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If car companies can't invent a viable EV solution to compete, what happens to Elon's vison?

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by weak_pig, Apr 8, 2016.

  1. ulrichw

    ulrichw Member

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    Are electric vehicles a niche product because they look strange, or do car designers make electric vehicles look strange because they are a niche product?

    Perhaps there's a little of both there, but I think that currently EV purchasers probably are early adopters who have a propensity to want to stand out to some degree. Therefore, manufacturers are merely meeting this demand by styling EVs in a way that makes them stand out (something you perceive as making them look "strange.")

    I believe that as EV volume increases we'll see movement in this approach.
     
  2. ChadS

    ChadS Last tank of gas: March 2009. EV miles: 254,000

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    #82 ChadS, Apr 10, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
    That explanation has been spread through the press for years, and I think it has legs because it "makes sense".

    AFAICT it started when the 2nd-gen Prius sold far better than the Civic Hybrid. The prices were about the same, and the Prius looked stranger, so people must prefer the odd look, no? Many people disdainful of hybrids seemed especially happy to latch on to this explanation. "Prius buyers just want attention." It helped them dismiss people that bought a car they didn't want. (Prius buyers themselves were more likely to latch on to "it has to be ugly for good aerodynamics").

    However, I have never seen any surveys or data to back up this position, though I have seen a couple that oppose it. As a Prius buyer myself 11 years ago, I can attest that I bought the Prius despite rather than because of the looks - I really would have preferred the Civic. But the Prius had more room in the rear seats and cargo area, and it had notably better mpg - which was the main reason that we buyers were in the market in the first place.

    Toyota hadn't figured out that people wanted odd-looking cars. Toyota had figured out that people shopping primarily for mpg would put up with odd-looking cars. Keeping the low-margin Prius odd-looking kept people that didn't care that much about mpg buying better-looking, higher-margin vehicles.

    Of course this explanation is not one that any automaker would ever offer in public, so you don't see it often in the press. But this is a typical "versioning" marketing scheme that is common in many industries to increase overall profits.

    There is more on this in the other thread linked in my signature below. The relation to the current thread topic is that the other manufacturers absolutely CAN produce cars like Tesla. They just don't want to yet because they can more easily make higher margins on other types of cars. This won't be true forever, and in fact some like Nissan have already acknowledged that they will change their approach with more "mainstream" cars.
     
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  3. William13

    William13 Active Member

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    Competition will occur only after a 3-5 years delay after the success of the Model 3 due to the long lead time to build new cars and gigafactories. Some traditional car maker, I predict Hyundai, will break ranks with the others first, find success and then be followed by others. Thus my prediction is about 10 years until real competition occurs.
     
  4. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    Most cars are sold in the developed world though. The developing world doesn't buy too many new cars.

    If energy density in batteries doubles in 10-12 years, which may or may not happen, but it possible, That only halves the requirement for battery factories from 100 GF to get to 50% to 50 GF. That's still $250 billion, which is a lot of capital expenditure to be absorbed. And if we were going to meet this goal, it would require starting to build those factories now for 2016 battery chemistries.

    The will to take this on still isn't there and likely won't be there for another 5+ years.

    In suburbs, there is usually something that can be done. Most apartments and condos in the suburbs have parking lots where chargers can be installed. However as you get into bigger city cores street parking gets more and more common. A friend of mine lives in an older neighborhood in Portland where houses were built in the early 20th century. Some houses in her neighborhood still have rings embedded in the sidewalk to tie up your horse. It's a very expensive neighborhood, I think the mean house price is around $500K, but it's very old.

    Very few houses in that neighborhood have garages or space for a garage. The few houses that have garages mostly use them for storage lockers because most modern cars won't fit, even smaller cars. Just about everyone parks on the street. My friend's husband is ultra green. He is one of those people who will go to extreme lengths to do the most minor conservation measure. He bought a Prius because he wanted to save the environment. He would have bought something like a Leaf if he could, but it would be impossible to charge in his neighborhood the way things are now. Charging EVs there is going to be impossible until the city builds curbside chargers.

    Portland is an extremely progressive city. (They make San Francisco look conservative.) When BEVs start to become more popular they will start to look into that sort of thing and will probably start installing them in those old neighborhoods where there are no garages. The critical mass isn't there yet though.
     
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  5. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    My personal opinion is the car companies see EV buyers are "tree hugger" eco buyers and ghettoize them into weird looking cars. Basically to drive an EV from every company except Tesla you need to drive around with a car that screams "I look like a prat!" But it's deliberate on their part. The Prius looks weird too, but I think people have gotten used to the look since they have looked that way longer than any EV out there.
     
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  6. FreeOfPge

    FreeOfPge Member

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    Didn't we loose signatures with the new version? I can't see them.
     
  7. ChadS

    ChadS Last tank of gas: March 2009. EV miles: 254,000

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    #87 ChadS, Apr 10, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
    Signatures are still there, but I think they are not shown on mobile.

    The thread on how manufacturers treat EVs is HERE.
     
  8. FreeOfPge

    FreeOfPge Member

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    Perfect!
     
  9. ElectricTundra

    ElectricTundra P85D AP1

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    At one time perhaps. But not after Tesla taking 25% of the large luxury market and 325,000 people lining up to reserve Model 3's (325,000 people (or one million or ??) who will now not be purchasing new cars from GM, BMW, or anyone else).
     
  10. ElectricTundra

    ElectricTundra P85D AP1

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    A cast iron hitching post with a charger cable hanging from it rather than a ring would seem quite fitting. :)

    I agree though, folks in those neighborhoods will face greater challenges and for some that will be a challenge too far. Others may figure that they can charge enough at work or somewhere else to make it work.
     
  11. GeekGirls

    GeekGirls Kid in Candy Store

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    I do think there's something to the theory that if you're going to be an early adopter of a significant departure from tradition then you're likely to want to make a visual statement about it. It's not like the Model S and Model 3 aren't distinctive vehicles in their own way, they're just more attractive than most.

    I'm pretty sure we've reached the point where interest in EVs is sufficient and battery technology has improved to the point that market forces are starting to take over. We'll see more attractive options come to light leading up to the launch of the Model 3. We're pretty happy with our leased BMW i3 and they're rumored to have a number of interesting vehicles in the works. Hopefully more interesting than the i8, at any rate, which strikes me as utterly uninteresting from an EV enthusiast's point of view.
     
  12. physicsfita

    physicsfita Member

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    Being from the Detroit metro area, I have several friends in the auto industry, some of them reasonably high up the food chain. The situation is more subtle than that. For instance, with CAFE standards, there is a lot of public screaming at the government for consumption by the investors so that they will not be upset by a couple of down quarters. More privately, they don't mind so much, as long as everyone has to bear the R&D costs. The main concern they have is if they develop new technology that their competitors will reverse-engineer too quickly before they can recoup their costs. A lot of the fleet mileage targets are negotiated with that in mind.
     
  13. tomas

    tomas Only partially psycho

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    This theory that no garage will stifle or limit EV market is short sighted. Someone will innovate and come up with a solution. For example, what if there were a bev with 2 high voltage batteries: a 10kWh good for 50 miles costing ~1k and a 60 kWh for 300 costing ~6k. The 10 is swappable. You don't worry about getting back "your" battery because the small one is just not a big deal. Many of the swap issues go away. You can drive typical city mileage with the swappable. Most workplaces have chargers and there are public high speed trip chargers widely available for occasionally charging the "trip" battery.

    This is only one scenario. There will be a solution, and it won't be hitching posts.
     
  14. Sunlight

    Sunlight Member

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    As far as I can see it, EVs will overtake ICE-cars very quickly once tipping point is reached and this is only dependent on EV cost (well on the way to favouring EVs); legislation (it won't be long before cities start to ban ICE cars - I believe the Netherlands will from 2025 anyway for starters); desirability (and Tesla has proved that is a no-brainer already) etc.

    We have no idea what will develop in this time but certainly high-speed chargers (200miles in 15 minutes?) which can/will proliferate like petrol stations (faster, easier, cheaper and they only require a parking place). Indeed I suspect a point will come when legislation will require charging points in all existing petrol stations....)

    Once these facts come to pass, then even owners without garages will just 'fuel up' whenever the need arises and program in the time required as a matter of course - shopping, coffee, toilet etc.

    Battery and electric motor production will just ramp up super rapidly to meet demand and due to 'market forces' - adapt or die.

    With autonomous driving and all the other way-out ideas for transport, we may all change our 'normal habits' and charging will just get factored into the system. Many people may even ditch owning a car and start sharing/hiring/calling a driverless shuttle.

    We may all start walking more in clean and empty cities - much to our health benefits.

    May we live in interesting times! It'll be a wild ride and I suspect a few traditional car makers will go the wall.............
     
  15. Steepler2k

    Steepler2k Member

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    Hyundai's Ioniq variant due out later this year would agree with you. I think I read that the PHEV and the BEV versions will only be available in states with emissions standards. Continuing to leave those of us in other states devoid.

    I think the only thing that would make me jump ship from my model 3 reservation to another manufacturer's BEV would be the distance for service. Currently, the closest Tesla store/service center is 168 miles from me. I may get cold feet if they' haven't opened up shop in my city by time to reserve. The 3 will be my daily driver, and while we could do the one car thing if it needed service for some period of time, that service being 2.5 hours away changes the dynamic.

    I don't need 200+ miles of range. my usual day is less than 30 miles. I would prefer my car to be an option on road trips, hence my interest in the 3. If the next gen Leaf is normal looking (i.e. sedan or liftback, not hatchback) then I may go that route.
     
  16. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    Don't underestimate the effort it's going to take to ramp up battery production. Li-ion battery production is a specialized process that requires specific equipment and factory processes tailored to making just that. Ramping up production is not going to be fast. Electric motors isn't as tough to ramp up. The world is full of people making electric motors. Though a push to build a lot of EVs in a very short time would probably lead to a short term motor shortage in many industries.

    I see two tipping points coming. One will be the public perception and demand for EVs and the other will be when many companies are mass producing them and ICE production goes into decline. Because of the difficulty ramping up li-ion battery production and the vast quantities of batteries needed, those two tipping points could be a decade apart. The years between those two tipping points will be years of chaos in the car industry.

    I also don't see the infrastructure going in all that fast without some major government incentives. Putting in a charger here and there won't cost much, but putting in enough to support mass adoption of EVs is going to cost billions.

    When you start running the numbers in the car industry, you end up in very large numbers very quickly and any wholesale change is going to be a lot of money.
     
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  17. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    That's what Toyota thought too when making the Prius. It turns out that most of those folks making large electric motors make them in batches of 25 or less. So Toyota (and Tesla) had to make their own. The situation is somewhat better now than it was in 1996, but the suppliers of large quantities of large electric motors are still very limited.
     
  18. int32_t

    int32_t Tesla Spotter

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    Even if Tesla is the only company making EVs, Tesla wins (and so do we, i.e., the inhabitants of this planet). The only losers in that equation are the existing vehicle manufacturers which will be out of business as more people get rides in Teslas and mysteriously can't help but buy their own ... ;)
     
  19. Topher

    Topher Energy Curmudgeon

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    Its not like we don't know where those BIllions are going to come from. They are going to come from not buying and burning oil. We, in the US are spending nearly a $Billion per day for oil (not even gasoline).

    Thank you kindly.
     
  20. Bangor Bob

    Bangor Bob Member

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    Manufacturing capacity will play a role too. Once we're past the "normal consumer perception" tipping point, a lot of people will still end up settling for an ICE of some kind even though they wanted an EV, just because they need to replace their car *right now*, but all the good EV's are sold-out for years and production of the in-demand models can't be ramped fast enough.

    Hopefully EV demand continues to grow to the point that releasing a compelling EV is a sure-fire money maker, while releasing an ICE is a risky move...
     

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