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Thursday, 02 July 2020


Mike, electric cars don't come with manual transmissions, AFAIK!

Won't that be a problem for a dyed-in-the-wool stick shift enthusiast? Indeed, most of them are single-speed transmissions, so there are no gears to shift.

We're coming up to 6 years of sharing an electric as our only car, and if we ever replace it, the new one certainly won't have a combustion engine.

According to macrotrends.net, "Tesla net income for the quarter ending March 31, 2020 was $0.016B, a 102.25% decline year-over-year."


"Toyota net income for the quarter ending March 31, 2020 was $0.590B, a 85.33% decline year-over-year."

I wouldn't get too excited about Tesla being valued more highly. Just another dot-com company, as far as true value is concerned.

Many people forget the very long history of all-electric vehicles, and some even think Tesla was first! In any case, I've driven hybrids exclusively for almost 20 years, and only recently bought a plug-in hybrid (a minivan, of all things). I've always preferred the quiet power of the electric motor over the internal combustion engine, and now I can count on 32 miles of it every day. Not buying a tankful of petrol more than twice a year is a bonus.

Tesla has surpassed Toyota? Maybe on the stock market, but certainly not in real, intrinsic value. I don't think it ever will. Toyota means quality. Tesla - not so much ...

For what it's worth, I'd be extremely skeptical about that valuation of Tesla. I know next to nothing about the auto business, but their does seem to be an aroma of snake oil around the company. Elon Musk has promised fully functional self-driving cars "real soon now" for the last 3 years, and Teslas will still crash into things left to their own devices. Tesla's reporting to investors seems to involve more than a little smoke 'n' mirrors from what I read. And never underestimate the capacity of greedy investors for self-deception when sexy new tech stuff is involved. Theranos is my go-to example for this tendency.

Mike, my advice is to not test drive an all electric car, lest you be tempted by the torque that is instantly available.

Tesla is way overvalued.

Worse, apparently a large Tesla is a bigger burden on the environment than a small gasoline car.

Lots of hype, aggressive and nasty marketing tactics and [...] a wacko innovator.

Yea, the stock exchange thinks Tesla, who makes a few thousand cars a year that have the record of faults on the first 90 days, and is on a fast forward escape plan from bankrupcy consuming capital like crazy is worth more than Toyota that produces and sells 10 million year after year on a profit. Which goes to prove the shortcomings of that institution. Remember that it's doing great now while the companies that trade there are on a big crisis and the real economy slumps.

I won't be here in 2040, when internal combustion engines will be prohibited in Europe. Until then, I plan to enjoy those cars as much as I can. Yes, they do produce CO2, like the generators that produce the electricity that fuels electric cars, only in a different place. And after reading those climate change gurus that say that we should drop every combustion engine because C02 is present in the atmosphere in 440 parts per million (that's a terrifying 0,044%) of which human emissions account for 14%, all I hope is that someone makes them pay for all the hype, the misguided investments, absurd laws, terror prophecies etc.

I can't buy an electric car that costs almost twice as its equivalent gas competitors, but if I could, I wouldn't until refuelling an electric is as simple, straightforward as the other, and stations for that are as commonly available.

A friend of mine, travelling this winter through Germany, was stuck in a highway at night in an horrendous traffic jam. Four hours into that, a service truck with gas and diesel came and refueled the cars running out of gas, so that they could heat themselves and get out. Imagine doing that with an electric.

Electric cars are certainly ready for daily use, but the US charging infrastructure isn't up to the task of recharging them on a grand scale. An EV with extended range hogs too much lithium and carries too much battery weight than is ideal for frequent short trips.

For the past three years, I've been running a personal experiment. Two almost identical cars sit in my driveway, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. The hybrid gets around 38 mpg in city and suburban use. The plug-in, aided by 75 cents worth of AC shore power nightly, had a long-term running average of 73 mpg before I switched the tires to a less efficient style. Now it's trending around 70 mpg. My overall fuel and juice cost is about 4 cents per mile.

The cars are the Ford C-Max, equipped with the same hybrid engine and system as the more popular Fusions. I prefer hatchbacks and uniqueness, so I chose the C-Max. Though it works much like the Prius, it's a musclecar by comparison, with 195 HP and an 8-second 0-60 time. The chassis is excellent; this fat Focus steers with precision and sticks to the road not unlike my old GTI. Unlike the Prius, it's a heavy car, tipping two tons with me in it. So it rides like a little LTD, smooth and serene, even when the gas engine is working.

Plug-in hybrids let you keep your cake and eat it too. On local trips around town, they're EVs. But there's no range anxiety- mine also has a 600-mile-plus range on the hybrid side. The battery is relatively small, and can be charged overnight with no special equipment. In three years everyday use, I haven't seen a downside... oh, yeah, you don't get to shift. But I can choose three levels of energy regeneration, and switch between power sources to save the RV for traffic and stoplights.

The very best used C-Maxes resell for around $20K, which is what my new, loaded one netted for after the federal and state tax incentives that you won't get on a used car. After six years and 70,000 miles on both cars, the only repair beyond regular maintenance was a faulty rear seat belt latch. If mine was gone tomorrow, I'd just have to go out and buy another. These cars used to be off my radar, and they didn't develop any cult or mystique. They just work, and work extremely well.

Looked at some Toyota electrics but my old VW diesel pickup gets better fuel mileage and is still working well after over a million, 175,000 miles on it. (2nd engine - if that matters now)
Can get every part needed and the camper shell makes it comfortable for road trip camping.

Fundamentally, an electric motor has a tiny number of moving parts, compared with the complexity of an internal combustion engine/transmission. I can't imagine that the cost and reliability of the dramatically simpler design won't ultimately win, once better batteries become available.

Just a question on a comment. If something declines by 100%, it goes to zero. If it declines more than 100%, it goes below zero. If Tesla’s income has dropped 102%, how can it still be $16million?

I do hope you recognise the Detroit electric in your illustration as the car that Donald Duck's ultra-wealthy Uncle Scrooge drives ...

[You, Sir, are awarded fifteen life points. --Mike]

Apparently Tesla made the bottom of the list in the J.D. Power initial quality rankings. Jeez.

[I pointed that out to Ctein, but he was sanguine about it. He said that if you research it, you'll find that Tesla is very responsive to warranty concerns, and then after you (and they) get everything sorted, after that the cars tend to be very reliable. Sort of opposite the way it is with gasoline cars. This is just what he told me, I know nothing about it myself. --Mike]

Replying to max p: You say "Yes, they do produce CO2, like the generators that produce the electricity that fuels electric cars, only in a different place." Wrong. In the UK 54% of electricity comes from renewable and low-carbon sources, and that figure will only increase.

I just bought a BMW i3s rex.. (The one with the range extender.) Tiny compared to my normal carriage, a BMW 7, but the 7 rarely carries more than 2 people. My average journey is about 40 miles. The i3 should do that twice on battery power alone; and with the small engine I don't fear getting range anxiety as it will always get me to a filling station if need be.
The i3 gets a full charge overnight from a standard household socket but then it rarely would need a full charge, as I expect to top it up as often as possible.

My Kia Niro is electric, and identical to the gas version in everything except the noise, the shifting and bucking of a multispeed transmission, and the stops at gas stations. Oh, and it's WAY quicker. Same seats, same space inside, same roof racks for canoes, same everything, but my "gas" bill is $2/week. If we were able to go on a cross-country trip (cant: COVID), we could take my wife's petrol-powered toxicar.

Battery disposal problem for electric cars is same as nuclear waste problem for nuclear power: very small problem (battery problem bigger than nuclear waste problem) made into very big pretend problem by people who do not understand or have reason to pretend.

Petrol car, if average 7l/100km of petrol (good average: not giant SUV), driven for 320,000km over life, emits more than 50tonnes CO2. That is just from fuel. Total emissions perhaps 80tonnes including manufacturing. Electric car, same distance, under 30tonnes including manufacturing, all emissions from power generation (using current power, not only clean power).

That is a big problem: battery disposal is not. But of course no one cares: hard sums are hard and CO2 will kill only most of our grandchildren, so we let tiny problem prevent solution of big problem: why should we care?

Zyni Moë

Okay. The myriad negative opinions about electric cars here has made me double down on looking for one (and to also pursue some modest solar power). Can I click through to the Hyundai, etc. dealers and build one so that you can get some of the proceeds? I'm serious.

But then, having continued my perseverating on this e-car thing just now, what is the deal with my fellow Americans' taste for big vehicles? Why, for example, is the Ford C-Max (beloved of one TOP reader, above) now retired? And so too its larger Focus brother? The VW e-Golf, as well. Why can't I get a sporty little hatchback with 180mi range?? Every cool car I find seems not to be sold in the US market, or not to have taken hold here.

This feels like the Olympus u4/3rds death all over again. Oh and SLRs vs DSLRs vs mirrorless, but with worldwide political stakes. And Tesla seems like the Sony A7xxx of cars, for better and for worse.

Americans and oil and belief that they need big things. Sigh. I'll look to find the book chapter you mention. Allegorically, though, it's probably all explained in the beginning of Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood." Those 15 minutes. The writhing breach birth of an oil man and his original stain on our American soil. All Cain and no Abel. That is the America I'm coming to know.

Oh but then computer hardware and software and upgrades and its meh-ness and stupid complexity and utter crappitude! In a car. My guess is, other than managing the battery life and battery efficacy, electric cars could/should be outrageously simple. A turn of the switch, a variable resistor, a current controller. Find me someone that can plop an electric motor into an '82 Golf GTI. (Yeah, I was one of those clueless dreamers that just wanted someone to make a digital film thingie that could slot into a 70s SLR.)

Anyway, enough from me. Add the Hyundai link or car.whatever.com so I can click through!

We lease a Chevy Bolt for my wife's six-mile each way commute. The motor has about 20 moving parts compared to a gas-powered engine's 2,000. With that kind of order-of-magnitude simplicity, the difference in maintenance costs alone make me confident that in 10 years, you won't see many gas powered cars on the road. Our maintenance schedule for the three year lease? Replace the wiper fluid and buy tires when the current ones wear out. That is it. Oh, eventually a wheel bearing will act up. But probably not during our three year-lease period.

The only thing that keeps me from being a complete fan-boy is that the range of the Bolt won't get us to family in NYC on a single charge. But as soon as that problem's licked? Watch out. Oh, did I mention that we make our own electrons with solar panels in the back yard? Yeah, it's like waking up every morning with a full tank of free gas. I wouldn't want to be in the gas station business. At all. When these puppies take over, it's going to be like when gas powered autos took off about 110 years ago. Suddenly, there were no horse drawn carriages in NYC and buggy whip makers were on the wrong side of history for the first time since chariots ruled the Steppe.

I am kind of interested to see whether Elon Musk can keep his mouth shut long enough to join Henry Ford in the pantheon of American entrepreneurs. But the first cracks in the gas dam are there and hoo-boy.

Good point, Mike. If you are not charging your EV with solar, you may be creating a worse environmental impact than driving a gas powered car.

If you live in much of the US, your EV is being charged by a power plant burning coal or at best natural gas, belching out CO2.

Even with photovoltaic solar, the environmental impact of the manufacture of solar cells in not inconsequential.

Better to drive a small car like your Acura or my Honda CR-V and simply drive less. But as we know, people, Americans especially, love their gas-guzzlers!

My guess about resistance to Tesla is that is comes from (a) the incessant proselytization of many of its owners and (b) the often horrible online behavior of the current CEO. But no matter how irritating Musk is and no matter how many reports of how shoddy some of the body work is on their new cars, it’s hard to deny that they are true innovators that are pushing the old guard kicking and screaming into the future. It’s hard to imagine we would have the choices today - and in the next 10 years - were it not for Tesla.

Used EV batteries aren't thrown away, buried or ground up into some toxic pulp. They may have lost enough of their storage capacity that they no longer perform up to original spec, but they still can charge and release energy. So they're repurposed as stationary power banks, where the weight-to-capacity equation isn't so demanding. What happens at the end of those reuses, I can't say. I do want to minimize my consumption of battery materials and creation of waste, which is one reason I'll stick with the hybrid options and their smaller batteries.

The biggest problem with Tesla at the moment seems to be Elon Musk.

And the problem with companies with their value dominated by a volatile share price driven by speculation is......



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