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Elon Musk Receives Product Suggestion on Twitter, Implements It 6 Days Later (officechai.com)
52 points by dirkyn on Dec 26, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments

It seems more likely that this is an example of Elon Musk doing a good job of PR - interacting with a popular social media influencer (Loic has 129k followers) to drive forward his plan. I would be surprised if this was not something that was already in the works.

This is also not a feature that requires much or any engineering effort and can be greenlit and rolled out in an afternoon.

So it's very may be that whilst it was some issue that has been known once it gets picked up by a C level exec not to mention a CEO it's not uncommon for simple things to get fixed really quickly.

Everyone experienced it with some silly thing like a CEO overhearing some one complaining about a laptop or a coffee machine and the next day there is a new one.

This is management 101 do small things that look like you are attentive to your employee and customers that provide QOL improvements but have very little to no real cost attached to them.

This is the breakfast in bed or friday flowers equivilent of management.

>>> This is also not a feature that requires much or any engineering effort and can be greenlit and rolled out in an afternoon.

Not so sure. In my experience, anything to do with billing has the potential to extend schedules.

Billing rules are often quite easy to modify, any billing system has time and activity tracking even if your customers don't pay for it, it is still tracked just the cost for every time unit for that specific activity/resource is set to zero.

I can tell you with near 100% certainty that Tesla is tracking for active (charging) and non-activate (not charging) parking at their charge stations, changing the non-active SKU to a billable one doesn't require any major changes in their billing system.

This was the top complaint on the owner forums for months, both on official boards (forums.tesla.com) and independent communities (teslamotorsclub.com)

He probably just had an alarm set for the next incoming tweet with the right keywords, so that he could "respond within minutes". Then have some journalist write about it. Good PR!

That tweet doesn't prove that the change was implemented in 6 days. It could easily have been started way earlier.

Agreed. Also more of a policy change than a "product suggestion". But that would be a boring headline.

>Elon Musk didn’t end up starting diverse startups like Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX by not being proactive

He didn't start 2 of 3 of those companies.

Regarding the actual content, I've wondered about what this problem will look like in the short run. I've done plenty of road-tripping around Canada, and on holiday weekends gas stations are often lined up. How will this work with so many electric vehicles on the road when "refueling" takes so much longer with current technology?

You're still thinking like a gas car owner, thinking about needing charging stations like the ones Tesla has set up. Those will be a part of it, sure. But by the time EVs reach anything like ubiquity there will be charging available in the parking lots of restaurants and rest stops. Tons of them. Because they are cheap to install and attract customers at very little cost.

Note that you don't have to be standing by your EV when it charges. My LEAF can be plugged in and when it's done it will automatically stop charging and unlock the handle so someone else can take it and charge with it in an adjacent spot.

Note also that while with gas cars you have to fuel up at a station, with EVs everyone leaves home with a full charge. That means if you are driving less than the capacity of your vehicle in a day you have no need for any charging stations outside your home (which is the case for us all but a handful of days a year.)

> it will automatically stop charging and unlock the handle so someone else can take it and charge with it in an adjacent spot.

Is there any concern about a random stranger detaching the unlocked handle from your car? Is anything fragile in there? Does your exposed charge connector present a vulnerability of some kind?

Nope. It is no more delicate than say the headlights or something. Or the fuel door and cap on a gas car.

Hopefully they implement those ground-induction chargers in highways. Not a simple thing to do but I was happy to see I think Britain do it somewhere.

Horrible idea, induction charging is very inefficient, the cost increase in road costs would be insane and there are going to be quite a lot of health and safety concerns when driving ungrounded metal cans over an inductive field.

Also remember some people still have pacemakers ;)

If anything something like a charging rail with a physical contact that can be used some parts of the drive would be preferable.

I do wonder if the tiers can be used for inductive or even conductive charging instead, because the regulation height of most cars would make it even more inefficient than it already is.

I wouldn't say it's horrible, I know roads aren't guaranteed to be smooth, if anything you could drop something to within inches to charge. Or at least don't put them on highways.

I do think of a scenario where you're driving on the highway and you drive over the patch to charge your car, and it shows on your car's HUD, -$20.00 for the charge haha.

I don't know shit so what I say is probably stupid.

The problem is that even 1-2 inches of distance decrease the efficiency greatly, inductive charging follows the square root law so even small changes in distance induce a large cost in efficiency which is already inefficient as it is.

You can break most wireless cell phone chargers with a few sheets of paper, think what a few good inches of asphalt and a few inches of an air gap would do.

Then you come to the biggest problem which is that it would require you to have coils all over the road and that would mean that a road that is pretty cheap to make now would cost millions per kilometer simply because of all the copper and charging circuitry involved.

You also now add a lot of weight and cost to the cars which are now have to have large inductive coils in them to take in the charge.

And lastly you take a huge risk both in term of long term health effects of driving on top of a high power inductive field and the potential safety problems, what happens when you have a guy driving his truck with a wound copper cable which is just at the right length to pick up the charge? what happens when the handlebars at on some bus are arranged just in the right way to act as act as a decent antenna for the frequency you modulating your field at? what happens when some grandma with a pacemaker decides to take a cab ride or some one is driving on the road with sensitive electronic equipment?

We have barely managed to standardize wireless charging for consumer electronics and these are low power devices that need pretty much near full contact with the charge station to charge, and those still come with warnings for people with medical implants.

On an anecdotal side I've seen what happens when some one with an unlucky arrangement of dental implants (bracers) comes close to an active powerful RF source (SAR RADAR) those things heat up; luckily for them some one realized what was going on before their mouth turned into a BBQ pit.

An overhead/undercarriage contact charging the same way some busses and other forms of public transportation are being powered is more than fine, but again we don't necessarily need them if your car has a range of even 50 miles on a charge in most uses it would work just fine with parked charging only, anything else just adds another layer of complexity and cost to the system which is likely to only impede adoption not improve it.

If electrical cars are going to rely on multi billion or trillion dollar infrastructure improvement projects they are doomed, they have to be just as independant of road conditions and detached from their supporting infrastructure as petrol cars are, and for the most part they are.

I agree with the several points you pointed out. In particular the weight problem. Since batteries don't decrease in weight while maintaining power output like Gasoline. Still if you operate a battery I don't know between 40% to 80% and you're able to keep the power output of the battery generally consistent then I guess a fixed weight isn't such a problem.

Of course I am not an EE and I'm only speaking with my limited experience of operating toys.

The pacemaker thing is interesting. My counter point would be to detect when it would turn on. But yeah, with the time to transfer energy and the extra complexity in the road, yes this has been nullified haha.

Thanks for the details.

Doing this is not the same as plugging in an extension lead to your existing supply - its not going to be as cheap as you think I fear.

I installed a charger in my house, it's really quite affordable (usually less than $1k depending on the electrical work needed.) Level 3 chargers are pricier because of the 440v line that's needed, but those aren't needed everywhere. Level 2 (220v) will suffice and give you a good boost in range while you eat a meal, shop, etc.

But running a extra 220v line into you garage is not the same as wiring up say 40-50 car parking spaces the extra load will probably trip your breakers for the typical site you suggest.

And you probably are going to want higher amperage 410 V

Electric charge stations are cheaper to build and have no logistic problems — just connect equipment to the high-power grid.

Electric charge stations are not by any means cheaper to build, a gas station can be as low tech as a guy with a bucket.

Gas pumps cost about 2000-3000$ or 1000 or less if you order them from china...


The other thing you need is a tank and that's it.

Electrical charge stations do require logistics you need to have a beefy electrical supply and meet regulations.

But in both cases the cost of the pump/charging station isn't the big factor it's the cost of the land for parking and the convenience store and the rest of the pitstop facilities.

You think storing tons of highly flammable and potentially explosive liquid doesn't require meeting regulations and is easy?

Gas pump itself might be cheap but you have to connect it to storage tank.

the tank is buried underground and that's it, again in both cases the charging station/fuel dispenser isn't the expensive part the land is.

That said there is no way that a modern high power charging station is cheaper or anywhere near the price of an off the shelf fuel dispenser those things are very cheap and there is also a huge used market for them which is not currently the case for charging stations.

If anything the problem with charging stations now is the lack of standardization every car has a different charger and charge requirements heck even Tesla has 2-3 chargers atm you can't charge the older roaster models on the Model S charge stations without a converter (and i think that one is only for the Leaf type charging station also).

Interested to see whether this actually makes an impact. A Tesla is a relatively expensive automobile in the US. It seems like Tesla owners can likely afford $30 for a couple hours of parking depending on the circumstances. For instance, parking for events in Tennessee can range from $5 - $20 based on the size of the event. Assuming a 21.89% difference in dollar value, its effectiveness may be surprising.


Edit: spelling

Note that @loic is verified, which is probably why Elon saw his tweet at all.

Personal anecdotes are good for very specific use cases, like this: I've tweeted at Elon before and he replied. I'm not verified.


I was hoping for a more 2016 solution than "we'll charge you" like just driving the cars out of the spot if it's up there for any longer.

that would be impressive.

Probably in the works for a while?

Damn that was pretty boss, moneyyyyy flowing in (or not to free up those spots)

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