Big oil

Big oil

Big oil needs to understand that their game is over. Would it be possible to convert them in order to speed up ev adoption?

tobi_ger | 22 giugno 2013

On geological timescales their fate was even predetermined, but I wouldn't bet too much on seeing it in my lifetime, unfortunately.

RyanPamplin | 22 giugno 2013

I am an investor in tesla, my dad invested in big oil, grandfather was in rails. I feel that this is a natural migration, but like the rails big oil needs to change.

AmpedRealtor | 22 giugno 2013

EVs represent a huge opportunity for big oil if they would only look at this differently. Why don't Chevron, Shell, Exxon, Mobile, Arco, BP, Circle K, QT, etc. install high AMP charging ports at their gas stations? This way they get the EV customers - charge them for power, sell them some big gulps and chips, etc. There is also a tremendous opportunity here in the Southwest to build solar-thermal generating stations that could power the entire country.

If we are shifting to an EV transportation economy, big oil can easily position itself as "big electric" and be the provider of choice for EV travel across the nation. Big oil should be ashamed of itself for allowing a young, unknown upstart called Tesla to build up a national infrastructure from scratch. If Tesla can do it, so can Shell. Come on big oil!

Here's another really obvious one... Let's take Intel as an example. Intel creates chipsets and reference motherboards for use by OEM manufacturers in their desktops, laptops and mobile devices. Tesla has created a "reference" EV platform that it is selling to Mercedes and Toyota, big oil can do the same thing and with a lot more money behind it. Imagine if the oil companies formed a standards body that would be responsible for developing a new EV platform to be adopted by all of the major automakers. I can see a lot of licensing fees going back to the oil companies for this, they of course would also manufacture the stuff and would be the only place from which to buy these drivetrains. I'm just thinking out loud, but where there's a will there's a way.

I can only think that big oil would make even more money by embracing EVs instead of fearing them.

tobi_ger | 22 giugno 2013

Big oil isn't fearing EVs, dealerships and carmakers are. As long as there is a barrel of oil to be wrenched out of the soil, it will be sold to any paying country.

@AR: the comparison re: Intel/motherboards and big oil/cars is not really apples-2-apples, I think. Big oil companies wouldn't know how to build a car, especially not an EV, but everyone can build a PC from a motherboard and some extras. :)

AmpedRealtor | 22 giugno 2013

@ tobi_ger, I don't think auto makers are afraid of EVs. GM would sell you a car that ran on horse sh*t if there was money to be made. I recently watched "Revenge of the Electric Car" and it was really refreshing hearing the CEO of GM (who is no longer with GM) say that he hopes Elon Musk success and would like nothing more than to see EVs become successful. This is coming from the same company that developed and then killed the EV-1 in California, something GM later said was one of its biggest mistakes.

Car dealerships aren't afraid of EVs, they are afraid of Tesla's "direct-to-consumer" sales model. Their opposition to Tesla via the NADA is rooted more in the fear that if Tesla is successful, Toyota and the rest cannot be far behind. That spells financial ruin for the dealerships. Look at what's happened with Apple. Used to be you'd have to go to a reseller to buy their stuff, but since opening the online Apple store as well as its own brick-and-mortar locations, almost all of the independent brick-and-mortar resellers have gone out of business. Auto dealerships fear the same fate. NADA would oppose any auto manufacturer that tried to sell directly to the consumer, it just happens to be Tesla.

I don't think there is any big conspiracy against EVs, it's just a confluence of factors that have resulted in an uphill battle for EVs.

tobi_ger | 22 giugno 2013

You're right, the fear of precedence (re: NADA). I was thinking along the line of their lack of service (except maybe tires) to be done with real EV's. But there are still millions of ICE's we first need to get rid of. :)

As to carmakers: I'm wondering if the "big 5" just delayed their R&D in order to wait for someone else to build a charging infrastructure (maybe by governmental support) or just didn't see any viability to offer anything mass-market before Prius.

Exciting times anyway. Thanks for your eloquent post(s), AR! Appreciate your time and following your decision making/process.

tobi_ger | 22 giugno 2013

(sorry, replace "big 5" with any number of big carmakers)

AmpedRealtor | 22 giugno 2013

Can we shorten "big oil" to just "boil"? LOL

tobi_ger | 22 giugno 2013

+1 lol

Mark E | 23 giugno 2013

The real impact is that the huge reserves of remaining fossil fuels need to stay in the ground rather than being dug up and sold/burned. This is a massive investment lost for the old energy industry. They will fight very hard to try and protect it.

We are at an interesting and critical point now where alternative energy sources are becoming cheap in comparison to the 'mine& burn' option. We're not quite there yet, but not far off. Interestingly I read recently that it was now cheaper to install solar/wind than to build a new coal/gas power station.

I believe that energy storage is the next big thing - especially static batteries for use in power distribution. Being able to cater for the peaks and dips in demand and the variable renewable generation capability will mean massive savings - even for the existing grid.

Coal fired power generally runs at 100% for extended periods of time because of the problems in bringing them up and down. Being able to have a sufficient buffer would allow much better planning and less energy waste - quite a lot of power is wasted right now as it's still cheaper than to save it.

satyrias | 23 giugno 2013


"Why don't Chevron, Shell, Exxon, Mobile, Arco, BP, Circle K, QT, etc. install high AMP charging ports at their gas stations? This way they get the EV customers - charge them for power, sell them some big gulps and chips, etc. "

The gas stations are run by independent dealers. Oil companies have no role in what they sell in the stores.

I think the gas stations what we know today will be a history.

Superchargers or Chargers can be placed anywhere in the parking lots of Malls, shopping centers, Grocery stores, Motels, Restaurants, Fast food outlets, Office complexes, so on and no need for a separate isolated location as Gas stations since there is no safety issues.

So, take pictures of your favorite Gas stations now; one day you can show it to your grandchildren, how grandpa used to drive like you have seen the pictures of horse carts driven by your great great uncles.

The time has come to get rid of the abuses of Car mechanics and Dealerships.

JAFIC | 23 giugno 2013

@satyrias Eh..getting rid of dealerships ? sure. Car mechanics ? No.

Car mechanics fixes flat tires (roadside assistance) over here. So nah, I still want car mechanics here.

Liz G | 23 giugno 2013


Some gas stations have started installing charing stations. The Kwik trips near La CrosseWI have started installing them according to my father.

Warkovision | 23 giugno 2013

I thought I read sometime ago that oil companies were buying up battery companies and battery patents though I'm not sure to what extent. It may have only been NIMH batteries. Also don't know the impact on competitive "balance" that would have EV/ICE. Anybody else keeping track of this? Perhaps big oil is trying to "evolve" or......... I'm just a worry wart ;>)

AmpedRealtor | 23 giugno 2013

Someday I'll be telling my grand nephews and nieces that we used to go to these places called "gas stations"… LOL

Oaktowner | 23 giugno 2013

Yesterday I was lucky enough to accompany a friend on his Tesla factory tour when he picked up his Model S.

Overheard a teenager asking his dad (in reference to the ICE thy had driven to the factory), "Don't you have to fill your caveman car with dinosaur juice before we go home?"

Cracked me up.

I think that's how the new generation will come to see oil and gas: relics of a distant past.

tobi_ger | 23 giugno 2013

+1 that kid needs to spread the message, too! :)

Dr. Bob Reinke | 23 giugno 2013

Toyota and Honda have long ago made the necessity of franchise dealerships worthless. Now Tesla has showen the waste of over a million dealer employees siting around waiting for your badly manufactured new car to break-down. I haven't bought an American car since 1976 mostly because the then dealership put most of the first years milage on the car while failing to fix the manufactured problems and actually manufacturing more problems. My first import was a 1977 Celica. (needed reliable transportation while the Ford was being towed to the dealership) Toyota had to replace the voltage regulator once, and that could have been done at Joes auto repair. (v/r didn't like the pressure washer) 640,000 later it's parked because the driver's seat wore out and the dealer doesn't handle them any more. Bought two 1988 Supras (his and hers) still driving them. Other than going to the dealer to look at the cars before buying the dealer has never seen either over 350,000 mile Supras again. Could have easily bought both by reading Consumer's Reports and ordering on the internet. If a car is worth buying, the dealer is a waste of money and a huge waste of time. The vision of Mr. Goodwrench picking his nose and wiping his greasy hands in his under arms, unfortunetly, is far too true in consumer America.

carlk | 23 giugno 2013

Noticed pretty much all new gas stations now have a mini-mart attached in anticipation to one day they will need to dump or replace the gas selling part of buisiness?

RyanPamplin | 23 giugno 2013

I live in a town(Baton Rouge) where oil refining is a dominant economic force. Tesla will potentially disrupt our whole economy!!! I know these people and they just don't get it.

Brian H | 23 giugno 2013

Ancillary sales already account for much of the profit at many/most gas stations, I gather.

Sudre_ | 24 giugno 2013

How long before the car washer at a gas station has a battery swapper at the beginning of it. "Free wash with your swap!" :-)

rtb | 24 giugno 2013

Just note that there is no big oil--just big energy companies. The historical oil companies have diversified into all types of energy including wind and solar. They didn't get big by being stupid :)

TFMethane | 25 giugno 2013


No, they aren't stupid. But they do look at the "area under the curve" of oil. They have estimated how much oil reserves are left, and their intention is to trickle it out to keep the price elevated, and extract and sell every last drop... using the profits to give them a monopoly over whatever tech replaces it. They have NO desire to terminate oil drilling even one day before they are forced to... It doesn't matter how green they talk.

I really do think Big ICE has been trying to stop electric vehicles. I don't think they are afraid of EV's. They just all did the same cost benefit analysis, and realized every one of them would likely come to the same conclusion (BTW, that's the non-conspiracy way of looking at it). The conclusion is that there is no point putting a bunch of R&D money into any technology that won't be as profitable (at least at first) as their current products. They intentionally make all the EV's look stupid and have short range, in order to create a new product: the obligated commute-only vehicle. Anyone who buys one of these still has to buy a traditional ICE car, because it won't fulfill all their needs. This was a way to add sales overall without cannibalizing their core market.

That is why Tesla is years ahead of them all. Tesla went all-in, and they have to make it work as a general car, or they go out of business. When Tesla sells 100K cars a year, they'll kick it into high gear... maybe try a hostile takeover or something. They may not kill Tesla, but they'll subsume it.

TFMethane | 25 giugno 2013

"They'll kick it into high gear..."

I mean Big ICE will get then get serious about EV's. With their available capital, they will be able to accomplish in 2-3 years what Tesla had done in 5-8years. They will use business tactics (hostile takeovers, patent litigation, lobbying, licensing tech, etc.) to do it, but when they get serious, they'll get it done. Nobody's really forcing their hands economically yet, and they're hoping they can lobby their way out of the political pressure for the time being.

I think Elon is expecting to keep his own car company in that environment by having a lot of superior tech. However, he isn't cuthroat like big ICE is. He actually admitted that A Better Place ripped off Tesla's battery swap idea, and he said it didn't bother him at all... He wants other people to make EV tech work.

Elon is a class act engineer in the humanitarian tradition of Ben Franklin... however, Ben Franklin would be CRUSHED by modern corporations. I worry Elon will, too.

Brian H | 25 giugno 2013

"Running out" isn't an issue, for a few centuries. That won't be the decider. The MS shows the way because it's superior tech that provides a superior consumer experience in several dimensions.

AmpedRealtor | 25 giugno 2013

80% of the power at my home here in Arizona is provided by the sun, which (through time of use plan) basically offsets 100% of my energy bill. The power to charge my car during the day comes from the sun, although I'm a little peeved that I have to convert DC to AC, then back to DC again to get a charge into my car. I wish Tesla would allow a residential DC charging option, that would allow us DC current from our solar panels without conversion to AC and the slight loss due to conversion.

What's threatening to big energy is the decentralization of the energy supply.

Brian H | 25 giugno 2013

The highly variable DC output would give the MS belly-ache. The inefficient DC/AC/DC sequence at least gives you control at both ends.

Bubba2000 | 25 giugno 2013

If I could figure out when the oil price would crash, I could be stinking rich by shorting way out of money puts with a couple of years. Never been that smart. I used to work for the the BigTiger in my earlier life. I suspect it will take some disruptive innovation to displace oil from the auto sector like dirt cheap batteries. Make BEV cheaper than ICE vehicles.

Meanwhile, a lot of changes are taking place in the oil business that could bring prices down. The cost of exploration is coming down with better geophysical data analysis and imaging as well reservoir simulation. Enhanced recovery like hydrofracturing, tertiary recovery tech like C02 injection costs were hi, but are coming down. The same techniques will be use overseas and production could go up big time. Chinese/Asian growth could be slowing. ICE including gas turbines are improving efficiency. Add it all up and crude could fall. I wish I knew by how much and when.

Regardless, the CO2 emission problem and climate change is a serious issue. Look at the weird weather in the last decade. El Nino, Katrina and a series of hurricanes like Sandy. Rest of the world weather changed too. I suspect we are in for nasty surprises here.

Brian H | 25 giugno 2013

FYI, the only weird thing about weather in the last years is how abnormally normal and calm it is. It's been, e.g., about 7 yrs since a Cat 3 hurricane made landfall. Sandy was a wimp that happened to hook up with a cold front and a nor-easter, combined with criminal negligence in preparations by NYC government, to cause heavy damage. Tornado count is way down from average, the sea rise is decelerating from its already very low (1'/century) rate, and so on. The Chicken Littles of the world are spouting pure BS.

JAFIC | 26 giugno 2013

Brian, kindly explain the Hail shower failling in Singapore, a country near the equator where it is 37 degree Celeius

Brian H | 26 giugno 2013

What? all storms can generate hailstones at high altitude. Sometimes they melt before they hit the ground, sometimes not. Stupid question.