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Is Tesla going to copy the GM Volt?

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

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  1. Kardax

    Kardax Member

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    I'd rate that as "unlikely" at this point.

    Car makers are all aware that oil supplies are tight and getting tighter. Biofuels are having production problems, hydrogen is going nowhere, and CNG is a dead end just like oil. So I think all of them are interested in having EV technology in their portfolio purely to stay in business in the coming decades.

    On the oil industry side, it's encouraging to know that BP is one of the world's largest manufacturers of solar panels. All the oil industry is going to have to adapt if they want to stay in business 50 years from now, when the world's oil supply is deeply into depletion. Short term, yeah, their bottom line is better served by killing Tesla. Longer term, they'll simply lose interest... all the existing automakers are going to have to to get into EVs eventually; killing Tesla then would have no effect.

    -Ryan
     
  2. mt2

    mt2 Member

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    Suddenly I see the beauty in the plan to become an engineering house that makes cars. If Tesla is a direct competitor, it's in the big corporations' best interest to make them go away. But if Tesla is a respected supplier of top end electric drive trains, it would make more sense to keep them around.
     
  3. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Maybe I am wrong, but I just have this sense that big auto doesn't think they need Tesla. They have massive engineering staffs and have been at this game for a long time.
     
  4. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    I still don't understand why Tesla seems to be so positive about the GM Volt concept.
    The whole "Who Killed the Electric Car" mindset suggests that GM may be incapable of executing sincerely on a "game changing" vehicle technology that eliminates dependence on oil, yet Tesla has been heaping praise on the Volt. What happened to "won't get fooled again?" If nothing else the Volt could be a Whitestar / Bluestar competitor, so why would Tesla want to give their competition credit? Tesla also has been critical of pre-announcements of vehicles that are only in the early concept stage. (What, no praise for Zap-X? It uses Lotus technology!) Again the Volt seemed so premature to warrant such praise. One angle I considered is that Tesla just wants to say good things about series hybrids because they are thinking of maybe doing something like that for Whitestar and they want to undo the previous criticisms of such technology. ( How about good things to say about Fisker? )

    I had said before that the EV industry needs to work together and get along for success. Far too often each company tries to be the lone renegade who plans to take the whole market. Perhaps this is just a change in Tesla positioning to say "we like anyone who likes BEVs"? But do they have good things to say about Miles, Zap, etc? Why is GM the recipient of this? What about the Volvo ReCharge for instance?
     
  5. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    The GM Volt was originally touted as a series hybrid, but later rechristened as a BEV with range extender.

    If Tesla likes the Volt so much, what about the Ford Edge HySeries?

    Related... "The case for the Serial Hybrid

    If Tesla wants to do a range extending generator, what fuel should it burn? Gasoline? Diesel? Ethanol? LPG? Hydrogen?
     
  6. Michael

    Michael Member

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    Tesla PHEV

    I can see Tesla having a PHEV version of it's Whitestar and/or Bluestar; IF their focus is more towards performance/luxury. I don't believe any of the other PHEVs are in this market.
     
  7. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    It seems like Fisker plans to be there...
     
  8. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    Well with Miles there's the thing with the airbag and Zap have that weird business model and Volvo aren't American.

    I think it's simply a case of "we like fellow american auto makers who are willing to give customers a taste of all-electric drive"

    Okay, it's only for 40 miles, maybe at EPA Highway. But if GM sees it through, the Volt will help to increase public demand for greater all-electric range, which Tesla can (hopefully) satisfy.
     
  9. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #29 TEG, Dec 14, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2007
    OK, so why no praise of Ford's efforts on the PHEV HySeries?

    And Volvo is just a part of Ford now anyways.

    Telsa never seems to talk about Ford.
    I think their blogs mention the EV and Volt repeatedly but not the Ford RangerEV and their newer Ford PHEV efforts.

    And what about Phoenix and Fisker/Visionary/Venture?

    It just seems to me that they mention GM more than the others even though GM was somewhat a "villain" in the "Who Killed the Electric Car" movie which seems to be a focal point of interest in this whole area.

    I think I read that Tesla has had talks with most of the major auto companies. Perhaps GM has just been more friendly than Ford and the others? I just hope GM isn't "jerking their chain" and getting some free PR out of them.
     
  10. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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    @TEG
    I think it's because GM seems to be the only one who is really pushing forth for production. All the ones you mentioned besides from GM were just PR, there was no real push actually get those models into production.
    Despite GM's past performance, I can see that they are really pushing the Volt for production; more than I expected. They have put money into a road-ready battery pack and they have dedicated a design studio for future EVs. That would be pretty expensive if it was all a PR stunt.
    I suppose this is why Tesla is giving some props to GM, despite Martin's viewpoint on PHEVs.
    Again on the topic of whether Tesla should make a PHEV, I say no. Judging from the current problems with the transmission and suppliers, it seems that the ICE will be a liability for Tesla. Tesla started with one of the first truely desirable BEVs and I would like to see them continue on the path of BEVs. PHEVs were mean to be an interim step to ease people into BEVs. Tesla doesn't need to go down that road.
     
  11. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Sentimentally, of course I would love to see Tesla stick with pure (really pure, not "pure with a range extender") BEVs.

    However, the laws of physics are what they are. Tesla had to struggle to get 200+ miles of range from the tiny Roadster. They've commented several times that they considered 200 miles to be the lower limit that most people would feel comfortable with. It may simply not be feasible with today's battery technology, at a viable price, to produce a four-door luxury car with 200 miles electric range.

    So, then you have to gamble that people might accept less range than you thought, or else you start looking at other possible solutions. You probably want to look at fast-charging, you want to look at battery-swap schemes, you want to look at genset trailers, you want to look at PHEVs. . . Among these options, the PHEV looks pretty appealing.
     
  12. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    If Tesla went the way of the PHEV sedan, I don't see how they could compete with GM. They just don't have the size, experience and vendor relationships to beat them at their own game.

    If Tesla ever decided to do a PHEV, I would hope they use some groundbreaking alternate generator technology. Dean Kamen's stirling engine running on Bio-diesel? A natural gas powered micro-turbine?

    Their options are limited by many things including lack of availability of alternative types of fuel, and regulations related to emissions, noise and safety.


    If Tesla wants to move beyond the niche of customers who are willing to install a dedicated charging circuit, or natural gas compressor, then they would likely be stuck having to use gasoline or diesel as fuel which limits them to being "me too" and supporting the oil based industry that we all hope to get past someday soon.

    If PHEVs go mass market, I would suspect that many customers would find that their apartment complex doesn't want an extension cord running to the parking lot, and many employers wouldn't offer charging at work, so we would get a lot of people just using gas stations anyways. Many PHEVs expect people to charge from a 12amp 120V outlet (not a 240V 70AMP outlet), so you wouldn't actually add driving range very quickly while charging. More miles could end up being ICE powered that some would hope. If all Tesla came up with is a sedan that averages ~50MPG all things considered, why bother? You can already buy a Prius, Civic Hybrid, Altima Hybrid, etc. If the GM Volt is going to be so good why would Tesla need to do something similar?
     
  13. OhmExcited

    OhmExcited Member

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    Give its ability to seamlessly use gasoline, diesel, vegetable oil, kerosene, jet fuel, etc, and the great efficiency at constant speed, a turbine would be great for a series hybrid, were it not for the fact that it sounds like a loud vacuum cleaner and might scorch the paint of the car behind it.
     
  14. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #34 TEG, Dec 14, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2007
    Although outrageously impractical, Jay Leno's eco-jet is probably worth a mention here at this point.
     
  15. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    A new car from an unknown company selling a vehicle for the same price and with the same stats as a car from the big boys HAS to have a Unique Selling Proposition. Something that makes it Significantly better in at least one way. Otherwise the small company's product will get lost in the din.
     
  16. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    #36 malcolm, Dec 15, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2007
    So the question seems to be; how long can Tesla sell Roadsters/sell drivetrains while they wait for the necessary economic and technological shifts to allow a low cost BEV Whitestar to happen? I know the master plan is to drive downmarket "as fast as possible" but too fast and, as vxf has identified, they lose their USP.
     
  17. Cobos

    Cobos S60 Owner since 2013 - sold, S85D owner since 2017

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    I've got a serious problem with the assumption that a BEV whitestar needs 200 miles... I would find the Whitestar competitive at 100 miles range with a prive tag around $60k. Iwould prefer 150 miles range but anything above that is usually not worth it if it hurts either interior space, price or comfort. It might a difference between Norwegians/Europeans and US drivers or it might simply be that people beleive they need this range, so it's a perception thing.
    Considering that Tesla plans to sell 10 000 units of Whitestar the first years and the dollar is still falling I'm pretty sure just selling through the European carmarket you can easily get rid of 10 000 Whitestar while you wait for the batteries to improve and prices to go down. After all Whitestar 2009? model doesn't have to beat the BMW 5-series (that's what they are using as kind of benchmark right?) in every possible way. You've still got the Whitestar V2.0 for that sometime around 2015 or so.
    So yes a pure BEV makes so much more sense than a PHEV or RE-EV.

    Cobos
     
  18. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    All this talk about PHEVs and Tesla only means you are not sure about Tesla's original plan. Remember Martin's "World full of hybrids is still 100% dependant on oil?" What problem do hybrids really solve? Pollution? Consumption? Oil crysis?None really.

    There are many potential costumers who would stand in line for a whitstar with 150 miles per 50kWh ESS. Me included. At 10.000 per year produced they could sell them for many years to come. All I am willing to accept is optional genset trailers, onboard chargers are same old story again. Success does not come from poorly satisfying all people but from greatly satisfying some.

    Hybrid Tesla would be the end of Tesla Motors but there is nothing wrong in selling their pure electric drivetrains to other companies for inclusion in their (also hybrid) vehicles.
     
  19. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    We aren't talking about "hybrids" like the Prius. In the town hall meeting they made it very clear that Tesla will never produce a Prius-like parallel hybrid car that uses the ICE during normal everyday driving. Tesla also made it very clear that their plan is to get people driving on plug-in power, on grid electricity.

    There is a vast gulf between a HEV (Prius) and a PHEV (Volt). The energy source of a Prius is 100% gasoline; the energy source for a Volt should be about 80% grid electricity and 20% gasoline, depending on your driving habits. It's much closer to an EV1 than to a Prius.


    I wouldn't feel comfortable without a long-range vehicle here. If I were replacing the old Bonneville (and about 2011-2012 it might be time for that), I would be more inclined to replace it with a Chevy Volt than with a 150-mile BEV Whitestar.
     
  20. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Based on what proven data? How do we know how people will use their serial hybrids?

    I am dubious that the serial-hybrid owners would have them plugged in as much as the serial-hybrid pundits are suggesting.

    What if people don't have easy access to power plugs where they go?
    What if they don't have enough time on the plug to get their batteries fully recharged in time? (It can be quite a while for a 120v 12amp plug)
    ..."Oh, I forgot to plug in the Volt last night... Oh well, I have plenty of gas in the tank"...
    Plus, the serial hybrids may have an ICE generator that is too small to provide full eMotor power when the batteries run down. I suppose it will incent people to find a power plug if their performance degrades substantially when the batteries are run down, but it is going to make long trips unpleasant. I used an example of the Tesla "demo drive" (bay area to Lake Tahoe) with a serial hybrid. If the batteries run down just as you get to the steep grade of highway 80 you are going to be limited by the max power of the ICE to get you up the hill, hopefully with the passing power you need. The Volt appears to be planning a ~70hp ICE, ~160hp eMotor. So when the batteries are exhausted you will be limping at ~half power until you get to a plug. People on the Tesla blog are saying that you only need 10-20hp in the ICE to be able to maintain highway speeds... that would seem sadly underpowered if you ever run the batteries down.

    Tesla has been about "no compromises" and I can't see them selling a luxury sedan that goes into "limp" mode after ~40-80 miles of battery power. The alternative is to install a big, powerful ICE that will add a lot of weight and hurt efficiency & battery only range.

    I wonder what kind of ICE and eMotor Fisker plans. I wonder what performance they will have with batteries full and batteries empty.
    I think they plan to give details next month at NAIS in Detroit.
    (I am waiting to see if Fisker and Tesla are somehow to be interconnected in some way)
     

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