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But isn't the result at least somewhat biased, as the car is mostly sold to environmentally conscious consumers, who might knowingly or not ignore car's potential problems to promote the nature friendly aspect of it.



"Electric cars aren't green" is a myth spread by a few op-ed pieces written in the LA Times and WSJ. The production of a battery is a tiny constant in comparison to the lifelong use of fossil fuels.

Electric vehicles become more environmentally friendly as grid power becomes more renewable, and grid power is becoming more renewable every day. When you invest in an electric vehicle you're investing in the future of renewable energy.


Specifically, there was a hit-job white paper (I think it was from a marketing firm, can't remember the title) published in the past 5-10 years arguing that Hummers were more eco-friendly than a Prius.

The paper was thoroughly debunked, but it got a lot of media traction initially. That sort of headline sticks in the back of someone's mind, particularly if they never follow up on it.

EDIT: Right, it was called Dust to Dust. Here's a pretty simple rebuttal from Slate(2008): http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_l...

And yeah, it was a "market research" firm. I feel confident saying I write with a closer attention to facts and accurate calculations on my personal blog than their "business" did in the report.


> When you invest in an electric vehicle you're investing in the future of renewable energy.

Yeah, that's a bit of a stretch. Renewable energy doesn't need electric cars to take off, buying an electric car is not an investment in renewable energy in any real meaningful way. In the meantime, the US grid is currently 12.x% renewable, so you're running on 85+% non-renewable (2012). Not to mention the fact that running all those vehicles off electric would mean adding a huge amount of capacity.[0]

So yeah, powerful electric vehicles that enable you to continue to drive around like mad people while actually feeling smug about it is terrible for the environment. Buying non-powerful, non-oversized cars and using them a little bit (or a lot!) less is. We're much better of using the renewable electricity we manage to generate in other ways.

[0] To elaborate, electric power makes up about 40% of the total energy budget of the US, transportation makes up about 28% (2008 figures).


The main win to me is that electric power is fuel-agnostic. Transitioning to electric mobility means our energy infrastructure can shift to different fuel sources at its own pace, independent of the transportation infrastructure.


> the US grid is currently 12.x% renewable

Overall US power consumption has gone from 8.9% renewables 10 years ago to ~12.2% today. Vehicles that use fossil fuels as their primary source of energy will always make very little use of renewable energy. Electric vehicles have the potential to use solely renewable energy, which is the direction grid power is heading.

So should we invest in electric vehicles now, or should we use fossil fuels sparingly and settle with transportation that's unable to tap into renewables?

EDIT: 8.9% in 2002


Where are those numbers from? Wikipedia[0] states 8.90% in 2002 to 12.22% in 2012. (Edit: I see we're agreed on that.) Again, that's percent of the total electrical energy generation, not the entire energy budget, which is much higher.

I'm fairly optimistic that we'll end up using electrical vehicles down the road. But it's a long way off from becoming a sensible alternative; it'll take a long time to satisfy the current electrical energy requirements by renewables, and adding the transport budget essentially doubles the amount required.

And people are deluding themselves if they think they're being environmentally responsible by driving around a Model S. Maybe if you buy a Model S and don't drive it.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_the_United_...


> But it's a long way off from becoming a sensible alternative

Electric vehicles aren't going to flood the market overnight, just as renewable energy isn't going to suddenly become our primary source of energy. These things take time and money. The more traction we give them, the more attainable they will become.

Environmental responsibility isn't possible when you ignore hard facts about the future. By the time I reach old age there will be 2 billion more people on this planet. They are capable of much more damage than we are.


All of this rhetoric is completely besides the point as several studies show. Even in West Virginia, the most coal-heavy energy market in America, pure electric vehicles today produce less greenhouse gases than the average gasoline vehicle due to the efficiency of electric motors and the use of surplus offpeak energy. In almost all markets, it beats a Toyota Prius.

http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/smart-transportation-so...

http://www.automotivescience.com/press/4582462907


Shrug. Now we've moved from "good for the environment" to between better than an average American car (i.e. appalling) and about as good as a hybrid vehicle[0]. Which really isn't all that exiting. Again, you'd be doing something good by driving less; but that's typically not what people do next after buying a sports car.


No environmental strategy that asks people to make do with less is ever going to win. Take a look at what's happening in the BRIC countries and then try to tell me it's going to work.

People want more and will figure out how to get more. It's doing that sustainably that will save us. Kind of the whole point of the Tesla S.


If you read my comment and understood it fully, you'd notice that in most states, a pure electric vehicle is NOT "about as good as a hybrid vehicle", but cleaner than the cleanest hybrid. Electric vehicles are also getting cleaner with the electric grid while non-plugin hybrids have made no progress in over a decade.

Keep in mind that producing one gallon of gasoline uses more electricity than it takes to drive the same distance in an electric car as that gallon would take you in a gas car.


Even with non-renewable energy sources, creating the power at a massive GE Turbine is more efficient than a gasoline engine. Internal combustion engines are ~30% efficient in converting fuel to energy releasing the rest of the energy as heat. GE Turbines used at 100+megawatt powerplants are 60% efficient. Same fuel source, twice as efficient. So even if we're not using wind and solar, electric is better for the environment.

GG GLHF


Conveniently ignoring the efficiency losses involved in electrical mobility. But whatever -- I'm not saying buy an equivalent gasoline vehicle and drive around. I'm saying buy a much smaller car and drive less. Or don't, but don't pretend you're driving around a sports car for the environment.


Much of those 28% are locked into using fossil fuel. Electric cars are about enabling switching to renewable sources of energy down the line, not right now. It’s about large scale infrastructure change, it’s about the difference between changing millions of small things or only a few large things. It’s about where renewable energy will likely come from in the future.


I think the unstated assumption was

> When you invest in an electric vehicle [instead of a fossil fuel vehicle that you would drive the same amount] you're investing in the future of renewable energy


Really? An environmental analyst friend of mine refers to electrics as "coal-powered cars". E.g., Consumers Power in the midwest:

http://www.consumersenergy.com/uploadedFiles/CEWEB/OUR_ENVIR...

I think you're going to have to keep your electric car for a few decades for rewnewables to dominate that.


I am not an environmentally conscious consumer and I am going to buy one when our current lease is up. I am a monetarily concious consumer who sees the value in a high quality car which maintains its value well, has good purchase incentives. I also have a family and have seen the amazing safety record the car has put together so far and I am a hacker on top of all of it and have been to a Tesla center and explored the Model S. It is a technical marvel imho.

All of these things make me want one, not some green aspect.


> I am a monetarily concious consumer who sees the value in a high quality car which maintains its value well, has good purchase incentives.

That makes no sense. How does buying an $89K car instead of a $25K hybrid save you money? These incentives better be of $64K in value, otherwise there is no monetary argument to be made here.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Model S, I think it is a wonderful car with tons of innovative technology inside (and, no, I am not just talking about the battery power). But there is no financial argument you could make that would justify buying one over a Prius or Ford Fusion.

The only reason the Model S appears to have such a good resale value is that there was a huge backlog for a while, and people were paying OVER retail price just to get ahold of one. Kind of like the Nintendo Wii the first christmas it came out, doesn't mean a Wii maintained that value over the medium to longer term.


You're looking at it from the perspective of a person that can't really afford a Tesla. When you look at the world and say "What's the best bang for the $100k I'm going to spend on my next car?" then you may feel a Tesla is a good monetary value based on resale value or other factors even though it's not the most economical way you could transport yourself back and forth to work.


Tesla S competes with E Class MB, latter costs ~55-65k.

100k S Class is much better car than Tesla S.


Assuming Elon Musk comes through with his statement about not inflating prices for a specific country -- Tesla might start killing it in Australia.

(S Class starts at $215,000. E Class 4 door starts at $79K. Going up to 130 (or 250 for the AMG))


Tesla Model S costs $63k after tax rebate, and you'll save $3k per year on gas and oil.


How much are you really spending on gas?

I paid $11,000 for my now 3 year old car when it was 2 years old. I didn't finance it so I didn't pay interest. I average about 35 mpg and drive about 12,000 miles a year. If gas was $4 a gallon that is about $1,412 a year. If I drove 15,000 miles a year that is $1,700 in gas. My owner's manual* says to change the oil once every 10,000 miles or once a year whichever is first. The dealership does that for me for free.

I'd have to drive my car for 30 years to make up the price difference between the cars ($52,000)

If you want to get a luxury car, then get a luxury car, but don't act like you're doing it to save money.

*it is no longer true you have to change your oil every 3,000 miles for most cars.

http://autos.yahoo.com/news/how-do-you-really-know-when-to-c...

http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/4209/is-it-neces...

http://www.edmunds.com/car-care/stop-changing-your-oil.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/11/your-money/11shortcuts.htm...


I call straw man argument. Take everything "electric drivetrain" out of a Tesla and it's still far beyond $11k echelon. Also, buying a car without financing it is surely not the norm, especially for cars in the class of a non-electric Tesla (for the sake of discussion) -- though I could be wrong, as it is a "luxury" vehicle, after all.

I'm interested in seeing your argument re-framed against the Nissan Leaf, which in this case is more of an orange than a Tesla, to your Aveo (?).


>Take everything "electric drivetrain" out of a Tesla and it's still far beyond $11k echelon

So what? I was arguing that nobody is buying a Tesla specifically to save money and that $3k in gas an oil is absurdly high. I didn't say the two cars were comparable, I said one actually saves money on personal transportation. If saving money is actually an issue, it wouldn't make any sense to go Tesla over the other options out there. Everyone has different priorities and "far beyond" is completely and entirely subjective to each person.

I don't have an Aveo but I did rent one before (if I recall correctly) and I didn't like them. I also negotiated the asking price of the dealership WAY WAY down.

Anyway if I made $10 million a year, I wouldn't change a thing about my car purchase.


OP said E Class Mercedes, so this is comparing against an E63--16 mpg.


MSRP is $106k with normal options (almost exactly the same as S Class), with a $7,500 rebate that comes out to $98k.


That's for the performance version. Check your facts.

http://bit.ly/Mtgrlq


It is not.


I disagree on the S class. It is bigger but I find nothing else about it 'better' and certainly not 'much better'


De gustibus non est disputandum

No doubt there are components of the Tesla S which are nicer than the S Class. But taken holistically, they are not in the same class.

Wheelbase, length, interior volume, rear legroom & headroom, overall refinement are all quite different between the Tesla S and M-B S. Though they do weigh about the same...

But as I said, de gustibus non est disputandum.


What about torque/throttle response?

I really like the idea of a car that seats a good sized family comfortably but can drag race with an M5. I've driven and loved some very high performance cars, the Tesla is incomparable because of that ridiculous immediacy. Not having to compromise on practicality to get it puts it in a class of its own, IMO.


A friend of mine just did a TCO spreadsheet comparing the Model S with various assumptions of depreciation to an Audi, Infiniti, Suburu Outback, and a few other vehicles. Even assuming 70% depreciation the cost per mile was less than most of the other luxury cars at the point you hit 128,000 miles.

To me it's comparing the > $50K class of vehicles. If you're going to spend $50K you may as well buy a $90K Tesla, because it will be cheaper if you keep it 6 years or more.


Not to mention that the Tesla (and other hybrid ev) have been holding their value better than any gas powered vehicles. Though you did say "even assuming" .. just wanted to make that point clear.

I'd love to get a Tesla S, but being I live in an apartment, it's not really a practical option for me.


> The only reason the Model S appears to have such a good resale value is that there was a huge backlog for a while

I'd be careful calling it the ONLY reason. It's true - for the mid-term range (6-24 months?), resale values will be inflated due to backlogs. I have a hunch that the cars will hold their value well, especially if the main depreciating factor is the battery pack getting tired.

Another factor, as well, is the potential for Tesla to produce another luxury car that's either heads and tails better than the Model S for a similar price, or of the same quality for a significantly lower cost (scale + battery prices dropping?). Either of these cases could whack resale values of current Model S's down.


All things are relative. I am not some gazillionaire for which money is no concern but I am financially successful enough that I look at money a bit differently that most. When I consider buying cars I expect a certain level of quality and craftsmanship that you typically only find in higher end automobiles. Given that as my baseline - the Model S makes a pretty compelling fiscal argument.

On top of that value and cost are not the same. The value represented by the Tesla can far outpace the cost factors between its sticker and those of a Prius or Fusion.

tldr; I am not in the market for a cheap car, I want a great car.


Why lease then when you could buy?


Personal thing really, started about 10 years ago. I dont drive often but when I do I want it to be an enjoyable and luxurious experience which I often equate with the freshness of a new car. I also get bored of the character of a car over time. Leases gives me a controlled and knowable insulation (given the rapid depreciation of new cars) from the value downside. Basically, I get the new car experience far more often without taking big cash hits.


>I am a monetarily concious consumer who sees the value in a high quality car which maintains its value well...

Wouldn't battery degradation bite into that?


Which degrades and cost more to fix - a battery or a transmission and other mechanical parts?

People act like current cars have no parts or things that go bad over time. Tesla batteries look like they should be at 85% capacity at 100K miles.


Well that's exactly what I'm asking right?


If the quick charging mechanism is going to be "have a robot physically remove the battery and put a new one on" in a few years, then that's not as much of an issue.


I wasn't aware that Tesla were planning to go that route! Awesome if true :)



Wouldn't battery degradation bite into that?

Not nearly as much as for some other cars, as it's a modular part that can literally be swapped out in 90 seconds.


I will flip it before that becomes a concern, I am usually in and out of a car in under 3 years. I get bored easily.


Have you considered leasing? That might be more financially reasonable for you. Then again, you may be in the money range where when you sell your car, it is worth more money than you have left on the loan, so you're more or less ahead.


Just out of curiosity, would you be likely to buy one without the assorted tax incentives?


Yes, the federal is the only one that applies for me. My states has nothing in addition.


> But isn't the result at least somewhat biased, as the car is mostly sold to people looking for V8 noise and performance, who might knowingly or not ignore car's potential problems to promote the HEMI V8 aspect of it.

It works both ways.


That is way to meta. Can you elaborate on that "quote", what part of Tesla is HEMI V8?


The suggestion is that almost everybody is biased in some way, so that while biases may or may not balance each other out, to focus on one side particularly may be a little unfair.




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