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Elon's Long-Term Strategic Vision?

SteveS0353

Member
Aug 23, 2014
365
54
San Diego, CA
All companies have a mission, strategic plan and product roadmap, typically with a horizon of 5 years. We've all heard Elon articulate Tesla's mission is "To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transport". He has further articulated the strategic plan (autonomous vehicles, gigafactory for cost reduction with scale) and a product roadmap to support that mission.

  1. Roadster as proof of EV concept
  2. Model S to build the brand to include a luxury family sedan
  3. Model X to extend the brand to include a family SUV/CUV
  4. Model 3 to further extend the brand to include a more affordable mass-market EV.
True visionaries manage long strategic horizons, and don't feel constrained by an arbitrary 5-year horizon (e.g., SpaceX and Mars). I stumbled across this piece the other day, after the Model X founders' launch.

There was a question from an analyst at the most recent conference call before the Model X launch along these lines, which Elon characterized as "insightful", but he declined to comment further.

I find this speculation rather intriguing.
 
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bint2k

Member
Nov 13, 2011
169
22
Toronto, ON
I totally think this is his long term plan... especially since Uber is so insanely profitable as a company, and practically overnight... Elon wants a piece of the pie.
 

voyager

Member
Apr 28, 2009
922
467
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tesla may be too hardware-oriented (focused on building and selling nice cars)... like Detroit always has been.

schematic%2Bproper%2Bformat%2B%25282%2529.jpg
 
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Grendal

SpaceX Moderator
Jan 31, 2012
5,769
7,035
Santa Fe, New Mexico
I totally think this is his long term plan... especially since Uber is so insanely profitable as a company, and practically overnight... Elon wants a piece of the pie.

Elon's motivation is not money. He uses it, but achieving his goals is what he is after. If he is going the route that Gavin is suggesting then its because he thinks that is where cars are going and it is safer. Being there before the major manufacturers means that EV's will be driving autonomy for vehicles. I can see Elon being very interested in that.
 

SteveS0353

Member
Aug 23, 2014
365
54
San Diego, CA

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2012
10,327
7,404
Maine
5 Make Model Y
6 Focus on SpaceX.


But a bkt more serious: cheap rockets, cheao electric cars, cheao batteries, cheap solar.

Really, it's make the world better while making lots of money, and then retiring to Mars.

The world is incredibly exciting right now. Shame about extremists.
 

brianman

Burrito Founder
Nov 10, 2011
17,523
2,989
Really, it's make the world better while making lots of money, and then retiring to Mars.
I would phrase it differently:
It's about human sustainability.

EVs are about providing clean transport from electricity.
Solar is about providing clean energy for electricity.
Both of those are about sustaining a "human compatible" planet Earth.
SpaceX is about making "another Earth".

It wouldn't surprise at all to find out (a few years from now) that Elon has a "backburner" project involving social and political issues on a multiplanetary scale. That's the next hurdle to keeping the spark of humanity alive for generations.
 

voyager

Member
Apr 28, 2009
922
467
Amsterdam, Netherlands
I don't think that's entirely true. My original point is that Elon's strategic horizon is far into the future, and his stated motivation is not money, per se, but "doing good things". But he needs Telsa to be successful so that he will have the resources to take the next steps to realize his vision.

When it comes to cars, I should have said.
Dunno about his plans to reach the stars (and I don't mean Hollywood).
 

wdolson

Well-Known Member
Jul 24, 2015
7,459
9,956
Clark Co, WA
All companies have a mission, strategic plan and product roadmap, typically with a horizon of 5 years. We've all heard Elon articulate Tesla's mission is "To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transport". He has further articulated the strategic plan (autonomous vehicles, gigafactory for cost reduction with scale) and a product roadmap to support that mission.

  1. Roadster as proof of EV concept
  2. Model S to build the brand to include a luxury family sedan
  3. Model X to extend the brand to include a family SUV/CUV
  4. Model 3 to further extend the brand to include a more affordable mass-market EV.
True visionaries manage long strategic horizons, and don't feel constrained by an arbitrary 5-year horizon (e.g., SpaceX and Mars). I stumbled across this piece the other day, after the Model X founders' launch.

There was a question from an analyst at the most recent conference call before the Model X launch along these lines, which Elon characterized as "insightful", but he declined to comment further.

I find this speculation rather intriguing.

The original plan was for the Model X to have a lot more shared parts with the Model S. Feature creep turned it into much more than originally planned.

Elon Musk has said in interviews that his plan was always to be three phase:

1) Prove that pure EVs don't have to be boring and have good performance with the Roadster
2) Prove that EVs could be mass produced, though at a price point between the introductory Roadster and mainstream ICE.
3) Make a mass market EV for the masses.

He also went on to point out that we didn't start with the smart phone the cell providers give you with a two year contract. The first cell phones were huge bricks that had terrible battery life and were not that portable. As they evolved, they got cheaper, better battery life, and more useful. Similarly, the world of cars didn't start with anything close to the modern car, or even the Model T. The Model T is remembered because it was the first car affordable to the masses because it was produced at enough volume to be cheap.

Cars had been around for about 30 years when the Model T was introduced. They had evolved to some extent, but they were mostly limited production playthings for the rich. Evolution of the car took off with the introduction of the Model T and in the next 30 years cars changed dramatically. Probably faster than the first 30 years.

Musk realized somebody had to push the evolution of EVs forward. The traditional car makers weren't doing it. They would do compliance cars where they had to, but otherwise they were dragging their feet as much as possible. The traditional car makers essentially said a pure EV was impossible with current technology and ran down a list of reasons. The Roadster proved a few of those reasons wrong, the Model S proved all but two wrong, and the Model 3 will prove one of the last two wrong (mass production of an affordable 200 mile+ EV).

The last issue is about batteries, both the size of high capacity battery packs and the charge time. Batteries take longer to charge than refilling a gas tank, and the energy density in a battery is a tiny fraction of gasoline. BEVs are much more efficient than gas engines, but you can still get 400 miles of range with a 14 gallon gas tank on a car, but less than 300 miles with a 96 gallon battery pack on the Model S. Tesla plans to attack this problem with the Gigafactory. They will be able to lay out a battery pack that is about 30% denser than the current one fairly soon after opening the factory (probably about a year). This will be critical for the Model 3 launch. The Gigafactory is also designed to make Li-Ion batteries as cheap as possible, and they should be able to push the price down much faster than it has been falling.

Charging time will still be an issue. Higher power superchargers and better charging hardware on cars can lower the time a bit, but charging a battery pack is still going to take longer than an ICE. You can put 400 miles of range in an ICE in about 5 minutes. That's 48,000 mph, which is two orders of magnitude beyond what the best battery chargers can do.

When battery packs get to 400-500 mile range, which is coming, this will become less of an argument. It would be rare that someone is going to drive more than 500 miles in a day, and if they are, one stop of 40-60 minutes is not unreasonable for all but the most hardcore long range drivers.

But even when the Model 3 is introduced, battery range and charge times will be less convenient on a long trip than gasoline. However, for everyday driving around a town or city, BEVs are superior because you can charge at home overnight and never have to take time to go to a gas station. Plus the fuel is generally cheaper than gasoline.

Back to the original topic, Elon Musk is aware of every argument and drawback to EVs and he is systematically tearing each of them apart. He's gone much further than anyone else up to this point and it looks like he will make it. The toughest hurdle is the battery, but he even has a plan of attack on that front too.
 

phigment

Member
Aug 31, 2015
652
1,045
Waterloo, Ontario
Charging time will still be an issue. Higher power superchargers and better charging hardware on cars can lower the time a bit, but charging a battery pack is still going to take longer than an ICE. You can put 400 miles of range in an ICE in about 5 minutes. That's 48,000 mph, which is two orders of magnitude beyond what the best battery chargers can do.

Keep in mind that as capacity goes up, charging time decreases. I.e. it will always be about 30 minutes for 80% capacity.
So, we currently have 90kWh batteries, which means 30 minutes will give us 72kWh.

If we have a 130kWh battery, that same amount of time will give us 91kWh of charge.

So, by getting a larger capacity battery you can either use it for quicker charging purposes, or for futher travel.
 

wdolson

Well-Known Member
Jul 24, 2015
7,459
9,956
Clark Co, WA
Keep in mind that as capacity goes up, charging time decreases. I.e. it will always be about 30 minutes for 80% capacity.
So, we currently have 90kWh batteries, which means 30 minutes will give us 72kWh.

If we have a 130kWh battery, that same amount of time will give us 91kWh of charge.

So, by getting a larger capacity battery you can either use it for quicker charging purposes, or for futher travel.

True, it will be faster, though it will be quite a while before charge times approach ICE cars. It is a legitimate criticism, but not something that is going to impact every driver all that frequently.
 

voyager

Member
Apr 28, 2009
922
467
Amsterdam, Netherlands
The last issue is about batteries, both the size of high capacity battery packs and the charge time. Batteries take longer to charge than refilling a gas tank, and the energy density in a battery is a tiny fraction of gasoline. BEVs are much more efficient than gas engines, but you can still get 400 miles of range with a 14 gallon gas tank on a car, but less than 300 miles with a 96 gallon battery pack on the Model S. Tesla plans to attack this problem with the Gigafactory. They will be able to lay out a battery pack that is about 30% denser than the current one fairly soon after opening the factory (probably about a year). This will be critical for the Model 3 launch. The Gigafactory is also designed to make Li-Ion batteries as cheap as possible, and they should be able to push the price down much faster than it has been falling.

Charging time will still be an issue. Higher power superchargers and better charging hardware on cars can lower the time a bit, but charging a battery pack is still going to take longer than an ICE. You can put 400 miles of range in an ICE in about 5 minutes. That's 48,000 mph, which is two orders of magnitude beyond what the best battery chargers can do.

When battery packs get to 400-500 mile range, which is coming, this will become less of an argument. It would be rare that someone is going to drive more than 500 miles in a day, and if they are, one stop of 40-60 minutes is not unreasonable for all but the most hardcore long range drivers.

But even when the Model 3 is introduced, battery range and charge times will be less convenient on a long trip than gasoline. However, for everyday driving around a town or city, BEVs are superior because you can charge at home overnight and never have to take time to go to a gas station. Plus the fuel is generally cheaper than gasoline.

Anyone who has figures regarding the ratio battery pack size : car mass : range?

To make it more specific, how big of a battery pack will an EV require that weighs one-third of that of a Model S to score a range of 350 mile?
(drag approx. half of that of a Model S)

Considering that both Model S and X weigh approx. 2300-2500 kg and have a range of 300 miles.
 

jerry33

(S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20
Mar 8, 2012
19,593
22,086
Texas
Charging time will still be an issue. Higher power superchargers and better charging hardware on cars can lower the time a bit, but charging a battery pack is still going to take longer than an ICE. You can put 400 miles of range in an ICE in about 5 minutes. That's 48,000 mph, which is two orders of magnitude beyond what the best battery chargers can do.

The trips I've taken haven't taken any more time than they did in an ICE as long as the route is Supercharged. It doesn't matter how far your car can go, you still have to stop every couple of hours and that's generally enough to get you to the next SC. Additional wait time is minimal or zero.
 

Mookuh

Member
Feb 9, 2012
156
17
You can put 400 miles of range in an ICE in about 5 minutes. That's 48,000 mph, which is two orders of magnitude beyond what the best battery chargers can do.
Really good post, good summary of the plan and the problems along the way. Tho since the above has been quoted a bit, I'd like to point out that 400 miles in 5 minutes is 4,800 mph, not 48,000, so you're one order of magnitude closer to EV recharging.
 

wdolson

Well-Known Member
Jul 24, 2015
7,459
9,956
Clark Co, WA
Anyone who has figures regarding the ratio battery pack size : car mass : range?

To make it more specific, how big of a battery pack will an EV require that weighs one-third of that of a Model S to score a range of 350 mile?
(drag approx. half of that of a Model S)

Considering that both Model S and X weigh approx. 2300-2500 kg and have a range of 300 miles.

I don't have any formulas handy, but the calculation wouldn't be a straight line. The energy density of the batteries is a factor as is the volume of the batteries. As you add batteries, you also add weight and you reach a point of diminishing returns where adding more batteries overloads the car and you start getting less range and lower reliability. The higher the energy density of the batteries, the more efficient you're going to be and the more energy you can pack into a smaller space. The Li-Ion chemistry Tesla uses is one of the most expensive, but it's also the highest energy density available. Most car companies use a different chemistry that is cheaper and has some other advantages, but it lower energy density.

I found this article which is a good run down:
http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/types_of_lithium_ion

Tesla uses NCA chemistry and most car companies use NMC.

Making a car 1/3 the weight of a Model S probably wouldn't be street legal. The lightest car for sale in North America is the Smart for Two and it's 820 Kg. But if you tried to build an EV that light, you wouldn't have any room for people. Batteries have much lower energy density than gasoline. 1 gallon of gasoline has 33 KWh of energy. A volume of 1 gallon of Tesla batteries has 933 Watts of energy. That's almost 36:1 more energy density. Now a gasoline engine is only about 20% efficient and an electric drive train is 80-90% efficient, so the real world ratio is about 9:1, but still in favor of the gas engine.

Gasoline is also much lighter than batteries. It's about 70% the density of water and Li-Ion batteries are about 4X the density of water.

Taking a Smart for Two, replacing the gas tank volume with a battery pack of the same size and replacing the ICE with an electric motor, even if you did it perfectly, you would end up with about 1/8 the range and the car would be a bit heavier because the batteries are denser. If the goal was to make an EV that could go 350 miles and weigh 800 KG, you would lose the entire passenger compartment, and you still might not be there because of the battery weight. I believe the battery pack alone on the Model S weighs almost as much as the Smart for Two.

It's pretty much a given that EVs will weigh more than ICE cars because of the density of the fuel source. Tesla had the best idea for where to put them. For maneuvering, the best place to have the weight is as low as possible and as close to center as possible. That was the brilliance of the skateboard design. Other manufacturers are slowly beginning to adopt it, but I think Tesla's design is still superior to other car makers at this point. The VW eGolf has a skateboard for the batteries, but they still stick the motor under the hood like an ICE.

I suspect the Model 3 will come in around 1800 Kg, possibly as high as 2000 Kg. It will use more steel than the Model S and X do.

Really good post, good summary of the plan and the problems along the way. Tho since the above has been quoted a bit, I'd like to point out that 400 miles in 5 minutes is 4,800 mph, not 48,000, so you're one order of magnitude closer to EV recharging.

Whoops, my bad. :redface:
 

voyager

Member
Apr 28, 2009
922
467
Amsterdam, Netherlands
(.....)

- - - Updated - - -

Making a car 1/3 the weight of a Model S probably wouldn't be street legal. The lightest car for sale in North America is the Smart for Two and it's 820 Kg. But if you tried to build an EV that light, you wouldn't have any room for people. Batteries have much lower energy density than gasoline. 1 gallon of gasoline has 33 KWh of energy. A volume of 1 gallon of Tesla batteries has 933 Watts of energy. That's almost 36:1 more energy density. Now a gasoline engine is only about 20% efficient and an electric drive train is 80-90% efficient, so the real world ratio is about 9:1, but still in favor of the gas engine.
Whoops, my bad. :redface:

Thx a bunch. Still, a sturdy platform and ditto (low drag) hull can be as light as say 600 kg using new materials. You may only need a 250 kg battery pack to score a decent range... Strap Tesla's standard 500 kg battery pack to a guy in a streamlined suit, for argument’s sake, and he'll be able to travel the continent, instead of feeling anxious over the 300 mile range in a 2.5 metric ton weighing Model S or Model X.
 
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DrGuest

Member
Nov 20, 2013
413
262
Bozeman, MT
I think Elon has plans for the Model X to be a Ride share car. I can see someone calling for my car at night while I'm not using it. They want to go to the airport. They call my car on their Tesla Mobile app. My Model X unplugs itself, open the garage, Drives to the location of the ride share customers, triangulates on their app, the doors auto present like an invisible chauffeur and takes them to the airport. On the way home the car goes into bio weapon defense mode clearing the car of food and perfume odors, opens garage and parks plugging itself in and all ready for me to use.
I also think the Elon is going to be selling Gigafactories to other auto makers, as fast as they can be built, because they are a zero emission, independent, Tesla Energy Product. Time will tell.
 

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