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Why No One Is Beating Tesla's Range (jalopnik.com)
54 points by prostoalex 46 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments



No one's beating Tesla's range because no one is willing to use the NCA battery chemistry. All the other automakers stick to NMC (for very good reason). Tesla will have a ~20% range and cost advantage just by nature of using NCA over NMC.


That doesn’t seem to explain why other cars are getting less range from batteries with similar capacity.


NMC batteries needs to be much bigger/heavier to match the capacity of NCA due to NCA's better energy density. Then you have both the increased weight and increased cooling burden associated with the larger NMC battery that negatively impact range.


That doesn’t add up. The I-PACE and Taycan both have similar weight to the Model X, yet are substantially less efficient. The e-tron is lighter than a Model S and has absolutely horrible efficiency.


The e-tron is similar in weight, size, and power to the Model X and pretty much gets within 10% of its efficiency comparing WLTP ratings. I think the efficiency loss can be explained by cooling (if this article is to be believed that Audi has more complicated/expensive cooling) and aerodynamics (it has a normal SUV profile vs the coupe of the Model X).


I found about 250 miles for the e-Tron and 315 miles for the Model X competing WLTP ratings. I imagine aerodynamics are a huge factor in this difference.


For 83.6kWh usable battery on the e-tron vs 95kWh on the Model X.


Ah, I just saw 95kWh and figured it was close. I didn't realize the usable was so different.

I'm a bit suspicious of the WLTP ratings for these cars. The EPA rating for the Model X Long Range is 325 miles, while the e-tron's EPA rating is only 204 miles. Any idea why the Model X would score lower on WLTP while the e-tron would score so much higher?


They probably just have different blends of city/highway/speeds. Just like how gasoline cars have different estimates from different testing agencies, electric cars do too because they all have different efficiency curves.

The ratings generally try to mimic the driving conditions of the region and automakers tend to optimize for their home turf. So it's not too surprising the American automaker does better on the American test and the Europeans do better on the European test.


Regen, BMS, mass and aerodynamics


What is the reason, I do t follow this a lot so could you share some articles or similar about it?


The biggest advantages of NMC over NCA are:

- NMC can charge and discharge faster

- NMC has longer cycle life

- NMC is more heat tolerant

Advantages of NCA over NMC are:

- NCA is cheaper due to less cobalt use and no magnesium with slower growing demand than NMC which further helps cost going forward

- NCA has better energy density (capacity/weight)

By far the biggest disadvantage of NCA is it's thermal profile. It's more difficult to cool due to the higher energy density, and prone to fire or explosion when overcharged, overheated, or subjected to physical damage.

NCA is a much older battery chemistry than NMC. Historically it's applications have been limited to handheld tools because of how dangerous a mistreated large NCA battery could be.


This article seems to frame the shared cooling system as a flaw. For a different perspective: [1] “Sean Mitchell, Detroit veteran Sandy Munro of Munro and Associates mentioned that among the Model 3’s unique components, its “Superbottle” is one of the most innovative. Combining two pumps, one heat exchanger, and one coolant valve in one cleverly-designed bottle, the Model 3’s cooling system is arguably the most unique in the auto industry.“

[1] https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-3-superbottle-disrupti...


I don't know if you actually read the whole article you linked, but the "unique" part of that is the packaging, not the actual operation of the system or the individual components.

Like the literal placement of the parts in that piece of plastic (which have no effect on it's function) is what's interesting, the parts and workings besides the actual plastic bottle's shape not surprising or unique.

It's impressive in the "wow they really went out of their way to make this thing?" sense, not a "how on earth is that possible" or "no one else could do this". That's why it's described as "slick"

Other manufacturers wouldn't do this because you can make the same exact system using parts that have an infinitely better economy of scale, and the penalty in space taken is not large relative to a million other things going into an EV.


Except the article is a comparison to the model S, not the model 3...


Model 3 is just a scaled down Model S using a lot of the same core technology.


This is, at best, "sponsored content" from Audi, and at worst, an Audi advertisement directly written by a PR firm. Why is this on the front page of HN?


The first sentence is absolutely true. And frankly, unsurprising to anyone who has been around the magazine industry for longer than a week or two.

As they used to say of computer magazines in their heyday, “Everything in the magazine is an advertisement, some of which are labeled as such.”

Paul Graham wrote an essay about PR in this site’s early days called “The Submarine,” where he credited PR for the success of his own startup that he sold to Yahoo.

PR is part of the game, and recognizing it as such is part of the game.

BUt with respect to your second sentence, just because it’s PR doesn’t necessarily mean it is false or misleading. That assumption would be an ad hominem fallacy.

A PR piece planted in Jalopnik isn’t that much different than an interview with the CEO. You know the CEO is stating their company’s official position, but you may still want to hear their point of view.

I 100% agree it is useful to make sure that everyone reading this be aware that it is mostly ghost-written by VW Group. But once you are aware of that, it is still useful to read it and debate amongst ourselves whether their claims are reasonable and informative.

Personally, I thought the article did a good job of explaining that they were repeating VW’s claims. It did not feel like they were pretending to print the views of a so-called “independent think tank.️“

JM2C.


I just honestly don't think it's even worth it for us to discuss this article on a somewhat technical, popular discussion forum like HN. It doesn't make any attempt to give background/contextual information about any of the specific issues discussed, it simply jumps right into pushing the Audi features and openly bashing Tesla with vague generalizations; for example:

"Motor cooling is the weak link in the Tesla Model S, with motor heat soaking usually responsible for power reductions under hard driving."

It doesn't explain the motivations of either company's designers and engineers, it doesn't give background science on cooling technologies, and it doesn't even really explain why Audi's system is better. It just says Audi has "more aggressive and redundant cooling systems," and that Tesla's cooling, "is the weak link in the Tesla Model S," with little-to-no further explanation.

If you are talking about an interview with a CEO where they focus on how they are better than one specific competitor, and come off petty, shallow, and unreasonably biased, then I would have similar feelings about that content. A bunch of us here talking about this article is what a marketing analyst's or PR agent's dreams are made of.


One of the pleasures of HN for me is that when a shallow article is published, sometimes a bunch of people chime in and give more thorough explanations, e.g. the discussion here about the tradeoffs between the battery technologies used by Tesla versus Audi (and just about everyone else).

If the article serves as an invitation to a good conversation, I’m all for it. But of course, sometimes an article is so bad that the entire conversation is composed of people debunking its nonsense.

Or worse, certain highly emotional topics get posted, and everyone just yells past each other. Regardless of the quality of the OP, the conversation makes me feel like I lose 50 points of IQ when I read the comments.

I sum, I agree that sometimes, bad articles make for bad conversations. Did this one? Maybe, maybe not, I’ll accept your word for it if you think poorly of the quality of conversation around it.


Because people are interested to know why this is happening. Technical people voted for this article to be on the front page. Please respect that.

The insinuation that Jalopnik is Audi’s sock puppet is simply unfounded.


> The insinuation that Jalopnik is Audi’s sock puppet is simply unfounded.

The guy actually says that he's been directly influenced by the (PR-driven, because that's how this works) information that he was provided by Audi, and as a result, has written an article about it.

"...Audi took the time to explain to me what non-Tesla EVs are bringing to the table. Essentially, the diagrams they sent over of the Audi E-Tron..."

He also swallows some of the (Audi PR) arguments whole:

"...why the E-Tron goes 204 miles compared to 370 miles for the Model S Long Range. The other big part is the battery itself. First, the Model S packs a bigger 100kWh battery pack compared to the 95kWh pack in the Audi."

What about a comparison to other Teslas with smaller batteries --like the model 3 with its 75kWh battery-- which still manage to wallop the e-tron's range?


“The guy actually says that he's been directly influenced by the (PR-driven, because that's how this works) information that he was provided by Audi.”

Another way to say that is to point out that the author/regurgitator has responsibly disclosed the source of the information so that we may judge for ourselves whether it is interesting.

As I pointed out in another thread, I think we all agree that this is planted, the question is whether it is still interesting to read and/or use as an excuse for a discussion.


The e-tron is a heavy SUV with different aerodynamics in respect to a sedan. I personally find these comparisons useless, anyway.

Still, sustained performance is something rarely compared. Let’s see how the Tesla S will fair in the Nürburgring soon.


So what you're saying is he was provided information and knowledge he previously didn't have and (slightly) changed his opinion based on that information. And this is a bad thing?

>What about a comparison to other Teslas with smaller batteries --like the model 3 with its 75kWh battery-- which still manage to wallop the e-tron's range?

Would you ask BMW why they aren't comparing a 750il to an Audi A3? The model 3 is half the size and weighs 1000lbs less, the battery is irrelevant.


The article still doesn't explain the 166 mile difference in range despite only 5kwh difference in battery capacity. Walling off 12% doesn't cover the difference nor does the 4% difference in weight. Is there an efficiency difference?


This article smeels like PR to me. Especially as Porsche, Audi and VW are basically the same company [0] and struggling to sell their EVs.

Tesla is the dominating force. Some numbers from Norway:

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/08/16/tesla-model-3-12-4-of-a...

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Group#Subsidiaries_...


Volkswagen Group is the biggest car company in the world at the moment, with Toyota a close second. Volkswagen owns 12 automotive brands. Pretty soon they'll also be the biggest electric car company in the world, purely because they're spending the most money on it:

https://europe.autonews.com/automakers/vws-91b-spend-evs-out...

They'll release multiple EVs across multiple brands every year from now on. Volkswagen's MEB platform is going to allow them to produce cars with equivalent range to Tesla's at a lower price point. Volkswagen says their battery cost is now below $100 per kilowatt hour:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/business/volkswagen-trade...

That's the advantage of the economies of scale Volkswagen will be able to achieve with MEB, both from in-house production and from licensing the platform to other manufacturers from small manufacturers like e.Go to large manufacturers like Ford.


But still: a VW (or for that matter any other car than a Tesla) will not have one thing that makes Tesla unique: software. Even discarding the fact that Tesla has probably the most data worldwide to train self-driving AI and way more experience in building fully-electric cars, no one comes remotely close to what Tesla can do. Modern non-Tesla still are sold with "map updates" ffs, and something like "remote software update" is totally unheard of.

Tesla's strength is software and extreme agility in software development. The other car manufacturers are prevented by their sheer size and corporate infighting culture to catch up and they will be for years to come.


I'd counter argue that it's maybe not that bad to have proven, formally validated software in the field, which is what traditional software developers in the automotive sectors did for decades. You tend to push out less crap if you are forced to make sure it works well from the start due to lack of updates.

At least the German Automotive industry relies very much on formal verification and model driven development for this reason.


Except the UI stuff they push out is utter crap. It's slowly improving, but I if I understand the industry correctly the efforts that are leading to that started many years ago.

Meanwhile when Tesla releases a bug they can ship a fix within days.

Why arbitrarily limit your development like that? To make some money off your customer being forced to go to the dealer to get an update? That's just terrible UX.


The firmware for the components that drive the car is one thing and I agree with you there (though still, OTA capability should be a must-have).

The software of the driver-facing stuff however is a different game and honestly there is so much utter crap out there it hurts - badly (if at all) tested phone integrations, no touch UI at all, maps which my four year old phone can render more fluently...


> a VW will not have one thing that makes Tesla unique: software

The ID.3 is supposed to have a large augmented reality heads up display which can do things like overlay sat nav indicators on the view of the road ahead. It sounds interesting. That's something I want to see more detail of at the official launch.

Volkswagen has a partnership with Ford and has invested $2.6 billion in Argo: https://europe.autonews.com/automakers/vw-investment-vaults-...

Volkswagen is doing other things like joining Automotive Grade Linux: https://www.automotivelinux.org/announcements/2019/04/08/vol...

They're investing big in all aspects of electric cars. I think they're across the issues.


Call me back when they have four years of proven track record to properly maintain a decent software stack including over-the-air updates... I won't buy a car which needs to be driven to a service or worse to an authorized dealership for a software upgrade.


I expect the VW group to scale back their ambitious plans. I hope not, but I expect it based on extremely poor etron sales.

Competing against the Tesla Model Y in 2019 should be extremely simple since the Y isn't available yet. Given that Audi only planned on making 45,000 etrons in 2019 and the lack of a strong competitor you'd expect huge waiting lists for the etron. Yesterday I checked availability in Canada and there are 115 etrons sitting on dealer lots in Canada.

Committing to selling 3 million per year in a few years is a huge gamble if you can't sell 45,000 in 2019...


The MEB based cars will be better sellers than the current Audi e-tron Quattro. The ID.3 is like a better e-Golf (it will replace it) and they sold over 100,000 e-Golfs in total. I don't think they'll be scaling back.

The first MEB based Audi will be the Audi e-tron Q4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiwevzHsCbU


Even using the quoted 83.6 kWh figure as comparison, tesla gets 50% more miles per kWh. That is still pretty stark difference.


Good point. Well, I guess we need to wait 7-8 years until the batteries from other manufacturers become worn and see if their claims stand.

Battery reliability in the long term as well as sustained performance should not be underestimated.


Some manufacturers are beating Tesla on price and range. The Hyundai Kona can be bought for a bit less than a similarly priced Model 3 and the Kona has more range at that price point. The Volkswagen ID.3 will come with three battery sizes for 330km, 420km, and 550km WLTP range and they will be cheaper than the equivalent range Model 3s.


WLTP range is different measurment that Tesla's EPA range. Conversion rate is approximately 1.12:1 ([1]), so ID.3 EPA range would be 491 km.

[1] https://insideevs.com/features/343231/heres-how-to-calculate...


There's no need to do conversions. Just look at the WLTP ranges on Tesla's European sites. Here's the Irish version of the site for the Model 3:

https://www.tesla.com/en_IE/model3/design?redirect=no#batter...


I would like to point out that ID.3 will come in the future. These ranges are not observed ranges, but a prediction.


Production starts in November. The future's not far away. Volkswagen will be officially launching the ID.3 in a couple of days. They'll probably give more detail then.


> The Hyundai Kona can be bought for a bit less than a similarly priced Model 3 and the Kona has more range at that price point.

These 2 are not similarly sized vehicles though and the difference in range is negligible. As for performance, it's no real contest.


So you confirm that the Kona is cheaper and it drives further. Well done.


How many potential Tesla buyers wouldn’t be caught dead in a Hyundai though?


No idea. Maybe they'd be interested in a Skoda Vision iV instead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f1g9xl6W_E


I just want more reliable car choices for driving in the car pool lane. There are a number of plug in hybrids SUVs from Lexus, Porsche, and BMW that are not on the approved eligible list. Deferring my next purchase into infinity in the mean time.


.


I believe traditional manufacturers probably know more about building cars that can last (thought not in all cases certainly). But yeah, this does come off as a bit hype-ish over details that probably matter a lot less to buyers.


Traditional manufacturers also know that they make money from maintaining cars. If traditional manufacturers make cars that last, they will go out of business.


There's a balance they have to strike. If you can't on average get 7-10 years out of a car with normal preventative maintenance, you won't sell many as both those who buy for the long term and the secondary market for used cars will avoid.


Didn't the Japanese basically win the U.S. market by making cars that lasted?




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