Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
VW plans to sell electric Tesla rival for less than $23K: source (reuters.com)
102 points by prostoalex 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 220 comments

At this stage, no automaker will be able to seriously compete with Tesla without securing 50+ GWh / yr. in battery supply. Tesla’s lead in building such capacity is 3.5 years and counting.

Bidding for for LG’s scraps is not a viable strategy.

VW group has been leading the world in electric vehicle press releases while Tesla has secured control of half the world’s lithium ion battery supply and crushed every “Tesla killer” — Bolt, Volt, Leaf, i3, ELR - and is pulling away from the pack at an ACCELERATING pace.

Time to put up or shut up.

Tesla has done an amazing thing by showing that electric cars can match ICE ones and even be better than them in several regards. Before Tesla we all thought electrics were much more of a compromise.

> Bolt, Volt, Leaf, i3, ELR - and is pulling away from the pack at an ACCELERATING pace

But this is way too breathless. The Nissan Leaf is the best selling electric car of all time. They've sold 350k of them and by all accounts it's a very decent small car. And that's great for everyone because it pushes the infrastructure to adapt and creates the market. I expect Nissan-Renault to keep moving upmarket and Tesla downmarket to a point where we will be more or less fully served in 4 or 5 years. That wouldn't have happened as fast without Tesla but lets not ignore the existing manufacturers that have already done incredibly well on this and give them credit over the ones that are still sitting on their hands.

Nissan has sold a crapload of Leafs with a fundamental engineering flaw for those of us who live in a either a cold or hot climate. The battery pack has no thermal regulation. So it's basically built with degradation as a fundamental property. That's terribly negligent from an engineering POV.

> Tesla has done an amazing thing by showing that electric cars can match ICE ones and even be better than them in several regards.

What? I've been following the market and Tesla has not brought no new innovation in any aspect of the car (engine, battery technology etc). They've just hired some great designers and invested a lot in marketing. You can't even say that their cars are competitively priced. I've seen way more innovation from Chinese electric car builders.

Also, wrt to software, Teslas are basically hacked together, according to multiple reports and analyses, teardowns.

> They've ... invested a lot in marketing.

False. Elon Musk frequently states in interviews that Tesla spends nothing on marketing. There are no Tesla television commercials, no online ads, no billboards and no paid placements. Tesla doesn't even participate in automotive trade shows. 100% of what you passively interpret as "marketing" is unpaid, organic news coverage, social media buzz and seeing actual Tesla vehicles on the road.

Marketing is more than television commercials.

Tesla runs a referral program and will even give you its most expensive car for free if you do enough marketing for Tesla. I don't know how much Tesla spends on that program, but "nothing" is not a good estimate.

I hear they spent a few mil on their Twitter campaign.

We got a comedian here.

> unpaid, organic news coverage, social media buzz

if you think that, they're doing a really good job.

If you don't think that, they're doing a really good job.

Goddamn it. Either way, they got us.

They also shot one of their cars into space... i wonder what SpaceX would charge other car makers for such an add. They do marketing and are great at it, just in unconventional ways.

Musk is essentially a celebrity at this point.

It may not be traditional advertising, but there's certainly tons of advertising going into it.

I believe that their cars having a single central ECU vs. the general trend of multiple interconnected modules is fairly novel for a major car maker? Their battery technology is also years ahead of competitors, according to teardowns.

Anyway... as with discussions of the iPhone ad infinitum, it's not about developing innovations de novo, but rather about taking different features and incorporating them into an offering that holistically beats everything else.

We'd seen all of the iPhone's features in earlier phones... but their combination and integration in the first iPhone revolutionised the industry.

Likewise, we've seen electric cars before, but Tesla shook the industry up by creating an electric car which had no major compromises and could --together with the revolutionary Supercharger network-- could completely replace an ICE car for almost all use-cases.

>I believe that their cars having a single central ECU vs. the general trend of multiple interconnected modules is fairly novel for a major car maker?

Ford was doing that in the late 80s when they started making electronically controlled transmissions (and I doubt they were the first). I doubt they were first.

Functionality gets integrated to the ECU. Then engineers decide that the ECU doesn't need to care about the windows and the HVAC so it gets its own module. Then they decide that there's no reason to have all these extra modules when the ECU can just do it. Wash, rinse repeat. Everything old is new again the cycle time is just long enough that most people don't remember.

Edit: Why is this down-voted?

They do decide back and forth, and where I worked the cycle was in large part driven by the dynamics between what features the market wanted (safety classification being an interesting one - this inherently pushes towards dedicated MCUs) and how well a single MCU offering at that moment in time could handle all the features wanted.

Of course, by the time the thing is designed, components are sourced and so on, the pendulum might have well have swung the other way.

> Teslas are basically hacked together, according to multiple reports and analyses, teardowns.

I've got a news flash for you my friend: everything is basically hacked together.

I'd be interested in knowing where you've been getting your information from. Teslas don't have engines but the AC induction motors they use are substantially more advanced than anything that existed before [1]. Tesla is also fairly famous for having a $0 marketing budget.

[1] https://cleantechnica.com/2018/03/11/tesla-model-3-motor-in-...

What budget is the money for their referral marketing program categorized as?

>What? I've been following the market and Tesla has not brought no new innovation in any aspect of the car (engine, battery technology etc). They've just hired some great designers and invested a lot in marketing. You can't even say that their cars are competitively priced. I've seen way more innovation from Chinese electric car builders.

You're talking past my point. I didn't say they were innovative, I said they showed they could build electric cars that match ICE ones and even surpass them in some regards. That doesn't require that much innovation, just putting very well together existing technology. It's the iPod all over again. Not innovative but it actually put the technology in a usable state for the mass market.

I currently drive a BMW 3 series. It has size/features/range that are enough (and often exceed) what I need. No one except Tesla offers anything I can reasonably replace that car with. Not even BMW themselves who offer the quirky i3 but nothing like the Model 3. While all the carmakers were fumbling around making hybrids a little bit better Tesla went and jumped ahead with getting an electric sedan built. There's no point in me getting a hybrid, I already average exactly 50mpg (4.7 l/100km) with the current diesel, a hybrid wouldn't add much if anything. Switching to an electric can be a 2-4x step for cost and CO2 depending on electricity costs and share of renewables in the grid at your location.

They're the apple of cars. They've designed the cars extremely well (much like apple's products are well designed) and provide a lot of support in case anything goes wrong. And by design I don't just mean aesthetics - the safety, the experience, even the over-the-air updates all contribute to the total package.

Or in other words, the quality of the experience is so high that the product pretty much sells itself.

I own a Tesla. It is by far the best car I have ever owned. This is the only car which actually gets better over time. My Tesla now is actually 10x better than the one I bought.

Where can I read about the teardown and analysis of Tesla software?

> Teslas are basically hacked together

Don't look into CAN bus and anything by Ford, then.

Yes, exactly. They invested a lot of money into marketing and convinced people of the truth: even a mediocre electric car is still pretty good.

Wrong. Tesla famously invests nothing in marketing. No TV commercials, no online ads, nothing.

Except they actually spend more as a percentage of revenue than GM. Ignore the puffery and go read the 10-Ks. If you're going to give such curt and dismissive replies, I think you should at least make a token effort to be correct.

"Marketing, promotional and advertising costs are expensed as incurred and are included as an element of selling, general and administrative expense in the consolidated statement of operations. We incurred marketing, promotional and advertising costs of $66.5 million, $48.0 million and $58.3 million in the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively."

Though it contradicts the source you cited, here is a recent quote from Elon Musk (interviewed by Kara Swisher)

> You know, Tesla doesn’t do any advertising, or we don’t do any paid endorsements

Source: https://www.recode.net/2018/11/2/18053428/recode-decode-full...

He talks about advertising there, which is a subset of marketing.

The 10-K states the truth in black and white. If Musk makes a contradicting statement in an interview, the 10-K is correct and he is not. If the 10-K is fraudulent, people are going to jail.

Not Elon, he just pays a small fine.

If we're going to make fun of companies leading with press releases before actual product, we can't ignore the fact that Tesla has been pretending they can make a $35k car, when it has now been several years and their cars are nearly twice as much as that for the cheapest model.

I mean, they are supply constrained at the current price point. Even if they could hit the $35k price point, why do so when it just means taking in less money?

Judging by Elon's tweets, they do expect to be able to produce cars for that price in the near future. Whether or not they will sell them near the cost of production probably just depends on demand vs supply.

Sure, good point, why do so? But then why put out press releases and marketing material that imply that Tesla has performed the miracle of creating an "affordable" (well, $35k USD is still beyond 90% of people's pricepoint in reality) car for the masses?

They've done no such thing. They've made another vehicle to compete with BMW, Audi, and Mercedes. Which is fine, but let's call it what it is. There is no such thing as a $35k Model 3, and it could still be many years before we see one.

I don't think Elon musk or Tesla fans will ever say that.

Truth is, Tesla sells well. Chevy bolt does not sell that well. And one of the major reason Tesla sells so well (50k model3 at 50k$ in a quarter) is because of the futuristic hype and image. So they will never admit that Tesla makes just another premium car, or that autopilot is just another driver assistance program.

Their currently cheapest model is $45k so while it's true that they aren't there yet, they're closing in. And I'd say building $45k vehicles today is much closer to $35k than building an eGolf with 200 km range today and claiming that you will build $25k in 2020.

Isn’t their cheapest model now $45k?

You can "preorder" it and give them that much money, but they will then follow up with you and tell you that you won't get your car unless you buy more upgrades to push yourself further up in the backlog. So realistically, you can't buy a car at that price.

I think you're confusing the SR with the MR. People have already taken deliveries of their $45k MRs.


Tesla has been upfront about saying they are still looking at next year for the 35k version. At now point, will they (or have they) told anyone that they won't get the car unless you buy the mid-range or the long range versions. I was a day one reservation holder, and have never received such a message.

And also, you can't pre-order it - you can put the same deposit down, if you want, as everyone else - that's 1k, and can apply that to a LR/MR and in the future SR.

Also worth noting, the MR and the LR have different inverters, with the MR sharing the same inverter as the SR.

Winter is coming ;-)

They weren't really upfront about this when they were taking preorders in 2016. And I say this as a Model 3 reservation holder, Model S owner and TSLA shareholder.

Which is a true statement. It's the above that isn't.

At this point, no one is locked in on that deposit. Anyone can cancel at any time - until you click purchase with a additional payment for the car, which is only after the car is available for purchase.

Nothing you have said is untrue, they were just a little misleading with timelines on day one. I'm also a day one reservation holder (in Australia so timelines were different). They never lied, but the have stretched the truth with the occasional weasel words. I'm forgiving since they have never lied, but I'd appreciate them being a little more accurate with information.

It is $35k plus time. The old time is money trick.

Fair enough, but they're still selling a crapton of Model 3's, and they're now one of the biggest luxury car companies in the US, purely off of electrics.

All of Elon Musk's businesses rely on government subsidies.

Good. Name one major technological innovation that was not largely or wholly a product of government subsidies. The only ones I can think of were out of Bell Labs and Bell was a government backed monopoly so they don't really count. They were so profitable and protected they could spend like a government.

Nothing new is ever profitable until you get past the early prototype and scaling stages. For big capital intensive stuff only government historically has pockets deep enough to burn enough money to get big stuff off the ground (sometimes literally). Rockets, jet engines, microprocessors, huge scale power grids, the Internet, genomics, supercomputing, nuclear power, solar power, the list goes on and on.

Private investors just have too low a risk tolerance and too short a time horizon.

I actually wish this weren't so, but it is so.

It's also terribly hypocritical to bash Elon for taking government contracts when everyone does it. Why do you think Amazon's HQ2 is going to be in the DC area?

how am I personally benefitting from Elon Musk being a billionaire, taxpayer dollars shouldn't be reaching his pockets at that volume (meanwhile he prevents his employees from unionizing and suppresses injury reports at the cost of employee health...)

To be fair Musk was a billionaire before Tesla, and considering a company like fox Conn getting 3 billion or $230,000 a job to make a plant in Wisconsin, Tesla getting a subsidy is par for the course.

Tesla proved the EV market and made EVs sexy and cool, which is helping tip EVs into the mass market. Without Tesla you wouldn't see BMW, Mercedes, VW, Nissan, etc. making mass market and luxury EVs. They'd be making no EVs at all or awful "compliance cars" designed to be undesirable. (The traditional auto industry is full of ICE heads and hates EVs. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming.)

If EVs weren't tipping we'd still be talking about how peak oil (the depletion of easy/cheap oil) means the end of modern transportation.

Tesla didn't make Musk a billionaire. The PayPal acquisition did that.

Does Tesla even still get subsidies? They got that DOE loan years ago but they paid it back and lots of other auto makers got government loans back then too. Or are you referring to EV tax credits? In that case those are also subsidizing Nissan, BMW, GM, and any other company selling a mass market EV.

this reminds of investments in research and I'm quoting from somewhere but cannot locate at the moment...

  If Balmer hadn't studied spectral lines, Planck may not have proposed the quantum. Then Bohr may
 not have conceived his model of the atom, which means Heisenberg and Schrödinger wouldn't have
 developed their formulations of quantum mechanics. That would have left Bloch without the tools he
 needed to understand the nature of conduction in metals, and then how would Schottky have figured
 out semiconductors? It's hard to imagine, then, how Bardeen, Brattain, and Schockley would have
 developed transistors. And without transistors, Noyce and Kilbey couldn't have produced integrated

  Almost every major technological advance of the 20th and 21st centuries originated with basic
 research that presented no obvious or immediate economic benefit. That means no profit motive, and
 hence no reason for the private sector to adequately fund it. Basic research isn't a waste of tax
 dollars; it's a more reliable long-term investment than anything else in the Federal government's

You're comparing scientific research to for-profit industry.

Solar City, Tesla, The Boring Company, and Space X aren't releasing public research, it's all private IP and manufacturing.

You literally could not benefit from their progress if you wanted to. You'd be sued. Their employees can't even work in related industries due to somewhat spurious non-competes.

everyone benefits from Tesla's progress [0], they may be an outlier but I think they are leading the way. More importantly, the progress helps society as a whole. I see their progress as directly benefiting every human and the planet.

you have changed your original comment a few times so it is difficult to respond to, but I'm not sure large tech companies would succeed with unions, people need to educate themselves and learn how to negotiate in highly skilled areas, I look at a local railroad company near me that employs a lot of people and does not invest money in improvements because they cannot afford due to how the union has negotiated, it has stopped innovation entirely. Engineers are still learning light switches, this should be completely automated so we stop having mistakes of train engineers texting people and causing accidents... what a shameful loss of life.

[0] https://www.tesla.com/blog/all-our-patent-are-belong-you

I have not changed my original comment in over 12 hours.

Their progress is not available for public use, period. Go ahead, try to use any technology developed by Tesla and see what happens. They're simply popularizing their own products.

American corporations have done great work convincing you that unions are a bad thing. You're going as far as blaming employees for Tesla-specific safety reporting issues. https://www.revealnews.org/article/tesla-says-its-factory-is...

"how am I personally benefitting from Elon Musk being a billionaire, taxpayer dollars shouldn't be reaching his pockets at that volume"

The whole point of subsidy is to encourage business in a specific area. It would sound like it's working as intended, encouraging business and all.

Would you be happier if the subsidies were completely wasted on a non-viable business?

It's a business that exploits workers. We've seen this time and time again with Tesla.

No, the obvious alternative is for government to invest these money directly into production and own the profits.

Most major car manufacturers in the US received hundreds of millions of government money to not go bankrupt in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis; Tesla was not one of them.

How is that relevant?

Tesla was not and is not a major automaker. Their market cap may be large but they don't employ all that many people or ship all that many cars (so less people upstream are dependent on them) Tesla was founded in 2008. They would not have been eligible for loans the .gov gave to GM/Chrysler. That would have been like a small town bank asking to be bailed out along with the wall street banks.

I am totally okay with these kinds of subsidies, the ones that benefit society at large. There's plenty that aren't.

As do fossil fuels and lots of other things. What's your point?

This is what I've been thinking for awhile. A huge number of the detractors predicted that Tesla would get crushed by commoditized goods that they spent the R&D dollars on, namely batteries. But I don't think the capacity is even remotely there for other manufacturers to come in and just buy up energy storage on the open market.

Eventually it'll show up due to demand but the flywheel is slow to turn. I think a 3-4 year head start is about right and also in line with most technological head starts (Bezos famously talked about it some time ago and why AWS is the reason they are winning since it had no viable competitor for 7+ years), but like Amazon/AWS, if it takes any longer than that... you're handing Elon a huge amount of time.

> I don't think the capacity is even remotely there for other manufacturers to come in and just buy up energy storage on the open market

If this is the case, doesn't it destroy the arguments of renewable energy advocates that "utility scale" batteries to store solar/wind energy are anywhere close to being realistic?

In the short-term, I'd say so. But I think it's realistic on the timescale that people care about large-scale renewable energy, which is the end of my generation (30ish year old) and the middle of the next, so like 2040-2050.

At the rate China is building and planning to build battery factories, it's also quite possible there will be a glut and a price crash in a couple of years.

A related question: if China builds battery factories, surely they would also build car factories to use those batteries. What would be the impact on Western car manufacturers? Would software increasingly become the key differentiator between car manufacturers?

I'm visiting China right now; Chinese-made electric vehicles are absolutely everywhere. NIO in particular seems determined to challenge Tesla here and possibly worldwide.


China is already leading the world in EV manufacturing and consumption. It's just that almost none of those vehicles will ever be exported. They're made for the domestic market. There's brands we never hear about here, pumping out pretty decent looking vehicles, but they're made for China.

BYD is now designing cars for North American safety standards: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/electric-car-ev-china-trade...

I think there's a great deal of uncertainty about whether lithium ion is the right solution or whether we'll be able to online solid-state batteries or other alternatives. So it's a situation where if lithium ion persists, Tesla gets huge dividends for early investment, and if alternatives come online, others get in on the ground floor and have a fighting shot. I have no idea how feasible non-LI batteries are in the medium future.

Well that's a nice diversion however do we have any credible hint that solid state batteries are a) viable and b) mass producible ?

It's not like the late 00s where SSDs were viable but deemed not yet cost effective. Solid state batteries IIRC don't even have a proof of concept much less any adoption.

There is not uncertainty. Film-produced cells are sufficiently cost-effective now and their price is still dropping.

How many other automakers are investing deeply into materials research? Toyota and Honda seem to be playing with fuel cells, everyone else in the latest headlines is just laying off people and trimming the product lines.




I’m sure there’s more but manufacturer after manufacturer is buying, investing in, poaching from, and acquiring EV/battery tech.

Hydrogen fuel cells are lurking in the background too - and you don’t have to spend hours charging those.

Overall hydrogen's efficiency is pretty bad (I've watched a convincing yt video): production, transportation, filling stations, car engine.

Having electric plugs in supermarkets and doing some 15min breaks when using highways - that's already good enough.

Good enough for 99% of civilian cars, maybe, but I'm a lot more skeptical about the ability of battery-electric power to replace trains, long-haul trucks, etc. The expectation as far as range for those is high enough that enough batteries would either add too much weight or just flat-out not fit.

I expect long-term we'll probably settle on something like 75% batteries / 25% hydrogen for ground transportation, and the reverse of that ratio for aircraft (although I wouldn't expect hydrogen planes to be using fuel cells).

Trains? I hope that one day we see electric trains...

I'm not sure what you mean. There have been electric trains for nearly 100 years. I mean, ever heard of the TGV?

I've taken an electric train to work every day for the past year and a half...

Most of the new light rail and subway lines in the US are electric trains.

Trains don't really need it as you can just string up some overhead cables. Long haul freight should be on the railway anyway.

Electrification is great, but it's also been declining for decades in the US, to less than one percent of route miles.

Taking a figure of half a million dollars per mile (which is less than the numbers I could find, but let's be conservative) you're looking at ~130 billion dollars. That's theoretically affordable for the government, maybe, but never going to happen politically speaking.

Hydrogen is not viable. Production is inefficient, energy density is low, and handling is difficult. For long-range transportation where batteries are insufficient the real alternative will be carbon neutral synthetic liquid fuel.

Well as for trains you can still run them using wires, almost the entire European railway network is electrified

Boats, seaships, airplanes, rockets... Big-F'in'-Rockets!

I have to assume the VW people have thought of that as part of their plans to produce 200,000 vehicles (per year?).

Totally agree - The volume of batteries required for even modest EV production is so much larger than any other sector.

I also think the idea that EV batteries are just around the corner from commoditization may be a bit premature. Getting the most out of the batteries (think efficiently, power, and especially reliability) currently means a pretty significant engineering integration effort in power electronics, packaging, and thermal management. Having your own vertically integrated production capacity is huge - you get to precisely control (and also pay the risk for) exactly the batteries that fit your design. It’s exactly the same kind of advantage legacy automakers are defending with ICE engines. In 5 years, perhaps there will be contract battery manufacturers who can churn out massive quantities of high quality batteries at a price similar to building your own factory. I bet that timeframe may actually be closer to 10 years. Clearly Tesla isn’t sitting still... where will they be a decade from now.

And that's in an environment where they are mostly prohibited, in the US, from having dealerships. It's quite a feat, actually.

Wait, what? How are they prohibited from having dealerships? If anything, the problem they have run into is that some states require them to have dealerships and sell through them instead of selling directly to the consumer.

Right. It's an ancient dumb law that seems pretty unique to this industry going way back. How many other industries are prohibited from having their own stores and selling the products they produce themselves? It's like telling Apple they can't sell their hardware at their own branded stores and must only sell them from 3rd party retailers - at an additional markup so the retailer can make a few bucks too. It's anti-consumer and anti-competitive. If Ford wants to open their own stores to sell their own cars (not "dealer franchises"), why shouldn't they be allowed to?

It originated as protection for franchisees. Early on, manufactures didn't have the resources to set up dealerships everywhere they wanted to sell cars. So they used the franchise model. The argument is/was, that the franchisees needed protection so they could be assured that their investment in a property, facilities, and developing a market in an area could not be taken away by a manufacturer moving in with a company-owned dealership.

Very similar to the complaints about Amazon moving in on sellers with their own products once they see what is selling well with independent sellers.

Essentially all elements of civilization are path dependant.

They probably meant having company owned dealerships.

At this stage, no automaker will be able to seriously compete with Tesla without securing 50+ GWh / yr. in battery supply.

Teslas competitors aren't going to sit idly by whilst Tesla takes the whole market.

They have been, for some years already. They'll almost certainly start moving at some point, but none seem to have started yet.

And neither will Tesla sit idly by something the legacy automakers seem to assume

Your comment sounds a bit like a gorilla pounding its chest. unfortunately it doesn't bear to reality. Regarding the press releases, Volkswagen is a bit more trustworthy than Tesla's.

In contrast to tesla they don't have an unfiltered musk on an official twitter channel. So their official statements are still closer to reality in the general case.

I mean they officially communicated their emission standards

VW has factories all over the world. If they set their mind to making batteries, I am sure they can do it.

And as far as crushing -- the Bolt or Volt is the only EV I'd even consider. For the compromises I'd have to make, a Tesla is far too expensive.

VW/Audi has factories all over the world, but they're not battery factories. That's the point posters are trying to bring up here.

It's worth pointing out that it's likely that the constraint on Bolt production out of GM has not been vehicle demand, but battery supplies from LG Chem. They basically made as many Bolts as they could get batteries from LG Chem, and that's all.

[Removed comment based on outdated sales figures]

It’s a complete and utter trash/fake news. The Chevy bolt sold 1225 unit in August while the model 3 17800. So the model 3 is outselling the bolt almost 15:1. https://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

Please verify your sources to avoid spreading misinformation.

That article is dated September 1, 2017. Last years news. This year, Tesla Model 3 is selling more than BMW or Mercedes cars in the US and ten times Chevy Bolt.

Are you for real? Bolt outselling Model 3? That was numbers from last year.. For the record bolt seems to have peaked at 2000+ cars per month last year and decreased to under 2000 per month since. GM seems pretty content with that.

Or maybe the demand for EV seems to start and stop with Tesla. I wonder how Tesla will do without the lies and hype of futuristic self driving technology

When they start competing wouldn't battery prices start increasing really fast?

> VW group has been leading the world in electric vehicle press releases


Amusing that childish fanboyism normally reserved for things like Mac vs. Windows, AMD vs. Intel, PS4 vs Xbox, etc... has now spread to the car industry.

Hasn't that been a thing with car fans for longer than any of your examples exist?

It’s the exact opposite. Fanboyism was much stronger in cars and always has been. Before any of those companies exist.

Ford vs Chevy trucks. No car like Mopar. Think of the muscle car heydays of the 60s and 70s.

It's been here a long time. Every car sub I subscribe to on Reddit is chock full of Toyota fanboys.

People will fanboy about anything. It's our tribalistic nature.

Elon Musk won. This was his ultimate plan, to move automakers from fossil fuels. They all made fun of them, execs from traditional automakers, but here they are.

We have a lot to thank him for.

Oh please, Toyota and the Japanese carmakers started the transition away from fossil fuel decades ago when they made hybrids mainstream, and California's decades-old fuel standards system dragged the remaining automakers into investing in hybrid, natural gas, fuel cell, and EV technologies.

California politicians had the dream of moving automakers from fossil fuel even before Elon moved to the US. At least for this staed goal, they deserve far more credit than Elon, a latecomer to the game.

No. Toyota has a death grip on fossil fuels. While they did pioneer a lot of hybrid technology, they are going kicking and screaming into full electrics.

But agree with you that this is a rare instance where California legislation has had a meaningful and measurable positive impact on the environment and technology innovation.

Toyota does not have a death grip on fossil fuels, they simply prefer vehicles which use a fuel source that is easily and quickly resupplied. Hence, their decades-long research into hybrids, natural gas, and fuel cell cars.

Toyota has made the bet that a car that takes 30 seconds to fill up (i.e., a fuel cell or NG car) will ultimately win out over a car that needs to be "filled up" (i.e., charged) almost daily over the course of minutes or hours. Moreover, such vehicles can be filled up even in times of natural disasters, grid failures, or scheduled/rolling blackouts.

Your last statement is false for a variety of reasons:

1.) with sufficient research and decrease in cost, we can make it so that electric vehicles can be "refilled" as quickly as fossil fuel vehicles.

2.) for 99% of trips, having 200 miles or more of range is sufficient. across the aggregate of all trips made, it's very rare that people drive more than 200 miles without out a stop of a few hours in between. For those edge cases where people go on long haul trips, you can either elect to have a bigger battery or invest in dc fast charging.

3.) if you are optimizing for times of natural disasters, grid failures, or scheduled/rolling blackouts I would actually pick an electric vehicle. How can you fill up your fossil fuel vehicle when the infrastructure to harvest crude oil, refine it, distribute it, hold it, and sell it has been knocked out? it's easy to forget the massive massive logistics chain that goes into getting you a single gallon of gas. Whereas, I can throw up some solar panels on my home with a battery and have an renewable fuel source completely independent of everything else that is good for hundreds of thousands of miles. Fossil fuel just seems more viable because there is more infrastructure that has been built over time, but that can easily be disrupted. Whereas you could set up a windmill in the middle of nowhere connected to a battery pack that is collecting energy for electric cars that barely needs any maintenance. You're falling into the trap of assuming fossil fuel is "easier" because we have put so much effort behind it over the last 100 years. When in fact fossil fuels is an extremely difficult and disruptable energy distribution system.

All of your statements are false for a variety of reasons.

1) There is a roughly 15-20 year lag time between battery technology breakthroughs and their appearance in retail products. As their are no current battery technologies with meaningful lifespans, sufficient power output, and a recharge time measured in seconds, my point stands that for the foreseeable future EVs simply cannot compete. And that doesn't even take into account the 10-20 years of research into hybrid/fuel cell/NG technology to make those vehicles more efficient.

2) Clearly you've never commuted in Southern California. Commutes of 100 miles each way aren't rare. SoCal is by far the largest market for EVs and other non-fuel vehicles.

3) Clearly you've never lived through a fire or rolling blackout. A pump can be powered by a short-lived battery at the refill site. Moreover, physical fuels have this amazing property called "physical storage" which allows them to be transported and stored entirely without the use of electricity. An electric recharge station is dead without power.

3b) Good luck with that. By the time your solar panels have recharged your car enough to make a trip to the corner market, a fuel cell car could have made a cross-country trip. And back.

3) Windmills are high-maintenance. EVs are almost as high-maintenance as ICEs. Engines are the most reliable parts of a car. The unreliable parts are common to EVs and ICEs. And as Tesla has demonstrated, it's quite possible for EVs to be even less reliable than the worse ICEs.

4) Electric charging would require us to make immense upgrades to the existing electrical transmission grid, which includes finding ways to improve transmission 100fold. That would cost tens of billions. Fuel/NG/fuel cell based distributions systems are far more efficient because there are many fewer "stations" that need to be built/upgraded to handle demand.

Oh wow, you're wrong.

Toyota didn't transition anywhere on fossil fuels. They made some of their cars a few % more efficient. You still can't plug in virtually all of them.

Toyota has had plug-ins models for nearly a decade, and has actually made them available (for lease) in the US (well, SoCal) for about 3-4 years.

Toyota's research into EVs predates Tesla's existence. However, the last time Toyota invested significant research into EVs, battery technology simply wasn't at the place it needed to be for viable consumer products.

Mostly agree. That was his stated purpose, and he's made tremendous progress. He showed the industry and the market that a pure EV could be practical and something you're not embarrassed to be seen in. Not sure I'd say he's won. EVs are still unsuitable for many purposes (I still would not buy one, though I feel less strongly about it now than I did a couple of years ago).

> EVs are still unsuitable for many purposes

One purpose where EVs are unsuitable - at least for now, and perhaps for a very long time - if off-road driving.

First off, the battery technology isn't quite there yet; everything else technology-wise works and exists, and frankly would be damn awesome in a 4wd vehicle (the torque and the ease of controlling it, for one example).

But the battery is the biggest stumbling block. For a 4wd off-road vehicle to be electric, the range would have to be able to be north of 300 miles (with all the weight and such a fully-stocked off-road vehicle needs - the frame, the tires, lift equipment, recovery gear, armor, etc - all of that before the weight of the batteries adds up to quite an amount).

For an ordinary automobile, we're pretty much there (or close enough). But the battery weighs quite a lot, and isn't nearly as energy dense as fossil fuels. For instance, on the Model 3, the battery is roughly 1/4 of the total weight of the vehicle, and gets you about 300 miles.

But for something like a Jeep Wrangler JK (which weighs approximately the same) the weight of fuel is only 1/27 of the total weight of the vehicle, though it gets you about the same range of 300 miles.

Now you might say they seem pretty similar, but that's for roughly a stock configuration. With the JK, I have about 6-7 times the "breathing room" of adding extra stuff to it (bigger tires, skid plates, recovery gear, etc) before I hit the same 1/4 of the weight level of the Model 3. While my mileage will suffer, it probably won't suffer as much as if I did the same to an electric version of the vehicle.

An electric JK has been built - conversion kits are available:


...and the vehicle performs admirably. While it has proven capable for this, there were a couple of caveats:

1. IIRC - the vehicle was trailered in and out of the area; it didn't drive there, run the trail, then drive home.

2. It had to be charged at a base camp; I am not sure what that entailed.

Those are big things - not everyone trailers their off-road vehicle; I would imagine that many drive to a trail, do the trail, then drive home. Most carry extra fuel (at least they do if they know what's good for 'em).

They don't carry that fuel in a tank on a trailer, nor do they generally set up a "fueling staging area" in order to get home or finish the trail. They carry the fuel with them.

You can't do that with an electric 4wd vehicle - at least not easily. You'd have to either (somehow) carry an extra battery pack (on a trailer or something), or you'd have to carry it with another vehicle, or stage it somehow, or something of that nature. Or you'd have to have a generator setup (and brought in the same way). Forget solar panels; you couldn't set up an array large enough to charge the vehicle in any reasonable time span.

These and other reasons (such as the cost - electric conversions are not cheap, and that's on top of an already expensive vehicle) will likely keep me out of the offering for a long while. For a certain segment of the population (those with a lot of money to play with, mainly) - they are available, although they are more a curiosity than a practical system - but that's just my opinion.

For other uses, though - in fact, most typical uses - I think electric vehicles are ready for the mass market and practical for most use cases. I'd personally love to be able to get something like a small electric pickup for a daily driver to go to work, and the occasional need I sometimes have to haul things from a home improvement store or the like. Basically, I'd love to see a return of the Ford Ranger EV they once sold, but with today's LiPo tech and not the old and heavy lead-acid they used in the past...

I thought Musk's plan was for Tesla to be the last automaker standing?

With no timeline, no pre-production vehicles to show, no specs, range, or even a rough outline of what one might get for $23k. Oh, and no batteries or factories set up for this yet.

In what sense is this even a ‘Tesla rival’, other than the fact that it will be electric? You might as well call a Golf an F-150 competitor.

VW has already shown pre-production models, and the timeline is 2020. There's more info on the VW website: https://www.volkswagen.co.uk/electric-hybrid/id

The VW ID supposedly has up to 372 mile range according to that site.

> In what sense is this even a ‘Tesla rival’

In the clickbait sense.

don't worry. give them time, they'll figure it out. they've been building cars for a long time, far longer than Tesla.

> they've been building cars for a long time, far longer than Tesla.

In 2007 same could be said about Nokia vs Apple.

car manufacturing is far more advanced and difficult than a smartphone which you can carry on your hand.

Well, Tesla has been building electric vehicles infinitely longer than them, so

VW has been selling the e-Golf since 2014.


It's not a great car, particularly as it's an adaptation of a gas car platform rather than a redesign, but it exists.

The e-Up! is a year older, from 2013.

In 1976, Volkswagen made a Rabbit with a 20 horsepower DC electric motor and a pile of lead acid batteries in the trunk where the spare tire would normally go.

Electric vehicles are easy, electric motors are easy and old technology, the only differentiating factor is the battery.

Once the supply side of batteries is resolved then any car manufacturer can easily make electric vehicles. Most already have. They're incredibly simpler than ICE vehicles.

Many say that this is precisely why automotive companies have been postponing the move to electric. A lot of the reason for major auto companies existence is that it used to take sophisticated multi-billion dollar organizations to design and manufacture high quality ICE engines.

Overall, "anyone can make an electric car" is bad for the incumbents. China has hundreds of electric car companies turning out surprisingly decent vehicles that are probably good enough for most of the world. The vacuum company Dyson is getting into electric cars.

Everything but the powertrain (including almost all of the safety technology from seats and airbags to sensors and driver assistance) is available from suppliers, so it really isn't out of the question for more new brands to disrupt the industry.

Yet Tesla is often criticized for attempting to disrupt the electric car market. They're too small; it takes years and billions to make a car line; they're too expensive. They can't get volume from suppliers to get a good price. And on and on.

How could others have it easier then? Maybe because those Chinese cars could never be on a road in the West, because they're dangerous and untested?

The only reason you see so many electric car companies in China is because of money laundering, scams and non existant regulatory enforcement.

There's no chance in hell China is ever going to release a car that people will trust/forced to trust outside of China. That would mean actual due diligence, not chabuduo. Especially, not after they put ecstacy in lego.

Xi should ditch the "2020 made in china", create a whole new country to label manufacturer label, "Made in Xina"

Xina? Hey I'll take it over "Made in China" because I'm a dumb ass consumer who has never seen Google Maps before.

I wonder how many people said the same of Japan and South korea

Don’t really understand why everyone is shitting on them ... more cheap EVs are good no?

Sure it might be a long shot but Tesla was a long shot too. Everyone was super enthusiastic.

Sure, but the only real main similarities are they both have bodies, tires, windows, seats and a steering wheel. Just about everything else is completely different and needs to be "invented." The hard stuff.

The car part is the easy part. The alternative 'fuel' part on the other hand..

Why weren't they interested in making this ten years ago? Too busy cheating on the emissions tests to care about something actually real like lowering the carbon foorprint of your vehicles. Tesla forced these companies to do this, plain and simple, so if you're going to clap this it should really be Tesla getting the props.

At minimum, Tesla took the leap of faith that everyone else was afraid to.

I think it's difficult for the board members of traditional car companies to justify serious investment in EVs just 10 years ago. The major auto makers are heavily reliant on their supplier network in order to build cars. And the suppliers can't survive selling parts to just one manufacture, most of them need to sell to at least three automakers to survive. This is how the industry ends up Takata airbags / Bosch fuel pumps in half the cars sold in USDM/EUDM.

It's hard to justify paying a supplier to develop technology you know they will license to the competition, but it's also risky to start developing battery tech independently. So most companies just bought what was available on the market.

The original founders of Tesla knew this, which is why they licensed Lotus/Toyota parts and focused development on their own batteries and engines.

Nissan was producing and selling a mass market electric car eight years ago, when Tesla still only had the Roadster.

Tesla didn't sell mass market cars to jumpstart the industry, because that's not what the market wanted, very obviously. Elon correctly predicted the revolution needed to be an order of magnitude better in all competitive areas, not just slightly better or at par.

> Elon correctly predicted the revolution needed to be an order of magnitude better in all competitive areas, not just slightly better or at par.

I don't think they are an order of magnitude better. Elon currently predicted that a personality cult and lies about futuristic capability sell cars

> I don't think they are an order of magnitude better.

Elon didn't require rohit2412 to think this, fortunately. Just everyone else.

Heck, there was GM's EV1 from the 90's. But apparently you were not allowed to own the damn thing, but people who leased it loved it. Maintenance wasn't a total mess apparently. Interesting car to look into.


They cancelled it because it wasn't a profitable program. Not enough people loved it enough to lease it.

Because it couldn't be made 10 years ago. Look okay any chart of battery prices, and no, tesla is not responsible for them falling.

Ten years ago they were busy making billions producing what the market wanted to buy, as was their duty to the shareholders.

That, and cheating.

You can buy a VW e-golf since at least 2015. It's a great car, but by no means a Tesla competitor. It retails for close to $30k, I got mine for under $20k after the federal rebate.

IIRC, VW only really got into the electric car game as a condition of their emissions cheating settlement. FWIW.

GM and Ford made EVs in the 90's to satisfy California. It didn't do them much good on the technology front.

GM made an electric car. People liked it. For whatever reason GM decided to stop selling them and crushed all the cars. Mainly because the laws changed saying they didn't have to lower emissions.Also gas was super cheap. There is a great doc called who killed the electic car.

$23k hardly covers the battery, motor and controllers let alone the chassis or anything else, at all. I’d be surprised if this was any good at all. Would have to cut corners everywhere.

Source: I design electric trucks.

There are quite a few e-car models in that price range, like Citroën C-Zero or Renault Zoe. Tho I wouldn't really consider those as "Tesla rivals".

As a current VW owner and owner of 3 VWs at one point I can speak to how they cut costs.

Between the 3 vehicles that I personally owned and drove we have more than half a million miles in VW cars.

As you suggest and as any long-term VW owner can attest, they cut corners everywhere.

From experience - some wire harness sections are minimum gauge for the load that they potentially carry creating a fire hazard; interior lighting may be reliable in some cars and bulbs may tend to burn out in other similar cars due to use of less expensive bulbs; plastic components do not survive many flexing cycles before breaking due to the plastic being very thin in the panels and especially in the attachment gussets; microswitches that control the door locks, door alarm and window switches tend to fail also. In addition, the headlight pods on the Beetle slide into the front fenders and should be held securely but over time the mechanism that keeps them firmly connected to the bulb socket develops enough slack that the pods can slide forward enough to break connection and kill your headlights. One or both will develop this problem and VW dealerships will gladly sell you new bulbs or new pods when the problem can be fixed by adding additional attachment under the hood so that the pod can't slide forward while the vehicle is being driven.

It may sound strange for someone who has driven their vehicles for so many miles to be complaining about stuff like this but I also own vehicles from Ford and Nissan and have never had similar problems with those vehicles. My old Bronco, '92 model, still looks new on the inside with >300k miles and my '01 Pathfinder looks brand new with 230k miles.

I currently own three Fords with a combined mileage >840k miles, two Broncos and one F150. I have owned and later sold 3 others in the last 30 years after rolling up more than 400k miles between them. I also have owned another Nissan that we sold years ago after racking up a lot of miles with no issues. And then there was the Saab, but that's probably just another Saab story.

I just wanted to give real life examples from personal experience so that people could understand I'm not a hater who has no experience with the vehicles. I'm actually someone who bought one and loved it enough to buy others and drive them for a long time.

>I’d be surprised if this was any good at all. Would have to cut corners everywhere.

It's "engineering trade offs" when you do it and "cutting corners" when the competition does it.

It’s one thing to say someone cuts corners but in the world of electric vehicles you really can cut corners.

For example, have no precharge system. Don’t monitor the temperature of every battery cell. No manual disconnect for the high voltage battery. Put cab heater on the same coolant circuit as the engine so that if you use the heater the drivetrain efficiency plummets (but not on paper). Use an electric vacuum brake booster so you can leverage cheap components from petrol cars (although every single one I’ve seen has been prone to early failure). Skimp on your front brakes/calipers because you have regen. Completely ignore battery impact protection. Use non automotive components that are only rated to 60C because you can on an EV and not necessarily because you should. Select cheap low voltage components with barely a safety factor on HV bus without considering that IGBTs derate approx. 50% during a solar event.

I really hope the media holds them to their $23k claim as hard as they hold Tesla to $35k.

“Exploratory talks” “...due to be discussed”

Good luck! Hope to drive one soon. But talk to me when they’ve pushed the first one off the line.

Talk to me when they have a concept at a car show.

Heck, talk to me when they have a rendering and a spec sheet!

We've got renders

Notice how they all look like cars from Altered Carbon? And how the specs mention autonomous driving with a retractable steering wheel, augmented reality, and rear-facing front seats? VW will have these out by 2020 for sure.

[1] https://www.volkswagen.co.uk/electric-hybrid/id

[2] https://www.volkswagen.co.uk/electric-hybrid/concept-cars

The e-Golf costs $30k and goes 125 miles and they're going to sell a 220 mile range Tesla rival for $23k?

It's great that they want to make more EVs, but don't expect any car company to have anything like that for at least another car generation (4 years?). Or they'll ship something with 125 miles and call it a Tesla rival.

How stupid am I for reading the title and thinking they were trying to sell a company for 23k?

You're not alone.

Same here.

I have no idea new cars were that expensive in Europe.

I mean, salaries there are not like in the US, 40k€/y (net) is already a good salary, even for a developer. So you have to take a 5 years loan to buy a new car? 10 years if you have a low salary?

> So you have to take a 5 years loan to buy a new car? 10 years if you have a low salary?

Most people with good to high salaries just lease their cars anyway, at least that's been my experience in Germany. People on low salary don't buy new cars or don't own cars at all, dense country with a decent public transit system, no need for everybody to own one.

Peer-to-peer carsharing also has been rather successful with Drivy, which is an option low-income people make use of if they should ever actually need a car for something.

Europeans don't have an American standard of living, on average.

I would consider sane maternal/paternal leave, mandatory vacation, and healthcare to offset a lot of the materialistic wealth they don’t have. It’s really nice to be top 10% in US, but it’s nicer to be 20% to 80% in Western Europe, I would think.

You pay for all that. In most countries even the lowest wage-earners have an effective tax rate of 60%, once you consider social security taxes, income taxes, VAT. It encourages tax evasion and byzantine corporate and individual accounting measures to minimise it.

When you considering the very low fertility rates of Europe, I would consider this whole system to be unsustainable.

The one thing that the rest of the Western world has right though is healthcare - basic services should be available at low cost to every citizen, and basic healthcare should not be a commercial or profit-driven exercise. I think its reasonable though if you want a hyper-expensive cancer treatment or surgery, you have to pay for that as part of private health insurance.

> You pay for all that.

Right, exactly. Paying $5000 more in taxes to get $5000 more in benefits is net of zero.

It's really even worse than that, because when you say you make $60,000 in the US vs. $40,000 in Europe, the $60,000 doesn't include employee benefits like employer-provided health insurance, whereas the $40,000 doesn't include the taxes you have to pay for the equivalent government services.

> I think its reasonable though if you want a hyper-expensive cancer treatment or surgery, you have to pay for that as part of private health insurance.

But that's the only part you would actually need social assistance for. In any kind of non-corrupt healthcare system, the actual cost of going to the doctor and coming home with a bottle of allergy medicine shouldn't be beyond the ability of anyone at the 10th percentile income to afford.

That's really the advantage Europe has. It's not the government services, it's that US institutions are corrupt and so prices are higher. Regulatory capture and overhead makes the market for routine medicine uncompetitive and therefore unaffordable.

And it's the same across the board -- look at housing costs in Germany vs. California. Europe's cost advantage isn't that their government is especially good, it's that governments in the US are especially bad.

> It's really even worse than that, because when you say you make $60,000 in the US vs. $40,000 in Europe, the $60,000 doesn't include employee benefits like employer-provided health insurance, whereas the $40,000 doesn't include the taxes you have to pay for the equivalent government services.

And the 40'000€ also doesn’t include your employer’s contributions to public social security (approx. half of health insurance, half of unemployment insurance etc.).

> look at housing costs in Germany vs. California.

We're not as extreme, but already we see the same symptoms: low-wage employees are getting priced out of the cities. Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin are hellholes.

It's really hard to generalize European countries. For example, it's possibly to pay ~20% tax rate in Germany (after tax credits due to Kids) after having gone through free university with free healthcare.

And then you have Sweden with 70%

I am not sure it balances out, but for that increased tax rate Sweden does have some really nice incentives to have kids, including 3 months of mandatory paid paternal AND maternal parental leave, for 6 months total (with the additional option of taking a full year at a reduced rate, something like 50%). Does Germany also have similar incentives? Some cursory googling says not as good. It kind of sucks in Sweden to not be able to take advantage of that if you aren't planning to have kids though.

I also don't think besides what I have mentioned above that you factor in the tax breaks that Swedes get for having kids. It's probably not as much as the 20% number you are quoting for germany but a dual-income household (Nordic countries and Denmark and Sweden in particular really favor both parents working in taxes for some reason) with kids probably does not approach the 70% number you quoted, even in the upper echelon (and to hit that 70% number you really do have to make upwards of $100k equivalent in Sweden, which is quite a high salary by Swedish standards).

To put it into perspective, at a good paying software dev company the junior devs make between $35-50k equivalent, and the most senior 10-year-or-more experience devs in Sweden are making about $90-100k equivalent.

Even though stuff in Sweden is expensive, the social net is pretty strong, so plenty of people can easily survive on $40-50k before taxes because of the free education, healthcare, etc. mentioned before.

You havn't considered payroll taxes. The Scandinavians have smartly replaced payroll taxes with income taxes, whereas in Germany your employer pays 20% for every dollar they pay you.


It would be even smarter to tax consumption and not income or investment

> When you considering the very low fertility rates of Europe, I would consider this whole system to be unsustainable.

Low fertility rates are a feature and not a bug, and in these times they are actually a very desired feature [0].

The only way one could consider that "unsustainable" is to assume there's literally zero immigration, with a globally stagnating or shrinking population. But all of these are objectively false. On a global scale, humanity is a far cry from dying out due to infertility, quite the opposite. So let's not pretend that low fertility rates are a bad thing, okay?

Btw: By HDI the US ranks 13, down from 12. Want to take an educated guess where most of the countries above it on the ranking are located? [1]

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/12/want-to-...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Dev...

> The only way one could consider that "unsustainable" is to assume there's literally zero immigration, with a globally stagnating or shrinking population.

The world-wide net immigration is inherently zero. If what we're looking for is approximately the population replacement rate globally, what sense does it make to have something different nationally? Doing so creates all sorts of problems for the population source countries in terms of brain drain and so on (they pay to educate someone for decades and then anyone above the 90th percentile moves out), and for the destination country in terms of preserving the local culture and history as long-term net immigration results in the culture of the donor population subsuming the existing one.

> The world-wide net immigration is inherently zero.

Good thing I didn't talk about "world-wide net immigration" but rather about "worldwide net population growth".

The two are related, but not the same. Low birthrates are very much a localized "problem", fixed by global migration due to the fact that globally we do not have a fertility problem, globally we have the exact opposite of that problem.

> Low birthrates are very much a localized "problem"

The fertility rate has been declining world wide, from ~5 per woman in 1950 to ~2.5 now. The cause appears to be something like industrialization and urbanization, so it happens to some countries sooner, but it is decidedly a world phenomenon and there is not a lot more decline required before 2.5 becomes <2.

> The fertility rate has been declining world wide, from ~5 per woman in 1950 to ~2.5 now.

But why should that be considered bad? A major factor to this development is decreasing child mortality rates in less developed countries, having to birth fewer children is a natural outcome of that and that's good.

The other version of that would be them still just getting as many children as before, but with all of them surviving into adulthood, and as such contributing to the global population issue, which also happens.

> but it is decidedly a world phenomenon and there is not a lot more decline required before 2.5 becomes <2.

Sorry but I heavily disagree. There's a lot more to decline before 2.5 becomes <2 and even if we get there: Why should that be bad? Perpetual population growth is a completely insane and unsustainable concept, why are we insisting on making it a thing?

A reduced global population would be one of the most efficient ways to fight climate change and the environmental impact humanity is having on the planet as a whole. Going around and killing people, to reduce the population, is not compatible with our moral framework, so we need to look at other, less drastic, ways of reducing the population or at least keeping its growth in check.

That's exactly where easy access to contraception and the right to abortion come in. These are not just "social issues", in the long term they will become very real economic and environmental issues. Particularly once automation will fully take off, we'll be sitting on a crowded planet with more people than we know what to do with, with conservative politicians still demanding "full employment".

> But why should that be considered bad? A major factor to this development is decreasing child mortality rates in less developed countries, having to birth fewer children is a natural outcome of that and that's good.

The lower fertility rate is not caused by the lower mortality rate, it's just a happy coincidence which is saving us from rapid decline. In particular there is no guarantee that they exactly balance -- and there is no level of infant mortality reduction that can prevent a population decline at a fertility rate below 2, which is where industrialized countries already are and developing countries are headed. It's already below 2 in Brazil and China.

> There's a lot more to decline before 2.5 becomes <2

No, there isn't, especially when Africa is significantly bringing up that average but they also still have a high infant mortality rate. Every other continent is either already below 2 or is only slightly above it and declining over time. The biggest contributor to population growth isn't fertility rate, it's people living longer.

> and even if we get there: Why should that be bad? Perpetual population growth is a completely insane and unsustainable concept, why are we insisting on making it a thing?

Population growth isn't necessary. What we need is population stability, because population decline is a catastrophe. Somebody has to pay for the people who retire at 65 and live to 100, collecting social security the whole time. The fewer people there are the more burden there is on each one, and that cost comes out of everything else -- education and research, quality of life, everything.

> A reduced global population would be one of the most efficient ways to fight climate change and the environmental impact humanity is having on the planet as a whole.

The most efficient way to fight climate change is to stop burning carbon. That means solar panels and wind turbines and nuclear power and electric cars. The per-capita cost of doing that is slightly negatively correlated with population due to economies of scale. Moreover, the timescale of needing to fight climate change is right now, whereas the effect of birthrates is multiple decades down the road. We need to stamp out fossil fuels ASAP, not 30-50 years from now. And once we do that there is not any significant relationship between population and climate change.

> Particularly once automation will fully take off, we'll be sitting on a crowded planet with more people than we know what to do with, with conservative politicians still demanding "full employment".

Automation destroying jobs on net has never happened. Every time a job is automated, it lowers cost of living, which increases the number of remaining jobs that a person can take and still make ends meat. There will never be a lack of jobs. What may actually happen eventually is that it becomes possible to make ends meat by working four hours a week and some people choose to do that, or work for ten years and then retire, but how is that a problem?

I think if you’re a destination country you’re better off with brains than culture.

> I think if you’re a destination country you’re better off with brains than culture.

But the brains still exist. If a doctor in Mexico cures cancer, it's still cured. The difference is that the money doesn't go to a company in the US rather than one in Mexico, which contributes to wealth inequality. It other words, it hurts people in Mexico more than it helps people in the US -- who, again, still get the cure, they just have to pay the country that raised the person who created it.

It's not even clear that this is a net loss for the US, because other countries will be more inclined to invest in education and research when they expect to internalize more of the financial benefits -- which increases the positive externalities (like the existence of a cure).

How's that a feature when you're replacing your relatively highly educated set of people who assimilate culturally with people from poorer countries with lesser education and who don't culturally assimilate?

Of course it's a feature for these poor people who now can get a chance to live a better life. But is that ideal for a developed host country?

Nobody is being "replaced", you make it sound like they are taking highly educated German people, dispose of them in some secret way, and then fill their free positions with random Syrian refugees.

As a native German, I can assure you that no native German people are being "displaced". This is just a semi-ancient right-wing trope about "Them foreigners stealing our jobs", with the occasional "and women" attached to it.

In the 90's these same people were railing against eastern Europeans, and how their culture and values are supposedly not "compatible with Western Values". Now, over a decade after the EU eastward expansion, rarely anybody seems to remember that part of history and the formerly marginalized are now so "assimilated" that they are part of the very same mobs which used to marginalize them.

Nothing about this whole topic is new, even the surrounding social unrests ain't new and are comparably civil compared to what went on not too long ago [0]. The only thing that's changed is the color of the people that are being scapegoated as the source of all problems and controversy.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rostock-Lichtenhagen_riots

If a country's birthrate is low and it needs immigrants to fill in the gap in workforce that low birthrate is creating, it's essentially replacing those people over time.

Since your German I'd urge you to read the book Strange Death of Europe. Assimilation isn't an easy process and mass migration in this scale is indeed a new thing.

> Assimilation isn't an easy process and mass migration in this scale is indeed a new thing.

It isn't really and most certainly not for central Europe or Germany. People too often ignore that the 20th century has seen constant and massive population movements [0].

In Germany particularly with Turkish guest workers [1], fall of the Iron Curtain triggering mass migration from eastern Europe, later refugees from the Yugoslav wars mixed in. More migration after the 2004 enlargement of the EU eastwards.

Now you could argue "All these people have the same culture, they are not weird Muslims", which is a moot point because these same "their culture is too different" claims were made about eastern Europeans for many many years before they became part of the club themselves.

It should also be noted that nobody ever talks about the reasons why these refugee streams exist in the first place: US foreign policy.

Even back in 2002 Afghani people made their way to Germany, followed by Iraqis and people from many other MENA countries, fully escalating with Syria.

This isn't some sudden new thing, one could literally watch this happening over a timespan of nearly 2 decades, yet nothing was done. It's so painfully obvious that some people consider this as part of US strategy [2].

[0] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/refugees_01.sht...

[1] https://www.dw.com/en/turkish-guest-workers-transformed-germ...

[2] http://www.voltairenet.org/article187588.html

European standard of living is higher on average than American: afordable healthcare, education, housing, good public transportation, social safety net for unemployed, retired... US has some rich elite but other than that it's basically a third-world country.

Averages aren't the point. In EU wealth is distributed more equally (see Gini coefficient).

Why is this comment being downvoted, but the parent is being upvoted? Both are completely unsourced, big claims, neither of which belong on HN. Please stop using your vote as an opinion button.

In Germany, almost no one buys cars new except for really wealthy people, car aficionados, or corporations. Most people buy used cars. That is also a reason why the German car makers have such a high end portfolio that doesn't make sense just for the regular Joe...

Who are they buying used cars from, if “almost no one” do buy new cars? I think Germany is a net exporter of used cars.

Edit: I found figures for 2013, with 7.1 million used cars sold. The number of new passenger cars sold was 3.0 million. What I find surprising is that most new cars are indeed bought by businesses (I can find figures for 2013, but last year private cars represented 37% of new registrations). So around 1 in 7 private car sales are new cars. I don’t know if it qualifies as “almost no one”, but it’s lower than I expected.

Cars move down the economic ladder as they get sold. The rich by new, the middle buys slightly used, the bottom buys very used.

If a car costs a lot to begin with it will cycle through more owners before being exported or scrapped. It's perfectly possible to have fewer new cars sold and have the same or larger used car market. Those new cars just have to be expensive enough that they cycle through many owners.

Company cars, for example.

In my experience many people take out a loan, yes. And after that you try to get most of your money back when selling the car - which is why most people won't buy new, since new cars lose a lot of their valuation immediately after purchase.

I think most people either lease or buy second hand.

>So you have to take a 5 years loan to buy a new car? 10 years if you have a low salary?

I can't speak for all of Europe but in my country we don't take loans for cars.

According to http://www.finaccord.com/documents/report_prospectus_automot...

“financial leasing (including hire purchase) is the dominant type of point-of-sale finance contract taken out by consumers in Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and the UK, while loans (usually with no option to return the car) are preferred elsewhere”

But I don’t know how meaningful that is, given that some buyers will get loans elsewhere and some will not need financing at all.

I will be convinced VW are serious about this only if they intend to conceal a NOx generator somewhere in the chassis.

I'll believe it when I see it for sale, and not with a waiting list. Something I can actually write a check for and drive it home.

I really don't think Tesla is going to make it out of this one. It's facing it's worst nightmare which is luxury car makers as well as mainstream manufacturers jumping both feet.

They have been building vehicles far far longer and have the experience.

Without Musk, I just don't see how Tesla is going to make it out of this one.

Make it out of what? A competitor several years down the road?

What are you talking about, and why do you think Musk isn't apart of Tesla? Seriously stop spreading this nonsense.

All I seen from VW so far is hybrids and empty promises.

Tesla is already selling fully electric cars and may be we'll get another model until VW actually ship something.

A commuter box is not a rival to a Tesla performance vehicle. That's a linkbait title.

And even as other ecar source come online and fill out the ecosystem, Tesla can still win by 'selling ammunition' e.g. batteries.

I'm no Tesla fanboy (more a fan of GM electrics) but I'm skeptical for many of the reasons others have listed but especially battery supply, and the history of VW/Audi group's handling of EVs.

I'm sure they can make a Tesla rival that sells for $23k. But I fully expect you won't actually be able to buy one unless you live in California or some other place that legislates it. That's their history with the eGolf, which is not a bad car -- but they sold less than 500 of them last year in Canada and it wasn't because of demand.

Battery supply is going to explode in the next years. But either way, this is not like the eGolf situation of old. It's not an isolated experimental vehicle sold in small numbers. They built an entire platform for building many different models of electric cars.

People mistake VW trying to squeeze as much as they can out of combustion engines for VW ignoring the future. Tesla forced their hand and has a real headstart. But consider this. While Tesla was figuring out how to build a single car at scale, VW has spent the last ten years figuring out how to build dozens of models from SUV to city car from a joint technological platform [1]. And they have spent the last three years developing a version of that platform for electric vehicles [2].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Group_MQB_platform

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Group_MEB_platform

> VW has spent the last ten years figuring out how to build dozens of models

..whilst also managing to squeeze in figuring out how to cheat emissions tests! What a company.

True but irrelevant to the point at hand.

Consider this. Total R&D investment of companies world wide, Top 5:

1) Amazon 20B 2) Alphabet 15B 3) Samsung 13B 4) Intel 12B 5) VW 11.5B

No other industrial company is in the top 10. Tesla is at a tenth of VW in total R&D.


That's so easy it's done in embedded programming university classes.

All VW did was turn on the 'cheat emissions' flag in the ECU supplied by Bosch.

Don't get me wrong, it's still cheating.

UK Audi dealers seem to discourage even considering an electric version of an A3 - we tried to look at one but the salesman did nothing but talk about the negative points and the demo car was buried at the back of the showroom in a rather unfortunate position.

To be fair the A3 e-Tron is a huge disappointment so I can see why they wouldn't want to sell it. It's basically a soft-hybrid A3 wagon that they bolted a plug and a slightly larger battery on to. It still uses a standard automatic transmission, has really low range when compared to other vehicles in its category (the Volt, the Clarity, etc.) and has fairly low performance stats to boot.

Our second car is an Audi and I like Audis. But my commuter car is a Volt, and there's no PHEV out there that can compete with it except maybe the Honda Clarity. I'd love to have a VW/Audi interior with something like the Volt's drivetrain, but none of them seem to want to do it.

Having had a variety of German cars over the years (BMW, VW, Audis) - we're now very happy with two cars from Škoda - all the benefits of VW-group components at a lower price (and the Yeti is a superbly practical wee car - only disappointment is that they have stopped making them in favour of a more conventional SUV style).

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact