Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Sep 10

8 amazing stats about Tesla’s Gigafactory


With apologies to Noel, I threw this together after a little research. Can you add to the list (I bet some of you can). Or, do you disbelieve it? The factory is not in Missouri. It was not asked. It’s in a state known for taking chances.

How will this affect GM, and the Volt, assuming Tesla comes even close to Elon’s wildest dreams? (Don’t you wish you knew what the OEMs were really thinking now?) …


If you haven’t noticed, Tesla is on an ambitious quest to prove the time of the EV is now. Or, with its Gigafactory battery plant proposed for outside Reno, Nevada, one might also say the time of the mass-produced EV is soon.

To highlight some of the salient points about this monumental undertaking, we’ve compiled a brief list of statistics based on Tesla’s forward-looking statements focused around the year 2020.

While others are wondering whether Tesla can pull it off, the company has defied critics to date, and so, this is the plan, and we’ll give it full benefit of the doubt.

Rendering shown earlier this year.

Rendering shown earlier this year.


Momentous Assumptions Pending

1. The Gigafactory will be gigantic. At an estimated 10 million square feet, with 6,500 employees, and occupying 500-1,000 acres, it will be one of the world’s largest factories. By comparison, the current largest building in the world by volume at 472 million cubic feet (13.3 million cubic meters) is the Boeing Everett Factory. This 30,000-employee facility in Everett, Washington has 4.3 million square feet of usable floor space, and is situated on 98.3 acres.

2. The Gigafactory is well named. Producing up to 50 gigawatt hours of lithium-ion battery packs per year by 2020, it will be the world’s largest battery factory. This output is greater than was the world’s li-ion battery production in 2013.

3. The Gigafactory will be an overachiever. By 2020, and 500,000 electric cars annually, Tesla will produce more EVs in one year than the world has yet produced since 2008. That’s when Tesla’s Roadsters kicked off the modern era and were produced through to 2012 with under 2,500 units built. In fact, total global consumption of all plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) only crossed the half-million mark in July 2014. Tesla wants to be selling this many of only BEVs every year in just six years from now.

Recent rendering shown with Nevada location announcement.

Recent rendering shown with Nevada location announcement.


4. The Gigafactory will be sustainable. Not only will its products be environmentally friendly, so will the facility, as plans are to power it exclusively by solar, wind, and geothermal energy. It’s believed the plant will also be tied to the grid, and have ability to store energy in its own-produced energy storage systems, or Tesla could possibly sell surplus electricity back to the local utility.

5. The Gigafactory will be a market changer. Plans are to singlehandedly drive down cost per kilowatt-hour of li-ion batteries by at least 30 percent. Actually, this estimate is for 2017, at the beginning of the ramp-up period for the entry level Model III. Presumably costs could drop further. This stands to make production financially feasible for Tesla to sell the cars starting in the $30,000s and it could also make it more affordable for other automakers to produce their own electrified vehicles.


6. The Gigafactory will be one giant goad. It stands to be the single most effective spur to the fledgling EV industry assuming it can sell volumes of its cars as planned. If it shows it can be done, it will create a large market. Others will follow.

7. Tesla stands to save lots of gasoline. Specifically, one half-million gas-free electric cars could save around 192 million gallons of gasoline per year. By the time 2020 rolls around, the U.S. EPA estimates under CAFE rules window sticker will average 31.3 mpg combined. Assuming 12,000 miles driven per year you get 383.3 gallons saved per gas-free car. Multiplied by 500,000 cars, you get 191,693,291 gallons saved per year. Or, reduced to just 10,000 miles annually, you still have close to 160 million gallons; and if you wish, averaged to only 8,000 miles driven, it’s almost 128 million gallons.


8. Tesla will be a significant global manufacturing force. Realistically, its somewhere around 30,000 cars more or less it ought to sell this year makes Tesla a niche player. Assuming synergies work close to plan, by 2020 Tesla stands to be globally selling more pure electric cars per year than Jaguar Land-Rover sells cars, period. At a half-million Teslas per year, this is more than the 425,000 vehicles the British luxury brand sold last year. We mention JLR only because its numbers are close, not to pick on it. The point is half a million EVs per year is a big deal.


Sep 09

250,000 plug-in cars have been sold in the US


Woo-hoo! The horses are out of the stable, and it does not look like there’s any putting them back.

Chevrolet Volt. Launched Dec. 2010. Sales: 2010: 326; 2011: 7,671; 2012: 23,461; through Aug. 2014: 13,146. Total: 67,698.

Chevrolet Volt. Launched Dec. 2010. Sales: 2010: 326; 2011: 7,671; 2012: 23,461; through Aug. 2014: 13,146. Total: 67,698 U.S. sales.

Last month was a good month for car sales in general, plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) in particular, and of this latter category, Americans bought their 250,000th too, by the way.

How do we figure? It’s a simple counting of plug-in passenger vehicle sales since 2008, and the launch of the Tesla Roadster, to the present.

In January this year, excluding commercial vehicles, we chronicled just over 172,000 PEVs had been sold in the world’s leading market, the US., including 1,800 Roadsters, 1,600 Fisker Karmas, and 500 Mini Es.

As of August, the U.S. market had consumed another 78,609 plug-in cars comprised of 37,820 battery electric vehicles, and 40,789 plug-in hybrids.

Tesla Roadster. Produced 2008-2012.

Tesla Roadster. Produced 2008-2012.

That totals to 250,609, and now one week later, at a rate of about 12,000 per month, even if any counts had a small margin of error, or excluding the total of 3,900 Roadsters, Karmas and Mini Es, we’re still just over 250,000.

Of these, over 100,000 or 40 percent were sold in California according to California’s Plug-in Vehicle Collaborative.

SEE ALSO: Top 6 Plug-In Vehicle Adopting Countries

Further, it’s estimated over 160,00 of these PEVs were just three models: Chevy Volt (67,698), Nissan Leaf: 61,063, Tesla Model S: estimated 31,650.

Last month also saw battery electric vehicles achieve their best-to-date single month of sales, at 6,483 units. August also witnessed the top-selling plug-in car, the Nissan Leaf, achieved its best all-time month with 3,186 units sold.

Also, the Chevy Volt which has been down compared to last year had its best month in the last 12 months with 2,511 sales and even the flagging Cadillac ELR had its best month with 196 units.

SEE ALSO: Should You Buy An Electric Car?

Ford also is doing respectably with its plug-in hybrid Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi siblings, with 1,222 and 1,050 units sold respectively.

BMW’s new i-series is also gaining a leg up with 1,025 i3s delivered including both range-extended and pure BEV versions – a breakdown between them is not available – and the i8 plug-in hybrid was launched with nine units sold.

Last month’s tally also had a bit less help from Tesla with an estimated 1,200 Model S units sold, due in part to a temporarily closed production plant in Fremont, Calif.

So what does the 250,000 PEV milestone mean? Objectively, it’s a solid one-quarter million cars sold in the U.S. that can run on electricity part time or full time.

Nissan Leaf. Launched Dec 2010. Sales: 2010: 19, 2011: 9,674; 2012: 9,819; 2013: 22,610; through Aug, 2014: 18,941. Total:  61,063.

Nissan Leaf. Launched Dec 2010. Sales: 2010: 19, 2011: 9,674; 2012: 9,819; 2013: 22,610; through Aug, 2014: 18,941. Total: 61,063 U.S. sales.

It’s not really a lot of units since 2008 in a market that last year consumed 15.5 million, and year to date has bought 11.3 million, but it is a start.

And the momentum is increasing, even incrementally along with ups and downs.

The Volt is due for an update soon, so will the Prius plug-in hybrid be updated by late next year, and sooner or later we’ll hear more on the Leaf.

As newcomers are launching their first plug-ins, and others have plans yet to do so, a second wave of PEVs is due to come online in the next year or two.

This is happening in the face of inexpensive gasoline, and studies that show consumers yet have to catch on to the benefits of plug-in cars – let alone some who even now do not know even the first thing about a Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S, etc.

SEE ALSO: Plug-In Car Sales Cross Global Half-Million Mark

Plug-in cars have not taken the world by storm, but that they have much room to go is evident. No one knows the future, although some people are willing to speak with certainty as though they do.

Tesla Model S. Launched July 2012. Sales (estimated):  2012: 2,400; 2013: 18.650; through Aug. 2014: 10,600. Total: 31,650.

Tesla Model S. Launched July 2012. Sales (estimated): 2012: 2,400; 2013: 18.650; through Aug. 2014: 10,600. Total: 31,650 estimated U.S. sales.

Possibly confusing things also may be hydrogen fuel cell vehicles initially launched in California. These include Honda’s follow-up to its pioneering FCX Clarity, and Toyota also intends to push its sedan instead of throwing more weight into plug-ins. Already Hyundai is offering its Tucson FCV and Daimler and possibly others could come along in a few years also.

In favor of plug-in vehicles is they can take advantage of a readily available national electric grid. They’ve been variously touted as a solution with far more potential than has yet been taken advantage of and sure enough they have a numerical head start to the tune of a quarter million and counting.

Hat Tip: Mario R. Duran


Sep 08

August electrified vehicle sales overview


We already know the Chevy Volt had its best sales month in August out of the last 12 months with 2,511 units sold, but the market was notable in a few respects.

One other record was the Cadillac ELR had its all-time best sales month with 196 units delivered. Undoubtedly, discounts and other incentives helped this along.


Another record included BEVs as a category which had their best-ever month, beating a previous high in May by 50 units, and totaling 6,483 in August with a take rate of 0.41 percent.

(Take rate = percentage of market share of the 1,578,992 total passenger vehicles sold in August – Year to date, the total is 11,132,209 units.)

By contrast, plug-in gas-electric cars, including the Volt and ELR, accounted for 5,920 units, or a take rate of 0.37 percent. This compares to a high-level take rate of 0.53 percent in October 2013.

Plug-in hybrids also include the BMW, i8, which began deliveries in August with nine units. If this high-end hybrid remains a niche player, will it ever get as much flak as the Cadillac ELR has? Will the BMW get much if any negative press?

Another plug-in that did well is the Ford C-Max Energi, with 1,050 units sold. It and the Ford Fusion Energi’s 1,222 still did not add up to the Volt’s 2,511.

The PiP sold 818, incidentally. Tesla Model S sales were down due to temporary closure of the Fremont plant, with an estimated 1,200 (others guesstimated half this amount). The Leaf, as you may know, was the top selling plug-in vehicle with 3,186 delivered, which constituted its all-time best month.

Overall, August was a great month for the automotive market as a whole. That plug-ins are edging upwards against the broader market is hopeful, though still they have a way to go.

Source: Dashboard


Sep 05

Tesla Giga Factory to be in Nevada


No stranger to taking chances, Nevada sweetened the deal for Tesla and together they say they’ve agreed to build a massive battery plant.

The local paper cited winners and losers with Tesla being very much in the former category.

The potential is huge. Do any of you see any reasons for concern? Or not?


After months of speculation and political maneuvering in five states to woo Tesla’s Giga Factory, yesterday afternoon Nevada was named the winner.

The deal, with provisions subject to state legislative approval, was announced in a press conference with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval.

As reported, Tesla aims to produce as much as 50 gigawatts of battery storage by 2020, with 35 gigawatts for cars, and 15 gigawatts for stationary energy storage systems.

One benefit to car fans from the Giga Factory is Tesla’s promised 200-mile range Model 3 which it wants to sell from the $30,000 level as a BMW 3-Series fighter. Naturally, also Tesla has other plans, but the idea is to create economies of scale to make this and subsequent cars financially feasible.

And speaking of financially feasible, Tesla has been promised much more than the half billion in tax breaks it wanted from whichever state it decided to work with – initially Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, and later, California.

Nevada came through and then some with an estimated $1.25 billion in various financial incentives over 20 years.


In short, Nevada negotiated a business development package that trades unprecedented tax breaks in exchange for a factory that stands to employ 6,500 and contribute an estimated $100 billion to the state over 20 years.

The Nevada state legislature is also going to be asked to let Tesla freely sell factory direct, and utterly bypass the auto dealer franchise system.

It’s hoped Tesla will more than pay back the huge vote of confidence that in the process reduced breaks to which other industries are now entitled.

“This is great news for Nevada,” said stated Governor Sandoval in a brief prepared statement issued by Tesla. “Tesla will build the world’s largest and most advanced battery factory in Nevada which means nearly one hundred billion dollars in economic impact to the Silver State over the next 20 years. I am grateful that Elon Musk and Tesla saw the promise in Nevada. These 21st century pioneers, fueled with innovation and desire, are emboldened by the promise of Nevada to change the world. Nevada is ready to lead.”

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the deal is by far the biggest Nevada has ever offered. It eclipses the state’s previous record-breaking $89 million for Apple Computer, and Good Jobs First estimates it as the 10th largest incentive package in the U.S.

In brief, according to RGJ, the breakdown is as follows:

56 percent ($725M): 20-year 100-percent sales tax abatement
26 percent ($332M): 10-year 100-percent property tax abatement
9 percent ($120M): Transferable tax credits
6 percent ($75M): $12,500 per job transferable tax credits (6,000 jobs)
2 percent ($27M): 10-year 100% modified business tax abatement
1 percent ($8M): Discounted electricity rates for eight years

In essence, Tesla will be 100-percent tax free for the first decade, and at 2024, it’s expected to begin contributing substantially to the state and local Storey county and school district.

The sales tax abatement was to make Nevada competitive with other states including Arizona and Texas which charge no sales tax on manufacturing equipment and other states that charge no sales tax at all.

Previous artist's rendering issued by Tesla.

Previous artist’s rendering issued by Tesla.


In return, Tesla is committed to invest at least $3.5 billion in manufacturing equipment and real property in Nevada. This is reportedly well below the $10 billion state officials expect from Tesla over the next 20 years.

SEE ALSO: Panasonic To Provide Machinery For Tesla’s Battery Plant

While the legislature must approve, Tesla’s press release sent the signal that the tracks have already been greased.

“On behalf of the State of Nevada, I would like to acknowledge this monumental day and provide my initial support,” stated Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick. “This is a significant opportunity to make a major stride to improve our statewide economy. I look forward to receiving the necessary information so the Legislature can meet and take necessary action to support this major industry coming to Nevada,“

To be sure, Nevada is betting big on Tesla – and the EV industry.

“What this can do for the region… It will allow every under employed person to reach full employment,” said Gov. Sandoval’s economic development director Steve Hill to the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It will lift up everyone in the region. Property values will go up. The prosperity of the region will be materially changed.”

But the monies promised had to come from somewhere, and financial “losers” to winners Tesla and Storey County, and Nevada itself, include insurance companies, film producers, and car dealers.

SEE ALSO: Is Tesla Building Towards Gigafactory Overcapacity?


For over four decades insurance companies headquartered in Nevada received about $27 million a year in tax breaks which will be directly diverted to Tesla. Also, the film industry will lose a hard-won $80 million tax incentive program, which will be cut to $10 million, and Tesla gets the rest. Lastly, car dealers who’ve lobbied against Tesla’s factory direct model stand to lose their appeal.

But winners include Storey County School District which in 2024 stands to get $10 million per year compared to its present $4.9 million budget. Also tiny Storey County is to net massively above its current $2.5 million annual property tax revenues to $20 million.


A previous groundbreaking and construction permits in the area outside Reno have been reported.

Also word that groundbreaking at two giga factory sites would be undertaken has been issued. Unofficial reports say Nevada is now it, and this appears to be the case, though legislative approval is as mentioned, still pending.

For his part, Musk acknowledged only Nevada and what appears to be a done deal.

“I would like to recognize the leadership of Governor Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature for partnering with Tesla to bring the Gigafactory to the state,” said Musk. “The Gigafactory is an important step in advancing the cause of sustainable transportation and will enable the mass production of compelling electric vehicles for decades to come. Together with Panasonic and other partners, we look forward to realizing the full potential of this project.”

The “full potential” thus means more winners too. These include the EV industry which may be forced to follow – a definite hope of Tesla’s – and maybe even you, assuming the gambit pays off.

RGJ, Tesla.


Sep 04

Volt’s August sales were its best this year


The Chevrolet Volt didn’t beat its all-time best, but its 2,511 units delivered in August were a yearly high.

Its year-to-date total through August of 13,146 sales yet lags its tally of 14,994 last August and is behind its best-ever 3,351 sales last August as well.


In contrast, the Nissan Leaf saw a new all-time record in last month of 3,186 in a time period in which other automakers reported solid results as well.

The rival?

The rival?

As has long been documented, General Motors’ plug-in Chevy has suffered mixed politicized views and has not been understood so well by mainstream consumers, even if its owners generally love the car.

The Volt is also pending a redesign as you all know, to be revealed January 2015 in Detroit, making it more of a lame duck, but both it and the Leaf were launched the same month.

Its uptick for August undoubtedly is a welcome boost for its maker which this year did increase battery size to 17.1 kilowatt hours, theoretically good for an extra couple miles EV range to perhaps 40, though its EPA rating remains at 38.

To date, fewer incidents with the Volt’s liquid-cooled battery have been reported than with the Leaf’s air-cooled battery.

But the Volt has fought issues, despite being well engineered, albeit with shortcomings perceived by some for its tighter rear seat accommodations and room for four.

It remains however the highest e-mileage gas-electric car sold in America with its 40 miles (38 official) and has yet to be outdone in this regard by any other plug-in hybrid.


Sep 03

Looks like the first Chinese-built car imported to U.S. will be a PHEV … by Volvo?


We keep hearing of the looming Chinese threat to U.S. auto sellers of various names, but the first car here may look awfully familiar.

It could also be a competitor to the ELR with a reported 31 miles AER (but who knows what this would really be on the EPA cycle?)

Another question is how long will it be before we also see BYDs, and other Chinese cars in higher quantities? Some have said it could be never, but is anyone betting that will be the case?

By Mark Atkinson


All the anxiety over which horribly-executed Chinese car would land in U.S. dealerships first appears to have been all for naught.

Why? Volvo — owned by Chinese automaker Geely — will be the first manufacturer to offer a model assembled in China, and there’s a chance that its potential customers may barely notice.

The car will be a long-wheelbase version of its mid-size offering, dubbed S60L. The extra 3.2 inches of wheelbase gives more stretch-out room in the back seat, and while pricing hasn’t been announced, Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo Car Group CEO, did confirm it’ll hit the U.S. very soon.

“We are not talking about 2020. We are talking about next year,” said Samuelsson.

As a bonus, the S60L will exclusively be sold here as a plug-in hybrid. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine has 238 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque, while the electric motor has 68 horsepower and 148 pounds-feet of torque.


The plug-in-hybrid is expected to have a maximum electric range of 31 miles, with a total range of around 620 miles. But the performance hasn’t been ignored either: the car should hit 60 mph from rest in around 5.5 seconds, helped by its standard all-wheel drive.

Stretched versions of compact and mid-size luxury sedans are all the rage in China, although few have made it to the United States yet. BMW’s pair of GT hatchbacks are sold globally, but really are “China cars,” as is Infiniti’s new long-wheelbase Q70L.

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