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Tesla Model 3 represented over 15% of September new car sales in The Netherlands (cleantechnica.com)
337 points by HNLurker2 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 335 comments





Tesla is almost 25% of the sales in Norway. Counting Tesla's on the road has started to become a bit silly.

Just walking up to my local grocery story in Oslo, I may see 6-7 Tesla's on that short walk. I only realize how abnormal that is when it is when I travel abroad. Spent several days in London and didn't see a single Tesla.

Spent a week in Spain and didn't even see an electric car at all. In Norway there are Leafs, BMW i3, e-Golf, Teslas, Ionic, you name it going around all the time.

What is interesting to observe is how it just accelerates. The more normal it gets to drive electric the more people jump onboard. A lot of people are reluctant to try something entirely different. But then they drive in their friends electric car or sit in an electric cab etc and it all starts to look really normal.


That’s no surprise, since Norwegian government heavily penalizes ICE vehicles, and advantages the electric cars. No VAT, no CO2 tax, and lots of other incentives are involved.

If your goal is to upgrade your country’s vehicle fleet to electric, then Norway is a good example that with enough government spending it can happen. Don’t mistake it for “normal people jumping onboard electric train”, though, they are jumping onboard tax incentives train.


Model 3 appears to be the #6 best selling car in USA last quarter* and I don't believe there is much of any USA tax incentive anymore.

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/10/06/tesla-model-3-6th-best-...


Keep in mind that the best selling passenger vehicles are not called "car" in the US statistics, but "light trucks". The number of light trucks sold in September 2019 is almost three times the number of "passenger cars".

https://www.marklines.com/en/statistics/flash_sales/salesfig...


That really reinforces the root comment's point about fashions in vehicle choice / driving what everyone else does being the 'safe option'. The countries most similar in culture and affluence to the US don't seem to buy those passenger utility vehicles and passenger cars in nearly the same proportions, so fashion looks like a big part of vehicle choice.

There are two things that drive the popularity of small SUVs/Crossovers in the US. First, gas is cheap: $2.50 a gallon vs ~$5.50 a gallon in the EU. One can get the benefit of more space and safety without paying an energy penalty. Second, the average household size is 3.1 in the US vs 2.3 in the EU. 22% of US households have 4 or more people. There is a demand for larger cars to carry more people.

gas is not $2.50/ga everywhere. in california it’s around $5/ga atm. i think the big difference is how spread out things are in the US vs EU. in the EU i may very well be able to go on a road trip in a electric vehicle. in the US, given how few charging stations there are this isn’t really possible.

how come americans have much bigger families than europeans? is it due to a higher immigration % of the general population or do "native" americans have more children than europeans?

I was under the impression children per woman correlates pretty well to economic development.


Does it?

In Canada [1] -- looks like about 3 out of the top 10 models are "passenger cars".

In Australia [2] - it's the same thing. 3 out of 10 are passenger cars (and both have a top 2 being a pickup - although the .au spread isn't as wide as .ca)


Looking at models doesn't shed too much light, because some categories have their sales more concentrated across a few models than others. The post I was responding to used "The number of light trucks sold in September 2019 is almost three times the number of 'passenger cars'."

For Australia the same figure was 2.4 times ( https://www.caradvice.com.au/797477/vfacts-september-2019/ ) and 2.1 times in August - though this is only a recent change in the Australian market (passenger car sales being down considerably in 2019 versus 2018).

But yeah, the difference isn't as much as I thought it was, primarily because I didn't realise until looking into it now that crossover SUVs like RAV4s and CX-5s are considered 'light trucks' in those US figures.


I can't find the right reference, but I remember that such "light trucks" (e.g. Ford F150) enjoy a different tax and tariff compared to cars, and that's why several car companies have pushed them to the market.

It's not just F150's and other "real" trucks. Car based platforms make up the bulk of SUVs now. They are only trucks in name for the purpose of gaming fuel economy regulations. The PT Cruiser was among the first to start this trend.

The tariff is on foreign imports, which results in domestic trucks being privileged over foreign ones. It has nothing to do with customers choosing light trucks over cars, and if anything, it should rather incentivize customers buying cars over trucks, as there's more competition there, and so presumably lower prices.

Tesla is heading that direction too with Model Y coming out next year and the truck they are expected to announce in November. This will be interesting to watch.

That's sedans (a small and shrinking portion of the auto market), not vehicles. If you count passenger vehicles, the Model 3 is #27 YTD.

It's cars, not sedans.

Trucks have taken over US passenger vehicles. With consequence for pedestrian safety, parking spaces, space between vehicles on the road, and fuel consumption.


$1850 federal tax incentive, $1500 in my state. It doesn’t close the cost gap with ICE, but it sure is nice.

Note that every other auto manufacturers has multiple models that they offer in the 'upper-middle-range sedan' price range.

Tesla offers one. Of course its per-model numbers are going to be higher, compared to its marketshare.


An equivalent perspective would be that their marketshare will increase significantly when they introduce more models. An "SUV" (crossover) and a pickup.

They already have an SUV. Its called the Model X.

1. Model X sales aren't great, compared to SUV vs sedan sales for other manufactuers.

2. Other manufacturers have multiple mid-range sedan models. Honda has the Civic, the Insight, the Accord, the Clarity, and the Fit hatchback. Their sales are being split across five different low-mid-range models. Tesla has one. Toyota has the Yaris, the Corolla, the Prius, the Camry, the Avalon, and if you're some kind of lunatic, who for some insane reason wants a hydrogen fuel cell car, the Mirai. Again, for other auto manufacturers, sales in the same price/specs/form factor are split across five different models.

3. There's no reason to believe that five different Tesla sedan models are going to lead to anywhere close to 5x the demand. I mean, maybe if 4 of them are ICEs...


Model X sales are good compared to other luxury SUVs.

The idea that Tesla would be better off introducing ICEs is just insane. A quick way to bankruptcy (like all those other new domestic car makers who tried to start up the last ~100 years). People want the long-range, properly engineered EVs that Tesla makes. But I do realize you’re trolling.


Also, price of gas is 2.5x higher in Norway than somewhere like the USA.

If you're in the USA and fill your tank once a week, you probably spend ~$2000/yr in gas. And that's how much you'd save in gas if you went electric.

In areas with higher fuel prices, the incentive is proportionally larger.

(That's ignoring the cost of paying your electric bill, not sure if that changes the math much..)


>If you're in the USA and fill your tank once a week, you probably spend ~$2000/yr in gas. And that's how much you'd save in gas if you went electric.

The electric bill makes a big difference, because you're really looking at the relative cost of two different forms of energy -- electrical and chemical (fuel). The last time I calculated it, the cost of running an ICE was around 20% more expensive (in my area) than a BEV, but a PHEV was within a percent or so of owning a BEV.

I'm curious to know what percentage of EV owners in Norway have a second car. I'd imagine the uptake rate for families that can afford to own more than one vehicle is significantly higher than for those that can't, but I've never seen any stats on the matter. The reality is that for most people, a car is the second largest purchase they'll ever make (if not the largest), so utility has to be high on the list of priorities. I'm not entirely convinced EVs have the utility to overtake ICE vehicles just yet, especially when incentives are removed.


Anecdotally, thousands of Norwegians have a Tesla as their only car. The Supercharger network makes long trips completely painless, practically equivalent with an ICE vehicle.

I've never understood the range complaints beyond 400km. As long as your car can drive 130km/h or faster it is suitable for a road trip.

It is almost impossible to repair the damage that CO2 emissions cause. You need an even bigger clean energy source to reverse the damage so it is always more efficient to use that energy to never cause emissions in the first place. EVs are a way to reduce emissions at the cost of waiting for them to charge during road trips. But for some stupid inexplicable reason no one actually wants that trade off.


People will adapt. For most people, it's not an inconvenience to stop for 15-20 minutes every four hours on a road trip. They'd have stopped at those intervals anyway, unless they're running military discipline in their driving routine.

Market forces ensure that charging spots will be located in spots where people want to stop and spend money on food, drinks, bathroom breaks. This is what already happens with Tesla's charging network.

These habits will change once people organically get to experience the better driving experience that a properly engineered EV gives.


Apparently average price per gallon in Norway is $7.06[1]. Today, I paid $2.42 for gas in rural Illinois. So 3x, but I also pay less for electricity in general, so idk if it pays off.

I probably spend around $1500/year on gas with my 17-25mpg Jeep.

Honestly, Tesla really still can’t compete with the fact I have to haul stuff and drive a few hundred miles. so not an option for me anyway.

[1] https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/Norway/gasoline_prices/


It's amazing to me as an American how little need Europeans have for large American-style vehicles. I see Audi station wagons in Switzerland pulling horse trailers (with horses in them), doing 100mph on the freeway. In the US, anyone who pulls a horse trailer once a year would have a dualie diesel HD3500 with exhaust stacks, as their daily driver.

Warning: somewhat off topic comment to follow.

I've noticed reverse anecdotal evidence when I saw cars with ridiculous 6.5l engines in the US and Canada. It's amazing to me with my western European background how energy inefficient the US and Canada are per USD of GDP.[0][1]

It must be so much harder as an individual to make energy saving choices in an environment where those are an afterthought.

[0] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.KD.GD [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_ratio_of_...


Both in trash and energy. We consume a ton per capita.

I'm still mildly ok with that. But what really gets me is the same dualie diesel with a single occupant and an empty bed towing absolutely nothing.

> (That's ignoring the cost of paying your electric bill, not sure if that changes the math much..)

If we ignore the cost of gas, it'll also change the math...

Needless to say, need to include all costs for a fair comparison. A few years ago when my wife had a Fiat 500e and I was commuting on a 1988 Honda CRX (~40 mpg). The energy cost was higher for the Fiat than the Honda at the time. (Electricity is very expensive in CA). Gas has gone up lately (but then, so has PG&E), I haven't run the numbers in recent years. Might be a wash now.

Gas an electricity prices vary widely so do the math for your area, but don't ignore any costs.


PGE EV-A rate plan has been $0.13/kWh. Fiat 500e gets about 4 mi/kWh, so about $0.0325 per mile. Assuming gas price over that period averaged $2.50, then at 40mpg gas cost $0.0625 per mile. Which looks like twice as much, not nearly the same.

I’m also in CA, and I ran the numbers on my plug-in C-MAX. It is roughly a wash (and the gas mileage is pretty unimpressive, at 35 MPG). It’s convenient to never have to go to the gas station (we average 110 MPG overall), but it’s sad that there’s no savings/incentive to actually be on electric with this vehicle).

It could be different for other vehicles that are more efficient (don’t have ICE components to lug around), or for people with their own solar charging.


Here in the Netherlands electricity is 25 cents per kWh and up to 59 cents per kWh for a fast charger next to the highway, if you don't have a subscription with them. Some chargers also have a starting cost and/or parking fees included. The 59 cents is close to what a fuel efficient diesel costs.

In the future you will only get 8 cents per kWh for what your solar panels generate and put back into the grid. At that point charging your car will be a very good proposition, because you are practically filling it with 8 cents per kWh.


It depends on what price you pay for Electricity, but paying for the electricity is more than half as cheap as paying for gas. Plus in the US there are so many free chargers, I just charge my car at the office.

I have a suspicion that as electric cars become more common, free chargers will become less so. Providing free chargers (i.e. subsidizing people's driving expenses) may be great PR for businesses, municipalities, etc., as long as there are relatively few people using them, but will not be sustainable as demand increases.

And as more people shift from ICE-powered vehicles to electric ones, it seems likely that some of the taxes currently imposed on gasoline may end up applying to electric charging as well, as governments will need to maintain the revenue somehow.


One counterbalancing force is renewables and using cars as part of demand response.

If solar energy that would otherwise go to waste can be stored in cars, then that reduces the chance the car will need charged at another time and save the utility money.

I can imagine plugs that you connect to for free when parked, that only give you as much power as they want but that will also let you buy express power when absolutely required via an app.


> I have a suspicion that as electric cars become more common, free chargers will become less so. (Free charging) will not be sustainable as demand increases.

For "superchargers" and other fast charging, I agree.

But slower L2 entry-level chargers are so cheap, and electricity so cheap, I don't see free charging going away entirely. Already in Michigan, it's cheaper to just give away free L2 charging to anyone who wants it, than it costs to keep the lot clear of snow in the winter.

I suspect slow charging will become similar to Salt / Sugar packets in restaurants. Free basically anywhere that abuse or insane land costs aren't a problem (so free basically everywhere except major cities)


Yup. And equivalent to providing free parking. You have a captive audience, and the price isn't high. Any time I use one of those "free" level 2 chargers, I always buy something where it's possible to do so. You're only talking like one or two dollars worth of electricity (I think people who don't have electric cars don't realize this), and then only if I stay an hour or three.

If I could seemlessly pay about 120% of my residential rate to slow charge, I would for convenience sake alone. But no one has really figured this out, yet.


> You're only talking like one or two dollars worth of electricity (I think people who don't have electric cars don't realize this),

Yeah, I get the impression a lot of people don't really know what electricity costs. Like, they know what their monthly utility bill is, but they probably don't know what that bill was really for, in any measurable units.

If someone (for example), charges at a L2 charger @ 3.3kw at a restaurant for an hour, in the state of Michigan, they've used up about 53 cents worth of electricity. That's all the restaurant paid for that electricity. For that 53 cents, their car probably got an extra 10 to 13 miles of range.


Right. The cost of the electricity for L2 charging is much less than the fully burdened price of providing free parking (or using the bathroom, etc).

Taking a Chevrolet Bolt on a road trip, we look for places with L2/L3 chargers when we stop for a meal, quick shopping trip, etc. Simply having the charger there makes us choose those businesses over others. We alter our routes based on the charging network.

Plenty of places already charge an equivalent to gas taxes for electric vehicles. In my US state, it's paid with your yearly registration.

My city initially gave away free charging to lower air pollution, which wasn't on your list of reasons. 6 years after that start, they've started charging.


Yeah, I pay over double to the state for my electric car in extra EV taxes than I would for state gas taxes. It's actually punitive for EV owners (ostensibly because they're "rich," but I bought mine used and am definitely not rich).

Yea, so the cost of electricity is 25c/kWh (NYC). 3 miles per kWh or 0.08 per mile (not including charging efficiency).

City: 20 miles per gallon ($2.75/gal) or 0.13 per mile Highway: 30mpg or 0.09c. Hybrid: 40mpg or 0.07c.

Tesla is too expensive for a very little benefit, smaller EVs have tiny range. Hybrids would be cheaper than a Tesla.


I had no idea electricity was so expensive in NYC. Also, I think 3 miles per kWh is a bit pessimistic. Lifetime average for my Model 3 is 260 Wh/mi, which works out to 3.8 mi/kWh. Given Colorado's ~$0.11/kWh, it all works out to just under $0.03/mi which looks a lot more favorable against the other options. It's still a heckin' expensive car though.

I pay the same rate, but if I switched to peak charging rates, I can pay only $.025/kWh for most of the day. And then $.25/kWh during a few peak hours. Making a Tesla a lot cheaper to drive.

In Norway, I generally count about 0.2 NOK (€0.02) pr km for my model X and about 0.15 NOK/km for my Vw e-up.

The same prices for dino juice in my quite efficient toyota avensis and current fuel prices was about 0.7-0.8 NOK/km. That car is now sold and will never be missed.

The savings are huge, especially if you drive a lot.


>Yea, so the cost of electricity is 25c/kWh (NYC)

Is that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?


That's the same rate from ConEd. It's actually more like like 27c or 28c. 9c for electricity, 13c or more for delivery and rest taxes. I paid $370 for like 1350kwh last July, I switched to solar last August and that will pay itself in about 5 years.

There are TOU rates, but there are from 8am to midnight.


Charging overnight is how to take advantage of TOU rates. Fortunately electric cars support charging schedules.

Hybrids are being phased out (as Chevy did with the Volt).

Prius are doing just fine, so are Honda hybrids, especially plug-ins

Prius sales have dropped off a cliff. Sales are down six years in a row. Peak sales were 236,000 in 2012, and just 87,000 last year.

Part of that is that there's a lot more hybrid competition for the Prius than there used to be.


Toyota has sold over 10 million hybrid vehicles in the last 20 years:

https://global.toyota/en/detail/14940871

But I bet they're crying all the way to the bank.


Chevy Bolt has very workable range. ~230 EPA

How much do they offer?

I've seen estimates that over its lifetime an EV purchased in America saves society about $20,000. Though at least one component of that will be higher in Norway as their grid is so clean that it'll be even better on health impacts.

I'm not sure that a society continuously voting for sane, reality-based economic policies over a few decades is different from "normal people jumping on board the electric train" if that's where they end up. Who else should they "blame" for this sensible and rational policy if not themselves?


The Norwegian government has support for its EV policies from the 'normal people' who voted it in.

Every poll I've seen across a range of countries shows strong interest in and support for the transtion to EVs. Sometimes the national governments ignore this support (e.g. in my own country of Australia) but I'm not aware of any country where the government is ahead of interest and support from 'normal people', including Norway.


It's a car, and an expensive one. Very few people would base their decision only on the tax incentives.

I don’t think you realize how much cars cost in Norway the country has an effective tax rate on cars that is over 100%.

A new Ford Focus with all taxes and fees will cost you around $50,000, the base model without fees alone starts at around $35,000 (320,000 NOK).

That’s a $12-13K car in the US, a Tesla on the otherhand might cost you even lower than the US sticker price under some circumstances, especially on the officially refurbished ones.

Add other benefits on top of that and the fact that petrol in Norway costs $7 per gallon, money is the pretty much the only reason why people buy Tesla’s and other EVs at such high rates in Norway.


To contrast this with Sweden, another heavily taxed country, we bought a new Mazda 6 Wagon in 2016 and it cost us 313000 SEK (~289000 NOK), fully loaded with all the trimmings and an extra set of winter tyres on rims to boot.

Car prices in Norway are crazy high.


The 2018 Focus had a starting MSRP around $17.5k. I'm not really sure what they actually listed for at dealerships and I'm having a hard time finding info on the 2019 Focus being sold in the US. But, yeah obviously this is a much less expensive car in the US. $50k for a compact is ridiculous.

The Focus isn’t considered a compact car in countries like Denmark, where it’s priced similarly to Norway. The Focus is a midsize car.

In Norway every single person buying a new car makes the decision based on tax incentives to a large extent.

As a (fellow?) Norwegian, I beg to differ. Some of us thinks electric cars are both great cars and environmentally friendly, and make buying decisions based on those two.

All I’m saying is that no Norwegian (or anyone else) ignores price in a purchase decision, and the one time fees for cars in Norway are so large that no one can ignore them. Those that are inclined to purchase a hybrid or EV isn’t exactly going to be discouraged by the tax/fee rebates.

The Norway new car tax is above 100% for ICEs. So you can either buy a 30k ICE or 60k Tesla (which is taxed 0%), and get a lot more value for your money - in addition to that you have free parking in the cities too for electrics.

Having someone else to pay for a large part of your purchase is a very powerful initiative.

Yes, being allowed to dump a massive externality onto others does make cars quite a bit cheaper than if you had to pay their full cost. That's true for all cars, of course, though more for some than others.

Well, price also holds people back. An entry level Tesla with autopilot is still north of $40k after taxes (even with the break).

Average price of a new car in the US is $37k. 17 million new cars a year sold in the US. Price isn’t as big of an issue as it’s made to be. If you can’t afford a Tesla, you probably should only be looking at affordable used cars anyway (like a Toyota or Honda for $10k-$20k).

Kinda. People in the US spending that much money on a car are more likely to be buying larger utility vehicles (SUV's and CUV's).

So price does indeed become an issue because they're different buying segments. People shopping for the larger vehicles tend to be buying them because of greater usability and comfort for driver and passengers.

The Model 3 sits firmly in the compact sedan segment, something entirely different. The people buying those are either looking for pure economy while not having the issues of a used car (in which case starting price is around $20,000), or they're buying in the luxury car segment which is where the M3 is, meaning it's no different then buying an Audi A3.


Different strokes I guess.

For me it’s the utility factor. I can get a well equipped, 4 door Tacoma for $32k. That’s a hell of a lot more useful to me than a $40k Tesla. Perhaps if Tesla had a small sized pickup for less than $45k I’d give it a look, but their lower-end options just aren’t that attractive.

When you’re looking at a vehicle that’s the size of a civic, that isn’t a fun sports car, I just don’t see how the average American can justify it. I’m not exactly sure who Tesla Model 3 is supposed to be competing with. It’s not cheap enough to compete with Honda, Toyota, etc. and it’s not expensive enough to compete with luxury brands like Mercedes, Lexus, etc.


Most Americans don't need a pickup truck (I know, the horror of such a statement). If you value the added utility, different strokes. Tesla is pulling sales from entry level models produced by luxury manufacturers, but also pulling sales from people who would've traditionally paid less for a non luxury vehicle. My brother badly wanted a 4Runner until I let him borrow my Model S for a week. He then decided he couldn't live with anything other than a Model 3 or S.

I expect Tesla sales to increase further with the introduction of the Y crossover built on the 3 platform.


If you don't have an SUV or pickup truck, how would people know that you have an active lifestyle?

Different flexes for different folks.

That’s the average but what’s the median? The long tail on new car prices crosses multiple orders of magnitude.

Looks like for light vehicles it’s bimodal, with peaks at both $28k and $40k: https://www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/articles/fact-989-augus...

All teslas come with Autopilot I believe

Also they might last longer than a badly built ICE car, so over time the ratio will become even more skewed towards electric cars.

I've seen quite a lot of electric cars in Barcelona this summer. Mostly Teslas, BMW i3s, and some Renaults with the plug hidden behind the front logo. The main street, the Diagonal, has charging stations, and often I saw plugged-in cars charging there.

Go to the Bay Area California.

That said, never saw a Telsa in snow.


In all honesty, it only sells well because of the tax benefits. Do the actual math and then figure out how many people would then buy and use it. Likely not a lot.

I live in an apartment complex in Berlin. We have a parking garage that belongs to the complex. Unfortunately the housing company does not allow installation of a wallbox in the garage, even if I paid for it myself. The housing company is owned by the municipality. Large-scale adoption of electric cars is unrealistic when the majority of people have nowhere to charge it.

I was told I couldn't use the 110 volt plug in my parking spot in my condo building. I live in a city with hydro electric that is very environmentally conscious. I emailed the property manager that the local newspaper would probably be interested in the story of them blocking the adoption of clean cars, they quickly changed their tune and now I plug my Tesla in and pay the strata council $30 / month. You might be able to try something similar, or find a government elected official in your area who is pro environment to go to bat for you.

Well done!

Anecdotally, around 40% of the electricity in Germany was generated from coal in 2018, but in january 2019, a group of federal and state leaders as well as industry representatives, environmentalists, and scientists made an agreement to close all 84 coal plants in the country by 2038.[1]

Just as in many other parts of the world, expanding electrical consumption through electric vehicles does not make sense if we also don't actively decrease our dependency on fossil fuel.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Germany#Coal_power


It actually does make sense to burn coal (or oil) in power stations to power electric vehicles.

You'd have to have a very dirty grid and keep it dirty for decades for it to be a bad idea, and in that case you have bigger problems and it's not the EVs at fault.

https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles

> Even when the electricity comes from the dirtiest coal-dominated grid, electric vehicles (EVs) still produce less global warming pollution than their conventional counterparts, and with fewer tailpipe emissions (or none at all).

That quote is based on US grids but the general point holds worldwide.


A dirty grid just means the electric car needs to be kept in service a little longer to be greener than an ICE car, but it's still well within the lifetime of the vehicle. It's [roughly, from memory] service life of 12-18 months for a clean grid, and around 5 years for a dirty grid. The above is about how quickly the lower CO2 per mile of an EV offsets the CO2 required to build the car (which mostly means building the battery). Even with a dirty grid, EVs produce much less CO2 per mile than ICE.

Isn't running an internal combustion engine in a car still substantially less efficient than the power plant necessary to charge it, regardless of the fuel?

Not just that, ICE cars emit their shitty exhaust right where lots of people live. Things are generally more complex than breaking it down to a single CO2 number make it appear, and I'm a bit uneasy that recent trend.

CO2 emissions are of particular concern right now (and honestly should have been for the past 40 years), so it makes sense that they get a lot of attention. But you're absolutely right that it's not the only kind of pollution, and the others shouldn't be ignored either.

Despite there being 7 billion of us, we seem to struggle with paying attention to more than one problem at a time.


Also very dangerous particles go airborne from the use of brake pads. EVs (and hybrids) use mostly regenerative braking, and release almost no such pollution.

You make a good point about brake pads but EVs still release particles from tyre wear, although there is active research on tyres that reduce that source of pollution too.

It would be a bit much to expect them to not pollute at all, but if they pollute significantly less, that's still a major win.

It's the ICE vehicle industry that's spreading this narrative. It's only a result of lobbying.

Gasoline burns very cleanly in modern (that is, <10 years) vehicles, with little to no emissions other than CO2, and most importantly, no particulate pollution. Particulate pollution is much worse for diesel vehicles, though.

Compared to those two, though, coal power plants are dirty as hell, and I’d take equivalent amount of car emissions to generate the same power over coal any day.


I code at a hospital, which is in a poor neighborhood. The garbage exhaust on my walk in to work from cheap old cars is unbelievable, to say nothing of 18 wheelers and huge trucks rolling through this poor neighboring neighborhood all day. Kids living there are straight up taking lung and brain damage from that exhaust. So it does grind my gears when people talk about coal EVs being dirtier, they just dont think of poor minority kids who bear the brunt of local city emissions of dirty ICE and diesel.

Also when it's cold outside the "clean" engines are really dirty as the catalytic converter do almost nothing at low temperatures.

"One of its biggest shortcomings is that it only works at a fairly high temperature. When you start your car cold, the catalytic converter does almost nothing to reduce the pollution in your exhaust." [1]

And when it's cold the car usually starts at someone home around where other people live and that's where the pollution ends up.

For diesel engines that operate at lower temperatures this is even worse.

[1] https://auto.howstuffworks.com/catalytic-converter3.htm


Trucks running dirty diesel aren’t really the same thing as a modern gasoline car.

Particulate pollution from highways and major roads is definitely a real issue and there have been studies done showing a lot of health problems result from living 250-500m or closer to such a road.

But if we’re talking about a modern emissions-compliant gas/petrol ICE vs a coal power plant I’m not sure how that shakes out. Coal power emissions are estimated to have massive health effects that affect millions as well.

(Of course, best solution is electric car powered by nat gas, nuclear, or renewables which don’t emit particulates at all...)


No, the same is true of coal plants. There are modern coal plants that burn much more cleanly than old coal plants.

Not that I want to argue in favour of coal plants; we still need to get rid of them just for the CO2. Same goes for ICEs.


Why can I smell those clean cars then?

ICE engines are around 20% efficiency I think, while e.g. a gas turbine in a power plant is around 60%. Very little efficiency is lost in transmission cables and in the electric motor, so it is definitely a lot more efficient to use electric cars as a way of burning fossil fuels.

Not to mention that coal plants and gas power plants can be changed to burn biomass or do gasification of biomass. That allows us to avoid fossil fuels entirely. You cannot easily run an internal combustion engine on biomass.

Sure you can produce ethanol or biodiesel from plants, but that is not as attractive as gasifying wood pellet. In particular because the latter does not compete with agricultural land.


”Very little efficiency is lost in transmission cables and in the electric motor”

It’s not that clear-cut. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car_energy_efficiency:

”Taking the conversion factor of 2.58 in France into account (see Embodied energy#Electricity), we would find an efficiency of about 0.5/2.58 or 19 %, which corresponds to the order of magnitude of the balance of the combustion vehicles, according to the diagram of the Department of energy (where the efficiency of combustion vehicles is less than 20%). By the way, according to the French energy agency (ADEME), the primary energy consumption of electric vehicles and combustion-powered ones would be approximately equivalent”

I think that even ignores the higher weight of electric cars. Because of that, I think it’s better for the world to buy a small ICE than to buy a Tesla (for the local environment, things are different)


The French electric grid is predominantly nuclear, so whatever the transmission losses, the EV will be near zero CO2 output.

Nuclear is how you spell winning in French. Clean green limitless power.

Until it fails and the surrounding environment and people are destroyed for generations.

That's why they're building ITER.

You also have to consider the efficiency of the battery of an electric vehicle, though it may well still turn out to be more efficient as you claim.

About 30% less efficient

I believe in terms of mass by mass yes, it might even be true for hybrids.

But (I suspect) it's still better to burn gasoline than coal.


That may well be so, but my conviction is that we need to substantially reduce carbon emissions across the board, and if that's true I don't think replacing gasoline cars with coal powered electricity plants makes a lot of sense, unless maybe the CO2 is captured and stored, but at that point you might as well go nuclear (which I am a proponent of, as the only realistic alternative at this point).

Internal combustion engines pollute the air where I'm living. Moving pollution away from residential areas is a worthwhile task in itself. That makes a lot of sense to me.

I live in a densely populated country. Even a relatively minor accident at a nuclear facility would trigger a huge evacuation (I've seen the disaster control plans), causing major economic harm. Also my country does not have any viable means to store nuclear waste responsibly. Nuclear does not look like the sane option here.


fjfaase, your statement "An electrical car produces almost as much fine dust particles as an internal combustion engine" is very surprising and not at all what I would expect.

Can you cite any sources for that or explain it a bit more?

Aside from particulate matter in exhaust, regenerative braking doesn't produce dust like friction braking does, thus I'd expect electric cars to produce much less dust than ICE vehicles.


Rubber tyres on asphalt produce a fair bit of very fine particulate matter, and are currently ubiquitous in vehicles - I imagine this is what fjfaase was referring to.

That said, the contribution is tiny - on the order of 2.5% of total roadside PM10.

https://res.mdpi.com/d_attachment/atmosphere/atmosphere-10-0...


>Also my country does not have any viable means to store nuclear waste responsibly.

I don’t think you realize how little there is to deal with. It could easily be exported to a competent country.

It’s shocking how people are willing to effectively endorse burning fossil fuels for base load to destroy the environment over the next 50 years because of something that might be a problem in a few thousand years.


An electrical car produces almost as much fine dust particles as an internal combustion engine. Thus in that respect they are as poluting. The CO2 and NOx combustion engines produces are not that dangerous to our health. Soot, mainly produced by heavy diesel engines, is also a dangerous form of polution, but most trucks should have filters for those by now.

> An electrical car produces almost as much fine dust particles as an internal combustion engine.

This is utter nonsense. Electric vehicles have no direct emissions, including no direct emissions of fine dust. You are confusing this with emissions during production. My point is about emissions at the location of a car's use.

> The CO2 and NOx combustion engines produces are not that dangerous to our health.

If this was true, there would have been no diesel scandal at all. However, car exhaust is indeed very dangerous to your health, especially if you live next to heavy traffic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOx#Health_and_environment_eff...

> Soot, mainly produced by heavy diesel engines, is also a dangerous form of polution, but most trucks should have filters for those by now.

They should, but reality is different

- https://www.spiegel.de/auto/aktuell/abgasskandal-manipuliert...

- https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/doc/2017/wp29/WP.2...


> Electric vehicles have no direct emissions, including no direct emissions of fine dust.

QUOTE

Traffic related particles can be distinguished into: exhaust traffic related particles, which are emitted as a result of incomplete fuel combustion and lubricant volatilization during the combustion procedure, and nonexhaust traffic related particles, which are either generated from non-exhaust traffic related sources such as brake, tyre, clutch and road surface wear or already exist in the environment as deposited material and become resuspended due to traffic induced turbulence.

It is estimated that exhaust and non-exhaust sources contribute almost equally to total traffic-related PM10 emissions. However, as exhaust emissions control become stricter, relative contributions of non-exhaust sources to traffic related emissions will increasingly become more significant.

END QUOTE

Source: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JR...


> It is estimated that exhaust and non-exhaust sources contribute almost equally to total traffic-related PM10 emissions. However, as exhaust emissions control become stricter, relative contributions of non-exhaust sources to traffic related emissions will increasingly become more significant.

So if this "estimate" (i.e. conjecture) is on point, EV produce less than half of the emissions of an ICE car currently (EV have 0 exhaust emissions) and will continue to produce much less even when ICE are somewhat improved (and manufacturers stop defrauding customers). Let's not forget that EV also brake less than ICE cars.


> This is utter nonsense. Electric vehicles have no direct emissions, including no direct emissions of fine dust.

Have you ever changed a tire on Tesla because it was worn down? Where do you think the rubber in the old tire went when it was worn down? Emitted into the environment, that’s where.


The GP is obviously wrong about EVs emitting no fine dust, see my sibling comment, but we're talking about fine dust, i.e. PM10 dust.

The study my comment links to notes that only 0.1-10% (depending on conditions) of tire wear meets that criteria, the rest are all more coarse particles.


Have you measure the gas you burnt between changing those tires. You burnt and put in the air hundreds of times the weight of those tires in gases.

You’re saying the petrol emissions are worse than other emissions. But the comment I was replying to said there were no other emissions at all.

> unless

So you’d agree with doing them in parallel?

Do you think car manufacturers should wait to make electric cars until all power plants have a timeline to convert? Or that power plants should wait until all car manufacturers are switching? Or that they should both act without waiting for the other?


Germany's grid is not powered solely by coal but a decent mix of sources with various carbon intensities.

A typical EV in Germany has a carbon footprint of a vehicle burning anywhere in the range of 2-5l/100km(including manufacturing).

EVs in Germany are consistently less carbon intensive than ICE cars - especially in the city.


The "average" EV in Germany uses cleaner electricity than the grid, because there are > 0 EV drivers who charge their cars with their own PV setup.

Even with the current mix in the electric grid, electric cars produce quite a bit less CO2 than any combustion engined car and get cleaner as more coal power plants are decommissioned. It is happening perhaps to slow, but it is happening. In 2019 electricity generation from coal was quite a bit down compared to 2018 due to CO2 certificates finally having an effect.

Germany is not building new coal plants so they are not going to burn more coal because of EVs. EVs indeed create more demand for electricity, which is met by deploying more clean energy.

Coal plants stopped being a good option economically decades ago and we are now getting to the point where keeping the existing plants going is also no longer economical. Gas plants are following pretty soon as well.


People forgot that there is loads on unused grid and generation capacity at night that could be used for EV charging.

I think we need plugs where people park their cars at work rather than at homes. As that is the peak for solar power and also the point where power prices go negative in some countries because of excess production. Night time charging unless your grid is mostly nuclear or wind is probably the worst in terms of pollution.

In UK and Norther europe solar is of minimal use, so the situation is reverse. Night time electricity is cheapest.

I am not talking about cheap but about pollution. As more cars go electric it would be better if the car charging is done at peak solar. UK is getting out of europe with brexit but the other remaining countries are connecting their grids with each other so even northern european countries would be using more solar even without having much sunlight

Price is low because there is unused power.

Many powerplants run thought the night because they cannot be turned on and off. The most polluting time to use the grid is during peak demand in the evening, when every powerplant has to be brought online, even the most polluting ones.

Northern Europe relies on Wind, not Solar for renewable energy. Yes, we are integratingg powergrid, but you can't pull 100 GW from Spain to UK. Yhat would require absolutely monstrous infrastructure.

What your assertion for night time charging based on?


In the next decade a few million electric cars will be charging of the world's grid. Currently you need peakers most using Fossil fuels for just the evening period with the few million electric cars charging at night you will be needing those plants to run all night long that's my main point. So promoting day time charging during peak solar is the way to. Car batteries are not good enough yet but in the future these same car batteries could be used for peak demand instead of using peaker plants. But to be able to do this the countries need to start planning for this now instead of a decade from now when the duck curve becomes worse. BTW in my first post I did say unless the base load is nuclear and wind. As far as infrastructure for 100gw solar for UK goes Singapore is planning to buy 10gw of solar power from Australia by undersea cable so the possibilities are there.

I haven't heard of the Singapore project before, that is impressive indeed.

I think the proper way to solve a problem should be smart charging, where the car chooses the cheapest energy through out the day, making much finer decision than a consumer ever could. And grid should be (it usually is) managed in such a way that lowest price corresponds to highest % of clean energy.

We could take this even further: usually the grid responds to demand and predict demand based on past patterns, but we could have a protocol for IoT devices and cars to request power they will need in the future, and ask the grid for the best time to draw power in the next X hour window.


why do you think gas plants will be turned off, especially given the low gas prices?

Because despite the low gas prices, solar and wind prices are trending down as efficiencies increase and as economies of scale improve the economics. Prices are already dipping below those prices for new bids.

So, if you are planning a gas plant that needs to be operational for decades, the economic outlook is pretty grim. That's why lots of plans for new gas plans are getting shelved.

Existing plants run quite economically. But when cheaper clean energy becomes available at scale, it becomes more expensive to operate them. Selling expensive energy during low demand is not going to be an option because cheaper energy will be preferred. Spinning plants up during peak demand takes time and battery + solar is already cheaper and faster for that as well. A gas plant that isn't running part of the time is going to be more expensive. That's why a lot of them will be taken out long before their planned end of life.

Currently people are shutting down the most expensive plants first (nuclear & coal) but once that is gone, gas will be next.


None of this adresses the storage problem. Unless/until storage gets a lot cheapet, there are going to be baseline/peaker fossil/nuclear plants. (No peaker nuclear, ofc.)

Storage is typically included in those low bids I mentioned. We already crossed the cheap enough mark in some areas for solar + battery.

Lithium Battery prices are also dropping by about 10%-20% a year. Something that cost $1000~ in 2008 costs $200~ today.

Solar/wind doesn’t compete with gas because it cannot provide dependable base load.

Solar/wind + massive energy storage is what competes with gas. And in that category it’s not even close to competitive because batteries are still way too expensive.


I keep hearing this. How many twh do you think you need and why? And how much are you willing to pay for it? The sun comes out every day. On a bad day there are clouds and your panels are less effective but still produce power (except in the arctic regions). Wind blows every day somewhere but not necessarily everywhere. Well known facts. However, continent wide black clouds without any wind whatsoever is pretty rare and unlikely to last very long if it happens at all. So instead of storing energy locally, you can absorb a lot of this by moving energy around via wires.

So, you need batteries locally for fluctuations and you can cross connect sites with wires so you can import excess energy from elsewhere. Conveniently when it is cloudy, it's usually also pretty windy. Global warming is oddly helping here by creating even more wind.

So, a combination of a some over capacity, some wires for moving energy around, and some battery for short term fluctuations would be all you need. If it's not enough on the worst days, just add more windmills/solar/batteries. At the rate prices are dropping installing 2-3x the needed capacity would still be cheaper than keeping gas plants around. Those prices are projected to continue to drop of course making the whole thing only even more affordable.


In Germany - as well as in some other countries - the problem is not only generation of electricity, but the capacity to transfer it. There may be lots of renewables, but not way to transfer it to consumers because of not enough capacity in the grid. There is lots of public resistance to expanding the grid (mostly along the lines of "not in my backyard").

Also bringing the necessary capacity for proper charging to the average underground parking of a building costs tens of thousands of Euros per parking spot (numbers I got from the electricity distribution company). That's an investment most people are simply not willing to make especially when renting.

What would be the reason for people to oppose developing the grid, especially as NIMBY? Other than the obvious cost issue, is it the disruption caused by works?


If they quoted you that much money, it sounds like there's a market there ready for disruption. 10k Euros is far too much, especially when you can do the job for many parking spots at once.

To be clear I was referring to shared parking with multiple spots. Where I live one underground parking is spanning multiple houses (I go from the parking directly inside), and there are maybe 3 or 4 in total. The provider would do the work "once and for all", considering everything from replacing the transformers for the additional power, to digging up the trenches and installing the upgraded cabling everywhere, and to every parking spot 11KW charger. The assumption behind this is that all the vehicles in the parking might end up charging at the same time (over night) so everything has to be sized for that.

The electricity provider normally sells the charger with installation for ~2500E. But that is assuming the end-to-end wiring already supports this. With dozens of chargers to install in the same parking the chances that the rest of the network was already so overspeced and up to the task are slim.

The manpower to dig a trench, replace cables and transformers is more or less the same whether you do do it for 10 parking spots or 100. So there's probably a sweet spot between having enough demand to split this between more people but not that much that you need the next level in transformers.


There may be substantial digging works to be done if you need to install new power lines to housing, which is not cheap, and various installation works are costly when done afterwards.

I live in Finland, where it is typical that blocks of flats as well as terraced and single-family houses have parking lots where there already is an electric supply to each car (for the purpose of heating the enging before winter morning starts). Even here it's not directly suitable for charging, because the feeding capacity is OK for warming cars, but not for quick charging. Fuse boxes and feeding cables have to be replaced, at a substantial cost.


People oppose power lines because they just don't want to have them near their house, or run through a forest where they walk.

Some people are afraid of adverse health effects of power lines (claiming cancer issues etc, which are fake news), but often it may also be just that powerlines are considered ugly, and seeing them from your window brings down your property value.


I thought we're talking about the underground power lines that go from a transformer to the house.

Later edit. Ok, that makes sense. For some reason I read it as "upgrading the residential grid to support the extra load of EV charging". There are already HV power distribution lines spanning the country. I understand building new transmission towers would be a NIMBY topic but is it a given that they can't be upgraded to expand the capacity over the same towers?


I was writing about the national power grid in Germany and other countries; basically, the lines at 220 kV or higher, or HVDC, that transfers power from e.g. the wind power stations at North Sea to the consumers and industry that needs electricity in Bavaria.

Likewise for Sweden: there is hydro and other capacity in north, but power grid cannot transfer enough power to users in Skåne (Malmö) so that industrial projects are cancelled.


In the short term, it does absolutely make sense to use electric vehicles.

The critical goal is to further develop electric cars so they become the obvious choice for consumers.

As we go from a few million EVs to tens of millions, it is of course important to move towards cleaner electricity.


> The critical goal is to further develop electric cars so they become the obvious choice for consumers.

should be

The critical goal is to further reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.


You can reduce CO2 emissions from an internal combustion by making it more efficient, but there is not way you can ever bring it down to zero.

Thus if you want to ever get to zero, you need to electrify the transport.

We can produce synthetic fuel, but it will be very hard to reach the kind of volumes we have for fossil fuels, hence synthetic fuels should only be used for long range trucks, airplanes etc.

All transport that can be electric should be electric. Transportation make up the bulk of CO2 emissions, so if you don't turn most of it electric, there is no way to get down to zero CO2 emissions.


> You can reduce CO2 emissions from an internal combustion by making it more efficient, but there is not way you can ever bring it down to zero.

You can bring the net environmental impact of CO2 to zero by using a fuel with a carbon neutral cycle, such as biofuels; if you are regrowing as much source material as you are consuming, there is no net emission.

> Thus if you want to ever get to zero, you need to electrify the transport.

Individually, no, but practically, for most transport in use, probably.


> such as biofuels

Those have been tried and found competing with food production and forest land (which we also need to keep CO2 locked up). Currently they're not a viable strategy as things stand. Perhaps this might change in the future, but the path is not clear. For EVs on the other hand the path is more well defined.


Why bother with plants if you can cover the desert with solar panels?

> Thus if you want to ever get to zero, you need to electrify the transport.

necessary, but not sufficient.


EV have lower CO2 equivalent emissions than comparable ICE vehicles in the majority of places in the US, today, including emissions during manufacturing.

There is absolutely no conflict of goals here. The faster we can transition the better.


Electric plant's pollution is localized, gas cars pollution is spread all over the living space.

At 40% coal provided electricity, electric cars are already way less poluting than combustion engines. Actually even just being powered by an efficient diesel generator would put them on a roughly equal level. So only 40% coal is already a benefit. But of course, we should get rid of our coal plants as quickly as possible. That is the one rather low hanging fruit in reducing the carbon footprint. And I think the 2038 number won't stand, the ramp-down will be far quicker now that climate change has finally gotten more awareness.

So, while not reaching the optimal numbers right now, any electric car bought today will still drive when the coal usage for the grid will be greatly reduced if not completely stopped. Any combustion engined car bought today isn't only worse in emissions already, it won't change, while the electric car gets "cleaner". Also, one should not underestimate the positive effect have on the rollout of reneweables as they can be charged at different times of the day, depending in the supply of reneweable energy.


For all the downvoters: powered by the average German grid, a Tesla emits about 75g CO2/100km. Please show me any combustion engined vehicle that comes even close to those numbers. Of course the "emissions" of the electric cars can only get better from there.

When you add load to a grid that's in the process of decarbonizing, you need to look at the marginal impact. Taking the average energy mix is bad math, because you're delaying the shutdown of the dirtiest sources.

This can get more complicated if you have excess renewable energy generation at times, where the use is essentially free. Not to mention demand dispatch to smooth intermittent renewables.

I'm a big EV fan, but it's important to get the math right, because overstating the impact does disservice to other options. Especially in Germany. When I lived in Berlin for two years, not in the loop, I just used public transport. Most of my friends rode to work.


If you look at marginal impact then BEVs have no emissions, because generating capacity is primarily growing in the renewable energy segment.

In fact there is an even bigger benefits to BEVs: New BEVs are being made to allow sending current the opposite direction. Hence the BEV fleet can be used as a large battery for storing renewable in times of overproduction and selling it back when it is needed.

In other words adopting renewable energy REQUIRES BEVs.


> If you look at marginal impact then BEVs have no emissions, because generating capacity is primarily growing in the renewable energy segment.

This is simply not true. You are tying them together incorrectly. BEVs cause growth in electricity demand, which keeps carbon sources around for longer. Renewable growth displaces carbon sources. The sum may be in the right direction, but it doesn't mean it wouldn't go faster if electricity consumption were lowered.

It's also a bit beside the point, as BEVs are more environmentally friendly even when powered by coal plants. My argument is not at all anti BEV or pro ICE.

> In other words adopting renewable energy REQUIRES BEVs.

Yes, when renewables hit a point where you can't build more for reliability concerns, BEVs performing demand dispatch and even V2G will provide a ton of storage. This is the biggest reason I'm a BEV fan (although PHEVs can also provide much the same role), as dual use of batteries is the only real way to get remotely the storage we're going to need.

But my point is that BEVs, while better than an ICE, shouldn't be thought of as equivalently clean to riding or taking public transport. This isn't a radical position, it's math.


The mix is the right math. After all, you cannot say, which electric device uses which power source. Or suddenly it might be your TV running on pure coal energy - this does not make much sense. The best approximation is, that you apply the average energy mix. Which might be even too pessimistic, as not only a lot of people do power their electric cars with their own solar energy but also it is easy to charge your electric cars especially in those times where the grid is on a relatively low carbon content and even surplus energy needs to be exported.

Of course, there are plenty of better alternatives to cars in many places, especially city centers. But as long as there is a genuine need for cars, they better be electric than combustion engined.


The question that needs to be answered is, what is the marginal impact of taking an ICE off the road and replacing it with a BEV?

Using the current mix of renewables is a form of double counting. No more renewable energy is being fed in to the grid, however more is coming from dirty sources.

Reductio ad absurdum, what happens if all of Germany's cars were BEV overnight? I've seen estimates that the load on the grid would be increased by 20%. Surely you'd agree that using the current mix of renewables would no longer make sense calculating their environmental impact. So why does that change at the margins?

The answer is that it doesn't. The math is the same. With the exceptions we've both pointed out.


At the margins Germany is primarily adding solar and wind. And this solar and wind benefits from having BEVs which can suck up excess production when needed.

It is more a philosophical question. If you add demand to a system should it be counted like a marginal addition, or as the same as the current demand. Most studies on the subject of the full cycle of CO2 emission of EV tend to use average carbon intensity of the electricity. The few studies that use marginal carbon intensity are from mostly biased anti EV, pro fossil fuel sources.

Also it is not always the worse carbonated source that is added when demand surge, for example coal is rather slow to increase, so the grid operator probably kept some hydro power to the rescue, nuclear can ramp up rather quickly too.

If you are really interested in minimizing the carbon intensity of the charge, you can use the api of ElectricityMap that gives you those numbers, and automatically charge your car based on a maximum carbon intensity and some fancy heuristics.

They also have a good article on the marginal electricity of European countries : https://www.tmrow.com/blog/marginal-carbon-intensity-of-elec...

Also here is an article on the subject (in french) translated here : https://www.i-care-consult.com/opinions/contenu-co2-de-lelec...

The so-called "average emission factor" method. This method is the existing and historical "default" method currently made available by ADEME: it consists in using a national average emission factor for electricity (this "average" factor also exists by use). This method makes it possible to "attribute" to each French actor its "share" of national emissions and to carry out a balance sheet (this is why it is the method used for regulatory GHG balances). However, this method is not suitable for properly assessing the impact of an action plan: it does not take into account the fact that changing the consumption curve or the production fleet modifies the structure of the energy mix itself, and therefore the average CO2 content per kWh.

The so-called "marginal" method: this method was published in 2007 by ADEME-RTE but is no longer institutionally relevant, although it is still used by some independent actors. This method is based on the principles of optimizing the electricity production fleet (merit order principles): at each moment, an upward (or downward) change in consumption leads to an increase (decrease) in production from the so-called "marginal" means, i.e. from the means available at lower cost at that moment: the means of production can thus be classified from the least expensive to the most expensive (variable production cost), this is what is called the "merit order". If we consider the emission factor of the marginal means of production, we are talking about the marginal CO2 content of electricity. In 2007, RTE and ADEME reported marginal values ranging from 450 g CO2/kWh (for base uses) to 700g CO2/kWh (for peak uses). This method is adapted to the consequential reasoning of modifying production or consumption, and therefore to the evaluation of the impact of actions on the electricity system, but this reasoning is valid at the margin: actions that would have a very significant impact (e. g. significant modification of the nuclear fleet, new use such as the electric vehicle), and that would significantly modify the stack of means of production cannot be evaluated with this method.

The so-called "incremental" method: this method has not been officially published by ADEME but has been the subject of various proposals from energy companies and professional associations. It is based on the idea that for some structuring actions, a "marginal" reasoning (mathematical notion of a value derived from the CO2 content of a kWh) is no longer valid, and that in this case it is necessary to use the comparison of 2 supply/demand balance scenarios (the no-action scenario and the action scenario) and to compare the GHG emissions associated with these 2 scenarios. The resulting value of this method depends on the extent of the system modification (upward or downward, in energy and power). This method, which is the most complex but also the most theoretically accurate, should therefore be used when the marginal method is outside its field of validity.


> It is more a philosophical question. If you add demand to a system should it be counted like a marginal addition, or as the same as the current demand.

This is true in general - if I buy a TV, and my neighbor already has one, should my TV be counted under marginal excess consumption and therefore more dirty than his? I would personally say absolutely not, but I've read (and disagreed with) analogous arguments to the contrary.

But if you're deciding between the relative merits of building a BEV or ICE, that's not really the same situation. The marginal load on the grid is entirely optional - you can just skip it and build a petrol car instead. It's not a philosophical question of whether your neighbour's TV set should be accounted for under a different energy mix than your Tesla just because it was there first.

It's a pragmatic question. We do A, X is the marginal impact. We do B, Y is the marginal impact. As a society, subsidize X proportional to the extent that X < Y.

Now there's no wiggle room in this argument that leaves BEVs worse off. The studies that have argued that made laughable assumptions.

> Most studies on the subject of the full cycle of CO2 emission of EV tend to use average carbon intensity of the electricity. The few studies that use marginal carbon intensity are from mostly biased anti EV, pro fossil fuel sources.

This doesn't surprise me at all. But I don't think it's quite proof that the average carbon intensity is the correct method - I think there's a strong bias for people in the field, whether unconscious or not, to encourage BEV adoption and not provide ammunition to the many groups that irrationally or for vested interests oppose it. Wherever there are decisions to be made in methodology that are both justifiable, even the most reasoned researcher will reach for the one that aligns with their beliefs.

Not to mention the potential backlash. I've made here quite reasoned arguments (of course there's room for disagreement), am in favor of BEVs and each of my posts have been downvoted more than once. There's significant social pressure among crowds like this to not be seen in any way anti environmental, even if it means erasing some of the finer points running contrary to what is still an obvious conclusion.

And it is an obvious conclusion. BEVs are the future that can't come soon enough.

Thank you very much for the detail and links.


Why would a diesel generator put them on equal levels? Even if you assume that an electric engine has 100% efficiency, you lose energy because

* per amount of energy, batteries are heavier than gasoline tanks so accelerating needs more energy

* charging batteries is not 100% efficient

Is that all balanced by the generator operating at optimal conditions?


A good diesel generator should have the peak efficiency of a diesel engine of about 40%. A diesel car can hit the same peak, but only at a certain speed/power output. So the average efficiency is about 20%. So there is a quite a marging for charging losses.

The weight of an electric car usually is a minor component in the consumption, most is the aerodynamic drag. On top of that, electric cars can get about 60% of their kinetic energy back by using their motor as a generator.


You burn a litre of oil fractions per litre of petrol/diesel output at the refinery. Something noone is eager to count in their efficiency comparison.

Also, all electric vehicles use regenerative braking, recapturing the kinetic energy that is lost with ICEs.


> Just as in many other parts of the world, expanding electrical consumption through electric vehicles does not make sense if we also don't actively decrease our dependency on fossil fuel.

Of course, but it's kind of a chicken and egg problem. The sooner we switch to electric cars, the earlier the right incentives and levels of demand are in place to upgrade our electricity generation and grid.


However, it is up to you which utility to use. There are plenty which will not just do the basic green washing of buying certificates but also build their own green capacity in line with demand.

The "green washing" is paying for building green capacity in the EEA. It's your you & your coal-burning local utility sending money to sustainable power stations elsewhere in the EEA.

They will then import the coal power from Poland :)

Not gonna happen, Poland barely has enough power to sustain itself, with so little energy investment that we are going to experience serious deficits in the next decade during electricity consumption peaks (mainly hot summer days with AC systems at full capacity). There are some plans to build new coal units, but these obviously meet with a lot of justified protest. There are also plans to build nuclear units, but only in some undefined distant future and they could meet with protest too. And renewables are gaining ground too slowly to replace coal (which will be shutting down over time due to brown coal depletion, environmental impact and aging technology). Not that wind and solar can completely replace fossil fuels, nuclear and hydro – the variance in output is too great and beyond our control at the moment. Personally, I think major investment in nuclear would be best. It would cost a lot though, there's no way around that. But environmental impact would be greatly limited and a Europe–wide effort could significantly reduce costs. Unfortunately it seems that it's not gonna happen, with Germany for example irrationally shutting down plants after Fukushima was hit with a tsunami (as if there was any risk of a natural disaster in Germany).

Funny how that keeps being said about most of Germany's neighbouring countries... usually the claim is they'd import nuclear energy from France. Also funny how, in net terms, this never happens, and Germany has pretty consistently been a net exporter of electricity.

I wouldn't trust Germany's management to make any rational decisions about energy. They've been shutting down nuclear power plants for the past few years... What are they going to do in 2038, spends the nights in cold and darkness when the sun isn't shining, or be Putin's puppets dependent on Russian gas?

Germany is a very densely populated country (go take a look at map). Even a relatively minor accident at a nuclear facility would trigger a huge evacuation (I've seen the disaster control plans), causing major economic harm. Germany also does not have any viable means to store nuclear waste responsibly. Currently, nuclear does not look like the sane option for Germany.

They suddenly in few years closed all nuclear which imcreased all need for coal. Its dirty decision 2038 is not enough. If they closed all coal and wait with nuclear to 2038 that would make sense. Coal barons need to sell that stuff quicky before it looses value. I am sure they will somehow artificilially increase cost of coal energy in upcoming years.

The government of Gerhard Schröder set nuclear to be phased out. That was about 20 years ago. "Suddenly" isn't the word that should be used here.

Nuclear never was a very large part of the German grid and currently the nuclear capacity is like 10% of the daily peak load. So while shutting down the nuclear power plants does make a carbon-free grid a bit more difficult, it won't make a huge difference. Most nuclear power plants would have been scheduled for decommission in the late 20ies or early 30is at maximum anyway.

So was the nuclear getting too expensive? Even temporary 10% seems like a good win. I am not sure where they want to get that coal 40%.

Or actually i suspect it will be imported from mostly Czechia which has suspiciously started to reopen coal mines and plants.


The existing plants are getting older, we still don't have any permanent storage nor is any in sight. Finally, it was already agreed in the early 2000s, that Germany should phase out nuclear energy and an end date was set for the mid-20ies. The Fukushima disaster only accellerated the plans for phasing out nuclear.

The energy is supposed to come from reneweable sources. Just from 2018 to 2019 their contribution to the grid jumped from 40 to over 45% due to coal becoming less attractive. There are no plants to net import energy into Germany. Up today we have been net exporters of electric energy. Of course, going forward the European grid will play a larger role, as it is a great way of balancing local fluctuations in wind and sun.


> They suddenly in few years closed all nuclear which imcreased all need for coal.

Since the decision to close nuclear plants was taken the proportion of German electrical generation supplied by coal has been cut in half. So, no, it didn't increase demand for coal.


What happens to heavy-metal-laced (and somewhat radioactive, too) ash from coal, by comparison? I suspect it's similarly big problem, just not such a political scare, more ways to sweep it under rug/export/etc.

We do not have unquestionable alternatives to nuclear in Germany for generating electricity to power an industrial country on a stable rate. The demand for power will additionally grow with adoption of electric cars. For densely populated industrial country in Germany’s climate zone using renewables can be disasterous - we already pay too much for electricity, wind and solar panels are space-inefficient, we does not seem to be able to build grid infrastructure to efficiently support them.

We know and can build secure nuclear power plants - we made great progress there. They will help Germany to shut coal plants faster and buy time to research and develop alternatives, maybe we will get to fusion power plants in our lifetime.

Also, there is a problem that there are no serious healthy discussions about it now in Germany: loud voices prevail, the moderate people are afraid to share different opinions; a single large party in conservative opposition, AfD, does deny human impact on the climate change, so they cannot be a moderate voice of sanity.

May it be that investing in renewables is not a good focus for Germany now, are there better areas that we should focus on to save the planet?


> wind and solar panels are space-inefficient

Wind does not take up much space. You can place them in agricultural areas, at seas or even in mountain highlands.

Solar placed on roofs or over parking spaces does not compete with anything for space either. Even installing it on grasslands is less terrible than it seems, it does not create deserts because enough sunlight gets through between the panels to let planets grow in the shade.


It makes a lot more sense to build gas power plants as a stop gap measure. Built them to support gasification of biomass. Thus you can due feel them with natural gas or biomass as needed. This is much faster to get going and cheaper than nuclear.

With nuclear you spend such an enormous amount of money building it, that there is not going back on the decision afterwards. Nuclear power plants are having enormous cost overruns and they keep the project going because they don't want tens of billions of euros to be for nothing.

I'd say build gas power plants to buy some time to get the grid working better. Some coal plants can be converted to biomass plants.


It is an option to explore, particularly regarding using biomass. I see some concerns about it though:

- CO2 emission of gas power plants,

- dependence on the import of natural gas - it means dependence on Russia.


How is France any different?

France isn't much different, except that most contamination might hit Germany with the prevailing western winds :p. The only real difference is, that France went very strongly into nuclear energy and have some more modern reactors as they continued to build nuclear power plants a bit longer than Germany. But they are facing the same fundamental problems, their plants are aging and some have to be switched off as they just get too old and a maintenance nightmare.

As France is no longer building many reacteors - I think they have one in construction, quite over budget - they will face the same decisions as Germany did.


France is much less densely populated. Like I said, look at a map. Find a place in Germany where you can put a nuclear plant so that closing off an area with a radius of 30km doesn't affect major economical centers. Do the same with France and you will see the difference. Maybe you could litter the state of Brandenburg with nuclear plants. But then again, surrounding your capital would be a bad idea.

Closing coal plaints only helps in part, as long as Germany keeps importing coal-generated electricity (from Poland or Czechia, for instance).

Germany is a net electricity exporter. So there is no large scale import of electricity of any kind into Germany. Of course, based on supply and demand, it might temporarily import electricity from other countires. Most overlooked though is, that like with car traffic, Germany is rather central in Europe. So a lot of electricity crosses Germany. A lot of the French nuclear energy is exported to Germany at the same time Germany is exporting the same amount (or more) to Austria or Belgium.

Yes, but that is not a fundamental problem of electric cars, but of politics and regulations. These regulations can be changed quickly. One way would be to apply pressure to the local politics to change regulations. Of course, it could end anyway when the first judge rules that an electric outlet is reasonable to be expected at a rented parking lot.

And that's having a parking garage at all. Electrified street parking is nigh on non-existent.

Oh I wouldn't say it's non-existent [1].

There is also plenty of street charging stations in Oslo, I have many friends there without a garage that has electric cars. It's just a matter of putting up the infrastructure. It's a policy issue not a practical one.

[1] https://www.electrive.com/2019/08/18/on-street-chargers-to-p...


> Oh I wouldn't say it's non-existent [1].

One charging point — or even a thousand — across a country with >30 million cars does qualify as nigh on non existent.

> It's just a matter of putting up the infrastructure. It's a policy issue not a practical one.

It's both. When the charging infrastructure is not in place, it's impractical for many people to buy an EV.


>>Unfortunately the housing company does not allow installation of a wallbox in the garage...Large-scale adoption of electric cars is unrealistic when the majority of people have nowhere to charge it."

This can be solved with a law in a heartbeat. Installations etc take their time but the state itself subsidizes them--if they want to drive adoption rate up. So like they have parking meters they can put charging stations everywhere in the streets.


There are many rules and regulations that need to be cut through. Staying with friends in Hawaii, I asked where we could drop our towels. They said they had to go into the drier, it was against the rules to have clothes drying on the balcony. So to satisfy some idiotic idea of aesthetics, we're going to burn electricity instead of just using the sun?

Yeah. Some states have passed laws preventing this nonsense.

People are so worried about looking “poor” that they waste electricity on the dryer rather than using the sun to dry their clothes. I mentioned using a clothesline once to someone else in the USA, who was shocked and responded they weren’t poor and wouldn’t want their neighbors to be scandalized by drying clothes in the sun.

There at least are 19 states in the USA that have passed laws outlawing solar drying bans, unfortunately I think most of these laws only apply to homeowners and not to rented apartments.


That sounds like rules (condo / HOA) rather than regs.

> So to satisfy some idiotic idea of aesthetics, we're going to burn electricity instead of just using the sun?

Yep, common condo / HOA issue.


As a counterpoint, in Amsterdam the municipality has hundreds of charging stations all around the city.

https://www.amsterdam.nl/en/traffic-transport/map-charging-s...


I've just moved to the Netherlands, and one of the first things I noticed is that you can find charging stations everywhere around Rotterdam too.

In Portugal a law was passed to solve most of these cases. It says that if you own the apartment all you have to do is notify about the installation in your parking spot. The building management can then opt to do an installation themselves but usually doesn't.

The install itself isn't too hard usually. There is an opportunity to set up a business to do cooperative charging where the chargers limit themselves to a total max power. Otherwise garages will need large upgrades in total peak power capability. None of these issues are all that hard to surpass though. The power grid is pretty good already and most needed charging is only in the <10kW range which most places can manage easily.


We have two and live in an apartment. The problem is not that insurmountable when there are chargers at work and Superchargers. At work, they are expanding the number of chargers year after year. Same with Superchargers. I am always able to charge well beyond my commute miles at work, for free.

I'm not saying it's a non-issue, but it is possible for a lot of people, and it is getting better, even for people who currently do not have chargers at work, things are changing rapidly.


What happens when you fall ill for a week and don’t go to work? Do you trade cars with your partner for alternate day charging?

An ICE vehicle always requires going to a specific place to fuel up.

For many people, an electric vehicle can be fueled at work or home eliminating most fueling stops. A few exceptions are not a deal breaker.

If you're just looking for excuses to say no, of course, just stick with the ICE for now.


Supercharging fills in any gaps just fine. Of course you need to live near one.

When I got an EV, my apartment had shared chargers in the parking garage. As an experiment, I tried to not use them for a couple weeks and lived on public chargers. It wasn't terrible. It was basically back to periodically filling up the tank, except that you get some shopping done while waiting.

Agree. Only now that I own a home in a suburb (and therefore own my garage) would I consider buying electric. My previous 3 apartments all had no provisions for charging overnight.

Elon Musk did say something related in one of his presentations. Wherever they put in Superchargers, sales soar.

why do you like to own a car in berlin? is there a use case for having a car?

This is a nice anecdotal example, i have one too!

I went to a pit stop in the middle of nowhere in a third world country, on my way to another province. In between miles and miles of dry land, there it was, an entire electric car charging station. There's more of these things than you think.


I suspect this is primarily because the tax for leasing an EV is going to double by January (from 4% to 8%, vs 22% for ICEs, but still, double). So people whose work perks includes a lease car and who have been considering electrical, are all getting one quickly now. And the Model 3 is one of the better EVs on the market, so there you go.

Model 3 sales in NL will drop tremendously in 2020.


I am at this crossroards. Either I spend the money now, before December, and drive cheaply or I wait another five years.

You're probably too late, the ordering date to get a model 3 for this year has (almost) passed. They're saying that the order has to be confirmed before today 22:00 (oct 6), otherwise Tesla cannot guarantee the 2019 delivery date.

https://www.mistergreen.nl/tesla-model-3-lease


I'm ignorant of Dutch law, so I may be off base, but I find taxes usually apply as of the date of the contract, not the date of the delivery. So, if you have a firm order, you are probably fine.

I'm pretty sure that here in The Netherlands it applies to the date the vehicle receives a license plate.

The only think to remark is that ?two? years ago the same situation occurred with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, thousands were ordered and the end of the year was approaching. A couple of people worked around the clock to register them all before the 1st of January to ensure the tax benefits (At least that is what I heard at that time).


Tesla also has a final assembly plant in the Netherlands[1], nominally making the brand "native" (like Volvo before them). That usually results in better brand recognition and higher sales as well.

I recently saw a post on social media where someone couldn't go to the dentist because the car was updating software.

From the discussion I understand there is a "grace period" of 2 weeks before automatic updates, and that the software is needed for advanced features.

It was also mentioned that basic braking and steering functionality were also dependent on updatable software, making it unsafe to use it as a regular car when a software update is occurring.

Does anyone have more information on this?

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


The car notifies you if an update is available, when you can postpone it, and IIRC you also receive a notification on your phone before it starts at which point you can also postpone it. Also, it tells you the estimated duration of the update in minutes and specifically notes that you will likely not be able to use the car during this time.

Also, braking and steering should be dependent on software. This is the case in most modern cars, though those don't always have OTA updates. It means these can be changed and improved over time.

I can definitely see someone who had auto-update not realizing their car will start the update before they need it, but I think they've chosen a decent balance between keeping users up-to-date and making sure your car is available when you need it.


A decent balance would be facilitating an interrupt/rollback of the update at any time.

If you need the car now, and it's updating, it should be trivial to halt the update and operate the car on its previous software version.

Storage is cheap nowadays, there's no reason to not have versioned copies of every operational software version across the vehicle.


> braking and steering should be dependent on software.

That's an opinion and that's fine, but I was wondering if it was the case, i.e., they are dependent on software.

> This is the case in most modern cars

By `this' you mean "basic steering and braking functionality depending on upgradable software", right?


> That's an opinion and that's fine, but I was wondering if it was the case, i.e., they are dependent on software.

Yeah, sorry, this is definitely an opinion and I don't think I actually agree with that in general. I meant that in the case of a Tesla or many modern cars with autonomous emergency braking or lane-drift avoidance or similar, braking and/or steering is generally software-controlled, often without a mechanical default, so given features like Autopilot it "should" be software-dependent.

> By `this' you mean "basic steering and braking functionality depending on upgradable software", right?

Yes, but just to reiterate, most manufacturers don't use OTAs and some models never receive an update, but it's not uncommon for an update to change steering and/or braking response and feel.


As an African I really want an electric car that just has a speedometer, airbags, range meter and nothing else. I can do without air condition, outside temperature sensor ... We already struggling to fix the modern petrol and diesel cars full of electronics.

You may be interested in following Sono motors.https://sonomotors.com/en/sion/

They are making a much simpler electric car with the ethos that anyone can fix it, with readily available parts and manuals/blueprints for every part of the car.

I am excited by it having solar panels as my average daily drive is probably in the region of 10 miles.


This looks like a perfect car for Africa. We have plenty of sun for solar charging component of the car. We really do not have the money to build out our power grid and if we can use solar panels for charging stations it make rolling out charging stations easier. The price though is still out of reach for most of us.

Renault's doing a low cost EV. You don't get much range but it's good for the money. They'll sell them in China first:

https://www.thedrive.com/tech/29729/the-worlds-most-importan...


get the honda e: https://www.honda.co.uk/cars/new/honda-e/overview.html

tested it and it's truly a marvel.


I didn't know this existed - specs look interesting! ...But god, it looks so goofy for no reason whatsoever. The trend of intentionally unconventional-looking EVs continues to baffle me. It's possible to stand out while not looking dumpy/derpy.

I thought that was going to be much worse before clicking, akin to the VW XL1 for aerodynamics. To me, it looks pretty similar in "weirdness" to other small cars like a Fiat 500 or Mini.

Whoa, I hadn't seen the VW XL1. The covered rear wheels look annoying, but my first reaction to it is "cool!"

Nice, RWD too!

Fixing older cars with electronic problems is a nightmare everywhere. It is pretty much depending on getting the original spares which manufacturers might just stop providing at some time (and sometimes they get caught by some chip no longer being available).

On the other side, considering how many videos I see on youTube about people using batteries and electric motors from salvaged Teslas to build their own electric cars/conversions to electric, the technology seems to be quite hackable. In the end, an electric motor is easy to control and a battery is just a battery. So even a homegrown controller should be quite feasible, compared to managing ignition on a modern combustion engine.

I think the electric cars are rather going to trigger a wave of new small car companies emerging, as most of the required technology is quite commonplace. Which also should make maintenance and repair easier.


So even a homegrown controller should be quite feasible . . .

You might be interested in: http://store.evtv.me/proddetail.php?prod=gevcu6

Source code: https://github.com/collin80/GEVCU


Even the old 3rd world favourite, the Toyota Hilux, has gone over to the dark side and become much harder to repair with all the fancy shit they stick in them now.

I thought it was the Toyota Land Cruiser that was the old favourite. When I was in Mali (in 2006), those things were everywhere.

Waiting for the ferry across the Niger at Timbuctoo was a long line of Land Cruisers and a single Hilux. Along the way (not really a way, actually, but everybody was going roughly the same route) we encountered tons more Land Cruisers. Only a single Mitsubishi 4WD, which had broken down.

Rumour had it that if your Land Cruiser broke down in the desert, you could probably buy parts from a guy on a camel. But that's not going to be much use if they're getting harder to repair.


Well both really. In my part of the developing world it was the Hilux. The LN106 and then LN166 (the last to be built in Japan) were awesome and ubiquitous. Quality seems to have declined (anecdotally) after they started making them in Thailand, but then worse... they started filing them up with fancy electronics to target urban dwellers.

I know exactly what you mean. Now we forced to go the dealers who charge exorbitant prices for simple things like replacing a light. Sigh I miss the old days when you just pulled out the globe and asked for a replacement.

Once a software update is available for your car, the car will automatically download it when you are connected via WiFi.

Once the update it downloaded, it will notify you on the in car display and on your phone an update is ready to install.

You can then either schedule a time when it should be installed in the future (e.g. middle of the night), click to start the install immediately, or ignore the update for as long as you want.

When you click to install, it begins a 2:00 minute countdown timer which allows you to cancel before the install starts. It says very clearly how long the update will take and that it can’t be canceled while it’s installing. You cannot drive the car while the update is running.

If someone missed their dentist appointment because of a software update, it’s because they intentionally ran the update just before needing to use the car.


> Tesla also has a final assembly plant in the Netherlands[1]

It's five years old; hardly warrants "finally". It is also not used for this purpose (assembly to avoid tariffs) with the more mass-market Model 3.

> I recently saw a post on social media where someone couldn't go to the dentist because the car was updating software.

A moron or liar. The software doesn't update on its own, requires explicit action by the user - and warns you how long it's going to take to do the update.

> It was also mentioned that basic braking and steering functionality were also dependent on updatable software

As in pretty much any modern car…

> making it unsafe to use it as a regular car when a software update is occurring.

It is impossible to install updates while driving. A bit of common sense, please - _no_ car manufacturer is incompetent enough to update the software while the vehicle is in use.


> I recently saw a post on social media where someone couldn't go to the dentist because the car was updating software.

Nice. I wish the only cost of getting a free upgrade to my vehicle was that I'd have to take a taxi every now and then.


That's not the only cost. We'll start seeing the real cost when these internet-connected and internet-updateable vehicles inevitably get hacked.

It's lunacy to do OTA updates for cars, but here we are. And other manufacturers are following.


The one thing I really can not get over with Tesla is the dashboard. That giant screen that looks so misplaced.

Cars always used to be the pinnacle of thought out design. And Tesla is supposed to be catering the more stylish crowd I think.

I wonder how they decided to place a standard screen to the right of the driver.

It will be interesting to see if other car manufacturers will adopt this design decision. Then it would be a bit like in the smartphone world, where ugly camera bumps on the back are the norm now.

There are almost no physical products that you can not get in a nice design these days. Everything seems to exist in perfectly designed versions. Headphones, tables, knifes, socks, glasses, lamps, bed sheets ... It's fascinating that phones are the one type of product that fell off a cliff. Will cars be next?


I find the Tesla Model 3 aesthetically beautiful, and other cars rather grotesque in comparison. It’s extremely forward thinking and intelligent design, allowing for the user experience to constantly improve and be enhanced with the regular software updates to come down.

There are now dozens of features in my car which didn’t even exist when I bought it. UI refinements actually improve my driving experience one month to the next. This is a level of service which is impossible to provide with a hard-wired UI.

It’s also crucially important to acknowledge that all the main driving interfaces are tactile buttons immediately within reach. Steering, blinkers, wipers, high beams, gear select, AutoPilot, cruise speed, volume, track selection, follow distance, windows, and hazard lights are all perfectly positioned physical controls.

There is only a single control which might require a time sensitive activation which is on the screen, and that is the defog.

Tesla also does a remarkable job automating away the need for many tasks which in other cars might have you reaching for a knob or switch of some kind.


Counterpoint, as a Model 3 owner.

The lack of tactile controls for things like climate controls, sound system, etc., is very frustrating. I find myself having to mess around with the touchscreen much more than I'd like while driving. You get used to the central screen in lieu of a traditional dashboard pretty quickly, but I'd prefer more traditional dashboard functions to be aligned to display(s) on the driver's side.

I despise the lack of a traditional keyfob or non-phone means of locking/unlocking the car other than the awkward keycard (only useful through the driver's side).

It represents an extremely opinionated way of doing things. If you love life with your iPhone and Apple's extremely opinionated way about how it should work and how you should work with it, the Model 3 gives you something approaching that. Smartphones have their utility, but I'm not the kind of person that lives my digital life through one. I therefore have no love for the idea of my car as a roadgoing smartphone. I also couldn't possibly give less of a shit over Autopilot as we are so far away from that technology being rigorous.

Interior materials, particularly the carpet, are cheap.

There are also significant privacy implications associated with the connectivity, which Tesla does not do enough to address.

Things I do enjoy: the refreshing minimalism, the styling (though body panel alignment still has room to improve), and the energy & drivetrain technology. It is definitely enjoyable to drive. Driving our other combustion engine hybrid is a steep step backward into a cruder era.

Bottom line: Tesla's energy & drivetrain technology are years ahead of other manufacturers; if that matters to you, there is no current package like Tesla's. I look forward to the time when more traditional auto manufacturers catch up and I have well-engineered choices that don't require me to live with Tesla/Elon's opinions on how an EV should work.


You can buy a key fob from Tesla that supports passive entry

https://shop.tesla.com/product/model-3-key-fob

Personally, I am sticking with the phone, and I think that’s true for most people.


Cool, thanks! I hadn't spent any time researching options to deal with this issue yet, so take this message as tempering that line of criticism.

I remember the first I drove my Model 3 at night. I couldn’t figure out why the experience felt almost surreal.

The I realized, not having that glowing screen behind the wheel (which also means the wheel itself is smaller than a typical wheel) grants you a much better view of the road and noticeably better night vision.

I’ve never had an app where I can grant access to the car to someone from my phone, and even let them drive. I’ve used it a couple times and it’s been very helpful. I routinely unlock the car from my phone well out of Bluetooth range to let someone in to grab something, or to let my son get in ahead of a trip so he can play the arcade. We have an Xbox controller connected so he can play from the backseat.

Remote climate control is used extensively during the winter and summer to get the cabin ready for humans. Remotely controlling the seat heaters even, my wife particularly appreciates that.

A lot of this is made possible, or made significantly easier, because there are no physical buttons/knobs/switches which would need to maintain state with the software being remotely controlled. I know some types of physical buttons can be “soft-buttons” where the state can be changed remotely, but having it all on screen makes these features a lot less expensive, and easy to add in a software update instead of needing it all planned from the beginning.

The screen most of all avoids lock-in and future proofs the car for all the cool features they’ve been adding and will continue to add. There is nothing else on the market like it.

So bottom line, I’m not saying that somethings are not minutely more difficult, like adjusting cabin temp or turning on the rear seat heaters. But that only by committing fully the vision is truly realized. And the vision is absolutely grand.

Lastly, to your example with the sound system. Of course we have volume and skip-track controls on the wheel. The more advanced input and track selection is touch. Personally I would find it mind-numbing to try to do that with physical buttons. I mean, they didn’t even have Spötify last month and now they do, so I order to have buttons for inputs, it would need to be a scroll thingy highlighting a selection in a screen, or a push-to-cycle-through thingy which frankly those are both awful and not less distracting that directly tapping what you want.

Inside individual sources you have things like custom channels in Slacker/Spotify, podcasts, playlists, even now Caraoke. None of that would be manageable with physical buttons in any reasonable sense. It’s all made possible by the touch screen and software stack.


This is one of those things that you can't trust a customer to answer truthfully.

You say you like it, but when Ford or similar does it, it's annoying.

It's not that Tesla quality is good either.

It's one of those things that we tell ourselves we like.

I believe there isn't a correct answer, but rather our psychology decides what we like rather than true performance


I understand what you’re saying. Personal bias is hard to self-monitor.

But on many objective measures Tesla’s touchscreen is worlds apart from any of car touchscreen. It is iPad-like responsiveness as far as touch recognition and refresh rate.

I always said I would never want a GPS/Nav system in a car, because what would be the point?! Low quality maps, no decent POI, no decent user input for querying POI, bad routing, no pinch-to-zoom in a complicated intersection, slow to load, etc.

My wife’s Mercedes has Nav and we used it exactly once.

By contrast I always use Nav in the Tesla because I can map to Work or Home in two taps in 1 second, boom, the map routes and zooms to show the overview and I have a traffic aware route with an accurate ETA.

The live traffic lets me see if traffic is slowing ahead on the highway. Often times I will slow down to the speed limit when approaching a red zone ahead on the highway. Someone behind will swerve around me and accelerate hard just to come to a screeching halt around the bend. Craziness.

I think “build quality” and “materials quality” is way more subjective and harder to quantify. But the screen interface is on a different level.


> I think “build quality” and “materials quality” is way more subjective and harder to quantify. But the screen interface is on a different level.

Not really. The robustness of the screens in Teslas is particularly poor:

https://www.thedrive.com/tech/27989/teslas-screen-saga-shows...

Tesla didn't go with automotive grade screens which is why the screen failure rate is so high.


This was true in the original Model S/X, because a screen that size didn’t exist in automotive grade. They resorted to using an industrial grade screen which they qualified for use in the car, but it’s had the yellowing issue.

My understanding is all the new screens are tested to Grade 2 instead of Grade 4 like the original screens from Innolux.

[1] - https://www.thedrive.com/tech/27989/teslas-screen-saga-shows...


Where does your understanding come from? You've just listed the same link I provided.

Oh hah, that’s funny. It says in that article they made revisions to the screen.

> Tesla appeared to mostly fix this problem with its "cabin overheat protection" feature ... as well as revisions to the Innolux panel.

For what it's worth, the TM3 appears to use an LG LA154WU1-SL01, but I can't find a detailed spec sheet on it.


The article doesn't say it's now a grade 2 screen. The article does quote Mentor Graphics saying, "defining the boundary conditions for Innolux’s system is the responsibility of their customer, not Innolux."

So Innolux will quite happily sell Tesla a screen, but it's up to Tesla to use it appropriately. I think your understanding is wrong.


It may have fallen off of your cliff, but not mine and apparently not a lot of other people's.

I will be the first (or I guess second) to admit that some controls should be hard buttons for ease of use while looking at the road. This is something that I hope they improve on, though the steering wheel scroll wheels are already often geared for the appropriate context-dependent function.

However, Tesla manages to hide nearly all of the other car's functions behind fewer layers of menus than in modern BMWs or similar, in my experience, making it far easier to access the more arcane items. For example, adjusting the auto high-beam sensitivity or detailed HVAC preferences seem a lot easier on a touchscreen where buttons are laid out logically enough.


> "It will be interesting to see if other car manufacturers will adopt this design decision."

Some are intentionally moving in the opposite direction. Using touch screens apparently distracts from driving, as you need to watch them to see what you're doing. Simply tactile controls are more intuitive.


That's like, your opinion, man. I think the only way Tesla could improve their design is a few more buttons. Other than that, I love love the design, sleek and minimal is 100% my style.

Didn’t someone call for the patent office to be closed in the 1800’s because everything had already been invented?


i wonder when we will go straight to the next era and make the steering wheel and accelerate/brake pedals touchscreen features rather than a physical control. this will be as revolutionary as apple taking the number pad out of a mobile phone.

Buttons belong on the wheel or the driver's door (things like "unlock doors" and "all 4 blinkers").

> Buttons belong on the wheel or the driver's door (things like "unlock doors" and "all 4 blinkers").

Both of those controls belong to the central console as it's useful for the passenger to manipulate them.


That giant screen idea is the future. Sure people with ICE vehicles need tactile controls rather than touchscreens but the Tesla Model 3 is different.

The giant screen could be taken further, e.g. a generic USB3 tablet that just runs the Tesla app. You could then take the screen out of the car with you or, if you lose it, just get any old tablet and shove it in there.


> Sure people with ICE vehicles need tactile controls rather than touchscreens but the Tesla Model 3 is different.

The tactile controls have nothing to do with ICE (none of them even deals with ICE itself) and everything to do with human behaviour and basic safety, namely the need for fixed positioning, direct interaction, and feedback to enable manipulation of those controls while attention remains on the road.


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