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Oi, Elon: You Musk sort out your Autopilot! Tesla loyalists tell of code crashes, near-misses

45RPM Silver badge

Whisper it…

The sad truth is that Tesla cars aren’t actually very good. It shouldn’t be surprising that they’re aren’t good cars - Tesla has grown remarkably quickly, and the technology hasn’t had a chance to mature. The result is that some parts, notably the batteries, are excellent, some are undercooked (the software isn’t ready yet) and others are shoddy (for the price, build quality springs to mind).

The biggest problem though is the cult of personality surrounding Elon Musk - he’s always chasing what’s sexy and newsworthy, which is why Tesla’s are so quick (sexy), push autopilot although it isn’t ready (newsworthy), have unnecessary toys and eastereggs (sexy - for geeks, anyway), and end up in space (sexy sexy). Tesla’s focus is not on safety, except when necessary to comply with the law - and sometimes not even then.

The Tesla is a gadget. It isn’t a good car - although it might become one one day. The problem Tesla has is that traditional car manufacturers already produce very good cars and some are even surpassing Tesla on technology. So all Tesla is left with is the games and Easter Eggs - neither of which are foremost in my mind when I choose a vehicle.

defiler Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

You're right. That's that out of the way! :)

What Tesla has done, though, is make electric cars acceptable. Every time the established manufacturers have tried to make one they've been unmitigated shit (G-Wiz). Or they've been leased and then snatched back when everyone liked them (EV-1).

The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't be cool.

"Hold my beer" - Tesla Roadster

The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't be comfy.

"Hold my beer" - Tesla Model S

The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't have a long range.

"Hold my <burp> beer" - 400 miles

The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't be fast.

"Hold my bu... Hang on - Beer. Yeah." - Ludicrous Speed

Sure, some of these are trinkets, but it's attacking peoples' concerns head-on. Model X is a bit of a pig, in my opinion, and they overcomplicated the doors. That said, the pop-out door handles on the S were done better by Aston Martin - just a pivot. But beyond that, Tesla have shown that an electric car *can* be as good as a petrol car.

Sure there are fringe cases where people need to cover 800 miles a day. There are people who work away from roads, away from charging points, and who really need a Land Rover to get around. But the thing that Tesla have done is show that these are the edges of the bell-curve now.

They've burned through a lot of money doing it, and I don't know if that's sustainable, but at the very least they've given the existing car manufacturers a big wake-up. Now there are electric cars parked in my street. Without Tesla I sincerely doubt I'd see that. I wish them luck. But I still wouldn't want to trust their Autopilot to drive me around.

Spazturtle Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"Tesla has grown remarkably quickly, and the technology hasn’t had a chance to mature."

The technology is there and has pretty much matured, just look at the 3rd generation Nissan Leaf or the Hyundai Kona (the electric version obviously). The issue for Tesla is manufacturing.

Tesla used to be co-owed by Musk and Toyota, and the Tesla factory is an old Toyota factory but Musk started to make changes to the factory and refused to listen to any of Toyota's advice on car manufacturing. He even said that Toyota didn't have a clue about how to build cars and that he would 'school them on car manufacturing'. Toyota decided it wasn't worth dealing with an overgrown child and sold their shares.

45RPM Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

@defiler

Damn. You’re right - have an upvote. Tesla have made Electric Vehicles cool and acceptable - and forced the traditional manufacturers to up their game. The Tesla itself might be a bit rubbish but what they’ve done can’t be overstated. And, put like that, it would seem an awful shame if they couldn’t reap some of the reward. Now if only they could stop focusing on sexy and focus instead on what’s actually good…

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

Not sure that is exactly true. They are very good cars - top of class for crash testing, EV range, performance against even supercars, etc

The software is also some of the most sophisticated however the agile method of delivery with OTAs means that production cars are running at the cutting edge for this class of car.It is also this method that has made many other car companies have to up their game. OTA updates means that you now have a car that is constantly being 'upgraded' and that creates a big buzz for the owners, similar to the early days of smartphones when new releases were eagerly awaited.

However OTA updtaes does mean that you don't have to do as much testing knowing (traditionally there would be a big cost to recall a car for software changes at the dealership).

So I'm not totally denying the point about the software being lacking, but to state that the cars aren't very good is overstating it somewhat. If I compare it to other car companies you could say that none of them make very good cars.

My Renault loses its centre console if the windscreen wipers are going and I use the electric windows. The software on it is half great, half a total mess. The autobrake hold randomly works, the adaptive cruise control can kick the brakes on quite unnecessarily. I've driven BMWs with really clunky iDrive systems that took a few iterations to be good. I've driven VWs that pump out way more NOx than they should and then a software fix kills off expensive parts of the car.

The critics of Tesla are just as Ardent as the supporters, the reality is somewhere in the middle.

Wellyboot Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

PR gets in the way again, Autopilot is only an improved cruise control, not a chauffeur.

Tesla owners are guinea pigs riding in an experimental system - their choice, they engage autopilot - again their choice, they stop looking out of the windows - their really stupid choice!

Situational awareness - keep it or die.

Everyone else has the right to expect that Tesla cars on automatic will fail with minimum external impact and that does seem to be the case, I'm not aware of any 3rd party fatalities from Tesla.

Running out of road and crashing instead of blindly turning into other traffic works for me, I'd rather not have to play spot the Tesla on auto alongside the usual spot the moron while driving.

Having said that, I'm in agreement with @defiler, they've made electric cars work - (software..meh...) in another 10 years (money permitting) Tesla will be just another car maker.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

You had better keep quiet or you will end up getting a dose of this...

citing the potential for harassment by Tesla fanatics

They really do not like anyone criticising their mobile prayer vehicle as they pay homage to the church of Tesla and its head, Elon Musk.

Say one word against them and they descend upon you like a ton of bricks.

One commentator started saying that TOWIT is not the only way. (The Only Way Is Tesla) and was swiftly branded a troll.

IMHO, their vehicles are of the same sort of quality as every other American car (not those made by foreign companies in the USA). Basic to say the least. They have cut costs by putting everything onto the screen which means that you have to take your eyes off the road to do pretty well everything.

That's probably why so many Tesla disciples cant wait for full autonomy.

You hear the words 'Take a nap on my commute' an awful lot.

These people are either really, really trusting or as thick as two short planks. Just my Opinion which is usually crap so you make your own mind up.

Then there is the Model 3. They think that it will take over the world and every other car is a POS.

It is a frigging saloon car for heavens sake. Do they think we are back in the early 1960's when almost everyone drove a saloon car.

I'd better stop or the Tesla hordes will be tearing my door down and trying to convert me to the church of Musk...

Naturally the above is /s and I really didn't mean it (honest)

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

"performance against even supercars"

only for a 10 second drag, give em a corner or a couple of laps and they fall over, get too hot or run out of electrons.

tgm

Re: Whisper it…

Yeah nope. I have 4 cars: a BMW 335i, a Golf R, a BMW X5, and a Tesla Model 3.

The model 3 gets driven the most. It's fun, it handles well, the throttle response is amazing, and the build quality is good. It's relaxing using autopilot in stop and go traffic, and it's fun and sporty in the twisties.

The 335i is gonna be sold soon, I just don't drive it anymore.

My wife drives the Golf, the X5 is good for the dogs and big heavy things, the Tesla is great for everything else.

Yes, there's a cult around Tesla which is toxic, but get past that and the model 3 (I can't speak for the S and X) is a damn good car.

bazza Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

Tesla used to be co-owed by Musk and Toyota, and the Tesla factory is an old Toyota factory but Musk started to make changes to the factory and refused to listen to any of Toyota's advice on car manufacturing. He even said that Toyota didn't have a clue about how to build cars and that he would 'school them on car manufacturing'. Toyota decided it wasn't worth dealing with an overgrown child and sold their shares.

I didn't know that, thanks for relaying it. I'm reading a book, "The Toyota Way”, and it's very clear that Toyota know more about car manufacturing and quality than Elon Musk. What I'd like to know is whether any of the remaining shareholders took Toyota's departure as a warning sign. I know I would...

DropBear Silver badge
Trollface

Re: Whisper it…

" He even said that Toyota didn't have a clue about how to build cars and that he would 'school them on car manufacturing'"

Well you have to admit the same attitude worked pretty well for Lamborghini...

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"performance against even supercars".....only for a 10 second drag, give em a corner or a couple of laps and they fall over, get too hot or run out of electrons.

I can't speak from my own experience, but an acquaintance who has a Model S says that he doesn't notice any material impact on range from driving it like he stole it. Clearly if you're accelerating hard and then braking hard all the time, the losses of friction braking may become material, but within the drive train an electric drive will always be vastly more efficient than a combustion engine.

The people who will run out of electrons are more likely to be the buyers of second hand, low battery capacity models like the Leaf, Zoe, or eGolf, because they never had much range to start with, midlife batteries have reduced capacity, and in sub optimal conditions (eg night time winter driving) the ancillary loads will be very high.

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

The Tesla is a gadget. It isn’t a good car

Actually, it is a very good car, marred mainly by excessive ambition in the control software. Build quality is iffy for European or Japanese markets, but is clearly entirely acceptable to the US market.

But your point about Tesla trying to make their cars sexy is right. Not because Musk's narcissism and personality cult, but simply because he rightly realised that EV adoption was being hindered by the crapness of EV offers by mainstream makers. Look at the dull, unimaginative designs (Nissan Leaf and others) or the wantonly weird designs (BMW i series), the compromises of using bodies designed for petrol (Golf EV), pathetic range and performance (many, many culprits), or boring, opportunistic pretend EVs (Mitsubishi PHEV, Toyota Prius and others).

You might not like Tesla cars and I respect your right not to, but it is a matter of fact that Tesla cars offer excellent performance, the company have more vision and more EV experience than the rest of the car industry put together, and they produce attractive and generally desirable cars that many people would like and can aspire to.

Personally I don't believe Tesla have a long term independent future. But I predict history will look back very favourably on the company and its founder as the people who made the EV a credible, practical and desirable choice, at the time when the conventional motor industry sat on its fat arse, cheating emission control tests and saying EVs wouldn't catch on.

Dieter Haussmann

Re: Whisper it…

There is a video on Youtube where an Automotive Engineering Consultant strips a BMW i3, Leaf and Tesla (not sure which one) He came to the conclusion that the Tesla motor, batteries and some other tech stuff and 10-20 years ahead of the others, but everything else, such as the bodyshell and doors are terribly designed, heavy and complex to make and from many parts and using way to may types of fastenings. Eg there was a Tesla wheel well made of 20 heavy parts with glue, rivets, welding etc... and a BMW one of thee welded parts that was lighter and stronger and cheaper to make.

The conclusion was that Tesla should have already paired with a big established automaker.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

"only for a 10 second drag, give em a corner or a couple of laps and they fall over, get too hot or run out of electrons."

I guess you are trolling, but just in case. I believe the Tesla set records for Laps of Laguna Secca and Pikes Peak. They are one of the best handling cars in their class due to the low center of gravity and the battery overheating problem was sorted out a long time ago. Sure they might run out of power after a few hundred miles but I wouldn't bet against a Tesla on a circuit retaining charge longer than a high performance production car running on gas.

Either way the performance for the car type and price is pretty stunning.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

I like my Tesla - comfortable, quiet and certainly not good value (unless you take the first adopter as one enabler of new technologies). But I would never use the auto drive (including lane change) features - that way madness lies.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

"I believe the Tesla set records for Laps of Laguna Secca and Pikes Peak. "

wrong...do you know how to google???

you'd be right for electric cars only...(and in the case of pikes peak, it was highly modified to stop it going into limp mode!!)

if you include "normal" cars, it's no where close.

and it was claimed it was better than "super cars"

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

"Now if only they could stop focusing on sexy and focus instead on what’s actually good…"

In that respect, sounds like Tesla is acting like every other automaker out there...

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

"only for a 10 second drag, give em a corner or a couple of laps and they fall over, get too hot or run out of electrons."

Which is plenty for the vast majority of drivers. Even supercar owners aren't all about spending time at the racetrack, it's about the swagger factor of peeling out from a stoplight or quickly passing someone on a highway. Or (in my limited experience) about taking a friend along for a ride in your shiny new Tesla and attempting to get him to defile your upholstery with the accel/decel performance (he failed... barely).

jzl

Re: Whisper it…

My wife and I actually own a Tesla Model S in real life. It's been our only car for two years now. That makes me relatively well qualified to comment on it.

Much of what you say is true, but I dispute - deeply - the assertion that it's not a very good car.

Have you actually driven one? For more than just a spin round the block? They are incredibly satisfying to drive in a quite difficult to define, but utterly real way. There's something about the immediacy of the power - the total and utter lack of any sort of lag - that makes every other vehicle feel a bit wrong. It's not the steering - a Model S has steering which is firmly in the middle of the pack in terms of feel and weighting. It's the powertrain. It really is qualitatively different and in a very pervasive way.

Powerful electric cars are like that, it seems. The Jaguar I-Pace (I've driven one) is similarly satisfying. But there really isn't much competition - it's basically the I-Pace or bust at the moment if you want to actually buy something.

They don't have the best quality interior for the price, but they're improving significantly. The Model S in particular has improved substantially in the last two months or so since they did a mild interior refresh and replaced all the cheap looking chrome and plastic with graphite and much higher quality materials. A late 2018 Model S is rather different beast to even a late 2017 Model S, or heaven forbid one of the early cars.

My Tesla is - by far - the best car I have ever owned. Not just because it's a gadget, but because it's such an impressively rewarding vehicle to drive. It's comfortable, spacious, fast as hell and almost telepathic at the throttle.

jzl

Re: Whisper it…

Additionally, Autopilot works well. I should know, having covered thousands of tedious

traffic-laden motorway miles with it.

All of you saying it doesn’t or can’t work, have you actually tried it? No? Thought so.

Armchair keyboard warriors.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"However OTA updtaes does mean that you don't have to do as much testing knowing (traditionally there would be a big cost to recall a car for software changes at the dealership)."

I'm not sure what this means but if you're trying to say that testing doesn't matter because you can push bug fixes that might be true but the bug fix doesn't get installed on the cars which crashed, killing all occupants and a few innocent bystanders before the the fix got pushed.

John Brown (no body) Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"Build quality is iffy for European or Japanese markets, but is clearly entirely acceptable to the US market."

That's a pretty damning indictment of the entire US home automotive market. The home market should be looking at the imports and upping their game, as should the consumers. Buying American just because it's American, even when it's shite, is...stupid,

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

That's a pretty damning indictment of the entire US home automotive market. The home market should be looking at the imports and upping their game, as should the consumers. Buying American just because it's American, even when it's shite, is...stupid,

I think these days one has to expand one's mind and reconsider what is "American". Just because a label says Toyota, Honda or Nissan doesn't mean it's imported, or even that North Americans didn't build it, manage the plant, run the supplier companies, etc... Toyota in particular have been pretty good at changing how their NA supplier base operates. Reputedly a lot of their suppliers now won't work with GM, Ford, because dealing with the Japanese is far easier and more profitable.

The most significant import, if you can call it that, is manufacturing philosophies and quality control ideas. The fact that Tesla / GM / Ford haven't seen fit to adopt these ideas wholesale does not mean all Americans have rejected them; lots have gone with them, and they're happily working under a Japanese banner.

My guess is that they see little value in leaving and trying to put right enterprises run by belligerent know-it-alls like Musk. That then means that the pool of the best automotive workers / suppliers is not available to companies like Tesla...

Same happened here in the UK. Before the Japanese turned up British automotive industry was a joke; unproductive, strikes, poor quality, etc. Since Honda, Toyota Nissan turned up there's no strikes and their factories rival their Japanese counterparts for productivity. And we're quite proud of Japanese cars having Made in Britain stamped on them.

Musk thinking he can do better is laughable.

bombastic bob Silver badge
Meh

Re: Whisper it…

"What Tesla has done, though, is make electric cars acceptable EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE"

Fixed. You're welcome.

Electric cars will be practical when:

a) they all have 'backup' dino-burning engines that can run WHILE YOU DRIVE

b) they can do a full charge within the same amount of time as "filling your tank"

c) they have a range of >400 miles in extreme weather conditions with the air conditioning or heating on.

Until then, they're "toys for the rich and/or smug" and we don't need GUMMINTS mandating (or worse, subsidizing) them.

kwhitefoot
Thumb Up

Re: Whisper it…

> doesn't notice any material impact on range from driving it like he stole it

Agreed/ What really kills the range on my 2015 S 70D is storming down the autobahn at 225 kph on my way from home (Norway) to visit family (UK). But it does that to fossil cars too. Even sub-zero temperatures and mountains (-20 C over Dovre) don't have as dramatic an effect as the autobahn.

John Brown (no body) Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"c) they have a range of >400 miles in extreme weather conditions with the air conditioning or heating on."

D) they can tow a caravan a decent distance.

Love or hate 'em, (I hate 'em) caravans are a thing. Can any leccy car pull one and what happens to the range? And before the anti-caravan crowd jump in, remember, there all sorts of reason to put a trailer other than caravans, but which are similar, eg boat trailers, horse boxes, gliders (seems to be a lot of them on the roads these days)

Dog Eatdog

Re: Whisper it…

"Additionally, Autopilot works well. I should know, having covered thousands of tedious traffic-laden motorway miles with it."

Have you got autopilot V1 or V2? My V1 works well, but everyone I know who has V2 complains about it.

Shame they had to ditch V1 after Mobileye dumped Tesla for taking too many risks.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

The sad truth is that Tesla cars aren’t actually very good. It shouldn’t be surprising that they’re aren’t good cars - Tesla has grown remarkably quickly, and the technology hasn’t had a chance to mature. The result is that some parts, notably the batteries, are excellent, some are undercooked (the software isn’t ready yet) and others are shoddy (for the price, build quality springs to mind).

As someone said - perhaps here - it all makes sense when you realise that a $40,000 Tesla Model 3 is actually a $20,000 car with a $20,000 battery in it.

Keefwivanef

Re: Whisper it…

There are plenty of respectable companies making good electric cars.

No need for the bloated pig of a Terdsla.

It's INSANE and LUDICROUS.

Whompy wheels are a bit of a worry too.

defiler Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"c) they have a range of >400 miles in extreme weather conditions with the air conditioning or heating on."

D) they can tow a caravan a decent distance.

Bob, John - these are (once again) fringe cases.

For every driver that does these things, I could show you 50 that never does and never has. Maybe an electric car could never be practical for you, because maybe you're on one end or the other of the bell curve. But for the vast majority of people, there's an electric car being manufactured today that would be practical for them at the right price. With one caveat - can they charge it at home?

I was in Sidcup earlier in the year (commuter town on the edge of London, for those who don't know), and the cars were parked all along the pavement (sidewalk). Most houses didn't appear to have a driveway. That's an issue if you need to charge an electric car. If they can charge it at work / at the station / at the shops then that problem is greatly diminished, but it's still the biggest negative that I've seen for the vastly overwhelming majority of people in this country.

Jtom Bronze badge

Re: Whisper it…

The trouble is, defiler, you don’t know in advance if you are a ‘fringe case’. Any of us can be the one getting a 2 am (when all but ‘fringe cases’ are charging their EVs) call from a hospital saying a relative is in a bad way. Would you rather have a car that can be refueled in less than five minutes, if necessary, or one that takes far, far longer?

My car purchase is influenced not just on expected needs, but unexpected needs as well.

I live a rather boring, conventional life, but have had to make long, immediate drives to help eveacuate family members from storms, and get to a hospital a thousand miles away quickly (flying was not an option, airports shut down by storms). I have also rescued a neighbor in the middle of the night, stranded by a flat tire. Being low on petrol is not a problem. Being low on a charge would turn a bad situation into a disaster.

jmch Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"Tesla’s focus is not on safety, except when necessary to comply with the law - and sometimes not even then."

Tesla have the highest scores in Euro NCAP crash tests. Battery gives low COG and no engine in front allows better crumple zones.

Certainly having such a software-centric car, they should concentrate on having better quality software. But other major manufacturers all have quality horror stories. Tesla having a few quality issues is par for the course, I don't think they're particularly far behind or ahead of any of the major manufacturers in terms of build quality and overall reliability. And they are certainly ahead, sometimes considerably, in terms of performance and safety

macjules Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Whisper it…

Disagree. Have you owned a Tesla car at all?

I owned a Model S from early 2014, i.e. before they were introduced mainstream into Europe, and sold it last year. With the possible exceptions of occasional failed software updates which effectively bricked the car until they corrected it, it ran absolutely amazingly. I can not fault it as a car, I just do not like the company that uses its owners to try and force you to sign up your friends and family to ownership.

a_yank_lurker Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

@Defiler - Electric cars have a long and checkered history dating back to the 1890's/1900's Brass Era cars. They have failed several times in the market for basically the same reasons of inadequate range and lengthy recharging times. The range problem is partially fixable, bigger battery but at the cost of greater weight. So there is a trade off between range and overall vehicle weight. The recharging time is limited by the battery chemistry and cannot be safely pushed or you will have some very serious problems; problems that vary according to the battery used. Also, a problem for EVs is there only certain battery chemistries that are suitable for an EV (voltage/current discharge curves versus power demands).

Other issues include the lifetime of the battery pack and its replacement cost. Currently batteries need to be replaced fairly often (I have seen reports about every 60K miles/100K km). This is an expensive proposition as the battery packs are not cheap. Again a problem that has been around since the Brass Era.

So the question isn't the current frenzy but whether it will last unlike past efforts. The really becomes a question of whether most people will find an EV an adequate first or second car. If not, the frenzy will die as sales collapse.

Michael Wojcik Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't have a long range.

"Hold my <burp> beer" - 400 miles

400 miles is "long range"? Not in the US it isn't. It's medium-range at best. I drive over 400 miles in a day once or twice a month, on average.

The longest daily drive I make on a regular basis is around 850 miles, so with a 400-mile-range EV I'd have to recharge completely twice.

400 miles is good range for an EV. It's certainly sufficient for many use cases. But it is not "long" range.

Michael Wojcik Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

My wife and I actually own a Tesla Model S in real life. It's been our only car for two years now. That makes me relatively well qualified to comment on it.

"Everyone generalizes from a single example. I know I do."

John Brown (no body) Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"For every driver that does these things, I could show you 50 that never does and never has. Maybe an electric car could never be practical for you, because maybe you're on one end or the other of the bell curve. "

I don't, and have never, towed anything behind my car. But a significant number of people do. I'd say probably enough that they are not "one end or the other of the bell curve", but maybe near there. Either way, the current Government plan is to ban the sale of ICE cars within the next 20 years so those people near the ends of the bell curve are going have to be catered for in some way.

mosw

Re: Whisper it…

There is no fundamental reason I see that electric vehicles can't have hitches other then reduced range. I am one of those people that occasionally tows a utility trailer, but never more than a few miles, so range would not be a problem to me. Looking at the cars parked on my street I rarely (1 in 20 ?) see a trailer hitch on a vehicle, and when I do it is an SUV not a sedan. YMMV of coarse.

Maybe future trailers will include supplemental batteries to compensate for reduced range? When the scale of electric cars production approaches that of ICE cars I expect battery prices and standardization will improve significantly.

MachDiamond Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"The people who will run out of electrons are more likely to be the buyers of second hand, low battery capacity models like the Leaf, Zoe, or eGolf,"

The people that run the battery flat are the same people that constantly run out of petrol. One of the things that EVs are good at is estimating what sort of range you have left. If it's a mid winter night and you have the headlights on and the heater going, you get less range, but the car will also give you updated estimates on range. With petrol cars we may have pushed it more than a few times when the needle on the fuel gauge touches E with the belief that there will be at least another 20 miles in and we can make it to our favorite petrol station. With an EV, it's better to believe the car's estimate and even leave some cushion.

MachDiamond Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

A) Why?

B) you can charge up overnight on a cheap tarriff while you sleep and have a full "tank" every morning. Time to recharge: the 30 seconds it takes to plug in.

C) 400 miles in extreme weather at a high average speed of 50mph (extreme weather, right?) would take 8 hours. You don't stop for meals or a pee once or twice? Do this often?

Governments could just ban petrol/diesel cars to meet international emission accords and move away from politically dangerous oil imports on a massive scale. Instead, they are choosing to incentivize EV's knowing that they make heaps of sense and the more people are exposed to them, the more they will be adopted. The incentives won't last forever and if the first world doesn't have to send the military to the middle east to keep the oil flowing, the costs will balance and then improve over time.

MachDiamond Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"D) they can tow a caravan a decent distance."

Check out Bjorn Nyland on YouTube. He regularly drags a trailer behind his Model X. It seems like he has some sort of delivery business.

If you tow a caravan around all of the time, you are probably better off with truck that has a big 6cyl or V8 for the time being. That doesn't mean that you can't have an EV to commute in the rest of the week if you do commute. That saves putting miles on the big car and might save enough in petrol to compensate for the extravagant use of fuel that hauling a caravan around takes.

I'm planning on getting a larger truck next year for towing, but it will be for use just when I'm towing or need need to move something big. I rent now and the fees are to the point where it makes sense to get a good second hand truck of my own. I'll keep my compact and I'd like to get a Bolt or similar non-Tesla for my day to day driving.

MachDiamond Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"Maybe future trailers will include supplemental batteries to compensate for reduced range?"

A EV drive train developer, AC Propulsion, built a limited number of Scion van EV's and had a small trailer with a 1000cc (ish) generator that also had space for some luggage. It turned a BEV into a PHEV and would be a great option that dealers could rent to EV owners when they wanted to make a long trip. All it would take is a hitch and an electrical connection that interfaced into the electronics already on the car. About the only change would be that the car would recognize that the trailer was hooked on since they won't let you drive the car if they sense that it's plugged in. An argument with Hybrids is you have to lug the weight of the engine around even when you don't need it. With a range extender trailer, you leave it off when you don't need it and can hook it on when you do.

Using petrol to generate leccy is a horrible expensive way to go, but it can make sense in some cases when you want to go out past the charging stations. It's still cheaper to use a public charger when you can and it makes sense to stop for meals/restroom breaks at places where there is one.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

Electric cars will be practical when:

I've given you an upvote, but do need to correct a little bit..

Few cagers actually drive more than their daily commute. Many of them only drive a handful of miles each day (I know of a few cases where people could actually (and quite literally) get there faster by walking, but must take the car "in case I want it for..."). The 400 mile range many of us think EV's should have is not necessary for most people. So long as it can get 100 miles in extreme weather , it'll have plenty for the commute, the post-work shopping, and maybe one or two other errands.

I have a bike that doesn't have half that range. It's my main vehicle, and I can do a few days commuting and other stuff on one tank. Sure it's only 2-3 minutes to fill it up when I need to, but there would be some convenience if I could plug it in at home and let it charge over night, so every morning I left with a 'full tank'.

All that said, as I've mentioned here and elsewhere, I'm concerned about the need to upgrade the electricity infrastructure when EV's start to become more common, although I'd much rather see a massive spend on and uptake of public transport. Not everyone can use it, true. But when you see that most traffic is on the road between 7-9am and 4-6pm, it's kinda plain more enticing public transport could pull thousands of cars off the road....

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

My car purchase is influenced not just on expected needs, but unexpected needs as well.

Still rather unusual use-case. For every person you can show who's had to do an emergency drive of hundreds of miles, I can show you thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) who've not had to do an emergency drive.

My car is also purchased for my needs (I have a lot of use for a station wagon, and it gets it's intended use at least once every 2 weeks), but for most people an EV with a 100 mile max range would be plenty.

When my current car is past it's servicable life then I'll take a look at an EV that can tow a trailer. I'll still get the utility, but for the times I want a car but don't need all that space then hopefully the EV will be light and efficient enough. The key reason I won't go for an EV right now is the energy/carbon cost of disposing of my current car plus the cost of making the EV outweigh the value of the EV. IOW, me getting an EV now would be bad for the environment.

John Brown (no body) Silver badge

Re: Whisper it…

"But when you see that most traffic is on the road between 7-9am and 4-6pm, it's kinda plain more enticing public transport could pull thousands of cars off the road...."

On the other hand, the vast majority of that extra commercially owned and operated public transport you envisage is NOT required for the other 20 hours of the day. You have to sell that idea to the fleet operators.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

When the scale of electric cars production approaches that of ICE cars I expect battery prices and standardization will improve significantly.

It is something that would seem reasonable to expect.

But...

We got reasonable standardisation on fuel a long long time ago, almost at the birth of the ICE. A vehicle made in one part of the world can use petrol or diesel sold in another, usually without issue.

If battery packs on EV's were standardised, that would reduce some of the barriers for some people, including the cost of replacing the battery (or part thereof). Why aren't the EV makers talking to each other to pool their battery research and tech, and come up with stuff that benefits everyone? That would help the market considerably I expect.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

a) a small genny can do wonders for an EV. The tech's been around a year or two. Still I personally think for many commuters a pure EV would be fine, see your other points.

b) Not everyone gets cheap over night tariffs any more, and if everyone was pulling enough electricity to move a ton of steel around 50km/day (I think that's a reasonably common commute, many are more and many are less) then the "peaks" would shift and you would no longer get off-peak overnight use. And the grid in many areas would need some upgrading. Smart meters may allow shifting of your charge time to lessen demand but 1) you need your car charged and 2) when enough people take up EV, there won't be much room to shift them while still fully charging them.

b2) Yes, you could perhaps do some of your own generation, and solar panels on the top of each EV would give them some extra charge when they're parked in enough light, but that's not guaranteed.

c) 800 miles in a single sitting is beyond the range of my car, however I have done those sorts of distances with as little time as possible. A meal takes a couple of minutes, as does stopping for toilet breaks. Lets say 2x 10 min meals and 3x 10 minute toilet breaks - that;s a whopping 50 minutes across the whole trip. How much charge is an EV going to get in that time? And that's assuming there is somewhere to charge it.

As to stopping times, for men a) we may just find a handy bit of bush or a quiet side road and b) we don't necessarily need to stop if we have suitable bottles around. I've often pulled up to a toilet/bush, hopped out for 30-40 seconds, and been under way again quickly. And that's even having time to rinse the hands.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Whisper it…

On the other hand, the vast majority of that extra commercially owned and operated public transport you envisage is NOT required for the other 20 hours of the day. You have to sell that idea to the fleet operators.

They seem to manage OK in cities where there is a large amount of public transport.

EUbrainwashing

Re: Whisper it…

Not in today's market. Lamborghini is now owned by VW with AUDI sharing the platform of the R8. Independent car production or proper cars is very rare: Aston Matin remains an example though Ford owned it for 10 years and now MB own 5% and are providing engines, Tec, etc for new models, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Isuzu (sort of) and some very bad Chinese cars. The platforms and R&D have to be shared widely. Tesla cannot prevail without cooperation. The sums don't start-up and they are one big issue away from market implosion. Their parts are vastly over priced, service is overpriced, and the vehicles residual values fearsome.

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