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Is Tesla going to copy the GM Volt?

Discussion in 'News' started by TEG, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #1 TEG, Dec 6, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2007
    http://www.news.com/8301-11128_3-9830222-54.html

    "
    ...
    Speaking at the ThinkGreen conference in San Francisco, vice president of finance Mike Taylor told an audience that the GM Volt is "a really good way" of extending the range on electric sedans in a cost-effective way.
    ...
    Taylor {said} that the Volt is a "really elegant design."
    ...
    Taylor joined the company a few months ago as part of a reorganization aimed at stemming some of the delays.
    ...
    "
     
  2. DDB

    DDB Member

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    Good spot TEG, but say it ain't so...

    Those were some words of high praise that scare the hell out of me. I do NOT want to see the Whitestar (or Bluestar) go the way of the Volt. It's too early to be copying other EV concepts. Moreover, it is not the vision that Martin had painted I do not believe.
     
  3. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Sorry, but I don't see the problem. The Volt's PHEV approach really is a good way of extending the range on electric sedans in a cost-effective way -- particularly cost-effective fora company like GM which is massively invested in internal combustion engines already. Nobody should be afraid to say so.

    I don't have any religious objection to Tesla getting into PHEVs either. I do think it would be a lot more expensive for them, since the cars would become a lot more complicated, and they would have to source engines somewhere, and deal with all the emissions regulations that don't currently concern them, and set up their service department to deal with the ICEs. . . .

    However, you have to look at the cost and performance of batteries today and recognize that PHEVs can fill an important role which pure BEVs probably aren't ready for. If your goal is to get the masses driving on grid power, it would appear that GM is closer to doing that than Tesla is.
     
  4. BlackbirdHighway

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    Yeah, it may be another intermediate step in the transition:

    * All gas car
    * Hybrid gas car
    * Plug in hybrid (parallel)
    * Plug in hybrid (serial)
    * BEV with range extender trailer
    * Pure BEV

    Still, some of us just want to jump directly to the final product, and live with the limitations until the batteries get better. We can't expect everyone to want the same thing. So, ideally there should be all of these different alternatives available. Since GM is already doing the serial hybrid Volt, who is doing the pure BEV? For many of us, the answer was Tesla, now maybe it's Miles? That's a bit of a letdown, to say the least.

    In a way, the serial hybrid is both the best of both worlds and the worst of both worlds.

    It's the best in that you can drive on battery power alone, at least for a while, and yet you don't have to stop and wait for hours to recharge. Long trips are no longer out of reach.

    But it's also the worse in that you still have to stop and put in gasoline, AND you also have to plug it in. Even though you can drive on battery power, you still have to worry about tuneups, sparkplugs, air filters, oil changes, oil filters, exhaust pipes, mufflers, catalytic convertors, oxygen sensors, starter motors, fanbelts, valve adjustments, timing belt replacements, fuel pumps, water pumps, radiator flushes (to be fair, the Tesla probably needs these also), EGR valves, etc. Wow that's a long list!

    One of the major attractions of BEVs is that you can get rid of all that stuff!

    Maybe Tesla will offer the Whitestar in two versions, pure BEV and serial hybrid, but that would take a lot of extra development work, in what is already a pretty big program. I'm keep liking the idea of an optional range extender trailer better and better.
     
  5. DDB

    DDB Member

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    So much for keeping everything in-house. We can assume they won't develop the ICE from scratch. That sort of defeats the purpose of re-developing a battery then too, doesn't it? Especially if they only need a 40 mile range like the Volt? If that is truly the intent, they mise well merge now in some sort of joint venture while their stock is high and can make a buck.

    Relying on Miles is indeed a letdown, because the next to follow is ZAP. My point here is that I want to see competition from the best in the BEV industry and I see that quickly dissolving.
     
  6. Tesla2Go

    Tesla2Go Member

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    Why give the Volt only a 40 mile range though? It seems the plan is to more or less force you to use the range extender on a daily basis....do they have plans to offer the Volt with more battery range? In that case would the extra battery package have an inflated price?.............
     
  7. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    The Volt has only a 40-mile range for two reasons. . . The whole ICE and generator system takes up space and mass that otherwise would have gone to batteries. Also, the batteries GM are using have considerably less energy density than the ones Tesla are using.

    40 miles of battery range is a pretty aggressive target for a PHEV. It should cover most daily driving for most people.
     
  8. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    Let's face it. The Volt represents a miracle of alternative thinking for GM. Edgy, radical stuff for them.

    I have no issues with the notion of Tesla cars being PHEVs - at least from a technology standpoint. I just think it would be much harder for Tesla to compete in the hybrid market against the big players - particularly as said market is going to get even harder for customers to navigate. There are too many competing technologies and approaches, too many claims and counter-claims.

    A BEV is a much simpler concept for a company to market and for customers to grasp. It doesn't put Tesla at the mercy of an ICE / generator supplier (look at the fun they've had getting suppliers to understand their unique needs for a two-speed transmission).

    In addition, PHEV batteries are different from BEV batteries to cope with the unpredictable recharging loads and most (all?) are now tied to big auto. Would all that ESS expertise count for less if Tesla moved out of the BEV market? Would they lose their lead in battery pack design?

    It's a risk, sure, but staying with BEVs keeps them distinctive.
     
  9. Brent

    Brent Member

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    I think I mentioned this before, but I would very likely buy an established manufacturer's hybrid over a Tesla Motors hybrid, unless it somehow delivers a humdinger. The primary, and probably sole, reason TM has become so influential is because it intends to deliver an all-battery car. That is its niche for now. You want a battery car, you buy Tesla.

    If it adds an ICE, Tesla will lose customers like me. I think car buyers are largely conservative; I know I am. I will stay with what I know, unless something else is really compelling. I'd much rather buy a hybrid Lexus with all the tremendous reputation and resources that Toyota brings to the table, along with the build quality of the car, than spend anything on a start up that might not last as long as the car's warranty. But all-battery? Now, that's compelling.
     
  10. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Mainecoon Butler

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    I'm afraid new people in charge of TM now do not fully understand this.

    They see an emerging market for hybrids, they see it as partialy tested field(Toyota, Honda, ..) and want to take a part of it. They might feel it as a safer way to make money as pure BEVs.
     
  11. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    As far as I know, Tesla hasn't said specifically that they will be making hybrids themselves.

    The things I recall them saying are:

    * (Multiple sources) - they like the GM Volt concept.
    * Instead of selling battery packs they may sell complete drivetrain systems.
    * They are said to be working on a deal with a major manufacturer.
    * The New Mexico plant may do something different instead of just building "WhiteStar".

    So, maybe there is a scenario where they sell Tesla PEM & eMotor to some big player to use in that company's series hybrid. It doesn't eliminate the possibility that "WhiteStar" could still be 100% BEV.

    We still don't know for sure what they have in mind. They have also indicated that they plan to make some announcement early next year. I don't know if that would just be WhiteStar details or something entirely different.

    I think someone said they saw a job posting for a (gas) generator engineer at Tesla, but that could just be to have someone work on their mobile charging system for road trips (product demos) and such where they don't have Tesla chargers installed. It doesn't automatically mean that they are planning to use it in their product.

    I have no idea what they are planning. I am just saying that you could follow everything they said and still find reasons to think they are still 100% committed to BEVs. Hopefully Darryl does a blog like "Hybrid rumors untrue" or some-such to set us straight.
     
  12. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    The idea of Tesla making anything but a Battery Electric Vehicle is INSANE.

    The market niche they have created for themselves is clear. To muddy the water with anything but a BEV will confuse the public and make them compete with established car builders.

    They would become a textbook case of a company loosing their core focus. They would loose market share, people would be fired and if they did not colapse completely they would minamally go back to AC motors and Batteries.

    I'll add they Tesla does not advertise and this is because they have a product different enough and outragous enough that they don't need to. If they decide to compete with GM and Toyota by making a car that falls in the same catagory ie: "sedan, PHEV, 40K" they will suddenly have to have a multi million dollar ad budget to get noticed.

    Tesla was founded on the EV. If they can't make the W* right as e BEV because the battery technology has not increase fast enough then they should just scale back and sell Roadsters for a few more years in wait.
     
  13. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Compete with which established car makers?

    I think it's great that the big car companies are beginning to take a look at grid power again. However. . . Aside from the notable exception of the Chevy Volt, they are all being pretty timid about it.
     
  14. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    If we are just talking Hybrids then Toyota of course (and Honda, and many others making Hybrids).

    ( Series and Parallel hybrids seem in competition to me. I don't think series will be viewed as substantially better. )

    In terms of plug-in hybrids... Hard to say. Only the aftermarket now, but it could be a bunch of players in a few years.
     
  15. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    TB:
    "I think it's great that the big car companies are beginning to take a look at grid power again. However. . . Aside from the notable exception of the Chevy Volt, they are all being pretty timid about it. "

    TEG:
    "If we are just talking Hybrids then Toyota of course (and Honda, and many others making Hybrids)."

    I extrapolating on two fronts here, First I am taking about ANY car propulsion that is not a BEV (Tesla's unique selling proposition) and I am making the jump to 5 years from now to where even if all the major car makers are actually not making ICE alt cars they will be posturing with a flagship model that will be coming out in a year or two. Anything to further erode Tesla’s visibility.

    Each and every day Autoblog Green has half a dozen of these announcements. Imagine all the other automakers stepping up their hype to Volt’s level. Even with an actual car, Tesla would be a gnat.
     
  16. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Darryl's response:

    “Our expertise in electric drive is applicable to pure electrics as well as range extended applications. We have looked at both and could engineer both. Based on what we have modeled and engineered, I personally believe they are solutions for distinct market segments, with the RE-EV having certain advantages for certain customers and the pure BEV having advantages for others.”

    From here:
    http://www.gm-volt.com/2007/12/07/is-tesla-planning-to-build-an-e-rev-too/
     
  17. DDB

    DDB Member

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    Are we speculating some sort of Tesla-GM alliance here?
     
  18. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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    Battery Charge Cycle

    I think you really have to consider battery charge cycles to see if Tesla is going to go the PHEV route.

    For example, the Tesla Roaster's battery can go 245mi/charge. For a typical 100,000mi lifetime of a car, it needs to provide at least 408 full charges without losing charge capacity; doable since typical li-ion cells can last 500 full charges.

    In a PHEV, for example the Volt, you would think it is actually easier since the battery only has to go 40mi/charge. Not so, for 100,000mi, the battery has to last at least 2500 full charges!
    This is not possible with off-the-shelf batteries that Tesla is currently using. GM has the advantage of having multiple battery suppliers and a larger budget, and can afford a123 cells that can last that long. They also have their old buddy Cobasys. They have actually been making very good progress in developing the li-ion pack for the Volt.

    I think Tesla might have a hard time competing with the Volt in that category. They would likely have to license some of the technology GM is developing for the Volt. If they stick with the current BEV route they can still continue to use off the shelf batteries.
    The other hurdle is developing the ICE that will power the PHEV.
    All in all, no matter what route they go, the Whitestar is going to need a lot more planning than the roadster.
     
  19. Kardax

    Kardax Member

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    I don't see Tesla building an RE-EV of any kind in the near future. Integration of a combustion engine brings with it a ton of patent and engineering difficulties. They'd be required to outsource the combustion engine to an established player and get a long term supply contract. Not really a favorable business position.

    What I believe is likely to happen is Tesla will supply electric drive train technology and expertise to one or more existing automakers, and those automakers will worry about the ICE parts. Tesla themselves will continue making battery-electric vehicles, maybe with towable generators (again, with the generator being outsourced).

    Depending on the existing automakers' own progress, and the effectiveness of Tesla's designs, there's a good chance Tesla will be quickly bought out by an existing automaker hoping to gain technological leadership in electric drive. This wouldn't be Toyota or GM, but rather someone who's made no significant EV tech investment and wants to catch up quickly.

    -Ryan
     
  20. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    ...or simply make them go away...
     

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