Tesla Tech

The MIT Technology Review has a look under the hood of the electric Tesla Roadster.

Some the interesting things found there include the alternating-current induction motor and the lithium-ion battery cells.

The motor is of the type advocated in the late 19th century by Nikola Tesla, and has several mechanical advantages over a DC motor.  The lithium-ion battery cells give more power for the volume than  nickel-metal hydride batteries.  The nickel-metal hydrides are what are typically used in gas-electric hybrids, such as the Pious.

Unlike the gas-electric hybrids, the Tesla roadster can go from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, without putting a dime the pocket of Middle Eastern oil tyrants or Central American Socialists.

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4 Responses

  1. Well, the energy has to come from SOMEWHERE. If even 5% of people converted to full on electric cars, it would mean opening alot of new powerplants, and they would either be coal, or more likely gas turbines because of emission requirements.

    And lets face it, as sportscars go, it’s pretty anemic for the price – 0-60 in 4 seconds? The Corvette Z06 is quicker, and costs 25K less. The New Hemi Challeger matches it for half the price..

    To be honest, I think the real future of the electric car(and that future is probably going to be fairly limited) is that of short range commuter car – something like the smart car, where you take it home and plug it in.

  2. Yeah, the electricity comes from somewhere, but that’s where economy of scale kicks in. Even if your local power station uses oil, the power station is more efficient than a car engine, and less oil ends up being used.

    Electric cars are going to be very expensive. Absent some breakthrough in electric power storage (Fuel cells? Nanocapacitors?) the battery itself is going to be pricey. There’s no way to build a cheap electric because the battery is expensive.

    If I already own a car that can handle long distances, why do I even need a short ranged commuter car, let alone an expensive one?

    Tesla’s got a fascinating answer to that: since an electric car must be expensive, build something to compete with other cars in the same price regime. The Roadster might not be winning any rallies, but it seems like a fun car to drive.

  3. Good point about power John. Where I live, a lot of our power comes from hydroplants in Canada.

    I’m one of those who see nuclear power as playing a larger role in the national electrical grid. That would provide plenty of electrical power in a carbon neutral fashion.

    It’s also hardly surprising that there are gas powered cars that out perform the Telsa. The gasoline powered IC engine has been the subject of tinkering by performance minded gearheads nearly a century. It’s a fairly mature technology, where the Telsa is the first of its kind.

    There has been a call for an X-Prize type contest to produce a better battery for electric cars. Those are the price barrier on electric cars. A small four cylinder give better economic performance than even gas-electric hybrids currently.

    One of the cool things about the Telsa model is that it is using the private sector, specifically wealthy members of the private sector, to fund research into pure electric vehicles.

    I still hold that suburbia is a potentially larger market for electric vehicles than cities. Look at the “soccer mom.” Most of their driving is short range, around town, type driving. If they can have a minivan that they can get 150-200 miles worth of driving for $20 with of electric current, then that is a good deal for their budget. Even at the cheapest prices I’ve seen lately, the cost of the fill up is $70.

    This scenario will take two changes. Less expensive efficient batteries and cheap electric power. The latter issue can be solved now by building infrastructure based on technology that exists today.

  4. The latest issue of the MIT Tech Review had an article on power grid management. They quoted a study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The study did a projection out to 2030, where they expected plug in hybrids to have an over 25% market penetration.

    The report found that the need for added generation would be most critical by 2030, when hybrids have been on the market for some time and become a larger percentage of the automobiles Americans drive. In the worst-case scenario—if all hybrid owners charged their vehicles at 5 p.m., at six kilowatts of power—up to 160 large power plants would be needed nationwide to supply the extra electricity, and the demand would reduce the reserve power margins for a particular region’s system.
    The best-case scenario occurs when vehicles are plugged in after 10 p.m., when the electric load on the system is at a minimum and the wholesale price for energy is least expensive. Depending on the power demand per household, charging vehicles after 10 p.m. would require, at lower demand levels, no additional power generation or, in higher-demand projections, just eight additional power plants nationwide.

    The results of the study can be found at http://www.ornl.gov/info/press_releases/get_press_release.cfm?releasenumber=mr20080312-02

    So by adding a simple timer to the plug the car charges off, over a 150 new power plants would not have to be built.

    Personally, I think we should be building new power plants. Safe, clean nuclear power plants as well as wind turbine farms and other power plants that do not use oil products from foreign governments not friendly to the United States and other Western democracies.

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