Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Happiness is a warm Tesla

     As a rule, I try not to mess with another man's fantasy. But accidents happen. Monday's column on the challenges of providing a national grid of electric vehicle charging stations struck me as fairly straightforward: an entrepreneur heading an EV charging station company hoping to demonstrate how difficult his competitors could be to use.
     This struck a certain element of readers as criticism of electric cars in general:
     "ARGH! yet another article on why we can't go to electric vehicles," begins David M. "Range! charging! yada yada. I've have been driving Tesla cars since 2011. Owned the 2nd Tesla Model S in Illinois and 117th overall. I've done over 15,000 miles of road trips including Chicago to S. California. Never any charging problems. Yes, the Tesla supercharging network is far superior and other networks seem to have issues keeping their charging stations in operation."
     Need I point out that nothing in my column even vaguely suggested "we can't go to electric vehicles."
      It felt odd to look out the window and see Tesla owners with pitchforks.
      "Inoperative chargers, range anxiety. — not relevant to the overwhelming majority of EV drivers unless you own the old Nissan Leaf," writes Lewis C. "My experience driving twice across the U.S. from California to Connecticut was a joy. No apps, no credit cards, fully operational charging stations. Tesla tells me when and where to charge, preconditions my battery for optimal charging, and almost always directs me within a tenth of a mile from the highway exit either at a shopping center or hotel/ motel parking lot. I never waited for a charging station and rather enjoyed the 20-25 minute interlude to use a restroom or get a bite to eat. A Navigator? 19 POUNDS of CO2 into the atmosphere for every gallon burned by your car/truck. Yikes!"
     That last line made me realize It had inadvertently put my hand into the cage of zealous environmentalists—whom I completely support, by the way, minus the sarcasm. I didn't summon the Navigator, which I admit is a Beast — I just got in. I own the sin.
      I would never suggest that owners of Telsas channel the lip-curled contempt of company icon Elon Musk. But there was a certain tone.
     "Yes, if you are trying to charge that ridiculous Porsche EV it is very difficult," writes L.J.H. "It's not an accurate or typical portrayal, tho. Almost 70% of EVs are Teslas and (surely 70% of road charging, or more) it is a seamless, convenient and pleasant experience. Normally, the car tells you where to go and when, but there are so many options! "
     Seventy percent is the actual figure of Tesla EV market share, which surprised me, as did some Tesla owners practically willing all the other manufacturers out of existence.
     "Neil.. you well document why TESLA is 99% of the electric car market," writes Sheldon H.
"None of the problems you highlight exist if you own a Tesla. I've had one since 2016 . Thousands of Tesla chargers now everywhere..... super easy...but like so many other Tesla people that can do it, I put a 220 line in my garage and overnight I'm back to 190 miles (much more than I need for the day). On a trip a convenient Tesla charger in route gets
me charged to 280 miles in about a half hour. The start ups like your interviewee (and FORD, GM) are years behind the established conveniences of TESLA."
     One reader, Tom K., does raise a question I wish I thought of: why aren't gas stations installing EV stations?
     "Do not recreate the wheel," he writes. "We got all the gas stations. Every gas station should start putting in two or three electric charger pumps. I will buy an EV when I could go to the gas station and spend the same amount of time filling up my electricity in my car as I spent filling up my gas in my car. Until then it’s gas gas gas."
    I'd be tempted to say the reason is they don't want to promote the competition. But if they charged EV cars, electric vehicles would be their customers, not the competition. I suppose the honest answer to why gas stations don't install EV charging stations is the same reason newspapers didn't create Craigslist. Large companies, like ships, just can't change direction that fast. Or at all.
     As often happens, I got it from both sides: electric vehicle fans (well, Tesla fans) and those who don't see the point of promoting electric vehicles at all.
     "My question is this . Why are we spending taxpayer money to help EV manufacturers sell cars ?" asks Russ G. "Shouldn’t they help provide the power source ? Did taxpayers pay for gas stations after Henry Ford and others invented the automobile? I don’t think so and Tesla and all the rest should be in the forefront of providing the power source for their products !"
     And yes, I wrote him back that taxpayers might not have paid for gas stations, but they sure as heck paid for highways.
     Enough. No mas. For the record, not that there is a record, I'm all for electric cars, and might even buy one next time I buy a car. And as I like to say, I'm only responsible for what I write, not for what you imagine I wrote. 


  1. And while they’re building a charging grid why not build a system to transfer water from areas that are affected by drought from those that are flooding?
    Doesn’t it seem that there is always one part of the country that is experiencing seriously dry weather while another is submerged?

    1. Yesterday I saw an image of inner-city Cincinnati that was taken during its 1948 Ohio River flooding. The water was the color of chocolate pudding. Floodwaters are not clear and transparent...they are almost opaque, and contain mud, silt, sewage, and all kinds of other contaminants, as anyone who has ever cleaned up after a flood knows all too well.

      Floodwater is wastewater and cannot not be used for either human consumption or irrigation, or to alleviate drought. Not without some kind of enormous pumping and water treatment system, which would probably cost billions to build and operate. Long after I'm forgotten dust, somebody will probably find a way to send water from the Great Lakes to the parched West and become a zillionaire.

      The way our world is heading, water is going to become more precious and costly than petroleum. Oil and water...not only do they not mix...but both of them are finite. When they're eventually gone...that's the ballgame. We can drive electric vehicles that don't use fossil fuels, but water is one thing we cannot exist without.

    2. Of course what you're saying is true but if we can send a rocket around the moon for a debatable reason (something we already did fifty years ago) we can certainly design a way to distribute water around the country at a similar cost and for a far greater purpose.

    3. With all due respect to Les, it's been years -- no, decades -- since I last heard that argument of, "If we can put a man on the moon, how come we can't [insert noble Earth-based project here]."

      I am very much looking forward to seeing new developments in space travel again, and seeing that debating point resurface after all this time is just icing on the cake.

  2. In this article, the chief economist for Phillips 66 suggests that it's not economically beneficial for them to install chargers, because the price they'd charge for the charge is so much higher than people can avail themselves of at home.

    Your Northbrook Court photo or photos point to another factor mentioned in a comment to the article: "Nobody wants to go to a gas station and plug in for half an hour. People charge at home to save time and money. People charge on the road for long trips, and some people need a local place to charge if they can't charge at home. A gas station isn't it. They'd rather charge at the mall or at the supermarket or some place they would spend half an hour at anyway."


  3. Les, to move water from these megastorms would take an effort more like making a trip to Mars on a moments notice! Electric cars are a good start. When the juice is produced directly from the Sun rather than fossil fuels we'll be much better off. By then we will also be drinking sea water produced by solar energy also. Perhaps, by then, we will convince our fellow humans to not live in deserts. Today I heard a woman describe the learning curve necessary to drive long distances in an E-Car. Heat, hills A/C usage all affect mileage, making her plan her routes more carefully than with a gas guzzler. From the comments of the Tesla drivers, I'm guessing she bought an alternative.

    1. JP, your cost estimate is probably more accurate than mine however there have been studies, some completed many years ago, that supports the feasibility of such a project.
      Most have to do with balancing reservoirs before mega storms hit.
      Regarding Mars, that too is in the plans. For what true purpose I don’t know. I mean what good will it do to learn more about an uninhabitable planet while we are creating one right here?


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