Tesla and the bailout

A “technology writer” at the NY Times attacks Tesla Motors, taking more from their editorial page than the tech pages should, at least IMNSHO.

Jason Calacanis disagrees also and has written a rebuttal article.

He makes a few strong points:

Yes Randy, the first version of technology tends to be expensive.
Personal computers used to cost $5,000, flat-panel TVs were $10,000
and–gasp–the first decade’s worth of solar panels were not worth the
price. You’re a *technology* journalist at the New York Times. You
understand all too well that expensive technology becomes commodity
technology within 10 to 20 years of its inception.

Personal computers now start at $200. Of course the first version of
an all-electric sports car is going to be expensive.

What’s the problem here exactly? You’re saying that America could have
a brand new startup car company that produces an affordable car that
goes an absurd range just 10 years from now? The cost is a $400
million dollar loan? You’re problem with this is what?

Read the whole thing.  Jason makes a strong case against a weakly written article.  A fairly obviously politically biased article too boot.   Randall Stross is yet another example of why the NY Times star (and stock) is falling so far, so fast.  My advice, forget Stross. Get Boston Globe tech reporter Hiawatha Bray out there to test drive the Tesla Roadster.  You’ll get an honest tech review instead of politically motivated hit piece.

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Taking a quick look at the Volt

Chevy is looking at an electric sedan that uses a gasoline motor to charge the car’s battery.

This is very different than existing hybrids and all electric cars like the Tesla roadster.

Current hybrids have two complete drivetrains, electric and gas powered.  The electric motor is only good for low speeds and has to be supplimented by the gas engine to drive at highway speeds.

The Volt has a single drivetrain.  The electric motor is the only one connected to it.  The gas engine is only used to charge the battery. The battery in the Volt is also smaller than that of the Tesla Roadster.  The Tesla range is limited by the ability to charge it.  Tesla claims a 200+ mile range, but it has to be plugged in to recharge.

The battery in the Volt is only designed for a 40 mile range.  After that, the gas engine is used to recharge the battery, even on the go.  Chevy claims that on a full tank (6-7 galleons of gas), the Volt has a 400 mile range.  Even at $4.00 a galleon, seven galleons will cost $28.   I’ve seen gas at $3.50 a galleon, so that cost drops to $24.5.  That’s a cost of $0.06 to $0.07 a mile.  Compare this to a four banger getting 30 miles to the galleon highway.  13.3 galleons to go 400 miles.  At $4 a galleon, that’s $53.20 in gas or $0.13 a mile.

Now the Volt won’t have the performance of a Tesla Roadster, but it won’t have its $100,000 price tag either. Chevy is looking at a  price between $30 to $40 thousand.   The Volt will be able to venture beyond it’s power cord was well, much like current hybrids.

It will be at least another year before the Volt hits the street.  So there probably will be some changes from the current planned release.

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.