various questions

various questions


As an Australian who is unlikely to be able to justify the cost of a Telsa Model S any time soon, if it does indeed come to Australia, I feel it is my right to criticise everybody on these forums who won't give me one.

No only joking :-).

Anyway, some things I was wondering:

What is the environmental impact of the making the batteries? Some articles say this is insignificant over the lifetime of the car while others are much more gloomy - I am not sure who to believe.

How does the Tesla S cope with going on long down hill stretches of mountain roads? Normally on a conventional car the technique you would use would be to change down gears causing the engine to slow the car down, to avoid the brakes overheating. I would assume you can somehow use regenerative braking to do the same thing. How does this work? Is it possible to activate regenerative brakes without using the conventional brakes?

Is Telsa serious about the Australian market? I have seen some conflicting articles on this (sorry can't seem to find the links right now). I can't see any official articles on their website of what there future plans are for Australia.

Is there any data on average kwh/distance used? I ask because I see lots of people quoting cost/distance, which is meaningless as electricity costs may vary considerable in different countries, and at my place electricity prices are going up up and up.

If anybody wanted forcefully give me a Telsa S all expenses paid as a result of this post I wouldn't resist (resistance is futile). No violence required. Honest.


penguin_brian | 21 février 2013

Looks like my URLs got removed. A preview mode would be really nice...


Anyway the positive article on the environmental impact of the batteries:

The negative one:

I chose these links as they seem to be more recent then other Google results.

jat | 21 février 2013

There are tons of resources online talking about ecological impacts of batteries. However, most of them ignore the fact that the batteries can be readily recycled, both as batteries with just reduced capacity for other uses, or as raw materials to make new batteries.

For going down hill, you use regenerative breaking which in addition to slowing the car down like engine braking with a manual transmission, you actually recover a substantial amount of energy. To activate them, you just let off the accelerator, and the car will extract up to 60kW of power from the kinetic energy of the car.

I have no idea how serious Tesla is about Australia, but I would assume that they are interested in selling a car to anyone who is willing to buy it, but also that they are going to concentrate efforts where there are more customers or fewer changes are required to the car. In particular, I think the right-hand-drive models won't be available until the end of the year.

The EPA rated range of 265 miles assumes an average of about 312Wh/mi, and the ideal range of 300 miles (constant 55mph on flat ground with no HVAC) comes to about 275Wh/mi. I haven't driven for efficiency (driving ~80 on the interstate and making use of the accelerator), and I am averaging about 370Wh/mi. It is very easy to achieve 320Wh/mi by just dropping the speed slightly on the interstate, and the one time I tried to see how low I could get the energy usage I was able to get about 290Wh/mi (still with half my commute at interstate speeds). All of the above is with moderate heating use (it has typically been 40-50F around here since I got the car.

Sudre_ | 21 février 2013

I think if you take the time to sit down and really think about the process of making and fueling either car it becomes a little more clear since many studies are paid for by people who want their idea supported I find them hard to believe sometimes.

The car itself minus the fuel/battery is pretty much the same car. Sure other car makers are using electric motors that use permanent magnets but Tesla is not. Just because some companies can do it the wrong way does not mean the concept is flawed.
An ICE has hundred of parts that will need to be continually replaced in the engine alone. A BEV does not. Tesla's motor has one moving part. That alone you have to admit saves on environmental impact since less is needed to support the car.
With the car itself minus fuel we are already ahead by a little.
+1 BEV

Both the battery and oil for each car has to be mined. One we are running out of the other we have just started to tap. Lithium can be recycled. Some will say the process is difficult but it can be recycled. Oil can not, once it's converted to gas and burnt it is gone. Even if the mining/drilling is equally toxic for lithium and oil the lithium is not burnt in the car and the toxins either spewed into the air or collected in catalytic converts. The lithium stays in the batteries.
To me that give lithium BEVs another +1

Oil has to be refined into fuel. Lithium has to be turned into batteries. Both have to be transported. Oil has to be transported to the refinery. Lithium to the battery cell maker. Once the refinery is done the fuel is transported around the world to thousands of distribution centers in hundreds of thousands truck and boats. Batteries will be sent to maybe 50 car makers. Which do you think takes more energy, transporting to a few locations or to thousands?
Again I think the BEV is ahead here +1

Once the battery is in the car that's it. You charge and there is no transportation pollution just the power generation of your choice. Yes that can be coal. It can also be Nuclear, Hydro, Wind, Solar and a few others. For ICE they need that transportation to happen every time they go to the pump. The coal fired power plant is looking pretty clean at this point.
See the lithium is once. The pollution is done as far as mining, refining, transporting. Gas is a repeat cycle of pollute every time you get gas. Even is this processes is a break even between the two, which I doubt, the other +1s above put the BEV ahead.

Here's the biggest point to me.
In twenty years I can take my battery out of my car and install the latest Gene4000 electric generator that takes pee(or whatever is cheap) and turns it into total clean energy. Why total clean? because that's what that generator will do. With ICE I an still stuck with drilling, refining and refueling.... forever. Well maybe farming, refining and refueling... still a polluting method.

diegoPasadena | 21 février 2013

Re: Regenerative braking - It may not be immediately clear to everyone, (I really only totally understood when I test drove the car) that the regen braking all happens when you release the accelerator. You need not touch the brake at all. The last inch or so of the accelerator's travel before it's completely released engages the regenerative braking. It's much like a high-compression ICE, but much more manageable. I can drive the car without ever touching the brake pedal, except if I want to slow below 5mph. Now that I've had the car for almost a week it's already starting to become second nature. I manage the accelerator just so that it reaches about 5 mph with a few yards to go to the stopping point. Then I barely touch the brake and I'm stopped. If it were up to me, I'd encourage Tesla to leave the regen braking on until the car has reached 2 mph.
So, depending on how steep the hill is, you may never touch the brake pedal. My guess is that it would have to be pretty steep, because regenerative braking is nice and strong (enough to light up the brake lights)

penguin_brian | 21 février 2013

Some interesting responses. Thanks for these.

Interesting that regenerative braking is enabled when you release the accelerator. I assume this gradually happens in the last inch of accelerator travel, so it isn't all or nothing.

In interesting point in Sudre_'s response "In twenty years I can take my battery out of my car [...]" In twenty years time will you still want the car minus battery? Or will it be considered an obsolete piece of junk, same as with any technology that is now 20 years old?

I guess you really need a time machine to answer this. Hopefully you can get a battery electric time machine (BETM)... Wouldn't want a ICTM these days.

So lets see, 370Wh/mi, the worse case figure. According to Google that is 230Wh/km. We use metric here :-). According to electricity can be up to 40c/kWh or 40c/1000Wh (worse case - will have to check what I am paying), so that would be 230*40/1000= 9.20c/km. Is my maths here correct? Seems lower then I expected. I probably should be factoring losses in battery charging here somehow.

Of course, speed limits, etc, will be different here.

While they have proved the point that BEV are possible and work really well by the sounds of it, the biggest issue I see is the initial cost.

That and the question of can the electricity network cope with everyone charging their cars at the same time during the night (on hot nights the network here can only barely cope with everyone turning their air conditioners on at night).

Hopefully with time it should be possible to overcome these hurdles.

KendallPB | 21 février 2013

Regen is gradual, although you have to get used to not just letting off the accelerator like an ICE and expecting a coast. ;-)

dborn | 21 février 2013

penguin_brian - I am in Sydney. I have test driven the roadster twice. Believe me, regen is intuitive and great! you get used to it virtually within 10 mins. Diego is 100% correct. you only touch the brakes when you want to come to a complete stop. You may never need to change brake pads, and hopefully the wheels will stay clean of brake dust. Can any owners comment specifically on brake dust?
Regarding Aussie - we lost our local rep a couple of months ago because right hand drive has been pushed back, so there is currently no active marketing. I am a reservation holder and am becoming concerned that they may have decided to abandon right hand drive for the foreseeable future. I have written to George Blankenship and am awaiting a reply, since i may want my deposit back if they are going to be another couple of years. (i registered in April 2011). So, right now, they don't appear to be serious about the Aussie market.

jat | 21 février 2013

Yes, it looks like charging efficiency is around 87% of the energy leaving the wall makes it to the battery. There are also other losses, such as the 100W load running the electronics (most of which will go away when sleep mode is re-enabled in 4.3) and self-discharge if the car sits unused for a long time.

penguin_brian | 21 février 2013


Sounds like a definite improvement. I live on a mountain which is popular with tourists. It isn't uncommon for city drivers to visit and go down the mountain in top gear on a hot day. I can just imagine these drivers thinking "my brakes seem sluggish, I better drive slower" resulting in stinky hot brakes by the bottom. Who knows what fibres come off the brake pads as a result and into the atmosphere...

Yes, I read a post about Australia losing our local rep. Might even have been your post I was looking for. I guess you really need to decide if it is work keeping your reservation or putting the money into a high interest bank account or term deposit. Based on my experience with other companies, I could just imagine Telsa in several years time saying that have decided against a right hand drive model S due to "lack of demand" and at some stage in the future they may consider making the next model available instead.


That 100W load in running the electronics - is that included in the figures you gave me above? Any case, sounds like I should add about, say 15% to the costs. So make that 11c/km (includes round up to nearest cent).

Brian H | 22 février 2013

I just figgered out the wrong-hand drive problem for TM. Since the 17" touchscreen needs to be typed on occasionally, and since most people are right-handed, the screen needs to be on the right side of the driver. And there isn't enough room between the seat and the door.


jat | 22 février 2013

@penguin_brian - the figures I gave were for driving, which does include it (though 100W is pretty inconsequential compared to traction usage). It is mostly an issue when the car is sitting unplugged for a period of time.

The efficiency charging it means I am paying about $.019/mi (my marginal electric rate is $.044/kWh) at my average of 370Wh/mi.

For comparison, a typical gas car would cost about $.10/mi. However, given the cost of the Model S, you won't pay back the price premium in fuel use over the life of the car, so you shouldn't be buying it just for that (of course you will enjoy driving the Model S much more than the most cost-effective transportation).

Alex K | 22 février 2013

@Brian H | FEBRUARY 22, 2013: I just figgered out the wrong-hand drive problem for TM.

Interresting observation - really. The GUI will probably have to be changed for RHD. At least the CONTROLS button will need to be moved to the right side of the screen for easier access.

jat | 22 février 2013

@Alex K - I suspect it will be a lot like designing UIs for Right-to-Left languages (like Arabic and Hebrew), and support for that is already widespread.

Brian H | 22 février 2013

But wrong-handers would all have to do all that left-handed. Very "sinister". (Latin for "left hand".) Suddenly the center screen ain't so "handy"!

Mark E | 23 février 2013

@Brian H: please contribute something useful that is not derogatory, or don't post at all.

Penguin_Brian: I am also in Sydney and have driven the roadster about 700km over a weekend. We drove to Canberra & back. The regen is extremely intuitive and is like driving a manual with a single gear. It is extremely responsive.

I'm a reservation holder and hope to see my car this year. I'm disappointed that we lost our local rep, but can understand that there isn't much to be done here for the next few months at least with nothing to sell.

Charging the car overnight won't be a problem for a long time here - there is a reason why power is so much cheaper at night.

penguin_brian | 23 février 2013

All this talk about the display being on the left vs right side of the steering wheel. If Telsa are really as good as there reputation implies, I am confident that they will have already considered these issues. Including designing the software, if required, to change from one mode to the other quickly and easily. Just as I assume it should be easy to change from miles to km. I would really seriously doubt this is the cause of any delays in getting the right hand drive car out.


Depends on how much you drive :-) My rough estimate (I need to double check this) if you drive more then 1.2 million miles, you will break even :-) This doesn't include insurance or maintenance, so probably less if you consider how much maintenance a typical ICE requires.

So put your car on a giant treadmill when not in use, so you can generate more miles and keep the cost/miles down. Of course, this totally misses the point entirely and is desperately stupid, however it sounds... good.

Only 4.4c/kWh? You get electricity for cheap. Don't blame currency conversion, AUD and USD are about the same. We pay about 27c/kWh (peak) 17.3c/kWh (off peak) here (and that is cheap compared with some resellers, I quoted 40c/kWh above). Even more for "green" electricity.

@Mark E

It really sounds like Tesla, like a lot of companies, isn't very good at customer communications. If they wanted to they could put some sort of official statement on their website describing their plans for Australia. It sounds like reservation holders are kept in the dark. Which is a shame, good communications is what makes the difference between a good company and an excellent company. Instead potential customers have to look at media articles (knowing that the media can get facts wrong), hearsay (also knowing this could be wrong or changed) or known facts (only one Tesla centre for all of Australia[1]!). They may not have a product to sell yet, I think it is a bit short sighted to say this means that they don't any information here.

Another question: What is the ground clearance like? I ask this as I own a low floor car (older MX5) and scrapping is easy, e.g. going over speed humps. Is there a risk of damaging the battery?


[1] Contrary to popular misconception by foreigners, you can't drive from Melbourne to Perth in several hours. i.e. Australia is a big place!

Brian H | 23 février 2013

Mark E;
ST*U. If levity is outside your perceptive abilities, don't try to hold everyone else to your dreary standards.

jat | 23 février 2013

@penguin_brian - yes, our electricity is cheap -- we get a lot of it from nuclear and hydro. It doubles during the summer, and they offer an EV rate that gets it down to $.019/kWh for the middle of the night, but at the cost of raising peak rates in the summer to $.19/kWh. Since I only spend $35-$50/mo (charging a LEAF and the Model S), what savings I would make there would be dwarfed by doubling what I spend on the rest of my bill.

Our gas is cheap too - it has gone up recently, but it is still about $3.75/gal.

penguin_brian | 23 février 2013

I created a spreadsheet with some estimated cost per distance, including inefficiencies in charging:

Hopefully that should be open for public access.

No guarantees on the accuracy of the data, etc; it isn't my fault if I got it right.

The figure I got (1.87 c/mile) is extremely close to what Jat said about (1.9 c/mile)

The 80mph usage figure is not relevant to Australia (we don't have speed limits that high), but I left it in regardless.

nickjhowe | 23 février 2013

@Penguin_Brian - Check out Cliff's website - he's already done these calcs and more:

Mark E | 23 février 2013

@Brian H: I get levity, but you seem to constantly confuse levity with insults, and ST*U doesn't mean anything to me. I appreciate some of your posts when they contain useful info or humour, but sometimes you cross the line. Its not just in this thread.

@penguin_brian: The ground clearance on the roadster is similar to your mx-5, but roadster is actually less practical (just). The mx-5 has a bit more room in the cabin and the boot is about on par.

If you are paying 17c /kWh for off peak then you should probably look around, I'm paying 11, which includes extra for green.

I'm with Energy Australia at the moment. I intend to charge the model s using off peak - or potentially controlled load, if EA will let me.

penguin_brian | 24 février 2013

@nickjhowe Unfortunately this site, like Telsa's has numbers specific to USA. Things are a bit different here. e.g. mains power is 240V [1] not 110V. Different unit's of measurement are used and speed limits are different.

@Mark E am actually looking power companies now. Our contract expired. Seems very hard to get information required for a comparison. e.g. Energy Australia's website won't give me the off-peak rates. Even when you do get the rates, there are discounts that need to be applied on top of these rates, e.g. for paying on time.


[1] According to it is actually 230VAC +10% -6% and my UPS is telling me it is closer to 250VAC.

Mark E | 24 février 2013

@penguin_brian: I know what you mean - you have to 'apply for a quote' very annoying.

Brian H | 24 février 2013

Mark E;
You must be sinister.

Pungoteague_Dave | 24 février 2013

Unfortunately for our Aussie friends, 90% of world GDP occurs in the northern hemisphere, and TM has a long way to go before it satisfies market demand there. Besides, don't electrons circle the other way down there? Does GM sell the Volt in Australia or NZ?

Pungoteague_Dave | 24 février 2013

Answered my own question, it is sold as the Holden Volt.

penguin_brian | 24 février 2013

@Pungoteague_Dave There is a northern hemisphere? So sorry, didn't realize. I thought the world stopped at the equator. With Australia in the centre :-). You must be off the edge of the planet...

More seriously, I think people Aussies are interested in the Tesla because of its extended range. If I look up the details for the Holden Volt in Australia, I see quotes like "The Volt is powered by General Motors' revolutionary electric propulsion system; it consists of a 16.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and electric drive unit that provide a pure electric range of up to 87 kilometres depending on conditions. It's a rechargeable energy storage system, which includes a liquid thermal management system with active control."

So in your units that is just over 54 miles, which is well under the rated range of even the smallest 40KWh battery with the Tesla. Which is hardly surprising for a 16.5KWh battery.

According to Google maps, my commute to work is around 50km (plus another 50km return), so the range with the Volt would be insufficient unless I could charge at work (no chance).

As it is, I would be insane trying to drive to work each day (public transport much better and cheaper especially once you factor in parking considerations) so not really relevant. Except to demonstrate my point that a theoretical 87km range is not really sufficient IMHO.

Another drive I commonly do is around 60km. No chance of recharging stations along this route any time soon. So might be sufficient, but not leaving much margin for error. Especially when considering from time to time key roads can be blocked resulted in backtracking to find an alternative route (so add another 20km; yes this is an extreme case, but it really has happened). Plus these roads probably (mountain roads and outer suburbs) chew up more power then the theoretical tests.

I think at present time Tesla is the only BEV with acceptable range.

Telsa's website makes it difficult to get statistics for the Model S if it thinks you are from Australia. It keeps redirecting you to the Australian site, which is missing these details. Unless you go directly to the links. So will paste the links here:

penguin_brian | 24 février 2013

I assume everyone is familiar with these pages, right?

Not much in the way of new details, and may not have been updated in ages, however the most I can find so far.

Question, it says it has "3G connectivity". How does this work? Do they supply a working connection? Or does the owner have to pay for a connection separately? Or does it connect to your mobile phone?

Mark E | 24 février 2013

penguin_brian: no details on 3G here in Oz yet, but the US cars got the connection paid for by Tesla- cant remember for how long. You could use a volt for your trip if you don't mind burning some fuel.

There is supposedly a wifi option coming, so you could potentially tether to your mobile. It would be interesting to see how much data it actually uses - you'd hope for less than 1GB/month, but who can tell how much each firmware upgrade uses. There is no real news on LTE support.

I'll be going for the 85 and most likely the P85. It's the only one that could let me commute and also do weekend trips without resorting to my wife's car - as practical as your mx-5.. I don't like the Volt as it's front wheel drive and relatively slow, plus the added complexity of carrying the engine if you don't need to 90% of the time.

I've been defaulting to the US site as it has more detail than the AU version, but we still don't know the standard equipment levels or pricing here.

The worst part is that it will cop the luxury car tax above $75k and that will limit the claimable depreciation and interest if you use it for business, (I will).

On a side note, if you are paying that much for power, then a solar PV system might make more sense to you than many. For me I'm limited by the trees and overshadowing, but have arranged a 2kW system that should offset the car pretty well.

jat | 24 février 2013

@penguin_brian - currently Telsa pays for it. Once they figure out how they want to do it, customers will have to start paying for it. All the details TBD.

There has been discussion of allowing the car to tether to your phone, but no details there either.

penguin_brian | 24 février 2013

@Mark E

So Volt is a hybrid? I must have missed this. Yes, agree, if I wanted an electric car one of the significant selling points would be the reduced maintenance of not having a ICE (not just the cost, but also the hassle of trying to get it to the service centre) and the increased reliability.

A solar PV system wouldn't work for me either, for the same reason. Don't get many minutes of direct sun on our roof.

Was wondering about the luxury car tax. How much is this? I see:

Seems like Australia doesn't make very good incentives for Electric Car use like some other countries. ACT is better then some states. Victoria gets $100 off in registration fees. wow.

Brian H | 24 février 2013

About the downhill: lifting the foot/goose pedal automatically engages regen. (But if the battery is too cold or too full, the regen may be limited or disabled.) If you set cruise control, most find the MS holds that speed seamlessly, up and then down the hill, within 1 mph, with no driver intervention whatsoever, much less use of the brakes. That may not be the least-energy strategy, but it is very convenient.

Mark E | 25 février 2013

Yes the Volt is a serial hybrid.
I don't see any incentives being offered here for us, especially in NSW.

ChristianG | 25 février 2013


The additional energy you need overnight will not be a problem for a while. Most Grids still rely on atomic power that can't change it's output on short notice, wich means that normaly there is too much power on the grid over night wich has to be used somehow. Here in switzerland we pump up water into water reservoir.

There are also some studies that took a look at the electric bills of fuel refineries and depending on the source 60-90% of the electricity an electric car uses to move is also in the fuel. So a part of the more needed electricity could come from the not needed fuel ;)

But then reality will be just like always we have new electric gadgets and we'll build more powerstations to fulfill the need... like with computes, big tvs and cell phones.

Brian H | 25 février 2013

There's no call to call penguin_brian a bird-brain! >:p

penguin_brian | 25 février 2013

@Mark E: Maybe move to ACT :-). Still have to pay this luxury tax (5% of market value of car I think I saw), but you don't have to pay stamp duty. Which looks very similar (seems to be 5% in Victoria and just under 5% in NSW).

At least that is my understanding. Apparently ACT has a reputation for having expensive car registration, however I think it might turn out to be cheapest for electric cars, at least for the very first registration. (I think it might be possible to transfer registration using the same name between states without paying stamp duty; not 100% sure on this).

@ChristianG: Yes. For coal power plants used here, I seem to recall it takes 12 hours to start up or shut down a generator. I think people had the idea that you could use green power (e.g. wind) to fill this gap, however you might not have the green power when it is needed (unless stored in batteries).

The one exception to the general rule of having too much power during the night is hot nights, when everybody has their air conditioners turned on. People don't like it when power companies underestimate the power requirements and introduce blackouts as a result. So the power companies are expected to anticipate this, and add more power just in case.

Which is also something to consider when purchasing a BEV. Sometimes electric blackouts can last days. Might be when you need the car most. e.g blackout caused by bush fires. Which isn't to say that petrol shortages never happen (and maybe this will get worse with time), however electricity at present time seems to be less reliable. At least where I live.

@Brian H: I assume ChristianG meant to say Penguin_brain not Panguin_brain :-)

penguin_brian | 25 février 2013

I just discovered this thread which is interesting reading:

"I still fully expect Australian deliveries to begin at the end of this year or early in 2014 [...]. Our commitment to Australia is unchanged. Actually, interest in Model S in Australia has climbed since last December."

Brian H | 26 février 2013

Actually, I missed the "Pan" bit. But a penguin is a bird, as you surely know. It restricts its flying to underwater, though.

Mark E | 26 février 2013

penguin_brian: saving the stamp duty wouldn't compensate for putting up with ACT.

dborn | 26 février 2013

penguin_brian -regrettably all we really get in Oz is a lifting of the luxury car tax threshold.
The Volt works much like a ww2 submarine - the motor runs a generator which charges the battery, not the wheels.
The thread you quote has been largely contributed by me in response to emails sent to management at Tesla. George did not reply to me on this occasion, but the manager for Asia Pacific, Kevin Yu, did and it is he whom i quoted.
Can i suggest you write to the Government and opposition, regarding further breaks on EV's? I suggest G Hunt in the opposition. I have written to them all, and got a reply from the Greens as well as Hunt, but as usual not from the Labor government. They never reply to letters. Doubt we will see movement on this front - we are too busy giving aid to the dregs of the world and borrowing cash from China and running up the debt to pay for it!

penguin_brian | 26 février 2013

@Mark E: Is it really that difficult dealing with the ACT bureaucracy?

@dborn: Makes it sound... inefficient. Converting electricity to motion, then back to electricity, then store it in a battery, then convert it to motion again. Not to mention the extra weight for fuel and generator.

Good suggestion regarding contacting government.

The problem with raising the luxury care threshold is that it sounds like even the cheapest configuration of the Model S will exceed the threshold.

Arguing the case with local politicians might be marginally easier when Tesla announce pricing of the Model S for Australia.

penguin_brian | 26 février 2013

@Brian H:

Some birds are clever.

In this case, my name is a joke based on Tux.

Unfortunately, I don't think Tux could drive a Telsa Model S. Huge flaw in the car design.

Brian H | 26 février 2013

And here I thought it was a reference to inhabiting the Southern Hemisphere, dodging leopard seals and Orcas!

Mark E | 27 février 2013

@penguin_brian: I don't like the weather, architecture, or location of Canberra. It was only built to settle an argument!