July 25, 2019 – As I listened to a fairly subdued Q2 earnings call last night, I felt almost a sense of helplessness on the part of a very tired and subdued sounding CEO Elon Musk. Surely Elon is tired from his non-stop 10+ year journey to build Tesla from an idea into an automaker pumping out 5,000 Model 3’s a week (with a target of 15,000 vehicles). Q2 results were simply poor. Delivering 95,356 electric vehicles (77,634 were Model 3’s, +52% vs Q1) and posting a $408 million operating loss continues to raise the question: will Tesla ever be profitable? Elon sounded a note of sadness announcing that founding Chief Technology Officer, JB Straubel was stepping away from his Executive role (moving to an advisor) – the man who hired Elon into Tesla over a decade ago; the man working side by side with Elon to launch every model from the Roadster to the Model 3 and largely shaping the forthcoming Model Y. Very big shoes to fill indeed.
Does Tesla Have A Demand Problem?
The photos in this blog-post were taken yesterday (July 24, 2019) at my local Tesla Service and Delivery Center in Roswell GA. Just one month ago, this lot was EMPTY with all Model 3s and a few Model S and X had been delivered to new customers. ALL of these Model 3s have been sold and are waiting for delivery to their new owners. Most are the higher priced dual motor and performance versions of the Model 3 ($50,000+). With the Federal Tax Credit moving down to $1,875 for this last quarter (Q3 2019) before phase out, Tesla reduced the price of the Model 3, now starting at $38,990 very competitively priced! Tesla does not suffer from a demand problem for Model 3. Model S and X sales have matured (14,000 units produced on a single shift operation at Fremont CA). A refresh in the works? Elon says no. But he’s been known to deliver trompe l’oeil (trick of the eye) before.
Why is Tesla Currently Unprofitable?
The simple reason: it has yet to reach economies of scale. In 2019, Tesla has produced a total of 164,186 vehicles, all but 28,000 of which are Model 3s. The auto industry is driven by scale to amortize vehicle development and massive fix costs of production and assembly along with safety and compliance costs. Tesla continues to build toward that future with the launch of the mid-sized Model Y SUV (Fall 2020) and forthcoming Pick Up truck (the largest light duty segment in the US market) while ramping up Model 3 sales in the largest electric vehicle market in the world: China. It’s going to take 500,000+ vehicles produced per year, to drive Tesla to profitability. This is one age-old lesson from the auto industry that Tesla still needs to learn.
Ford F-150 Electric Prototype Tows 1.25 Million Pounds
July 23, 2019 – Ford just released a 5:45 video featuring Linda Zhang, F-150 Chief Nameplate Engineer at Ford Motor Company demonstrating the amazing towing capacity of the all electric F-150 by pulling over 1.25+ millions pounds 1,000 feet. The payload was contained in 10 triple decker vehicle rail cars loaded with 42 F-150s representing each model year since the F-150 launched in 1976. Here’s the YouTube link: https://youtu.be/bXFHgoon7lg. As I shared in my June blog post Reflections on All Things EVhttps://atlantaevdc.com/2019/06/09/reflections-on-all-things-ev/, light duty trucks are the game changer for the EV industry. Ford is #1 in light duty vehicles and they clearly intend to extend that with electric light duty trucks! But capable competition from GM, RIVIAN and Tesla will both challenge Ford and expand the market for all-electric light duty vehicles. it’s gonna get interesting!
A 3 minute read for Battery, Vehicle and Charging Station News
#1 – Georgia Public Service Commission Approves Pilot for Used EV DC Charging Station Power
July 16, 2019 – The Georgia Public Service Commission signed off on commissionerTim Echols’ proposal to have Georgia Power and the commission work together to explore whether used batteries from electric vehicles could be re-purposed for fast-charging EV stations. Echols said there is an excess of partially-used products, particularly Nissan Leaf batteries, that still have a lot of energy left. Using these batteries for a pilot could help expand EV charging availability throughout the state while insulating the grid from electricity demand spikes. “There is no recycling available for these batteries at this time,” Echols said during the meeting. “Given we’re about to approve 80 MW of new lithium-ion batteries, it’s in our benefit to do a pilot program to see if it will work to reuse these batteries for a purpose that benefits the public and our grid and the Georgia community in general.” The program would be capped at $250,000 in costs passed down to ratepayers. ttps://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/trending/UlMh2otzI0d9KO4FwGjEXQ2
#2 – Audi E-Tron Debuts in North Georgia
July 11, 2019 – Members of the Audi Club of Georgia gathered for their regular club meeting at Audi North Atlanta Roswell and for their introduction and test drive of the new Audi E-Tron SUV with 208 miles of all electric range powered by a 95 kWh battery back and two electric motors mounted on the front and rear trans axles. Die-hard Audi owners (most owned 3+ of the German Marquee) were positively impressed by the instant acceleration, regenerative braking and all of the qualities that make the SUV an Audi.
Re-charging is handled via Level 1 (110-120V), Level 2 (240V ) and DC charging (480V+ with CCS cord) with input rated at 150kW delivering 100 miles of range in 10-15 minutes. Audi is part of Volkswagen of America, whose Electrify America unit is deploying fast charging stations under the Partial Consent Decree. Priced from $74,900 to $90,000 the E-tron is competitively priced to the only large SUV competitor, the Tesla Model X (305-325 miles all electric range). https://www.audiusa.com/models/audi-e-tron
#3 – Electrify America Metro Atlanta Charging Network Cycle 2 Expansion
July 12, 2019. From Chris Campbell, Secretary EV Club of the South via their FaceBook page:
“Those of you clamoring for DCFC stations on the southside of Atlanta will be happy to read this. Electrify Atlanta will be expanding its presence in metro Atlanta significantly during the “Cycle 2” phase of their long term effort, and they have already reached out to the City of Atlanta and other organizations for guidance. Travis Buholtz [from the City of Atlanta Sustainability EV Infrastructure Fellow] came to our monthly meeting on June 19th and briefly showed us this map of EA’s proposed locations, and he encouraged us to share it. This map is focused on City of Atlanta, generally ITP. So don’t bother pointing out that it’s missing a zillion stations in the suburbs.” https://www.facebook.com/evcots/notifications/
Note Access to EV Club of the South FB Page requires Club approval
Hey all! Sorry for the extended absence from my blog posts. The last 2 years working at ChargePoint have flown by and helped keep me at the forefront of the electric vehicle industry and especially EV charging. In past blog-posts, I’ve covered topics related to EV’s – mostly Tesla – and events in the State of Georgia. Today I want to share my reflections on the state of the electric vehicle industry and where I see it headed over the next 2-5 years. So here goes. Opinions are my own.
What’s Happening with car based EV’s?
EV’s are Still “Fixin’ to Get Ready” to be a Major Force in Light Duty Transportation. While EV’s are breaking the 2% of vehicle sales barrier, they have a very long way to go to become the dominant form of light duty transportation. Why? Because the mass market automotive OEMs (GM, Ford, Fiat, Nissan/Renault) continue to offer niche EV’s in declining car segments in North America and Europe. While the high end lux vehicles are going ‘all in on electric’ (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Volvo) they are still too small to effect a mass scale shift to electrified vehicles. And that leaves Tesla with it’s expensive and relatively narrow line of all electric vehicles to lead the industry and there are not enough cars coming out of Fremont (or Reno in the future) to make that happen.
What About Light Duty Trucks?
What will change all of this in North America? Light Duty Trucks! America is still the land of pick up and light duty trucks. After conducting training meetings in states like Texas and Florida, I got the attention of my audience when I showed a slide of the planned electric pick ups from Ford and GM and new entries from Michigan based Rivian. You start talking to a man about his truck and you are going to get his attention. Light duty trucks are perfect for electrification: remove the engine, drive train, gas tank and install one super large battery (think 150-250 kWh battery pack) and powerful electric motors at each of the four wheels, maintain towing capacity and luxo truck comfort and pricing ($70,000+) and you have the makings of a successful electric light duty truck offering. Fortunately, these vehicles are in the 12-24 month launch time horizon. Light duty trucks: game changer for electrified transportation.
What Role will Commercial Duty EV’s Play? A tremendous one!
A segment of the transportation industry that gets little notice but has a huge impact is commercial fleets. Think over the road tractor trailer trucks and municipal buses. Right now Tesla is in development testing of its Class 8 over the road semi truck with 400 all electric range at 100,000 pounds of payload, UPS is developing its own fleet of electrified delivery trucks. Add to that all electric buses offered by BYD and New Flyer that municipalities nationwide are purchasing for delivery in 6-24 months. Once the public starts seeing medium and heavy duty electric vehicles on the road they might start to be convinced that their much lighter vehicle could be an electric after all. And the charging infrastructure being developed for these vehicles will be massive and have a halo effect on light duty charging station installation growth.
What About Autonomous Driving?
Much digital ink is being spilled over the topic of autonomous driving. From where I sit (behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S Gen 1 MobilEye AutoPilot system in use since October 2015), US roads have a very long way to go to handle Fully Autonomous Driving (Level 5). While Alphabet and Tesla are at the forefront of Autonomous Driving vehicle technology, it is my considered opinion that it is not vehicle technology that limits Autonomous Driving. It is our ever deteriorating road beds, unpredictable weather and roadway lighting conditions, road construction and pedestrians that impede the progress of full self driving. It’s almost as if we’d be better served to create autonomous driving lanes than to try to create technology that can handle trillions of road conditions real time. I fully believe in driver assisted autonomous driving and absolutely love even my basic AP1 features but I am behind the wheel and can take over at a split seconds’ notice.
Will There Ever Be Enough Charging Stations to avoid Range Anxiety?
The answer depends on where and how far you drive. If you have a home charger installed in your garage and you have access to chargers at work or at retail locations where you drive, you will have plenty of charging stations to support your driving needs. With either the ChargePoint or PlugShare Apps you will find thousands of level 2 charging stations in the US and a rapidly growing number in Canada. With home charging, you can always leave your house in the morning on a full charge!
If you are driving between cities and states, then charging becomes more of a challenge and your trip planning skills will be fully used! If you own a Tesla part of the reason you bought it was to access their nationwide network of ‘superchargers’ (120-250kW output stations) or their ‘urban chargers‘ (72kW output) and other than California, you can usually get on a Tesla supercharger. Tesla has also installed ‘destination’ chargers at hundreds of hotels providing level 2 (full charge overnight).
If you own another make/model of EV, you will need to access to DC-Fast Charge networks across the US including: ChargePoint, EVGO, Electrify America, and Greenlots (Shell). You will need an account and network access card for each of these networks and need to know which DC Plug comes with your EV: Asian cars are CHAdeMO and NA/EU cars are CCS (combines a set of DC pins below the AC adapter). Charging session costs vary depending on DC fast charge station local and whether the station owner can charge for electricity (e.g. California) or only by time (e.g. Georgia). Your trip planning skills will be honed finely as you plan your route through DC fast chargers.
That wraps up my reflections on the state of the electric vehicle industry. Have a question or comment, use our comment form at the bottom of this post.
On my last trip to the Bay area, I was lucky enough to score a rental of a brand new Tesla Model 3 through Turo, the “Air BNB” of personal owner car sharing. Over a four day, 312 mile rental, I had the opportunity to put the Model 3 through its paces traversing the highways and byways of Silicon Valley. This review continues my first blogpost of the Model 3: Tesla Model 3 – First Look Inside & Out
On my last trip to the Bay area, I was lucky enough to score a rental of a brand new Tesla Model 3 through Turo, the “Air BNB” of personal owner car sharing. Over a four day, 312 mile rental, I had the opportunity to put the Model 3 through its paces traversing the highways and byways of Silicon Valley. This review continues my first blogpost of the Model 3: Tesla Model 3 – First Look Inside & Out Continue reading →
Sometimes you get lucky to be at the right place and right time to see something up close and personal that you’ve only been able to dream of seeing live. That happened today, the Sunday after Thanksgiving when I got a chance to sit behind the wheel and explore the inside and out of a brand new Tesla Model 3. While I only had about 10 minutes to explore the Model 3, I wanted to share my first impressions of this amazing new all electric vehicle.
This particular vehicle is the long-range (310 mile) battery with Premium black interior and standard 18′ wheels with the AERO wheel covers. My first impression is that the Model 3 looks more substantial in person. While the overall proportions are taut, it presents itself very well with the lines from every angle looking really good. Panel fit and finish were excellent and the owner demonstrated the solid feel of the vehicle when they asked me to close the trunk. Thunk. Solid! I think the steel body construction for this size vehicle helps give that sense of solidness.
The door handles present with a push on the thicker left side and the handle opens to the right. The doors are very solid with the front doors designed very similarly to the Model S. Inside the doors open with a small button at the top of the arm rests that looks like a power window.
Once inside the Model 3, I noticed several things right away. First the front seats are incredibly comfortable (this is the premium interior – not leather but very close in look and feel). The seat bolsters are wider and a bit flatter than the Model S, which I found to be very comfortable. The driver and front passenger space is very generous with headroom exceptional.
The minimalist dash. The center console is very useable with twin cup holders and a multi-fold compartment. Interior fit and finish appeared to be good from my brief time inside the Model 3. The only complaint I have: the wood veneer trim band looks and feels artificial.
The controls screen. This is the one item I was really prepared to dislike but found myself right at home with the more intuitive functions and the overall size of the screen is less imposing than photos, videos and editorial would lead one to believe. While I did not get a chance to go through many of the driver functions, what I saw reassured me.
Rear passenger compartment. OK its tight. But that’s not a surprise. Knee room is just at the edge of acceptable but this is a 3-Series not a Model S. What was a very pleasant surprise was the comfort level of the rear seats and the reasonable headroom – the individual who accompanied the owner was 6’4″ and they fit quite nicely in the back seat.
Trunk space was a pleasant surprise with the cavern being both tall and deep. Plus the below floor additional storage and Frunk space make the Model 3 a nice weekend trip vehicle. The rear end styling is really beautiful in person. The integrated deck spoiler is a great styling feature.
Aero Wheel covers love’em. Hate’em. Take them off when you don’t need them. The owner verified the better range but agreed that they should be taken off. They said that right now the lugs are exposed so removing the aero isn’t the best look.
First impressions are very positive and I look forward to the actual roadtest. The owner said that passing performance 40 to 60 mph is blistering fast – like about 1 second. I look forward to verifying that myself soon.
What the Model 3 is not is the Model S. It is not a family hauler like the Model X. It is a perfect daily commuter that will be very comfortable to drive (to be confirmed with that test drive).
This past August 2017 marked the 5th Anniversary of my transition from “gas to electric” driving, logging about 70,000 miles in either all electric (Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S) or Plug-In Hybrid Electric (Chevrolet VOLT) vehicles. In thinking about my life experience as an EV driver, I wanted to share my perspective as the US EV market cracks the 1%mark and the 99% Reality of why I believe that EVs can be the ‘go to’ vehicle for the vast majority of driving circumstances. [photo: 2013 VOLT on delivery day 8-16-2012]. Continue reading →
The GIG Economy. That term came up during a recent lunch I had with a former GE colleague. After I got the download on how architects and electrical engineers specify electrical components – EV charging stations in particular – in new building construction (I recently joined ChargePoint – the #1 provider of electric vehicle charging stations ChargePoint from GE), our conversation turned to how I had largely funded my own ‘pre-owned’ Tesla Model S through a combination of tax credits (Federal and the now defunct Georgia income tax credits), rental income through a platform called “TURO” and applying IRS luxury car business use depreciation schedule and setting up an LLC (GeorgiaEVentures LLC).
By my calculations, I slashed over $35,000 off the cost of my 2015 Tesla Model S60 (sticker price of $84,700) gently guiding it down to its value as a 2 year old 22,000 mile Tesla according to KBB.com. Goal accomplished. A year ahead of schedule.
Mike, my GE colleague, was impressed and asked me to send him some information about how I pulled this off. Well, thanks to Turo’s success, they attracted the attention of two global powerhouse publications: Forbes and The Wall Street Journal and my story got told.
Forbes focused their story on how two new car owners have largely funded the purchase of their high end vehicles through renting their cars out on Turo. One of those owners is your very own AtlantaEVDC Blog Editor. The writer did a really good job capturing the details about helping to fund a car like a Tesla Model S through TURO. Here’s the link to the Forbes article: Turo’s ‘Airbnb For Car Owners’ Helps Consumers Pay Off Auto Loans Faster.
The Wall Street Journal story focused on the emerging impact of car-sharing and ride sharing services as well as autonomous driving on car ownership. Using a similar story-line, my experience using Turo to partially fund my Tesla Model S was presented. The Wall Street Journal also provided some commentary about my interest in self-driving cars (Baby Boomer) versus my younger son (Millenial) and co-founder of this blog:
Mr. Cohen, after spending about two years renting out his Model S on Turo, has begun to wind down that effort. “At almost exactly the second anniversary of that note, I paid off my Tesla,” he says. He’s keeping an eye on Tesla’s ambitions for renting out autonomous vehicles, though he is dubious about giving up the thrill of driving. “For me, autonomous driving is not something I am looking forward to,” he said, “but I can tell you that my 25-year-old son and recent UVA Law School graduate certainly is.”
Georgia Legislature Retains Status Quo in 2017 General Assembly Session
As the 2017 Georgia General Assembly 40-day legislative session wraps up, electric vehicle drivers continue to be saddled with the highest road use fees in the US ($204.50 in 2017) and future drivers will see no incentives to adopt electric vehicles as measures to advance both a reduction in the fees and add an incentive failed to gain support within the Georgia Legislature.
Futher the bill to simply clarify that commercial and retail businesses could qualify for up to $2,500 state tax credit for charging station installation also failed to advance for the third session in a row . . . a tax credit that is still on the books and can only be claimed by Southern Company’s Georgia Power, which to their credit, was likely used to help finance the 36 community charging islands installed by Georgia Power over the past two years.
So what does this mean for Georgia and EV Drivers?
The State of Georgia has rapidly solidified its reputation for being the most-EV unfriendly state in the US, which is having a significant impact on Electric vehicle purchases which have stalled at 2015 levels. A state fleet of 25,000 plug-ins represents a mix of low priced used Nissan LEAFs and growth from Tesla models off-setting the precipitious decline in new plug-in electric vehicle sales from Chevrolet, BMW, Ford, KIA, and Nissan.
It has been rumored that Volkswagen of America’s Electrify America business unit, which is charged with dispensing up to $4.7 Billion in ‘diesel-gate’ remediation funds, rejected the City of Atlanta’s funding petition due to the State of Georgia demonstrating its ‘anti EV’ stance through repealing the ZEV/LEV income tax credit and imposing the $200.00 annual road use fee. Likely the City of Atlanta lost out on several million dollars worth of EV charging infrastructure due to the decisions of the Georgia General Assembly.
If there is a silver lining, the small but growing number of EV owners in the Georgia General Assembly are ‘feeling the pain’ and have stated their commitment to address the Road Use fee again in the 2018 General Assembly. We support them and wish them “God Speed”.
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