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back to article Elon Musk pledges transcontinental car juicers by end of year

Elon Musk says Tesla is tripling the number of electric recharging stations available this year, with enough installed to enable coast-to-coast road trips by the end of the year. Speaking at the D11 conference, Musk said his company has perfected a new "supercharging" technology that will enable faster fill-up times for its …

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The Jaguar E-type is a lovely car...

But the Tesla S accelerates better than anything but the series 3, and handles better than anything Jaguar has ever built. I had a chance to drive a model S lately, and if Elon Musk can come through on his promises about the network of high-speed recharging stations, the model S is a shoe-in for my next car.

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Happy

This guy

He's probably the one that will actually make the future tech we want a reality. Reusable spacecraft & rocket stacks! Functional electric cars! Railgun-ish bullet trains! And he has the money to do it all!

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Gimp

Re: This guy

He DOESN't have the money to do it all. A few years ago, he had to borrow money from friends to meet personal expenses. SpaceX is spending money taken in as deposits for launching satellites to meet current expenses. Tesla is in low volume production of a rather expensive automobile that is based on leading edge technology.

Elon's business models for the enterprises he runs (or micromanages, actually) are razor thin operations. While Tesla motors has paid off some loans and by a certain way of squinting at the books, showed a "profit", it's still a far way off from being a consistent player in the long term. Customers for $90,000 cars are in limited supply. At some point, Tesla will have sold as far in to that market as is reasonably possible. To stay viable, Tesla needs to have models that will be affordable to a larger market segment. Cross country rapid chargers are a good advertising promotion, but electric cars work best as city or commuter cars and not for long journeys. There are gas stations all over the US. Choice is plentiful. What happens when the one rapid charger on a cross country route is out of order? You are stuck in MicroTownship, Nebraska for the afternoon while you recharge from a standard 120V plug. The same town that sports 4 petrol stations.

SpaceX might be a more profitable venture if they can morph the management structure into something more efficient. The table of organization is so flat that if you got a job sweeping up, your application will have a signed endorsement from Elon for your hire. This is why I say he is a "micro-manager". The other deficiency of SpaceX is the stress they put on employees. 50 hours/week is the usual minimum commitment they want from their technical staff and unofficially want to see employees working 60+ hours each week to show proper pride. This has had a tendency to burn out the typically young work force very quickly leading to high turnover and sloppy work. The hardest hit are those with families. It interesting work, but losing out on family life or losing the family altogether isn't much of a life choice.

Trains? The US needs to catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to passenger train service. I personally prefer taking a train over the process of minor molestation in preparation to being packed into a sardine tin maintained by Chinese minimum wage workers using dodgy parts. The choice of destinations in the US is very limited to be the most polite. Politician's constantly state they won't support new rail projects and high speed passenger service because nobody wants it. This is shown to be a monstrous lie when looking at the medium-speed Acela (sp?) service on the east coast. A service that is sometimes more expensive than flying, but more often faster and far more comfortable. It's usually sold out. Any passenger train venture will need some sort of support from the government. Easements and right-of-way apportionments at minimum. Loan guarantees, probably. It would be aggressive of Elon to dive into this market. It could make sense for a rail freight company to leverage their expertise in rail operations to add passenger service. There is no passenger rail service from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. There are loads of flights, but it's mostly faster to drive.

Ok, flame away. All I can say is that I know whereth I speak.

Fanboi to illustrate the EM reality distortion field.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This guy

"To stay viable, Tesla needs to have models that will be affordable to a larger market segment"

Please go back and re-read the article. It does state that the "expencive, low volume model" was a stepping stone to producing exactly what you say they need. It's a way of testing the technologies while not going bankrupt because you can't bring cash in at all.

It's not like the huge car factory he got for peanuts during the crash was ment to produce the low numbers he's producing now.

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Re: This guy

MOST of SpaceX's funding has come from NASA progress payments. They have a $1.6Bn contract to supply the International Space Station, and a proven method of fulfilling that. As for the launch contracts, they have taken DEPOSITS, not full payments so they can still cover their costs when they have to provide the promised launches. Their management doesn't seem to have done a bad job here.

As for aircraft maintenance and parts, I guess you've never had anything to do with the aviation industry. Mechanics have to be certified by the FAA and all parts have to be built to standard, be traceable and identifiable. The result is that maintenance is anything BUT cheap and done by Chinese workers.

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Re: This guy

What proportion of the cost of a Model S is the battery? As I recall, it's about 50% in the Roadster, which seriously limits the opportunities for making the thing cheaper. Plus, of course, there is still a serious issue with limit battery life and consequently enormous replacement costs.

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Re: This guy

"Customers for $90,000 cars are in limited supply. At some point, Tesla will have sold as far in to that market as is reasonably possible."

Funny. Lots of companies specialise in high performance, and unlike Tesla, have no plans to develop cheaper models. For instance:

Ferrari; Maserati; Lamborghini; Gumpert; Morgan; Noble; Bentley; Rolls Royce; Aston Martin; Maclaren; Porsche; Bugatti; Koenigsegg; Ascari; Pagani

No reason they couldn't pursue a high-price, high-performance business model if they wanted to.

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Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

My personal electricity bill has been climbing per KW since I started paying the bills.

Over-all, as more electricity is used, the price per KW will rise as it becomes more important to battery-only powered transportation. Capitalism just works that way.

That, and the fact that the national grid can not, and never will be, capable of making these things ubiquitous[1] makes 'em a niche market for poser so-called "greens" ... none of whom actually understand the concept of "total cost of ownership", apparently.

[1] Do you really think that each & every car owned by individuals, on the entire planet, will ever be capable of being powered by batteries charged entirely off the grid? What are you smoking?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

Jake, I know you are only young (15?), so therefore still have a lot to learn, so shall we start now?

1. Never say never. Bond was right. Many people much cleverer than you or I have said something could never happen, and yet have been proven completely and utterly wrong within just a few years.

2. Electricity prices have climbed. True. It called inflation and happens to everything. Now compare that with the much larger increase in fuel costs, and then consider that hydrocarbon fuels will eventually run out, unlike electricity.

3. As electricity demand increases once electric cars become more popular, more electricity generating sources can be built /added. Wind, solar, wave, hydro, nuclear are the commonly quoted non-hydrocarbon ones. Now, can you give me a mechanism by which we can increase the supply of hydrocarbons?

4. Power, overall, will get more expensive.

5. Try thinking a bit more. Don't dismiss without thinking.

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FAIL

Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

The more important question is what are you smoking?

At current prices electricity is significantly cheaper per mile than petrol. There is also substantial over capacity during off-peak periods (which is why it is offered cheaper then). The result is that EV charging can be used to smooth out peaks and troughs in demand (EVs can also feed power back to the grid at peak demand, gaining their owners cash).

Next the idea that the grid can't cope, nor that it can't be upgraded. Both are utter nonsense. There won't be a Big Bang conversion here, petrol will be around for a long time to come, and there is currently enough capacity for a significant percentage of vehicles to be electric powered. It will take many years for the current grid to be unable to handle any more EVs, and it can be upgraded perfectly well, not by boosting voltage but by adding more lines. There's also the possibility with the new lines to shift to DC transmission which results in less power loss.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

@AC 9:16

All of that. And over the long term, say since early 1960s the cost of a kWh of the electric has come down, and no reason to not believe it will not carry on doing so.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

" There's also the possibility with the new lines to shift to DC transmission which results in less power loss."

CONGRATS

No3!

perhaps i should have got to the end of the comment before posting!

DC is exactly what you DON'T want fot this sort of application. HVDC is _just_ economic if you have 1 line over 100km long with no tee offs moving a shitload of power. The substations are enormously expensive to build, and while Z0 is quite a bit lower (not that Z0 strictly applies to a DC line) the subs still cost 10's of millions, and you cant really get away from that. Hell even edison worked that one out.... eventually.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

"EVs can also feed power back to the grid at peak demand, gaining their owners cash"

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

that is the single stupidest thing i have ever read anywhere!

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

" there is currently enough capacity for a significant percentage of vehicles to be electric powered."

CONGRATULATIONS

that is the second stupidest thing i have ever read!

(I'm beginning to see a pattern emerge here)

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

Re. "Now, can you give me a mechanism by which we can increase the supply of hydrocarbons?"

Yes, biofuels such as ethanol, when produced on low-grade land unsuitable for food crops, from bio-waste, or harvested from algae-bacteria. This is a carbon-neutral, sustainable energy source that can be used in conventional combustion engines. It is more energy dense than expensive batteries that need replacing every few years, and both safer and cheaper than hydrogen. It will be a long time before most electricity is generated from sustainable energy sources.

Converting hydrocarbons directly into kinetic energy is more efficient than combustion in a power station then converting the kinetic energy to electricity, losing energy in transmission across the grid, then converting it back into kinetic energy again. Electricity will only be more efficient for city cars that stop/stop often and use regenerative braking. However a light weight regenerative system could be added to cars with hydrocarbon engines to improve their efficiency in city traffic, without using large batteries.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

@Naughtyhorse - you seem to be majoring in stupid yourself, and providing no evidence to the contrary. The difference in power draw between peak and off peak is well documented at over 50,000MWh, using 1/3rd of that for 8 hours per day (overnight, off peak) would be enough to drive over 30% of the cars in the country.

DC power lines have been in use since the 1930's when the Swedes worked out how to do what Edison couldn't. There's nothing new or magical about them, we use them to transfer power between France and the UK, and between the UK and Ireland.

Feeding power back in to the grid is also a well known technology, it is used by owners of PV panels for example. The idea of EV drivers setting an amount of power they can afford to return to the grid and getting a higher rate for that is far from fanciful.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

@YARR - no it isn't

IC engines run at about 30% efficiency. A fixed power plant burning the same fuel can run at better than 80% efficiency. Even allowing for charging and transmissions losses then you come out in front by using electric power. Also you remove the problem of emissions in urban areas, which are a significant problem.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

The idea of EV drivers setting an amount of power they can afford to return to the grid and getting a higher rate for that is far from fanciful."

On that note, the hydro storage power plant in Nth Wales uses cheap leccy to pump water up to the top resevoir at night and then sells it back during the day at higher rates, keeping two turbines in reserve for "emergencies", ie the reason it exists in the first place. The profit from buying low at night and selling high during daytime more or less pays for the upkeep.

I wonder if it would be possible to charge an EV overnight and dump it back into the grid during the day and make a profit? There's bound to be some days when you don't need the car.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

New disruptions are always confusing; stay calm.

And to help your false view of "capitalism", that's actually not the way it works...yes, there's inflation, but that's the way unfettered, unregulated greed works (especially when externalities like spewing pollution into the atmosphere with no chargeback -- same as when London had the black fog from profiteering coal plants, remember how fun that was -- while people died off, like ants?) .

Here's why 100-year-old power companies are resisting solar:

http://grist.org/climate-energy/solar-panels-could-destroy-u-s-utilities-according-to-u-s-utilities/

As Musk said, incumbents get stagnant..only new entrants will innovate in big leaps (i.e., continuing with gas-only engines, despite the Toyota CEO's bold $1 billion move into hybrids in 1995). See "Who Killed The Electric Car?" and enlighten yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsJAlrYjGz8

Musk has another IPO, called SolarCity. Buying a Tesla means that you have access to solar-powered Supercharging stations for free, FOREVER (and a software update will allow 200-mile range after 20 minutes).

Don't be a downer; try to dream and make the future happen...it's healthier and more fun.

Here's Musk's D11 interview:

http://allthingsd.com/20130530/tesla-ceo-and-spacex-founder-elon-musk-the-full-d11-interview-video/

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

EV charging can be used to smooth out demand IF those EVs are being used as urban/suburban commuter cars charging in the driveway overnight and/or the parking lot of the office building during the day. EVs on cross-country road trips are a whole different animal. If you roll into Flagstaff at 3:42pm with a low battery, you don't care what the price of electricity is at 4 in the morning, because it's 3:42pm and you need to charge your car. You'll be paying the 3:42pm price, and putting the demand on the grid.

Seriously, I don't get this obsession with long-range EVs. Here in the States a lot of families already have 2 cars. The way it usually works out is that one of them is newer/bigger and is used for shuttling the kids around, road trips, and the like. The other car is older/smaller and is used for commuting and errands. You could replace that second car with a reasonable commuter EV like a Nissan Leaf and no one would notice the difference. That's a pretty large market and you don't need to build a cross-country network of public charging stations (with all the attendant issues) to address it.

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@gujiguju - solar powered supercharging stations

Musk has another IPO, called SolarCity. Buying a Tesla means that you have access to solar-powered Supercharging stations for free, FOREVER

----

The supercharging stations aren't solar powered, the solar power is to "offset" the energy consumed by the supercharging stations. You'd need acres of PV panels to provide the juice to serve as many cars as a typical gas station sees in a day. Maybe out in the desert that would be a feasible plan (assuming you had the grid connection for net metering, otherwise add a small warehouse for all the batteries) But not in the cities, where, you know, most people tend to live.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

Electric cars could be the savior of the electricity grid - especially in developing countries with poor infrastructure (like the USA).

You have coal plants which you can't adjust and a massive demand during the day for AC (which you can't meet) and no demand at night (which destabilises your grid).

Having a million UPS distributed across California hooked up to smart meters could save billions on having to build super high capacity DC links like Germany is having to do now it got rid of its nukes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

@badpony - repeat after me 'feed in tariff' .. And no, you comment isn't the stoudist, just regrettably ill considered

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

"Do you really think that each & every car owned by individuals, on the entire planet, will ever be capable of being powered by batteries charged entirely off the grid? What are you smoking?"

That's exactly what's going to happen, yes. I'm not a "poser green" either, I actually work in the oil industry, but everyone knows this is what's happening. I don't understand why you find it so unfathomable anyway, we've steadily been using more and more electricity every year for half a century now, from demand from both industry and domestic use. So electric vehicles are going to increase that further? Big deal. Build more powerplants and expand the national grid.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

"Do you really think that each & every horse and cart owned by individuals, on the entire planet, will ever be capable of being powered by internal combustion engines fuelled by a liquid explosive? What are you smoking?"

See, place this discussion way back when cars were themselves new and voila, you can see how silly you sound.

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FAIL

Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

"@Naughtyhorse - you seem to be majoring in stupid yourself, and providing no evidence to the contrary. The difference in power draw between peak and off peak is well documented at over 50,000MWh, using 1/3rd of that for 8 hours per day (overnight, off peak) would be enough to drive over 30% of the cars in the country."

Cept of course you cant determine when people will run out of juice (it's kinda the point of the whole article, you know if you read the words!) so by your measure when your tesla goes flat, you have to park up until around 23:00 then fill up with off peak amps. What a cool idea! CONGRATS etc etc you just made noddy cars an even worse idea!

"DC power lines have been in use since the 1930's when the Swedes worked out how to do what Edison couldn't. There's nothing new or magical about them, we use them to transfer power between France and the UK, and between the UK and Ireland."

DC power lines have been in use since considerably before 1930 - by roughly 50 years! yes we use them to control transfer of power internationally - but (read my post) it is only economic if you are transferring MASSIVE amounts of power from 1 point to one other point - or interconnecting 2 grids that fun at different frequencies, or are not in phase and cannot be practically synchronised. Not from 1 point to many (you have to build a lot of substations) for DC this is vastly more expensive than AC. you can't charge a car at transmission voltages (due to insulation issues), and you cant efficiently transmit at charging voltages (due to I squared R issues - z0 may be lower, but it aint zero) so you need to 'transform' voltages - for this you need a transformer :-), sadly they only work with AC, so you take your transmission level DC, chop it to AC (you use a ton of REALLY expensive thyristors to do this) transform the ac down to a charging voltage, and rectify that (admittedly using cheaper thyristors this time - just a few tens of thousands of dollars) and you add in a shedload of reactive compensation to deal with all the narsty harmonics this generates. (this is what we had to do in Qatar when i built one of these a few years back - so just maybe i might have the vaguest inkling as to what i am on about)

"Feeding power back in to the grid is also a well known technology, it is used by owners of PV panels for example. The idea of EV drivers setting an amount of power they can afford to return to the grid and getting a higher rate for that is far from fanciful."

Okay, we'll ignore the protection issues this raises, like the UK regulator :-), plus it really would take me too long to explain. take it from me it is a VERY BAD THING! something we will all get to appreciate in a few years time, when network availability drops through the floor. due to the massive drop in fault tolerance introduced into the system.

Yes it is entirely technically possible to do this, if ill advised, given the assumptions on load flow that underpin all current (lol i made a pun!) protection schemes. What is so outrageously stupid about this suggestion is;

current and foreseeably projected EV projects are all on a knife edge regarding the amount of per stored in the batteries. The idea that people in any significant numbers will have sufficient quantities of power to consider returning any to the grid is laughable. And you know those uber expensive dc-dc substations i told you about - you just made them a shitload more expensive (metering CT's and comms equipment).

technically when the price of gas goes up a cent overnight, i could go down to the gas station and sell the petrol out of my tank back to them, and make a tidy profit!

now i wonder why THAT never happens?

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WTF?

Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

re. 30% v 80% efficiency

If an IC engine is only 30% efficient, and nearly 60% (according to Google) of the energy in the fuel is wasted as heat, then a car producing 100HP at cruising speed is emitting heat equivalent to 200HP = 148kW, or 74 x 2kW electric fan heaters. Why then does the warm air blower produce so little heat?

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FAIL

Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

@naughtyhorse - you're not getting any better or any brighter.

It doesn't matter when you run out of power, only that MOST cars recharge off peak. There's no need to wait in the unlikely event that you need a mid-day recharge.

DC power systems have been getting progressively cheaper and smaller scale. The latest models are all solid state and are economical over distances of 10's of kilometres. Go look up HVDC Light and HVDC PLUS.

If feeding power back into the grid will doom us then we're already doomed. As others (and myself) have already pointed out FIT systems (like PV) are already doing this. You've also totally failed to explain WHY this will doom us.

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Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...

@YARR - tell you what, run your car engine for a while, then open the radiator cap. If you still have your eyebrows (or face) left then try telling us again that they don't produce much waste heat. You can finish off by holding the exhaust pipe if you like.

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Faith. (was: Re: Musk obviously has staff to pay his bills and thus never actually sees them ...)

One thing I've noticed in this silly thread I've spawned ... Faith is an ugly thing. It gets in the way of reality. Even when talking about technology.

If you don't actually understand what you are talking about, and are just re-posting what your shaman asks you to regurgitate, kindly don't type about it. It gets very old, very soon.

Ultimate killer-hardware/application combo? A wrist-watch that forces the wearer to slap him/herself in the face when attempting to post religious clap-trap.

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Re: Try thinking a bit more. Don't dismiss without thinking.

You really ought to practice that before posting such drivel.

1. Pure drivel with no bearing on the current discussions.

2. Maybe in the UK they track with inflation, certainly not in the US. Even in the case of the UK, I expect that to the extent they aren't increasing in at the meter costs, it is because it is increasing in at the VAT costs. Here in the US we've seen year on year increases ranging from 3 to 7% for the last three years at least with more coming. The only deflationary pressure on this has been the huge influx of natural gas that has resulted from fracking operations on privately owned land. Now maybe a lot of that price pressure is because they've been artificially depressed over the previous 30 years, but that doesn't change the fact that they are going up. Increasing demand for them won't make them go lower.

3. We've needed more generating capacity for a good 15-20 years now. It's been systematically stymied by the commie-green axis. Wind, solar, and thermal simply can't make that up. And don't talk to me about nukes. The only thing the green-commie axis hates worse than coal or gas (petrol to you Brits) is nuclear. So no, those aren't coming online either. They can start building them (it's important to keep the rubes' hopes up), but they'll never produce an mw of power that feeds the grid. And that's assuming the grid can keep up with it. The only thing in worse shape than our power plant situation is the physical grid itself.

4. Probably, but again that's mostly because the commie-green axis won't let any new real power sources come on line. They may be willing to sacrifice a couple flocks of seagulls to placate the rubes about bringing new sources online, but that won't relieve the price pressure. And since the real goal is to depopulate the rubes, that pressure has to stay high.

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@Getriebe

I suppose you're one of those people who will never let a few facts get in the way of a good rant:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/story/2011-12-13/electric-bills/51840042/1

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Re: The more important question is what are you smoking?

Well, whatever it is, it's killed fewer brain cells than whatever you're shooting up with.

The US grid has had significant rolling brownout problems the last two or three years running. There is no excess generating capacity and the grid runs at too high an efficiency percentage during waking hours. The hours which are precisely the ones that will be used for those high capacity charging stations. Running the 110v line to the garage overnight may work in the rural and the less dense 'burbs, but move into any of the high density housing areas and there are no garages, which means you aren't running cords out the front door of your apartment/townhouse to charge your street parked car overnight.

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Re: @Getriebe

Hardly a rant you pin headed colonial.

The figures you point out and they are similar here in the UK and many other European countries are the result of political interference. Give a reasonably free hand the generating companies would continue the downward cost of generation using new materials, techniques and control.

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"California is currently planning the slowest and highest-cost high-speed rail link in existence". I assume you're talking about XpressWest: $5 billion for 186 miles of 150 mph track. But Britain has a plan (that looks like going ahead for reasons that no sane person can fathom) for HS2, phase 1 of which (London - Birmingham) is estimated* to cost $50 billion for 100 miles of 225 mph track. When it comes to pissing away public money, you're mere amateurs.

* This is a government project, so you can probably double that to get the real cost.

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Boffin

"But Britain has a plan (that looks like going ahead for reasons that no sane person can fathom) for HS2, phase 1 of which (London - Birmingham) is estimated* to cost $50 billion for 100 miles of 225 mph track."

Apart from being a nice round number (always good for inspiring unthinking knee jerk hatred) do you have, dare I say it, a reference for that figure?

Enquiring minds etc......

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Sorry, I picked the wrong number from the HS2 site, which includes both phase 1 and phase 2. The correct cost for phase 1 alone is 'only' $25 billion* - sounds like a bargain now, doesn't it? In reality, whether it's clinically insane by a factor of 10x or 20x doesn't actually matter - it's still utterly bonkers. To save us from further irrelevant quibbling, the HS2 site claims the length of phase 1 to be 140 miles, I guess they're including the spur to Lichfield.

* "We estimate the first phase of HS2 will cost around £16.3bn to construct (in 2011 prices)." At the current rate of £1 = $1.52, that's $24.8 billion. These are HS2's own numbers from their web site, linked above - but the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority says they're crap and has categorised it amongst those government projects that are 'failing' (although for some completely inexplicable reason they're refusing to publish their report).

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Don't be daft Chris Miller.

The land the US scheme goes across is very cheap (as land in the US generally is, unless it is in metropolitan centres). However, in the UK, this line would be built across valuable farmland, valuable land in London, through tunnels in beautiful Buckinghamshire, over rivers, etc...

The projects, whilst provide a train in both cases are nowhere near the same in complexity. One is like laying down a model railway on a table in your roof, the other is like making all the models yourself, then laying them down on a mountain.

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Compare rail transport in Japan to the UK. They are similarly sized and geographicly (to a point). Both also got flattened in WW2.

The Japanese invested in infrastructure such as high speed rail and now you can see Bullet trains snake through crowded area's of tokyo before getting you to your destination at 200mph. The French are similar although they have a bigger, flatter country.

The UK did not priorities high speed rail and have major projects under way to electrify parts of the network. End result? clogged roads, cramped trains and extortionate charges. There is only so much space to add more trains onto the network.

HS2 is expensive in the same way all government projects are but investment in infrastructure is always worth it. It is amazing that it is cheaper to fly between some destinations in the uk then it is for a standard class train ticket and with the flight at least you can get a seat!

See also Germany (autobahn), South Korea (Fibre) etc

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@CM

That $5 billion price tag is the one given by the bought politician to make it sound plausible. Multiply by 5 before it actually makes it through the government to start the project. Then another 10 times for the inevitable delays, unforeseen obstacles, environmental impact statements, and various and sundry lawsuits.

Hell, they can't even build an itsy-bitsy $300 million transit facility (read: parking garage only actually a through-way building for buses) in my neck of the woods.

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Where the **** am I going to plug an electric car in where I live?

I live on a dual carriage way and can only park outside my house at certain times of day. I would have to run a cable out of the house and across the pavement and the little scrotes that infest the area would have great fun unplugging every electric car they saw and the little scrotes bigger brother, mums, dads etc who have cars would probably plug theirs in instead and charge them at my expense.

You would then have to deal with the person who 'tripped over' the power lead and was suing you for a broken neck, stress, trauma, depression and the fact they're an idiot.

I would say on balance that more than 50% of the population (I'm talking the UK here) live in properties where it is not feasible to charge an electric car at home (IMHO you need a drive at least or a garage to be able to charge at home reliably and safely).

The future to me is either the hybrid type which uses an engine to recharge the battery or hydrogen if they can ever get it working properly.

Plug in rechargeable cars are a useful stepping stone and have pushed battery technology forward but they are not the future.

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So public charging points are entirely mythical

And it's not possible to install charging points on the street? Think more about how something could be done rather than why you personally can't do something this instant.

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Daniel, It sounds like an electric car is not a good fit for your situation. You may move or perhaps a car park with electric charging points will be built within a reasonable walking distance. So it may become workable for your in the future.

Recharging batteries from a petrol engine is going the wrong way. An efficient petrol or diesel car is going to get better mileage if it isn't lugging a load of heavy batteries about all of the time. Although, there might be enough incentives if it avoids congestion and pollution charges in an area like London.

Don't bother about Hydrogen dreams. Honda's Clarity vehicle is fitted with a fuel cell that costs nearly £2m. That price hasn't budged much in the last decade. If weight isn't a problem, there are some fuel cells that work well for fixed installations and the odd articulated bus.

I talked to an owner of a Chevy Volt who's employer fitted a charging point for him to use while his car is parked at work. I found out that he needed to charge at home and work to use the car in pure electric mode both ways (about 80 miles round trip). It never hurts to find out if your employer will do the same. There may be grants available to a business that covers the expense of installing the charging points and a program for a reduced tariff on the power. It could be a nice perk for an employer to offer or they could levy £10/month for those employees that would use it. It could also be offered as a bonus for employees meeting monthly goals to get a parking spot up front with free charging for the month.

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I notice how Musk always skips over the fact that once the batteries are depleted on your expensive electric car there is a huge cost to replace them which almost makes more sense to scrap the car entirely and buy a new one which is hardly very environmentally friendly.

for battery powered electric cars to be a success some form of easily swap batteries need to be made available, perhaps you could rent batteries so you just pull into a garage when your battery is low and they swap it out for a fully charged unit. But this would involve all manufacturers agreeing on a standard battery configuration which is a long time off

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"so you just pull into a garage when your battery is low and they swap it out for a fully charged unit."

Must also remember that the cost of a 'swap will need to include quite a large charge for depreciation of the battery.

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Funny that you mention that idea of easily swappable car batteries. Actualy it exists ... or should I say existed.

'Better Place' did just that - and filed for bankrupty a couple of days ago.

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Many oil companies went bust in the early days

It doesn't mean that it's a bad idea, just that business model and volumes of scale aren't right at the moment.

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If you own a Roadster you have to set about ten grand a year aside in the battery replacement fund. That ten grand would buy an AWFUL lot of petrol. Oh, and petrol doesn't lose 80% of its enthalpy of combustion if you park overnight in sub zero temperatures.

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Half that number

The Roadster battery cost $36,000 today and has a projected 7 year life span, so if nothing changes and you stick that money under your mattress (rather than somewhere that pays interest) that's a tad over $5k per year. You can however pretty much guarantee that in 7 years time there will be cheaper replacements. You also need to remember that your petrol car needs replacement parts (of which it has many more, and needs more servicing) and depreciates also.

I've no idea where you got that second number from.

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"Must also remember that the cost of a 'swap will need to include quite a large charge for depreciation of the battery."

I think the point is that nobody would own their own battery. Shell or Exxon or BP (for example) would own lots of batteries, and you just pay them to swap out the dead one and put in a charged one. Then after that, the dead battery is recharged and the total deducted from your account. Depreciation of the battery is factored into the headline rate of the electricity.

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