The Free-fuel Transport economy - is it a real future or a pipe dream?

The Free-fuel Transport economy - is it a real future or a pipe dream?

Food for thought.

For fun, here a few possible news headlines

- Cost-free Fuel for north american travel arrives
- Tourism is booming with the advent of Electric cars
- Transportation costs plummet as more free fast chargers explode all around
- Community economic development - EVs leave your money in your pocket,(so you can spend it).
- City air quality closes ashma ward in local hospital
- New Limo starts all electric inter-city limo service at 35% off standard industry rates.
- Wallmart refuses to deploy superchargers in parking lots - ICE Truckers unions suspected.
- Tesla retrofits its 2,560th charging location with AIR pumps and window cleaning gear!!
- 4th US refinery to close its doors in 5 years.
- 6 coal fired hydro plants close after the shut-down of 4 US refineries.

Some of the above are just for fun, but most are in my mind likely.

Couriers, delivery drivers, lawyers, limo sedan drivers, travelling salesmen, Ride share organizations. These are some of the many jobs in our society that require the owner to pay out the cash for the cost of gasoline and maintenance on their cars and trucks. These are also some of the jobs that will benefit greatly from the advent of clean electric vehicles with free energy fillups via a huge network of charguing options. The money that used to go to the top of the food chain, to fill up and burn toxic substances only to belch and fart it into our lungs!!, now stays in the community level, and buys fridges, cars, furniture and food and insurance etc etc.

I can imagine that the cost for a limo sedan ride from one city to another in a Model 3 or S to drop like a rock without the cost of fuel that now makes the operating cost so high! The pizza driver or independent cabbie can start putting up to a thousand bucks a month more into his kids college fund or RRSP. And thats just off the top of my head.

The stats show that people drive hybrids about 2000 miles more a year, or more like 50 miles a day average, over those that drive a gas only vehicle. That suggests that people will drive more when the cost of fuel goes down. When it is free to drive cross country, I suggest that a new boom of inner-continental tourism will begin, as millions of Tesla owners, take to the open road to explore. Free supercharging will free so many people up to be more mobile, as financial restrictions to travel vapourize.

I can't begin to imagine the new business models that will spring up to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity.

The fear that the economy will fall apart with the switch to a electric is irrational and plain baseless.

The battery and solar industries have already been growing at huge paces, and that means mfg jobs.

Mom and pop can certainly take the slack up from there with transport services, Sun-fed, battery-stored Tesla Highway and neighbourhood Stops, themed and plain.

20 years from now, on site chargers will be as common as a bathroom or running water.

vgarbutt | 04. elokuu 2014

oops, i meant 50 miles a day average for hybrid owners, vs 40 a day for gas guzzlers. and its only an estimate, ( i have a job)

TimC | 05. elokuu 2014

The Bjorn Nyland videos show an example of a new small scale economy made possible by Model S and superchargers. It's pretty interesting that he is able to earn some income delivering cargo around Norway.

Brian H | 06. elokuu 2014

I think the income is a secondary excuse to do the drives; he's employed in software by the telco, IIRC.

Anemometer | 06. elokuu 2014

"Transportation costs plummet as more free fast chargers explode all around"

You might want to rewrite this one considering the interest in battery fires !

I'm not sure cost is the main restriction to driving. For me it's time. A lot of my jobs in the last 5 years I've been able to commute by train. Makes a big difference having an extra hour or two a day to do what you want, whether that's snooze in a pair of closed back headphones, delete all your spam or argue with people on internet forums ;-)

vgarbutt | 06. elokuu 2014

Ya Im talking about where the service is a transport based one. So limos, couriers, delivery companies, salesman etc. the list is big.

The really best part is that the flow of our hard earned money from our pocket to the mega oil corporations, is stopped and stays in the community at "street level", with the 99%.

If all cars were electrified today, that would annually be (134.51 billion gallons X $3.00 a gallon or at least 4 billion dollars a year savings. Now THAT'S community development.

So really, free charging is really a community development project, worth 4 billion a year!! (potentially)

vgarbutt | 06. elokuu 2014

I love Bjorn and his lovely wife, i've seen all his videos.

Boukman | 06. elokuu 2014

Let's get something straight. I am all for Tesla and EV's in general. I am tired to hear that ExxonMobil makes the average american salary as a profit in less time than it takes me to type this. Plus I have always thought that ICE cars are killing us, some of us faster than others but it's happening. However EV's will put out quite a lot of people out of business. Gas stations, mom and pop mechanics repair shops, oil change chains, auto parts chains etc... so Governments at all levels, local state and federal have to take EV's impact into account and start thinking ahead to assure a smooth transition. Sure it will take a long time but it will happen. I agree that drivers will have more money in their pockets and perhaps that will help boost the economy in other ways. Guess we will have to wait and see..

risingsun | 06. elokuu 2014

@Boukman As there economy changes there are always winners and losers, but it is a general problem with the economy. The USA needs to get better at retraining people.

Boukman | 06. elokuu 2014

@risingsun... Agreed. That is why I mentioned that GVMTs should start planning ahead...

Rocky_H | 07. elokuu 2014

@vgarbutt, there are a lot of service/maintenance/repair businesses that aren't strictly transport that could also really use this, but I think most of them would need some kind of medium duty truck or van, rather than a car. Think of things like furnace repair, plumbers, electricians, lawn and landscape, etc. Fuel cost is a big deal for these companies, because they do a lot of miles per year, but the distances are not extremely long, so an electric service vehicle would be a pretty good substitute.

vgarbutt | 07. elokuu 2014


I agree. There is a huge market for vans flatbeds and pickups for fleets that do less than 200 miles a day. There are tone available now, but maybe not 200 mile range.

Homebrook | 07. elokuu 2014

@vgarbutt "Cost-free Fuel for north american travel arrives"

Your premise is false. There is no such thing as cost-free fuel. Not now. Not ever. Just because Tesla owners pay for their fuel when they pay for their car does not make it free. Tesla is not in the charity/entitlement fuel "business". If they are, I'm selling my Tesla stock.

Also electric cars does not mean that oil refineries or coal-fired power plants go out of existence. Remember they do generate electricity, which, if I am not mistaken, Tesla's need.

"Coal-fired hydro plants"?! Do you mean coal-fired or hydroelectric power plants? Those are two entirely different things - like saying a Ford-Chevrolet automobile.

Red Sage ca us | 07. elokuu 2014

Homebrook, there are a lot of poor, harried, downtrodden Shorts on Wall Street who would very much appreciate your selling your TSLA holdings. Think about their children. Do it as a service to humanity. ;-)

Seriously though, you do realize that the very instant Elon Musk gets his hands on a viable, clean, everlasting energy source, he's going to give it away, right?

Tesla Motors has no need to either recoup, or profit from, energy expenditures.

Solar power is free. You pay for hardware and installation at most. You pay nothing at all due to incentives, at least.

Homebrook | 07. elokuu 2014

@vgarbutt To answer your initial question. Your Free-Fuel Transport Economy will never exist. It is a pipe dream.

@Red Sage I didn't say I would unconditionally sell my Tesla stock. I said I would sell them, if Tesla began to actually give away battery charging power, which they do not do at present.

Solar power is not free - and by your own admission. "You pay for hardware and installation at most" That, my friend, is a very significant cost, so much so that it is barely affordable at current costs for electricity. It actually is an absurd statement to claim that solar energy is free. As far as incentives, where do you think the money comes from, the air? trees? Please! Think! Our national survival depends on it.

Elon Musk is no fool. He will never be rich enough to give away unlimited amounts of energy, no matter how everlasting, clean, viable, and renewable it may be. Why? Because it will never be free. It may be cheap, but it will never be free. Somebody has to pay.

It would be cheap now, if we had stuck with nuclear energy. Liquid Fluoride Thorium nuclear plants are safe and produce little, if any waste. I believe it is a national tragedy that we gave up on nuclear energy. But I digress...

SamO | 07. elokuu 2014



Rather than free, perhaps "included" is a more accurate term.

There is also a lot if value in our battery pack which Tesla could monetize whenever regulations catch up with the technology.

If Tesla lets me use my car as a battery backup/home generator, is that "free" or part of the benefit of the bargain?

Brian H | 08. elokuu 2014

You would pay more for a car wired for AC output from its batteries at the level required ("lets me" = enables, not permits), and of course, as you note, that power itself had a cost history.

Grinnin'.VA | 08. elokuu 2014

@Homebrook | AUGUST 7, 2014

"It actually is an absurd statement to claim that solar energy is free. As far as incentives, where do you think the money comes from, the air? trees?

Oh, NO, Homebrook. It comes from Santa Claus! Or was maybe the Tooth Fairy?

Ron :)

P.S. That is, I agree as humorously as I can.

vgarbutt | 08. elokuu 2014


Better sell your stock, cause Tesla is on a mission, and it sounds like you are not there with it. Your money WILL and IS going to pay for free energy to help subsidize the adoption and growth of the EV industry, and Tesla itself.

Actually at $3.50 a gallon, and 40 MPG, the 2 grand is gone by 23,000 miles!! as the average person will drive 50 miles a day, and more in an EV, so that means the energy for charges becomes free after the first 1.3 years of ownership!! I assume you didn't do these calculations, or you would see the point of the concept, more clearly. Taxi companies, limo sedans, salesmen, couriers, etc will break even on the 2 grand in less than a year. so that means 9-12 years of "free energy". (more if you run it into the ground)

"Free for whom?" is the question. Free for the driver is the best case. Can you tell me what costs more, creation of cards to monitor usage and charge people, the web connectivity it requires and the financing charges incurred?

Or the cost of the actual electricity used in a charge?
Some believe it's not even worth it to charge anything.

There are many things about Tesla that don't go by the books. They are innovators and "free energy for life on sunshine alone" (paraphrased), is one of his stated goals.

I for one applaud and look forward to free energy from the sun, on Tesla.

Also look at what Sun country highway in Canada is doing. NOT ONE of these charges money for a charge, although a little smaller in output, are TOTALLY FREE AS WELL!!

Also the UK has free highway chargers, and you can find more if you look.

ok dude, your turn.

Red Sage ca us | 08. elokuu 2014

Homebrook insisted, "Somebody has to pay."

Dream a little dream with me... Imagine that you sat down and literally did the math... You figured out exactly how to sell something that effectively sells itself at a 25% gross margin. You also figured out how to remove the single biggest criticism of your creation by using the profits from it to attack those issues head on... Suppose that by doing so, you garner the attention of more Customers, who give you more money -- ahead of time -- which you use to further expand awareness of your product line... Was, rinse, repeat...

Elon Musk has done the math. Sales of the Tesla Model S and Model X will support the Supercharger network from now on. A lot is said about prepaid access to the Supercharger network through a builtin fee... Most calculate that as a $2000 amount.

What if it turns out the 'entry fee' was actually 25% of the purchase price, even if the service is not activated? What if, on average, something like $22,500 went into a fund to develop, expand, support, and maintain the Supercharger network? I estimate that by the end of 2016, those vehicles will reach a combined 200,000 sold per year and will maintain that clip for six or more years to follow.

200,000 times $22,500 comes to $4,500,000,000. That's enough to build 30,000 Supercharger stations. Even if only 1/10 of that money, or $450,000,000 were used in the endeavor, that allows for 3,000 Superchargers to be installed.

If eight stalls, at all of those Superchargers were to output 100 kWh of power per hour, that would come to:
19,200 kWh per station, per day...
57,600,000 kWh on the Supercharger network per day...
14,745,600,000 kWh per year...
at an industrial rate cost of perhaps $0.03 each...
gives a total of $442,368,000 if all the Superchargers you installed were occupied all the time, everywhere in the world, around the clock...
Which, let's face it, isn't likely to happen -- EVER. Oh, and even in that worst case scenario, you'd still have a $7,632,000 profit remaining... From the 2.5% per car you set aside for Superchargers.

I suppose you could spend that on one or two Super Bowl commercials.


vgarbutt | 08. elokuu 2014

Well put. Thanks for the math.

People try so hard to think of how something won't work, that the possibilities are not considered.

This post goes along with my other post "how will our society change with free transport fuel".

"Nothing is for free", is a common pessimistic view of the world and blinds the minds eye, stopping the imagination before it gets in gear.

Again thanks for your lucid logic.

vgarbutt | 08. elokuu 2014

Well put. Thanks for the math. I think you numbers are a bit high though. I think 100,000 cars a year times a $1000.00 dollar surcharge, would be enough at 100 million a year to freebee-ize our automobiles for life.

People try so hard to think of how something won't work, that the possibilities are not even considered.

This post goes along with my other post "how will our society change with free transport fuel".

"Nothing is for free", is a common pessimistic view of the world and blinds the minds eye, stopping the imagination before it gets in gear. Its also not true. Hugs are free.

Again thanks for your lucid logic.

vgarbutt | 08. elokuu 2014

Crap, how to get rid of the duplicate, first, post?

Red Sage ca us | 08. elokuu 2014

Well, it looks like I plugged in 256 days for a year, instead of 365... So my calculations are off a bit. Oops!

I really need to get back to my PC... It's a lot easier to double check things when not using a tablet.

$630,720,000 would be the annual cost to provide grid supplied electricity 24 hours a day to 3,000 Superchargers. Hence, the reason why it is so important to supply them with power from solar panels whenever possible.

I really doubt that level of use will ever be commonplace. Most Superchargers, in remote areas, will continue to be lonely pylons of power, waiting for an opportunity to provide aid and assistance to gleeful, though weary, travellers. As battery capacity increases fewer people will need to use them.

The Last Chance Gas Highway Robbery Extortion at the Pump locales all dried up and blew away in the winds of change as vehicles became more fuel efficient. In the neighborhood I have lived in most of the past 25 years, two SHELL, a Mobil, and two Chevron stations have disappeared. Replaced by fast food restaurants or vacant lots.

The times, they are a'changing...

Rocky_H | 11. elokuu 2014

I do think it's a bit crazy to use 3 cents per kwh for that calculation, though. Most charging is during the day, when power is more expensive, and the lowest power rates in the country are about 7 cents per kwh for daytime, and that's not even getting into any afternoon high demand penalty usage rates. Maybe in the future, they can get into on-site battery storage to regulate it out to take advantage of lower rates, as has been talked about, but that would require battery supply, which they are obviously very short of. They would probably rather prioritize putting those batteries into more cars to sell, rather than stocking them up at Superchargers.

Overall good premise; I just think that particular number is too optimistic.

Grinnin'.VA | 12. elokuu 2014

FREE is always a marketing hype promise.
Nothing in life is free. It's just an appealing dream.

Ron :)

SamO | 12. elokuu 2014

I'd rather they used "included" language since you need to actually buy something before you get the "free" something.

Red Sage ca us | 12. elokuu 2014

The term 'free' can sometimes mean 'at liberty' or 'at will'...

People remain at liberty to purchase gas guzzlers as they will.

Brian H | 12. elokuu 2014

3,000 SCs, just by existing, would change the world.

Grinnin'.VA | 12. elokuu 2014

@Brian H | AUGUST 12, 2014

"3,000 SCs, just by existing, would change the world."

In my SWAG calculation previously posted I projected that the number of SC sites will exceed 3000 in the year 2020.

Of course, I may be off by quite a bit. That's why I called it a SWAG, meaning 'stupid wild ass guess'.

Ron :)

Grinnin'.VA | 12. elokuu 2014


I forgot to mention that I agree that 3000 SCs would 'change the world'.
Yes, it would pretty much demolish range anxiety, which I regard as Tesla's most important challenges.

Ron :)

Red Sage ca us | 12. elokuu 2014

Let's say that all the Naysayers are right about a thing or two... The Tesla Generation III cars are delayed until sometime in late 2018, or early 2019. The combined sales of Tesla Model S and Model X never really catch fire and its all they can do to manage 50,000 total in worldwide sales per year before the launch of Model ☰. With over 200,000 cars sold, at roughly $90,000 each, that comes to $18,000,000,000 in revenue. If only 1% of that is dedicated to Supercharger construction, that is $180,000,000. If each Supercharger station costs $150,000 to build Tesla Motors could put up 1,200 of them worldwide. 3% would be enough for 3,600. World changed.

Brian H | 12. elokuu 2014

Just a note about the $2K/car -- It covers 3 things: 1) structural mods in the car (heavy cables, etc.) needed for big DC input to the batteries; 2) construction of SCs; 3) Ongoing power usage. Many analyses seem to appropriate the whole thing to one or two of the three.

Grinnin'.VA | 13. elokuu 2014

@Brian H | AUGUST 12, 2014

"Just a note about the $2K/car -- It covers 3 things:
1) structural mods in the car (heavy cables, etc.) needed for big DC input to the batteries;
2) construction of SCs;
3) Ongoing power usage."

With the initial usage pattern assumptions, it appears that they can indeed pay for all of that with the $2K/car. If the usage grows substantially beyond what was expected, Tesla can increase the fee to perhaps $2.5K/car.

Surprising as it seems to most people, this SC system can pay for itself. As the years go by new SC sites will fill in lots of gaps, gradually eliminating range anxiety as a major concern for most people. At some point, ICE car manufacturers will have an epiphany: They will realize that BEVs are eating their lunch. And the stampede will be on. Elon's dream will become conventional wisdom.

Go Tesla!
Ron :)

vgarbutt | 13. elokuu 2014

I predict that taxi companies will at least buy model 3s for out of town trips, which will drop in cost/mile. By then i hope a company will begin manufacturing superchargers that a fleet can buy to pump up their vehicles. It is also my hope that highway based charger stops will install enough power to eventually handle 150 odd kw chargers for when the rest of the ev manufacturers wake up and see the future.

Haeze | 13. elokuu 2014

I think Peterbuilt or Mack, or Volvo should be the next to team up with Tesla to help build the Supercharger network. If they were to release a big rig that ran on electricity and could Supercharge, their customers would be buying those rigs in droves (seeing as fuel and maintenance are their biggest cost centers) The extra hour it takes to supercharge is fine, because they can't drive over their quota of miles for the day anyway.

I would love to see a tanker truck full of gasoline being hauled by an electric 18-wheeler !

Haeze | 13. elokuu 2014

Also, the silence on the highways would be divine, and no more need to engine brake down steep hills since your regen would kick in and keep the truck going slow enough.

Rocky_H | 13. elokuu 2014

I've wondered about the trucking situation. On the one hand, yes, fuel cost is a huge thing, but on the other hand, their profits depend on the efficiency of keeping the wheels rolling for as high a percentage of time as they can, with long distances and short stops. I don't know which would be the bigger factor.

Haeze | 13. elokuu 2014

With current laws in the US, and much of Europe, drivers are required by law to take mandatory breaks every couple hours, and they have a max driving time they are allowed in a day. Unless a truck had multiple drivers, they can not circumvent those laws (and I never hear of truckers working in pairs, even with their current deisel engines).

Rocky_H | 13. elokuu 2014

I think there is also a practical amount of energy issue here that doesn't scale very well. It's kind of like when people try to suggest to Tesla about the 30 second charging of a phone battery. You can't put much energy into a large car battery in 30 seconds. When we talk about 30 or 40 minute stops for Supercharging, that is to deliver about 50 kwh of energy into a Tesla. For semi-trucks and the amount of weight they have to move, they will need much larger than the Model S 85 kwh battery packs. They will probably need a few hundred kwh capacity. So to refill over half of that, it's now looking at about 2 hours to transfer 200 kwh of energy. If you're talking about the breaks every couple of hours for the truckers to rest, 2 hours driving to 2 hours sitting doesn't seem like a good value proposition for the trucking companies.

Rocky_H | 13. elokuu 2014

Although, I have no idea what the efficiency would be of a big truck hauling a heavy trailer, so maybe you won't consume 200 kwh of energy in 2 hours of driving.

vgarbutt | 13. elokuu 2014

I imagine that the battery would be in the trailer and it would be massive. I also imagine that the power available to a truck recharge depot would also have to be massive. I could imagine even 2 chargers on one battery, or separate switchable batteries.

The point is, that would all be worked out, maybe 4 hrs would be a better frequency, to keep time loss at a minimum. As was stated, the main cost of transport is diesel fuel.

If all the transport companies built the charging stops near massive solar farms with grid level storage, they could eliminate their main cost, or at least amortize the savings.

JeffreyR | 10. syyskuu 2014

I wonder if the trucks are big enough to have PV solar panels make sense. I found this page w/ some rough dimensions:

8.5' x 69' = 614 sq-ft

Also you could use battery swaps to speed up the stops. Imagine the trailer w/ several battery packs under the load. You just make a battery sandwhich:
[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

That also means you could charge them all simultaneously (parallel processing idea). So other than the added time to connect multiple cables (they are needed to work-around the resistance issues) the 600 kWh battery super-pack would charge as fast as ten 60 kWh battery packs. This assumes you could get that much juice of course. But TM is already using local storage at the Tejon SC Site to smooth out spikes in demand (see JBS's preso)

The cost savings should be significant if the added weight is not too much.