Tesla Co-Founder Ian Wright Questions Tesla’s Ability To Deliver Affordable Electric Car (w/video)

FEB 2 2015 BY TDILLARD 86

In a candid interview on the San Francisco BizJournals, Ian Wright (Tesla co-founder turned CEO of Wrightspeed) talks a little about his work in the early years of Tesla, Elon Musk, and his lingering surprise and continuing doubts over the viability of a truly mass-market electric car.

“But behind that was this desire of Elon and (co-founders) Martin (Eberhard) and Mark (Tarpenning)’s and everybody else — except me — was to just build them cheaper and cheaper and cheaper until they were outselling the Camry.

“And I still think that’s not possible, but they’ve done vastly better than I expected that they would, so maybe I’m wrong,” the CEO added.


Wright has instead focused on the heavy-vehicle hybrid drivetrain market with his company Wrightspeed:

“Wrightspeed’s plug-in hybrid powertrain, which generates electricity through regenerative braking, can save $35,000 of that in fuel and another $20,000 in maintenance, paying for itself in less than four years”, Wright said.

The Wrightspeed Route HD powertrain

The Wrightspeed Route HD powertrain

Wright was responsible for a modified Arial Atom, which, even now boasts better performance than the Tesla P85D – with the latest software update.  Via the Wrightspeed site:

It all started in 2005 when Ian Wright, Wrightspeed founder and CEO, built the X1–to date the fastest street legal electric car in the world.The X1 is a concept car and a test platform based on a modified Ariel Atom. It is not a production car, and never will be. The X1 proves that electric drive can deliver extreme performance without compromising its intrinsic efficiency.

0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds.

Here’s a little treat – an X1 video from the Wrightspeed channel:

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86 Comments on "Tesla Co-Founder Ian Wright Questions Tesla’s Ability To Deliver Affordable Electric Car (w/video)"

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I think Tesla’s best role is that of an American BMW. Let Nissan, GM, and Ford fight over the entry level EV market.

That is just as much part of Elon’s original vision as the Roadster, the Model S, and the Model III.

Part of Elon’s vision was to show all the traditional ICE car makers what can be done with an electric drive. Show that electric cars don’t need to be slow punishment vehicle where you have to sacrifice everything just to have an electric drivetrain. Then push other car makers into building EV’s too.

It has worked too. Bob Lutz has stated many times outright that Tesla was the kick in the pants that pushed the Volt to market.

Ian clearly never understood the full vision.

“slow punishment vehicle”

I prefer the term “Penalty Box” to refer to a green vehicle that the owner must treat like taking medicine. Tesla clearly has the right idea in making vehicles that are inherently desirable regardless of drivetrain technology.

To me, it sounded like Ian’s vision was for range extenders to be part of the equation, and not pure BEVs only.

Bob Lutz’s position on the Roadster is frequently misrepresented. The Volt was intended to be GM’s Prius fighter from the start, and GM’s motivation for making it was always Toyota.

GM’s engineers said that batteries were too expensive for an EV to be viable, but when the Roadster came out, Lutz basically said, “If Tesla can do that, why can’t we?” However, what is usually left out of the story is that one of Lutz’ lieutenants said that GM *could* make an $80K EV sedan (similar to what the Model S turned out to be), but that such an effort would not sell enough to be worth the investment (and would not gain any appreciable market share for GM).

Instead, they decided to go with smaller battery capacity in an EREV design and design a car that would ultimately be intended to defeat the Prius.

Too bad GM has lost that vision and can’t figure out how to market the Volt.

Compare Volt2 with Prius all day long.

Nix said;

“That is just as much part of Elon’s original vision as the Roadster, the Model S, and the Model III.”

You mean, Martin Eberhard & Marc Tarpenning’s original vision. Musk is doing an amazing job of guiding the company to fulfill that vision, but he’s not the one who -created- the vision.

…and this is exactly why Elon got rid of Ian.

And do you know why and how Musk got rid of Martin Eberhard? – at certain point ignorance becomes stupidity.

I’ve heard different views on why Martin Eberhart had to go. Some people claim Martin was someone who just stood in the way of Elon Musk for the CEO title, so Elon saw that Martin got kicked and took his place. Although I don’t think that’s the whole story. There are some indications that Elon Musk really wanted to be in the spotlights though, as he had written internal e-mails about how he thought his own contributions in the company was not recognized. You could argue that Elon’s reaction was a natural one, maybe he did feel unappreciated in Tesla at that moment, except for his money. Elon’s take on why Martin had to go was that he didn’t do his work well. That there were alot of things falling behind in the company and if it had continued it could have led to bankruptcy in the end. I believe Elon got a point here. He may have been harsh on some people, but he seems hard on those who has a high responsibility in their position in Tesla. He doesn’t seem to be hard on everyone around him, like Steve Jobs was. Elon’s expression was that if you couldn’t… Read more »

Musk and Tesla have more in common with Jobs and Apple than many would like to admit.

Musk’s reality distortion field is approaching Jobs’ power levels.

It depends on how you look at it. Elon Musk has mentioned Apple quite a few times when comparing their customer experience to Tesla’s. And I can see there are similarities. Both Apple and Tesla have customer convenience and design as their two main priorities (even though I don’t think any Apple product has been the best looking ever). Apples success was mainly due to Steve Jobs ability to see the whole customer experience picture, to be able to build the whole concept around their customer. That is why so many people seem to prefer Apple. Apple wasn’t first with many things really. They just happened to have been around lurking for a while and got enough money to “perfect” their products. I, on the other hand, see Apple’s closed ecosystem as a problem. I started to dislike Apple in the 90’s when I noticed they wanted money for being able to fullscreen their Quicktime. I had bought a camera that only could record *.mov. Back then there weren’t any VLC player or something that I knew of that could play those clips in fullscreen. Since then my view on Apple has only been strengthened. I would not support them… Read more »

You hate Apple because their Quicktime Pro upgrade cost $30? Seriously?

All computer platforms are walled gardens with some degree of lock-in and lock-out.

Well, to restrict a user from getting fullscreen without paying some money was to me ludicrus at the time. And still is. Also I didn’t like Quicktime at all as a program. I used (or my father actually) Windows 98 back then.

I wouldn’t say I hate Apple – hate is too strong of a word (dislike is more on spot), but I wouldn’t buy any of their products. It has mostly to do with their closed ecosystem, “one size fits all” and their high prices. They would have to be cheaper than anything else if I would even consider to get any product from them, since I think a closed ecosystem would be worth a negative amount of money.

And yes, I’m not very fond of Microsoft either. But they are way way better, since they base their software on an open hardware platform. I’m using Windows 7 still, mostly because of games. Otherwise I’d probably use Ubuntu or something.

I have no problems paying for stuff, the games I have has cost me quite alot. But the more basic function, like an operating system, the bigger the reason it is to have it open. That’s my view atleast.

The $30 QT-Pro upgrade mainly enabled video editing and video conversion features. At the time, many felt it was dumb of Apple to restrict full-screen playback to QT-Pro, so they moved it back to the regular version a couple years later. I’m just amazed that something so trivial could cause anyone to boycott an entire company for 15 years.

Every platform is a walled garden to some extent. Life in Apple’s garden is not that bad.

http://lifehacker.com/a-month-inside-apples-walled-garden-its-not-as-bad-a-1304272986

As I wrote before, that was not the sole reason I “boycott” Apple. I actually think there were and are much better alternatives today. So I don’t see any incentive to change to Apple.

Also the monopolistic view that Apple has is not for me. Many large companies are like that more or less, but I think Apple is probably the worst. It’s like a person you really don’t like, it’s hard to put everything into words.

Any single company that is as large as Apple is a bad situation for all the consumers, that does not apply to Apple only. Apple’s bad spirit just makes it worse, I think.

You keep surprising me. This time because although you dislike monopolies, you dedicated yourself to Windows shortly after Microsoft was both declared a monopoly and found guilty of violating the Sherman antitrust act:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft_Corp.

Not only has Apple never had a monopoly, at that time their very survival was in question, since they had just barely avoided bankruptcy when the .COM recession hit and started destroying tech companies. Since then, a sequence of very popular well-integrated products has caused their stock to go up 4000%.

Several of my friends are like you … determined to dislike Apple … because they’re not sufficiently open or whatever. No big deal. Openness is a double-edged sword, meaning more is not always better. I use Windows, Linux, and OS X every day, and my Mac is the only PC that can run all three OSs and their apps, all at the same time. And iOS offers more third party apps than Android, and all those apps are (thanks to Apple’s walled garden) malware-free. That’s open enough for me. 🙂

“You keep surprising me. This time because although you dislike monopolies, you dedicated yourself to Windows shortly after Microsoft was both declared a monopoly and found guilty of violating the Sherman antitrust act: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft_Corp. Not only has Apple never had a monopoly, at that time their very survival was in question, since they had just barely avoided bankruptcy when the .COM recession hit and started destroying tech companies. Since then, a sequence of very popular well-integrated products has caused their stock to go up 4000%. Several of my friends are like you … determined to dislike Apple … because they’re not sufficiently open or whatever. No big deal. Openness is a double-edged sword, meaning more is not always better. I use Windows, Linux, and OS X every day, and my Mac is the only PC that can run all three OSs and their apps, all at the same time. And iOS offers more third party apps than Android, and all those apps are (thanks to Apple’s walled garden) malware-free. That’s open enough for me. :-)” I said I am not very fond of Microsoft either. I also said I use Microsoft for gaming reasons. There are no better (in terms… Read more »
That’s quite a laundry list. Let’s see… I agree that Windows is the best platform for gaming, especially gaming that depend on the newest video cards. For everything else, an OS X Mac is better. It has all the features of Windows and Linux built in, plus it can run Linux or Windows. I agree that Android has some advantages over iOS, just as iOS has some advantages over Android. You are probably better off with Android, but I am not. Both choices support water resistant cases. Granted you can only buy iPhones from Apple, just as you can only buy Model-S EVs from Tesla. That’s fine with me. I concede that Android has more apps now … didn’t realize that. But with over a million on both, that probably no longer matters. I see Android’s malware as a bigger issue, especially as phone-payments become the new normal. Android’s fragmentation is also a problem. With Samsung switching from Android to Tizen, I expect that to get worse. You are wrong about free apps, since there are also hundreds of thousands of free apps for iOS. You are also wrong about Apple’s developer model, since Apple hosts all those free apps… Read more »
“I agree that Windows is the best platform for gaming, especially gaming that depend on the newest video cards. For everything else, an OS X Mac is better. It has all the features of Windows and Linux built in, plus it can run Linux or Windows.” I don’t agree on that “everything else” part either. The software supply is vastly greater in general for Windows than for Mac. “I agree that Android has some advantages over iOS, just as iOS has some advantages over Android. You are probably better off with Android, but I am not.” Yes, so why would I even bother to change? Keep on to your iPhone if it makes you happy. “Both choices support water resistant cases.” I Don’t use cases and probably won’t. “Granted you can only buy iPhones from Apple, just as you can only buy Model-S EVs from Tesla. That’s fine with me.” The choice is about being able to choose a product that fits your needs, not about being stuck with one provider (which is also bad actually). “I concede that Android has more apps now … didn’t realize that. But with over a million on both, that probably no longer matters.”… Read more »

And this is the reality distortion field in full effect.

Musk says that he wants a strong EV market and he wants all EVs to succeed… yet he bashes nearly every EV from any other company, and designed his flagship car with a connector that no other car uses, and built a huge charging network that no other EV can use.

But no, it’s just his *high standards*! That’s why Jobs… ahem, Musk makes products incompatible with the rest of the industry.

Yea, there are strong similarities. But it’s hard, what would you have done if you had an EV company and wanted EV’s to succeed? When he is bashing the other EV’s it seems like he’s just honest about it. He could be abit more greyed out maybe, but I dunno. To me it’s not a big deal really. I see both Apple’s and Tesla’s business model as valid, even if I don’t necessarily agree. Then it is also a matter of what you make of it. I think the plug chosen for the US market was a bad call. They changed it for the EU market which was good, and that plug should have become a DC standard in EU in my point of view (it’s AC standard today). Let’s say that Tesla atleast took a step in the right direction with using an existing geometry for it’s plug in EU. Elon also seems to take another step towards openness with the release of their patents. So there are progress towards being more open in Tesla that I have yet to see in Apple. One big thing though, that may be Tesla’s downfall – which could relate to the reality… Read more »

The “open patents” is another reality distortion field effect. For example, patents or not, you can’t actually make a Tesla-connector EVSE (or adapter) unless you get a license from Tesla for the communication protocols necessary to communicate to the Model S (or a Tesla charger).

It’s like if Apple “opened the patents” on the iPhone, but still only allowed iOS on their own products.

You seem way to caught up with the whole reality disorder field thing, this time I think you take it one step too far.

Releasing the patents has several benefits to it for Tesla. First and foremost is goodwill, it’s positive marketing. Then it is in line what Elon has said for years, that he wants to see more manufacturers of EV’s.

There are hundreds of patents that are released, most of them are specific technical solutions that doesn’t involve any type of licensing from Tesla, so you chose a very spcific example.

If you continue down this path it just looks like personal ill will towards Tesla and Elon Musk.

It’s not ill will towards Tesla or Musk. They are doing what they have to do to run a successful business, and they are doing a pretty good job of it. It’s more directed towards the irrational Tesla fans who praise Tesla/Musk for the same things they bash anyone else for. If GM’s CEO were to come out and say that the Model 3 as an “affordable car” is a fantasy, she would be flamed to ashes. But when Musk attacks the Volt or Leaf (which makes business sense, as GM and Nissan are his competitors), he is cheered wildly for his bluntness.

As for the patents, my point is precisely that it’s a goodwill/PR move, and lacks substance. Opening up the battery tech but closing off the connector protocol is a net loss.

I see Spider-Dan is practicing Tesla bashing again. It’s not only unfair, but also rather uninformed, to accuse Tesla of refusing to “play nice” and use an existing EV charge format for the Model S. The reality is that no then-existing charge format could handle the high current needed for the SuperCharger system. And Tesla Motors offered to let anybody who wanted to join their SuperCharger network use of its patents for free. The fact that no other EV maker took them up on their offer is hardly Tesla’s fault! Sometimes industry collaborates and produces an actual standard (for example, DVD and Blu-ray). Other times they refuse to cooperate, self-destructively perpetuating a format war (BetaMAX vs. VHS). With plug-in EVs, the situation is exacerbated because charge formats are moving targets, as competition is driving faster charge times using higher current. Every new generation of PEVs will need a more robust charging format than the last. I doubt we’ll see any actual standard (instead of competing formats) in EV chargers and plugs until such time as charge times get down to about 10 minutes or so. At that point, hopefully any further improvements will be incremental enough to allow the technology… Read more »

Every manufacturer could have played the exact same “this connector standard does not meet our exact needs” game that Tesla did; for example, Nissan could have made their own connector that supports both AC and DC instead of using CHAdeMO and J1772. Fortunately, every other EV company (except Tesla) prioritized a standardized market over their own personal wish list.

And as I’ve said many times: I understand Tesla’s decision to make their own connector. It gives them a market advantage over their competitors. But don’t tell me your grand priority is EV proliferation at the same time you are undermining unified charging standards.

Finally, I find it rather ironic that you label Betamax vs. VHS a “self-destructive format war” while citing Blu-ray as a collaborative standard. Ever hear of HD-DVD?

However, the difference is that high-definition video discs are a market that was utterly unavoidable, while many people (including Elon Musk!) see the EV market as something that still needs stewardship to succeed.

“Every manufacturer could have played the exact same “this connector standard does not meet our exact needs” game that Tesla did; for example, Nissan could have made their own connector that supports both AC and DC instead of using CHAdeMO and J1772. Fortunately, every other EV company (except Tesla) prioritized a standardized market over their own personal wish list.”

See this is where I disagree. The standards that was out there were insufficient for Tesla’s need. They had to make a new charger. Although they should have pushed it to become a standard, since it is arguably the best charging system out there. The CHAdeMO is inferior (low DC power) and should be discontinued, in my opinion. CCS is a too unecessarily bulky, compared to Tesla’s plug.

I just wish Tesla would push towards making their own plug (reinforced Type 2) a DC standard, for open use. It would definately benefit Tesla in the long run as they wouldn’t have to cover all areas with their own Superchargers.

Sorry, I cannot classify “the connector is inelegant and bulky” as a *need*. Every manufacturer has their own pet list of preferences.

Tesla shouldn’t have walked out of the SAE group designing CCS. But even if they felt they had to, they should have compensated by making the Tesla connector as open as possible. Requiring a license for the proprietary communication protocols is the opposite of that.

I mean, in a vacuum I think the Tesla connector is probably better… but that’s like saying that I think the old iPod connector is “better” than MicroUSB. I don’t actually care if a connector is “better” if I can’t use it because nothing else is compatible.

A small connector is definately a need for Tesla. Just look at their charging port on Model S. If they didn’t have such a small plug they would have to change the design and put the charging port elsewhere. So the need for a small plug was there from the start. It’s also about convenience for the user. It’s easier to plug in a small plug than a bulkier one.

And well I agree, I think Tesla should make their plug open standard. If Tesla was a European company they would probably have done so already.

Spider-Dan:

Do you really not understand the point, or are you just refusing to acknowledge it?

No plug existing at the time, not the J1772, nor the CHAdeMO, nor any other, could have been used to charge the Tesla Model S at SuperCharger speed.

It wasn’t that Tesla didn’t want to use any existing format; it’s that they literally COULD NOT, if they wanted to be able to charge the car as fast as it was engineered to be charged.

Replying to both above: The argument that “if the connector was bigger, we would have had to put the charging port somewhere else” is absurd. The location of the charging port is not some sort of fundamental design principle of the car that significantly impacts its performance. That is an incredibly transparent excuse and is just saying “we want small because we want it,” which is not even remotely a valid justification for ditching standards. As for the charging throughput and the claim that other connectors are not fast enough: as in every other part of the process, Tesla made a choice. They could have had a bigger, bulkier, more expensive proprietary connector and been able to charge even faster than they can now. And they could have chose to support standardization and charge slower. There is no level of Supercharging performance that is objectively “acceptable”; Tesla made their decision based on their priorities. BUT… Given Musk’s bluster about EV proliferation, if Tesla felt they absolutely HAD to walk out of the SAE group, then they should have taken extraordinary measures to make sure that their connector (which I fully concede is more advanced, based on what I know of… Read more »

First of all, Tesla really didn’t have to do anything really. What I said was that with their current design they had to go with a small plug, or else they would have to change the design. And I am pretty sure that having their charging port like they have it now is way cheaper than having a charging port made out of aluminium. Plus this way it is more elegant aswell, which we know is an important aspect for Tesla.

So yes, it is about priorities. If every standard is inferior for your need I don’t see any reason to choose any of those standards rather than making your own.

But, I would, again, like to emphasize that Tesla should make a move to open up their charging to become a standard. They have many selling points in that regard, and it would benefit the whole industry – like Elon would want.

“I can understand why Tesla are doing what they do. But the main difference is that Apple (Steve) wanted their competitor(s) dead, while Tesla (Elon) wants their competitors start competing!”

Ecotricity would disagree with you. Don’t drink the Tesla Kool-Aid” Their motives are not altruistic; profit and maximizing-share-price are their primary objectives.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/22/tesla-uk-utility-electric-car-charging-stations

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/dale-vince-interview-the-100m-hippy-with-wind-in-his-turbines-and-quorn-in-his-burgers-9588062.html

I wouldn’t say Ecotricity has more of an altruistic agenda than Tesla.

Ecotricity had exclusive deals with the landowners, which meant they wanted to close OUT any competition. Tesla, on the other hand didn’t think this was fair so they wanted the land owners to break the exclusive contract with Ecotricity. But Tesla, on the other hand, didn’t want exclusive contract themselves – they just wanted in on a fair basis.

So I would say Ecotricity (also they are really super epensive) is the bad boy in this case.

…except that, again, Ecotricity isn’t out there loudly proclaiming that This Isn’t About The Money and that They Have A Higher Calling.

When Microsoft or Apple pulls some evil, anti-competitive nonsense, I shrug my shoulders and move on with my day. The sun is hot, water is wet, etc. But when “Do No Evil” Google does it, I stand up and take notice, because Google made that position part of their PR platform.

Well, a company does have to earn money or it will go bankrupt. Elon has stated that aswell. So what Elon is doing with Tesla is a two egged sword really.

Elon has said that Tesla had to patent some technical solutions in order to protect themselves from being overrun by the larger companies that otherwise could just copy their work for free.

Elon clearly has a responsibility towards Tesla, the employees, the shareholders and now the customers. Even if he has a greater cause, he can’t just overlook his responsibilities. I think you are just being silly by insinuating anything else.

As for Google I do see your point. But I just realize that Google has become like any other company. The founders has loosened their control over the company, hence Google behaves more like any other competitor now.

On the contrary: I don’t blame Musk or Tesla for taking these actions, only for the “it’s not about the money” PR campaign that comes with them.

Whenever I try to discuss Tesla in regards to, say, Nissan or GM, the default position of many Tesla fans seems to be that other automakers are just moneygrubbers, while Musk is a True Believer. The truth is not that simple.

I don’t think either Musk or Eberhard are in a position to throw stones at the other. Both ignored their responsibility for controlling costs in Tesla Motors’ early years. Both suffer from inflated egos: Musk’s is most noticeable in his insistence at being called the “founder” of Tesla Motors, even though it was founded by two other people: Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. And Eberhard’s ego was on full display in his “Tesla Founders’ Blog”, which sadly was removed from the Internet, probably because his lawyers made him take it down after he filed a lawsuit against Tesla, and his own comments posted online gave his legal opponents too much ammo.

If you want the “dirt” on the early troubled days of Tesla Motors, read “Tesla’s Wild Ride”, a long “tell all” article at Fortune:

http://archive.fortune.com/2008/07/07/technology/copeland_tesla.fortune/index.htm

I think this is a bit dressed up to get people reading the story. He says that he thinks that Tesla won’t be able to outsell the Camry or rather won’t be able to make electric cars cheap enough to out sell the Camry.

I think that is a fair statement, I think that is a fair position. Its one of those objectives that is great because if you fail you still win. If Tesla gets to the 10th best selling car in the US and stagnates that is still a massive achievement and a multi-billion dollar company.

Porsche is a really good comparison, even if Tesla never really go much past Porsche size (in terms of vehicle sales and models sold globally) Tesla is still a success, Porsche is not a bad company and to get their at the speed Tesla is, is amazing.

IMO, I think Tesla stand maybe a 1 in 100 chance of out selling the Camry in the next 5-10 years but they are currently and should continue to be a massive success.

Porsche was unable to remain independent with their sales volume despite a rather large consultancy business.

Because of increasing R&D budgets to meet safety and emission standards Porsche was forced to become part of VW Group. At first the mouse tried to swallow the elephant but the elephant ended up swallowing the mouse.

IMO Tesla can not remain independent long term with Porsche like 200k unit volume. They need a minimum Mazda-Mitsubishi like 1M units per year. If not they end up a division of Ford,GM,or some foreign company.

Elon believes the cost of batteries will drop below $100/kWh by 2025 at the latest. At that point an electric powertrain is cheaper than an equivalent ICE powertrain. Unless Toyota is in the middle of electrification at that point, there is no reason why Tesla could not outsell Camry.

electric-car-insider.com

2025 CAFE standards require 54.5 MPG. Toyota (and everyone else) could meet that with hybrid. But it will be hard to compete with 130 MPG 50+ mile PHEVs if 17kWh batteries are ~ $1,700 at that point. TCO break-even will be less than 1.5 years on fuel cost savings even at 50 mpg.

If you are not a traveling salesman that has the entire West Coast as his territory why not carry an extra 33 kWh of batteries instead an extra ICE powertrain?

Because batteries take much longer to refuel.

Robb, there will come a day when 33 kWh of batteries costs less than an ICE drivetrain and it will be able to recharge to 80% of capacity in about 20 minutes at a huge number of fast charging locations. But that probably won’t be until 2022-2025.

There will come a time when full utility (i.e. 200-250 miles of AER and fast charging) BEV’s will cost the same, or less, than an EREV. But it won’t happen soon.

Ziv — until that day comes, we’ve got PHEV’s. No problem.

Tesla doesn’t have to engineer an engine every 5 or years so they can afford to say independent

Exactly – the auto business is capital-intensive, but they don’t have to keep coming up with new ways to emit a few less CO2 molecules every few years.

+1

…and transmission, and emissions system, and package them all with a fuel delivery system. An electric drive train is so much more elegant on almost every level.

Just_Chris said:

“I think this is a bit dressed up to get people reading the story. He says that he thinks that Tesla won’t be able to outsell the Camry or rather won’t be able to make electric cars cheap enough to out sell the Camry.”

Exactly what I was going to post. There’s no controversy or contradiction here. Tesla wants its next car to be a $35k-40k car. That’s still rather more expensive than a Camry, which has MSRP of $22,970.

And yes, it -is- too soon to make a compelling long-range BEV that won’t cost more than a Camry. Give it another few years, or perhaps several. But the time will come; we just need one more breakthru in battery tech. You can’t really predict when this sort of breakthru will happen, but hopefully in less than 10 years.

Completely agree, who is outselling the Camry?

Completely agree, is anyone outselling the Camry right now?

Agreed.

Sounds like the same years of nay-saying we all heard before the Roadster finally went fully into production.

Also sounds like the same years of nay-saying we all heard before the Model S finally went fully into production.

Sounds like the same nay-saying we’re hearing about the Model X.

Once Tesla finally rolls out the Model X, will the Tesla nay-sayers finally admit to being three-time losers and give it up? Or are we going to have to keep hearing forever from these same flat-earthers who say Tesla will fall off the edge of the earth if they try to sail around the world?

Never underestimate the ability of naysayers to come back and say “well, THIS time it won’t work.” Maybe SOMEDAY they’ll be right, but at that point, who will care anymore?

“Sure, Tesla was far behind schedule on the Roadster, Model S, and Model X, but the Gigafactory and Model 3 will be released on time for sure!”

Funny! The GF might be completed on schedule, but the MIII? No. Not a chance. Q3 of 2018, at the absolute earliest. I called it on these pages many months ago, and I’m sticking to it.

Well I think he is right to some degree. I also doubt Tesla will hit the 200 mile range car at $35K before subsidies target.

That would be nothing new .. . every car Tesla has built has been behind schedule and over budget.

But that said, even if they come in at $40K, that can still be a great car.

Even if the Model 3 starts at $35k, I’m sure when I configure it the way I want, it will be over $40k. I’m fine with that.

Two cars from a startup company came in over budget and behind schedule. The next one one is coming behind schedule. But every Model X that would have been sold in 2014 or 2015 would mean one less Model S sale. Tesla has lost little or no marginal profit.

Model 3 is being developed by a company with over 10k employees with three cars under its belt.

An electric car(minus the battery) is already cheaper than an ICE car.

And battery can be leased without upfront cost. This way you are paying on battery storage like it was heavily taxed European gasoline and if your battery loses range, you can always swap it to new one without added cost.

I think here is a semantic issues what is meant with mass market car. Model 3 is an entry level luxury car that competes rather with Lexus than Toyota. 35k price target is of course ambitious but If Tesla can get below 50k, that is a win because EV markets are huge below 50k. E. G. Every taxicab in the world will be immediately electrified if Tesla can bring below 50k long range compelling EV with Supercharger on markets.

Have you seen a Model 3? How do you know it’s going to be an entry level luxury car, and not a Chevy level car with high quality values? Take the Volt, $35K car made with fairly high quality materials and very well designed and put together. The Volt is not by any means a luxury car. Why can’t the Tesla Model 3 match that? Why does everyone assume it’s going to be a luxury car? It’s not. In fact… is there even a proper luxury car in the 30k range? It’s being designed as a mass market vehicle, and that, by definition, is not a luxury car. It most likely will have a very high quality engineering and build, but that has nothing to do with what materials it’s made of or what features it comes with. You can make plastic work as long as you put in the design work to make it look good and fasten it down properly so it doesn’t rub or squeak. For all we know, it could be an exact copy of a Model S made from cheaper materials and all the of the more expensive features cut.

With the quality of today’s “regular” cars, I’m not even sure what a “luxury” car is, other than a bigger price tag and a status symbol. Oh, and more expensive repairs. No thanks. (I don’t buy designer clothes or Rolex watches either)

Chevy Volt is ridiculously overpriced car that is 100 % designed to milk maximum amount of government subsidies while they last. It has zero change to compete without subsidies. Tesla Model 3 on the other hand is a car that this designed to be competive even when government subsidies are long gone and oil price has plunged below 20 dollars per barrel.

This is the difference between GM and Tesla. Tesla tries to compete fair and square against Audi and BMW while GM is only interested to milk government subsidies and therefore boost their revenue stream.

The Volt was the most-awarded car in American history at its release and has a customer satisfaction rating that any other product in any other industry would kill for. There is no product on the market (save the ELR) that does what the Volt does, at any price.

Awards do not help selling cars. Volt sells horribly outside United States.

Anyone can design a plug-in car that is superior to its comparable gasoline only car. It is just trivial, because electric drive technology is just better.

Volt could be just so much better car than it is, if it were properly designed to take the maximum out of electric motor.

And yet the Leaf, which has no engine at all, did not win anywhere near the same number of awards. Neither did the i-MiEV, Fusion Energi, C-Max Energi, or Plug-in Prius.

Or, most notably, the Fit EV, Spark EV, Focus EV, and 500e, which are basically straight ICE->BEV conversions. In fact, I don’t know of a single award among the four of them.

If it’s so easy to design such a highly-awarded and customer-satisfying car, why isn’t everyone else doing it, too?

Additionally, while it would be nice if the Volt were selling as well outside the U.S., the fact that it’s the best-selling EV in America tends to imply that awards DO help in selling cars.

Jouni Valkonen said:

“Volt sells horribly outside United States.”

Yup. The European version, the Opel Ampera, has been discontinued because of poor sales.

“Volt could be just so much better car than it is, if it were properly designed to take the maximum out of electric motor.”

I do find it disappointing that the same company which produced the EV1 couldn’t do better than the Volt for its 2nd plug-in EV; its first truly mass-produced PEV.

But I don’t know that much about how GM either did or didn’t internally support development the car. Perhaps those developing the car did the best they could with the resources they were given.

Spider-Dan said:

“The Volt was the most-awarded car in American history at its release and has a customer satisfaction rating that any other product in any other industry would kill for.”

I don’t know how many “best car of the year” the Volt got from major auto review magazines and websites, but certainly the Tesla Model S beat it. I also doubt Volt reviews showed a lot of reviewers falling all over themselves to call it “The best car ever made”, as several Model S reviews did.

And Consumer Reports rates the Model S as #1 in customer satisfaction; the Volt comes in at 2nd place.

The Model S was released after the Volt. So AT IT’S RELEASE, the Volt was the most awarded car in American history.

And if the Volt is ranked second all-time to a car that costs ~twice as much, I think that’s a good job for GM.

Draighven said:

“Take the Volt, $35K car made with fairly high quality materials and very well designed and put together.”

Well, that’s a matter of opinion. Here’s a different one:

Take the Volt, made sharing as many parts as possible with one of the cheapest Chevy cars, the Cruze; add in an overly complex (and hence not terribly efficient) electric drive, a battery pack so small that it’s inadequate to drive the car more than 35 miles on average, and a small gasoline engine generator so inefficient that it actually requires premium gas to run.

Then charge a price higher than a BMW 3-series for it.

Now admittedly that’s quite unfair to GM. It was, after all, GM’s first attempt to actually mass-produce a plug-in EV (No, the EV1 wasn’t made in sufficient numbers to qualify). A price which seems unreasonably high was inevitable; GM has amortized away most of the costs of developing a new gas guzzler, but not the costs for PEV development.

But it’s hardly reasonable to call Chevy Cruze components “fairly high quality materials”.

If the Model 3 cost $50k, they would have failed their mission and lost a lot of customers. Even at $40k, it’s going to make many people perturbed. They need the base price to start with a “3”.

BMW 328i xDrive stars from $39,900. I think that this is a fair target for Tesla Model 3.

Nope, don’t agree. If they are going to mandate that the car can’t be priced higher than a fixed amount, then Tesla might as well just clone the Leaf. The Model S is outselling every car in its class in the North American market, including all the gas guzzlers, precisely because Tesla Motors refused to compromise, refused to produce a crippled plug-in EV. I admire Tesla Motors for staying true to its vision: to produce only -compelling- BEVs, and to lower the price on every new generation as the price of batteries gradually comes down. (The Model X isn’t a new generation; it’s a side development off the Model S.) No, the Model ≡ won’t be the “everyman” BEV we all want to see. It won’t be the EV equivalent of the Model T Ford. But it very probably will, like the Model S, outsell every other car in its price range. -Every- other car, including all the gas guzzlers. No car maker, not even Tesla Motors, can produce an “everyman” PEV at this time. Batteries are still too expensive, and still take too long to charge. That “everyman” PEV will have to wait on a new generation of batteries… Read more »

The US market is actually the wrong market for cheap electric vehicles because the gasoline is below 4$/gallon. In Europe on the other hand, on the Camry price of 22970 $ you can add an extra 20000 $ cost for the fuel, so you actually talk of a total cost of 42970 $, which a model 3 for 35000 $ would be 7970 $ cheaper then the Camry there.
I think that if Norway was an exceptional market for the model S, pretty much all of Europe is going to be an exceptional market for the model 3. It is going to be, made in USA, massively bought in Europe, even if it will probably sell in the us as well, but for other reasons.

I have been surprised that plug-in EVs haven’t caught on like wildfire in Europe, where gasoline costs about twice what it does in the USA. Nor have I seen any analysis which explains to my satisfaction why sales are growing faster in North America.

Norway is an outlier; the high subsidy for PEVs coupled with a very high tax on gas guzzlers explains why they sell so well there. It has little to do with any ability of the PEVs to actually compete with gas guzzlers.

For details on that, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_electric_vehicles_in_Norway

At the very least Musk needs to re-write his three point master plan and add a fourth point.

It was:

1. 100K Roadster
2. 50K Sedan
3. 25K Mass market car

It turned out to be:
1. 120K Roadster
2. 80K Sedan
3. 40K Sedan (hopefully)
4. 25K Mass market car (maybe)

That said, I’m not sure “cheap” is in Musk’s DNA. He’s too uncompromising. I think it will be very hard for him to accept designs of lower cost than the mid 30’s. That’s still a BMW sized company though, and Nissan will be happy to take the lower end of the market, which is really what Ghosn cares about anyway, because he is aiming for developing countries.

The Venn diagram intersects between all the players between 30 and 50K. Below that it will be just Nissan. Above it, Tesla will dominate for years, unless BMW comes up with an i5 or i6 soon.

+1

I think that electric cars are at least for the next 10 years toys for the rich. However the Rich are buying annually about 5 million cars so compared to today’s electric car sales, we can assume huge market expansion of electric cars, if 95 % of cars that the rich are buying are all electric.

Also car companies are investing most of their R&D spendings on the development of luxury cars, because high cross margin luxury car sales are generating most of the profits. Therefore it is integral that electric cars have about 95 % market share on cars that cost more than $40,000.

All brand new cars are toys for the better-off.

The median household income for new car buyers is roughly $25,000 more than the overall median income of all households in the US.

Affordable gas cars that the median household can actually afford to purchase are typically used. There is nothing magical about EV’s or PHEV’s that will change that.

The benefits of EV’s/PHEV’s won’t trickle down to median income households until there is a healthy market of used vehicles coming off of lease. That’s still ramping up right now for the Leaf and Volt. Another year or two for other car makers to have decent inventories of off-lease EV’s/PHEV’s

Once that happens, then the benefits of EV’s/PHEV’s will be shared by average Americans, the same way average American households buy used gas cars typically too.

I honestly think Tesla’s window for a $25k mass-market EV is just about closed. Tesla will not be able to compete with Nissan or GM at the low end of the market; the Gigafactory will help on battery costs but will do nothing for every other part of the production process.

Tesla’s primary hope for an everyman EV was to beat Nissan and GM to the punch. By the time Tesla gets to Gen4, there will likely be a gen3 Leaf and gen2 Bolt on the market. That is a recipe for disaster.

There is a market vacuum for luxury and performance EVs, and Tesla is in the best position to fill that role. They should embrace their role as the BMW of the 21st century.

The fallacy in your argument is that when a disruptive tech revolution comes, it’s -never- the big players with the old tech that lead the way. The disruption always comes from the “young turks” like Tesla Motors; the legacy manufacturers always have to play catch-up. You may notice that’s exactly what’s happening now; Tesla is leading the way, and a few companies like GM and Nissan are playing follow-the-leader. They’re not following very closely, though; they’re trailing badly. Yes, GM or Toyota or Ford or Nissan or any other large legacy auto maker -could- mass produce a compelling PEV at a price undercutting anything Tesla could make a profit on, and drive Tesla out of business. But the legacy auto makers do not -want- to make a compelling EV. And if they did, they most especially wouldn’t want to sell it in large numbers. Because the primary pool of customers for those first-time PEV buyers won’t be would-be Tesla customers. They’ll be those who would otherwise buy one of that auto maker’s gas guzzlers. This is -exactly- the same reason that Eastman Kodak didn’t develop the digital camera, even though they invented the tech. Letting others lead the digital camera… Read more »

In your version of events, who created the Prius?

I would rather see a story on the good things that Wrightspeed is doing. I read in a financial blog that their hybrid drivetrains are, without hyperbole, revolutionizing the industrial trucking market (garbage trucks, etc.). Supposedly, the cost of his systems are quickly paid back through the staggering savings of diesel fuel and brake wear.

We see articles about electric buses, so I’d like to see an article or two about industrial improvements.