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News Electric vehicles to pay for detroit bailout?

  1. Nov 29, 2008 #1

    mgb_phys

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    An article by the boss of Tesla motors asking that the $25Bn promised in september for advanced technology transport research doesn't just get switched to paying for Detroit's corporate jets.
    http://www.teslamotors.com/blog2/?p=66

    I imagine some people here might have an opinion.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2008 #2

    LURCH

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    I am glad the Big Three bigwigs got slapped down for their extravagance, and I'm glad that congress wants a plan showing what they intend to do with the money before they just give it away. It does put them in the bizzar position (as Democrats) of opposing unions, but the current brutal reality has shown that the extravagance of the unions can no longer be supported, either.

    As for EV's, I don't think much additional motivating is needed; Chevy knows that the Volt is the best chance they have to survive. And their competitors will soon see the same light. I wonder if Congress will cut back on their use of corperate jets?
     
  4. Nov 29, 2008 #3

    cronxeh

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    They should just let them go into chapter 11, merge, and come out as a new company that only has 4 models - an off road Jeep-Escalade-Pickup hybrid, a sports car, a hybrid-electric-flexfuel sedan, and some kind of a minivan. Enough of those combinatorial crap cars that equally suck in the same lineup and have no additional advantage. Let them fail before the country goes bankrupt bailing others out, we'll end up like Iceland at this rate
     
  5. Nov 29, 2008 #4
    We can also limit it to 2 paint colors: black and red.
     
  6. Nov 29, 2008 #5
    wow, and i bet it will be just as successful as other communist cars. just imagine the newfound demand for spare parts and repair technicians. this could be the biggest thing since the .com bubble.
     
  7. Nov 29, 2008 #6

    mgb_phys

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  8. Nov 30, 2008 #7
    you think it isn't a rich man's toy?
     
  9. Nov 30, 2008 #8

    mheslep

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    I don't know about four between the three, but GM alone has a couple dozen models and that is no doubt one of the major problems.
     
  10. Nov 30, 2008 #9

    LURCH

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    I really hope they don't merge. Competition is a necessary part of the free market aconomy; we can't let anyone gain a monopoly.

    Yes, the Tesla is a $100,000 novelty item for the rich and bored, but the Volt is a $35,000 "real" car for getting to and from work. I believe it could turn things around, if Chevy can stay in business long enough. The full-scale release isn't 'till 2012, and it would take about a year for sales to make a difference. Stocks, on the other hand, could go up immediately, as they depend solely on what people think is about to happen.
     
  11. Nov 30, 2008 #10
    Personally I'm not buying a $35k car to get to and from work. I paid $28k for a top end honda accord and now I feel that was a huge waste of money. Next car I get will be a bottom barrel Civic.
     
  12. Nov 30, 2008 #11

    mgb_phys

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    It's probably a sensible market to go after for a new product.
    Instead of trying to build a cheap electric car for the masses (anyone remember the Sinclair C5?) prove the critics wrong, build one with a healthy profit margin and cash-in. Let Honda/Toyota/VW build the cheap ones.
     
  13. Nov 30, 2008 #12
    i think natural gas vehicles would be a better investment at this point than electrics. but that's more of an "infrastructure" type investment. GM already knows how to make them, people just need a convenient system for refueling.
     
  14. Nov 30, 2008 #13

    mgb_phys

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    There already is a convenient system, most filling stations in Europe have LPG filling.
    The main difficulty with natural gas is that it all seems to be under the same countries as the oil.
     
  15. Nov 30, 2008 #14

    russ_watters

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    What I see implies to me that the Volt is an improperly conceived attempt to bridge two markets that should be kept separate. They should be making a low-end (say, $16k) two-door plug-in hybrid (or even pure electric) that falls into the same class as the Civic, Mazda3, etc. That's the kind of car that a plug-in hybrid should be. A commuter car. A general-purpose, full-sized family car/luxury sedan doesn't get anywhere near as much benefit from being a plug-in because it will be driven further and the extra cost of such components on a full-sized car just amplifies the problem.
     
  16. Nov 30, 2008 #15
    they seem to have the lion's share, but it'll still take some of the demand off of petroleum.

    http://www.naturalgas.org/overview/resources.asp [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  17. Nov 30, 2008 #16

    mgb_phys

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    The nice thing about LPG is that you can use the existing petrol/gasoline engine, you need some extra injectors and a second fuel system - it costs about $2000 to convert most cars. They still run on gasoline as well, generally you can't start the engine on LPG.

    It's popular in Europe because the tax on LPG is much lower, so it's 1/3 the price of gasoline, of course once it's as popular the tax will go upto the same amount.

    One problem is that you can't take the cars on ferries and through some tunnels.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  18. Nov 30, 2008 #17
    Yeah interesting. It will work for 150 years, then we start the cycle over again with the ME holding 10x the natural gas we hold.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
  19. Nov 30, 2008 #18

    mheslep

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    A GM-Chrysler-Ford merger would have no monopoly - there are dozens of other foreign car makers, four of five of them with factories here in the US.
     
  20. Dec 1, 2008 #19
    i think you're on the right track. what we need is something akin to the original toyota corolla, stripped down, stick shift, rubber mat on a metal floor and no maze of contraptions under the hood. something approaching a street-legal golf cart to serve the grocery-getter functions. but this is the same thing that will give GM a coronary. they want as many doo-dads and whatchamacallits as possible to drive up the sticker price. i honestly think that's all they care about. a big engine and vehicle is just a means to an end.
     
  21. Dec 1, 2008 #20

    mheslep

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    I agree. However, there are some valid considerations likely pushing the Volt design into its current class. The Volt batteries alone will probably be $10-12k of the cost of the five-door Volt as of the 2010 release date. Yes downsizing to a two-door would also shrink the battery size/cost some, but not as linear percentage of the cost of the car. That is, it would be harder to hide the battery cost in a two-door for the moment, and in that car class cost really is everything with tight profit margins. One might then claim that the battery technology is not quite there yet, but the cost has been coming down significantly with innovation. Similarly, when Toyota first came out with its non plug-in hybrid it sold at a loss, but Toyota captured market share in the interim, the Prius is profitable now, and Toyota gained 'green' and technical prestige in the public eye. I speculate GM feels it has to make a play now to risk losing that position forever, rather than wait another five years for batter tech. to come in range.
     
  22. Dec 1, 2008 #21
    I like this idea. Currently I don't need to drive anywhere really far. If it can last me two hours, I can get to school and back without worrying. But I take the bus to school normally, so it's a 10 minute drive to the park & ride. Or 10 minute ride to get groceries, go to the bank, etc. I don't need something that has a lot of energy capacity or physical storage space. I don't have a family to drive around.
     
  23. Dec 1, 2008 #22
    China beat detroit to the punch

    Detroit doesn't deserve a bailout and here's why:

    In the 1990's, the Clinton administration had a program called the "Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles", which was a partnership between the Federal government and the automakers to develop hybrid cars and fuel cells. The automakers didn't want to do it, since they were convinced they couldn't make any money off of these cars and, for the most part, invested most of their resources into making large, wasteful SUVs and pickup tricks. They effectively dragged their feet through the program, took 8 years and who knows how many millions of dollars of taxpayer money (effectively just waiting out the administration), and as soon as Bush got elected they just threw it all in the garbage and walked away.

    They had their shot. They should crash and burn for it.
     
  24. Dec 2, 2008 #23
    To answer the fundamental question that the NY Times rant poses: Yes, absolutely, the federal government should provide low-interest loans to Tesla (and other R&D-focused automakers that have already demonstrated a commitment to building fuel-efficient vehicles) to encourage and hasten the time to market of a sophisticated all-electric, zero-emission powertrain for affordable, family cars. If this isn't in the public interest, what is?

    Just to set the record straight with the good folks in at Physics Forums:

    The silly headline of the NY Times drivel says Tesla shouldn’t get a low-interest loan from the Department of Energy because "only the rich can afford it." Afford what? The loan would NOT fund anything having to do with the $109,000 Roadster but with future generations of more affordable sedans and a powertrain facility to make battery packs and other components for other automakers, who will also use them for affordable sedans.

    The columnist says Tesla's technology "remains woefully immature" and the Roadster is "not much more than a functioning concept car." Absolutely untrue, as anyone who has test-driven or owned one attests -- it's a viable production vehicle that competes on fit and finish, performance and handling with vastly more expensive cars. We have delivered nearly 100 to customers already and are increasing production starts to 30 per week in 2009.

    Most worrisome: Stross pontificates about Silicon Valley all the time for what is arguably world’s most influential newspaper, yet he doesn't grok something that will ring true with the most rudimentary students of technology: R&D and early-adopter technology is relatively expensive. Whether it's a cell phone (even the iPhone from Stross' beloved Apple) or photovoltaic panels, the first owners pay the most. But the technology inevitably becomes affordable within several product cycles, whether on the time frame of Moore's law or (in the case of battery capacity) at the fair clip of 8 percent per year. Given the Model S (base price expected at $57,500) and the Bluestar project (all-electric, zero-emission subcompact for $30,000), why did his rant focus on the Roadster, which isn't part of the loan application proposal? Makes no sense.

    Finally, the columnist does readers a gross disservice by utterly failing to grasp the difference between the Detroit Three's perverse "bailout" and what was originally a progressive and well intentioned program to encourage fuel-efficient vehicles. In fact, the columnist calls Tesla's loan application the "Bailout of Very, Very High-Net-Worth Individuals Who Invested in Tesla Motors Act" -- again, catchy but dead wrong. The loan wouldn't be used for the Roadster or ongoing operations. Our blog clarifying the distinction (published before the article and sent to Stross, who apparently didn't read it):

    http://www.teslamotors.com/blog2/?p=66

    One of the most thorough (and hilarious) refutations of the article if you need further clarification:

    http://calacanis.com/2008/12/01/on-bailouts-and-sports-car/

    Thanks for listening. FWIW, I'm all for spirited debate about public policy, but it should be based on facts, not catchy buzz words and misinformation. Blog on!

    Rachel Konrad
    Senior Communications Manager
    Tesla Motors, Inc.
     
  25. Dec 2, 2008 #24

    mheslep

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    How does $58k qualify as an affordable family car, that will be limited to out and back trips absent an overnight charge?
     
  26. Dec 2, 2008 #25

    mgb_phys

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    The point is that the grants are to develop new technology that will become cheaper.
    A lot of goverment money went into developing copmputers/auircraft/etc before they were cheap enough for everyone.
     
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