Tesla CTO JB Straubel Discusses Electric Cars – Video

APR 20 2015 BY MARK KANE 27

The Future of Transportation - JB Straubel slide

The Future of Transportation – JB Straubel slide

JB Straubel, Chief Technology Officer at Tesla Motors, had a presentation on electric carsat the 2015 Vail Global Energy Forum.

After a short introduction to the history of the company and electric cars, the main message from JB Straubel is similar to the previous presentation year ago – leveraging scale to produce more batteries at lower costs, more cars with huge controllable charging load, more energy storage system and more solar power.

JB Straubel assumes that in 2019 there will be 1,000,000 Tesla cars on the road (almost 70,000 now).

After about 21 minutes, Toyota, Exxon and Sidecar representatives joined the discussion to prove JB is completly wrong agree that the automotive industry is going through huge changes.

“Presented at the 2015 Vail Global Energy Forum by JB Straubel, Chief Technology Officer, Tesla Motors Inc. Panel Discussion Moderated By: Stefan Heck (Stanford). Panelists Include: Ned Curic (CTO Toyota Motor Sales USA), Sunil Paul (CEO-Founder, Sidecar), and Pete Trelenberg (Exxon, Manager for Environmental Policy and Planning)”

“The Vail Global Energy Forum (VGEF) is dedicated to the search for solutions to one of the most pressing issues of our time – how to produce enough clean, cost-efficient energy from reliable sources to power our global economy which will also develop breakthrough energy solutions of the future. VGEF continues to examine the challenges of energy supply, energy security and the impact of energy usage, which will shape transitions now underway and in the decades to come.”

Here is slide show and video:

Categories: Tesla


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27 Comments on "Tesla CTO JB Straubel Discusses Electric Cars – Video"

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He should better work on the tesla X and fix the rear doors problem !

Didn’t think the EU cared much for CUV’s…

He’s a battery guy, not a door guy.

He’s not just a battery guy. He and Martin Eberhardt developed most of what makes Tesla, Tesla. Now more JB than Martin but perhaps the other way earlier on before the S was engineered.

The slides are quite informative…

I especially like the “Model 3 Sedan And Crossover” mentioned on several charts.

Also, this quote:

“The Stone Age came to an end, not for the lack of Stones. And the Oil Age will come to an end, not from the lack of Oil.”

–shaikh Yamani, former Saudi Oil Minister

And there is a BEV in the background image, with wind generators in the distance.

Beautiful. I love these Tesla folks. 🙂

He implied the EV-1 (GM 90s) was Lead Acid. It was NiMH – Nickel Metal Hydride.

Did he say at ~12 min. That Model 3 will have free access to the SC network?

Yes, that has been plan now for years that all Tesla superchargers are free forever for every Tesla customers. The reason why 40kWh version was excluded and 60 kWh version had limited access was because small battery could not handle supercharging well without compromising the battery longevity.

Today however Tesla has good enough understanding on battery life span that supercharging access will be standard for all forthcoming Tesla models. Even probably for basemodel 3.

Uh…I doubt that has been the plan. At least if they want to hit the $35k price target. You’ll need to pay extra for unlimited SC access.

Yeah, Tesla will need to cover their SC costs and expansion as they grow. If you have over a million cars sucking down power, the cost is either added to the price of the car upfront, or you employ a per-use pricing model, so keep the initial vehicle cost low.

Tesla’s said over and over the M3 will be SC capable, but never been too specific on access or other pricing. It’s interesting to see JB bring up the pricing issue in this presentation.

Doubt all you want, but Tesla execs have repeatly announced Supercharging free for life will be available for all future Tesla cars.

It may be standard equipment, or optional like it was on the 60, but either way Tesla will make a profit from the service.


He says something to the effect of, “In the future, we may look to putting a financial transaction into the system, but for the first million cars, this is a viable solution”
I think we’ll see them roll out the model 3 like they did the model S. They’ll offer a “signature edition” which will be crazy high on performance and also crazy expensive. Then a “performance edition” which will probably be around the price of a base Model S/X. It will take them 6 months to a year combined with fighting tooling problems to get through those orders. Those will likely have SC standard. By the time the “$35K” models start making it into customer hands, you’ll need to pay per use via smartphone or CC linked to your vehicle.

For the first million car, you can count 3 or 4 years of Model 3, so maybe there will “Signature” batches but I guess SC will be free for all versions. and it will be a great publicity stunt!

You never let go the false idea that batteries are and will always be very expensive, don’t you?

Oh batteries may certainly get much cheaper. But I don’t see them getting MUCH cheaper very FAST. Nor does JB Straubel according to his speech.

And besides, SC access is more of matter of installation costs, charger maintenance costs, and electricity costs. If you get a million EVs out there with free supercharger access, the electricity bill for that is going to be big.

With current Model S cars, I doubt many wealthy people bother to use superchargers except when they really need them. But with cheaper Tesla cars, I think more people will abuse the ‘free’ electricity from superchargers and use them to just get free charging all the time instead of charging up at home.

“But with cheaper Tesla cars, I think more people will abuse the ‘free’ electricity from superchargers and use them to just get free charging all the time instead of charging up at home.”
I can guarantee that’s true and cite my experience with charging at work. Where I live a LEAF costs a little over a dollar to charge up from 50% SOC. People will risk not being able to get home to save from charging at home to save that dollar a day. They would either need to do massive expansion (and I mean at much greater ratios than cars/stations today) or risk seeing 1970’s gas shortage lines at SC stations.

If they are taking advantage of free charging at work, how are they putting themselves at risk of not making it home?

I don’t think $35k car buyers in general are going to go very far out of their way to spend an extra 30 minutes or so twidling their thumbs at Superchargers to save $5-10. I’m sure some people place such low value on their time but not many. Charging at home is too cheap and too convenient for all but the cheapest of cheapskates to burn 1-2 hrs to save $5-10. That said, urban Chargers will see much higher utilization, partly from the convenience but more from the practicality for multifamily dwellers that don’t have home charging access.

Absolutely. Just because some cheapskates avoid charging their BEV at home so they can take advantage of free charging at work, doesn’t mean a lot of people would be willing to wait for 30-45 minutes at a Supercharger station just to avoid paying a few dollars for electricity. Convenience is worth paying for, and “Time is money”.

As has been said: The issue with the time it takes to charge an EV isn’t -charging- time, it’s -wait- time. If you charge at home or at work, you don’t spend your time waiting.

Not a chance. Do you think I am going to drive out of my way to a Supercharger and then hang out twice a week for 45 minutes each time – 90 minutes total, to save $10 on my electric bill.
You really underestimate the value of my time.

I actually agree that some will abuse the system, likely those that live very close to a SuperCharger. However, that is a problem solvable by technology, and the rumor is that Tesla is already ‘slowing’ charging for some abusers at particular SuperChargers. Cars authorize by VIN (for instance, they can remove Supercharging capability for salvage vehicles) and Tesla can deal with abusers by VIN if it comes to that. Suing isn’t likely to help abusers either because free “charging for life” doesn’t mean it has to be at 135 kW–Tesla could trickle feed you and it would still qualify as charging.

They will get much cheaper pretty fast. The material cost of current cells is 60$ per kwh. By end of the decade they plan to get production cost down to 100$ per kwh which will be by end of the decade.

As far as supercharger cost goes, that is covered in the cost of the car which pays for superchargers + solar power + battery + maintenance. Even if every car on the road was an EV, the amount of charger use will be far less than gas station use due to home charging.

Big electric bill? Let’s say $1.00 of electricity gets a Model S 30 miles of range. The $2000 charge for superchargers would equate to 60,000 miles of range. Most owners charge at home and most owners fly when they have a long trip. and are not going to use anywhere near that much SC electricity over the life of the vehicle.

I wonder what is going through JB’s mind when the guy is talking about hydrogen?

He’s probably thinking “great stuff, hydrogen, for rockets. For cars, not so much”. That’s what Elon thought and said, anyway.

Most likely what the other panelists were thinking when he tossed up the slide with 1M units sold.

1M sold does seem out there. But if they can really pull off the slashing of battery prices . . . they can do it.

I would certainly pick up a Model 3 with a 200+ mile range, access to superchargers (even if I have to pay extra), and a ~$35K price tag.

Perhaps . . .

“Ugh. Dude! I spent many many months studying fuel cells cars. They are just not practical! With fuel cell stack cost, hydrogen creation cost, hydrogen distribution cost, hydrogen pressurization cost, hydrogen fueling system infrastructure cost, etc. . . . it just doesn’t make economical sense unless there is a huge breakthrough!

I get it, batteries are still expensive right now. But they are progressively getting cheaper and most of the electrical infrastructure is already deployed. We just need to add that last 10 feet with a charger coupled to the grid.”

This right there is the great risk for Tesla investors – Tesla is not just hoping, they are planing for 500k/yr by 2020. Technical setbacks or lack of demand could both crush them.

I think they will need to push the specs to around 300 mi range will the same high performance the S line has to meet the goals on the demand side. Maybe by 2020 they will be there.