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Just how quickly can Tesla kill the petrol car?

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model 3 musk copy

Elon Musk is having a party. Another one. Tomorrow, a little more than a year after taking orders worth nearly $20 billion for the new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle in just over a weekend, the keys to the first 30 vehicles off the production line will be handed to their enraptured new owners.

(Tomorrow being Saturday afternoon, Australian eastern states time, or Friday night in California. You can watch the live stream on the company’s home page at 1.45pm AEST).

It is no exaggeration to say that this is the most anticipated car delivery of the 21st century, and possibly of the last 50 years. Can anyone think of another?

Last April, Tesla broke all records for car orders after unveiling Musk’s plan for a $US35,000 EV that had not even been fully designed yet, and was more than a year away from delivery.

Tesla stopped releasing order numbers after the the total passed 373,000 not long after the initial unveiling. Tesla fan clubs put the numbers at around 550,000.

But that’s no longer the stat that counts the most. That unveiling was hailed as a “game changer” for the $8 trillion oil and transport industry, and possibly the $4 trillion energy industry too.

The assumption then was that this was going to kill the petrol car, and change the economics of battery storage. The only remaining question is not if, but when.

As we wrote way back in April last year, this forecast is not predicated on the success or otherwise of Tesla, which recently outranked both Ford and GM in market value, despite selling just a fraction of the number of vehicles.

Tesla has led the charge towards EVs, but it is no longer alone. All the major vehicle manufacturers are pouring billions into their own EV brands: Volvo will stop making petrol or diesel-only cars by 2019, Daimler is bringing forward its 10-model EV range to 2022, GM and Toyota are trying to outflank Tesla with solid-state batteries that could be lighter, cheaper and longer lasting.

Governments are also getting on board, noting not just the inevitability of technology change and economics, but trying to accelerate it out of concerns for the climate and public health.

The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens plan to ban diesel vehicles from city centers by 2025. The governments Norway and the Netherlands say they will ban petrol car sales by 2025, India by 2030, and France and England by 2040. Germany is considering a ban by 2030, China wants 12 per cent of all vehicle sales to be zero emission by 2020. Other countries will surely follow.

The UK’s announcement seem to confirm that the game will be over for the petrol car within two decades. Some, though some think that this is shutting the gate well after the horse has bolted.

seba ev tweet

Indeed, Seba thinks it will be all over for the petrol car by 2025, at least in terms of new sales. He even thinks individual car ownership will be fading out by 2030, a prediction that attracted a volley of hate and paranoia from the right wing and Trump’s America. (It’s OK, you can keep your pick-up).

Seba cites numerous factors: the cross-over point on economics, the low running costs, the low maintenance costs, the push to autonomous vehicles and “shared mobility”.

Even mainstream analysts such as Morgan Stanley concede it could be all over by 2045. In their bull case scenario, which includes government intervention of the type we have seen in UK and France, EVs account for 90 per cent of the global fleet by 2045.

morgan stanely EVIt says that the Model 3 shows there is demand for the right car at the right price. “As the major (car makers)  launch their current BEV model plans, and the BEV range expands to 500km (300 miles) and beyond, we believe the consumer proposition will change swiftly and, as with Tesla, consumer interest will improve quickly.”

This, of course, has huge implications for the oil majors, still buoyed by an investment bubble that puts unreasonable valuations on oil reserves that may never be exploited. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote this week, “Opec and the oil barons face a slow death by electrification.”

In Australia it is not clear how quickly this can, or will, happen. The BZE think tank this week suggested we could go all EV as early as 2025, just like Seba’s predictions, and this analysis we published today – Electric Vehicle in Australia: Not if, but how and when goes a long way to explain what’s at stake.

Given that Australia is almost totally reliant on imported transport fuels, there is a good reason to hit the accelerator on EVs.

But Australia has a federal government that is developing a near Amish-style fear of new technology, caught between dog-whistling to the crazies on its right flank, and occasionally hosing down their most ridiculous assumptions.

Look at the reaction earlier this month when news emerged that Australia would – nearly a generation after every other developed and most semi developed economies in the world – finally take action of emissions and efficiency standards in vehicles.

Australia has become a dumping ground for dirty vehicles that major manufacturers can’t sell in other countries. Australia is losing its car manufacturing, but not its car pollution. The reaction to the proposed and modest efficiency standards? Label it a carbon tax on cars.

turnbull tesla

The Coalition, led by a man once captivated by these new technologies, quickly retreated into their caves, only for Treasurer Scott Morrison to serenade the party troglodytes by trying to compare the Tesla battery to be built in South Australia – the world’s biggest lithium-ion installation (at least for now) – with the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour and the Big Prawn in Ballina.

“By all means have the world’s biggest battery, have the world’s biggest banana, have the world’s biggest prawn like we have on the roadside around the country, but that is not solving the problem,” Morrison told reporters in Adelaide.

But then, to prove that is he is not completely daft, he admitted at the same press conference that people should “get real” about the costs of new coal plants, particularly the much vaunted (in conservative circles) High Emissions Low Efficiency (HELE) coal plants. Did I get the acronym right?

“These new HELE plants would produce energy at an estimated two and a half times the cost of our existing coal-fired power stations. They would also take up to around seven years to set up,” Morrison said.

Perhaps, the right wing can only deal with one truth at a time. It will take them a while longer to understand that the quickest way to reduce costs in the electricity sector is to encourage more renewables, not less.

That same process will also be applied to the electric vehicle, although the likes of Bloomberg predict the cross-over on costs to happen within a few years. Right now, however, in Australia, the choice of an EV or a plug in hybrid is very limited.

So, what to expect of the Tesla 3 handover event?

Pundits are on the lookout for the level of autonomy, the range (there may be two battery size options), the final pricing with and without add-ons, and news on the ramp up of production -currently predicted to be 20,000 a month by December.

And there could be news of more gigafactories, and the latest on the charging networks, and when the first vehicles may arrive in Australia and other countries.

And, of course, the half a million people who have put down a refundable deposit of at least $US1,000 may finally get to see what’s inside the Model 3. Do the seats roll flat? How big is the trunk? And can I get a surfboard on the roof? Or do I want my money back?  

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  • My_Oath

    Musk and Telsa alone won’t kill the ICE cars. Buffet and BYD will be far more influential on that front.

    • Chris Marshalk

      Correct. China sets the global direction in EV sales due to it’s economic power & number of people wanting Electric Vehicles.

      • Sunbuntu Ltd

        >& number of people wanting Electric Vehicles.

        More accurately the Chinese government mandate of 12% by 2020

    • DJR96

      Elon Musk and Tesla can ultimately be attributed to the global transformation to EV’s. He has already got the ball rolling. All the other manufacturers around the world are already scrambling to catch up. He has already accomplished his mission. The process has yet to run its course, but it is underway and will not stop for anything now.

      • My_Oath

        Many old school manufacturers are indeed scrambling, but Tesla is desperately trying to keep pace rather than setting the pace. The eyes of the western media is on Tesla and is missing what is really going on. Buffet didn’t miss out though. He knew.

      • trackdaze

        Nissan one could argue would suggest otherwise as it has sold 270,000 leafs worldwide

        The model S? About 170,000.

        • Geoff James

          You’re right on paper, but Tesla made electric cars desirable – I mean mainstream desirable – which Nissan didn’t. And my data are that I see Tesla Ss regularly in the streets around where I live in northwest Sydney, but almost never a Leaf. I’d be happy with a Leaf, though, reflecting on my other post below…

        • JonathanMaddox

          Nissan will not sell me a Leaf today, or even give a date when the new model will be on offer in this country. They do sell lots of Navaras.

          • trackdaze

            They are flat out selling the current version in countries with less hostile more intelligent governments.

            Next one will be cheaper and produced in greater numbers. Late next year. Probably about the same time right hand model 3’s become available.

      • Joe

        Well, here we in in 2017…’Back to the Future’. GM with the EV1 of the 1990’s was all go, go, go…but then discontinued in the early 2000’s. The then ‘anti EV’ers’ had stymied GM’s push into low / no emissions cars. But whenever there is a false start….new hope does spring. And so now The Elon takes up the challenge. You just have to wonder, with The Elon and his Big Battery that is coming in SA, what an opportunity it would have been for a “Technology and Innovative” current PM to turn SA’s empty Combustion Engine car making factory into an Electric Vehicle making factory…Tesla Australia ?

        • Jack

          Joe I agree entirely. I’ll bet Jay was whispering sweet EV’s in Elon’s ear every chance he had. Cheers Jack

    • Tim Buckley

      Absolutely agree. China represented 45% of all global new EV registrations in 2016, and a staggering 95% of global EV buses (China registered 116,000 electric buses, 30% yoy growth) according to the IEA World Energy Investments report July 2017 page 37. BYD leads the world in electric buses.

    • jeffhre

      BYD is selling cars with the help of Buffet’s investments in China and…China. Tesla had customers lining up in front of their stores on most of the worlds continents. BYDs cars are acceptable, in China. Tesla’s cars are aspirational, across the globe.

      • My_Oath

        Lambos are aspirational too. People buy what they can afford. The 7 million EVs that India want on the road are more likely to be BYD type vehicles than Tesla type vehicles.

        • jeffhre

          Lambos start at six figures – before upgrades!

          BYD may provide them the equivalent of picks and shovels, which can be an extremely lucrative business. Although VW, Audi, Porsche provides the dreams that create the desires – which expands the market so that BYD can thrive.

          Not many young kids will sit at home dreaming of picks and shovels!

          • My_Oath

            BYD are not providing picks and shovels. You might want to hop along and see what they have in the pipeline, and ask yourself why Buffet invested in them so heavily.

  • trackdaze

    Its not in the last 50 years but the first Ford V8 drew millions into ford dealerships on release in the 30’s.

    • George Michaelson

      Ford had been selling model T for years, and had dealerships and finance relationships knee deep. Ford was bankrolling every purchase during the depression on the long tail of business. If you want the comparison, its Ford before he had the model T, trying to fight along side de-dion-bouton and other bespoke carmakers (and they all played dirty too)

      • Andrew Roydhouse

        Actually what you write about Ford in the depression is incorrect. Henry Ford did the opposite (well-documented) and sent most dealerships bankrupt. He insisted they order a minimum number and pay for them BEFORE they were received let alone sold.
        He was the ultimate ‘survival of the fittest’ ruthless business man.
        There is much available to read about his actions – most of which were to the detriment of others.

  • George Darroch

    Why aren’t we doing more to support Australia’s electric vehicle industry?

    (Yes, we have an industry, not that you’d know about it because it’s not as sexy as Tesla.)

    http://www.seaauto.com.au/
    http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/first-electric-truck-hits-the-road/

    • Durham 52

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t SEA Auto just building trucks at this point? Is there anyone in Australia building cars, or working towards that end?

      • George Darroch

        There are about 600,000 trucks in Australia, and a huge amount more abroad, so “just trucks” is not exactly a small market.

        If they can get their offering and pricing right, there’s a lot to be sold.

    • Pedro

      I think the reason that no government in Australia is keen to support the EV market is that the ATO rake in too much money from fuel excise.

      • trackdaze

        True but treasury would suggest its at the expense of the balance of trade.

        seeing that state governments are making more from electricity…..

    • Chris Fraser

      Apart from a glimmer of hope from Morrison (regarding his view on HELE coal fired plant) I think the government is due for an ‘electric shock’ on EVs. They worked hard to divert skilled auto employees into other careers, but didn’t realise they should have kept them on EV assembly lines. If only they realised the awesome power of government support to get the EVs going, a new Australian manufacturing industry which would have given back much more than the original investment.With the likes of CSIRO to work on new battery technologies, we could have even given the USA or the Europeans a competitive run for their money.

      • solarguy

        Agree 100% Chris, but Abbott and he’s short sighted LNP mates couldn’t see it. Now here is something else that government and big business can’t see. For too many decades these people have had the dig it up and flog it off mentality. Now I’ve just been informed that WA has the worlds biggest Lithium reserves and will soon be opening at least 3 new mines, to supply the growing world demand for batteries.
        Do you think the logical next step would be to invest in battery manufacturing right here and add value to the product, of course it would! Turnbull talks of jobs, jobs, jobs, but there is no vision apart from a planned factory in Townsville. Hell we hold all the ACES here, something that other countries can only dream of.

        • Greg Hudson

          Add to that huge supplies of cobalt too… NOT mined by children !

    • Robert Comerford

      Thanks, never saw that on the news.

    • Mike Shackleton

      These low volume, high yield sectors are the ones we should be chasing – the ones where companies are happy to pay a premium for reliability/reduced downtime. It’s the main reason Cat and Komatsu are dominant in the mining equipment market – miners want equipment that doesn’t fail as downtime costs production and that has a direct monetary cost.

  • Durham 52

    So anyone care to make a guestimate of how much longer I will have to hang onto my aging petrol car before we see reasonably priced electric cars in OZ? A range of a couple of hundred k’s would do me these days, but I don’t live in the city, so the current very limited options (should that be option?) aren’t really an option. This current pathetic federal government seem hell bent on giving their fossil fuel masters as many years as possible to milk profits out of us before the inevitable overtakes them.

    • George Michaelson

      I am thinking 5 years. I want 1-2, but I think the ramp up rate for the T-3 and the mooted VW unit, and the other competing cars which target the volume market will be slow. So 5 gives 2 2year cycles for product to be made, be released elsewhere, get through australian compliance, secure import relationships, get a block of land, and sales people motivated to sell. I think we’ll see one or two vanity cars inside the year, per capital city.

      I think we might even see one or two sales outfits open the doors. Volume is when you can go down the Ipswich Road in Brisbane, walk into any mainline dealer there, who you know makes an EV, and talk to them about buying one dealer-delivery included with the whole box and dice. Right now, I suspect Tesla is like Ferrari, building out in high value CBD location showrooms. I won’t be allowed in the door with my flipflops and can of beer.

      I can walk around a car yard in Marooka or Newmarket and pop the lid of cars almost any day of the week, when I walked into the Tesla showroom in Hong Kong the nice young security guard was very very itchy-tense.

      If it took more than 2 two-year cycles, I think we’d have overt signs of roadblocks from the majors to blame for it. Since money is hitting the ground to deploy charge stations, somebody with cash believes there is a market coming inside their limit of risk.

      • Roger Franklin

        George, Personally I would be very happy to order one online, have it delivered to my home and not have to talk to anyone. If I want to configure and order one at 3am – who honestly cares! But as EV’s don’t run on coal, I wouldn’t expect either major party in Canberra to support them anytime soon. Maybe a state govt or two – lets see!

      • Mike Shackleton

        The Tesla showrooms I have been into (Richmond and Chadstone in Victoria) have been nothing but friendly – sales staff know they are there to increase awareness of the Tesla products and I had follow up calls asking if I wanted to have a test drive. The Model S is way out of my price range but if they can retain my enthusiasm by giving me a test drive they know they will have a good shot at selling me a Model 3 when they become available.
        The Tesla business model is different to a classic dealership. You can order one online and never set foot in a Tesla store until it is time to take delivery. You can’t buy a car off the showroom floor.
        As far as after sales care, the reported experience is, whatever problems you have with the car, they bend over backwards to resolve them quickly, no blame or excuses made. They want you to come back when you have an issue as it adds data to their fault database.

    • trackdaze

      New nissan leaf out september this year.

      • JonathanMaddox

        Oh yes? In which dealership in Australia?

        • trackdaze

          Eventually all.

          • JonathanMaddox

            …I’ll ask again in twelve months…

    • Geoff James

      Hmmm, my car has 217k on the clock and I’ve promised myself I’ll drive it until I can afford an electric one, I’d better research that or try car sharing. I don’t think I’m an early adopter – petrol cars just seem smelly and inadequate now, I simply don’t want another one.

    • Greg Hudson

      IMO, ‘where’ you can fast charge should be highest on your wish list, and so far, the only one that has SuperChargers is Tesla. Things ‘may’ (probably?) change, which is fine, and will help Tesla owners too (I imagine). We also need the Govt to pull their finger out and make ALL charge stations (not points) accessible by all EV’s (including Tesla). e.g. at a SC site, have x number of Tesla chargers, and y number of ‘other’ points. Tesla can sell power to them just as well as anyone else. Also, the Euro idea of each charge company having their own ‘card’ is brain dead IMO. They need to be universal. All cards work with all chargers (even competitors). Set up a standard, and comply everyone to partake or piss off. Just my opinion of course…

  • Brian Springer

    It is a shame that the unions are behind labor otherwise I would vote against the ridiculous situation the liberals are in.

  • B&J Lakey

    Oil needs economy of scale to stay in production. With current cost structure this is barely viable now. Suggest that just 10% of global new vehicles sales being bev will collapse the oil supply line, no new exploration, leading to shortages at the local pump. Remember that the role of business is to promote shareholder wealth, community good.

    • sbean

      And then the economy collapses and few can afford new vehicles, electric or otherwise (and can’t sell their old ones).

  • Adam Smith

    Agree it won’t be Musk, who knows who it will be, but EV’s will be rapidly adopted, as soon as the battery life and price reaches the tipping point. The choice will be $70 a tank full of fuel or circa $5.00 to charge. Plus service costs will be much lower. I am assuming the diesel cars I have now will be it and I will not spend another penny on this imminently redundant technology.

  • Marko Simatkovich

    Hi Giles, can you please confirm Volvo’s plans, I heard (from a colleague in Sweden) that they would only stop building diesel’s but will continue with petrol cars beyond 2019? Thanks!

    • trackdaze

      I think they came out stating that all newly released volvos after 2019 will have an electrified version. That means anything from a full electric to a 48v mild hybrid.

      An exec also doscussed that they had ruled a line through foward investments in internal combustion engines. Both diesel and petrol.

  • JohnRD

    My problem with Tesla is that it just another family car with a different engine, a car aiming to have the same range as the current crop of family cars. It is just another tank that will clog up the roads.
    However, if you look at commute data for Brisbane over 50% are driver only cars. Some of these commutes might be able to be handled by public transport but the rest really need some form of independent transport that can get people directly from starting point to destination.
    What we really need is independent transport for the commuters who use driver only cars.
    I would be more impressed by developments that start with a motor bike (or bicycle) and turn them into a safe, weatherproof forms of transport that at least use renewable energy for the bulk of the trips they make. Think about something that is narrow enough to travel two abreast in a normal traffic lane, park in a slot that is just big enough for a motor bike and carry a passenger behind the driver if necessary..
    It is also worth noting that most city trips are relatively short. In my case what I need most of the time is a battery that will get me something like 50 km, not 500 km. Preferably with the option of adding more batteries or a small generator for the times I need to go further or simply accept that hiring a car occasionally for long trips may work out a lot cheaper than a Tesla.

    • Ian

      You heretic. How dare you bring logic and common sense into this debate. We definitely don’t need people like you in government. There’d actually be a demand reduction for our roads. What would council workers do without as many shovel leaning opportunities. Think of the unemployment lines!

      • Tom

        And what about the sweetheart deals between MPs and toll road operators? A deal is a deal!

    • Durham 52

      Check the Renault (France, not Aussie) website for an example of a current production car/bike that might be just the type of vehicle you describe.

      Dream on that this government would ever consider approving it here though…

      • JohnRD

        Durham: The Renault 3 wheeler is wide enough to have passengers sitting side by side. What I had in mind was something wide enough for one passenger with the possibility of a second sitting behind. (Same width footprint as a motor bike.) What is needed is something that is safe and weather resistant while being narrow enough to travel two abreast in a normal lane and short enough to be parked like a motor bike.

    • Allan Barr

      Its now known that 200 miles and over is what makes an EV acceptable to most.

    • nor_he

      What’s needed is a government with the intestinal fortitude to railroad mass transit infrastructure without bowing down to minority interests groups such as the greens and small scale property developers, all while not allowing bureaucratic tape to hinder and mess up the process.

      • Alastair Leith

        Greens have more progressive mass transit transport policy than any party in Australia. Quit with the ideological BS mate. Scott Ludlam actually won an award for his transport plan for Perth. Greens demanded of the Rudd Govt (in return for passing supply) to have the HSR enquiry, even though the enquiry had questionable findings as demonstrated by the BZE High Speed Rail (which cost probably ~1% of what the Federal Govt study cost)

        • nor_he

          Greens might have had a good plan, they just couldn’t implement it. They’re currently in a terminal decline (like the fringe 3rd party they are) and it’s unlikely they’ll ever get the chance to implement their plans. What’s needed is a major first or second level party, not a third level fringe group.

          FWIW, the greens have been in decline ever since Bob Brown quit. No ideological BS, just common sense reality.

          • Alastair Leith

            FWIW the evidence speaks directly against you, decade to decade the green vote grows and we have more MPs than when Bob was leader. The third party cannot be a fringe party, your mind cannot maintain coherence for even one sentence, get some rest. Fringe parties typically don’t have any representation, let alone 10 federal MPs and a dozen or more state & territory MPs.

          • nor_he

            The greens have been in the federal system for 15 years. In another 15 they’ll be gone. Going off topic, although, in 15 years you’ll remember some no-name on some web site telling you they’ll be gone… and then they’ll be gone. I’m also certain that we’ll be burning oil in our cars in 15 years too… maybe some hybrid tech, but still, burning hydrocarbons… which is the topic at hand… and you’ll also remember the no-name telling you. 🙂

          • Alastair Leith

            Self proclaimed expert analysts such as @nor_he have been prescribing the death of the Australian Greens since Bob entered state Parliament in Tasmania. As long as the environment doesn’t have a voice in politics the Greens or similar will be there to speak out. The peril that Climate Change will deliver (no matter how much we act to protect our climate now b/c we waited to long to act decisively) will ensure Greens representation for a long time to come. I think (later day CC denier) John Howard said it best: “We’re all conservationists now”.

          • nor_he

            Now who’s conflating. lol lol lol

            “or similar”

            Thank you for admitting, albeit quietly, that I’m correct about the demise of the greens. 15 years and we’ll have a beer. 😉

            Quoting the old JWH. He actually got it wrong. What he meant to say was “we’re all conservatives now”. At the time the greens were the most progressively conservative political party in history. Bob browns greens wanted to halt everything and take society back beyond Howard’s golden 1950 age to the days of hunter gatherer, in the name of stopping industrial destruction of the environment. Now bob has departed, the greens have been perverted by Marxists and loopy anarchists who’s policies have historically led to war and even greater environmental/social destruction than the capitalist society. While not conclusive, I do speculate that This perversion may have been due to the political theories of theodore kaczynski. The internal conflict within the greens political philosophies that arises from the realisation of this difference will be their undoing. This undoing of the greens will happen in a similar way to the undoing of Europe in their upcoming civil war… oh geopolitics…

            Now, let’s see how it all plays out over the next 15 years while I keep that beer cold for you.

          • Alastair Leith

            I’ll look you up in 15 years to piss on your lack of wisdom and knowledge. http://www.tonyseba.com

          • nor_he

            Ha. If I’m wrong I’ll look you up and buy you a beer. Cheers.

    • Wallace

      Self-driving EVs with enabled ride sharing.

      Just phone for a ride or schedule one for your normal commute. “Central Control” can instruct the robotaxi to pick up and drop off other riders along the way, increasing the average number of butts in seats.

      Robotaxis should be very much cheaper than owning ones own car. You won’t have to deal with parking, washing, licensing, insurance, maintenance, charging, etc.

      In some situations (very crowded portions of cities like old Kathmandu) the robos might be tandem seating in order to minimize the width. For commuters leaving the same suburban area and heading downtown or to the factory the robo might be a 12, 18, 50 seater.

      Why own a car if you can make a phone call and have anything from a sporty convertible to a large bus or dump truck turn up at your door?

      • JohnRD

        Assuming people are travelling the same distances, uber car km will be much higher because the uber car has to travel empty to reach customers and find somewhere to stop after letting passengers off.

    • Greg Hudson

      I already use a device similar to what you think we need. An e-bike. OK, it isn’t waterproof (but I am) and wet weather gear is cheap.

      • JohnRD

        E-bikes solve some of the problems of ordinary bikes but, if anything, it is less safe because it helps people go faster. (I would buy one now if I was still working.) What is so heretical about wanting a safe, weather proof motor bike?

  • Eclectic Eel

    The solid state lithium ion technology that is being adopted by Toyota sounds interesting in terms of energy density, faster charging and increased range. Could be in cars within 5-10 years ?

    • Malcolm Scott

      Every week there is a battery story, although slowing down of late. Time now to wait until people deliver in cycles, battery size, production volume, and price. Enough of these could be stories

  • nor_he

    The elephant in the room that no one is talking about is the global supply of Lithium. We are going to run out of Lithium a long time before we run of hydrocarbons. There is quite simply not enough Lithium to fill the demand. Unless there is a breakthrough of magnitudal order with regards to energy storage density, the petrol car is not going to die anytime soon.

    • Allan Barr

      There is plenty of lithium, oceans are full of it.

      • nor_he

        Oceans are full of gold too. Doesn’t mean that it’s economic to extract it.

        I’d be impressed if you could demonstrate to me how Lithium can be extracted from the ocean in a timely, economic and environmentaly friendly way.

        • Allan Barr

          Desalination plants for a start. There is plenty of lithium is simply not in short supply. Cobalt worries me more.

          • JonathanMaddox

            Cobalt comes at modest additional cost as a co-product of copper and nickel mines. Don’t worry about it. (Well, except that it’s rather poisonous. Good thing most newer lithium battery chemistries do not rely on cobalt).

          • nor_he

            Where are these desalination plants being built, what process do they use to concentrate the Lithium and what is their expected output per year.

          • Allan Barr

            I suggested they could incorporate existing desalination plants, not that they have done so yet. There are simply zero issues currently or the foreseeable future obtaining lithium. If that changes they can always turn to existing desalination. The batteries can also be fully recycled as well.

          • Wallace

            There’s a lithium brine extraction site just south of the Tesla Gigafactory. The brine is pumped out of wells and into evaporation pools. Pretty much like we obtain table salt by evaporating seawater.

          • nor_he

            That sounds like a brine from an already concentrated deposit. Your initial description makes it sound similar to the gas fields where fracking takes place.

          • joono

            Elon Musk is rumoured to have acquired a sulphide deposit in the NT. ~7 – 9% of the worlds known cobalt right there.

          • My_Oath

            Why would Elon Musk bother doing that? He doesn’t make the cells, he buys them from Panasonic.

          • My_Oath

            If desalination for lithium was to work, it would work for gold first.

            I wish people would stop with the ‘oceans are full of lithium’ meme they picked up because some moron wrote it on Wikipedia. There is plenty of lithium sources on dry land that will fill our needs. The constraint is on the supply chain.

          • nor_he

            Constraint is in the proven existence of economic deposits.

          • My_Oath

            Not really. We haven’t yet found all economic deposits.

          • nor_he

            As I pointed out elsewhere in this discussion, Australia went through an upgrade of its Lithium recently and has only increased by 50%. Most major deposits and their regions are known. Of course there are unknowns out there, it’s just that there are not many, if any, “mega-unknowns”. There won’t be any upgrades of magnitudal order, only incremental upgrades, which is why the current Lithium numbers indicate that it’s going to be a tight squeeze for tesla to kill the petrol car anytime soon.

    • JonathanMaddox

      There is plenty of lithium. More of it on Earth than there is lead, in fact.

      Indeed, there is no need to worry about the abundance of any particular mineral resource. Even with fossil fuels, pollution is far more of a concern than resource scarcity.

      http://thebulletin.org/clean-energy-and-rare-earths-why-not-worry10785

      • nor_he

        Seriously. No.

        The USGS has identified 14m tons of Lithium reserves and a loose resource of maybe 50m tons.

        https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/lithium/mcs-2017-lithi.pdf

        Lead resources identified tops two billion tons.

        https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/lead/mcs-2016-lead.pdf

        Please stop reading fake news sites and educate yourself properly with science.

        • Alastair Leith

          For someone who confuses lithium carbonate with lithium element I’d go easy on the science-brain bragging.

          • nor_he

            Even still, it’s not a magnitudal difference which would allow EVs to eliminate petrol vehicles, which is the topic at hand.

        • JonathanMaddox

          Estimated abundance in the earth’s crust of lithium is 0.0017%, and of lead is 0.001%, slightly more than half as much. By weight.

          Present estimates for the ultimately recoverable resource of lithium stand around 26 million tonnes, which is enough for over 300 million battery-electric vehicles with 100KWh batteries; that’s well over a quarter of the entire world’s motor vehicle fleet.

          It is very likely as actual exploitation of lithium increases dramatically in the coming decade or two that — just as has happened with petroleum — new resources will be identified and new techniques developed to make them accessible in economic fashion.

          If lithium scarcity were to begin to bite hard, decades down the track, there are numerous other battery chemistries and non-battery energy storage technologies available to substitute. Maybe fuel cells would begin to look competitive if lithium prices were to soar fifty-fold one day. That day is some time in the future.

          • nor_he

            300 million teslas and then there is no more Lithium. Even if more is found, it’s most likely that the currently known deposits comprise most of the economic resouce.

            Could we guess and say that at best our Lithium resource would be doubled? Compare the USGS numbers in Australia from 2014 to 2017. There was An increase of 60% over a period where intense exploration has taken place. This increase isn’t exactly magnitudal.

          • Wallace

            At 20 mg lithium per kg of Earth’s crust, lithium is the 25th most abundant element. Nickel and lead have about the same abundance. There are approximately 39 million tonnes of accessible lithium in the Earth’s crust.

            The Nissan Leaf contains 4 kg of lithium. Assume we use 3x as much for each EV in the future. 39 million tonnes = 3,250,000,000 EVs.

            At some point we start recycling. And if we’re still using lithium further down the road there are approximately 208,652,550,000 tonnes of lithium in seawater.

          • JonathanMaddox

            Telslas cost fifty grand Australian apiece, or double or triple that. There won’t be 300 million of those, ever. Either Tesla markets down to what I (and I’m a borderline one-percenter, globally speaking!) am prepared to pay, or it remains a niche luxury brand while others do the heavy lifting. As Wallace says, there’s only four kilograms of lithium in a Leaf. Most people could do everything they ever achieved with a petrol-powered car using no more than eight or ten kilograms of lithium.

            A few families might have need of a range extender a couple of times a year when they take their children to visit their grandparents across the country. (In my case that’s a 500km trip one-way, but there’s no way I’d do it without a stop of an hour or two, and there’s already a Supercharger in exactly the right place, ready and waiting if I do pony up for the Tesla Model 3 … last time I visited my folks I stopped in exactly that town for unrelated reasons).

            As I and Alastair Leith have pointed out, alternatives such as graphene-based supercapacitors and hydrogen fuel cells are available, if lithium shortages were ever to pinch. Carbon and hydrogen are NOT in sort supply and I can promise you with complete confidence that they never, ever will be as long as human beings can eat and shit.

          • Alastair Leith

            By the time we start scrapping the existing known reserves of lithium battery chemistry likely to have moved on. Nobody can predict which one of course, but many candidates, graphene already being used in solar cell terminals and batteries in the lab. Very high power density. Lithium isn’t even the major element in chemical batteries but it is the common one across all the lithium ion battery types.

          • nor_he

            By the time we … technology moved on …

            That’s a dangerous assumption to make. Nuclear fusion has been 5-10 years away for the last 70 years.

          • Alastair Leith

            Nothing to with fusion, and that’s been 25 years away for the last 50 years, actually. But numbers aren’t your strength. I’ve never heard a single physicist ever claim commercial fusion is 5-10 years away.

            There’s dozens of other battery chemistries being played with that have potential for better attributes that current Li Ion technologies (of which there are many and constantly changing also). Some of these are organic sugar batteries, no limit to resources for those, others are flow batteries which make a lot of sense for stationary energy. The single biggest issue is if they can get across the valley-of-death to significant volume of production where learning curve kicks in. We see that with every technology that reaches a critical consumer mass adoption point, the price falls dramatically from early adopter take up and anticipated future demand increasing capacity which delivers learning curve.

          • nor_he

            Youre intelligent enough to understand the fusion analogy, that’s all that matters. You should also be intelligent enough to understand that believing “a new technology will be developed to save us” is a similar crazy to a bible banger on the street corner claiming the world is 10,000 years old.

            Enough replies from me. I’m not getting dragged into a religious debate on the church of environmentalism.

          • Greg Hudson

            Sound just like hydrogen as a fuel type doesn’t it ? 😉

        • JonathanMaddox

          “Case 1 URR scenario indicates sufficient lithium for a 77% maximum penetration of lithium battery electric vehicles in 2080 whereas supply is adequate to beyond 2200 in the Case 3 URR scenario. Global lithium demand approached a maximum of 857 kt Li/y, with a 100% penetration of lithium vehicles, 3.5 people per car and 10 billion population.”

          http://www.mdpi.com/2075-163X/2/1/65

        • My_Oath

          The USGS is reporting what has already been identified.

          In 1980 the Group of Rome declared the world would run out of all mineral resources by 2000.

          Guess what? Mining companies when out and did this thing called ‘looking for more’.

      • Greg Hudson

        And, most of the lead is recycled anyway, just like lithium will be.

    • Ren Stimpy

      There are huge known reserves of lithium (including 1,500,000 tons in Australia).

      World production
      2013 34,000 tons
      2014 36,000 tons

      World reserves
      2014 13,500,000 tons

      That number is the known reserves, but there have also been tens of millions of additional tons identified as potential lithium resources.

      https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/lithium/mcs-2015-lithi.pdf

      • nor_he

        Potential doesn’t count, it’s foolish to assume it’s readily available. It’s not an economic resource. Yes, 14m tons reserve as at last count from the USGS, including all the major upgrades in Australia.

        https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/lithium/mcs-2017-lithi.pdf

        Depending on where you source your info, Tesla uses 63kg per vehicle and the Nissan Leaf about a third of this. 14m tons of Lithium equals approximately 230million tesla cars and then the Lithium is gone.

        The largest number from the USGS is 40m tons or about 750m tesla vehicles… with no leftovers for solar batteries.

        Unless we improve batteries to use less Lithium, it appears that petrol driven cars are going to remain with us for a long time.

        • juxx0r

          no, you’re conflating lithium and lithium carbonate.

          63kg Li2CO3 = <12kg lithium

          We now have five times as much.

          You're welcome.

          • nor_he

            Cheers.

            Thats not a magnitudal increase… so… do you think it’ll be enough Lithium?

        • Ren Stimpy

          So, known lithium reserves are growing at the rate of 500,000 tons – or 8 million Teslas – every two years.

          In the grand scheme lithium availability is not a problem. There are more than a billion vehicles in the world today, utilised 4% of the time on average. The TaaS disruption in the 2020s will see the total number of vehicles slashed to just a fraction of that number and utilised 40% of the time on average. An order of magnitude fewer vehicles built (or near enough) and an order of magnitude higher utilisation rate.

          • Ren Stimpy

            …or 40 million Teslas every two years (thanks again juxx0r)

          • nor_he

            Such disruption will be interesting if it manages to eventuate. Sure it’ll work for civilised folk like yourself, however, not everyone is as well behaved as you. Call me an old fossil, yet, I’m still waiting for George Jetsons transport to arrive.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Yeh true, I reckon anyone who wears a periwig is gonna party like it’s 1799. Wild.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Here’s the executive summary

            https://www.rethinkx.com/executive-summary

          • Wallace

            Many people don’t understand the meaning of the word “reserves”. They think reserves = the amount of a material that could be produced when it really means the amount that is waiting to be used.

            The operational word is “occurrence”. How common is the substance. From there it breaks down to difficulty of extraction/collection.

        • juxx0r

          just FYI, Resources aren’t claimed to be economic. Reserves are claimed to be economic, it’s part of the definition of reserves. That doesn’t mean that resources aren’t economic, or wont be, just that the work hasn’t been done yet to prove that they are.

          • nor_he

            JORC compliance. Levels of confidence.

            Even still, I’m still not convinced that we have enough Lithium to bring forth the rapid demise of the petrol engine.

          • juxx0r

            We could make every car sold electric for the next 20 years before we ran out of current reserves. We got this.

          • nor_he

            Simple questions … how long will these electric cars last…

            What about Lithium for grid storage and mobile devices and grease and other traditional uses?

          • juxx0r

            They’ll last forever, there’s a lot less to wear out.

            a question for you, how quickly can we go from producing 50kt of Li to 800kt of Li a year to please your vision of what’s needed?

          • Wallace

            Lithium is the 25th most common abundant element on the planet. We won’t run short.

            Additionally, lithium is not used up like petroleum in an ICEV. Worn out batteries can be crushed and shredded. Lithium is water solvent. Lithium and other materials can be recovered and reused.

          • nor_he

            25th most abundant, maybe, yet the electric vehicle requirement is still relatively high.

            Recycling does sound interesting, although, without an over abundance of Lithium I can only foresee a very high price and an elitist half of the population controlling the available Lithium pool. Got the most recent info on recycling?

          • Greg Hudson

            ”eletist controlling Lithium”? No, it is actually the Chinese… attempting to buy as many Lithium sources they can (including Australia’s). (IMO)

        • JohnM

          There’s now so much going into battery research. There’ll be plenty of alternatives to lithium, as long as the market is big enough, which it clearly is.

    • juxx0r

      what a load of shit. theres plenty of lithium.

      • nor_he

        The scientific consensus says 14m tons of reserves. Unless you’re a trumped up science denier and believe in a flat earth…

        https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/lithium/mcs-2017-lithi.pdf

        • juxx0r

          For a start it’s not a consensus, it’s resources and reserves to date.

          Geology doesn’t equal science, it’s liquor and guessing.

          All the lithium that ever going to be mined has already been found is a ridiculous proposition.

          • nor_he

            That’s so strange it’s funny. Claiming that geology is not a science is the same as denying climate change and climate science.

            Are you some sort of trump loving stooge whose brain has been fried from to much meth…

          • juxx0r

            It is a degree in colouring in. I’m the poor sucker who is the customer for geology.

    • My_Oath

      Plenty of people are talking about the global supply of lithium – and the answer is: Its not an issue”.

      A bigger and actually real issue is the global supple of cobalt – and that has far bigger production/supply constraints and is a major component in the battery chemistries (whereas lithium is a very minor component).

  • RobSa

    Please end the petrol car. Stop using them. People who use them are asking to much from society. Ban petrol car sales in Australia as soon as possible. They aren’t good enough. Petrol cars are a blight on society. People who drive a petrol car willy nilly are too destructive. Stop it. I am demanding it.

    • Greg Hudson

      I’m not using mine. I sold it and put down my deposit on a Tesla Model 3. Or Y, or Pickup, depending on how I feel at the time.

  • Robert Comerford

    Scomo might be the biggest prawn in the room.

    And the good thing about metals such as Lithium unlike fossil fuels. When the battery is depleted past usability, most of the products get recycled to produce new batteries.

  • Rob

    Lets make an Australian EV and call it the …..Oz-E. Any takers?