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Asymcar 15: Sunray Sedan

Sun-Car

Matt Grantham joins us to discuss electric vehicles, renewable energy, smarter software, solar opportunities and economics. Matt introduces us to Solar X, the solar car challenge. He reflects on these emerging technologies in light of Australia’s nearly extinct auto manufacturing sector.

We explore the concept of a car as the home power source and consider possible EV disruption of traditional power generation and distribution concerns. The potential business models arising from these emerging technologies makes us pause in light of solar firm’s stock performance.

via Asymcar 15: Sunray Sedan | Asymcar.

  • Space Gorilla

    The audio quality was terrible, but the content was great. It feels like we’re close to a tipping point, perhaps within five years or so, where the cost of operating an electric vehicle will be less than the cost to operate a traditional gas or diesel vehicle.

    Imagine if Tesla’s next vehicle (or perhaps the one after the next, say five years from now) has a range of 600 miles, seats six, and can be financed over 7 or 8 years (including warranty) for about $500 per month. And that monthly price would include a solar powered home charging station. At that point traditional vehicles could no longer compete on a cost of owning/operating basis. Never mind the long term service costs involved with a traditional gas/diesel vehicle which are likely much higher than any electric vehicle.

    • Tatil_S

      Considering the range equivalent of a diesel hatchback as the minimum requirement for a successful EV is akin to believing that tablet sales will not take off until iPad runs Flash and full blown Office apps. Tesla’s range of more than 200 miles worst case is enough to replace half the cars in US garages for commutes and almost every one day road trip for the weekends, without any change in user behavior. If you combine that with renting a mini van for longer and rarer trips or staying at hotels with charging stations, you don’t need anything more from Tesla.

      At this point it is far better to reduce prices rather than adding more batteries at the same price. Or use the flexibility of smaller multiple electric motors that can be distributed along the bottom of the car to make different interior and exterior designs feasible, an advantage internal combustion engine cannot match at all. Or aim for faster design cycles. Or different ways of implementing car sharing. It would be foolish to target an EV design and business model that is exactly the same as a normal car except for an electric engine and larger batteries.

      • Space Gorilla

        I didn’t say 600 miles was a minimum requirement. It’s a what if scenario, and I do expect range improvements, perhaps even some kind of breakthrough in the next five to ten years. My point is that it feels like we’re getting close to a tipping point. If my what if scenario happens, or gets close enough, who is going to buy a gas/diesel vehicle again, period? EVs become a ‘no-brainer’ purchase. There won’t be any need for car sharing, targeting non-consumption, unique designs or differentiation, any of that. EVs will simply destroy the current auto industry, or rather, replace it.

      • Tatil_S

        Sure, if EVs are every bit as capable as regular cars and cost less, it would be a no-brainer. If flying cars are sold at the same price as regular cars, drive just as well and can start flying at a moment’s notice, they would become a no-brainer, too…

        Same range at the same price point will not happen in the next five years and yet the tipping point, if it comes, will not depend on that happening. People will buy EVs in large numbers because of some advantages that regular cars do not have **despite EV’s lower range and higher price**, assuming smart companies focus on that aspect rather than spend resources on the same range at the same price target, which will not happen for a very very long time, if ever.

        Even the gigafactory is targeting a mere 30% reduction in battery cost. That would make a $80k Tesla go down in price to $70k. That ain’t a revolution by itself.

      • Space Gorilla

        I agree it’ll be a while before we hit ‘same range’ with EVs, but it may not need to be the same, just enough range with a comfortable cushion.

        As for the price, note that I didn’t say ‘same price target’. It’s the total cost of owning and operating a vehicle that will tip buying decisions towards EVs. Most car companies are already pushing long term financing, almost like mini mortgages. You can get a 100K mortgage for roughly $500 per month. That won’t happen with EVs but I would hope Tesla is exploring a smart financing strategy.

        I agree with you that other models of use are going to happen and help EV sales, but I’m also quite sure that we’re going to hit the ‘no-brainer’ tipping point sooner than most people expect.

  • Ian Ollmann

    The mistake of the EV is to try to make it fit the existing automobile model. I dont have the answer obviously, but I suspect the way the EV comes to dominate is by competing with non consumption in a very down market capacity. For example, the EV in combination with self-driving car technology opens up the opportunity for much more inexpensive car use due to car sharing. Since the car comes to you, it is more convenient than public transportation. Given that such a system would operate something like a taxi service, and there would be many such operated by some faceless corporation out there, the issue of whether or not any single car is charged up is unimportant. As long as there are enough cars ready to go, the fully charged EV auto-taxi can arrive in ten minutes at request of cell phone and drop you off door to door. Likely established players who are disrupted:

    The soccer Mom
    Public transit
    Taxi service
    Auto rentals
    And eventually, car companies.

    All of these are institutions that I think that consumers are dying to leave behind. Sorry, Mom, but I imagine you have better things to do with your time, and your Tweens probably would rather arrive by EV limousine than minivan.

    • Steve

      The Chevy Volt has done the best job of attempting to shoe-horn the EV into the existing automobile market paradigm. Quite successfully I might add!

      • Ian Ollmann

        What appeals to me about electric cars is their engineering simplicity. Just today, I had to take my Mazda 3 to the shop because a pump which checks the fuel system to make sure it isn’t leaking had sent the computer a notification that it might be failing. I had no idea there even were such pumps!

        Alas, a car that has two complete power trains stuffed in it is 180 degrees opposed to what my dream car is like.