Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tesla and Model ☰ Updates

Man... Tesla moves fast.



A month ago I published a few electric car notes and promised a Tesla only entry. Talk about a lot happening in a month - Tesla has been a roller coaster.

With the election behind us we've seen a real flip in direction. Sadly the GOP has not figured out that climate protection is in their long term interest. The Koch brothers future looks like their millions poured into policy fronts against electric vehicles may pay off.  (Hoping not.)

Already Tesla may be looking at a firm end to the federal $7500 credit rebate. Worse, I would not be surprised if the limit was not only enforced but the US government with all three branches controlled by the GOP might change or rollback the rules. At the time the rules were made to allow a tapering down system of credits that Tesla could play via increased production speed. This would have allowed them to reward most or all of the 400,000+ in line with at least partial credit (see my earlier post on this). Now all bets are off on the incentive although it would expose the forces of FUD to some bright light if they change the rules.

Still I believe the average Model ☰ reservation holder is in it for the car - incentives or not. Because incentive rebates are granted after the car is bought all of us were going to pony up full price anyway at the time of the deal. I have a revised estimate for my ☰ as well.



Before I go on I'd like to add a link to a site that I believe gives you a great overview of all things Model ☰ and Tesla. Trevor and his associates have just done a bang up job.

Youtube Videos for Tesla Model 3

As well as their website:

Model 3 Owners Club

I give you the youtube site first because it's so easy to access their information that way. A couple of their first videos had sound issues but very quickly they put those to bed. The content is magnificent and easy to digest. If you want not only all the known data on the Model ☰ but the best deductions for what is coming watch this channel. These Canadians are on the ball, eh?

Autopilot and Self Driving.

Tesla and Mobileye ( former Autopilot system OEM) had a falling out. Each has tried to spin it their way but the upshot is a temporary setback to an autopilot that had been winning the review war with Mercedes and Lexus. Tesla again nimbly is turning this into a big win for a WAY improved system. Hopping to Nvidia seemingly overnight we have seen a tremendous leap in both the vehicle sensors and a quantum leap in computing power. Nvidia's watercooled PX system is added to the already high tech car. A system with high redundancy, tremendous CPU horsepower, and serious neural network capability. Compared in horsepower to 140 Macbook Pros this CPU is something new:

Nvidia Px2 Analysis

Want to learn more? I suggest the videos on Tesla's site. Remember we are looking at a hardware system on every new Tesla that can deliver three modes each with strong benefits. For Free - Safety Mode - Collision alarms and auto dimming headlights. Actually not a bad deal as you can upgrade. Autopilot mode $5000 at purchase / $6000 enabled later. An enhanced autopilot that can lane keep and function on all levels of road but still requires driver supervision and direction. Last full self driving. $3000 at purchase / $4000 after. Subject to regulatory approval. To appreciate this go to Tesla's website and run their videos of where this capability is shown working today! Both videos have Tesla deliver a rider not touching the controls over all kinds of traffic situations, drop off the rider and autopark. This will require regulatory approval with a timeframe that is anyone's guess but is much farther along past what we assumed. Amazing.

Supercharging

A new model for SC ( Supercharging ) is here. While destination (slower) charging is pretty much unchanged, SC will no longer be unlimited for Tesla's configured and ordered after December 2016. Instead Tesla's will be credited a free 400 KWH a year and pay per KWH (KiloWatt Hour) after that allowance. Think of it like 3-4 tank fill ups for free long distance travel. This is a wise move. Home charging - which is about 3 cents a mile should be the native mode of all Tesla's. This frees SC to serve the traveller in need and expand the network with recharge profits. So I no longer envision an purchase option for Super Charging on the Model ☰.

My new upgraded estimate - still high siding with maybe a grand off autopilot for early adopters:

Base               -  $35000   ( As promoted )
Dual Motor    -  $05000   ( No discount - assume motors most costly upgrade )
Autopilot       -  $04000   ( 1K discount for we early line standing folk? )
Supercharge  -  $0    ( SC 400kwh yearly then pay as you go )
ColdWeather -  $01000   ( Similar to S )

Dest & Doc   -  $01000   (20% off S guess)
-----------------------------
                          $46000
PA Tax              $02760
PA Title Tags    $00200
-----------------------------
                          $49000
Less Fed Incent $07500
-----------------------------
                           $41500
Less PA Incent   $02000
-----------------------------
                            $39500
Less Deposit       $01000
------------------------------
Optimistic price  $38500
Opt cash needed $46000
------------------------------
Pessimistic price $48000
Pesm. cash needed $48000

Ok there is no real difference but I may be $1K optimistic. As before I am undeterred regardless.

Tesla Stock continues to be shorted in record amounts and the faithful continue to buy the dips. The market remains skeptical of the Solar City merger we approved - at least that is the excuse. I think the proven innovation that continues everyday, Tesla's new profitability, pack leading autopilot, increasing by magnitude production numbers, and guaranteed interest measured in 400,000 $1K reservations will crack the shorts like eggshells. I look forward to an omelette whipped up from their tears and lost fortunes.

Comments (reasonably polite please) welcome.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Electric Ascension



Electric Vehicles are having a great year,

I'll save Tesla for it's own post. Let's just go for a top five for the rest of electric motoring.

1. GM's Bolt.  Regardless of so-so corporate behavior, the team at GM clearly continues to outdo themselves. In fact look back. The EV1 - ahead of it's time and potentially a game changer although buried by short sighted GM management - the fault was not the engineers. The Volt - certainly the most worry free way to drive electric for many years as the infrastructure improved. The Spark - ok lets move on. Now the 100% electric Bolt - easily 238 miles on a charge makes this new vehicle instantly a competitor. While I will continue my wait for the Model 3, this $37,500 MSRP with $7500 in federal incentives is a pretty interesting contender and has good reviews.

2. 2016 up 70% on electric sales.

3. VW throws in the diesel towel. Settles with owners and US government. Diesel - Scrapheap.

4. VW picks up the EV gauntlet. Admittedly they are still a gleam in German eye but I believe VW will be competitive.

5. Nissan continues to sell the mid upgrade Leaf and confirms 60KWH battery Leaf with a 200 mile range. The bad news 'it's coming' with little firm timeframe. Still progress.

** Bonus Point ** - Hydrogen seems to be melting away!



Some links for recent self driving developments



First let me link to Tesla's Autopilot page:

Tesla.autopilot

Next let's look at the NVIDIA supercomputer:

Electrek.on NVIDIA px-2

That's a good start because the Tesla autopilot link includes a video showing the autopilot system already driving completely over all types of street to a Tesla facility and auto parking itself. If the prototype software is this far along I believe more advanced auto piloting will be ready to go in the TM3 in Fall 2017, and self pilot not far behind depending on regulators. The second article talks about the very advanced supercomputer being added The NVIDIA PX2. Here is more on that:

NVIDIA Supercomputer Video

PX2 details

Finally a quick link to an article on a self driving Big Rig called OTTO. He hauls beer! Good times:

https://electrek.co/2016/10/25/uber-otto-first-shipment-self-driving-truck-autonomous-beer-run/

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)
-----------------------------
                          $46000
PA Tax              $02760
PA Title Tags    $00200
-----------------------------
                          $49000
Less Fed Incent $07500
-----------------------------
                           $41500
Less PA Incent   $02000
-----------------------------
                            $39500
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.

http://www.snopes.com/lithium-mine-oil-sands/
http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/vehicles/how-green-are-automotive-lithium-ion-batteries.htm
http://www.miningglobal.com/tech/1323/INFOGRAPHIC-Everything-You-Need-to-Know-about-Lithium

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

https://m.reddit.com/r/teslamotors/comments/4i3ohx/lithium_mine_vs_oil_production_this_is_going/
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10027822859

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

http://www.orocobre.com.au/Assets/Olaroz_Picture_HR.JPG

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:

https://medium.com/@kkchristy/no-evs-are-not-powered-by-coal-b050d4f87136#.uii3vziuc

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:

 http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/life-cycle-ev-emissions

Good overall studies of EVs vs. Gas:
http://energy.gov/eere/office-energy-efficiency-renewable-energy
http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Subsidies-For-Oil-Gas-Nuclear-vs.-Renewables

Why hydrogen is not the fuel of the future:
http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/02/hydrogen-is-not-the-fuel-of-the-future/
http://www.dvice.com/archives/2008/07/shift_hydrogen.php
http://www.dalefield.com/slspartners/hydrogen_fm.html

Good groups (mostly DC) and clubs for electric reading resources and events:
http://www.sierraclub.org/electric-vehicles
http://www.evadc.org/ 
http://www.meetup.com/MDVolt/

Dispelling EV Myths and many EV facts and resources:
http://aprs.org/EV-misinformation.html

Great video series on clean energy and transport:
https://www.facebook.com/FullyChargedShow

Annual September drive electric events all over the country:
https://driveelectricweek.org/

How gas is subsidized more than EV rebates - $2.00 gal/$12,000 over car life 2008/Bush-GAO
http://www.amazon.com/JOLT-Impending-Dominance-Electric-America/dp/159932220X
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!