing' it, so the convenience of a smartphone app is moot (how secure is that, by the way?).

Setting all that aside, the Model S is $70,000. The current US new vehicle average purchase price (and let's remember that the US is pretty much the wealthiest country on the planet, ever) is $31k. As Car and Driver noted: "Logging 630 miles and conducting performance tests in this 70D required 14 plug connections versus three or four stops at the pump for the most fuel-thirsty luxury sedan driven the same distance. In exchange for the loss of convenience, you do reap substantial savings in operating costs. We spent less than $30 for the Tesla’s electricity versus the $100 in premium gasoline a conventional luxury sedan would have consumed driving 630 miles."
FOURTEEN fill-up stops (they politely didn't mention how long those took) and an average upcharge of $40,000 ....to save $70? Woo.

Not to mention ongoing and - as far as I can see - unanswered concerns about performance, longevity, and resale PARTICULARLY in climates less benign than Palo Alto...ie everywhere. (I LOL'd at Tesla blogs talking about the bitter cold of below-freezing temps. I live in MN where winters routinely hit -40F. Ever try to turn on a flashlight left outside at that temp? Further, Car & Driver noted some troubling cooldown-demand in relatively mild warm conditions while driving aggressively as well.)

The Teslas service such a tiny, boutique market (you know, the 1%), it's hard to understand these bigger-picture items that will come to the fore when the market for them scales up to real numbers. (Tesla's monthly sales are in the 3k units range; real car sales are in the 600k (and light trucks/suvs, etc are around 800k). Tesla might as well be hand-building them for as fast as they're selling.

To suggest from this Pollyanna view that somehow electric cars are going to suddenly take off? Nah, it smells more like someone bought some Tesla stock recently and is hoping to generate enough buzz to unload it without taking a bath.

On it's own merits? It's a decent car, certainly, if you live in a benign climate and idle enough that you can live 'around' its charging-time demands. But no, I don't see consumers DEMANDING this at all.
Styopa, you're either being paid to smear Tesla or you're being deliberately disingenuous. Almost all of your counterpoints are either spurious, ludicrous or emotionally biased - not a one is based on logic. Allow me to debunk them one by one:

"Who cares if it's fun to drive?"
Every single person who purchases a sports car today. More to the point, every single person who wants decent transportation but DOESN'T want to buy a Camry or a Focus. If no one gave a damn about driving characteristics, we'd all be driving in the cheapest econoboxes available. We aren't. Your wild guess that the % of people wanting a sporty ride is minute is dead wrong; it's the majority that do.

"Who cares if it's quiet?"
This is the same Luddism we heard when the first smartphones came out: 'Who would want to check their email on their phone?' Turns out just about everyone. No one has ever had the option of a completely silent car before. It's a huge selling point. On the other hand, there are millions of complaints about car and motorcycle noise every week. But you seem absolutely certain that a silent car will have zero appeal. Bet you're wrong about that too.

"It takes 3 days to charge!"
This is why I suspect you're a paid shill for the ICE industry. This is blatantly false fearmongering and a bald-faced lie. Sure, if you plug a Tesla into a standard 110v household socket it can take 60 hours to fill from empty. But do you really think the people who are willing to spend more than $50K for a new car aren't willing to spend another $500 to install a home supercharger that can fill the car in
"It's giant touchscreen is great, but other cars will have something similar! Eventually. Maybe...."
Kinda refuted that one yourself there, didn't you champ?

"Auto updates and continuous free software improvements suck - look at my $300 Xbox!"
Yeah, because a 70K car that has to meet a million safety regulations is going to have the same quality as cheap plastic toy made in China. Hey, how many other cars on the road have automatic free updates that are provided over the internet while the owner sleeps? Oh yeah - none of them. Which brings me to my next smackdown:

"Internet in the car is stupid! In my day people TALKED to one another! Get off my lawn, you damn kids!"
If you're really as old as this comment made you look, then you're probably completely unaware of how the Internet of Things is changing the world. Go look it up if you want to understand what connectivity can mean beyond passenger entertainment. You're also obviously ignorant of the fact that you can't actually surf the web in a Tesla (or play movies or anything else other than navigation and car control) when the vehicle is moving. Finally, if connecting a car to the Internet is such a stupid idea, why is every other car manufacturer falling all over themselves to make their cars connected? Oh well, I'm sure you know better.

"I would never use an app to control my car from a smartphone!"
Then you'll never be able to remotely raise the windows when it rains. Or open the sunroof 20 minutes before you get to the car so the car can cool down. Of get notified if the car is broken into or towed. Or find your parking space. But fortunately, you are not one of the millions of people who really WOULD like to use such an app. Oh hey - that's technology that a lot of other auto manufacturers are scrambling to copy too! I guess this is just another thing you're dead wrong about.

"If you want more room, go buy a minivan!"
Actually, I do drive a small minivan. And my minivan can't actually transport 5 adults and two children all at once like the Tesla can. Not to mention, it's a minivan as opposed to a sports sedan. And if having more cargo space isn't a big deal, then why does every automaker try to brag about having the most/best cargo space in their class? I'm not sure how out of touch you really are, but no one wants to buy a Hummer that only seats for anymore. Tiny vehicles like the Honda Fit are gaining market share because they can seat multiple people AND be rearranged to swallow vast amounts of cargo. If you're slagging a car for having extra cargo space while still winning awards as the best car on the planet, then you might want to consider another line of criticism.

"It's expensive!"
It's priced right in the middle of the luxury sport sedan market and they've literally sold every single unit they've made. Owners also save that $70 on gas (that you sneered at) every few days. Add in the lack of maintenance costs and the estimation is that you save about $2K annually versus a similar ICE. Not to mention the tons of subsidies that you're currently getting. Plus, they're coming out with a Model 3 in a few years that will cost...$30K. Just like the average car sold. Funny about that, eh?

"It doesn't work in the cold!"
It's best selling car in Norway due to a quirk of the local laws there. If you think you're colder in MN than they are in Norway, ask some of the local Finn expats. Strangely, the Norwegian Tesla's all seem to be working just fine. But do feel free to pull some other bullshit complaints out of your ass - your ignorance is really entertaining.

"They've only sold 3K units vs 600K for the rest of the industry!"
And your point? The rest of the industry has had over 100 years to build up their infrastructure, development, marketing, dealership and lobbying arms. They've also got enough political power to force the Bush administration to rescue them from massive bankruptcy (all at taxpayer expense). Tesla has gone from nothing to 3k in less than a decade with one puny government loan that they paid in full in record time. Oh, and they don't do ANY marketing at all. Go ask anyone in any business if they'd like to be able to move 3K units solely via word-of-mouth. Go on - I'll wait.

Regardless, none of your petulant whining refutes the arguments made in the original blog post. It's irrefutable that electrics are taking market share from ICEs - why else would the major automakers be scrambling to get their own electrics out there? There's a valid argument to be made as to whether the tipping point described in this post is likely to come sooner or later, but bitching that electric cars suck is about as useful as bitching about the decline of buggy whips. You come across as incredibly out of touch and completely not worth listening to. If you actually have something worthwhile to add, please do so - otherwise you could have gotten your overall message across with a simple "Bah, humbug!"
Whoops - somehow that lost comment ate one of my key points:

"It takes 3 days to charge!"
This is why I suspect you're a paid shill for the ICE industry. This is blatantly false fearmongering and a bald-faced lie. Sure, if you plug a Tesla into a standard 110v household socket it can take 60 hours to fill from empty. But do you really think the people who are willing to spend more than $50K for a new car aren't willing to spend another $500 to install a home supercharger that can fill the car in
Ah, I see: this blog does NOT like comments with a 'less-than' sign. Fair enough, here's the original point edited to actually show up. My apologies for the multiple posts!


"It takes 3 days to charge!"
This is why I suspect you're a paid shill for the ICE industry. This is blatantly false fearmongering and a bald-faced lie. Sure, if you plug a Tesla into a standard 110v household socket it can take 60 hours to fill from empty. But do you really think the people who are willing to spend more than $50K for a new car aren't willing to spend another $500 to install a home supercharger that can fill the car in less than 3 hours? Even if you assume that the motoring public is so stupid that they won't do this, nearly every house with electricity also has a 220v outlet for their electric dryer. Thus, with NO MODIFICATIONS AT ALL 90% of the homeowners in this country are able to charge their Tesla in about 9-10 hours. Gee, that's a length of time often described as being 'overnight' isn't it? Of course, if you don't have a house and can't get access to a 110v or 220v plug then you're going to have to go find a supercharger within a few miles to fill you up. Guess what? That's EXACTLY THE SAME THING YOU HAVE TO DO WITH YOUR ICE CAR WHEN IT'S EMPTY! This all leaves aside the fact that electrics can fill up at home (unlike ICEs), can fill up for pennies (or free, unlike ICEs) and can charge from any one of the 5 BILLION electric sockets anywhere in the US (as opposed to the mere 168K gas stations out there). Finally, you (like the rest of the naysayers) seem to be under the impression that a car is undrivable unless it's tank is 100% full. Guess what - neither I nor any other motorist in the world fills his tank up every damn day unless that tank is well under 50%. Oh, unless I have an electric that is - then I just plug it in when I get home and never ever think about it again. Your bullshit example of being unable to go to the movies is just that: bullshit.
Regards,


Stephan Flagel

Mobile: +44 7771 758 730
Twitter: @londonfletsch

> On 30 Jul 2015, at 22:03, Posthaven Comments wrote:

> You a are both wrong. One by one now:
> "Who cares if it's fun to drive?" Of course it is important and electric cars make ICE cars eat dust. They are excellent and loud dirty sport cars just seem pathetic now that a noiseless Tesla can do 0-100 in under 3 sec. Game changer!
> "Who cares if it's quiet?" Everyone. Again, a game changer. And the quietness also reduces the incentive to go fast. It will transform everything.
> "It takes 3 days to charge!" Rubbish. It takes just a few hours.

> "It's giant touchscreen is great" Not sure what is so great about it. But any case, not specific to EV's nor to Tesla.
> "Auto updates and continuous free software improvements suck". They don't suck, but again, not specific to EV's, and not specific to Tesla. Indeed, despite the updates, Tesla's software still trails German cars' high end systems by almost two years.
> "Internet in the car is stupid". Not stupid, but also not specific to EV's nor to Tesla. Again, many German cars have had this for years.

> "I would never use an app to control my car from a smartphone!". Not specific to EV's, not specific to Tesla, German cars and so on and so on.
> "If you want more room, go buy a minivan!" I agree, claiming that this tiny storage space in the front is a reason to buy an EV is idiotic. The real question is why the Tesla looks like an ICE at all... The shape of a sedan has that shape because of the design needs of a combustion engine, EV's should look totally different.

In the end, there are two reasons to buy an EV: no noise, no exhaust. Everything else is irrelevant and not specific to EV's. Soon it will also not be cheaper to run: the reason petrol is expensive are the taxes. The governments in the U.S. and Europe won't just let that revenue disappear, they will be added somewhere else. For example, heating oil and diesel are the same but diesel is much more expensive because it is taxed. It is therefore illegal to use heating oil to fill your diesel car. Something similar will happen to electricity when it replaces petrol to power cars.
Geoff, It would be good to teach kids about how much energy they are consuming. This is a valuable tool for all aspects of life.
I'm curious about the future of automotive travel outside the 100-200 mile range of an electric vehicle. If the gas stations die then what's going to fuel travel outside that radius? To make that work you'll need extremely fast charging or battery pack swaps. Both of which mean that gas stations will change what fuel they distribute but not go away. And we'll keep calling them "gas stations" long after there's no gas.
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