GM, Which Killed The EV1, Plans To Study Elon Musk's Tesla

GM, Which Killed The EV1, Plans To Study Elon Musk's Tesla

AmpedRealtor | 18 juli 2013

The fact that GM has to commission a team to study the Model S as if it were a UFO that crashed onto a ranch in New Mexico tells me that GM doesn't get it and will never get it.

Docrob | 18 juli 2013

For years people like John Petersen wold say that Tesla will never meet expectations because either EVs will never catch on or if they do the big guys will simply bring out competitive EVs and gazump the market. Myself and other shave tried to explain the Tesla has the people and the technology and the patents needed to make leading EVs and even if the big guys decided to come around it would take them ten years to get where Tesla is now. The fact that GM is going to examine Tesla's work in vain attempt to try and do anything that even comes close is proof positive that Tesla has it and the big guys will forever be playing catch up.

DigitalSavant | 18 juli 2013

At their rate of operation, by the time they learn anything at all, the only thing they will have learned is that they are being left in the dust.

pilotSteve | 18 juli 2013

@AmpedRealtor - your description of this "alien phenomenon" that must be "studied" is PERFECT. They just DO NOT get it.

Fortunately..... we can GET IT with a simple credit card deposit and payment on delivery, no Area-51 or top secret clearance required :-)

cfOH | 18 juli 2013

I told my wife when we went for our first test drive that "This feels like the future." Apparently, some companies aren't quite as attuned to that feeling.

kalel65 | 18 juli 2013

I think they're suffering from range anxiety (on their Volt profits that is)

jchangyy | 18 juli 2013

don't underestimate GM. I would think that they probably have powerful politicians in their pockets and they'll use that to stymie innovation and competition.

rodrussell | 18 juli 2013

Predictions on how long before GM buys Tesla?

shop | 18 juli 2013

I would think tesla has a poison pill provision in its bylaws that would prevent unfriendly take overs.

jchangyy | 18 juli 2013

If GM buys Tesla, that would be the end of Tesla as we know it. how depressing

RedShift | 18 juli 2013

Don't underestimate anyone. The fact is, there are very capable suspension and chassis engineers at GM, BMW, Porsche, etc. I read an article on BMW i3/i8. While these are first versions, and have the ICE deadweight to carry around, next versions might not be so half hearted.

It's even reported that the M division might go all electric. I3/i8 are capable of fast DC charging. (CHADEMO?) there might not be a patent on the skateboard architecture. Combine two of the above, add superbly tuned suspension and chassis.

There's your competitor.

True, this is long way off. ICE companies don't want to sabotage their cash cows.
But the fact is, Model S has cut too deep into the upper luxury market for anyone not to notice and take heed.
My thinking is, Benz at some point will take over Tesla or merge and produce the next S class as Model S instead. Yes, it seems outlandish right now. If Model S continues to sell at the pace it's doing right now, there WILL NOT be any option for others, but to go all electric. ( or do micro hybrids to cure the 'range anxiety )

NKYTA | 18 juli 2013

Elon wanted to raise awareness of EV cars whilst making the best car ever - I'd say that with a the news about GM "studying" the MS, he has accomplished yet another goal. +1

lolachampcar | 18 juli 2013

You are right; the big guys have talent. Tesla (and Fisker) suspension heads came from Ford so they have the talent as well. The value here is not suspension but in an overall integrated battery/motor/car. Consider all the baggage that those ICE engineers bring to the table when they go to design a car that competes with MS. I just read another post where people discussed how Toyota threw open its doors for the world to see how they manufactured cars. They were not worried as they knew, without the culture, they could not be copied easily. It is going to take a good long while for large OEMs to do a u-turn given their mass and thus momentum. Even with a successful product u-turn, they have to figure out how to sell it right next to their ICE offerings and they DO have the dealer laws to deal with.

cfOH | 18 juli 2013

In the car world, a platform generation is typically 4-5 years. If they're starting to study the S today, that means we might see a competent EV from them in 2017, but probably not until 2018.

Then, of course, you have the battery supply bottleneck that Elon mentioned at Teslive. That's not going away soon, either. No, Tesla has a substantial and structural lead over competitors...they're good to grow fairly unchallenged for at least 3 years...enough time to get the Gen-III launched, I hope.

AmpedRealtor | 18 juli 2013

By the time GM, Mercedes, BMW or whoever has a viable competitor to any Tesla vehicle, Tesla's gen 3/bluestar will already be on the road with a fully built-out supercharging infrastructure. I am pretty sure Tesla plans on keeping this a closed system and not opening up the supercharger network to non-Tesla brands because that would not help Tesla's market position by giving the competitors a selling point.

By the same, if the big automakers just start throwing EVs out there without a national charging infrastructure to support those vehicles, they will surely fail. Just enabling your vehicle for CHAdeMO or DC charging isn't enough if you are just going to leave the consumer alone to figure out where to charge, etc. That is the fatal flaw with the other car makers, I just don't see them willing to build a charging infrastructure.

Anthony H | 18 juli 2013

I wonder how many on the GM investigation team will end up (quietly) buying a Tesla.

Mathew98 | 18 juli 2013

@RedShift - GM was the first to introduce the skateboard design years before Tesla came along. The idea was applicable to their concept vehicles. Apparently GM never took advantage of their own hat trick...

RedShift | 18 juli 2013


Tesla engineers have done a tremendous job.
I wonder what BMW can do, when and if they put their mind to it.
I have a few qualms about the behavior of my car under spirited driving, which I need not repeat.

I am eagerly awaiting your expert opinion on your soon to arrive P+.

Especially the crucial ride vs. handling compromise.

lvaneveld | 18 juli 2013

Right now there a lot of plugin hybrids coming onto the market. There are not many true EV's and fewer still that are really getting any real marketing effort.

Right now the three best EV's you can buy are the Tesla Roadster, used only, Tesla Model S, and Toyota RAV4 EV. All three have Tesla drive trains.

By the end of next year the five best EV's will be those three plus Model X and Mercedes B class EV. Again all five will have Tesla drive trains. I see a trend here.

All other EV's are for people that cannot afford a Tesla, and are therefore all potential future Tesla customers when their ability to afford one changes.

All plugin hybrids are sort of like EV's with training wheels. If you want an EV but are not sure you can live with the range limits, you can buy a plugin hybrid. You will then realize that yes you can live with the range limit, because it really is not much of a limitation at all. It is in fact liberating because you never have to go to a gas station or fuel up on your way to work again.

All of these other cars, hybrids and short range (under 150 miles) EV's are building the market for the real thing.

I have had mine for 6 months now, have only charged away from home once so far when I drive to Gilroy specifically to try the superchargers. I have only even taken my charge cable with me once because I was going 120 miles for a dinner meeting and might need to make another trip during the day with no warning.

lolachampcar | 18 juli 2013

Perhaps the SuperCharger network will truly test Musk's assertions that his primary goal is to enable EVs.

Think something like "Sure, you can use it provided you build out capacity double that for which you ship vehicles." This would enable someone like MB or Toyota to ship a vehicle with instant full country use (perhaps using Tesla internals as training wheels for the Version 1) thus making it a viable electric vehicle. It would also dramatically increase MS (and MX Gen3) SC support through out the country.

ppape | 18 juli 2013

This article is a curiosity to me. What am I missing? Did the new guy not turn around and see what the last guy did, who sat in his chair. Lutz noticed the Roadster. He gives Tesla credit for the kick in the pants to get the Volt on the road. So what is this study about? Let me save you some time....GM, you're in trouble. You screwed up with the EV1, the Volt is a good start, now put a team of engineers together to get a FULL EV on the road. Study completed. (KISS)

$1 Billion dollars for the EV1 program!! Even considering battery technology for 1996, can u imagine where we would be today if they gave Elon that kind of money back then to work his vision. Too sad to think about.

I'm looking forward and grinning.

J. :-))

Electricfun | 18 juli 2013

Please don't let GM anywhere near Tesla.
Tesla > GM by miles

AmpedRealtor | 18 juli 2013

@ lolachampcar - I agree with you, I think Musk's endgame is to leverage the infrastructure that Tesla is building to get other car manufacturers to increase their own EV production. I don't think Musk wants to be the only game in town, he wants to move the entire industry in that direction and Tesla is his "vehicle", so to speak. Musk wants there to be millions of EVs on the road and to meet that goal, Tesla will need help from other auto makers.

So it may be Elon Musk dictating to GM and others what the efficiencies of their vehicles will have to be in order to be allowed onto the supercharging network. Forget outdated government efficiency standards. If you want to play in the Tesla playground, you've got to pay the price of entry...

tobi_ger | 18 juli 2013

Like new EV's must offer at least 95MPG?

Atlantis | 18 juli 2013

It is not just about hardware anymore. Eco-system matters.
If the Supercharging stations, spread in US, Europe and Asia fast enough, Tesla has an eco-system GM can't build. If not, Tesla won't distinguish itself in the long-run.

Also, Elan talks humbly about just wanting to raise awareness of EV's. But read what his ex's have to say about his personality. There is more to him than that.

negarholger | 18 juli 2013

"All plugin hybrids are sort of like EV's with training wheels" - that sentence made my day.

Jamon | 18 juli 2013

@Amped - I can't imagine they would block other manufacturers from access to supercharges. Elon has stated time and time again that his goal is to accelerate the advent of electric vehicles as the primary mode of transportation (not to be the world's dominant automaker). He is the cofounder, chairman, CEO, and largest shareholder - nobody is going to talk him into blocking competitors when his whole purpose for the company is to attract competitors to the EV market.

Plus, I think it will be unbelievably beneficial to Tesla shareholders if TM leases out access to supercharges to all competitors for $2k per year. Tesla will have the only established nationwide fast-charging infrastructure, and all the big competitors would be struggling to try and build out their own infrastructure. They should be properly motivated to work with TM to help the quick adoption of their new cars. Plus, this would probably make it more likely that TM could provide the electric drivetrain to more competitors (to ensure it's compatible with the superchargers), increasing TM's revenue even further.

If there comes a day where TM is making 10% of the world's EVs, they would be making mad profits on their cars, and even more profit by selling drivetrains and access to superchargers to competitors. Further, this would mean that TM has spurred the age of EV transportation. Everyone wins!

Jamon | 18 juli 2013

@Amped - sorry, I missed your most recent post while I was typing mine :)

AmpedRealtor | 18 juli 2013

@ Jamon - I have a feeling that in a few years, the other manufacturers will be beating down Tesla's doors for access to the charging network. That's like living in a nice house and having an endless stream of people knock on your door saying they want to buy or rent your home. That puts Tesla in a very enviable position.

Jamon | 18 juli 2013

@Amped - very true. And in this case, they'll actually be able to rent out to all those people knocking on the door. (Unfortunately, that would drastically increase the wait-time problems we're experiencing with superchargers, but I have faith that TM will work out those issues in time.)

It's amazing (and refreshing) how financially successful you can become when you're not focused on making as much money as possible :) | 18 juli 2013

I have been very disappointed with the big auto makers for years. They routinely come up with prototypes that never get to production or hydrogen that only goes to Hollywood stars (ala BMW). It's been all flash & advertising with no substance. Tesla is not playing that game.

The bottom line is that ALL these companies are managed & directed by people who have learned to "play the game" in the fossil fuel industry. The management teams will do what worked before until they die or retire. GM has Bob Lutz as their poster boy for electric--if that's the best they can do Tesla has nothing to fear...As long as they remain independent.

jbunn | 18 juli 2013

Where has J. Peterson been the last few months, anyway?

tobi_ger | 18 juli 2013

I thought Lutz has retired already?

create | 18 juli 2013

Anyone remember the Hy-Wire? I thought GM was being very innovative when they first publicized the concept 11 years ago. Just swap the hydrogen fuel cells for batteries and you have something very similar to Teslas skateboard design. They could be further along if they start from that instead of the volt. It had a lot of cool ideas like swappable bodies and 4 wheel drive.

skymaster | 18 juli 2013

Do not underestimate GM or any of the other big guys.

My Volt is awesome! It is small, but fits me like a glove. The seats in the Volt are extremely comfortable. Sorry, the seats in the Model S are not comfortable at all. Most days I leave both of my model S's in the garage and drive my Volt. We have driven our Volt over 6,000 miles on 11 gallons of gas.(93% electric) We are getting 50 miles per electric charge before the engine starts to "extend" the electric car. 75% of Americans drive less than 40 miles per day. The Chevy Volt covers this with all electric.
When I get home and feel spunky, I pull out a Model S to go have fun.

I am excited for ALL of the future cars that will be manufactured in the future using batteries. All of the majors will come out awesome electric cars in the next 10 years or so. This is exactly what Elon is in this for. The ball is rolling and can't be stopped. Elon must be very happy at this moment. My 2c

lolachampcar | 18 juli 2013

The thought occurred to me that I hope Tesla put an RSA based or similar handshake in place with the SC stations. I assume there is a data link from the car to the SC as the SC must be directed on current supply as the car is managing the charge event.

JAFIC | 18 juli 2013

GM will not be able to takeover Tesla. Toyota AND damier Benz has substantial shares in Tesla. They will be "Hell no" unless GM offers them A very high $$$ which Toyota and Damier Benz have no short supply of.

Alex K | 18 juli 2013

@lolachampcar | JULY 18, 2013: I assume there is a data link from the car to the SC as the SC must be directed on current supply as the car is managing the charge event.

I went on a factory tour last week at TESLIVE and when we got to final area where they charge up the cars, they had a refrigerator sized box which we were told was a supercharger. We were told the box only contained a bunch of chargers (same ones as in the car) wired together. I asked if they had a controller in there to communicate with the car and was told that there is no controller, just the chargers. The chargers are what determine how to charge the car (which would explain the difficulty in implementing CHAdeMO).

So with that information, it's hard to say that the car manages the charging. It probably provides some information as to the type and state of the battery but the chargers do the rest.

cfOH | 18 juli 2013

If you can believe Musk's ultimate goal -- widespread EV adoption, regardless of who makes the vehicle -- then Tesla will most certainly lease access to its SC network to other car makers. And with those revenues, it will build out its SC network even further. And so on, and so on, and so on, until the network of Tesla stations represents a giant business all by itself. That's one of the reasons I think comparing Tesla to most other car makers is silly...they don't have extensive service businesses that can act as profit centers like Tesla is building.

lolachampcar | 18 juli 2013

Someone has to be doing the monitoring and thinking. Logically, there will be a battery management board/system that has access to all the voltage/temperature/other data necessary to control discharge and charging. This system will communicate with the onboard charger/chargers to supply current as required for charging.

Applying this system to the SC which is a collection of twelve (120 KW) chargers would lead me to think that there is a communication link between the car side battery management and the SC based gang chargers. It is this link that I hope has sufficiently robust enough security to prevent unauthorized charging.

I would think it unlikely that the SC holds the charging algorithm in any one of its twelve charger modules. Even if this were the case, it would still need temperature and cell balance information from the car to properly manage charge thus communication to some onboard system would still exist. It just seems simpler to have the battery management be battery resident and use chargers as programmable voltage limit current sources.

at least that is my guess.

negarholger | 18 juli 2013

@skymaster - "Do not underestimate GM or any of the other big guys."

In 1986 who would have predicted that tiny Microsoft destroys big IBMs core business? Size is not always an advantage. Sometimes it is just some trend happenig - Nokia had working phones, but folks wanted Iphones. In my case as long Ford, GM etc assemble their cars in Mexico or where ever and are held hostage by dealers trying to cheat you - no more car EV or ICE from these guys. I am sure that GM or Ford can adapt, but it will be a painfull road...

Brian H | 18 juli 2013

Jamon, AR;
Actually, $2k per car would suffice to allow free access to the TM n/w. But what would the majors charge at their stations? The would be smart to charge little or nothing, and write off the power as promotional expense or SLT.

Elon said he'd hoped to inspire emulation. So far, not so much luck with that. So he's going to compete them into genuine competition, and get as big as necessary to do that.

The majors must steal market from themselves if they want to 'go EV'. It's a circular firing squad. GM/Chrysler bankruptcy, take II/III ?

As a side note, Toyota's decision to stick with fuel cell and hybrid tech is starting to look like formal hare-kiri. They've been fooled by Prius' temporary market dominance, it seems.

Brian H | 18 juli 2013

typo: They would ...

jdb | 19 juli 2013

Actually this is a sad story. When all dust settles the US taxpayers will probably absorb a $12 billion or so loss on the brain dead investment to save GM. A company that killed the electric car over 20 years ago and should have not been resuscitated for that reason alone. And a company that still has guano quality management. Basically a high volume low quality truck company without a soul, taking orders from oil industry.

PapaSmurf | 19 juli 2013

Tesla has set the bar at 200 miles minimum for EV range. Until GM or Mercedes or any of the others commit to building an EV that can reach 200 miles, then they are not really competitive.

If the Gen III can meet that goal of 200 miles and be about $35,000 to $40,000 then Tesla will continue to dominate.

The Supercharger network is the bonus though. Now that Tesla has it, other companies need to equal that long range option or they will not be competitive, even if their EV is roughly the same price.

Captain_Zap | 19 juli 2013

I was really enlightened when I heard the story about NUMMI.

Most of GM's problems were entrenched cultural issues. GM was failing because they were getting exactly what management measured, quantity and not quality. They tried to change the culture by taking GM employees to Japan to learn the Toyota culture. It worked for a while but the other GM facilities were still entrenched.

The really interesting twist is that Japan got it's culture and techniques from William Edwards Demming. If you don't are not familar with his legacy, it's worth a look.

You can hear the NUMMI story here:

It is yet to be seen whether GM can successfully change its culture.

jjs | 20 juli 2013

Captain_Zap +1

All the big boys have talent and resources. It comes down to culture. I wish all the U.S. auto manufactures well. For those of us in the U.S. it would be much better for all of them to adopt a more efficient and innovative culture. I do not wish ill of any. However, I own TSLA and not GM, F or the erstwhile C. I like to place my "bets" carefully.

JAFIC | 20 juli 2013

@jjs it's not a bet, It's an investment into getting more $. XD

man, wish I was in US. Could patent something that would shake automotive companies up. Hehe.

AmpedRealtor | 20 juli 2013

@ skymaster, you really prefer a Volt as your daily driver instead of either of your Model S vehicles? You must have gargantuan willpower! :)

@ jdb, saving GM wasn't just about GM. It was also about saving hundreds of thousands of jobs at a time when the economy was collapsing. Not just GM jobs, but many upstream and downstream jobs that depended on GM surviving as a company. Despite how we may feel about GM as a company or the type of products it produces, it is an American icon.

Dramsey | 20 juli 2013

I am certain that GM could have built the Model S, and am equally certain that GM management would never have permitted it. A pure electric of the Model S' capabilities is simply too large a conceptual jump for GM. A hybrid is safer since it isn't subject to as much range anxiety and doesn't require a national infrastructure to support. The Volt is a pretty decent car (except for the way the performance falls into a hole when the battery is depleted and the 80HP gas engine is trying to push 2+ tons of car around).

In other words, Elon had both the vision and the money/chops to make it happen. GM certainly had the money (Superchargers don't cost that much) but simply didn't have the vision.

Still, I think hybrids will be important if only because they're easier for most people to accept. Price issues aside, a full electric car is still seen as "daring" and "risky", while hybrids are "safer" (and can leverage off the Prius' reputation).