Driving the TESLA, protecting national security? Electric Vehicle market launches in Washington

Millions of Americans in the military put on their uniforms each day to defend our national security.

On Thursday, little did I realize, I too was defending our national security — by driving around a brand-new TESLA Roadster.

The all-electric Roadster is almost all-American. The battery pack is made in Palo Alto, California, but the insides — the individual lithium-ion cells — are made in Japan and Korea.*

The Roadster accelerates from zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds, drives 245 miles on a single charge, and according to Diarmuid O’Connell, TESLA’s vice president of business development. “That’s a game changer in the alternative [vehicle] space,” and “a matter of national security.”

The car quietly hugs the road and moves smoothly, no jerks, with any movement of the tiny steering wheel or brake. And, it’s not as heavy going at lower speeds, about 10 miles per hour, like a Lamborghini or an Aston Martin, according to one TESLA sales executive.

It takes almost three hours to charge the battery using the standard 120 or 240 voltage outlet; and, it’s clean and simple under the hood, only a few major parts, including a battery pack, a power electronics module that converts power and controls the braking system, and an electric motor.

Before O’Connell joined TESLA, he served two years under former Secretary of State Colin Powell as chief of staff for political military affairs.

“Most of my personal insights about what needed to be done in this sector came to me from the uniformed military. I think that if we’re responsible about our national security strategy, we really need to get solid about our energy security strategy,” he said.

O’Connell said the U.S. is “too subject to the whims of autocratic rulers,” and shifting from gasoline to electric could save lives.

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  • Shirley Chapman

    My only problem with the “new” technology is the cost. Of course everything is going to cost a lot because of research money, but these innovations are just so far out of reach for a lot of people that they won’t be within reach of the average person (35K-65K annual income). But, I try to do what I can and be as self-sufficient as possible and am very close to that goal with the exception of generating my own electricity – that’s also too expensive for me to be able to go solar or wind. So, I’ll do what I can and improvise when it all does come crashing down – as it sure seems like we are seeing that happen in front of our eyes right now….

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  • martinwinlow

    Same old poorly researched article – including ‘experts’ who really don’t appear to know what they are talking about…

    Same old head-in-the-sand reaction from people ranging from the ignorant to the simply childish…

    Here’s some real data for you…

    I have done 10k miles in the last 18 months in a small van converted from petrol drive to electric drive. It has a 19kWh LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery pack which admittedly cost UK£7k 2 years ago – imported from China – no-one else makes (and is willing to sell) them for the same quality/price. My commute is 40 miles, round trip. My employer allows me to charge for free.

    It takes about 8kWh of electricity to put back in what 20 miles of relaxed, mixed, urban and highway driving takes out. At home (at night, on a standard off-peak tarriff) this costs 30p (compared to around UK£2.50 in petrol). If I had a nice, reasonably aerodynamic vehicle instead of the van, my costs would be be about half what they are now. I have saved UK£1200 in energy costs thus far. Now for the why…

    Have I gone to the trouble and cost of converting my van to save money? Not really, tho long term, and particularly if oil keeps going up in price, it will save me money as the motor, with its 5 moving parts – compared with 150+ in a modern fuel powered engine – is good for 100k miles before service and 10 times that before overhaul. Even the batteries should last a good 10 to 15 years at the level of discharge I regularly subject them to.

    Is it to save the planet? Again, not really. I am not anti-global warming, I just don’t think the case has yet been proven. Unfortunately, it seems ever more likely that by the time the case – if there is one – is proven, it will be too late to save ourselves.

    Lets not get confused here, by the way. By ‘saving the planet’ what we really mean is saving mankind. The planet won’t care a jot that for an insignificant fraction of its lifetime mankind came, had the opportunity to do truly amazing things on a solar if not cosmic scale and then went, with a bang… or a whimper. It’ll carry on, repair itself if necessary and in another 20 thousand years, no-one will ever know we were here.

    That said it seems completely insane to burn all these irreplaceable natural resources when it is almost entirely unnecessary and to do so throwing away fully 70% of the energy in the process. Yes, the ICE is barely 30% thermally efficient – and the same applies to gas turbines (ie jet engines, 35%) and even the fuel cell (40%). On the other hand, your typical electric vehicle is at least 70% if not 80% efficient.

    No, the main reason I have got into EV’s is the political angle. I am fed up paying unfriendly nations to blow us up on a regular basis. The fact that we don’t even have to, that we already have a perfectly feasible, affordable, largely environmentally benign alternative, just rubs salt into the wounds.

    People need to realize that oil is running out. I know that is not a new refrain but take a look at the cost of fuel. It hasn’t been going down much of late, has it? Did you know that ‘peak oil’, the point in time where global production peaked, was in 2006? That China and Aisa’s oil demands are going up at an ever increasing rate and out stripping demand?

    Comments on this article talk about as yet untapped oil shales and natural gas reserves in the US. There is a reason why they have not been used thus far. I can’t deny they exist but what no one mentions is what the cost of getting at all that fuel will be. It really won’t surprise me if the price of oil DOUBLES in the next 2 years. So, UK£5 per litre by 2014. At that price getting at the remaining fuel reserves may make economic sense but in my view it will never make moral or practical sense given that we have an alternative.

    Of course we can all mitigate our driving coats in the meantime by driving at 50mph on the motorway instead of 70 mph – it uses half the power and therefore half the fuel as the drag is roughly proportional to the square of the speed.

    The article mentions a chap called Terzic ‘the regulatory-policy leader for energy and resources at Deloitte’. I am a little surprised that he doesn’t appear to know how much electricity is used to refine a gallon of fuel. Some analysts calculate that it uses more electricity than you could travel in an EV powered by the same amount of electricity. Is it just me or does that sound more like ‘jobs for the boys’ than an effective, ethical and efficient use of resources?

    Clearly it is not in the interests of Big Oil (and all their political and related industry friends) for electricity to take over from oil and become the principle source of energy for all those cars, busses and trucks.

    Studys show that the average vehicle in the UK drives less than 10 miles. In the US it’s 30 miles. Why do we all need cars capable of driving 400 miles+ on ‘one charge’? What we *do* need is a sensible system of fast charging ie 80% full in less than 20 minutes) available where people need them ie on the motorways and main trunk roads the length and breadth of the country. Then, on that rare occaision when the average motorist needs to do a long trip they can drive for 2 hours and then stop for a break and recharge in the meantime. Safer too. All the technology is here now, in fact it’s been here for the last 20 years. And that includes the power infrastucture to supply the would-be chargers. Very little cost for additional infrastructure needed.

    Some people advocate the hydrogen fuel cell as a replacement for the ICE. OK, but where does 90% of hydrogen come from at the moment? Natural gas. Doh! Then there is the cost of an infrastructure capable of supplying all those vehicles. The pressure vessels needed to compress hydrogen into a volume practical enough to put in cars, in refueling stations and the refueling trucks require enough strength to withstand hundreds of atmospheres of pressure. The cost would be astronomical and therefore wholly impractical. Again, the fuel cell is only 40% efficient – and that’s in theory. A ‘real’ one would be nowhere near as efficient.

    Lastly, assuming we don’t use natural gas (because it is too expensive) what’s next….? Oh, yes, good old electrolysis. So we are using electricity to make the hydrogen which we then use in a fuel cell to power an electric motor? Why not just put the electricity straight into the motor (via a battery)? Rocket science, it isn’t.

    Alternatively, of course, we could just bring back Motorail. Happy days!

  • devan95

    It takes a heck of a lot of oil to manufacture those cars – and the batteries! I think we need to develop BS powered cars because there seems to be an endless supply of THAT!

  • erick1740

    We better build some more coal fired power plants. The electrics are going to need more power or they are useless.

  • LordHowardHurts

    Very interesting,BUT when you factor in the cost of the battery pack ($36,000 every 7 years or less) you get a cost of operation more than the minimal cost of just the electricity quoted in the article. Then one has to factor in Road Tax cost. Every gallon of gas used to power vehicles on the road has this road tax included in the pump price of the gas. I am sure the government will have to tax electric vehicles in some manner for the use, and repair of the roads. So, as you can see, the cheap price quoted, to power this vehicle, is not the real cost of operation for electric vehicles in the future. When you figure that you will have to pay $75,000 more for this Tesla than a more conventional vehicle, and have to set aside nearly $6,000 a year for battery replacement, and pay about $4 per 250 miles for electricity to keep these batteries charged, maybe this electric car is not a good idea at this time.
    Lord Howard Hurts

  • Catherine Zaring

    Electric 4WD SUV. When you get there, let me know.

  • Catherine Zaring

    Oh yeah…I can just me tooling around Northern Michigan in this during our 6 months of snow. When you manage to develop an electric 4WD SUV that will handle 100+ inches of snow a season—then we’ll have a little chat. Until then, not in this lifetime!

    • SuperTalk

      You could say that about 95% of vehicles on the road are not acceptable for your situation. That doesn’t make em bad. Just not useful to you. I imagine that the Tesla would be a 2nd or even 3rd car for most early adopters.
      It will be 4-5 years before the prices are accessible to people who only need 1 car and I’m guessing Northern Michigan may not be the target audience. Nor Alaska.
      This is a city/suburb car. When they can drive about 400-500miles on a charge the car will be acceptable to most.

      • TommyV

        Most what…..idiots……keep buiding those sh*t boxes and see how many you sell. What a joke….maybe Odumbo will buy them all or almost all….I’m sure he’ll save one for you!

  • coachpan

    Who can really afford this car?

    • brian61

      At $100K per car, a few. At $30K per car, a lot.