Over the last decade people have been quite rightly pointing out that Tesla are in trouble because sticking some batteries and electric engines into a car isn't actually crazy difficult and all Tesla's production problems will kill it in competition with real car manufacturers. Yet somehow that just hasn't happened at all. The people who talked about the inability of large incumbents to react were dead right.
I'm still bearish on Tesla - I think they've pumped their share price with false claims about self-driving, but they have really dominated electric vehicles.
IMHO their investments in solar are problematic but also not without merit if they manage to turn this around. It's a huge growing market and they seem to have some interesting products and ideas to reduce cost.
Their acquisition of Maxwell is looking like it might give them another competitive edge with batteries with a feasible path to 400g/kwh and beyond. IMHO that's is going to give them a huge edge for the next decade where most of their competitors do not have access to in house battery designs or production capacity.
They have a giga factory coming online soon (China) to address supply issues. Model y, the truck, and pickup truck coming to the market soonish and are already generating plenty of hype.
Then there's the powerwall situation and the notion that lots of energy companies are discovering that they love owning batteries.
Even the self driving car thing might still work out. I hear people claiming that this is impossible. But I'm actually more and more convinced that self driving cars are happening sooner rather than later. Maybe it's not going to be all that it is hyped up to be right away but even level 4 autonomy is going to be pretty nice.
All these things are sucking up a lot of investment money and it is obviously a risky investment. But their track record of eventually delivering working stuff is not completely horrible.
Tesla strategy was to put the first desirable electrical car on the market, which they succeed at doing.
The strategy of most traditional manufacturers is very different. They want to make the most profitable car. And it seems like no EV will be as profitable as ICE vehicles until batteries will be more or less price competitive with ICE.
I'm pretty sure that their target is to release an EV when batteries will be so cheap that it wouldn't make sense to buy an ICE car anymore. And this is not yet the case, as it will most probably happen in the early 2020s. Before that time, any manufactured EV has a pretty high opportunity cost compared to an ICE car. e.g. BMW still makes a such high margin (almost 10%) on ICE cars that selling unprofitable EV just does not make sense from a business standpoint.
And yet Tesla is always on the verge of shutting down due to lack of funds, so the gross margin doesn't tell the whole story...
Most of that difference was due to €3 billion in fines for lying about the level of toxic emissions of their Diesel engines.
Apparently they feel like that shouldn’t fully count against them in their annual report.  Maybe a company which has demonstrated it is willing to commit fraud to coverup its level of pollution shouldn’t be able to call the fines “one-time” charges, since the likelihood of recidivism is high.
VW shipped 10.8 million vehicles to Tesla’s 245k. So to be sure, Tesla is currently about 2% the size of VW.
 - https://annualreport2018.volkswagenag.com/
It _is_ difficult to put a battery and electric engines in a car and they've run into difficulties. Though it sounds like they're on their way to putting out a decent EV, and he thinks they and others will eventually catch up.
He also thinks Telsa will ultimately be killed by Chinese battery manufactures, which I thought was interesting.
In short: companies petrify around local optima given time.
For example, the gigfactory is the world largest car battery manufacturer by a factor of 2. That's a massive and slow investment any competitor needs to make to sell EVs in volume.
And making an EV is not trivial. Let's compare the Tesla model 3 and Nissan leaf 2, which are in the same price range:
- Tesla has better range.
- Tesla is the faster car.
- Tesla has much faster charging.
None of these things are revolutionary, but taken together it's clear to the consumer that Tesla is further ahead than the competition. I'm not going to buy a slower, less efficient car for the same amount of money.
- Tesla has a working fast charging infrastructure
- Tesla has the better AP
So depending on how you pick and choose the data you want to consider you can paint absolutely any picture you want.
What’s your personal take on why people would go for other new cars that don’t match even a 7 year old model but cost the same(ish)?
From whomever I talked, I hear the same: Tesla's engineering leaves mixed impressions.
One can say that the range is definitely good - Tesla scores very high in getting most range out of kw/h. But things like poor metalworking would be a recall worthy flaw for every other automaker.
For the interior, Model S feels way too American. Compare its interior and an actual luxury car, like a maxed out Benz S600.
Its engineering in overall is nothing groundbreaking, and saying that EVs are way more straightforward to engineer is true. Telsa just stands out as one EV maker that didn't make some "showstopper" omissions, unlike almost every other competitor.
Chinese and Japanese EVs are dead on arrival in US because most of them are really small for Americans... If an American buys an expensive car, it will most likely be a BIG car.
Poor driveabiliy chases other competitors. There are simply not so many makers with experience making 2.5t+ full sized sedans, nor compact car makers which can make a compact car suspension not to croak under 1.7t+ curb weight.
NIO for examples despite making a quite marketable SUV for China was delayed launch for 2 years because their first attempt at making SUV got so much bad reviews from test drivers, that they had to near completely redesign the body and suspension twice. Reportedly, after finding out that live axle is a completely inadequate for a 2t+ vehicle, and that unibody design can't handle the weight of a battery pack.
Leaf had both tiny battery, poor chemistry, and poor thermals.
Bolt - all bad things you normally expect from a US car maker other than Ford.
And so on.
All these flaws you talk about on other cars are not accidents. Everyone is running up against the same fundamental tradeoffs, and only one company has done the insane optimization of everything to get to the other side. It's not a matter of just deciding to do so. The nio example you mention for instance, Tesla famously was initially planning to use the lotus Elise body for the roadster, but ultimately had to redesign essentially every part to get to production, since the weight changes invalidated all the assumptions of the original.
Yes, they're not the best at every single thing. But producing the safest car ever for a newcomer is pretty nuts. Producing the most efficient electric car ever is pretty nuts. Producing the best OTA story ever is nuts. Producing the most advanced driver assist feature is pretty nuts. Doing all these things together requires explanation. It can't just be "oh, the others just made bad choices".
> It can't just be "oh, the others just made bad choices".
I'm afraid this is exactly what it is.
When the team works from a bigger setup of existing auto company, they will be held back on most expensive, but necessary design decisions.
In from-scratch EV companies, on other hand, lack of experience in everything else, and lack of manufacturing resources, is usually the origin of failure.
All big misses in EVs in recent years were conventional auto makers making silly stupid mistakes in electric drive trains, and "from scratch" EV makers making cars that are either unmanufacturable, or undriveable.
Air cooling alone can be fine if battery chemistry is stable enough (lifepo.)
Using a novel battery chemistry in production with highly controlled settings is also fine enough.
Parachuting "big name management specialists" into an engineering project mid-way, and putting novel chemistry battery into an assembly specially designed with LiFePO cells in mind to send a PR signal of how "sophisticated you are," is not fine at all, and is a recipe for disaster.
It's one thing to build a car in your garage by sourcing parts from around the world, and another to build 1M cars in a giant factory
Plus, the iPhone doesn't have to go through rigorous crash testing, pass environmental regulations, and deal with entrenched lobbies.
The automobile industry is over a hundred years old. There are deeply entrenched players, unions, etc. that Apple would never want to deal with. Besides, profit margins on cars tend to be crappy, at least for anything with any mass appeal
I think the reason is rather the immense popularity and hype around Tesla that makes it the number one choice for most people that have money and want an EV.
My parents just bought one in spite of having initially dismissed it as likely too expensive. Turned out to be perfectly competitive with everything that's comparable in range and features, and a much better user experience overall. We'll see how the service and reliability turns out, that's the only wildcard I can think of.
- "the driving experience is in a different league". In what way? I was surprised at how much I enjoy driving the leaf (except for very poor turning radius, which I can't quite understand). What's better in the Model 3?
- "doesn't require fifteen minutes of fiddling every time". What does that mean? I don't have trouble charging my Leaf. Is that something specific about the supercharger network (which isn't in Japan), or are you referring to something else?
The superchargers just work. Arrive, plug in, it's charging.
Other fast chargers are often much more cumbersome, requiring you to installing an app, registering an RFID tag, adding your credit card, etc. I've 6 different apps installed on my phone for different charging networks here in Norway, and 2-3 RFID tags in my car.
Many of them are also unstable, or have terrible UX and weird quirks. If you need to make a seven minute video to explain how to use it, you're doing it wrong..
It's getting better though, software is improving, growing pains handled. A future CCS revision (the most used charge plug in Europe) will include "plug&charge" with payment handled by the car - making it more super charger like.
The center of gravity for a tesla, regardless of model, is absurdly low. The end result of this is that driving one feels like the car's running on rails, even with the tightest turns. Couple that with the use of electric motors with instant torque (providing likely north of 750 hp/torque with the model S), you've got a car which gives you options.
You can race it around and drive like a jerk, sure. But even as a civilized driver, the capability to do almost anything with the car is an enabling factor.
Don't get me wrong; you can get this from a few other electric cars (the Jag i-Pace comes to mind). But that's probably the advantage the Model 3 has over others; it can maintain the driving dynamics/experience against competition a few Toyota Camrys more expensive.
Not being a car guy, it's hard to explain, sort of like the difference between Android and iOS, or even more uncannily, between iPhone 7 and iPhone X, which shouldn't feel so different but do. It's like there's many small details that are below the threshold of perception which come together to make it an overall pleasurable experience.
The Leaf is fun to drive. The Leaf 2 is also fun, both feel like completely ordinary cars. Perfectly good driving experience. Preferable to gasoline cars, I would say. But the Tesla 3 is even more fun to drive, and feels like a more luxurious and relaxed experience, with many annoyances that you didn't know you cared about, removed.
Just to list some that are obvious: Nissan are terrible at software and UX. The screen reacts slowly, with low FPS, does counterintuitive things and is confusing. The gear indicator light cannot be read in direct sunlight. The motor makes a high-frequency sound when accelerating, even from a standstill. The charge lid must be closed manually if you open it by mistake. The instrument panel is cluttered and unintentionally visually stressful, in the way almost all cars' are. Handling is subtly less pleasant in all conditions. Acceleration is not as powerful, and somehow feels less controlled and more jerky, even at low speeds.
Contrasting with the Tesla: Regenerative breaking when letting up the gas feels more subtle. Suspension feels less wobbly. The accelerator doesn't cause a jerking feeling unless you want it to. Can get you up to the required speed faster than you'll know how to make use of, unless you've deliberately practiced that kind of performance driving. The screen software is more intuitive. Has high FPS, reacts instantly. Visually much more peaceful, minimalistic, beautiful. Ditto for the interior design. Speed indicator manages to be at the exact correct spot in your field of view, somehow encouraging you to look out the front window more and keep attention on the road. The panoramic glass roof is just so peaceful if you stop somewhere to enjoy the scenery.
There's stuff to be annoyed at with the Tesla too, there's room for improvement many places. The collision avoidance warnings in particular felt too loose to me, and the sometimes-inconsistent placement and interpretation of the traffic around you on the display doesn't inspire confidence wrt. self-driving. (Although, the fact that it's there at all is pretty cool though, it's fascinating to see the streaming output of a neural network vision system in a real product. It's obvious that Tesla is building this system from real-world usage data and the progress will be fascinating to follow).
Overall, it's a much more pleasant experience, IMHO. I recommend you get a couple of hours to test-drive and see if you agree, or if I'm just caught up with a weird case of the fanboyism.
pi-rat explained my comments about charging while on the road better than I could. The key point is terrible and inconsistent user experience among other vendors. And I've seen examples of people plain being unable to charge at the single charger that's available. Not a fun thing to worry about when 40 miles from home at low battery.
A couple of quick points: the high pitched whine of the Leaf is actually a recording. It's legal requirement of all electric vehicles in Japan. All Japanese cars have exactly the same sound when accelerating, no matter what the make or model.
I've never had any trouble with the gear indicator light. But then, there are only 2 gears :-) Forward and Backward (and it beeps when you are going backward), so I'm not sure I've ever looked. I've also never had any of the problems that you describe with the navigation screen. However, I'm pretty sure that the Japanese version of the software is totally different. I've seen videos of US versions of the navigation unit and I don't recognise it at all. It seems a shame. The biggest problem I have with the Japanese software is that adding way-points to your journey is insanely confusing. But other than that, I don't have any complaints at all. Especially, I have never noticed any issues with FPS.
The charging infrastructure in Japan is all controlled by Nissan and Mitsubishi (joint venture) and it is incredibly good. There are none of the issue that it sounds like exist in the US. Controlling the charging infrastructure seems like it's going to be a very important battleground, so Tesla seems to definitely have the upper hand there. I'm curious to see what Toyota does when they roll out their all EV cars (which should be soon, I think... possibly at the end of this year???)
(Guess which one has a car industry)
You hear that a lot and yet the second someone poses the hypothetical question of whether everything should be taxed according to its actual “carbon lifecycle”# (and perhaps even beyond carbon) you usually get a “weelll... buuuuttt...”.
#That [whatever] that came on the most polluting cargo ship humans could build? Add $xxx to the price tag.
This is effectively a very heavy tax to "save the planet", which won't have much of an effect (Norway is too small to have any impact on global CO2 emissions), except for Norwegians having to work more in order to pay off this tax.
2. no VAT on electric cars
3. average income of $3500 in Oslo, one of the highest in the EU
4. total population of 5 million, less than Denmark, less than the city of Hong Kong
considering these facts i would say it is a bit surprising they didn't sell more than they did. but still great to see those number.
On point 4: what does the population have to do with it? If they had a population of 50 million, would that negate points 1-3 in some way? Another way of describing their population might be, "roughly the same size as the average US state".
From other sources, it appears that the VW Transporter/Caravelle and the VW Caddy both sell in volumes that would put them in the middle of the list. So there may be a difference in how light vehicles are classified between the US and Norway. https://www.statista.com/statistics/731767/number-of-sold-va...
Not ridiculous at all when thinking of the environment or having cars that are friendly towards cyclists and pedestrians.
This taxation is why European cars gets so much better mileage than US cars.
At that point they'll definitely reinstate VAT for electric cars, and possibly levy a tax on public chargers based on how much electricity you use.
They know that oil is not going to make their country rich forever.
Electricity is slightly cheaper than some other European countries but that is changing as more and more HVDC interconnects are built and the prices are affected by the market.
That will make a huge difference if marketed right.
My power company has a GraphQL API where I can read my current consumption (5 second resolution), they also offer up the current price, including an indicator of the price level compared to how they see the rest of the day (CHEAP, NORMAL, EXPENSIVE).
All houses/apartments in Norway got new smart power meters installed the last couple of years. They standardized on a data interface (a bus you can connect to using a RJ45 plug), so you can access your own data if you don't want to go via your power companies API.
There are EV chargers and other appliances (Heat pumps/ACs) that can react to this price indicator, charging your car when power is cheapest.
It will also load balance based on how much the rest of your house is using, they're moving towards an "wattage" fee here, to avoid massive loads at peak hours. If you get near the limit, the car charger can slow down.
Here's some images of what their app gives me.
It's easy to pull their data into home automation systems, here's mine.
You can do pretty smart stuff like: Charge my car when it's cheap, but it must be ready by 07:00.
Public parking garages with hundreds of chargers install battery banks to even out the load. See a video tour of one of them.
People also overlook the costs of refining petrol and getting it distributed preferring to stress out about how on earth are we going to charge every car. This latter point is quite simple albeit requiring infrastructure. Lamp-posts are charging points in the making as are car parks. We dug up the roads to put in broadband internet quite recently, it is for the politicians to rig the market for EV cars and charge points so that there is a similar roll out.
That's one of the great things about electric cars in Norway - you're actually going to get electricity from renewable sources.
This is true in a way, but only part of the picture. While virtually all the electricity that is produced in Norway does come from renewable sources, Norwegian energy producers sell a lot of their “guarantees of origin” to energy companies in other European countries, who are then in turn allowed to market their energy as renewable. You can think of these as a kind of “virtual export”: Norway sells its energy to the rest of the continent and receives the “European Attribute Mix” in return. Since it would be pointless and inefficient to physically transfer this energy, virtual certificates are traded instead.
Because of this, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate declares the energy consumed in Norway as being 58% fossil, 33% nuclear, and only 9% renewable, but Norwegian politicians and energy companies tend to forget this and prefer to emphasise the point that 98% of all energy produced in the country is renewable. Both claims are true, but somewhere someone is getting screwed over.
 https://www.nve.no/energiforsyning/varedeklarasjon/nasjonal-... (in Norwegian)
However they are now built and there is still plenty of capacity so there have been no new major ones built for a long time.
There are some smaller privately owned ones being built but not on a big scale.
Norway uses a lot of electricity even without EVs, so it's not a very large increase percentage wise. E.g. we don't have gas pipes to homes like some places in the USA, so stoves are all electric and a lot of heating is electric as well.
As for nuclear, the US and Europe have been unable to build plants that do not go 3x+ over budget and time.
Plus, as a Model 3 owner, it's really great car.
Perhaps in an ideal world, pushing demand for electrical power is how we would get to investing in clean electricity generation.