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Transportation Toys

Tesla Motors Is Delivering Cars 520

jamie found the news that Tesla Motors is delivering roadsters in California. (We've been following developments on the Tesla front for a couple of years now.) According to a letter from the CEO, "9 production Roadsters have arrived in California, another 3 arrive this weekend, and they will keep arriving at the rate of 4 per week... In fact, currently there are 27 Roadsters in various stages of assembly." The early owners must be proud, but there could be complications.
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Tesla Motors Is Delivering Cars

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  • Title (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stooshie ( 993666 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @05:55AM (#24178911) Journal
    Erm, the title has an error.
    • Apparently tagging it with the word "typo" will alert them to the mistakes. Yet 50million comments wont.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Erm, the title has an error.

      Quite uncommon on Salshdot...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Artuir ( 1226648 )

      No no, Telsa Motors is a rival company that makes cars powered by magnetic slinkeys.

  • The summary's second link is to

    I don't think that will work. :)

  • by mrbluze ( 1034940 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @05:57AM (#24178921) Journal
    ..until it's ion-propelled, RADAR navigated, coming complete with a charged particle beam and a death ray [] as standard safety features against enemy vehicles (eg: anyone who dares to race you at the traffic lights).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 14, 2008 @05:59AM (#24178931)

    now sergey and larry and elon have some toys to play with

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lhorn ( 528432 )
      Expensive toys, now, but this technology will migrate to ordinary cars fast.
      I expect motor/generator combinations in replacement hubs for oilburners in less than 10 years,
      Batteries is the main problem now.
      • I expect motor/generator combinations in replacement hubs for oilburners in less than 10 years,

        Its a bit weird that this car has a two speed gearbox.

        • by OlivierB ( 709839 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @06:34AM (#24179057)

          Gearboxes are really for converting torque to rotation. IC engines have limited rpm ranges and "optimal" torque and power rpm bands. The gearbox is there to allow effficient use of these zones.

          Electric motors have a very flat torque curve all along the rpm range (torque starts right after 0 rpm). Also Electric engines usually have a much wider rpm range and their efficiency in converting energy to mechanical energy is much more constant tha for IC engines where the efficiency drops very quickly when you approach max rpm. Hence a gearbox is only so useful for an electric car.

          Mind you as well that electric motors have bags ans bags more of torque than IC engines and as such a reduction gear is not really necessary to get teh car in motion (as with a 1st gear in a regular car). This high torque is also a challenge for designers as traiditional design gearboxes flop with electric engines.

          Hope that helps you understand why there are only 2 gears on this car.

  • The summary has it right, the caption does not. I was a little confused when I read that: "Telsa motors. Mmh. Maybe competition for Tesla motors or something."

  • Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shplorb ( 24647 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @06:25AM (#24179009) Homepage Journal

    Despite any flaws, I think they're an absolute breakthrough and a sign of things to come in the next decade.

    Not only do they have performance, but they also go the distance and I believe they're also astoundingly cheap. If I had a spare $100,000 laying around and they were shipping to Australia, I'd buy one in a heartbeat!

    The price of carbon fibre is declining faster than predicted and battery production is ramping up in line with Toyota's ramp-up of hybrid powertain cars and GM's announcement to mass-produce an electric car so hopefully the price of batteries will come down a lot as well.

    Things are definitely looking good. Now we just need to start building a bunch of nuclear power plants so they'll be ready in time for when the plug-in hybrids and pure-electric vehicles hit critical mass.

    • In fact they don't like any form of power generation.

      nuclear = [insert glowing green fluffy sheep horror stories]
      fossil = [insert global meltdown story]
      wind power = [insert migrating insert birds killed by blades sob fest] or [blot on lovely landscape rant]
      tidal power = [insert moan about marsh habitat of less spotted wading snot gobler flooded]
      Solar power = [insert some fucking rare tortoise issue]
      hydro = [insert whinge about flooded valleys/woodlands/displace peasents etc etc]

      You just can't win with this

      • by wall0159 ( 881759 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @09:50AM (#24180457)

        "Greenies don't ... like any form of power generation."
        Really? I haven't heard many people advocating that. Sounds like a load of crap to me, most likely written by someone who hasn't got the faintest idea what they're talking about.

        As someone who considers themselves a 'greenie', I'll list the power generation methods in my preferred order.

        1. A tie between solar and wind. Both can be diffuse, and can be built right where they're needed, reducing transmission costs and inefficiencies.
        2. Tidal. Can be used to supply base-load, and add consistency.
        3. Hydro. yeah, you lose a valley, but it's better than those lower in the list. You at least get reliable power as long as you continue to get rain.
        4. Nuclear. There is a case to be made for _some_ nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to think it's a silver bullet that will solve all our problems, conveniently forgetting that it still needs to be mined, refined, distributed. disposal of nuclear waste remains an unsolved problem, and it is linked with weapons production capacity.
        5. Fossil. We're not yet ready to put these completely behind us, but we need to very soon.

        Of course, this list represents my own views only. I wouldn't do something as stupid as try to speak for all greenies.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Well, you're a very reasonable man (or woman) but you have to admit that it at times seems like some of your fellow "greenies" are impossible to please. Maybe it's not all the same ones but no matter what form of power generation is suggested there's always a small and usually loud group ready to throw up signs and studies as to why that suggestion will lead to something terrible and unacceptable.

          • It doesn't help that our country insists on rebuilding the same old, flawed design for nuclear power plants, rather than any one of a dozen or so better designs that are out there which are far safer. The system we're using was designed with a separate system of breeder reactors in mind, to reprocess waste into fuel, which have never been built, and which (in the initial plan) involved schlepping nuclear waste all over the country.

            Inherently safer designs like pebble bed [] reactors and molten salt [] reactors are not being used, rather the same old Three Mile Island design is proposed for new plants.

            Now of course, there are people who are against any sort of nuclear power, regardless. But I think that's largely because the past "Nuclear Power is perfectly safe" propaganda has made them untrusting of any statements about nuclear safety and/or dangers.

            I grew up 13 miles downriver from Three Mile Island. So I know a lot of people with an axe to grind about nuclear safety; and most of them are not really "Greenies". Many of them still believe they haven't been told the whole truth about the accident there, much the way folks in the wider US population of a given age don't neccesarily believe they've been told the whole truth about the Kennedy assassination... So I think to win those folks over, you need a demonstrably safer design, and you need to really explain the details.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              It doesn't help that our country insists on rebuilding the same old, flawed design for nuclear power plants, rather than any one of a dozen or so better designs that are out there which are far safer.

              From your listed homepage link, I think I can safely assume that "our country" refers to the US. The US hasn't built any commercial nuclear reactors in decades. These better designs almost universally post-date this total halt on construction.

        • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:54AM (#24182221)

          I agree with your list, in general; however I'd like to make three points.

          Minor nit-pick, Tidal can not be used as base-load. Because of it's cyclic nature there are two points during the day when tidal produces zero energy; so, you'd have to have stored energy or another source to fill the hole.

          There are things you can do to make nuclear more palatable. We are still using, what is effectively, a 50 year old reactor design. There are currently available, more modern designs which are safer and "burn" a higher percentage of the available fuel. There is research being done which could lead to significantly higher percentage "burn", reducing the waste to something with half-life of decades instead of millenium, which would resolve most of the storage issues. Finally, there are techniques which can effectively poison the fuel for weapons use.

          If we look at the sum total of all energy usage (including transportation), based on what I have read, I don't believe there's enough wind, solar, and hydro power to replace all of the fossil fuels. We will still need a mix of fossil (or bio-fuel) and/or other forms of stored energy for peak usage and will have to have nuclear plants for base-load.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Sandbags ( 964742 )

            I think you're thinking of tidal energy being synonymous with wave energy generation. True, that does fluctuate, but in places where it would be deployed, not so much as it would be a concern. Also, "tidal" is not necessarily wave. It's tidal FLOW power. Inlets fill and drain twice a day. However, using baffles, the flow can be made to be continuous (drains slower than fills, etc) Also, power can be saved into charge systems, allowing over-generation, and power on demand (similar to solar/water capaci

        • You do realize (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shivetya ( 243324 )

          that your reply was perfect in demonstrating the OPs case don't you.

          That point is, you can't make all people happy but we are nearly stuck simply because with the current court system we might actually have to.

  • Vaporware (Score:4, Funny)

    by YojimboJango ( 978350 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @06:25AM (#24179013)
    I'll believe it when they ship... wait this isn't how vaporware is supposed to work.

    Next thing you know they'll be telling me that these solar panel thingys are real too.
  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @06:32AM (#24179045)

    About those alleged "Complications" ... well yes sure, if you run out of stored power then you're in trouble. However, this isn't exclusive to electric cars, but applies similarly to liquid-fueled vehicles. If you set out on a voyage of 500 miles with only 200 miles of gasoline and you can't find anywhere to refuel, then you're in trouble too. Fortunately, most people understand power and refueling constraints and know how to plan ahead.

    Admittedly, electrical recharging infrastructure is almost non-existent at the moment. However, this isn't a total disaster nor an unforseen "Complication". It's thoroughly forseen, so any early adopter who can add and subtract won't be travelling further than the stored energy allows, minus a safety margin since nobody likes getting stuck. In many cases, it'll be a second car anyway, mainly for short hops around the local area and short office commutes.

    But let's look at the worst case scenario as well. When the power runs out in between recharge points, will it be a total disaster? Well, it certainly will be a big annoyance, but that's where the recovery services come in. All it takes is a phone call and some waiting in the comfort of your car while you sulk at your arithmetic incompetence, but soon your vehicle will be sitting snugly on the back of the recovery truck, and remedial transport sorted out. This is normal today in the event of breakdowns, and it will be just as normal when cars go electric, both for breakdowns and for recharging mishaps. (The vehicle recovery industry will certainly boom for a few decades, until vehicle recharging infrastructure is widespread.)

    So while "Complications" will exist in the short term, they're not exceptional ones. We already have similar issues today, and solutions to them as well. It's just a matter of degree. For the next few years, trips in EVs will have to be a fair bit shorter on average. We can cope with that.

    • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @06:36AM (#24179067) Homepage Journal
      This Tesla should at least be easy to push to the next available power point. Probably a lot easier to find one of those in the country than a petrol station, even today.

      Our electricity infrastructure needs to have a service a bit like USB. You plug in and get 100mA or so. Then your hardware negotiates with the network and arranges to pay for a full feed of charging current.
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @06:42AM (#24179087) Homepage

      AFAIK, breakdown services (in the UK at least) bill you the full cost of delivering fuel to your vehicle / recovering it, since it was your own dumb fault for running out. I imagine that they'll pretty quickly start applying the same principle to electric vehicles, if it's not in their contracts already.

      I'd venture that the big drawback is the slow charging, 3.5 hours on the Roadster. Forgetting to plug in at night means that you're either going nowhere in the morning, or you're going to have to cross your fingers and hope for a following wind.

      • by julesh ( 229690 )

        AFAIK, breakdown services (in the UK at least) bill you the full cost of delivering fuel to your vehicle / recovering it, since it was your own dumb fault for running out. I imagine that they'll pretty quickly start applying the same principle to electric vehicles, if it's not in their contracts already.

        I dare say they will. However, if you've spent £50,000 or thereabouts on a second car (as this will be for almost everyone who has one, because the range isn't long enough for long distance journeys) that saves you money by being cheaper to run than your primary vehicle, are you going to worry about a few hundred quid for recovery every now and then?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume ( 22995 )

      A person can walk to a gas station and buy 2 or 3 gallons of gasoline and carry it to their car. That isn't ever going to happen with batteries.

      (that doesn't make batteries useless or anything, but there is a fundamental difference in the convenience and portability of the energy storage)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by deek ( 22697 )

        Batteries don't suddenly run out of energy, like you can with gasoline tank. That doesn't make petrocarbons useless or anything, but there is a fundamental difference in the convenience and availability of the energy storage.


        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by danbert8 ( 1024253 )

          If they are anything like laptop batteries, after a year they will get down to 50% charged and then suddenly pop up the low battery warning, and the shut off before you can do anything about it. My biggest problem is when are battery charge indicators ever close to being correct. At least with a floating meter in the gas tank, I can count on it to tell me how much further I can go.

    • We'll adapt. Kids will throw out their lemonade stand signs and wait outside with an electron hose. :)

      Besides, the Tesla has an optional "on the road" charger for the car that operates on normal household current so you'd simply need to find someone willing to "rent" you an outlet for a little while.


      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MrNaz ( 730548 )

        Given that it will be a while before gasoline cars go away, surely you could "jump start" an electric car to get 12v out of a gas car's alternator and use that to give you a charge for a while, just enough to get home.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @07:52AM (#24179415) Homepage Journal

      I don't think the recharging infrastructure is as technically difficult as we tend to think. The problem is the way we tend to envision solving the issue, which is stuck in the gasoline mindset.

      We imagine pulling into a filling station and attaching a cable to our car and filling the battery; the problem is that you need to either (a) deal with dangerously high currents or (b) deal with dangerously high voltage. However, I think it would make sense to swap the entire battery. If we got to the point where an electric vehicle recharging infrastructure were needed, it would make sense to standardize battery formats so you can swap it out. Since the batteries are heavy, it'd be done robotically. You could be in and out of the filling station faster than with gasoline.

      The batteries would have microprocessor monitors on them that estimate remaining capacity and efficiency; you'd only pay for the energy the battery has the capacity to deliver within certain parameters, and you'd get a credit for the remaining energy in the battery you swap out. If you needed extra range, you could ask for a fresh battery and pay a bit more. If you wanted to save money, maybe you'd get a discount for using a partially charged battery from a busy charging queue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by X_Bones ( 93097 )
        Because standardized, swappable, refillable parts worked out so well for consumers when it came to inkjet cartridges, right?

        It's a nice idea, but unless we get solid and pro-consumer legislation in the early stages of electrical infrastructure buildout, it's not gonna happen.
      • re: battery swapping (Score:3, Interesting)

        by King_TJ ( 85913 )

        You have a good suggestion, but I think it would pose complications too. For example, say a vehicle has a worn out or defective battery that barely holds a charge? A less than honest driver could "unload" the bad battery, getting a free upgrade to a good one, just by dropping by the "charging station".

        Conversely, the recipient of the dud battery would be inconvenienced, angered, and might even go as far as filing a suit against the charging station - claiming they owe him/her a new battery.

        (Granted, your

  • As currently envisioned, the Tesla Roadster is SO FAR out of my reach at $109k, with an additional $55k to lock in your delivery date. oy! Not knowing much more about the Tesla than "it's an electric sports car" i'm wondering how the second/third generation models are envisioned to ring up $$-wise. Is their manufacturing process projected become a production line or will the cars "always" be assembled by a team of craftsmen (i.e. more like a chevy or a ferrari?). Will there be compromises in the material
    • by Bartab ( 233395 )

      i'm wondering how the second/third generation models are envisioned to ring up $$-wise

      They're different cars. The second model will be a minivan type vehicle, and priced at the high range for that style of vehicle - which is much much less than the current Tesla.

      The third model will be geared for, and I quote, "if you can afford to own any car, you can afford this one"

  • Why not sooner? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @06:49AM (#24179127)
    Because, conspiracy theorists, it is very hard to build safe, reliable, high capacity, rapid discharge batteries. Like fuel cells, it has proven much harder to commercialise them than anyone suspected. Looking at the design of the Mercedes A-Class, it's obvious it was intended to be a Mk 1 fuel celled or battery powered vehicle (the giveaway is the underfloor space for the batteries, and the very restricted space for the engine.) In fact, it just didn't happen.

    It looks like the thing that has largely fixed the EV issue is the laptop computer/mobile phone - which has justified the research effort into lithium batteries.

    From a volume point of view in the short term the manufacturer to watch is Mitsubishi: they have a joint venture factory with Yuasa, and last week they delivered a test sample EV to a Japanese police force (they already have them with Tokyo utilities.) The Miev may not be as large and fast as the Tesla, but it is likely actually to be affordable. $100000 will only appeal to the rich who want a status symbol, as the payback compared to (say) a Mercedes Bluemotion clean Diesel will be forever. But a $30000 commuter vehicle may well make economic sense. I could justify one right now if oil reaches $200/barrel.

    In fact, there are reports that sales of the EVs currently available are very poor, presumably because people who might have bought one as a third car are spending the money on new, efficient vehicles which will show a real cost saving in a sensible payback period.

  • ObCarAnalogy: It's like if someone made a really trendy sportscar, but it was also run on electricity!
  • by BossBostin ( 930932 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @07:00AM (#24179157)
    I've always wondered (and not really seen stated anywhere) how an electric vehicle's performance varies from the point of being fully charged to fully flat. i.e. does the performance (speed, acceleration, etc.) gradually get worse as the car's charge dwindles or does it suddenly just stop when the batteries are exhausted? A petrol or diesel car performs just as well (if not better due to less weight) when the tank is almost empty. Does a Tesla that has only 5 miles worth of charge left perform like a milk-float?
  • Good Supercar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:13AM (#24181639)
    I'm surprised folks are missing one important point about this car. Let's say you're rich and you want to buy a supercar. Most gas powered supercars use huge amounts of gas. After all they're not designed to save fuel. They're designed to go fast. This thing is an electric and generally very efficient so right away you've helped the environment there by not burning huge amounts of gas. At $100,000 the price is cheaper than most high end sports cars and being rare that will look good too. Sure it doesn't have much range but how often do you take your car on cross-country trips. Hell if you're rich, how often would you seriously want to spend hours driving across country versus taking a plane? It's range is great for most normal commutes in the city. It's also very likely highly reliable too being that it has very few parts. So yes, this isn't your common man's car but for the rich or enthusiast this seems like a good idea.
  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:24AM (#24181791)

    A lot of the comments here resemble the same kind of skeptical remarks that were made when the first automobiles came out. They were outrageously expensive. They got flat tires constantly. You almost needed to keep a team of horses on retainer to drag the thing home after one of the innumerable breakdowns. Et cetera. Et cetera.

    No new technology leaps full-blown into existence without glitches, screw-ups and mistakes (yes, I know about the 100-year-old electrics, but a lot has changed). They're part of the territory, especially where a complete changeover in something as basic as personal transportation is concerned. What's needed is the vision and will to change, and the guts to persevere through inevitable problems to something that works. That's what seems to be missing these days.

    I wonder what the smog situation would look like in a city where most two-car families included an electric for local jaunts and basic running around, and a regular car for longer trips? I recall seeing many parking lots with electrical outlets available at each space for block heaters, back when cold weather presented a starting problem for regular cars. Perhaps they might appear again to serve next-generation electrics. I have no idea what shape the actual solutions will take, but I'm quite confident that solutions would be found, once a decision is made to move away from gasoline-powered vehicles.

    I'm certain of one thing: as long as those with a vested interest in the status quo are allowed to present every mistake as a disaster, every bump in the road as an insurmountable mountain, nothing will be accomplished.

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.