TESLA + top Apple engineer = Game-changer

by John Brian Shannon

I used to write one article per day. But with my editing duties at other publications and posting content to JBS News from authours besides myself, I’m now down to writing once or twice per month. Meaning, I only get to write about the super important stuff nowadays.

So, on that note, let’s cover today’s announcement that Apple’s VP of Mac Engineering, Doug Field, has been hired by TESLA Motors.

Think of the possibilities! When you combine the best under $100,000 car in the world with the full computing power and vision of Apple computer’s top Engineer, the result in a year or two might well be a bona-fide game-changer in this segment of the auto industry.

TESLA has built an almost perfect car with the S model, complete with zero emissions, performance and styling that defines a new class of electric vehicle and (bonus!) an unparalleled pride of ownership experience. Besides more colour and material choices, the ability to improve on the S model is limited. Really, what could you do to improve this car?

TESLA owner, meet a new way of using your car.

If you think about the interface between car and driver, that is one interface. Another interface occurs between the car and the car owner, and yet another interface occurs between the owner/driver, and the utility company.

With the perfect car the only thing to improve on is the role the car performs. It’s a car, right? What other role could it perform? And what has an Apple engineer got to do with any of this?

Let us count the ways that a TESLA Model S could become more than the great looking and great performing near-supercar that it is, with the injection of a visionary Apple engineer into the mix.

TESLA Model S sun dsc_5609_960x640_0
Is it a gorgeous EV car, or a transportable battery pack?

Is it a gorgeous EV car, or a transportable battery pack?

1. Homeowners: At the end of the day, every EV driver plugs their car in to their househod electricity, and we all know that some cars or the charger units have the ability to auto-schedule their charging time to meet the lowest electricity rates of the day (usually late at night and into the early hours of the morning).

Now imagine if TESLA’s newest engineer decided to instruct the car’s charge controller software to automatically have the battery in the TESLA allow uninterrupted power to the home in the event of a household power outage? Of course, once grid power was restored by the utility, the car would resume charging and be ready for next use. Everything is automatic.

If you happen to be one of those TESLA owners you wonder why everyone is talking about the big power outage the night before. “What, the power was out?” Try not to be too smug.

2. Solar powered homeowners: For that growing number of homeowners who choose to mount solar panels on their rooftops, owning a TESLA could afford them the opportunity to store the solar energy collected during the day for later use, courtesy of the TESLA’s battery. That energy could be used by the home throughout the day or night, to minimize the amount of electricity purchased from the grid during the most expensive times of day, while still keeping the car battery charged to a minimum drivable charge (whatever percentage of charge the car owner determines is reasonable). At the software charger interface you might see these words; “Never allow charge to fall below, a) 80%, b) 70%, c) 60%, d) 50% when using battery for household power.”

TESLA fleet owners: The obvious thing for small business owners would be to install solar panels on their business rooftop and leave their TESLA’s plugged-in all day. Again, if the grid fails, the business can still continue normal operations — giving them an advantage over their non-TESLA competitors. Larger businesses might want to replace their entire present car fleets with TESLA cars and direct employees to plug-in upon arrival at the workplace, to allow uninterrupted electricity supply in the event of power outages. Not only that, drivers might want to ‘charge up at work’ for free, with the only downside being that occasionally, the car might be leaving work with only a 70% (no-cost to the driver) charge — or whatever the driver has specified as the available default as some people have a longer commute home, than others.

Modulated Demand: In a small-to-medium sized business, even 100 or 200 plugged-in TESLA’s could offer an advantage that their competitors can’t match. (Zero electricity-related downtime, not to mention a 100% clean energy car fleet for starters). For other small fleets such as towns or government agencies for example, cars are for the most part parked, but available when required. Why not leave them permanently plugged-in, modulating electricity flow throughout the day/night? I call this ‘Modulated Demand’ as the car battery can be used to levelize energy flows and free-up energy consumers to purchase electricity at the cheapest time of day/night, instead of the present (most expensive) method.

3. Supplemental Grid Energy: Taking it a step further. Should a utility company spend $15 billion dollars on a large nuclear power plant to meet rising demand, or should it offer a $1000. coupon to each new TESLA buyer who keeps their car plugged-in to the grid for more than 360 hours per month and who is willing to allow up to 30% (or more) of the energy stored in the battery to be accessed at any time by that utility?

(Let’s say the new TESLA owner gets their coupon after 12 months of 360 hrs. per month availability, consecutive months or not, and whether any battery energy was accessed or not. The coupon pays for the privilege and ability of the utility company to have additional on-tap energy during peak energy consumption hours, or during energy production or transmission interruptions).

Easy enough for an Apple engineer to write that code and have the total hours of grid availability and the amount of any battery power accessed (if any), summarized and uploaded to the utility company, so they can properly credit the TESLA owner on their monthly electric bill via net metering.

This doesn’t even begin to cover what the Apple touch could do for TESLA, the private or fleet owners of these great cars, especially homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar, and the utility companies.

Today, a seemingly small but profound shift occurred in the electrical grid/electric vehicle world. Get ready. Even apart from meshing electrical grids with EV’s, it’s gonna be a game-changer.

Related Articles:

Apple’s VP Of Mac Engineering Joins Tesla Motors (CleanTechnica.com)

Tesla Model S Rentals Now Available In Los Angeles Via MPG Car Rental

by Nathan

MPG Car Rental
MPG Car Rental, rents “Green Cars” at Venice Beach, California. Image Credit: MPG Car Rental

The Tesla Model S — the best car ever reviewed, according to Consumer Reports — is now available to rent in the Los Angeles area, via MPG Car Rental. MPG Car Rental is a rental company that deals exclusively in “green” vehicles.

The addition of the Model S to the fleet, according to the company, is partly as a result of the car’s qualities and great popularity, and partly the result of the company’s “commitment to stay current with the latest green technologies for forward-thinking travelers in Los Angeles,” a commitment that is clearly reflected by the company’s possession of a large fleet of quality electric vehicles, hybrids, and TDI vehicles.

The press release provides more info:

From their headquarters in Venice Beach, California, MPG provides an affordable green transportation alternative in Los Angeles. Environmentally conscious travelers visiting the Los Angeles area this holiday season can reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainability by choosing the all-new, all-electric Tesla Model S for ground transportation. The staff of Motor Trend estimated the Tesla Model S would use the electric equivalent of 118 mpg on the popular holiday road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Drivers can expect around 31 miles of range per hour of charge.

Other notable technologies featured in the Tesla Model S include a truly keyless entry, which can unlock the door and even start the car without leaving your pocket; futuristic door handles that retract into the body to streamline airflow, or slide-out when the driver approaches, and a charger cord as simple to use as the one for your phone. The Model S charger is compatible with both 240-volt outlets or 120-volt.

Among the other high-quality vehicles available for rent from MPG Car Rental, there’s the BMW i3, the Chevy Volt, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the Toyota Prius, and a couple of others. Seems like a good opportunity for those in the area to give the Model S a good thorough testing, especially if you’re still on the fence about whether or not to get one. Or, for that matter, even just to give it a go, while imagining that you can afford to own one.

On that note…. “For travelers who may be interested in owning an electric or hybrid car MPG offers a test before you buy program called MPG Test Drive. If you end up purchasing the car you rented from a MPG affiliated dealer you will be reimbursed for up to four days of your rental period.”

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This article, Tesla Model S Rentals Now Available In Los Angeles Via MPG Car Rental, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Nathan For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 3:19


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The Tesla Model S Is Almost Maintenance Free

by Nicholas Brown – Special to JBS News


Image Credit: Tesla

Electric vehicles are different from gasoline-powered vehicles in many ways. However, mainstream debates tend to focus on only a few of those differences, such as the initial cost of electric vehicles, their range, and the fuel efficiency of gasoline-powered vehicles.

For example, they rarely factor in the reliability or durability of electric vehicles. This may be due to the fact that the main motive electrification is the reduction of petroleum usage. And, of course, opponents of electric vehicles don’t like to mention their many other positive qualities.

The Tesla Model S actually requires little to no maintenance compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, due to the fact that it has very few mechanical parts that can malfunction. The only parts that require regular replacement are windshield wipers and tires. Brake pads will require replacement as well, but not nearly as often as those in gasoline-powered vehicles, since they are used much less thanks to regenerative braking.

Regenerative braking takes over some of the braking work, giving the brake pads a… break, and it does so without additional generators.

An electric propulsion system’s mechanical parts consist of the propulsion motor, the fans in the speed controller, radiator fans, a coolant pump (if there is a liquid cooling system), and that’s it.

But wait, don’t electric vehicles require more electronics?

They actually require fewer electronics than gasoline-powered vehicles, as a typical electric propulsion system contains the following semiconductor electronics:

  1. Speed controller.
  2. Inverter.
  3. Battery management system.
  4. Electrical, non-semiconductor parts include coolant pumps and fans.

Gasoline propulsion systems contain a longer list of them, including, but not limited to:

  1. Electronic actuators to adjust various valves.
  2. Ignition system.
  3. Throttle controls.
  4. Turbochargers (only in some models).
  5. Engine control unit.
  6. Transmission control unit.
  7. Oxygen sensor.
  8. Coolant pump.
  9. Fuel pump.
  10. Oil pump.
  11. Engine fan.
  12. Transmission oil cooler pump (only in some models).

Mechanical parts in gas propulsion systems which can fail include, but are not limited to:

  1. Transmission.
  2. Valves.
  3. Spark plugs.
  4. Crankshaft.
  5. Connecting Rod.
  6. Cylinders.
  7. Camshaft.
  8. Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system.
  9. Belt and pulley systems for driving the alternator, engine fan, and other parts.

Follow me on Twitter: @Kompulsa

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This article, The Tesla Model S Is Almost Maintenance Free, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Nicholas Brown has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, geography, and much more. My website is: Kompulsa.

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GM Working On $30,000, 200-Mile EV That Could Compete With Tesla Model E

by Important Media Cross-Post

Editor’s notes: Assumption is that Tesla’s affordable, 2017 EV will be called the Tesla Model E; Tesla’s use of lithium-ion batteries (a different kind than used in laptops) will not result in a worldwide shortage of such batteries (video on that coming soon). Now, here’s Chris DeMorro’s post from Gas2.

Tesla’s incredible sales success has automakers the world over wondering how to counter the Silicon Valley automaker, and General Motors could have the answer. GM is developing a 200-mile electric car with a targeted sales price of $30,000, right in the same sweet spot Elon Musk is aiming for. But who will launch first?

GM has already hinted that it is developing a line of Tesla-rivaling EVs, one with a 100-mile range and the other with 200-miles of range per charge. Elon Musk’s goal is to launch a $30,000, 200-mile electric car by 2017 at the latest. While GM hasn’t put a timetable on the launch of its own Tesla fighter, executives have said the technology exists; it’s just the price point that remains a sticky issue.

To date GM’s only pure electric car is the Spark EV, which has been surprisingly well-received, though it is for sale only in a handful of markets for now. It also has just 82 miles of range per charge, well short of Tesla’s entry-level Model S which boasts up to 208 miles of range as well as a $70,000 price tag.

But whereas Tesla needs to launch the Model X SUV next, GM is free to concentrate on an affordable competitor that might even reach the road first. It just comes down to price, with automakers stuck paying twice as much or more for their battery packs. Tesla’s use of laptop batteries (which could soon lead to a worldwide shortage) means their batteries are substantially cheaper than the batteries used in the Chevy Volt. Speaking of which, may I suggest returning to the original Volt concept (above) for design inspiration?

GM will have to overcome that price hurdle, or else sell its electric vehicles at a loss, in order to compete with Tesla. It only has about four-years to do it, though. Is GM capable of fighting Tesla on its own turf? Or will another automaker steal the show?

Source: Wall St. Journal

This article, GM Working On $30,000, 200-Mile EV That Could Compete With Tesla Model E, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Important Media Cross-PostCleanTechnica is one of 18 blogs in the Important Media blog network. With a bit of overlap in coverage, we sometimes repost some of the great content published by our sister sites.

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Tesla Model S Could Consume 100% Of World’s Laptop Batteries

Originally published on Gas2 by Christopher DeMorro

With production of the Tesla Model S set to exceed 20,000 units in its first year, analysts are now looking forward to the next fiscal year. Many are bullish that Tesla can meet its 40,000 unit production capacity with ease, which raises a worrying issue; a shortage of laptop battery cells.

Unlike many other electric cars, the Tesla Model S uses around 7,000 18650 lithium-ion laptop battery cells from Panasonic. [CleanTechnica Editor’s Note: Tesla is also likely to start buying batteries from Samsung.]

It also has the largest battery pack at 85 kWh than any other EV out there, meaning that in a single year Tesla has sent shockwaves through the laptop battery business.

If Tesla hits its 40,000 unit mark next year, laptop battery production will essentially have to double to keep up with demand. Beyond that, Tesla is already looking into production facilities in Europe and Asia, and production could potentially hit 100,000 units or more by the end of the decade. What will happen to the cost of laptop batteries?

More like than not the prices of batteries, computers, and electric will continue to plummet, and there is little doubt that the industry can keep up. Is Tesla the tipping point for electric cars?

Source: Green Car Reports

This article, Tesla Model S Could Consume 100% Of World’s Laptop Batteries, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.