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Elon Musk Says Larger Batteries Might Be On the Way

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the power-up dept.

Power 191

mknewman writes "Elon Musk intimated that more-powerful batteries could be on the way for the Model S. The most potent battery pack currently offered in the Model S holds 85 kWh of juice, or enough for 265 miles of driving. Musk wasn't terribly specific, however: 'There is the potential for bigger battery packs in the future, but it would probably be maybe next year or something like that. The main focus is . . . how do we reduce the cost per kWh of storage in the battery pack?' In other words, Musk seems less concerned with stronger battery packs than making cheaper battery packs for the upcoming mid-size sedan, which is expected to be unveiled at the 2015 Detroit auto show. 'Our goal is to drop the cost per kWh by 30 percent to 40 percent.'"

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The larger the battery... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260047)

The larger the fire.

Re:The larger the battery... (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46260203)

Thankfully, still not as big as the fuel fire you get when one of those goes up.

FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better tech (3, Informative)

Centrist Review (3539593) | about 6 months ago | (#46260519)

As the other responder said, the danger of fires with batteries is far less than that with fossil fuels, but even more - there is tech a few years off that will make them even safer. Just the other day someone developed a form of lithium ion battery that is significantly less prone to fire, which is amazing given how much energy is stored in those things. It's nearly impossible to design something that holds such an enormous amount of energy without it being dangerous if damaged and accidentally discharged.

Re:FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better t (0)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 6 months ago | (#46260569)

"there is tech a few years off that will make them even safer.there is tech a few years off that will make them even safer."

Just like the singularity it seems that improved battery tech is always about 5-10 years down the road.

Re:FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better t (4, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | about 6 months ago | (#46260605)

Just like the singularity it seems that improved battery tech is always about 5-10 years down the road.

The awesome thing is that it really is always 5-10 years down the road -- and things are rolling off of that 5-10 year timeline into production all the time.

If you don't think batteries have been getting better, you aren't paying attention.

Re:FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261233)

Now you can watch free cricket on http://www.crictimesports.com/

Re:FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better t (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 6 months ago | (#46260691)

Right, because we continue to invest in the science and engineering behind them.

Batteries are vastly better than they were 10 years ago, because they've been in continual development. The batteries of a decade ago were similarly much more advanced than the ones that came before.

Batteries are one of the easiest areas to see the "in a few years this tech will be amazing" future speak actually pay off.

Re:FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better t (3, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46260805)

I find the perception that battery tech is not improving rather bizarre. You realise we have laptops that last 12-24 hours today, when only a decade ago the very best laptops lasted only 4 hours, right?

Re:FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260863)

I find the perception that battery tech is not improving rather bizarre. You realise we have laptops that last 12-24 hours today, when only a decade ago the very best laptops lasted only 4 hours, right?

How much of that is improved batteries and how much of it is improved computation per watt of modern laptop hardware?

Re:FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better t (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46261027)

Mostly due to batteries. If you compare the power usage of laptops then, and now, you'll find that older laptops tended to use in the 10-20W range for their motherboard and CPU. Modern ultra books use a similar power level, while modern laptops use around 30-50W, and still get longer battery life.

Re:FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better t (1)

mechtech256 (2617089) | about 6 months ago | (#46261297)

Do you have any sources for this claim?

Every source I've been able to find estimates a 2-3x increase in Lion capacity in the last 25 years.

http://www.enevate.com/eart/ca... [enevate.com]
http://www.technologyreview.co... [technologyreview.com]

You're also very wrong about laptop battery life. The increase in laptop battery life is almost entirely due to the huge advancements made in frequency scaling, advanced idle states, and fine grained power management (ie shutting down individual cores when not in use).

You'll find that new laptops (and cell phones) will still run their batteries down very fast when actually under load, but when doing normal desktop tasks all of the advanced power saving features on the silicon are vastly cutting down laptop power consumption. Lion capacity has very little to do with it.

Re: FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261157)

More like silicon chips.
The fact is that today's batteries are superior AND cheaper to what we had 10 years ago.
Just think of what a laptop battery cost 10 years ago and how long it lasted.

Make supplemental batteries in mannequin form (4, Funny)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 6 months ago | (#46260055)

Just strap it into the passenger seat, plug it into the lighter socket, and head straight for the HOV lane!

.

Re:Make supplemental batteries in mannequin form (1)

slinches (1540051) | about 6 months ago | (#46260465)

Don't most states grant access to the HOV lane for alternative fuel vehicles? I know mine does. I see at least a couple of Teslas and Leafs (Leaves?) with AFV plates pass me on my way to work every day.

Re:Make supplemental batteries in mannequin form (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46260515)

Don't most states grant access to the HOV lane for alternative fuel vehicles?

Most do, but that access will be phased out as zero-emmission vehicles are more widely adopted. California is already phasing them out for hybrids, but not yet for full electrics like the Teslas. The mannequin-battery is a better long term solution.

Re:Make supplemental batteries in mannequin form (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#46260603)

This could be the start of a powerful relationship.

Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260097)

Don't forget when 3D printing this car at home, print out the battery separately in case it catches fire while printing.

Dead end (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260141)

Unless you can come up with battery tech that offers at least 700-800 kilometres range and a maximum recharge time of 5-10 minutes, electric cars are a dead end. Hydrogencars ftw. That is all.

Re:Dead end (4, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46260207)

Why do people insist that batteries have to be at least 2-3 times as good as hydrocarbons before they can be useful?

Re:Dead end (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46260317)

"Why do people insist that batteries have to be at least 2-3 times as good as hydrocarbons before they can be useful?" ..you might have noticed he used "kilometers"
because in europe, cars that go 1000 km on a tank aren't really that uncommon(and current world record for production car being somewhere around 2000(!) km though that takes some preeetty careful driving)...

but let's say 6 liters per 100km. 60 liters tank. what do you get? 1000km.

that's not really the point though, the point is that it has to charge under 15 minutes while eating after 500km to do another 500km for it to be a long range replacement.

Re:Dead end (3, Interesting)

haruchai (17472) | about 6 months ago | (#46260403)

This is easily achievable with battery swap stations at a much lower density than current petrol / diesel pumps. Or build cars so a variety of range extenders can be added when needed. The one demo'ed by Phinergy gives 1600km range and weighs 25kg. Or a fuel cell or small ICE unit, preferably one that's better than the REx in the BMW i3.

Re:Dead end (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46260731)

The battery swap idea is a dead end... I am not going to swap out my nice new $30k battery for some random unknown age battery from a stranger. Just not going to happen. The towable range extender is also stupid and not going to happen, the average driver sucks at driving without a trailer, with one, look out...

Re:Dead end (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 6 months ago | (#46260773)

It would probably be a service you subscribe to, not a barter economy. Who cares about owning a "nice new battery"? It's a consumable anyway. A guaranteed minimum quality of service is all that i would require, and this is easily enforced.

Re:Dead end (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46260835)

You make a good point, and that works if I lease the truck. Since I don't lease, I buy, it doesn't appeal to me, but I see how a battery service as part of a car or truck lease would appeal to millions of customers, fair enough on that point.

I prefer to keep my trucks for 6-9 years, I buy them new and keep them in great condition, it is a pride of ownership thing.

Re:Dead end (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 6 months ago | (#46261009)

For the Renault Zoe, you buy the car but lease / rent the battery. The car cost is about the same as the gas version

Re:Dead end (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 6 months ago | (#46261039)

Correction - there is no direct gas equivalent of the Zoe but it's about the same price after rebate as a similarly equipped Clio

Re:Dead end (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46261111)

Is that a manufacture rebate or government rebate? Something left off the conversation far too often is that once electric cars become popular, the government rebates will go away.

Re:Dead end (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46261041)

Fair enough, that sounds like an option for many people as well, you do have to buy gas for cars anyway.

Re:Dead end (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 6 months ago | (#46261483)

One of the negative aspects of the leasing arrangement is that Renault is able to disable recharging the battery is the consumer stops paying.

That policy and especially that level of access is worrying - leaving EVs open to hackers, law enforcement or other 3rd parties.

Re:Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260911)

The battery lease model does sound interesting on paper. Where you buy the car, but lease the battery and share it with everyone else. Spread the cost over 10 years, and charge a dollar or two to swap batteries. Maybe at the end of 10 years you get the next generation of battery or a deal on a newer car model that comes with it...

You do need to be able to recharge with level 2 chargers at home though. That is how it would work 90% of the time.

Re:Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261015)

The battery swap idea is a dead end... I am not going to swap out my nice new $30k battery for some random unknown age battery from a stranger.

So instead you buy gasoline from a stranger?

Oh wait, the point is you don't buy a battery, you buy a service, and they handle the age and maintenance. Just like the gasoline you buy is from work done by somebody else. Now you may be one of the gasoline snobs who only buys from Chevron, but that's fine, it's still somebody else dealing with it.

Why can't you do the same with a battery?

Re:Dead end (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46261143)

It would be more accurate to say that I would buy the electricity from a stranger, not the battery. I don't swap out the gas tank on my truck at the station.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261205)

You shop at the flea market???

Re:Dead end (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46260463)

The problem with this assertion is that you've used the fuel efficiency of a typical european mid sized car (around the size of a jetta or something like that), but the fuel tank size of a very large car/SUV. I don't know of a single small-mid sized 4 door car with a 60 litre fuel tank. Most are closer to 30 litre.

Re:Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260541)

I don't know of a single small-mid sized 4 door car with a 60 litre fuel tank. Most are closer to 30 litre.

Even better! A 30 liter take fills faster. But you know the best part about a car that uses liquid fuel? If worst comes to worst, you can hike a short distance to a gas station to bring back a small can of fuel. You CAN'T do that with electric. Sorry, Elon Musk is as gay as his name and don't forget he's from South Africa. Electric cars are not new, they were never really the answer before, and this pasty face bastard can't fix that. He makes expensive toys, that's it.

Re:Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260733)

Even better! A 30 liter take fills faster. But you know the best part about a car that uses liquid fuel? If worst comes to worst, you can hike a short distance to a gas station to bring back a small can of fuel. You CAN'T do that with electric.

Yeah, we'd have to build a network of electric pipes around the country, pushing electrical power all over the country as if it were as light as air.

Oh heavens how will that be done, when we can't even convert heat to electricity with reasonable facility, making simply burning something impossible to make electricity from, or even I don't know, pedaling with a bicycle. And even solar is no help, because you might be driving your car underground in the cities of the Mole People!

Re: Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260563)

The Jetta has a 55litre tank, as do most other European sedans. 1000km range is the top end, but 850 to 900km is common.

Also, bear in mind that in Europe the Jetta is considered a large car.

Re: Dead end (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46260827)

As a Jetta owner, I can assure you, it's manual is where I got the 30 litre figure from.

Re: Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260989)

As a Jetta owner, I can assure you, it's manual is where I got the 30 litre figure from.

Current model is 68 litres.

When is your Jetta from?

http://www.carpages.co.uk/guide/volkswagen/volkswagen-jetta-sport-2.0-tdi.asp

Re: Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261067)

My 2012 VW GTI comes with a 14 (US) gallon (53 liter) gas tank. I'd assume same manufacturer, probably similar sized fuel tanks. If anything, the Jetta is a bigger car than my supped up golf, so I'd assume it'd have a bigger fuel tank.

Re: Dead end (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46260841)

Sorry for the second reply, but...

Also, as a european, no, a Jetta is not considered a larger car. A Passat is, a golf is considered a small car, a jetta is considered a mid sized car.

Re:Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260585)

Wha? My Ford Focus hatchback routinely gets below 6l/100km, and has a 55l tank. Not sure where you'd put the Focus in your classification, but either way having both below-6l perfomance and a over 30l tank is clearly not so uncommon.

Re:Dead end (0)

jo_ham (604554) | about 6 months ago | (#46260719)

To be fair, my Xsara Picasso has a 60 litre tank.

The Ford Focus has a 55 litre tank, which is the next size down.

Re:Dead end (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46260855)

Odd that Ford's web page on it's specs claims it's got a 45 litre tank.

Re:Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261001)

All current UK spec models are between 53 and 60 litres.

http://www.carsite.co.uk/car-data/ford/focus/2013/estate/mpg

Re:Dead end (0)

jo_ham (604554) | about 6 months ago | (#46261003)

Directly from the Ford Focus brochure, 2013, from here: http://www.ford.co.uk/Cars/Foc... [ford.co.uk]

Ford Focus 5 door (the hatch):

Fuel tank capacity (litres)
Petrol: 55 (62 for 2.0 litre)
Diesel: 53

Re:Dead end (1)

Sique (173459) | about 6 months ago | (#46260837)

That's simply not the case. The smallest tank I ever had in an european car was 50 liters, and this was a compact with a small 1,2 liter 3-cyl-engine. The company car has 55 liters, and my previous car had 74 liters. I have yet to see an european car with a 30 liter tank, the only one that came close was the old East German Trabant, which indeed had only a 25 liter tank, but this was a car with a 600 ccm 2-cyl-two-stroke engine.

tank capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261025)

36L for my Toyota Yaris Hybrid
44L for my Ford Fiesta

Re:Dead end (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 6 months ago | (#46261407)

"but let's say 6 liters per 100km. 60 liters tank. what do you get? 1000km."

Fuel economy is measured in miles per gallon, the metric equivalent of which is kilometres per litre
I can't get my head around an inverse measure..

Anyway not everyone needs to be able to go 1000Km in one trip, but 300 - 400Km would be useful, since cities are farther apart in the USA than EU
FWIW its 300Km from here to The Cities, and 400Km from FM to The Cities

And after 4 - 5 hours you'd probably want to stop for a meal, so your batteries can be recharged then (assuming a restaurant meal and not McD's or KFC)

Re:Dead end (2)

jo7hs2 (884069) | about 6 months ago | (#46260353)

I don't see people saying that, mostly just that they expect parity with ICE vehicles before it will truly be useful outside of limited circumstances. For example, even that fairly generous 265 miles just isn't enough to make an electric vehicle attractive to me. I would require somewhere on the order of twice that, a little over 500 miles, to match the typical single-day range of my mid-size sedan. Right now, my personal, lay opinion is that electric vehicles are currently suitable for short commutes and major metropolitan usage. Until the range approaches that of a typical 4-cylinder equipped compact or mid-size sedan, use outside of those circumstances would periodically require a supplemental vehicle. Plus, there is the whole question of recharging on long trips. Once one can get an electric car with a 400-500 mile range that can recharge overnight at basically any hotel, then I expect to start seeing mainstream, suburban drivers picking up EVs.

Re:Dead end (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46260473)

Right, I have no problem with expecting an electric car to be able to drive for an entire day without charging. But then expecting it to be able to charge in 10 minutes is ridiculous. For me, as soon as it can make it for 12 hours without a charge, it's good, as I can go to bed, and charge it for 4-8 hours without any issue at that point.

Re:Dead end (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46260535)

I don't see people saying that, mostly just that they expect parity with ICE vehicles before it will truly be useful outside of limited circumstances.

I don't hear people saying that either. Mostly they just say that electric vehicles are too damn expensive.

Re:Dead end (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | about 6 months ago | (#46260953)

Which is true, the ones that an average person can afford (Leaf, for example) without stretching their finances have much more limited range. Suitable for someone living in a major metropolitan area who never needs to drive further than to an airport at the periphery, but not really for your average suburbanite. Hell, I live in a medium-sized city, and because different neighborhoods have different things I want, it isn't uncommon for me to rack up the range of a Leaf over the course of a day's errands without even thinking twice about it. For the price, the bang just isn't there yet. When it is, I'm in, because all environmental issues aside, electricity is just cheaper.

Re:Dead end (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46261121)

Agreed, for the price, they just aren't ready for prime time yet. Clearly that day will come, but it isn't today. For what a Nissan Leaf costs, you can buy a nicer, larger car, without the limits of electric. The price point of electric is just too high, for now...

Re: Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261169)

People do not. Oil companies, their investors, and paid trolls insist on that.

Well you could always have an inductive road (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 6 months ago | (#46260223)

You know, where when you're on the highway you pull your energy from the road itself which would have power cables in it. Unfortunately I think I've read that would be really expensive. (Plus I think doing an induced current is less efficient. Been awhile since I've looked up anything on that though.)

Re:Dead end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260225)

You want a dead end? Hydrogen is as close to a dead end you can get.

Re:Dead end (4, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | about 6 months ago | (#46260707)

Unless you can come up with battery tech that offers at least 700-800 kilometres range and a maximum recharge time of 5-10 minutes, electric cars are a dead end. Hydrogencars ftw. That is all.

The vast majority of commutes already happen well within the range of current electric cars.

It is hilarious to see all the naysayers claim that electric cars are doomed because they don't fit 100% of all possible uses cases for vehicles.

Also, as someone who works on hydrogen research, don't lump us all in with the anonymous idiot above me. Electric cars definitely have a strong future.

Re:Dead end (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46260869)

Of course they do, I don't see these people saying electric cars are dead. In fact, I think electric cars are the only future, because they actually can use any power source to make the electricity, it decouples the car from the source of power.

The problem is that people want a car that covers all their uses, not just 90%. Most people own one car. For families that own two, one could be all electric, but not both.

The future is in cars with range extension, then when batteries come out that can drive 1,000 miles, you can start to drop the range extension.

Leech said thing. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260183)

Musk, creator of substandard regulation-evading bank "Paypal" and suckler of government teat "Space 'the first hit's always free' X", a collection of publicly trained ex-NASA, Boeing and Lockheed engineers who aren't employed directly by government because of concerns of ideological anathema, has announced today, "This overpriced, underpowered car my employees have built would be a little better if it were cheaper." Drooling dorks everywhere were keen to republish his words.

Re:Leech said thing. (1)

Ardyvee (2447206) | about 6 months ago | (#46260305)

You'd do fine in the onion.

Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46260185)

We have reasonably priced mid range battery cars having a range of 50 miles (winter with full heat 70mph) to 100 miles (sprint/fall no a/c, no heat, daytime, 50mph). If we have good Towable Range Extenders, basically gensets on wheels, this would help us switch to electric cars. Already I see (Lotus?) making integrated engine+genset in the same block, designed for constant rpm electricity generation. Many enthusiasts are creating these thingamajiggers with balsa wood baling wire and duct tape. It is time for some standards body like SAE to define standard connectors, tow packages, and electronic communication protocols etc so that we could mix and match these range extenders. I see some people owning them and most people renting them when they need them. Ideally close to highway entrances you should see franchises renting out TREs, may even in highway service plazas.

The electric utility companies have so much excess capacity at night, mostly idling or off line. If they could come up with special meters and sell electricity cheaply overnight, the break-even point calculations vis-a-vis gas cars will shift dramatically. The utility companies will get a piece of the transportation energy market, currently shared only between oil companies. That is the motivation for the utilities. We need to set dog against dog, thief against thief and coal burning utilities against oil companies.

I wish someone with the charisma of Elon or pig headedness of Jobs would make the top honchos of these organizations and companies to pay attention.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46260379)

I like the idea of towable range extenders, but if you're renting one, what are the advantages over automated battery swapping instead?

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46260517)

Towable range extenders allow you to take advantage of the existing gasoline/diesel infrastructure immediately. We know how to measure gasoline. Battery charge measuring is not very reliable. The franchise owner has to charge a battery over several hours, before renting it out again. TREs can be turned around and rented to the next customer immediately. This allows for franchises with less capital investment.

There is no need for every one of us to haul an IC engine all the time. 90% of the trips of 90% of the population can be met with existing battery vehicles. Add a mix of towable range extenders (some time in the future one might be towing a battery pack instead of a genset), car rentals a-la netflix model (fixed monthly fees to rent gasoline cars as when they are needed), zip cars etc to cover 60% of the remaining.

We could switch 90 to 95% of the personal cars to electricity, feeding off the grid, with the potential to switch to renewable sources eventually. Getting renewable energy into transportation sector is the holy grail. That is what going to break the oil addiction.

A Saudi Arabian oil minister said, stone age ended, not because we ran out of stones. We hope to end the oil age with half the oil that ever existed left in the ground.

How to kill a market (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46260761)

90% of the trips of 90% of the population can be met with existing battery vehicles.

The problem is that people will not buy something that cannot do 10% of what they want to do, when the importance of doing that thing they do not do often is around 80% to them.

Re:How to kill a market (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46260811)

^ This...

My truck has a nearly 500 mile range on the highway, but I only need that range a few times a year. 90% of the time, 50 miles a day of range is plenty.

The problem is, I'm not going to buy a truck that doesn't have the long range as an option. I just won't, and there are millions of people who won't either.

GM has it right with the Volt. The price is still too high, but put the Volt tech into a Yukon, drop the price premium, and I'm a customer.

Re:How to kill a market (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46260915)

Not all rentals are beat up. Recently I needed a loaner when my car went to the body shop. Got a brand new Dodge Charger with some insane 290 HP engine. From enterprise. If there is a demand for heavy duty truck rental, the free market will supply it. If there is significant difference in cost per mile between using heavy duty gas truck and using electric truck, the demand will be created. Not every body is insensitive to price, like you.

Re:How to kill a market (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46261065)

No, they aren't... In fact, some are quite nice... But they are missing features, they are not the same fully loaded versions as what is for sale. My Yukon XL Denali has two DVD screens, it has air conditioned seats, it has power folding mirrors and running boards, it has navigation, etc. The rental Suburban likely has none of that. If I am going to take an 1,800 mile road trip with my wife and three kids, I'm not going to do it in a base model rental Suburban. No one who can afford a Tesla is going to either.

Re:How to kill a market (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46261223)

If the savings is enough, you could rent a conversion van. Me and my brother for a week long trip through Canada and New York rented a conversion van. Had seven bucket seats, large (for those days) DVD, mini cooler/fridge, nice nooks and cubbies all over. Presently electrics do not break even with gas easily. But that is based on electricity priced the same day or night. I don't see how long they can continue to do that. Almost all the large customers are on peak demand pricing, utilities have idle capacity at night. Cheaper electricity prices at night is going to be inevitable. That is when the equation is going to change. Think about it, if the MPG of your heavy duty truck suddenly doubles, but the range becomes just 50 miles, will the money saved in gas pay for a conversion van rental once or twice a year?

Re:How to kill a market (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 6 months ago | (#46261325)

One thing to keep in mind is that you may be paying over $10,000 dollars extra for that capacity vs renting a really big long range truck the few times a year you need this ability.

If it turns out you don't need that extra range, then you paid a lot of extra money for nothing.

However, there seems to be a severe disconnect between extra range and price. It should be cheap and a simple matter to have a slightly larger gas tank but that's not the way things work out in practice.

I've seen some people just load 10 to 15 extra gallons of a gas on a tow mounted shelf behind the car but I guess those shelves cost a five hundred to a thousand bucks.

Re:How to kill a market (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46261385)

If I could rent the same truck that I own, it would be worth at least considering. But it isn't an option, no one rents such vehicles, the people who would rent them, own them.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46260779)

Rental cars and Zip cars sound like a nice idea, right up until you hit reality. Yes, most people don't actually need long range except a few times a year, but those times are when they want their nice luxury car or truck, not some cheap, beat up rental.

I drive a GMC Yukon XL Denali, a few times a year I take the family on long road trips. There is nothing I can rent that is the equal of my truck, nor would it be in as nice a condition.

What I am likely to do however, is replace my second truck with an electric, I don't need two gas vehicles. I also would be happy with a Volt type version of my Yukon, with a gas or Diesel engine for range extension and battery for primary power.

Rentals, battery swaps, etc. are non starters.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46260901)

I like the idea of owning a smaller car and renting a bigger one for trips. The problem I have found in trying to do this is that most people want a big vehicle around the same time, in the summer, and prices spike. Perhaps towable range extenders would alleviate this a bit because overcapacity could be stored more efficiently (tilting them up on end) and they would have less routine maintenance.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46261097)

I just looked up some prices... Renting a Tahoe or Expediton for a week from Enterprise is about $500, this week. More in the summer of course. You get 1,500 miles at that price, which might or might not be enough. Neither is as long as a Suburban, which is more useful for road trips with multiple kids and baggage, both will be base model trucks, which can be owned for $500 a month. Luxury versions of these trucks cannot be rented as far as I can tell.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (2)

Jonathan_S (25407) | about 6 months ago | (#46260521)

I like the idea of towable range extenders, but if you're renting one, what are the advantages over automated battery swapping instead?

I can see a couple advantages to towable range extenders.

Probably the biggest one is that once you've rented it you can continue to extend the range indefinitely by utilizing existing widely deployed infrastructure (stopping at a gas station to top up the generator's tank). So you can use to for trips into areas where the charging or battery swap stations haven't reached yet.

It also sidesteps the issue or concern about people swapping out, or receiving, an old reduced effective capacity battery pack at a swap station.

And the rental place needs less infrastructure than a battery swap place. To do battery swap you need the tools (or automated machines) and access to pull the existing pack and install a new one. For a towable rental you barely need more than an empty lot to park them until they've been rented.

And when a battery swap place gets a battery back they need a pretty hefty electrical connection to charge it back up for the next use. The towable rental place needs a gas can (or to take the returned genset by a gas station to top it up); plus they could use the rental car style gas fees to encourage people to return the range extender with a full tank - no practical way to do the same for battery swap.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#46260633)

I'm not sure I like the idea of $random_driver towing anything. Your typical Freeway Fool is a danger to himself and others with just the vehicle. With a short coupled trailer - especially trying to park or backup - hilarity ensues.

That said, my next pickup truck is going to be a diesel electric.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260669)

Why towable? It's not hard to integrate range-extenders into the car's design (at the mfg, or yourself). You can put a very small, efficient, constant-rpm gas or diesel engine in the trunk area of most car's easily, and still leave room for luggage. Just have to build a compartment around it and create an outlet for its exhaust (pipe it through a sealed hole in the trunk floor, basically). IMHO, beyond a certain pragmatic kwh level for local transport, it doesn't make basic sense to make battery packs larger - they weigh to much compared to the equivalent gasoline load. Then for long-range trips you can just tank up your little trunk-mounted generator at regular gas stations as you go. For most, this will be a rarity for road-trips, and they'll do their commuting on just the normal batteries most of the time.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260829)

If it's not part of the car then the car doesn't have to pass emissions requirements. I remember seeing an interview of Musk on CNBC or one of those business news channels and he was asked why not make a hybrid and his answer (under the spin) was basically that hybrids are better but it's not worth it for a startup car company to pass all the EPA requirements and regulations.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (1)

impossiblefork (978205) | about 6 months ago | (#46261267)

I feel that adopting a design in order to bypass a legitimate regulation is rather bad.

There's also a whole lot of inherent problems with towed generators: A car towing something is not maneuverable and unlikely to pass the elk test, there will be unnecessary drag and towed generator will be heavy, since it will need to have wheels and some sort of shell. Series hybrids are already a fairly established thing and I do not believe and are the reasonable solution. The BMW i3 already has an optional built in generator (a two-cylinder petrol engine), Jaguar made a concept with two turbines some years ago and the Chevrolet Volt is also a series hybrid.

Consequently, good systems solving the range problems of electric cars have been in production for years so there's no reason to go for a bad system like a towed range extender.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (1)

impossiblefork (978205) | about 6 months ago | (#46261341)

With broken sentence I wanted to express that I believe that 'series hybrids are an established thing that I believe they are the reasonable solution to range problems in electric cars', but as can be seen I failed at this.

Re:Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 6 months ago | (#46260753)

Towable range extenders are not going to happen, the average person has a hard enough time just driving, add a trailer, you're asking for trouble.

Re: Wake up SAE. Standardize TREs now. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261197)

The NIGHTLY excess of electricity combined with high daytime demand is exactly why u MUST modify your thinking.

We need electric cars to have a minimum of 150 mpc. That way it can do 75 mile circle which covers 98% of all commuters.
In addition, it removes range anxiety as well as the need to charge in the daytime.
We need electric cars to charge at night.

Cost is more important (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260193)

Of course he's concerned about cost. The battery cost is a significant percentage of the cost of Tesla cars.

Reduce cost of batteries -> lower price -> increased sales -> more profits to be funneled towards development of better batteries with greater storage.

Re:Cost is more important (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 6 months ago | (#46260217)

That, and the battery's cost is pretty much the limiting factor in how much power can be packed in. He could pack twice as many batteries in, but then it would cost an extra $20,000.

Re:Cost is more important (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#46260275)

Weight of the batteries is a limiting factor. An extra $20K would likely _increase_ sales of a fashion accessory like a Tesla. The people currently buying them are that stupid.

Re:Cost is more important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260377)

That sounds accurate. I wouldn't call them stupid, just rich.
But the capacity/weight ratio is indeed the issue, not the price.

Re:Cost is more important (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 6 months ago | (#46260543)

Please inform Porsche so they can jack up the price of the Panamera - NorthAm sales are down over 30% since the Model S started shipping.
It's also put a damper on the sales of some of the BWM 7-series and the Lexus GS

Re:Cost is more important (1)

vakuona (788200) | about 6 months ago | (#46260723)

You could say this about the early adopters of pretty much any technology. And yet without them, the world is a very different place because no one would take any risks.

project estimation (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46260247)

it would probably be maybe next year or something like that.

Sounds like he has a handle on making accurate project estimates

Non news (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46260295)

Elon Musk says larger batteries might be on the way

And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

Now that would be news.

Re:Non news (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 6 months ago | (#46260415)

The only difference is that Elon Musk has far more credibility than you do. He sometimes takes a bit longer to deliver, but his record on making wild assertions and making them actually happen is pretty good.

Re:Non news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260509)

Yeah, because you can trust the character testimony of a guy using NetZero.

Re:Non news (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 6 months ago | (#46260971)

Why the hell does that matter?

100% solar magnet powered star cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260315)

zillions of miles per charge... unless we use inter-stellar mode? you go mr. musk. free the innocent stem cells never a better time to consider ourselves in relation to each other & our new clear options.. stop dreaming?

Good news bad news (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260501)

The good news is that larger batteries are on the way. The bad news is that increases the chances of the car catching on fire from 75% to 85%. It's expected that Tesla will market a line of optional garages made of concrete and asbestos to mitigate the risk.

Let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260571)

It will be capable of delivering 1.21 jigawatts

Do not crash. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46260875)

If you follow this rule, there's no problem. Also, store it outdoors so it if blows itself up overnight it's not a problem.

Avoiding problems is easy, so long as you follow the rules.

Elon Musk says... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261069)

...more expensive cars that only small fraction of the population can afford are on the way.

Not helpful. (1)

formfeed (703859) | about 6 months ago | (#46261379)

Elon Musk Says Larger Batteries Might Be On the Way

Making batteries larger is easy and pointless,
storing more energy without making them larger would be great.

Disclaimer:
I didn't read TFA, of course.
Just judging from the headline, which I assume is an accurate summary.

Or fill in some powerfull liquid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46261393)

and let it react with oxygen - which is abundand in our atmosphere! Bam, instant power with only ~50kg overhead to be transported!

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