back to article Petrol cars are dead in the water, says Tesla CTO waving numbers on the back of an envelope

Gasoline-powered cars are a dying breed, and not because everyone will become a tree-hugging fossil-fuel-hating hippie, but rather thanks to cost. That's according to JB Straubel, the CTO of electric-car maker Tesla, who gave a keynote earlier this month at the InterSolar conference in San Francisco. Straubel's main argument …

  1. Blank Reg

    I don't want to drive a car that sounds like a golf cart. And unless they find a way to get their batteries to work well at -20c and below then I doubt I'll ever have to. There are still just too many compromises in driving electric vehicles regardless of the price of the batteries.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      I'm sure we could install a subwoofer-equipped sound system to make all the vroom vroom noises you need.

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        And we can then hack the subwoofer system to make it sound like an ice cream van. Now that's a good prank.

        1. Arctic fox
          Thumb Up

          @ GitMeMyShootinIrons Re:" make it sound like an ice cream..."

          Thank for that old chap. I howled with laughter at the image of someone discovering that their super expensive Tesla shiny suddenly sounds a 1960s Tonibell van!

      2. Rabbit80

        There are already cars on the market that do that..

    2. Weapon

      lol, you call -20c cold? The guy who has the most Tesla cars lives in arctic circle in Norway. It gets so cold, diesel freezes. But his Tesla cars work well.

      Don't confused lead acid batteries to lithium ion batteries.

      1. Stoke the atom furnaces

        Wrap up warm

        Your Norwegian arctic guy is stuffed if he wants to drive any distance in an ev with the heater on, better wrap up warm; brrrrrrr.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

          Re: Wrap up warm

          Unless the e-car is 100% efficient, there will be waste heat. Tesla has water cooled the motor, reportedly even including the rotor. There should be some amount of waste heat.

          Of course, since a Tesla is never more than a few hours from being plugged in again (half kidding), the cabin can be toasty warm when powered by the grid.

          Hmmm... I'm going to write ELECTRIC CAR on the back of my car, wire in an e-car socket, and install an electric heater. Then I'll park in those spots and use only a few kw to keep my car toasty warm in winter. Maybe have a window-mounted aircon during the summer, but that might be too obvious.

      2. Hardrada

        "lol, you call -20c cold? The guy who has the most Tesla cars lives in arctic circle in Norway. It gets so cold, diesel freezes. But his Tesla cars work well."

        I live in Minnesota, and I can vouch that gasoline doesn't freeze at -40 C. I've also never heard any complaints about diesel freezing, although most people here drive gasoline cars. The more common problems are failure to start because the glow plugs don't get hot enough, or because the starter motor won't turn the sticky crank (often because the battery is too cold).

        I can also vouch for the comment about the heater. Even a modern gas engine won't get a car to more than > 0 F (-18 C) in the time that it takes to drive several miles to work. Granted most of the engine's waste heat goes out the tailpipe and only the block heat is used to heat the interior, but I think it's still likely to use a fair amount of power.

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      "...because the battery pack didn't weigh 1,500 pounds,"

      No it doesn't. But it does weigh about 1,250 pounds.

      His claim is technically true, but it seems to be attempted deception.

    4. John Robson Silver badge

      @Blank Reg

      You have seen how many of these things are sold in Scandinavia right..

      They like them, alot - partly because they work so damned well, no fuel to freeze see.

      They also have very good road holding and the various computerised "keep me on the road" gubbins can react far faster than a combustion engine can...

      1. Def Silver badge

        The main reasons Teslas are so popular in Norway are as follows:

        1) All electric cars can use bus lanes. (This is slowly changing though now that the bus lanes are more clogged on the way into Oslo in the morning. Now during rush hour, you have to have at least one passenger too.)

        2) Electric cars are exempt from paying motorway/city tolls.

        3) All electric car charge points in town are free.

        4) Electric cars are exempt from the 120% "environment" tax other new cars are subject to.

        5) Have you seen the competition?

        I want a Tesla. But not the model S that makes up over 15% of cars on the road in Norway. Nor the Model X with its ridiculous gull wing doors and seven seats (give me more space in the back).

        I get the impression Tesla is like every software developer on the planet: they have all these cool ideas and get very excited about them in the beginning, but then get bored halfway through and start something else without finishing the first thing. Come on, Tesla, produce more models and variety already.

    5. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      "...find a way to get their batteries to work well at -20c and below..."

      If low temperatures are a big issue for batteries, then the solutions are fairly obvious.

      1) Wrap the batteries in an inch of high tech thermal insulation.


      Calm down and shut your trap for a minute.

      2) The battery insulation will obviously have doors for controlled air flow, and/or water pipes for liquid cooling. One can have both insulation and/or cooling.

      3) At home, or anywhere while being charged, the batteries can be kept toasty warm at the ideal temperature.

      4) If parked in a cold field, then a tiny amount of power, maybe 30 watts, can be used to heat the battery box to keep it warm. Some spreadsheet jockey can work out the ideal amount of heat. A 90kWh pack can run a 30 watt heater for 3000 hours. Use some logical timer and remote control design, and it's a non-issue.

      Problem 99.9% solved.

  2. Derpity

    Still a bit confused

    So, the theory is that electric cars are cleaner than gas engines. I wouldn't argue that in day to day operation an electric car(or hybrid) produces less pollution than a standard gas engine. However, you have to charge those cars. That electricity needs to be generated somewhere. In the US nuclear power is available but not as prevalent as fossil fuel. Aren't you really just "moving" the the pollution? This is not to be a troll, I've just never seen anything address this in a way that makes sense to me.

    1. A. Coatsworth

      Re: Still a bit confused

      I had the same question, The only sensible explanation I've found is economies of scale: it is (or should be) more efficient to have a single main power station somewhere out of town than thousands of little internal combustion engines going around, even if they burn the same fuel. That takes into account the losses due to energy transmission over the lines.

      N.B: that's not my opinion and I don't endorse nor refute it in any way. It's just a plausible explanation I read.

    2. Dakuan

      Re: Still a bit confused

      Yep, it's being moved, and that's still a very good thing.

      1. Power plants are more efficient that car engines, the pollutey far less per unit.

      2. Every time a petrol car goes on the road, it's stuck polluting. When an electric car is delivered, it's possible to change it's ultimate power source. Commission a new Nuke / windfarm / solar / hamster wheel - all the electric cars get cleaner. The petrol ones do not.

      1. Chemist

        Re: Still a bit confused

        "1. Power plants are more efficient that car engines, the pollutey far less per unit."

        Official US figures for thermal electricity generation put the average efficiency at ~~ 35% which is ~similar to diesel cars.

        I think combined plants that produce district heating etc. are much better but relatively rare

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Still a bit confused

        > Every time a petrol car goes on the road, it's stuck polluting

        Actually that's false as well - or at least it could be for "almost" no cost.

        Just about every new vehicle for sale today could be flex fuel - it basically only needs minor tweaks to the engine management. The cost of doing that, amortised over the whole fleet of vehicles sold, it pretty well nothing - they spend waaaaaaay more on updates to the ICE stuff.

        So a simple change, and even if you only rolled it out with new models it would still be "standard" within a few years, could allow your internal combustion engine to run on any mix of hydrocarbon (petrol, gasoline), ethanol, or methanol. SO it can go on the road today burning mostly petrol, and then use ethanol and or methanol as these became more available.

        And the technology exists to make methanol from atmospheric CO2 + water + energy. Note that the carbon element of it comes from atmospheric CO2 so although CO2 is emitted at point of use, it is recaptured by the production process.

        For the energy, you either build a few nuclear power stations (including a few of the type that will burn all that nasty plutonium instead of having to pay a fortune to get rid of your fuel !), or you put in massive amounts of renewables (wind and solar voltaic). But the neat thing is, you can use the load from cracking water as a variable load for your intermittent supplies - quite frankly it's the only sensible way to run a lot of renewables.

        And it gets better.

        You site your production where the energy is - either very windy places where people don't mind the windmills, or very sunny places where people don't mind the solar farms. We already have the infrastructure to transport the resulting fuel - it will go in the very same tanks, pipes, pumps, dispensers as we already have.

        So unlike hydrogen or lecky, it doesn't need massive (really massive) infrastructure investments before it's practical as a mass market because it can use the existing infrastructure.

        Not only that, but as everyone knows - you can "recharge" that liquid fuel burning car in a couple of minutes from completely empty to completely full. If you run out, you can transfer some emergency supplies from a hand-held container (either one you've been carrying, or one the rescue guy is carrying).

        While battery tech is improving the former - though as already pointed out the grid just cannot cope with that sort of load - it can't deal with the latter.

        The main downside is that until there is enough nuclear and renewables, it doesn't really make sense burning fossil fuels to crack water to make hydrogen to make methanol. You might as well just burn the fossil fuel where it's used - in the engine - and leave the non-fossil fuels for other uses.

    3. Orv Silver badge

      There are two real arguments to that point that EV advocates will cite:

      1. Pollution from point sources is much easier to deal with; power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles. They're also more thermally efficient, so even with power transmission losses, charging losses, etc. the overall efficiency is as good or better than a gasoline powered car.

      2. The mix really depends on where you live. On the west coast (probably the most natural place for EVs to be adopted, due to mild weather and persistent smog problems) fossil fuels are less than half of the total electricity production. A big chunk of it is hydroelectric power.

      1. Graham Dawson

        Of course all of this ignores the fact that essentially all of the pollution a car will produce over its lifetime is produced during the manufacture of that car, and at the moment an electric car produces far more pollution in total (that means counting everything, not just CO2 emissions) during its manufacture than an equivalent IC car. Elon's big battery manufacturing plants might mitigate that somewhat, but I can't imagine they'd make a significant dent in the total, especially when you consider the environmental issues surrounding the mining and refinement of rare earths.

        1. liuping

          There are actually no rare earths used in the Model S battery or motor.

          1. Hardrada

            "There are actually no rare earths used in the Model S battery or motor."

            Nope, just ~2,000 pounds of "condensed electricity," which is what old engineers called aluminum.

            BMW is claiming a 30% reduction in the lifecycle CO2 emissions of an i3 relative to one of their similarly-sized diesels (when it's powered with a typical European energy mix, or 50% if it's powered by wind/solar/hydro). They achieve that by making the body with hydro-power in Washington, specifying that at least 80% of the aluminum had to be recycled, and using rare earth motors. Aluminum is already recycled at a high rate, so buying more recycled Al probably may not increase the recycling rate (and reduce refining and CO2 output) that much.

        2. nilfs2

          @Graham Dawson

          Don't forget shipping those shiny new cars and replacement batteries from Asia to the rest of the world, they get shipped by boat, one of the biggest polluters on our era. A single cargo ship can pollute as much as 50 million cars.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: @Graham Dawson

            That applies equally to imported engine-driven cars, though; they don't magically materialize here. Of course, most "imports" in the US are actually manufactured on this continent (and so is the Tesla.)

            1. nilfs2

              Re: @Graham Dawson

              Teslas are made in the US, but where do they get the raw materials from?

              1. Orv Silver badge

                Re: @Graham Dawson

                Many of the raw materials are probably imported, but that's not really an argument against electric cars specifically; it's true of all cars (and pretty much anything manufactured.)

          2. Chemist

            Re: @Graham Dawson

            "A single cargo ship can pollute as much as 50 million cars."

            That's sulfur pollution - v.nasty but just one pollutant.

            From your own ref.

            The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that Carbon dioxide emissions from shipping were equal to 2.7% of the global human-made emissions in 2007[1] and expects them to rise by as much as 2 to 3 times by 2050 if no action is taken

        3. Weapon

          Did you say that just because you felt like it or actually bothered to research it? In a petrol car, production of the car is 20% of the pollution, driving is 80% of the pollution.

          An EV only takes up about 30% more to produce. With the gigafactory it will be less since the factory will produce 120% of its power in renewable energy.

          There is also no rare earth in neither a lithium ion battery nor the motor. (you are confusing it for either NIMH batteries or PM motors)

          1. Charles Manning

            "In a petrol car, production of the car is 20% of the pollution, driving is 80% of the pollution."

            Based on what lifetime and usage? That "20%" is fixed whether you use the car for 50,000 km or 500,000 km. Many of the numbers are based on some usage model like 100,000 km or 100,000 miles.

            My 20 year old diesel HiAce has over 400,000 km on the clock. It has had nothing replaced except one clutch (replaced at 90,000 km due to previous owner being a knob-head - it would still be on the first clutch if I had owned it from new) and normal wear and tear items (cam belts, tyres and brake pads). By my reckoning it has used about 33,000 litres of diesel. And I treat it like complete shit.

            What is certain though is that replacing a clunker with a shiny new hybrid - or any car for that matter - does not necessarily reduce pollution.

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

        If you're concerned about air pollution (HCs, NOx, CO) and the first thing that pops into your mind is the fleet of modern cars, then you are *massively* ill-informed.

        In fact, modern cars emit next to nothing in terms of traditional air pollutants, HCs, NOx, and CO. Modern cars can easily have tail pipe emissions that are literally cleaning than ambient, given a modern car in a polluted city.

        NOTE: CO2 emissions (green house gas) is another topic.

        Reportedly the 15 largest ships in the world combined emit more air pollution than all the cars on Earth combined. Perhaps somebody should look into that...

        Even decades ago, it was noted that a Saab could cross North America and emit less air pollution than running a lawn mower for two hours.

        Look elsewhere if you're looking for sources of air pollution.

        Some public transit buses use Detroit Diesel engines that are not only diesel, but also 2-stroke. You can't compensate for that, not enough seats in a stadium let alone the bus to cover that many orders of magnitude. Pollution pigs.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

          Considering the newest 2-stroke Detroit Diesel would be 20 years old at this point, my guess is most of the 2-strokes that were put in transit buses are either already off the road or will be soon.

        2. Orv Silver badge

          Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

          "Reportedly the 15 largest ships in the world combined emit more air pollution than all the cars on Earth combined. Perhaps somebody should look into that..."

          Thing is, those 15 largest ships are going to be oil tankers. Which means, if we're talking about accounting for the full energy cycle of a vehicle, most of that pollution ends up counting against the cars and trucks that will be burning that oil...

          It really isn't apples-to-apples to ask where the electricity for an electric car comes from, but pretend that gasoline spontaneously generates itself in the fuel tanks of the cars we have now.

          1. Chemist

            Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

            ""Reportedly the 15 largest ships in the world combined emit more air pollution than all the cars on Earth combined."

            That figure seems to be the amount of sulfur emitted. Not other pollutants AFAIK. Note most land-based fuels are now low-sulfur

            (Sulfur not sulphur because I'm a chemist and that's the way we spell it now - not saying I agree)

          2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

            Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

            Orv, "...those 15 largest ships are going to be oil tankers."

            You couldn't even be bothered to double check your info before attempting to rebut?

            Your info is outdated. Many of the largest oil tankers were broken up years ago.

            Nowadays, it's a good variety of ship types.

            So you attempted rebut fails due to factual error.

          3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

            Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

            @Orv, again, "...those 15 largest ships are going to be oil tankers."

            And another thing... If you don't like the '15 largest ships', then even if your claim were true, which we've already established it isn't, then you have to realize that the 'Top 15' is more about 'the N=15' than 'the Top'. Perhaps it's 'the Top 16 Container ships, or Top 18 Cruise ships.

            The basic point remains valid, if you're looking for air pollution sources and the first thing that enters your mind is 'Cars!', then that's an indictment of one's own ignorance.

            In locations with heavy air pollution, modern car exhaust can be cleaner than ambient. Which ends it right there.

        3. Aitor 1 Silver badge

          Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

          Sorry, but NO, you have NO clue.

          Modern cars are still terrible.

          When you accelerate more than a bit, they exit the "clean mode" and pollute as much as 20 year old. Same when cold and outside euro testing conditions... manufacturers tend to make the producto work when in the euro-IV-V.. conditions.. when outside those conditions, they still pollute A LOT.

          Not to speak of particle filters.. when they burn those particles thay make things worse woth particles so small that can get into your blood stream.

          ICE engines are also extremely inefficient.

          As for 2 stroke engines, you are completely right. They should be banned.

          1. BobRocket

            Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

            'ICE engines'

            are they like PIN numbers ?

          2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

            Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

            Aitor, "...When you accelerate more than a bit..."

            The test include some acceleration. The duty cycle of full throttle is so minute that it's not a significant issue.

            Also, a 20 year old car would be 1995 model year, which is still reasonably good.

            Most people are basically innumerate and simply cannot comprehend the many orders of magnitude improvements made over the decades.

            Look elsewhere. Modern cars are emitting exhaust that can be cleaner than ambient. Fact.

            The issues facing us today are not caused by the 'skeptics' and 'deniers'. The vast ignorance of the well meaning population is the primary impediment to progress. People don't know enough to know what needs to be addressed first vice later. Useless.

            1. Orv Silver badge

              Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

              You're right that modern cars are better, but the other commenter is also right that car companies tweak their cars to game the tests, which are always done the same way and therefore easy to defeat.

              One of my favorite examples is the "shift skip" feature on Corvettes, which locks out 2nd and 3rd gears under light acceleration, forcing a 1-4 upshift. This artificially inflates the EPA fuel economy numbers, since the tests involve only very light acceleration. In daily driving owners accelerate faster, which turns off the shift skip.

    4. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: Still a bit confused

      That is one of the issues involved with shifting to purely electric transport. or even mostly-in-urban-areas transport. And it's a bit of a contentious subject, given that it touches on some very sensitive spots when it comes to the Green Brigade.

      Basically, modern power plants, especially coal-fuelled plants, are not the pollutors they used to be, since they've become much more efficient (out of necessity/commercial aspects alone) , and environmental regulations ( ymmv right there...) so that they basically only produce CO2 and H2O, plus the solid waste stream ( which could conceivably be mined/recycled for Stuff, depending on how starry-eyed your vision of the Future is).

      For power generation nuclear is the other option, but besides, no because, the amount of Screaming you get when even contemplating the "N-word", the only serious research that's actually done in the way of sustainable, "non-polluting" nuclear power generation is done in nations that have, shall we say, a less modern way of dealing with enviroterrorists, so you'd eventually be looking at importing the necessary tech from China, India, or Pakistan.

      "Renewables" simply don't cut it for power generation, as we simply don't have the storage capacity/technology on a scale needed to make it actually work, at whatever efficiency.

      Then there's the bit where the transportation grid (at least in the US) is not up to par with shifting the massive amounts of energy that gets diverted to and concentrated in the electrical grid, so you'd need a pretty substantial investment right there as well, besides the actual power generation.

      So in terms of Pollution, and shifting the source to central points, you're looking at Big Bad CO2 + a minor stream of solid waste "polluted" with heavy metals, or Terribly Dangerous Nuclear Waste, and you got to ask yourself the question whether or not these waste products can be better managed in an economical way centrally than the current diffuse spread from cars/homes. And would it still be if you factor in the Pollution/Costs caused by the neccessary improvements in the distribution channels, and the Storage/Buffer capacity in the form of batteries.

      Personally, I think that while we're technically capable of building power plants of either denomination that have very little to no impact on The Environment, and can do so economically, there's no way in the seven Hells battery tech could be sufficiently developed within our lifetime to directly and economically compete with the energy density of your carbohydrate mix of choice. If this were the case, countries like Iceland ( where you can have proper geothermal plants, and then some..) would be shipping charged batteries in bulk across the world, on electrically powered ships.

      So it's not just a matter of "shifting pollution" , because controlling pollution at the source is well within our technical capacity, and a hell of a lot easier to do than tackling a diffuse source. It's a matter of lacking development in a number of key technologies, and a lack of ROI that simply make the concept Not Feasible.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        IQotW: "Renewables simply don't cut it for power generation..."

        Canada's power grid is 65% hydro, which is renewable.

        Unless you meant to write "Renewables (obviously not including hydro)..."

        1. Grikath Silver badge

          Re: IQotW: "Renewables simply don't cut it for power generation..." @ jeffypoooh

          "Canada's power grid is 65% hydro, which is renewable. Unless you meant to write "Renewables (obviously not including hydro)...""

          The problem with hydroelectric power is that you can't simply build a dam and be done with it. Most nations on this planet simply don't even have the geography or reliable enough water "input" to make a hydroelectric plant provide a significant amount of needed energy. The environmental impact of dams is also huge: upstream you have to flood quite a bit of real estate and downstream the debit of whatever stream or river you use gets changed significantly, playing hob with the water table and the overall environment.

          So it's an energy source that's limited by geography and climate, has a huge environmental impact ( other than "pollution" ) , and even then ( taking your example) cannot provide enough power to fully satisfy all power needs in a country which has tons of room and is very sparsely populated.

          So yes. Hydro, as a "renewable resource", does not cut it. A local solution possibly, if and provided etc., but not a structural solution to feed a fleet of hungry E-wheelers.

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

            Re: IQotW: "Renewables simply don't cut it for power generation..." @ jeffypoooh

            G, "...cannot provide enough power to fully satisfy..."

            If Canada didn't export much of the hydro power to the USA, I suspect that Canada could be 100+% hydro.

            But that would be inefficient, and thus net negative.

            Canada isn't engaged in earning 'Green' badges, even though our renewable hydro power makes a vast contribution.

            The post was aimed at the quoted "don't cut it" which is obviously a false claim.

            1. Grikath Silver badge

              Re: IQotW: "Renewables simply don't cut it for power generation..." @ jeffypoooh

              "If Canada didn't export much of the hydro power to the USA, I suspect that Canada could be 100+% hydro."

              I doubt that much of the energy exported to the US would be from "Hydro", unless, of course there's some dedicated lines running from where the things mostly are to where they connect to the US grid. A map of where exactly the plants are is most edifying in that respect. The losses in transport would be... significant. I've a feeling most of the actual speedy electrons generated are produced in the set of nuclear stations in the southeast much nearer the US border.

              "The post was aimed at the quoted "don't cut it" which is obviously a false claim."

              It isn't. It's nice to quote Canada for Hydro, but it would be the same as taking Iceland stating "why don't you use Geothermal then?" : The conditions for building a plant simply aren't met in most places.

              And the thing is, to tackle the problem of energy generation and distribution, especially if you want to shift a major amount of required energy to the electrical grid, as you'd need to do if most transportation would switch to electricity, you have to look further than just the places where [renewable energy X] happens to be feasible on a large scale. Because in most other places it simply is not, and as such Does Not Cut It.

              1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

                Re: IQotW: "Renewables simply don't cut it for power generation..." @ jeffypoooh

                Grikath actually wrote: "I doubt that much of the energy exported to the US would be from 'Hydro'."

                Wow, how can you believe that your philosophizing can overcome simple facts?

                Hydro-Quebec exports about 30,000 GWh, worth over a billion dollars, to the North East USA.

                Hydro-Quebec's energy is almost entirely (98.5%) sourced from hydro.

    5. nilfs2

      @Derpity Re: Still a bit confused

      Don't forget planned obsolescence, electric cars don't last as long as old petrol cars, I would like to see if a Tesla will last 20+ years. The less a product lasts, the more pollution is produced to manufacture and distribute a replacement for that product.

      If you want a truly environmental vehicle, get an old car and make it run on alcohol or bio-diesel.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

        Really? No cambelt, no engine wear, no oil, brakes almost unused.

        If you keep swapping the (recyclable) battery pack I can't see why they wouldn't run for a very long time.

        1. nilfs2

          @Yet Another Anonymous coward Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

          My brother has a 1st gen iPhone that is unusable because Apple decided it was the right thing to do. The phone is not broken, just pwned by Apple.

        2. Noel Bourke

          Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

          Why would you need to swap the battery?

          The design life of the battery in my i3 is 20 years. The warranty is for 8 years/160,000km.

          That's 20 years to 70% capacity... Still perfectly usable as a runabout beyond that with no battery replacement.

          And Nissan Leaf's despite having a battery designed for a ten year life are mostly beating the expected battery metrics. Nissan has had three replacements under warranty in five years and forty thousand vehicles sold.

      2. Orv Silver badge

        Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

        There are 1st-gen Priuses still running fine, so I wouldn't count out a long lifespan from an electric. I wouldn't expect that kind of reliability from a niche manufacturer like Tesla, though, any more than I'd expect a Ferrari to hold up if I drove it to work every day.

        1. nilfs2

          @Orv Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

          You call a Prius old? Are you sixteen?

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: @Orv @Derpity Still a bit confused

            The reference was to 20 year old cars; the first Prius's rolled off the assembly line in 1997, so they're getting close. The average car in the US is 11.5 years old.

            1. nilfs2

              Re: @Orv @Derpity Still a bit confused

              Most people don't get a new car because the old one is busted, they do so to be socially accepted.

              1. Orv Silver badge

                Re: @Orv @Derpity Still a bit confused

                In that case, I see no reason to believe electric cars will become socially unacceptable any faster than gasoline cars do.

                1. nilfs2

                  Re: @Orv @Derpity Still a bit confused

                  Let's just narrow the problem to "Human Stupidity" and be done with it.

          2. Noel Bourke

            Re: @Orv @Derpity Still a bit confused

            Prius was first manufactured in 1997. There are people who weren't born when the Prius was released who can vote now.

            1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

              Re: @Orv @Derpity Still a bit confused

              "Prius was first manufactured in 1997."

              The first Prius is thus about 18 years old.

              So if it lives about another 12 years or so, then it'll just start to achieve environmental payback for the monumental (ly poor) investment of embodied resources.

        2. Paul Woodhouse

          Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

          I was having this conversation with the better half the other day, and one of my main arguments for not getting an exectric or hybrid was because I didn't trust the technology to last, she pointed out a Prius going past that was older than my car.

      3. Orv Silver badge

        Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

        BTW, I *do* have an old car running on biodiesel, but I can't honestly say with a straight face that it's environmentally friendly. Sure biodiesel reduces the carbon footprint somewhat, but it still uses half again as much fuel as modern car would. It emits more particulates than a modern car, thus contributing a bit to the respiratory problems of everyone around it. And, being old, it seeps oil that will inevitably end up polluting a river somewhere.

      4. Stoke the atom furnaces

        Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

        Bio diesel is terrible stuff for the environment, especially when burnt in an old car. Bio fuels take farmland out of growing useful food, increasing fuel prices so the poor go hungry, whilst diesel engines degrade air quality with carcinogenic particulates. Fracked shale gas to power CNG vehicles is a better option; lower CO2 emissions than petrol or diesel and much cleaner exhaust emissions.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

          "Bio fuels take farmland out of growing useful food, increasing fuel prices so the poor go hungry..."

          I'm not very convinced by that argument, at least not at the current level of production. We have farmland sitting idle in the US, and we frequently end up with surpluses of some crops (or prices so low that farmers choose to plow it under rather than lose money harvesting.) The problem of hunger is a distribution problem, not a production problem.

          "Fracked shale gas to power CNG vehicles is a better option"

          Depends on whether you have to live near the wells where it's being extracted, I think. I wouldn't be too keen on it if it were my tap water catching fire.

      5. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

        "If you want a truly environmental vehicle, get an old car and make it run on alcohol or bio-diesel."

        Fuel alcohol and bio-diesel are nothing more than a farming subsidy scam.

    6. iranu

      Governments tax petrol

      How are the government going to claw back all the lost revenue they generate from a tax on petrol? In 2004 the price of a litre of petrol in the UK was about £1.14. After a spike it's now down to the same price, however, the tax on petrol is £0.5795 per litre plus an additional 20% in VAT on top of that.

      Fuel duty raised £26 billion pounds in revenue plus another £4 billion in VAT. Then there is the VED which raises around £6 billion.

      Electric cars won't be cheaper to run because governments will simply tax their use in order to fill the black hole generated by a reduction in petrol use. Electricity bills will go up.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get this man a job in Congress!

    I've not heard such math-bending twaddle in years. With fracked gas and oil abundant by 2016, we can expect US energy prices to fall below 3 cents a KWh next year, and we''ll enjoy $2 gas for a few years at least. At 21 cents per day, payback on a 7KWh battery by storing solar electricity for later use will take around 15,000 days (about 45 years) which is a bit longer than the wear-out of the battery!

    We have to get real. The Green Movement may think that energy Nirvana is imminent, but the reality of physics says No Way!

    If we want to stop oil use, the only way that could work is clean nuclear power using thorium.

    1. Nixinkome

      Re: Get this man a job in Congress!

      I thought Thorium had been forgotten about except by the Chinese. Where can we see updates on it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Get this man a job in Congress!

        TRY GOOGLE!

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Get this man a job in Congress!

        Except by the Indians - China has lots of Uranium and now owns big bits of Africa.

        ps. Thorium reactors are no cleaner/safer/better than Uranium. Their only advantages are if you want to make it a lot harder for yourself to make bombs or - like India - you don't have any Uranium.

    2. Weapon

      Re: Get this man a job in Congress!

      Again an ignorant statement. The 7kwh powerwall is meant for markets which have high difference cost between peak and offpeak. It can be coupled with solar but generally not due to net metering. It instead is generally implemented to use offpeak power during peak. In some markets its cost is paid back within 5 years or so. Overall though Tesla is more focused on the cheaper grid/commercial Tesla Powerpack which is 25k USD for 100kwh. Economist peg the Tesla powerpack current cost to equivalent 2 cents power kwh.

      Though overall, looking at the big picture, solar prices are expected to drop 40% within the next 2 years. Battery prices will hit 100$ per kwh within the next 5 years.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        Re: Get this man a job in Congress!

        "In some markets its cost is paid back within 5 years or so."

        Perhaps true, in SOME ill-defined markets.

        But in MOST markets the PowerWall NEVER earns back its cost, nor its embodied resources.

        Tesla will still sell you one, even if it's a bad fiscal decision for you and a net negative for the environment.

  4. jonathanb Silver badge

    Is it really cheaper?

    Petrol and electricity both cost about 12p per kWh in the UK. Diesel is about 10p per kWh. An electric car is about twice as energy efficient as a petrol or diesel car so that does make it cheaper. However the only reason it is cheaper is because tax on electricity is 5%, whereas tax on petrol and diesel is about 70%, so the tax is cheaper, not the fuel cost.

    1. CYMinCA

      Re: Is it really cheaper?

      And once govt starts seeing a dip in that fuel tax revenue there will be something along to replace it, road pricing would seem to be the leading candidate though they could vary rates for electric vehicles vs petrol/diesel to create some saving advantage.

      It is good that someone is at least being honest that electric will only take off when it's cheap enough for consumers, having recently replaced a car I looked at electric and the costs were just not at the right point in terms of taking on the higher debt of the purchase difference to achieve future savings

      1. Weapon

        Re: Is it really cheaper?

        I think you are underestimating the efficiency. If you were to put a gasoline car into kwh usage, it would be over 1 kwh per mile, in comparison an EV is 1/3rd to 1/4th that. So the efficiency difference is not 2X but 5X.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Is it really cheaper?

          Sending 70%-80% of the energy out into the atmosphere as heat via the radiator and tailpipe is the big fly in the ointment for internal-combustion engines.

        2. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Is it really cheaper?

          Petrol or diesel is about 30%-40% efficient. Electric is about 90% efficient from battery to motor, but there are efficiency losses in charging up the battery. That is where I get my 2x figure from.

          1. Noel Bourke

            Re: Is it really cheaper?


            The battery charging loss is usually 10% at worst not 50%.

            Compared to my 2012 diesel Avensis based on fuel consumption data pulled from OBDII my i3 (based on my second meter fitted just before the charger) is five times more efficient per kWh, INCLUDING charger loss.

            Including the tax differences on fuel and maintenance costs (and EXCLUDING free charging) the i3 is ten times cheaper to run than the 2.0 D4D (which is a very efficient diesel).

            I drive 50,000km a year for basically €15/month of electricity (€30/month if I actually had to pay for public charging). I know Taxi drivers running Leafs with more than 200,000km on the clock, less than 10% battery capacity loss and saving €8,000 a year on fuel.

        3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Is it really cheaper?

          @Weapon - not sure I agree with your 1kWh/mile figure:at motorway speeds (70mph here) a car needs around 30bhp - call it 20kW for a BOTE calculation to maintain its speed. That equates to around 300Wh/mile; and I would suspect no more than double that for urban stop-start (without turning the engine off every time you stop).

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: Is it really cheaper?

            Keep in mind that an engine producing 20kW at the rear wheels is consuming somewhere around 70kW of fuel, though. The other 50kW are lost as heat.

      2. BobRocket

        Re: Is it really cheaper?

        'It is good that someone is at least being honest that electric will only take off when it's cheap enough for consumers, having recently replaced a car I looked at electric and the costs were just not at the right point in terms of taking on the higher debt of the purchase difference to achieve future savings'

        Surely 'Greenies' are less likely to default than 'Normals' in which case negative interest rates should be the mode de jour (zero rates are now commonplace for traditional cars)

        So would a 5 year fixed rate loan, nothing down, free servicing in 1st year at -1% swing it for you ?

        (you have to remember that cars are only the vehicles to generate loans which is the real business of all the mainstream motor manufacturers)

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      Re: Is it really cheaper?


      Very good post.

  5. DCFusor Silver badge

    Cheaper for my special case

    I have a 2012 Chevy Volt, picked up in Oct 2011. I am also completely off-grid (other then phone/internet) on solar (mainly, of course I have backup generators).

    Reality dictates you can't just put in enough flooded lead acid batteries in a home solar system to withstand the worst part of the year here (SW VA, USA), and you'll be running generators a little at some points of the year. (think cost, self-discharge and other battery issues)

    This means if you size a system to just get by, or nearly, in February, the rest of the time you are absolutely swimming in power - and no place to put it after the house batteries (24kwh in my case) are full near 10 AM.

    Bingo - a car that will eat up to 13 more kWh to the rescue! Not only that, with the inverter I installed on its 12v system (they use that for the power steering, brakes and such, since they can't count on an engine being running) - I can back feed my home, even use the car's engine which is more efficient than any home-generator I've seen, as a backup. Bonus is my generator (one of 3) can take itself to the gas station should I need more, and I don't get gas on my hands, and have one that's actually designed for outdoor use - most of the commercial ones fail regularly, unlike almost any real vehicle.

    While not a Tesla, and nothing like the 2010 Camaro SS 6 speed manual I added a supercharger to - the Volt is tons of fun to drive. I don't care what it sounds like (nothing), but I do care that when ricky rice racer who thinks fast and furious is how you drive challenges me, I can dust the sucker off with ease. Of course, that's due to the weight distribution, and low roll center, combined with old age and treachery - I know every ripple and loose piece of gravel on the road we use for racing here in the mountains, and that alone is worth a few mph on every corner...there are no straightaways longer than 1/3 mile anyway, so raw power is wasted.

    I'm showing over 250 (as high as the display goes) for the last 2 years, and well over 150 mpg lifetime, I burned some gas on purpose so as to break the engine in and be able to get the assembly lube changed out. It's easy on the wallet, given that I put in a bunch of bucks upfront for the solar system and the car...and now have no power bill, no gas bill and so forth. Think of this as a system and it starts to make a lot of sense.

  6. Orv Silver badge

    The biggest problem I see with electric cars, at this point, is you really have to be a homeowner to use one. Your average rental complex with a parking lot or street parking is not going to provide any way to charge a car. In much of the U.S. that makes them an upper-class proposition only.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Good point!

      Plus they're no good if you want to go on a long journey. For a lot of people, buying electric means also buying a fossil fuelled car too. That's pretty wasteful.

      When they can be charged in 5 minutes and go 400 miles and we get the bulk of the electricity from fussion/fission/hydro/etc, then it's worth it.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        How many long road trip vacations do people really take, though? I'd think it'd be cheaper to rent a car for those occasions than to maintain a whole second vehicle with insurance, depreciation, and maintenance.

        1. Rabbit80

          I'd certainly be interested in an electric car. I do a usual journey of 80 miles/day. However, I have regular runs of around 500 miles (to London and back around every 8-12 weeks), and can't charge the car at home (parked on the street) or at work (we are limited by wiring - during the winter switching the kettle on will trip the power unless we turn off heating!)

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          How many long road trip vacations do people really take, though?

          For the past 25 years, I've probably averaged at least three trips a year that are too long to be done in an EV. Even if there were ample charging points along the routes - and there aren't - charging technology is still too slow.

          I'd think it'd be cheaper to rent a car for those occasions than to maintain a whole second vehicle with insurance, depreciation, and maintenance.

          I've never lived near a rental company that would rent any car even vaguely comparable to my long-trip cars. I'm not keen to drive 3000 miles and spend a month using some random crap Buick that a hundred other people have driven.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        The shopping centers here provide electric car charging, so do all the cool trendy companies.

        The big limit is that nobody is allowed to sell electricity - except the monopoly power company - so you can only charge for parking. I worked out if I parked at the supermarket every day, bought an item to get my free 2hour parking I would drive for free.

        But a lot of electric cars are going to be Car2Go type schemes and 2nd cars, or apartment owners who commute locally. In US cities that is a lot of people.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          I could almost see that scheme working, if not for the fact that modern high-capacity batteries have a pretty quick self-discharge rate. If you parked it for more than a few days it'd probably go dead right there in your driveway. It'd be like having a car with a gas leak.

          I will say that having driven both the electric and gasoline versions of Car2Go's Smart cars, the electric ones are far superior. Putting an engine in that car ruins it.

          1. Weapon

            Not really, they have a high self discharge rate because they prepare themselves for use. They can also go into sleep model. In sleep mode a Tesla can last 2 years on a charge. Also, petrol cars always have a leak in them, as vapors escape they continue to lose energy. Leaving petrol for a long time can even damage the car.

            1. Orv Silver badge

              That's true, but these days vapor loss is very very small; environmental regs forced car companies to move to sealed fuel systems with vapor recovery canisters. You can smell the difference; walk past a car from the 1960s on a hot day and it will smell like gasoline vapor, but a (properly maintained) modern car won't.

              1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

                "...vapor loss is very very small..."

                GM had to recall a fleet of cars because the fuel lines were not sufficiently impermeable.

                The fleet of Transitional Zero Emission Vehicles have addressed the residual pollution sources: those nasty gaskets in the fuel system. So they weld the fuel system together, and give the system a really long warranty.

                If people were paying attention, they'd realize how clean burning modern cars really are.

                The dribbles of petrol from the pump nozzle - that is getting towards the top of the list.

            2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

              "In sleep mode a Tesla can last 2 years on a charge..."

              One owner already faced a $40,000 battery replacement.

              He didn't take a two year vacation.

              Did you spell 'weeks' incorrectly? ;-)

          2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

            "modern high-capacity batteries have a pretty quick self-discharge rate."

            "...modern high-capacity batteries have a pretty quick self-discharge rate. If you parked it for more than a few days..."

            Li-ions? I've never seen that. Perhaps you're confused by NiMH cells, or NiCd. Those are atrocious.

            That said, if your Tesla does self discharge past the point of no return, it's a $40,000 repair.

        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

          "...get my free 2hour parking I would drive for free."

          2 hours at a typical 12kw charging station only gets you 24kw-hours.

          You'll be spending all your evenings at Tesco. Boring.

    2. Weapon

      Based on US census, only 13% of the US population lives in apartments/condos. Which means for majority in the US it is a non-issue. Places high on apartments tend to be cities, retrofitting streetlights with EV chargers would solve the problem.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        "...retrofitting streetlights with EV chargers would solve the problem."

        You make it sound so easy.

        Unfortunately, the wiring is designed for maybe 75 watts per pole, not 12,000 watts per pole.

        So it's a completely new installation, perhaps holding a street light.

      2. Orv Silver badge

        36% of US households rent; I think that's a more interesting statistic than population percentage. It's really not just apartments and condos that are the issue, but any rental location -- a landlord is not going to let you have electrical work done on their property to install a charger.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

          Condos and apartments are KILLING the planet

          So, as it turns out, all those families living in single detached houses in the suburban sprawl can switch to e-cars faster and easier than the crowded downtown concrete jungles.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ," is you really have to be a homeowner to use one."

      Sort of.

      You need off street parking with access to electricity. Home owner or rented.

      So an apartment block with underground parking could work. My student daughter's inexpensive ( relatively) rented flat might be a possible.

      But my London terrace house, not a chance. Nowhere to put a car to charge.

      And I would suspect that commercial on-street charge points would be somewhat more expensive than your own domestic main.

  7. Alan Denman

    Shite sells if you hide the stinky bits

    I reckon tbe 5 times more home cells could be done for the Tesla low lifespan stuff.

    But hey, buyers on the whole need to be led!

    Its a winner..

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some facts on cost...

    Tesla Model S is not a cheap car. It's so expensive that 99+% of the adoring fan boys do not even own one. Because they can't afford it. Or because they secretly realize that it's not actually practical in their circumstances.

    Musk originally stated that the Model S would effectively subsidize the follow on car, that was supposed to be the cheaper eco-box. But he reportedly failed to make enough money on the Model S, and so switched the 2nd car to be an SUV, where he can hopefully make some money. All this was in the news.

    Eventually he'll stop making promises and start delivering cost effective transportation. I'm sure he will, ...eventually. I'd like to see it.

    For those that would disagree with the above, do you think that Musk has been disappointed with anything at Tesla? Has he ever yelled at his managers? Well, that's all I'm referring to, so what are you disagreeing with?

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Some facts on cost...

      I'll be very surprised if Tesla ever puts out an inexpensive car. They've got a good thing going pitching "Tesla" as an exclusive luxury brand; they're not going to slap that name on an econobox.

      Right now Nissan pretty much owns the inexpensive (relatively) electric car market.

  9. wolfetone Silver badge

    Pity he can't make his cars run on bullshit. He'd never pay for electricity or petrol again.

  10. Not also known as SC

    TLDR; Will the shills just shut up?

    Reading these comments reminds me of what I hate about the internet.

    I am interested in this electric car topic because I would love electric cars to succeed, however I am also concerned about pollution transference, time to recharge, battery life and so on. I also find the majority of comments on the Register informative, humorous and I have actually learnt quite a lot over the last few years about topics I knew nothing about. What I do find very hard though is to accept the vomitingly positive comments that are made by posters who only ever seem to post about the one subject. How on earth are the rest of us meant to take your comments seriously? These posters come across as shills and if anything completely undermine their own arguments. It has got to the point now that when I see certain names I no longer bother to read that poster's comments.

    Same thing applies to arguments about my OS / phone is better than yours etc. But I've posted it here because there is a classic example in this thread.

    All the Register now needs to do is start posting camera reviews so we can have Canon / Nikon arguments as well.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: TLDR; Will the shills just shut up?

      No need for that, everyone knows Canon is superior.

    2. Noel Bourke

      Re: TLDR; Will the shills just shut up?

      I'm not a shill. In fact you'll find that most car companies don't want to sell their electric models.

      Owners tend to do the job of selling EVs to others. And the enthusiasm is genuine, I'm on my 2nd EV and generally most owners tend to be of the opinion that they will never buy an ICE vehicle again. Try talking to a dealer... they hate selling EVs, you will often be handed off to the youngest sales intern or in some cases practically told to eff off.

      I'm motivated to post on the EV topics because they tend to be populated by a lot of people who categorically don't know what they are talking about. If they've never driven or owned an EV and don't know basic information like charger types or rudimentary efficiency numbers they tend to be dismissive and that pisses me off.

      As for your questions:

      pollution transference (production) - Until you get to the battery, pollution from production is lower than an ICE vehicle. The problem with many of the numbers provided by EV opponents is that they tend to rely on reports into pollution from Li-Ion cell production in China... but most automotive cells are produced in Europe, Japan and the US with better pollution controls and controls over conflict minerals etc (in fact TMK no automotive cells for production EVs sold in Europe are made in China).

      pollution transference (power): People often make the initial mistake of counting the total emissions for electricity an EV and only counting the manufacturers sales number for tailpipe emissions for the ICE. So often you'll see number like 300g/kWh for the EV (which is about right given the UK/Ireland grid power mix) and then quote 200-250g/kWh for the ICE when the real number is closer to 1700g/kWh well-to wheel. ICE engines lose more energy to heat than they use to actually move the car. Electric motors are 90-95% efficient. The battery charging is usually 90% efficient and the electricity grid is usually more than 90% efficient. In total around 70% of any kWh produced at the power plant reaches the road with an EV. My comparison with a h2 fuel cell vehicle using electrolysis that number is 19%. The only situation in which an EV might have 5-10% higher total emissions is if 100% of your power came from coal (even in the US the grid is only 38% coal at worst).

      time to recharge:

      How long a piece of string.... DC rapid charging at 50kW (150kW is possible, 100kW being deployed in Norway ATM) charges the 22kWh battery in my i3 from 0-80% in 15-20 minutes. AC home charging at 32 Amps charges the battery from 0-100% in 3 1/2 hours. Idiots quote the time to charge at 8-10A from a three pin plug (something which few owners do considering a proper charger is Free on grants or €500 without) which can be 12-80 hours depending on your EV. In general you charge on a timer to get the off-peak electricity rates and start with a full battery every morning. DC rapid charging is then used for longer trips. DC charging stops on long journeys are fairly natural. I've driven from Dublin to London/Amsterdam/Berlin with not that much difference in journey time vs my old diesel.

      battery life:

      The design life (which is not the time to a dead battery, it's the time to 70% capacity) of the i3 battery is 20 year and the Leaf battery is 10 years.Generally the two factors that matter are number of cycles and exposure to heat. A big factor is pack capacity because larger packs tend to be cycled less and the driver notices loss less. The i3 and Model S have active thermal management systems that keep the battery at the right temperature for optimum life. The Leaf and Zoe... don't. Early Nissan Leafs had issues in hot climates, particularly when being rapid charged (a single rapid charge can raise the battery temp by 10C). These issues were fixed from MY2013 forward with an updated battery chemistry (owners refer to this new battery as the lizard battery). UK/Ireland has fairly stable temperatures so it wasn't really a major issue here. My dad's 2014 Leaf has lost 1% of capacity in 54,000km. My i3 has done 18,000km and capacity loss is so low it's not measurable.

      Personally I can't understand how anyone who drives less than 30,000-35,000km a year and doesn't need to tow a trailer can justify NOT driving an EV.

  11. carrera4life

    Free energy.

    i would like to see less reliance on Middle East oil, and for that reason alone, an alternative energy source to power personal transportation is welcomed.

    I just do not see that moving from oil to electricity is going to be cheaper in the long run; the increase in electricity generation will require significant investment in generation and delivery capabilities. Once the switch is made, the cost will increase as that is where companies and governments will extract their fees.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      Re: Free energy.

      "...moving from oil to electricity..."

      Oil is an energy source.

      Electricity is an energy transfer system. E.g. Hydro is an energy source.

      For clarity of thought, it's best not to mix them into an unlike comparison.

      Nobody is managing the overall plan. There is no overall plan. It's as if 'It's all organized by the Italians.'

      1. raffi14

        Re: Free energy.

        Oil is effectively stored sunlight, actually the sun is really the only energy source. Everything just uses its energy directly or indirectly.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

          Re: Free energy.

          "Oil is effectively stored energy..."

          Fixed it for you.

  12. Jim84

    Dearman Engine will win

    The Economist has already called it, a better way of storing energy for motive power is a Dearman liquid nitrogen/liquid air engine.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Dearman Engine will win

      Figures on overall efficiency are conspicuously absent, and I'd like to see them.

      The Achilles' heel of these kinds of systems is the thermal losses. It takes energy to chill the gas, and then that energy is wasted because to use it you have to warm it back up again.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        Re: Dearman Engine will win

        'Lightsail' (company name) has figured out how to store compressed air and the heat of compression.

        Then, when it's time to release the compressed air, they reintroduce the stored heat. Which makes things better.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is even possible that very much lower cost batteries based on aluminium will become available in the near enough future:

    If so, prices for electric cars could enable most anyone on the planet to own one.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      It is even possible that very much lower cost batteries based on aluminium will become available in the near enough future

      Sure, it's possible. It must be, since we've been hearing variations on that song several times a year for the past decade or two.

      prices for electric cars could enable most anyone on the planet to own one

      Considering a considerable fraction of "most anyone on the planet" can't get hold of sufficient food or clean water, that would be quite an achievement.

      I suspect the price of electric cars includes a few more items than just the batteries, anyway.

  14. Richard Altmann


    Norway is indeed a blessed country when it comes to fuel. Fossil or renewable. The oil made it fantastacly rich and enabled it to take full advantage of the renewables (water). Since it doesn´t have a car industry with dependend workforce and no f****ng, hang them lobbiests it is not too hard to introduce a 120% enviroment tax on gas succkers. With free electric power, that´s the way to go. Does not work in the US. They used their water to keep Hollywood green. Why is that great country burdened with the Lemming Complex? Can´t rely just on unhinged Silicon Valley philanthropes "to come and safe America at the last moment. John Wayne is no longer avaible" (Gil Scott-Heron)

    1. Anomalous Cowturd
      IT Angle

      Re: John Wayne is no longer avaible" (Gil Scott-Heron)

      Unfortunately, neither is Gil Scott-Heron.


      Icon? There used to be a headstone...

  15. JMMB

    Please Electrics will Never be a real cars for those of us who truly love driving. With Tesla all I see is a Big IPad on wheels. Granted it's built well but its just all screens and no shifting, no motor revs, and absolutely No real skill to drive except pressing a pedal. Honestly gas card will be around forever as long as they're legal cause we love them so much. When everything becomes electric and autonimous I think life will be so dull. I Love Driving real cars.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Conversely, I find driving cars tiresome. But driving a car jam-packed with smugness, insufficient range, and long refuel times isn't going to make that better.

  16. Richard Altmann

    I Love Driving real cars

    whatelse can one love with a tiny d****.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      Re: I Love Driving real cars

      "There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible.” P. J. O'Rourke

  17. codejunky Silver badge


    He is right that it will be cost that drives the transition to anything. Except the cost is of the initial car purchase, battery cost, cost of time charging, cost of energy charging and then any limitations of the combination.

    This ignores the green lobby cost of generating enough energy to put on the grid at the right times likely requiring even more fossil fuel backups. And the damage of disposing of the batteries.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      "...the damage of disposing of the batteries."

      That's nonsense.

      No car company will allow them to go anywhere except into a closed recycling system.

      They're not going to end up tipped into a ditch in China.

  18. Tim Almond

    ... eventually

    Right now, it's a $30K car with all sorts of problems about range and charging. Fancy getting the family down to Provence? It's about 600 miles. Driving legally, you can do it in a long day from Calais with petrol stops and hour breaks every few hours. With a Tesla? You'll be stopping after 265 miles. For 9 hours to recharge. And then stopping after another 265 miles. For 9 hours to recharge.

    1. Noel Bourke

      Re: ... eventually

      WTF did you get 9 hours from? You mean stopping for an hour to recharge, the Model S rapid charges at 135kW peak which means a charge in less than an hour for the largest battery if you entirely empty. Which isn't a problem because you need to stop anyway to grab lunch or take a piss. The experience of Model S owners driving that exact route from Calais (which many people have actually done) is that is takes pretty much the same time as an ICE.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        One Day at the Pub...

        One day at the pub.

        Tesla model S owner "Hey Gunter! My car is faster than yours."

        Golf TDI owner "Wanna bet £100,000? I choose the venue."

        Tesla model S owner "Sure. You're on! [shakes] Where's the track?"

        Golf TDI owner "Nürburgring, Germany."

        Tesla model S owner "Great, if it doesn't overheat, my car should beat yours around the..."

        Golf TDI owner, "No, not 'around'. From here, this pub in UK, to Nürburgring in Germany. 1135.7 km"

        Tesla model S owner "Oh shit, at speed, need maybe 3 stops, at least an hour each."

        Golf TDI owner "Why stop? Full tank. No stops except Chunnel."

        Tesla model S owner "But but but..."

        Golf TDI owner "I leave now. Catch next Chunnel train. Ready? 3, 2, 1, Go."

        Tesla model S owner "Damn..."

        1. Noel Bourke

          Re: One Day at the Pub...

          So just to restate your point: in a hypothetical situation where you've been challenged to a 1,100km road race in a pub and you have your large pack of adult diapers ready to go, a car with a longer non-stop range is a better fit. I don't disagree.

          Meanwhile in the real world, if your daily mileage fits inside the range of an EV and you don't need to tow a trailer (until the Tesla Model X is launched), an EV is a much better vehicle than an ICE. Cheaper to run, more pleasant to drive and more practical. The average driver here does 32km a day in their vehicle. I do 50,000km a year which averages out to 136km per day. I do that in a 200km range EV.

          Rapid charging is what allows occasional longer journeys. I rapid charge on average twice a week, at the weekend, when I tend to do long road trips. All my other charging is just plugging in when I get home. I'm speaking from experience, I've done both Dublin > London and Dublin > Berlin round trips in the last month on rapid charging without an issue. People don't seem to realise, that when averaged out I spend less time waiting for my car to charge than I'd spend fueling at a petrol station because I never have to wait for charging for my daily use. It's just something that happens when I'm not using the car. Meanwhile the guy who just toddles back and forth to work every day in his Golf TDI still has to visit a petrol station regularly, queue to pay and then faces a fuel bill substantially larger than mine (~€20 for over 5000km per month) despite his comparatively tiny mileage. That's before broaching maintenance... my next scheduled service is in January 2017.

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