Browsing through the NY Times’ Automobiles section, a review of Tesla’s Model S 416 hp supercar caught my attention. Tesla has been very successful on the West Coast of the Unites States in implementing a network of charging stations for its attractive looking electric vehicles. Recently, Tesla has opened up its Supercharger stations on the East Coast along a stretch of the I-95 corridor between Washington and Boston. Given how well the system is working out West, this seemed like a logical next step for improving electric vehicle charging infrastructures.
The test did not go so well for NY Times writer John M. Broder. In the below freezing temperatures of an East Coast winter day, the lithium-ion battery powered vehicle did not reach its EPA rated 265 miles/per charge leaving the test driver no option but to turn off the heater and drive 10 mph under the speed limit. Later in the trip, the car needed the assistance of a tow truck to get to the next closest charging point.
The article was published on February 8th to almost immediate criticism and controversy. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, Tweeted that the article was a ‘Fake’ and accused the author of not charging the car to its max, taking a long detour and driving at high speed and vowing to publish the vehicle data logs of the journey (Tesla claims that it does not log data on its customers without their written permission but for all media test drives they turn on the feature).
Mr. Broder responded with an article rebutting the claims of the Tesla CEO. His “long detour” was apparently a brief stop in Manhattan that added 2 miles to his journey. The author admitted that he did not keep the partially-charged car plugged in overnight on his trip not realizing the effect that the cold weather would have on the battery. Mr. Broder wrote,
“This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a “normal use,” no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop.”
Regardless of the outcome of the data logs, what is clear is that this 416 hp supercar cannot be driven like a BMW M5 if you still expect to arrive at your destination in one go. It also puts the spotlight on the challenges that exist for lithium-ion batteries. Increasing their range per charge is an important issue that will help determine how successful the current generation of EVs will be at gaining a share of the automobile market. Another factor is their cost – much of which comes from the battery pack as the production process of lithium-ion batteries is still not completely automated or optimized for high quantities.
Original article from the NY Times: Click Here
Response from Mr. Broder: Click Here
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Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ
The headline above is a statement of a report conducted by Frost and Sullivan, a global technology consulting major, in 2010 to determine what the state of affairs will be in a few years from now in the automobile industry. Now, that’s a bold statement. Although the incentives for developing technologies that bring EVs into the mainstream are many, the hurdles have always seemed simply too overwhelming to overcome.
Electric Vehicles Will Become Connected Vehicles
Now it appears as though someone has waved a magic wand powerful enough to turn the automobile industry, worth billions of dollars annually, on its head. We didn’t have to look too far to locate the wand. It is right there in the same report and is called ‘telematics’. Telematics is an application of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) to automobiles. Let’s have a look at how telematics is set to change the industry norms by reengineering electric vehicles into connected vehicles.
Connected Vehicles and the Fuel Crisis
The world is facing a fossil fuel crisis. The facts are obvious. These fuels take millions of years to replenish themselves. But since our demand for these fuels is increasing, we may run out of supply by the next century. As scarcity increases and wars are waged for the control of fuel, prices are skyrocketing and consumers are bearing the brunt.
The average man is finding their fossil fuel powered car increasingly expensive and longs for a more affordable solution. Moreover, burning fossil fuels is as bad for the environment as it is for the wallet. The pollution that such fuel causes is a big source of carbon emissions, which is responsible for the gaping hole in the ozone layer becoming even larger. There are both fiscal and environmental imperatives to coming up with a solution.
Electric vehicles were touted as a possible replacement for fossil fuel driven cars. But the first attempt to commercialize them failed miserably for the following reasons:
The customers were clueless with regard to how far they could go with their vehicles. These vehicles did have a limit to how far they could be driven. Based on their capacity, they were termed as neighborhood, city, all terrain or performance vehicles. Moreover, the driver was uncertain as to how long they could travel before the charge would be over and they would become immobile.
Charging difficulties and time:
The infrastructure for charging these vehicles was, and still is, abysmal. There was a lack of information about the location and availability of charging points. Moreover, the time taken for charging was too long. What to do if you were in a hurry? Even if you were at home, you had to ensure that you put the vehicle to charge and this could be a problem in case of unexpected trips or if you were not really disciplined or organized in your schedule.
There was an electrical battery on board and the driver had no information about how the engine was functioning. Since the technology was very new, people feared that they might be electrocuted in their vehicles.
The size of these batteries was huge, further limiting their fuel efficiency and therefore their range. The size of these batteries has significantly reduced today and the problem is almost solved.
But if you consider the fact that adding more range to these vehicles still entails incremental costs, you will know why the development of telematics is so important. Since you cannot go very long on a single charge, the charging mechanism simply has to be made more efficient.
The Big Solution in Electronics
Telematics is capable of eliminating virtually all of these issues, which have crippled the successful commercial application of EVs. Let’s see how connected vehicles deliver cheap and environment friendly solutions to the world.
Find out more about Wireless Technology as an Antidote to Range Anxiety by downloading the pdf-document here.