May 19, 2017

"Everything feels like the future but us."

Working in the Tesla factory.

24 comments:

Jersey Fled said...

A company that is losing money that has a market cap of $50 biĺion.

What could possibly go wrong.

Virtually Unknown said...

They can't even make it up in volume at their prices.

BillyTalley said...

1. There's a robot for that: their problems will be solved with a robot replacement.
2. Sounds like they are working on robot time: inhuman.
3. I'm not a robot!

Etienne said...

"...workers were seeking to unionize with the United Auto Workers."

First thing you have to do, in order to Unionize, is to get the press to highlight how evil the company is, and how their health is suffering.

But, I agree, that if they have mandatory overtime, the state should step in and penalize the company. Take away incentives.

David Begley said...

Tesla has a higher market cap than Ford but Tesla doesn't make even 100,000 cars per year. Tesla is loved by the coastal elites. The premise of Tesla is that oil is bad. And oil is bad because of the CAGW scam. Tesla depends upon federal tax credits. I hope it implodes soon.

MikeR said...

"Tesla depends upon federal tax credits. I hope it implodes soon." Jeepers. They have revolutionized electric cars; like Elon Musk's other companies, they have the potential to change the world in a quantum leap and are actually doing it. That's exciting.

Owen said...

You can count on the Guardian to speak up for the oppressed laborers. Including Musk, who showed solidarity by doing sleep-overs on the floor of his office in the Corner of Pain.

Most important point in a too-long story about not very much: bits are not atoms. And while "bit" can be the abbreviated form of "bullshit," it doesn't map that way for physical stuff. Not even if you paint the machinery red and give it a cute name.

Etienne said...

Musk is betting the farm on lithium batteries. He's building a factory in the desert of Nevada to build the batteries.

But technology is on the verge of the next battery, which doesn't explode when it gets punctured, and can be disposed of without concern to the environment.

Like all great ideas, going from the lab to the production line is taking years.

David Begley said...

MikeR

Most of our electricity comes from oil, natgas and coal; not wind or solar. Furthermore electric energy is much less efficient than fossil fuels. And consider the burden on power lines if we had 5 million electric cars on the road. It is a toy for rich people.

Rene Saunce said...

Subsidizing ultra fancy cars for rich people.. An idea so elitist leftwing, -- Obama, Hillary and Al Gore endorse it.

MikeR said...

"Furthermore electric energy is much less efficient than fossil fuels." In this instance, you're mistaken: If you want to use fossil fuels for moving cars, it is best done at the power plant. Burning fuel is much more efficient at a power plant than in a car, close to twice as efficient.
The only place in transportation where we currently cannot do without the extremely high energy density of fossil fuels is in spacecraft.

MikeR said...

"It is a toy for rich people." Everything is a toy for rich people until we learn how to do it well. Everything new in medicine is like that. Then it gets cheap and everyone can have it.
Tesla is on the verge of selling a much cheaper version of its car; that's what happens. Will that satisfy you, or do you want to kill it first?

David Begley said...

MikeR :

Chart I saw had electric at 37% versus over 90% for fossil fuels on an efficiency ratio.

David Begley said...

MikeR

The two main objections I have to Tesla is that it is wildly subsidized by the federal tax code and it is premised on the CAGW scam.

tcrosse said...

The power grid will have to be upgraded to support all those electric vehicles, in spite of environmentalists demonstrating against power lines.

Owen said...

David Begley: "...CAGW scam." Yes. This is all wound around the axles of electric cars and makes it impossible to give them an honest vote. The worst form of the scam contemplates that Teslas will be plugged into a grid that is fed by solar and windmill. Which are destabilizing as well as ugly, inefficient and overpriced. Even if we solved the instability and cost issues, or used coal or nukes to power the grid, the grid cannot handle the load of a nation that has turned heavily to electric-powered transport. Never mind the NIMBY factor of having to put high-voltage transmission lines (and expensive and vulnerable transformers and substations) all over the landscape. It just can't work. IMHO.

MikeR said...

Dunno. I am as suspicious of subsidies as the next conservative, but it is worthwhile trying to jump-start industries with fresh ideas. That's the right use of federal dollars: helping fledgling things in places where they can't be profitable yet, till they can help themselves.
You have to limit this kind of thing; you don't want to take sides and pick winner and losers. But Tesla is still very small, and has done some amazing stuff. They have produced what is arguably the best car in the world, and an amazing network of charging stations to support it. I think it's worth trying to help that become widely available, and see if they can get past some of the obstacles mentioned by others.
Opposing this because of pro/anti AGW is not a good choice of battles.

David Begley said...

MikeR

A $50b market cap is not small. The market cap reflects the net present value of all future cash flows and that means the market thinks Tesla's future sales and profits will be much, much better. Future events are uncertain. See, e.g., Level 3.

Larry J said...

David Begley said...
MikeR

Most of our electricity comes from oil, natgas and coal; not wind or solar. Furthermore electric energy is much less efficient than fossil fuels.


You have to look at the situation from end to end to make valid comparisons. For gas cars, that includes all of the steps from drilling and pumping through refining and transporting the finished fuels. Then, when in the cars themselves, you look at their efficiency which is often 30% or lower. For electric cars, you have to factor in all of the steps in producing electricity and also factor in the substantial losses delivering it through the grid. Charging batteries is always less than 100% efficient because some of the energy is lost as heat instead of stored in the batteries. Some of the energy is lost to electrical resistance and other factors between the batteries and the electric motor, which is also less than 100% efficient (but much more efficient than any internal combustion engine). It's difficult to analyze the relative efficiencies and environmental impacts on an end-to-end basis.

Some of Tesla's work does have some interesting ramifications for energy conservation. For example, his Powerwall system can store a lot of energy, be it from solar or wind or at night from the grid when electric rates are often lower. The electric grid is based on peak demand which happens during the daytime. At night, there is excess production capacity so many utility companies charge lower rates then. It's unlikely Powerwall will be cost effective for an individual home connected to the grid but for larger installations, the numbers can look better. Storage systems like Powerwall often help address one of the big shortcomings of wind and solar power by storing electricity when it's plentiful and supplying it when wind or solar aren't producing power.

urbane legend said...

MikeR said...
Dunno. I am as suspicious of subsidies as the next conservative,

Obviously not.
but it is worthwhile trying to jump-start industries with fresh ideas. That's the right use of federal dollars: helping fledgling things in places where they can't be profitable yet, till they can help themselves.
You have to limit this kind of thing; you don't want to take sides and pick winner and losers.


Pick winners or losers is exactly what is going on. No government has a place in it.

They have produced what is arguably the best car in the world,

That is easily arguable. As others have pointed out, Teslas are toys for rich people. No one I know can afford one. The best car in the world is the one I can buy when I need a car.

Opposing this because of pro/anti AGW is not a good choice of battles.

Yet that is exactly why many people buy them. Owning one is a way to say, " I'm doing my part to save the Earth, " never mind that it runs on electricity which still is produced somewhere else by those bad sources David Begley mentioned.

It's a scam, like everything else Musk does. David Begley and Rene Saunce are correct.

Owen said...

Scams are characterized by their psychic power. The mark, the con, the true believer: they have a need and it is not rational, it is exactly NOT rational. In the case of CAGW/electric cars, we have to ask, "What problem does this really solve?" More specifically "What transportation problem does this vehicle solve; and how much should that cost?" In the case of a Tesla, which competes with Ferrari and Mercedes and BMW, about $5-10K of the cost is "transportation" and the rest is virtue-signaling. Pure psychic income.

Put another way, Musk is selling dopamine at the rate of $60-80K per copy, and we taxpayers are subsidizing the addiction.

Larry J said...

It's a scam, like everything else Musk does.

SpaceX is most definitely not a scam. He is getting government funding to develop things the government wants the same as other contractors, only he's doing it on a fixed-price contract. He also provides launches for government and commercial customers at far lower prices than the government subsidized (to the tune of a billion dollars a year) United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Virtually Unknown said...

I can afford a Tesla and actually briefly considered one, until I did a little math about driving it around New England over mountains in cold weather, when the battery is supplying heat and defrost, and when the inclines are draining the battery. Its a nice car for affluent people who live in moderate climates in the flat areas thereof, or people who don't really drive all that much. I would not pay that much for basically a golf cart, if I have to have another car for serious use.

Peter said...

"Most of our electricity comes from oil, natgas and coal"

You're two for three here: utilities don't burn oil to generate electricity because its cost per BTU is much higher than the per-BTU cost of natgas or coal. And natural gas generators can be brought online quickly. Although small amounts of petroleum products may be used to fuel backup generators (at utility generating facilities and elsewhere).

"Some of Tesla's work does have some interesting ramifications for energy conservation. For example, his Powerwall system can store a lot of energy, be it from solar or wind or at night from the grid when electric rates are often lower."

Then again, if everyone bought a powerwall the difference between peak and off-peak electric rates would be smaller. Especially if many were also charging their electric cars at night.

Or would it? It should, but electric utilities are regulated monopolies and regulation remains subject to political pressures. Thus (for example) those who own residential photovoltaics appreciate mandates that force the utility to buy their excess power (sometimes at retail prices) whenever they wish to sell it (even if the utility could buy what it needs at lower cost) and (of course) the utility should be obligated to sell you power whenever you demand it (even if you hardly ever do so) and shouldn't charge you a large fixed monthly charge to do so.

So, who knows: perhaps if everyone had a Powerwall, the price difference between peak and off-peak would be maintained by mandate, even if the difference in actual demand mostly or entirely disappeared.

So many questions: if teh batteries in Powerwalls present an additional fire hazard, would insurance companies be mandated to cover damages that might be caused by them?