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.
Animation: U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales (2010-19)
This stunning animation visualizes the last nine years of U.S. electric vehicle sales. We also look at who will lead the race in the coming years.
It’s challenging to get ahead, but it’s even harder to stay ahead.
For companies looking to create a sustainable competitive advantage in a fast-moving, capital intensive, and nascent sector like manufacturing electric vehicles, this is a simple reality that must be accounted for.
Every milestone achieved is met with the onset of new and more sophisticated competitors – and as the industry grows, the stakes grow higher and the market gets further de-risked. Then, the real 800-lb gorillas start to climb their way in, making competition even more fierce.
Visualizing U.S. EV Sales
Today’s animation uses data from InsideEVs to show almost nine years of U.S. sales in the electric vehicle market, sorted by model of car.
It paints a picture of a rapidly evolving market with many new competitors sweeping in to try and claim a stake. You can see the leads of early successes eroded away, the increasing value of scale, and consumer preferences, all rolled into one nifty animation.
The Tesla Roadster starts with a very early lead, but is soon replaced by the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, which are the most sold models in the U.S. from 2011-2016.
Closer to the end, the Tesla Model S rises fast to eventually surpass the Leaf by the end of 2017. Finally, the scale of the rollout of the Tesla Model 3 is put into real perspective, as it quickly jumps past all other models in the span of roughly one year.
The Gorilla Search
While Tesla’s rise has been well-documented, it’s also unclear how long the company can maintain an EV leadership position in the North American market.
As carmakers double-down on EVs as their future foundations, many well-capitalized competitors are entering the fray with serious and ambitious plans to make a dent in the market.
In the previous animation, you can already see there are multiple models from BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, Fiat, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and Chevrolet that have accumulated over 10,000 sales – and as these manufacturers continue to pour capital in the sector, they are likely posturing to try and find how to create the next mass market EV.
Of these, Volkswagen seems to be the most bullish on a global transition to EVs, and the company is expecting to have 50 fully electric models by 2025 while investing $40 billion into new EV technologies (such as batteries) along the way.
The Chinese Bigfoot?
However, the 800-lb gorilla could come from the other side of the Pacific as well.
Source: The Driven
Chinese company BYD – which is backed by Warren Buffett – is currently the largest EV manufacturer in the world, selling 250,000 EVs in 2018.
The Chinese carmaker quietly manufacturers buses in the U.S. already, and it has also announced future plans to sell its cars in the U.S. as well.
How will such an animation of cumulative U.S. EV sales look in the future? In such a rapidly evolving space, it seems it could go any which way.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
It is counterintuitive, but electric vehicles are not possible without oil – these petrochemicals bring down the weight of cars to make EVs possible.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye…
Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.
Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical material in making the EV revolution possible.
It turns out the many everyday materials we rely on from synthetic rubber to plastics to lubricants all come from petrochemicals.
The use of various polymers and plastics has several advantages for manufacturers and consumers:
- Easy to Shape
- Flame Retardant
Today, plastics can make up to 50% of a vehicle’s volume but only 10% of its weight. These plastics can be as strong as steel, but light enough to save on fuel and still maintain structural integrity.
This was not always the case, as oil’s use has evolved and grown over time.
Not Your Granddaddy’s Caddy
Plastics were not always a critical material in auto manufacturing industry, but over time plastics such as polypropylene and polyurethane became indispensable in the production of cars.
Rolls Royce was one of the first car manufacturers to boast about the use of plastics in its car interior. Over time, plastics have evolved into a critical material for reducing the overall weight of vehicles, allowing for more power and conveniences.
Rolls Royce uses phenol formaldehyde resin in its car interiors
Henry Ford experiments with an “all-plastic” car
About 20 lbs. of plastics is used in the average car
Manufacturers begin using plastic for interior decorations
Headlights, bumpers, fenders and tailgates become plastic
Engineered polymers first appear in semi-structural parts of the vehicle
The average car uses over 1000 plastic parts
Electric Dreams: Petrochemicals for EV Innovation
Plastics and other materials made using petrochemicals make vehicles more efficient by reducing a vehicle’s weight, and this comes at a very reasonable cost.
For every 10% in weight reduction, the fuel economy of a car improves roughly 5% to 7%. EV’s need to achieve weight reductions because the battery packs that power them can weigh over 1000 lbs, requiring more power.
Today, plastics and polymers are used for hundreds of individual parts in an electric vehicle.
Oil and the EV Future
Oil is most known as a source of fuel, but petrochemicals also have many other useful physical properties.
In fact, petrochemicals will play a critical role in the mass adoption of electric vehicles by reducing their weight and improving their ranges and efficiency. In According to IHS Chemical, the average car will use 775 lbs of plastic by 2020.
Although it seems counterintuitive, petrochemicals derived from oil and natural gas make the major advancements by today’s EVs possible – and the continued use of petrochemicals will mean that both EVS and traditional vehicles will become even lighter, faster, and more efficient.
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