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Old 04-01-2009, 11:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Tesla Motors is an Environmental Fail (and More!)

For a while now, Tesla has been all the rage in the green automotive community. Not only is the car sexy and fast, but “green” and “the cure to all our woes.” With the long awaited release of the Tesla Model S, all sorts of expectations for a quasi-affordable, electric family car came to a [...] Related posts:
  1. Tesla Releases Pictures of its Model S 4-Door Sports Sedan
  2. Tesla Model S: $50,000 Electric Car that Seats Seven
  3. 10 Electric Cars You Can Buy Today


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Old 04-01-2009, 01:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You're wrong about a lot of that, but especially about the sports car part. First off, most of the cars I've owned, up to and including my current Insight, could be reasonably described as sports cars by the original British definition. (Though perhaps not by an American definition that confuses them with Detroit muscle cars.) All of them have also gotten much better than average fuel economy: not just for their day, but for any day.

There's a reason for this. As Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, put it, the essential principle of sports car design is "Simplify, then add lightness." Proper sports cars dispense with a great deal of unnecessary weight - starting with the back seat (I can't even remember the last time I wanted to carry more than one other person), and continuing through junk like automatic transmissions, '50s-era tailfins, or chome-plated grillwork designed to create an impression of aggressiveness when seen in a rear-view mirror - and that increases both performance and fuel economy. You might reflect on the fact that the automaker with the highest CAFE numbers in recent years has been none other than Lotus, the builder of those "wasteful" high-performance sports cars.

Furthermore, sports cars are not really about going fast, but about going quickly. Any idiot - even GM - can shoehorn a 500 hp engine in a car, and manage to go fast down a straight road like your neighborhood freeways. Sports cars are about what happens in the curves. Make your sports car electric, and the efficiency penalty for quickness is miniscule.

Lastly (for now) there's the psychological aspect. How do you expect to get people out of their overstuffed handles-like-a-waterbed land yachts, unless you offer them some reward? It's a bit like losing weight: you can force people to lose weight on a starvation diet, but only a few ascetics will do so voluntarily. Put them on an exercise program, though, and make that exercise FUN, and they'll burn off the pounds in short order. Same principle applies to energy conservation: show people that it's a pleasure rather than a sacrifice, and you'll get a lot more takers.
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi Ben,

I agree with just about everything you wrote. The best thing I can say about Tesla is that they are getting out the word about electric cars, and they appeal to many people. Once folks get over the idea about driving an electric car, then they will be more open to truly efficient vehicles, like the Aptera.
Sincerely, Neil

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Old 04-01-2009, 02:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Top comments from skeptics - electric cars are slow and they can't go far.

Best way to convert the skeptics - make an electric car that is fast and goes far.

Compare the production numbers of the Geo Metro to the Porsche 911. Then do a survey to find out how many people have heard of the Metro vs the 911. If you want the word out, you don't build metros.

Can't blame them for not making the electric car you want. They are making the electric car that people will talk about. Their own internal management and production failures have nothing to do with company direction, they just suck at management and production.

But then again... the Volt generated much more press than the Tesla. Kudos to GM (haha... can't blieve i typed that) for that effort... too bad they'll be belly up before they make one.

I think the fact of the matter is, we're going to wait for a japanese auto maker to make the first 10k+ production of an electric vehicle. At this point the north american auto market whimpers and dies and we all happily drive Hondas, Toyotas and Mitsus.

ps - yeah, a lotus is a sports car. A mustang is a muscle car. A mustang is NOT a sports car.
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Old 04-01-2009, 02:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Electric cars and high speed don't impress me much. You can only go so fast before risking a ticket anyway. I'd rather see the emphasis go to range. However, if speed is merely a byproduct of engineering for good range, then OK.
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Old 04-01-2009, 07:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Frank you bring up a good point ... as things progress I am sure you will here more electric cars being able to do 100mph for 300 miles on a charge rather than 500 miles @ 55mph on a single charge. It's our "does it go fast?" mentality.

Either way we will win eventually.
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Is "eventually" going to be soon enough?

Side Question: Is the CRX a sports or economy? It came with a back seat everywhere but the US, and they came with auto's as well as manuals.
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The last that I heard of the Model 'S' is that it had been axed. ( ??? )

The 'S' looks a lot like a four door Astin Martin DB-9 ( which I think looks rather sexy )

I personally prefer the Aptera
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Old 04-01-2009, 10:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Christ View Post
Side Question: Is the CRX a sports or economy?
As above, I think you can make a pretty good argument that all TRUE sports cars (that is, not muscle cars) are also economy cars. I certainly drove my CRX like it was a sports car :-) And even the way I drove it, it averaged better than 40 mpg, which I'd argue made it an economy car :-) :-) :-)

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