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November 14, 2012


Richard Bergerson

Oh lordy, the Tesla is wonderful. I am sincerely planning on buying a used one, just as soon as the price drops enough I can afford to replace my 92 Ford Econvan (10.X mpg, cost $1,500). Until then, it's just a pretty trinket.


I have a bro who works for Elon, and I have no doubt that bunch can accomplish ANYTHING they say. He hires the absolutely brilliant, and then gets out of the way. You ought to see the long hair, tats, piercings etc. on the younger crowd at SpaceX!

Armadillo Aerospace has worked for 15 yrs on a vertical take off and landing rocket, and posted all of their data, logs, video etc. daily on the net. Elon saw that, and decided to build one also. Enter Grasshopper, composed of the Falcon engine which powers their entire fleet and some control stuff. A few weeks later, they have a working model and fly successfully the first time they try. Oh yeah, the AA rocket is 15 ft tall. The Grasshopper? It's full size, 100Ft+. No scale models here!

The goal of the Tesla is to see if it is possible to build an electric car that is "close to useful for normal auto travel." When(if) they succeed, Elon will have no problem ramping up production. Did you know the fast recharge stations are free?


Ten to fifteen years ago, you could buy a kit to convert certain small sedans and mini-pickups to all-electric drive with battery power. The most efficient of these kits re-powered a Geo Metro. Batteries were commonly-available Golf Car flooded lead-acid type (GC-5), which cost only about $700 to replace the entire complement. The 8-battery array was good for 21.6 KW. The kits were about $10K, and if you paid someone to complete the project, probably half-again that much. They had a range of 60-85 miles, and a speed of up to 65 mph. Running the numbers, it would seem that this is about the same "mpg-e" as the Model S/85, for about one-eighth of the moolah (granted, the Geo was a shoebox car, not the full-size sedan that the Model S is).

I haven't seen these kits in a while. I think that maybe the company which made them was bought out by one of the makers of electric vehicles so the competition wouldn't be there.

With it's 85-KW/hr model (the $106K one) having a listed range of 265 miles, this Tesla vehicle is getting close to useful for normal auto travel, whereas all the lesser battery-only vehicles of other manufacturers are just for around-town, short commutes. The problem for all electrics is getting the recharge current into the car's battery. The Model S claims that with it's fast-recharge stations (there will be six of those in all of California and Nevada next year!), it can get recharged in just over an hour, or add half-range in a half-hour. That approaches utility for highway travel, but only if these heavy-duty charging stations are used, so there needs to be hundreds of them across the country, not six.

A decent try, but then so are "aero-cars".

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