Tesla is currently stuck in “production hell” with Model 3 delays, as Elon Musk describes it.
But Winston Churchill had a great quote about facing what seems like insurmountable adversity: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. This is certainly a maxim that Musk and Tesla will need to live by in order to realize the company’s longstanding mission, which is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Rise of Tesla: The Future Vision (Part 3 of 3)
Today’s giant infographic comes to us from Global Energy Metals, and it is the final part of our three-part Rise of Tesla Series, which is a definitive source for everything you ever wanted to know about the company.
Part 3 shows Elon Musk’s future vision, and what it holds for the company once it can get past current production issues.
To understand Tesla’s ambitions for the future, you need to know two things:
1. Tesla’s Mission Statement: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Tesla can accomplish this by making electric vehicles, batteries, and energy solutions – and by finding ways seamlessly integrate them all together.
2. Tesla’s Strategy: “The competitive strength of Tesla long-term is not going to be the car, it’s going to be the factory.”
Tesla aims to productize the factory, so that vehicle assembly can be automated at a revolutionary pace.
In other words, Tesla wants to perfect the making of the “machine that builds the machine”. It wants to use these factories to pump out EVs at a pace never before seen. It aims to change the world.
The Future of Tesla
If Elon Musk has his way and everything goes according to plan, this is how the future of Tesla will unfold.
Note: Keep in mind that Tesla sometimes overpromises – and that the following is an extrapolation of Tesla’s vision and announced plans as of Spring 2018.
A Sustainable Energy Powerhouse
Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy – but simply making a few electric cars is not going to be enough to put a dent into this.
That’s why the future of Tesla will be defined by bigger and bolder moves:
The Tesla Semi: Tesla has unveiled the Tesla Semi, which can go 0-60 mph with 80,000 lbs (36 tonnes) in just 20 seconds. Fully electric, and with a 200 kWh battery pack, Musk says that it would be “economic suicide” for trucking companies to continue driving diesel trucks.
Mass Transit: Elon Musk said in his Master Plan, Part Deux blog post that he wants to design “high passenger-density urban transport”. It’s anticipated that this will come in the form of an autonomous minibus, built off the Model X concept.
A New Energy Paradigm: Tesla is not just building cars – it’s democratizing green energy by creating a self-dependent ecosystem of products. This way, homeowners can ensure their appliances and cars are running off of green energy, and even sell it back to the grid if they like.
As Tesla works on this sustainable future, the company isn’t afraid to show off its battery tech in the interim. The company even built the world’s largest lithium-ion battery farm (100 MW) in South Australia to win a bet, in fewer than 100 days.
Other New Models
Elon Musk says that Tesla plans to “address all major segments” of the auto market.
Model Y: This will be a crossover vehicle built on the Model 3 platform, expected to go into production in 2019. It will round out the “S3XY” product line of Tesla’s first four post-Roadster vehicles.
Pickup Truck: This will be Tesla’s priority after the Model Y, and Musk says he is “dying to build it”. Musk says it’ll be the same size of a Ford F-150 (or bigger) to account for a “game-changing” feature he wants to add, but has not yet revealed.
Ultra Low-Cost Model: Tesla has also announced that it will need a model cheaper than the Model 3 in the near future. This would allow Tesla to compete against a much wider segment of the auto market, and the future of Tesla hinges on its success.
Tesla already has two: Gigafactory I in Reno, NV (Batteries), and Gigafactory II in Buffalo, NY (Solar panels).
The Gigafactory I started battery cell production in 2017. It will eventually produce enough batteries to power 500,000 cars per year. Meanwhile, the second factory is operated by Tesla’s SolarCity subsidiary, producing photovoltaic modules for solar panels, and solar shingles for Tesla’s solar roof product.
Tesla said in 2017 that there will be “probably four” more battery Gigafactories in locations that would “address a global market”, including one in Europe. This makes sense, since the need for lithium-ion batteries to power these EVs is exploding. An important component of Tesla’s future will also be source the raw materials needed for these Gigafactories, such as cobalt, lithium, graphite, and nickel.
The Chinese Market
The good news: Tesla already owns about 81% of the market for imported plug-in EVs in China.
The bad news: That’s only about 2.5% of the total Chinese EV market, when accounting for domestically made EVs.
China is the largest auto market in the world – and make no mistake about it, Tesla wants to own a large chunk of it. In 2017, China accounted for 24.7 million passenger vehicle sales, amounting to 31% of the global auto market.
Automation and the Sharing Economy
Finally, Tesla wants its vehicles to be fully autonomous, and to have shared fleets that drive around to transport people.
Autonomous: Tesla aims to develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning.
Shared: Most cars are only used by their owner for only 5% of each day. With self-driving cars, a car can reach its true potential utility by being shared between multiple users.
The future of Tesla is ambitious, and the company’s strategy is even considered naïve by some.
But if Elon Musk and Tesla are able to perfect the building of the “machine that builds the machine”, all bets will be off.
That concludes our three-part Rise of Tesla Series – don’t forget to see Part 1 (Origin Story) and Part 2 (Rapid Growth). We’d also like to offer a special thanks to Global Energy Metals for making this series possible, as well.
6 Ways Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Can Help Transition to Clean Energy
Here are six reasons why hydrogen and fuel cells can be a fit for helping with the transition to a lower-emission energy mix.
While fossil fuels offer an easily transportable, affordable, and energy-dense fuel for everyday use, the burning of this fuel creates pollutants, which can concentrate in city centers degrading the quality of air and life for residents.
The world is looking for alternative ways to ensure the mobility of people and goods with different power sources, and electric vehicles have high potential to fill this need.
But did you know that not all electric vehicles produce their electricity in the same way?
Hydrogen: An Alternative Vision for the EV
The world obsesses over battery technology and manufacturers such as Tesla, but there is an alternative fuel that powers rocket ships and is road-ready. Hydrogen is set to become an important fuel in the clean energy mix of the future.
Today’s infographic comes from the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA) and it outlines the case for hydrogen.
Hydrogen Supply and Demand
Some scientists have made the argument that it was not hydrogen that caused the infamous Hindenburg to burst into flames. Instead, the powdered aluminum coating of the zeppelin, which provided its silver look, was the culprit. Essentially, the chemical compound coating the dirigibles was a crude form of rocket fuel.
Industry and business have safely used, stored, and transported hydrogen for 50 years, while hydrogen-powered electric vehicles have a proven safety record with over 10 million miles of operation. In fact, hydrogen has several properties that make it safer than fossil fuels:
- 14 times lighter than air and disperses quickly
- Flames have low radiant heat
- Less combustible
Since hydrogen is the most abundant chemical element in the universe, it can be produced almost anywhere with a variety of methods, including from fuels such as natural gas, oil, or coal, and through electrolysis. Fossil fuels can be treated with extreme temperatures to break their hydrocarbon bonds, releasing hydrogen as a byproduct. The latter method uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Both methods produce hydrogen for storage, and later consumption in an electric fuel cell.
Fuel Cell or Battery?
Battery and hydrogen-powered vehicles have the same goal: to reduce the environmental impact from oil consumption. There are two ways to measure the environmental impact of vehicles, from “Well to Wheels” and from “Cradle to Grave”.
Well to wheels refers to the total emissions from the production of fuel to its use in everyday life. Meanwhile, cradle to grave includes the vehicle’s production, operation, and eventual destruction.
According to one study, both of these measurements show that hydrogen-powered fuel cells significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants. For every kilometer a hydrogen-powered vehicle drives it produces only 2.7 grams per kilometer (g/km) of carbon dioxide while a battery electric vehicle produces 20 g/km.
During everyday use, both options offer zero emissions, high efficiency, an electric drive, and low noise, but hydrogen offers weight-saving advantages that battery-powered vehicles do not.
In one comparison, Toyota’s Mirai had a maximum driving range of 312 miles, 41% further than Tesla’s Model 3 220-mile range. The Mirai can refuel in minutes, while the Model 3 has to recharge in 8.5 hours for only a 45% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not widely available.
However, the world still lacks the significant infrastructure to make this hydrogen-fueled future possible.
Large scale production delivers economic amounts of hydrogen. In order to achieve this scale, an extensive infrastructure of pipelines and fueling stations are required. However to build this, the world needs global coordination and action.
Countries around the world are laying the foundations for a hydrogen future. In 2017, CEOs from around the word formed the Hydrogen Council with the mission to accelerate the investment in hydrogen.
Globally, countries have announced plans to build 2,800 hydrogen refueling stations by 2025. German pipeline operators presented a plan to create a 1,200-kilometer grid by 2030 to transport hydrogen across the country, which would be the world’s largest in planning.
Fuel cell technology is road-ready with hydrogen infrastructure rapidly catching up. Hydrogen can deliver the power for a new clear energy era.
Ranked: The Autonomous Vehicle Readiness of 20 Countries
This interactive visual shows the countries best prepared for the shift to autonomous vehicles, as well as the associated societal and economic impacts.
For the past decade, manufacturers and governments all over the world have been preparing for the adoption of self-driving cars—with the promise of transformative economic development.
As autonomous vehicles become more of a looming certainty, what will be the wider impacts of this monumental transition?
Which Countries are Ready?
Today’s interactive visual from Aquinov Mathappan ranks countries on their preparedness to adopt self-driving cars, while also exploring the range of challenges they will face in achieving complete automation.
The Five Levels of Automation
The graphic above uses the Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, which details the five levels of automation. Level 0 vehicles place the responsibility for all menial tasks with the driver, including steering, braking, and acceleration. In contrast, level 5 vehicles demand nothing of the driver and can operate entirely without their presence.
Today, most cars sit between levels 1 and 3, typically with few or limited automated functions. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as certain Tesla models and Google’s Waymo. Both feature a full range of self-driving capabilities—enabling the car to steer, accelerate and brake on behalf of the driver.
The Journey to Personal Driving Freedom
There are three main challenges that come with achieving a fully-automated level 5 status:
- Data Storage
Effectively storing data and translating it into actionable insights is difficult when 4TB of raw data is generated every day—the equivalent of the data generated by 3,000 internet users in 24 hours.
- Data Transportation
Autonomous vehicles need to communicate with each other and transport data with the use of consistently high-speed internet, highlighting the need for large-scale adoption of 5G.
- Verifying Deep Neural Networks
The safety of these vehicles will be dictated by their ability to distinguish between a vehicle and a person, but they currently rely on algorithms which are not yet fully understood.
Which Countries are Leading the Charge?
The 20 countries were selected for the report based on economic size, and their automation progress was ranked using four key metrics: technology and innovation, infrastructure, policy and legislation, and consumer acceptance.
The United States leads the way on technology and innovation, with 163 company headquarters, and more than 50% of cities currently preparing their streets for self-driving vehicles. The Netherlands and Singapore rank in the top three for infrastructure, legislation, and consumer acceptance. Singapore is currently testing a fleet of autonomous buses created by Volvo, which will join the existing public transit fleet in 2022.
India, Mexico, and Russia lag behind on all fronts—despite enthusiasm for self-driving cars, these countries require legislative changes and improvements in the existing quality of roads. Mexico also lacks industrial activity and clear regulations around autonomous vehicles, but close proximity to the U.S. has already garnered interest from companies like Intel for manufacturing autonomous vehicles south of the border.
How Autonomous Vehicles Impact the Economy
Once successfully adopted, autonomous vehicles will save the U.S. economy $1.3 trillion per year, which will come from a variety of sources including:
- $563 billion: Reduction in accidents
- $422 billion: Productivity gains
- $158 billion: Decline in fuel costs
- $138 billion: Fuel savings from congestion avoidance
- $11 billion: Improved traffic flow and reduction of energy use
Transportation will be safer, potentially reducing the number of accidents over time. Insurance companies are already rolling out usage-based insurance policies (UBIs), which charge customers based on how many miles they drive and how safe their driving habits are.
Long distance traveling in autonomous vehicles provides a painless alternative to train and air travel. The vehicles are designed for comfort, making it possible to sleep overnight easily—which could also impact the hotel industry significantly.
- Real Estate
An increase in effortless travel could lead to increased urban sprawl, as people prioritize the convenience of proximity to city centers less and less.
With the adoption of autonomous vehicles projected to reduce private car ownership in the U.S. to 43% by 2030, it’s disrupting many other industries in the process.
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