Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tesla - New AI driving hardware!

The safety/autopilot/self driving on Teslas - model S, X, and ☰ just went to hyperspace...

Yesterday ( for my birthday ha!) Tesla unveiled this upgrade to STANDARD hardware.

From one camera -> 8 surround cameras, 3 redundant forward, higher res/range.
Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors 2 times the range and resolution.
Better forward radar 160m ( 524' - 1/10th mile, able to see around and under cars)
GPS upgrade to higher accuracy plus software upgrades.
IMU Inertial measuring unit upgrade.

Last and biggest a new NVIDIA processor that delivers a more than order of magnitude (40x) processing upgrade - basically a small supercomputer utilizing NVIDIA's newest parallel graphic processing tech. Motley Fool has been recommending buying NVIDIA for this very reason.

Safety improvements from 2x standard human safety now to potentially a 10x safety improvement when using the autopilot and self driving suite.

Activating the hardware on an S or X costs $5000 to unlock enhanced auto pilot and another $3000 to unlock self driving. However the standard upgraded hardware will support a standard safety set of features: Automatic Emergency Braking - Designed to detect objects that the car may impact and applies the brakes accordingly.  Side Collision Warning - Warns the driver of potential collisions with obstacles alongside the car.  Front Collision Warning - Helps warn of impending collisions with slower moving or stationary cars. Auto High Beams - Adjusts high/low beams as required.

So even the standard set if I can't afford the increased cost of autopilot is pretty cool. Still autopilot going from $2500 to $3000 to $5000 is a bit tough on the wallet.  Also self driving won't unlock until regulators allow it. Does that mean you pay for it but have to wait 4 years for the Federal Highway Safety folks to approve it?  Finally not unlocking a feature at purchase means it costs $1000 more to unlock at a later date. Yuck - that is a bit stiff. Still - a self driving car?

Tesla self driving and autopilot

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Tesla Model ☰ Price - Optimistic / Pessimistic

I'm a long way from the car of my dreams. Still it's time to start saving and that means I need a price for my dream ( and last ) car.

So SWAG ( Scientific Wild Ass Guess) time.

Base               -  $35000   ( As promoted )
Dual Motor    -  $05000   ( No discount - assume motors most costly upgrade )
Autopilot       -  $03000   ( No discount - similar upgrade to S )
Supercharge  -  $01000   ( Guess to register SC pay as you go )
ColdWeather -  $01000   ( Similar to S )

Dest & Doc   -  $01000   (20% off S guess)
PA Tax              $02760
PA Title Tags    $00200
Less Fed Incent $07500
Less PA Incent   $02000
Less Deposit       $01000
Optimistic price  $38500
Opt cash needed $46000
Pessimistic price $48000
Pesm. cash needed $48000

My pricing is based on guesses based on S options.  While Elon says ☰  options will be lower I'm assuming that's for options that require less - less paint, less carpet etc. I also SWAG that there will be two kinds of Supercharger options. One to register for access to pay as you go charging at fairly gas like rates ( this guess I'm costing out above ) and a 'free like the S and X option' at possibly 3-4 grand. Given the connectivity of Tesla cars I think this makes sense. The Model ☰ analysts on the net tend to disagree but I actually think this model is the most logical - a hook up my service type fee with a by charge per KWH cost would allow for trips at a more expensive rate and the predominant charging at home or destination for low or no rates. This keeps the more common ☰ owners from camping on SC units but gives them freedom to travel too. Finally for must have ☰  owners a 'high' option would give them full free access for car life but take money up front to not only activate the SC network but build it out as well to keep S/X owners happy.

My Optimistic option assumes Elon's plan to maximize the credits work. My pessimistic plan assumes neither credit survives by my delivery date.

I live on top of a (West Coast) hill (East Coast) mountain at 1200 ft - so all wheel drive and the cold weather package is important to me. Autopilot also a must for this ranged electric vehicle.

The rest is not so critical.  Since 215 is Tesla's ☰  range estimate and dual motor extends that by 10 in the S let's guess 220 range with the ☰  55KWH. DC is about 100 miles, Baltimore less. SC nearby in Hagerstown and in DC/Baltimore.  This covers my regional travel even in the cold.  Add a chademo adapter and add Frederick to charging sites.

As for more speed - I'm a retiree. I've never owned a less than 9 sec 0-60 car. Non performance dual motor improves an S by .3 secs let's assume the same for a TM☰ . That is 0-60 in 5.7 seconds - if the specs don't improve. That will be the most amazing car I've ever owned bar none, including my present LEAF purchased for $40K full freight - waiting in line for Nissan at the end of 2011.

So 220m range (or better)
5.7 sec 0-60
AWD and All Wheel Regen.
Autopilot on highway.
Standard options elsewhere.

Optimistically a little less money than my Leaf was... 0-60 on a Leaf is 9.9 seconds and it is not nearly as pretty. I'm also guessing an interior that will really be different - the S has always reminded me of Star Trek - grin. Finally AWD with computer traction and the fast power/braking response of electric motor/regen. The low center of gravity of the battery sled.  The S has also been a little large for my taste - 20% smaller is great and yet comfortable seating for 4-5 adults.

Powered at my home by wind power now and eventually solar if and when I can pony up the funds.

I believe when this car hits the hands of the critics the stock is going to go into the sky. Yes I do own stock in Tesla as I've revealed before.

Elon's companies have repeatedly learned from issues to go from failure to homeruns. SpaceX and Tesla are succeeding in highly technical fields where no new companies have been founded in years. I believe in the 4th gen Tesla car - Roadster, Model S, Model X, and now the Model ☰. It will be the most economically produced Tesla ever. It's baseline of road data from Model S and Model X cars the world over will be, bar none, the most advanced road navigation ever seen. All the advantages of other electrics combined with greatest economy of scale battery production ever.

As it is today.  Mercedes Benz at a 1/4 million dollar vehicle is no where close.

2017-mercedes-benz-e-class vs 2017-tesla-model-s
Car & Driver Semi-autonomous cars compared

I was about 48th in line at the Tesla showroom in Bethesda MD. Crossing my fingers for delivery timing and incentives. No matter what - late, no incentives, regardless I'm saving now!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The conservative propaganda machine in full swing

I hate to even put this up but a point needs to be made so here goes.

The following is false but circulating all over:

The couple of sites I've seen this on are filled with ad hominem attacks so be aware that while debate skills are low, users will resort to name calling quickly. I'd like to hope there are better conservative sites - please clue me in if they exist.  Anyway if you are willing to brave that here are some sources on this meme being false and lithium batteries relative pollution in manufacture and recycle.

Here are a couple of better informed discussions which I've skimmed:

Finally a real lithium extraction site picture in a salt flats desert:

This latest in a long line of propaganda from the fossil fuels camp got my goat because even my nephew posted the darned thing. So here are sources to refute the misinformation driving me crazy.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Great resources and Links for EV arguments

So what can we say when we are told that EV's are not clean?  That they just extend the coal exhaust. I just read a new article that very simply explains that in the US we power EV's with less than 18% coal:

Since that is the #1 comment I hear I really like the 2 minute refutation of it. In addition the longer study links do a more complete job but that is great. Also in the back and forth one can note the ways power can be improved in your area.  Installing solar locally in you home and neighborhood.  Most easily paying toward the green suppliers in your state usually at a small premium. I'm locked in here in PA to green energy for 24 months at less than 10 cents a kwh for both 100% green supplier (mainly wind) and utility side. Not bad and while all electrons are indistinguishable on the wire, my utility bills go to the renewable build out of wind in my state.  Improving the balance day by day.

Here is a current (2015) in depth clean EV lifecycle study link:

Good overall studies of EVs vs. Gas:

Why hydrogen is not the fuel of the future:

Good groups (mostly DC) and clubs for electric reading resources and events:

Dispelling EV Myths and many EV facts and resources:

Great video series on clean energy and transport:

Annual September drive electric events all over the country:

How gas is subsidized more than EV rebates - $2.00 gal/$12,000 over car life 2008/Bush-GAO
Does not include wars in oil-producing countries, 20k annual deaths in the US from health effects, pollution mitigation, the $85B a year to patrol the Straight of Hormuz, etc.

That should you plenty of resources and links for argumentative fossil fuel promoters - go forth and debate!

Friday, April 15, 2016

A plan for credits and Tesla production

A Tesla rebate and production SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess).  Speculation on the federal rebate and production of the Tesla Model 3.  Sources are below but the guesses are pure author speculation. Hang onto to your hats the going gets thick.

Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit (IRC 30D)

The credit begins to phase out for a manufacturer’s vehicles when at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles have been sold for use in the United States (determined on a cumulative basis for sales after December 31, 2009). 

Ramp up production plan table based on this IRS information and sources below.

 Date     Roadster       Models S  Model 三   Model X   Annual   ~ 55% US cumulative

2015       2000   (0)   107,228                         206        109,434   60,189 thru 12/2015

2016 Q1             (1)    12,420                         2400        14,820    68,340 thru 3/31/16
2016 Q2-4         (2)     ~40K                          ~35K        75,180   109,689 thru12/31/16

2017                   (3)     ~60K        15000        ~60K        135K     184K thru 12/31/17
2018              (4)(5)     ~60K          85K          ~60K        205K    Q1-199,999cum /15K
2018                   (6)                                                                          Q2 / Q3 40K  Full Fed
2018                   (7)                                                                          Q4 30K  Half Fed

2019                   (8)     ~60K         190K        ~60K        330K     Q1 40K  Half Fed
2019                                                                                                   Q2/3 100K  Qtr Fed

2020                   (9)     ~65K         330K        ~65K         500K     No Fed Q4 2019 on

(1) estimates, my guess of S to X ratio.
(2) Tesla 2015 Q4 report 80-90k (using 90k) estimate for 2016 production less 1st Q 2016.
(3) SWAG time. Based on target Tesla 500K 2020 met via ~50% ann growth
(4) 2018 -2020 increases shift to the Model  . S & X numbers may flatten some 2018
(5) 2018 Q1 Surges world deliveries of S & X
(6) My estimate for Full rebates on  employee/QA in 2017-Q4, plus 2018 through Q3 = 70K.
(7) Half rebate 2018-Q4 - 2019-Q1 Model  - 70K,  Quarter rebate 2019 Q2/3 Model  100K.
(8) 2019 NUMMI (only) 310K - (Overseas production 20K - S&X growth resume ~10% )
(9) 2020 NUMMI 460K + (Overseas 40K) - Tesla goal of 500K annual production met.

The estimate above of all Tesla vehicles sold 2010-2015 is about 110K and of those a percentage of 55% are estimated to be US sales for a US sale total of 60K.  Using a combination of Q1 reports, high end Tesla production estimates (90K) for the year, and the 55% US estimate I get a cumulative US sales total of 110K through year end 2016. The 55% estimate was in online reading but I'm unsure of the source and willing to look at any more accurate figure out there.

Next for 2017 and on, I start with the announced goal of a half a million annual vehicles for Tesla in 2020 and make some rough ( and optimistic ) guesses on about a 50% growth rate.  I also believe some strategic moves come in here.  Tesla needs testing for the 三 beyond the crash labs and track to assure their concierge level of service is not overwhelmed by problems with the .  I believe they are farther along than we think. They will deliver 2017-Q4 15,000 Model 三 vehicles to employees and a few to press and special friends. They can control feedback as they get fit and finish ironed out for ramp up. My guess is 184K cumulative all model US sales ending 2017.  This will also begin a period of carefully controlling US vs Overseas sales to maximize incentives.

In 2018 this strategic balance will be used in the first quarter to divert anything over 15K of the new Model 三 and 900 or so can't say no US S and X deliveries. This gives a cumulative 199K US at the end of the quarter 1.  2018-Q2 and Q3 will be unconstrained US sales and somewhat constrained overseas. My guess -  Q2 20K and Q3 20K of the Model  and most if not all S & X sales in the states for an additional 100K vehicles eligible for full credit.  A good chance of the total 70K Model 三 sales covering all of employees, Tesla owners, and line standing US public reservations will be eligible for a full US federal rebate.  The awesome part is Tesla could end with a total of 300K cars receiving the full federal credit. Of those in 2018 Q2 & Q3, 60K would still be the high end S & X owners with high end margins. This would also keep S & X rushing to reserve in 2017/2018 for whatever credits remain to counter low end cannibalization.

The next two quarters 2018 Q4 and 2019 Q1 are the 50% Federal $3750 rebate.  With a guess of 70K Model 三 owners and large quantities of S & X (about again 60K). this is extended to additional 130K owners.  It should cover all the pre unveiling reservations left - mainly online.  The faithful are rewarded - grin.

Finally the rebate plan ends with another 100K of Model  in 2019 Q2/Q3, with a total of 160K eligible for the quarter federal rebate of $1750. Total possible US rebates - 590K. Not bad for a 200K program.  A large number of the Model  reservations - 240K,  get some level of rebate.  

I would guess 2019 will also see an overseas plant come online with the three or more of the product lines at 20K initial production to help overseas sales shorted during the rebate production. This could reasonably expand to 40K in 2020 and with NUMMI fulfils the amazing "500,000 in 2020" Tesla target production goal.  Just like Henry Ford but with models S 三 X instead of model T.

Finally Elon Musk is not big on disappointing people. I believe (another SWAG here) he will make lane and parking Autopilot a freebie on his cars during the phase out.  Safety Autopilot is already free. Now he offers value to offset the loss of rebates.  At that time he could offer a paid option for fully autonomous driving Autopilot, with that upgrade discounted for those who already bought lane/parking autopilot.  This makes his discount mostly software and mostly amortized, with a good level of value to drivers. It also doesn't alienate present autopilot owners with a discounted upgrade.

Well that's it. All today's Model  reservations cleared by 2020.  All it takes is insane growth in the world's most competitive business by a little upstart called Tesla.

I wouldn't bet against them.

(Disclaimer - I'm a retiree with a modest amount of Tesla stock I hold for the long term.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Strategy for EV Dialog

I feel my last post on types of naysayers was a bit negative. EV owners should be able to talk to most people. In my experience I've found though the naysayer tends to be a bit closed.  Still this is on a range and one should be able to simply talk.

Four general points for discussions:

Stay truthful. EVs like my Leaf are by no means perfect. We have battery ageing, reduced cold range, and used value issues. I think the 'next gen' is well on its way to solving these but it's important to acknowledge issues. Range is good to acknowledge as it formerly was not a showstopper but was inconvenient quite often. Because the 'next gen' and 'high end' solves this issue it's a great one to discuss.

Stay positive - Present EVs are incredible on maintenance and cost to run. Plenty of good studies of well to wheel and complete lifecycle show electrics to be superior both in cost and environmental impact. Fun to drive is a big point too - in person, offer a test drive. I find that is a game changer because of how peppy the Leaf is. I'm sure it's even more exciting in an S or Roadster.

Stay informative - Example - I often hear claims of batteries being toxic. True of older battery chemistry, lithium is easily recycled into new batteries. Even old battery stacks before recycling are generally reusable in home backup systems. Almost all the major objections are similar - an out of date talking point that has been solved or can be clarified as not stopping EVs.

Stay polite - This can be hard when the 'Rolling Coal' bonehead demands his god given right to take a dump on the planet you would like to pass down to your grandkids. Take a breath.  Sometimes when there are multiple parties I'll instead praise the most levelheaded for their ability to argue without name calling.  I may use 'bonehead' above to make clear I have negative feelings about an obstinate opponent but it never is productive in a dialog. I generally keep exchanges short in these cases and provide links to factual data. Pointing out fallacies such as 'ad hominem' may put the debater on an angry defensive posture as they don't understand the point. A more laymen's explanation like this chart may assist:

A tip for each type listed in the prior post:

The Perfectionist - Make a final point that intermediate progress is critical due to cumulative nature of CO2 / CO / Carbon particulate damage.

The Novice - Usually approachable and often interested in a test drive. Keep discussion short and pointed - if interest appears get them in an EV!

The Stakeholder - Stay calm. Point out economic pluses for green industry. Short and Factual.

The Conservative Media Consumer - Stay apolitical and point out economic losses associated with denial of the climate problem. In particular point out that very conservative insurance companies have increased rates for coastal and flood insurance - meaning money is on the side of the facts even if  lobbyists are spouting misinformation. Links to studies when they are skeptical of EVs advantages will help.

The Professional - Expose their sources and sponsors if possible. In my case I submit my motivation - survival and a good life for my children and the world.  Link to factual scientific studies and disengage early - you are not the one being paid here. 

Remember in all these cases the argument may not change the debater, but may expose the fallacies of their side. Our goal is to get the good information out and allow the silent audience out there to make up their minds.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The EV Naysayer

Well it's begun in earnest. Like cigarettes before the oil industry is gearing up the misinformation drive. It was there before but the Koch brothers announcing funds to fight electric vehicles is the tip of a new iceberg. In general I see five sources of bloggers out there running negative EV (Electric Vehicle) commentary:

The Perfectionist. Probably the most difficult to counter as it's true the EV's can't solve every problem despite positive points. On one end of the scale they point to big rigs not currently replaceable by EVs. At the other end they point to mining needed for lithium batteries. Usually a conversation admitting the whole of motoring won't be replaced overnight and that gas cars have plenty of rare earth and metal mining with end with an admission that EV's are an overall positive. Some in this category won't be happy until we all are bicycling again though.

The Novice. Ranging from gas motoring enthusiast to outright luddite. They dislike a change to new electric vehicle technology, either sentimentally for classic cars or due to fear.  Usually not too bad to have an exchange with. They have a point - old motor technology was fun. Sadly it poisons the air and makes large areas prone to being underwater in a couple decades.  

The Stakeholder. These bloggers are the buggy whip makers of yesteryear. Dealers who prefer making money on repairs and oil, not to mention the Tesla no dealer model.  Mechanics that realize a world with EV's needs a lot fewer repairs. Media with big advertising from the same old guard.  Gas and oil workers of all types. Animosity runs high in this crowd and besides giving them links to studies it may not be worth the time to engage here. Fear of job loss is a powerful motivator.

The Conservative Media Consumer.  Often recognisable by similar arguments they parrot from Fox news or Beck / Limbaugh on the radio. When refuted by sound sources they tend to deny or name call. I don't just mean greenie or liberal - some vile stuff. They have been trained by media repetition to consider holders of other views unamerican or immoral. I still find some of the brighter ones worth engaging with, but many just don't have any intent to understand an opposing view. Inability to compromise to get things done is common as well - see government gridlock.

The Professional.  A big area for shadowy money, lots of bloggers are paid to advance the other side.  They promptly pop up in every forum.  Unaccountable but very professional in turning positive online discussion into disinformation and trolling.  I believe this is one way secretive policy organizations get great bang for the buck in these times of hard to find employment.  Best to just provide good sources and links. They simply will engage without end or any positive movement regardless of argument strength.

** Next blog - sources to help counter naysayers.  Here's a first good link below **