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My justification story for buying a Model S...

My justification story for buying a Model S...

I have been reading great deal of post here lately on justification for buying a Tesla Model S, and I thought I would share my justification story...

When I first saw a Tesla Roaster on the road, I was so envious, it was in the HOV lane blazing past me, as I sat in my gas guzzling luxury sedan in miserable gridlock traffic. After figuring out what it was, and read about it, I was astonished! Then I went to a dealer, sat in it, and quickly came to the realization it just was't practical for me (Never mind, I could hardly get out of it, as I am 6'1" tall, and nearly had to fall out of it, just to get out). Thus needless to say, when I first read about the Tesla Model S, I was extremely excited!  

I commute a long distance for my work, however, I'm a performance-car enthusiast, and don't feel comfortable driving cheap 'economical' ICE vehicles, much less anything that makes me feel like I am worth less than I have worked so long and hard to create for myself.

Call it what you want, however, I grew up my entire childhood dreaming of owning fast, technologically advanced, luxury cars (many of my toys growing up were toy exotic Matchbox, etc cars). 
Unfortunately,  I also grew up dreaming of owning a home close to the ocean, in a safe neighborhood, where most people around the country could only dream of living.

With that said, the only way for me to afford my childhood dreams was to commute 125 miles round trip, in worst traffic on the planet. I have been making the long commute for well over 3/4 of my life, and it only gets harder to deal with every year, as traffic gets worse, and gas gets more expensive. 

Thus for my needs and dreams, the Tesla Model S Performance is a Godsend of a vehical! Not only do I get to drive a semi-exotic, super fast, high-peformance, technologically advanced, luxury sport-car / sedan (that I would have only dreamed about as a child), it saves me serious money, time, and trouble with my long commuting lifestyle! Plus I get to feel and look good doing it (which no other vehicle on Earth can do currently).

It's going to be like my own version of... 'my cake, and eat it to'!

Brian H | August 13, 2012

mitrabbit;
Time scales; the recoverable reserves are obviously not on the market yet, or even drilled. Their existence will impact prices, but only when more certainty about access is available. For now, federal lands are de facto off the table for exploration and development. Economics sez that will change. But timing is where politics comes in.

@Timo;
The "denialist" label is scurrilous. But I certainly deny that the "consensus" is more than opportunistic miscegenation between the neo-pseudo-science of "climatology" and politicians who LUV the idea of controlling all access to energy and charging (taxing) for it.
Check out http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/08/consensus-by-exhaustion/ , if you dare. And trace Dr. Curry's CV ("qualifications"), too, if that's the kind of thing that impresses you.

Sudre_ | August 13, 2012

Brian H, I just have one question that I don't know if you have ever answered.

Is the earth warming? (just drop the who/what/why for now)

I think that is where the "denialist" part comes from.

brianman | August 13, 2012

WTB on-topic.

Is it really that hard to make a new post if you want to have a completely different topical discussion?

Brian H | August 13, 2012

Sudre_;
Has been since about 1790 (AKA the low point of The Little Ice Age, coldest period since the glaciers went home). Slowed or stopped in the last dozen years or so; many solar scientists are suggesting we're in for another 30-50 yr. bout of cold. You won't like it. Warm=more life; Cold=more death.

jbunn | August 13, 2012

Hoo boy....

Brian H | August 13, 2012
jbunn | August 13, 2012

So what I get out of that chart is that the 5 year moving average based on Hansens actual data nearly perfectly matches the slope marked 30 year Warming Trend (Hansen) based on 1983 to 2011 actual data. Furthermore, the 5 year moving average over the same period of time moves at the same slope, and correlates very closley with Hansen's data.

So what am I supposed to get out of this?

CO2 disolves in seawater to create Carbonic Acid. We can also measure falling ocean pH if you like.

Brian H | August 13, 2012

@jbunn;
Heh. Details -- that C-curve presupposes NO increased CO2 emissions, sort of an unreal "perfect Hansen world". And the real data is even below that. Meantime, actual emission increases were above even the "uncontrolled unregulated" A-curve assumptions.

It could hardly be a bigger FAIL.

Brian H | August 13, 2012

P.S. --Hansen's "actual data" is easily demonstrated to be badly fudged. But even that is in the 'C' band. Which is far, far from the real emissions. Conclusion with either data set: CO2 influence is nil.

jbunn | August 13, 2012

Interesting. Then where does the CO2 go, in your opinion?

Sudre_ | August 14, 2012

Thanks for information Brian H. I have been hiking for over 20 years and the hikes have gone from trudging across glacier to no glacier in sight. It is great news that these glaciers are not melting someone must be hiking the miles up the mountain and shovling the snow for me. . . . . at least for the last 12 years.

I am begining to believe that we are lucky. Maybe there should be major warming but we are heading into a cooling period for a different reason. We have accidently managed to slow or prevent a mini ice age by burning all this oil :-)

EdG | August 14, 2012

(does global warming have enough to do with this thread?)

While there may or may not be runaway global warming, the presence or absence of that glacier is a piece of data in a large picture. That picture is (probably) provably too complicated for anyone to master.

When you see a stock price tick up day after day, do you assume it will always do so, even if you see a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates at the helm?

If you take 300 measurements of temperature from random points on the planet, then average them for a few years, you get data. If you methodically remove 200 of them from areas you pick based on some criteria, can you then average the remaining 100 and meaningfully compare it to the previous average? Doesn't it depend on where the missing ones were? Some don't think so. This kind of thing happened, and scientists base their findings on such things.

The best computer models of global temperature assume a smooth, spherical planet with no differences for oceans or land, and with no variability in solar output. Not great.

The best mathematical model of local changes in weather (used in the global computer models) is provably chaotic. There's a long explanation, but there's good reason for someone to believe the difference in a butterfly's flight pattern in Japan will determine whether a hurricane occurs 2 weeks later in the South Atlantic.

Depending on things beyond our ability to track, the weather will change. It is probably possible for us to cause a runaway global warming. It's also probably possible for us to push the temperature high enough that the Earth's many parts overreact in such a way that a new ice age forms. There's simply no way to know.

It seems to me it's not a bad idea to curtail human involvement on global weather inputs. But I'm certainly not convinced that not doing so will be disastrous. Maybe, maybe not. No one knows, and no one can know. We're flying blind, and will always be. No need to assume those who don't have faith in the "fact" of global warming are being destructive.

jerry3 | August 14, 2012

I like the way Elon puts it. "We're running a big chemical experiment when there's no need to. We know that at some point we will have to get off of fossil fuels so why not start to do it now?".

There is really no good reason to burn fossil fuels for personal transport. Even if you're in denial as far as climate change goes, there are plenty of medical and moral reasons to not do so.

EdG | August 14, 2012

I totally agree with that quote from Elon, and more, including the geopolitics. But you made me laugh with "denial". I guess all the physicists who understand what Lorenz had to say are all in denial, too. It's the climatologists who don't look at Lorenz' work who are in total agreement.

KevinR.co.us | August 14, 2012

I have no interest in continuing the climate debate-- and will not. I am, however, pleased to see how the Tesla (& the Model S) transcends this divide...EVs are not just for tree huggers anymore.

Brian H | August 14, 2012

The "experiment" analogy fails on the basis of the Null Hypothesis: If current and known interactions do not fall outside the historical variance range, there is no basis for postulating or assuming any effects other than natural processes. And both temperatures and CO2 fluctuations (both in absolute extent and speed of change) have historically wandered far beyond anything we now observe.

All of the 20 or so global circulation models used to generate drastic scenarios have technically shown "no skill" on any time scale, and averaging their wild disagreements adds no value, yet this is exactly what is done. A consensus of worthless software packages!

Make no mistake: the "mitigation" solutions on the table are orders of magnitude more expensive than can be afforded without crippling the economy (and food production, as in producing ethanol using more fossil fuel than it can replace, while simultaneously doubling staple food prices around the world). General improvement in prosperity and hence resources to respond to options is not only saner and far less costly, it is necessarily de facto what we will do.

The "Precautionary Principle" justification fails on many levels, and ultimately is an attempt to make trivial risks look huge and important, overhwhelming valid choices with fantasies of disaster.

Brian H | August 14, 2012

typo: "...respond to actual events is ..."

jbunn | August 14, 2012

No, Brian. That's why it's called an experiment. And it's just getting started.

Brian H | August 15, 2012

The alternative to the "experiment" is pointless penury for the planet. The only demonstrated method to materially reduce CO2, on the contra-indicated faint possibility it matters, is to slash energy use and economic output.

The one exception to date is the massive switch recently from coal to nat-gas generation in the US. None of the "green" generation resources are more than disruptive noise on the grid at the moment. But burning 1 CH4 produces 1 CO2, 2 H2O, instead of 3 Cs to produce 3 CO2 molecules. No other region has cut CO2 emission, as none other has US' frac gas development (though many could do so if they weren't "afraid" to.) But the US has cut CO2 by almost 7% since 2000, corrected for energy use.

The economics are that it would cost something like $20 TRILLION per (purely) theoretical 1°C reduction by 2100 switching to "renewables", versus generating several times that in economic growth by switching to frac-gas generation. Either, much less the spread between them, is enough to eliminate poverty and starvation several times over. At under 1% of the cost in real estate scraping for highly dilute "free" solar or wind power.

jbunn | August 15, 2012

What you consider a cost of $20 Trillion, other see as an income of 20 Trillion. Money is not lost in an economy.

In the state I live we get 80% of our electricity from renewables, and it's dirt cheap power. My reason for a Tesla. Worldwide, we'll hit 20% suppy within 15 years. The state of Iowa has alread achieved that. 20% of their power comes from wind. We would have laughed at that years ago.

Mel. | August 15, 2012

Money is lost and also gained in all economies. Do you really think we are not losing money by our silly adventures in Iraq and Afganistan? How about money being gained by using American natural gas instead of foreign oil.

EdG | August 15, 2012

If you spend $100 million on infrastructure vs. $100 million on bombs, the expense is the same, and someone is getting the income, but one might argue there's a difference in lasting value. Which is which is a matter for argument.

Mel. | August 15, 2012

EdG, I would like to hear your argument on how $100 million spent on bombs contributes the same as $100 million spent on infrastructure. Especially if you consider the velocity of the money used.

EdG | August 15, 2012

I'm not of that opinion.

But if you think that nation building or stopping a genocide has value, then you might think, in certain cases, that money on bombs is better spent.

It seems there's always another way to look at things.

BYT | August 15, 2012

And then "that" country that was bombed will have to spend money on infrastructure!

Slindell | August 15, 2012

...but they can freely choose how to spend the money. Everyone needs a good "Bridge to Nowhere".

Brian H | August 16, 2012

The $20 Trillion is not strictly, or even mostly, expenditure on millions of windmills and hundreds or thousands of sq.mi. of solar panels and thousands of miles of new transmission corridors linking previously pristine hinterlands and cities. It's opportunity cost (taxes are money withdrawn from private capital markets) and energy price hike damage to every aspect of economic activity, from production to consumption. The more wind and solar you have, the more complete and swiftly responsive must be the backup fast-response generators on hot standby. Which are even more expensive, and substantially less efficient, than their baseload cousins.

So you build and pay far more than double. If you think that's equivalent to private use of the same funds, I suggest you Google Bastiat Broken Window Fallacy. The "unseen" is what dooms such foolishness.

Sudre_ | August 16, 2012

There would be no extra expense for backup generators. By the time this magnitude of green power ever got developed there would be millions of BEVs on the road. They would go to work or home and plug in if they needed a charge or not. They would also have the option to supply power to the grid if it was needed. If they said yes (setting the limit to be taken) they would get a credit for whatever the going rate was at the time of use (maybe minus a handling fee). That would, nine times out of ten, be enough money to charge for free at night.
Actually with green power the needs would be reverse. The peak cost would be at night so everyone would charge at work and sell in their garage.

If I had a charged 40kw battery and drove 40 miles round trip to work, I could easily sell 10kw that day/night. If I had a 200kw battery I could profit and just opt out when I am on a long road trip. No expensive backup generators needed.

Yes that does mean that the current tech batteries will only last 8 to ten years rather than 16 or more years.

EdG | August 16, 2012

If there were a smart and capable infrastructure to ship power across thousands of miles, I'd guess the variability of the wind and solar power would average out some over a continent's area, mitigating the need for huge fast response less-green energy sources. Getting the infrastructure installed seems to be further off as people like Paul Ryan get the microphone.

Mel. | August 16, 2012

EdG, I missed Ryan's position on the infrastructure, could you point me in a direction where I can find his position?

EdG | August 16, 2012

All I'm saying is that it will take a Significant Increase in US spending to improve the infrastructure. In the past, he's said he'd cut most parts of the budget except for defense spending. I don't know what his current plans are.

Mel. | August 16, 2012

EdG, you know my position.. Cut the defense budget, increase infrastructure spending especially the grid

Mel. | August 16, 2012

The problem is that the present administration has no plans to improve the grid

BYT | August 16, 2012

Why do we even call it a Defense budget when we are always on the Offense? We wouldn't have to fight for oil if it weren't for our dependability on it. Tesla getting mainstream one day will be the best thing for this country, one day maybe acquire Chrysler, GM then Ford and have them all make nothing but pure electric cars, not Hybrids.

Let's get responsible for a change so our kids aren't the ones wearing masks because of all the pollution. L.A. is almost there!

Hey, maybe we can cleanup Congress next? I don't care if your your political affiliation, the system is broken and run by corruption on all sides. It's pathetic and criminal. /Soapbox

And before you say it's off topic, it's part of my personal justification for buying a Model S. I curse the price posted at the station. I have even asked a gas attendant before, "how can you justify that price?" just to find out they do not speak English very well. I guess I can't complain as I can't type English very well as Brian H can attest to... ;)

I can't wait for the day I wake up, unplug my Model S, pack the kids in the car to drop them off at two different schools and head in to work (finding a parking spot as far away from all other cars). Taking questions about the Model S, getting the occasional nod from the Roadster driver and the scolding from the local traffic patrolmen. "I'm sorry officer, it will not happen again." And in my head think, well, not again today at least! :D

EdG | August 16, 2012

Seems to me the two most basic functions of government are (1) to provide a secure environment via defense and police and (2) build and maintain infrastructure, because both are needs shared by everyone. As far as these two go, it seems that the US is fixated on one at the expense of the other. Personally, I'd like to see someone backing a second coming of the Rural Electrification project to allow power to move long distances without much chance of bringing down the whole shebang. Railroads would be nice, too. Et cetera.

Mel. | August 16, 2012

BYT, alright, I like what you have to say.

EdG, , railroads would be nice.. We need to bring back Ike and maybe teddy R.

Brian H | August 16, 2012

Sudre_ | August 16, 2012
There would be no extra expense for backup generators. By the time this magnitude of green power ever got developed there would be millions of BEVs on the road.

You misunderstand, or mis-represent the issue. It is not backup for the BEV demand, but backup for every kilowatt of solar and wind capacity. You cannot allow power to fall to low levels depending on the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute swings of sun and wind. From chem plants to computer operations, steady power is a must. And consumers hate random brownouts.

@ EdG | August 16, 2012
If there were a smart and capable infrastructure to ship power across thousands of miles, I'd guess the variability of the wind and solar power would average out some over a continent's area, mitigating the need for huge fast response less-green energy sources.

Not true, not possible. There are lots of analyses detonating this fantasy. Even with perfect cross-continent superconducting, the cap cost of the lines, and the timing issues of matching distant feeds (precisely, in voltage, phase, etc.) moment-to-moment are La-La land stuff. Even in a little country like the UK it is probably unachievable. In the US, the thought is risible.

Given real transmission losses, the juggling act you imagine is like tossing up baseballs and catching golf balls.

Real life efforts result in things like hydro dams in WA. state having to throw away output to permit (surges in) wind farm output to enter the grid (at many times the cost). And then instantly jump in again when wind dies off (or becomes too strong for the bird blenders to handle).

Brian H | August 17, 2012
EdG | August 17, 2012

I've had more brownouts every day this summer than they've mentioned in that article. Perhaps German power has been very clean and is now showing signs of variation? They note that you'd never notice the difference with a vacuum cleaner.

For the US, I don't think it's accepted that it's the responsibility of each power supplier to keep the power flowing with superb precision. We're quite used to power fluctuation. I'm going to have to read more to find out why power companies across the US can't synchronize on 60 cycles per second when we've got time bases far more accurate and every grid attached power generator is able to sync well enough to push the meter back. It would be interesting to see how much difference in synchronization is needed due to the speed of light and the distances involved: for 3000 miles you get a full cycle of 60 Hertz difference.

I guess the "fact" that I heard years ago that power can be sent over long distances at high voltage with little loss isn't very factual??

Brian H | August 17, 2012

HVAC is a problem, lessened by using HVDC. Generating high DC voltage is somewhat wasteful, requiring inversion to AC, boosting, then rectification back to DC.

The simple version: the wires have some resistance, lower with high voltage and thinner wires, but all heat up somewhat. That heat is a direct deduction from the energy transmitted. A few hundred miles of warm wire, and it adds up!

"Losses are proportional to distance and to the square of the current. Thus, for the same amount of power, if the voltage is doubled, the current is halved and the distance can be quadrupled for the same losses. Unfortunately, as voltages increase, so do costs: virtually everything must be larger and insulation problems become more complex."

Losses range from about 7-10% overall.

Brian H | August 17, 2012

P.S. That three-step for controlling DC voltage is the reason you can't readily feed rooftop solar power to your car battery. Transformers require AC to work; changing and controlling DC voltages directly is not feasible. (I think this is part of the reason the TM PEM is such valuable secret-sauce wizardry, utilizing the parallel and serial DC voltages of the small batteries in packs to sustain a precise high output power and voltage, which is then inverted into AC for the motor. Or is the voltage controlled after conversion to AC? Only the engineers know for sure ... >;p )

Sudre_ | August 17, 2012

Brian, I am talking about using the BEVs as the backup power for the grid. They are connected to the grid whenever they are plugged in. There would be very little extra added to the chargers they are plugged into to have it take the BEV battery and use it to supply the grid when needed at any time of the day since millions and million of cars with plenty of extra juice would be sitting there almost fully charged.
If I get solar panels for my house and a battery pack I can use that battery to supply my energy needs when I am not generating with the solar or wind. In a very similar way the grid can use BEVs. We have the tech today.

On another note, it is not that hard to reduce the voltage on DC power. My little radio shack car adaptor has a switch that gives me a choice between 6, 9 and 12 volts when I plug it in the 12 volt power socket. I made one when I was a kid with the 101 electronic kit except it was completely adjustable from 0-9 volts. The higher the current the larger the device, same for A/C.

In the US we already transmit power for thousands of miles with no issues. You must be way behind in that tech world Brian. How do you think we buy and sell power between companies. I am not going to get into the technical details. A/C power is pretty easy to adjust frequencies and voltage. I am not saying it doesn't cost money. I think we have 4 grids in the US. West coast, East Coast, Midwest and Texas (good old Texas). I think Texas would be the perfect place to tie three grids together if it hasn't happened already.

Sudre_ | August 17, 2012

Also the throwing away of the power issue is solved when you just put that extra energy into all the BEVs plugged into the grid.

Brian is in that proverbial box. Elon's engineers are outside that box. That is why Tesla has such a superior car. . . And Space X a rocket.

Brian H | August 18, 2012

TM has made rather discouraging noises about using BEVs as distributed grid "storage". A whole lotta expense and complications for a rather dubious benefit.
When and how do you imagine it would be useful? Absorbing and buffering wild swings in output from wind and solar? Why not just put nice, stable base load and fast-ramp gas generators in place, for a fraction the cost? BEV backup is a solution to a non-problem.

You misunderstand the difference between connecting stable and controllable large generation and consumption nodes at long distance with trying to do the same trick to load-balance wild swings in power. (Talk about "predicting" them with weather forecasting is literally whistling in the wind.) Example: Poland has stopped accepting output from Germany's windfarms at any price, as accommodating its unpredictable leaps and falls are far more damaging and difficult to deal with than it's worth to have the power. This has caused considerable scrambling and anxiety in said providers. Another: the touted Destertec Saharan solar super-project to provide power to Europe is quietly being cost and feasibility and politics -analysed out of existence. Some things can't be solved with any amount of hand-waving and loud talk.

Brian H | August 18, 2012

typo: ... accommodating its leaps and falls is far more ...

Brian H | August 18, 2012

Speaking of Germany:

http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15300384,00.html
http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/686896#.UC-RaaDy34s

Some 'boxes' contain chunks and mountains of reality that don't respond well to being ignored.

Brian H | August 18, 2012

Buy a Model S or BEV because it's a fabulous product and meets personal requirements, not as a sacrifice to save the world. If it turns out, as I believe it will, that CO2 emission is a non-problem, or even a net benefit, will a purchase of a Tesla car still make sense? I strongly believe so.

pilotSteve | August 18, 2012

I attended a presentation on the "Smart Grid" and one of the key elements of knowing demand (smart meters and appliances communicating their requests before drawing power) is that the voltage of the transmission lines can be varied to meet demand. I can't remember the numbers but as BrianH points out there is significant loss that can be reduced with reduced voltage.

And high voltage DC transmission was also mentioned, of course it has its own engineering and safety challenges.

I believe that our grid performance is amazing (literally) given its age and limitations. The primary drag on implementation of smart grid is, of course, economics. Thats a whole different discussion for those in the know.

Sudre_ | August 18, 2012

BrianH, "....will a purchase of a Tesla car still make sense? I strongly believe so."

I agree!

The other stuff is fun to talk about though.

digitaltim | August 27, 2012

This was a great thread...it made me recall one of my more cynical rules of life: the end game for all species is extinction...fingers crossed that I outlive the next ELE. ;-)

My justification for buying a Model S is to minimize the energy intensity of transportation - that simple and that complex.

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