Tesla's gamble on its 'affordable' electric car

Tesla Model 3

Tesla announced what it calls its "most affordable" electric vehicle in the Model 3 last week. The car can now be ordered with a deposit of A$1,500 in Australia (US$1,000 in the United States) but won't be delivered until late 2017.

Within hours, the company's founder and CEO Elon Musk said around 276,000 orders had been placed, and he was already considering a rethink of production plans following such high demand.

The estimated retail price of the car is US$35,000, but what will this equate to in Australia? Early estimates suggest it could be upwards of A$60,000. Is that really an "affordable" vehicle?

Some of this cost relates to import duties and the Australian government is currently reviewing these and considering reduced taxes for low-carbon vehicles.

If Elon builds it, will you drive one?

Electric vehicles may well be the way of future road transport, but the real question is this: what do we need to do to promote electric vehicle deployment?

Australia has abundant energy sources, except for oil. There are many sources for electricity generation (both fossil and renewable), so the promotion of electric vehicles makes logical sense. But the question of affordability remains, as it poses a barrier to adoption.

While we are seeing more electric vehicles on the road, most people have bought them because they are environmentally friendly; cost has not been an issue.

The majority of motor vehicle manufacturers are now introducing electric vehicles into their range, such as Tesla's Model S (from about A$128,000), BMW's i3 (from about A$63,000) and Nissan's Leaf (from about A$51,000). But their price still places them at the high end of the market, although, in most cases, they are not luxury vehicles.

The other charge

There are a number of limitations affecting the roll-out of electric vehicles within Australia, particularly the distances they can travel between recharging and the lack of publicly available recharging infrastructure.

While there are plans to address these issues, the timeframe for implementation is unknown.

Countries such as New Zealand are already rolling out a fast-charging electric vehicle network and will probably have a larger number of electric vehicles than Australia in the short term. But in terms of distances to be travelled, it is a much smaller country.

Charging sites are being developed in Australia though not at the same pace as New Zealand.

Problems with rolling out infrastructure will slow the uptake, particularly of larger models. In the short term, will this mean the electric vehicle is destined to be the second car?

The majority of households in Australia have two cars, so the electric vehicle is ideally placed to become the second vehicle, to be used for short trips, such as dropping kids to school or visiting the supermarket. For such use, they can be charged at home and not require any external infrastructure.

Slow uptake

Another issue that may slow uptake in Australia is the capacity to service the vehicles. It is well known that the motor vehicle industry within Australia has seen considerable downscaling in recent years.

Electric vehicles will provide a new challenge due to the little current knowledge of the existing industry. With deployment of any new technology, technicians need to be trained and without sufficient technology deployment, companies will be reluctant to make that investment (as we have seen with the roll-out of battery storage within the Australian market).

Based on the normal innovation curve, there needs to be a significant number of vehicles on the road to create demand from people before they will be provided with recharging infrastructure.

And where do we place this infrastructure? Will be adopted by the current service station model? Will there be a need to establish new charging stations? Or will shopping centres and fast food chains adopt charging stations as part of their drive to attract customers (no pun intended)?

Given the potential limitations to powering and driving an electric vehicle in Australia, the high demand for Tesla's Model 3 is interesting.

But given its long roll-out time of "late 2017", will other manufacturers be able to introduce their own "most affordable" electric vehicles earlier?

If so, Tesla's latest move may be just the nudge the industry needs to make really more attractive, and more affordable to new car buyers.


Explore further

The infrastructure Australia needs to make electric cars viable

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
The Conversation

Citation: Tesla's gamble on its 'affordable' electric car (2016, April 4) retrieved 23 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-04-tesla-gamble-electric-car.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
36 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Apr 04, 2016
No gamble here. Musk did it as much to change the nation as to make money. He has done just that, being much smarter than the Koch Brothers. There are already 200,000 EVs on the road in California, and the rest of the nation will follow.

When folks find out they can drive the world's safest cars for cents/mile, do not ever need a tuneup or to change oil or filters, or other stuff, they will scream with delight. You "fill up" at home at reduced rates while you sleep.

Here in the East Bay we have many charge points which are free. So far, no problem. Some businesses make available charge points for their customers, as well. The slow ones are free. Shopping centers have EV charge areas now. There are several charge point organizations, look them up and see their maps. The maps even show which ones are open, not being used right then.

Apr 04, 2016
This is a very disruptive technology. It directly and existentially threatens many industries and jobs:

No more oil changers, no transmission services.

Fewer brake problems since they can use regeneration as braking to put power back into the battery.

No tuneups

No belts or chains, for timing

Lots of maintenance folk will lose their jobs when we no longer need them.


Apr 05, 2016
Fewer brake problems


Less use for the brakes means the hydraulics stick and the discs rust. Going too easy on the brakes is a good way to get them jammed and squeaky and in for early service.

Lots of maintenance folk will lose their jobs when we no longer need them.


There's still going to be all the running gear to service in an electric car because they need to be kept road-safe. You can't just run one for ten years and expect things like wheel alignment to stay put. You got water pumps, AC pumps, power steering pumps, brake vacuum assists, electric windows, seats, shocks, locks, wipers, washers, fans, lamps... every little thing that can break or wear out.

There's also the battery and inverter cooling/heating system, and that involves liquids and mechanical pumps. Of course some electric cars don't have active thermal management, like the e-Golf, but that comes at a cost of not being able to quick charge outside of the 0-40 C temperature window.


Apr 05, 2016
they are buying on reputation alone


Well, if Tesla won't deliver, they'll sue for their money back, so it's really no loss. If the car turns out significantly more expensive, that's also a spot for a class action lawsuit. The biggest gamble is on Tesla to actually deliver the car as promised.

The Model X for example was supposed to be a $60,000 car, but after all it ended up at $100,000 and more - not significantly cheaper than the Model S. If the same thing happens to the Model 3, it's going to be in the $60k range.

no transmission services.


Even electric cars would do better with a transmission, because a single-speed electric drivetrain is inefficient at low speeds. A two-speed transmission would increase the typical range by 10-15% simply by allowing the motor to run faster at low speeds.

The Formula E-series is interesting to watch, after they lifted the rules on transmissions. Some cars have single speed, others have five-speed gearboxes.

Apr 05, 2016
Eikka, they are MUCH better than your diesel.

Despite your complaints, you will have one in a few years.

Apr 05, 2016
All I ask is that when you and otto and Ira and Trumpy get your EVs, you name them "gkam".

Apr 05, 2016
Here ya go:

How leading utilities are embracing electric vehicles

http://www.smartg...4-04?utm

Apr 05, 2016
All I ask is that when you and otto and Ira and Trumpy get your EVs, you name them "gkam".


Will it be alright if I just name him "Electric-Car-Skippy"? Nobody around where I live would know what a glam-Skippy is.

Not that I see me getting one anytime soon. I have to have something that will get me at least 800 miles in a trip and tote a lot of stuffs. I would ask if you wanted to try to talk Mrs-Ira-Skippette into one, but she is still a little bit upset with the "Tribes of Cockroaches" business when we were taking about the Mardi Gras Indians that day. And she really likes her little bitty matchbox sized car she has now,,,

Apr 05, 2016
Oh,stop it. You wanted me to say that, but I did not. In your little panic to find something to throw at me, you got all mixed up.

And nobody in the Real World cares what a skippy is, either.

When you get your EV, it will always get to you that I was right, . . again.

Apr 05, 2016
Oh,stop it. You wanted me to say that, but I did not. In your little panic to find something to throw at me, you got all mixed up.
It's still there for everybody to see. You starting to get that elderly dementia thing?

And nobody in the Real World cares what a skippy is, either.
Then you can just Skippy skip over those parts if you want to. It does not matter to me.

When you get your EV, it will always get to you that I was right, . . again.
Cher, when they come out with the electric car that can make the 800 plus mile trip while hauling me with my 2000 lbs of stuffs I will be sure to think of you and all the fun we had.

Apr 05, 2016
Hell, this comment is from an Australian perspective. Much different from a US perspective. The charging system network is well underway in the US. The US market is also the primary target of the Tesla car company.
Ira, you cannot convince me you carry 2000 lbs with you everywhere - if its true, you have a wife that must be capable of more hellish behavior than the one I've got..... If you can come clean about the cargo that car is already here

Apr 05, 2016
All I ask is that when you and otto and Ira and Trumpy get your EVs, you name them "gkam".
@liar-kam
1- not until they make a 4WD version with a minimum 400 mile travel before charging
2- if i name it after you i will be arrested for public indecency

.

.

you cannot convince me you carry 2000 lbs with you everywhere
@Zzzzz
for cities, maybe not
for backwoods living, it means always carrying a chainsaw, winches, log chains, axe, tow rope, winch cable and chain, tools, food, water, camp-gear, and more

if you lived in the outback at least a few days travel out there, what would you need?
I carry all of the above almost everywhere i go because the gov't doesn't take care of the roadways (when there are roads) necessitating the equipment to sometimes either make a road or clear what is in the road

rural living sometimes means special equipment, like boats in Louisiana or the above in a heavily forested mountain terrain


Apr 05, 2016
The US market is also the primary target of the Tesla car company.
@Zzzz
also note, the cars being designed are for roads and non-rural living

you can't expect rural lifestyles to accept a car like that unless it is a casual only vehicle that only is used on paved roads (or chip-sealed, or improved dirt/gravel) because of the wear and tear... the lack of 4WD is a big factor in a lot of rural lifestyles even if they're not as mountainous (can you pull a stock trailer with the Tesla?)

so terrain and lifestyle are major factors and no one has considered building electrics for rural life and the distances. Rural life is just too common in the US- some people don't like cities
you have a wife that must be capable of more hellish behavior than the one I've got
mine is mostly Cherokee and Irish, with viking blood too ... nuff said? LOL

Apr 05, 2016
Wow, that was not thought out, was it? Electrics with individual motors in the wheel hubs or the frame are ideal for 4WD vehicles. The wheels which need the power get it, while the others only draw what they need, and all can be either independent or in lock-step.

Going downhill puts much of the energy right back into the battery. It is so quiet, you can sneak up on a defenseless animal and kill it.

Apr 05, 2016
Electrics with individual motors in the wheel hubs or the frame are ideal for 4WD vehicles
@idiotliar-kam
Wow, that was not thought out, was it?

how many 4WD electric vehicles are on the market capable of not only off-road (with fat tires for traction) but also pulling stock?

don't forget the distance requirements too, mind you! can't keep two or three extra sets of batteries for the ride home as that would be stupidly reducing the capacity of the vehicle tow weight and necessary equipment!

just link that here, would you?
It is so quiet, you can sneak up on a defenseless animal and kill it.
there are no electric vehicles quieter than a stalking person

unless they're city folk like you

Apr 05, 2016
Ira, you cannot convince me you carry 2000 lbs with you everywhere -
Twice every month I got to drive 500 to 800 miles to get to work, and then twice I got to get home again. And yeah, I got to take about 2000 lbs of stuff with me if I want to have any kind of life for the two weeks I am at work. Clothes, radio stuffs, computer, personal tools and all such things like that. And during my time home from work I also trailum my boats, move stuffs around the home and stuffs like that.

if its true, you have a wife that must be capable of more hellish behavior than the one I've got....
I don't know what that means. She has a little matchbox sized toy car and likes it a lot.

If you can come clean about the cargo that car is already here
What car? Mrs-Ira-Skippette's little car? Or my truck?

Apr 06, 2016
Well, since it doesn't perfectly fit into my exaggerations about my personal lifestyle, it doesn't fit anyone else's lifestyle either. It's just a rich man's toy and a total waste of time and money for something no one in the entire solar system benefits from other that smelly Musk that's constantly wafting around the internet. Just take it Mars when you go to die there using your stone age rocket and capsule technology Musky McMuskface.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more