(Well, actually about Tesla and Mr. Musk’s passion). Realistic environmentalist Gianni Kovacevic debunks 10 myths about electric vehicles.
By Gianni Kovacevic
Albert Einstein once said something like this: “it’s harder to split an atom than it is to change a predetermined opinion.” Please pardon the paraphrase.
I have followed the story of Elon Musk, and more specifically Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA), over the years and one can truly say there are very mixed and very firm opinions about the long-term viability of the company. Let’s look at 10 perhaps not-so-common myths surrounding Tesla and electric vehicles (EVs) in general.
Myth #1 — How many people have actually driven an EV?
Anyone can perform a very unscientific test on this question. The likely answer they will find is that less then 10 percent of respondents (in many cases less than 1 percent) can genuinely admit to having physically experienced the brilliance of the Tesla Model S or an EV.
Myth #2 — It takes 12 hours to charge an EV.
Only if you use the slowest and simplest available method, i.e., a regular 120-volt, 15-amp receptacle. Realistically, the super charger, increasingly available almost everywhere, performs an approximately 80-percent charge in less than 30 minutes. Think pouring a glass of water from a pitcher — the first three-quarters is easy and quick to fill, the last little bit one needs to slow down. That’s the trickle charge that occurs near the end of a charge cycle.
Myth #3 — Folks with no dedicated parking, like urban apartment dwellers, will never buy an EV.
Hmm, well, the future is now. However, what consumers will find more and more commonplace in the months and years to come is that they will “quick charge” their EVs while they complete basic chores, i.e., buying groceries or visiting the gym or cinema. The list goes on to infinity. FYI, that is a whole new business model that will develop in the years to come. It also doesn’t hurt that these spaces are usually near the entrance.
Myth #4 — You cannot drive long distances with an EV.
Different horses for different courses — an EV is, in effect, technology, and that means the cost, efficiency understanding, etc., will rapidly accelerate. Nevertheless, the Tesla Model S has a realistic range of around 250 miles (400 kilometers) today. Compound that with the answers to myths one through three, and need anyone say more?
That being said, there are different cars for different purposes. If dad travels 40 miles to work and back, any EV will work perfectly. When he takes the whole family to the Grand Canyon for summer vacation, he can rent a deluxe RV with all the money he’s saved on gasoline.
Myth #5 — EV batteries are useless once used, especially if they are considered to be technology and will be replaced — or elected to be replaced — sooner than anticipated due to enhancements.
True. However, there are already new businesses springing up to absorb these millions of batteries. One should not forget that there are a myriad of applications that need, or will need, back-up power, and would be delighted to have access to still-effective, albeit used, battery cells. There is currency in old EV batteries for today’s and tomorrow’s applications.
Myth #6 — Cost parity for EVs when compared to internal combustion engines can never be reached.
Hogwash. As noted, EVs are technology, and there is an army of scientists, corporations and, most importantly, investors to support them as they blaze new trails. While it may be true that EV technology won’t double quite as quickly as the computer chip, it will increase. Batteries, perhaps the biggest cost, will, in the future, charge quicker, dissipate slower and take up less space and weight. Too, costs will come down, enabling EVs to be cheaper, better and more adoptable.
Myth #7 — Major automobile manufacturers see no future in EVs.
Really? Is that why almost every major carmaker has a significant presence in Silicon Valley? Is that why there are non-stop rumors with respect to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) etc., pilfering the smartest and brightest from Detroit and Tokyo? Follow the money. They are all very interested in EVs. Elon Musk has literally changed the rule book that they must follow.
Myth #8 — Teslas have been known to catch fire and are dangerous.
This is almost laughable. First and foremost, yes, there have been a couple of over-publicized fires that have occurred with the Tesla Model S. The real question is: how many gasoline vehicles explode every single week in America?
Myth #9 — In the event of a serious accident, are EVs really safe?
The Tesla Model S is so safe it literally broke the testing machine, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s now being called the safest car in history, and the Model S P85D, tested by Consumer Reports, scored a 103 on a 100-point scale, making it the highest overall rated car in history. Hard work pays off, Mr. Musk!
Editor’s note: Reuters recently reported that Consumer Reports has said it will no longer recommend Tesla’s Model S due to reliability concerns. However, Consumer Reports has also stated that 97 percent of Tesla owners would still buy another Model S.
The final and most important myth for staunch environmentalists …
Myth #10 — Coal is the fuel source for much of the electricity that consumers use to charge their EVs.
Where shall I begin? It is far and away, and I mean by a quantum, more efficient to have one 200-megawatt-hour coal- or natural gas-fired power plant that can charge a few million EVs, than to have gasoline vehicles pump fuel, week in and week out. That’s from a cost point of view, a CO2 emissions point of view and from a common sense point of view. Imagine far fewer gas stations, trucks to transport refined fuels, refineries to make gasoline, pipelines and trains to transport crude oil for processing, oil rigs to pump the oil … you get the point?
Gianni has enlightened audiences around the world with his unique insights into wide-ranging topics such as modern energy, the rise of the new spending class and how the environment and investment often go hand in hand. An avid proponent of realistic environmentalism, he is frequently interviewed by the media on his unique way of applying an algebraic way of thinking to solving global problems. His new book, “My Electrician Drives a Porsche?,” will be released across the United States and Canada in February 2016 by Greenleaf Book Group.
Fluent in English, German, Italian, and Croatian, Gianni makes his home in Vancouver, Canada. @RealisticEnviro