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Is Tesla A Game Changer?

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,311
edited July 2013 in Tesla
Tesla stock has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the past year, and especially in the past eight months. It's hot. The current valuation may only be justified if the company is a game changer. Even then the stock may be ahead of the fundamentals, but the investment merits of Tesla is a side issue for purposes of this discussion. The stock serves as a score keeper of how investors feel about the future of the company. Main street may play out differently. The focus of this discussion should be about whether Tesla is the automotive equivalent of the I-Phone, and whether this Silicon Valley company will defy the odds by designing and building better and more competitive vehicles than Detroit, Germany, Japan and Korea.

Motor Trend named the Model S "Car Of The Year" and Consumer Reports awarded it its highest rating ever (99 out of 100).

Elon Musk is methodically tackling each of the drawbacks of pure electrics, such as limited range and concerns about resale values. New, lower priced SUV and sedan models are planned for 2015 and 2016. Another roadster may follow. In 2014 the Model S will be sold in Europe and Asia. The company is fighting dealer friendly state laws requiring vehicles to be sold through traditional dealer channels rather than directly. Tesla is trying to model its distribution along the lines of the Apple and Amazon models.

It's too early to know how successful Tesla will be, but what's your prediction? What happens next? Might you choose a Model S over an equivalently priced Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Hyundai, Lexus or Mercedes?
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Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,678
    It might be a game-changer in how cars are sold, definitely, but my opinion is that electric cars are doomed to a very small "niche for the riche" or as small utility vehicles in densely urban settings.

    Battery tech is currently maxed out. There is, from my understanding, no 'breakthrough' battery tech on the horizon within the next 10 years---after that, probably so.

    This alone, if true, limits EV development to merely tweaking and tweaking what we already have, with increasingly diminishing gains at ever-increasing cost.

    EVs have appeal as a "toy" or as "feel good marketing" items, but I don't see the EV threatening the future of the ICE, or even grabbing much market share from conventional cars.

    Once you take a hard look at an EV, even a really nice one like the Tesla S, you see that the touted "economy" or "gas mileage" if you will, is illusory, as it does not calculate total energy losses from power plant to vehicle. In terms of actual energy spent, a Tesla S probably expends as much as a Hummer.

    So what I'm getting at is that the EV is not going to be embraced as a savior for energy scarcities.

    Still, if you gave me a Tesla S, I'd grab it. :P

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,311
    edited July 2013
    From the extensive reading I've done, I come to the same conclusions as you've expressed in your first four paragraphs. As for the relative economy or total carbon footprint and polluting comparisons, including mining and transporting the raw materials, vehicle production, lifetime operation of the vehicles, and eventual disposal, I can't say. You may well be right. I'd love to know, as would others, I'm sure, but I don't have the numbers to support or refute your conclusions on comparative "greenness."
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,678
    I've read comments where people have worked out the mathematics on "greenness" but like you, I have no real way to evaluate their conclusions decisively. What they present, however, does make sense--calculating TOTAL energy losses from the burning of the coal to the flicking on of your battery charger.

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  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Posts: 5,713
    edited July 2013
    may have the best all-electric car, but, I would choose the Mitsubishi i because I don't like paying more than $25,000 for a new car. Never have, never will. For example, I am looking at the Nissan cube as my next car. With the 6-speed manual transmission, the car will cost about $20,600 for the S model, with the Rockford Fosgate stereo added and the alloy wheels. That includes destination charges.

    But if I went all-electric I'd get the Mitsubishi i. I love how Mitsubishi makes cars. I don't know much about Tesla.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,182
    I am seriously interested in Tesla right now. With the dozens of Model S that I see here in New England, I am not alone either. I love the idea of an electric car with Zero emmisions, and the only thing that has interested me is the Nissan Leaf which unfortunately only comes in a tiny hatchback. I want AWD for the wintertime which is why I would not join the legions of new S owners unless I keep my trusty little Impreza for the white stuff.

    But this thing has piqued my interest enormously.

    Model X

    image

    2014 release, I'll be the first in line to try one out. :shades:
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,198
    edited July 2013
    ...has an article about the early electric cars. Seems range, battery life, performance, and recharging time were issues then as now with electric vehicles. The most successful make among these early electric cars was the Detroit Electric that managed to survive through 1939.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,198
    Check out this Woods Dual-Power from 1916!

    Woods Dual-Power
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,182
    I don't know how they are going to pull this one off but it looks like Tesla is shooting for a 5 minute charging time.

    link title
  • ohenryxohenryx Posts: 285
    Meanwhile, the charging cable is going to be 1500 volts at 480 amps.
    .....
    Plus they better have a crane to lift it for anyone who didn't eat their Wheaties this morning.


    It's been too long since I studied any of this. How big of a wire would it take to carry 480 amps? Most homes these days have a 200 amp electrical feed, and that wire is fairly large / heavy. 480 amps would have to be REALLY BIG?
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,189
    edited July 2013
    Ferdinand Porsche was involved with a hybrid back around 1900:

    image

    There was even a racing model, which IIRC was also the first AWD car:

    image

    It is interesting that the US was a leader in electric cars ~100 years ago. Now the Tesla is leading in a way, at least for a highline car. I want to see it succeed without the subsidies though.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    There are some anomalies that don't really instill much confidence as to battery durability. Plus there are some odd pricing structures just for service contracts. An example is an annual inspection (12500 mile) is $600.00. They state it is optional and does not affect wty if you don't attend these inspections.
    Then a 4 yr / 50k miles is $1900.00 prepaid. Or 8 year/ 100k miles is $3800.00. Why would anyone prepay for an 8 year term when there is no cash savings incentive? Unless they are suggesting your inspection rates will definitely go up during that time unless you are locked in. Same price structure if you include "Ranger" service at 2400/4800$ instead of a per occurrence $100. chg.

    Another caution...extended batteries wty starting after the initial wty expires: 1 year/12k mi $3000
    2 years/24k mi $5500.
    3 years/36k mi $7500. !

    At those prices, I would suggest that maybe there isn't much confidence left in battery capacity after the original wty expires. IOWs...lets say you buy the 3 yr extended...what are you in for in yr 4 if they fail then? And since they are priced at 7500. for just 3 extra years, does that not suggest that any term beyond must be borrowed time?

    I'm not impressed yet. Altho I love the idea of an electric rear axle assist in a FWD ICE vehicle. I believe that that is the future for those who need AWD only once a day in the winter (me), just to climb my hill to get home. The rest of the year, enjoy le$$ complexity of no transfer case, no driveshaft to the rear, much better FE due to fewer parasitic losses even while in FWD mode etc etc..

    So Tesla...ya got it half right at least..
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,311
    I believe that with BMW's i3 the electric motor drives the rear wheels, for that "ultimate Driving machine" feel, and the optional range extender two-cylinder engine drives the front wheels. How would that work for you?
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Sounds interesting altho the BMW nameplate scares me a little. I didn't know such a car exists..I guess in EU? They always get all the cool stuff before we do.. Just a twin though, eh? Is it a V? Cuz a twin can be quite the shaker in most configurations..even with internal balancers. Gearing it at most common speeds anticipated would be key. Of course you say it really only comes into play when AWD is needed, or when battery rear drive is exhausted, so maybe a few vibes just to get home to the chgr wouldn't be too bad to live with.

    When I mentioned the rear electric drive assist though, in my mind I was sorta thinking of its viability in more common everyday vehicles that moderate to mid incomes could get into..you know..Civic/Accords, Corolla/Camrys etc and of course to replace basically all the AWD SUVs that we have that really only use the extra 2 drive wheels less than .1 % of the time they are moving.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,311
    The 2-cylinder gasoline engine comes from one of the BMW motorcycle, and puts out 34 hp. The gasoline tank is only 2.4 gallons, which is why the range, while extended, remains limited.

    The i3 hasn't been introduced yet, but will be this winter in Europe, and some time next year in the U.S.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    I wondered if they might use a horizontally opposed twin. But I had sorta ruled out any of their present twins used in the majority of their bigger displacement bikes cuz none are that low in hp. Even with tuning to favour torque for car use, the figure is still a bit low for their big twins. They have a parallel 800cc twin (a buzzer) and a single cyl 650cc (a thumper but fairly smooth for what it is...uses an internal balancer...as does the 800 but works more effectively in the thumper.

    So this almost sounds like they have resurrected an old 650 twin horizontally opposed twin from a few decades ago...a good motor although in current build I suspect it would be transformed into a liquid cooled mill for car use. It too must be detuned for torque in order to get down to 34 horse. Unless it is a really old 500 cc? Interesting. I doubt that tho...maybe they built a new engine entirely from the grd up for this little beast??
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,311
    I haven't read any specific details that address your comments and questions regarding which motorcycle or scooter (BMW builds a powerful scooter too) engine will be adopted for the i3.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Yes, I think it is a parallel twin which in scooter use, is rubber mounted to address the nasty vibes. In fact I never thought of that before, rubber mounting for car use to address NVH, is what they would do cuz in a car it is not essential that the engine be used a stressed member in the frame, thereby negating any rubber mounting options.

    Anyway, sorry to inadvertently get too far away from Tesla chat..
  • highenderhighender Posts: 1,364
    Teslas are more common nowadays in Bay Area.

    I just drove to work today on I-880, and saw a dark grey one, nice sleek and looks like a ferrari sedan..............

    Lots of these are showing up nowadays.... :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,678
    edited August 2013
    They still are losing money, though. I think irrational euphoria might be driving up the stock price to what seems to be an unsustainable level. $138 a share? Really?

    Some say yeah, some say no problem to hit $200.

    WE'LL SEE!

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  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,182
    edited August 2013
    http://green.autoblog.com/2013/08/07/tesla-sold-5150-models-s-evs-in-q2/

    "Finally, we know the number. Tesla Motors announced today that it sold 5,150 Model S electric vehicles in North America last quarter. Divide by three and you see that the California company sold around 1,700 cars a month, which puts it right up there with the current plug-in vehicle champions, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. That's despite the fact that the cheapest Model S, which starts at $69,900 but often sells for a lot more with better options, costs at least twice as much as the sales leaders. Tesla said it was making "almost 500 vehicles per week" in the second quarter of this year."
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,678
    Skeptics will note that no hybrid or EV has proven cost effective for consumers. In other words, "it costs more money to save money, than the money you save".

    Tesla is playing a pretty dangerous game if you ask me, doing some things which could blow up right in their face. They are really counting on the luxury car market, which has vicious competition, and they may run afoul of state franchising laws as well.

    Perhaps that's what it takes to break the mold---again, we'll see.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,678
    it's a nice car. It's a good car. And in automotive history, many nice, good, technically advanced cars go bankrupt. Can you say "Tucker"? "Maybach?" "Packard"?

    What it needs to do is meet enough consumers needs, and be a good enough value, to be considered a "marketable" commodity.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,189
    Impressive, looked like no structural issues at all. Now to let it stand without subsidy.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,678
    I see Tesla challenge as one of producing vehicles in enough volume to make a profit. This Model S, which with the extra battery power can break the $80,000 mark, can't be marketed as a "gas saver" obviously. So right now, it appeals to people who really like and want geeky new gadgets---the "cutting edge" folks.

    This doesn't strike me as the same scenario as Apple operates in--Apple also sells very slick and high-priced gadgets that people love---but Apple has a long history of profitability and a wide diversity of product to fit a variety of pocketbooks. Tesla has neither right now.

    One might say "Well, no one needs a Porsche either"...and that's true. But Porsche is also selling you "heritage", "prestige" and outstanding performance, to say nothing of a very exciting driving experience.

    I see Porsche/Ferrari clientele as different from Tesla clientele.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,311
    edited August 2013
    I agree with your comments about Tesla, but take some exception with heritage. Heritage comes with time. it's the icing on the cake. Porsche, the car, had no heritage in the first years of production. If Tesla succeeds, heritage will follow over time. In the meantime the absence of heritage may even be a plus for some early Tesla adopters.
  • Everyday I see at least 3 Tesla Model S in the SF bay area. For $70K I'd choose the Tesla over a BMW or Mercedes. It wouldn't surprise me if Tesla stock hit $200.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,189
    To be fair, Porsche the man did have quite a history,and I am sure that helped at least a few sales.

    But that's a good point, the "new kid" might attract some just on that ideal, not wanting to be seen as stuffy old tradition (even if they represent it in every other way).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,678
    edited August 2013
    Well not racing heritage--it'll never have that---and unfortunately, Musk is not a good name for a car :). The name Tesla is sort of a mystery to most people. Tesla was pretty mentally ill anyway, so not really a name one might want to hype too much beyond the urban legends that abound about him.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,311
    edited August 2013
    Indeed, Ferry Porsche was a very talented and innovative engineer, while Elon Musk's talents seem more difficult to define, to me at least. Musk's penchant for promotion makes it more difficult to separate the reality from the hype than automotive legends like Porsche, Enzo Ferrari, or even Henry Ford.
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