Malcolm Turnbull raves about Tesla test drive, hails energy revolution | RenewEconomy

Malcolm Turnbull raves about Tesla test drive, hails energy revolution

Malcolm Turnbull raves about his test drive in a Tesla Model S, hails energy revolution to be brought about by cheap battery storage.


A couple of months ago RenewEconomy suggested that if ever the current Coalition government was to be convinced about changing its renewable energy policies, and embracing the energy future, then maybe they should all be given test drives in a Tesla Model S. (See our story: Could a Tesla test drive cure Abbott government’s deep denial).

It turns out that Malcolm Turnbull, the electorates favourite would-be leader, has done just that. While Queensland Premier Campbell Newman was awaiting his judgment day, and calls were increasing for Tony Abbott to face his,  Turnbull was in Fremont, California, visiting the Tesla Factory, which he said was a “great thrill” -but not as much as the test drive itself.

Turnbull posted this photo and the comments below on his Facebook page. He recognised how battery storage is likely to provoke an “energy revolution”. Pity that more government MPs and policy makers are not in tune.

“The all electric cars are being made in a huge factory that used to belong to GM and Toyota,” Turnbull wrote. “It shut down and then four years ago Tesla took it over and it went from being an industrial relic to the home of what many regard as the world’s fastest and coolest electric car. And many of the workers at Tesla today are auto workers who had been laid off when the old GM/Toyota plant closed. Tesla has gone from employing 500 people to 11,000 in five years. A reminder of how innovation drives jobs.


“Walking through the highly automated assembly lines was inspiring, but nothing matched taking a test drive in the latest Tesla S model. This one has a range of 265 miles (about 480 kms) and accelerate to 100 kph in 3.5 seconds. The key of course is the battery technology which is improving all the time both in terms of cost and energy density.

“Batteries have the potential to revolutionise the energy market, reducing peaking power requirements, optimising grid utilisation of renewables and in some cases enabling consumers to go off the grid altogether. The excitement of technology in the Bay Area is exhilarating…..but not quite as palpable as the jolt you feel when you hit the accelerator!”

And we say “absolutely” to that.

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  1. DogzOwn 6 years ago

    But Tony’s mess so bad that, if he is brave enough to take the big decision, to quit, Malcolm would be crazy to chuck his hat in the ring as possible new leader

    • RobS 6 years ago

      Exactly, let bulldog Bishop destroy her political capital trying to pick up the pieces but lose the next election anyway, then get Turnbull in to pick up the pieces and actually bring the Liberal party into the 20th century

      • Kieran 6 years ago

        LOL – then maybe in the next 100 years they’ll find someone to bring them into the 21st Century

  2. barrie harrop 6 years ago

    Maybe Turnbull, could bring Tesla to Sth Aust we have a spare GM plant looming,build their cars for Asia/Pacific from here.

  3. Ron Horgan 6 years ago

    Great idea Barry, the body building skills etc. are not yet lost and the transition from IC to electric motors and battery making should be possible.
    Vic has several spare plants and the skilled employment is sorely needed.
    If not Turnbull perhaps Shorten?

    • jane 6 years ago

      Shorten should be interested. It’s just the sort of investment we need, along with cranking up renewables again, to provide employment to the thousands this mob has thrown on the rubbish heap.

      • The Green Lantern 6 years ago

        Wishful thinking about Shorten – he’s been in bed with the IPA since forever.

        As I said in comments on another article before, he was best man at Roskam’s wedding, and Roskam’s on record as being a “big fan” of Shorten politically.

  4. jane 6 years ago

    Turnbull raving about Tesla, but that’s as far as it will go. The Liars are too ideologically committed to oil based fuel guzzlers. And don’t forget they have happily shed thousands of jobs in renewable energy to satisfy the likes of Rinehart, Forrest & co.

    This mob has to go. The sooner the better.

    • Ronald Brakels 6 years ago

      No, they are ideologically committed to burning oil, their ideologially commited, and back pocket committed, to coal. That and natural gas exports. But they probably couldn’t tell you much about oil since Australia produces so little. Look at the way the Abbott’s raved about how the carbon price was “just another tax” and would destroy the economy, the country, and probably the world and the entire solar system as well as collatoral damage. But then when they found themselves a bit short of cash what with coal prices falling like a stone, one of the first things they did was increase the Fuel Excise. Gee, isn’t the Fuel Excise just another tax? Won’t that destroy Australia’s economy? Well, it’s not coal, you see. Aparently it’s completely different and its economy and nation destroying abilities are quite limited.

      So if we got our current leadership together, the whole mob of numbskulls, gave them an electric sports car to play with, and told them that cutting oil imports will help the balance of payments, then maybe, just maybe, we would actually end up with fuel efficiency standards in this country, which is something we don’t currently have. We sort of stand out from other developed nations in this reguard. While other countries require improving fuel efficiency, our efforts are limited to requiring a sticker on new cars saying what its fuel consumption is. This past slackness was to keep our domestic car industry that was addicted to big cars and an old fashioned lack of economy happy, but since we are about to not have a car industry anymore, unless we can get electric cars built here, we actually have a real chance for a change.

      • The Green Lantern 6 years ago

        Even if we did that, I don’t think it’d get the results we want Ron.

        Because the ongoing support for fossil fuel – primarily coal – from the LNP and ALP isn’t really ideological, it’s about campaign bribes, cash for favours politics.

        Can’t think of any other sane explanation for the seventeen-billion-dollar Federal Government subsidy to mining and fossil fuel interests either, and the fact both those major parties always strongly support it.

        Political corruption is always the issue.

        The best economic pathways ahead for Australia are obviously in renewable energy (and associated manufacturing, such as electric cars), and information technology as well, but we’ll need a major political realignment to see strong industries developed in either area.

    • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

      Turnbull always used to say the problem with RE was intermittency and so until R&D into storage was made and bore fruit RE was not good enough. So apart from that being wrong for a bunch of reasons readers of RenewEconomy would be well acquainted with, Turnbull is now should be seeing how little R&D is required to move markets when the potential for profit is so enormous.

      I don’t expect much from him though if he does claim the leadership, he used to a be a gun for hire Barrister including doing much work for Uncle Rupert (as he is now destroying the NBN) and while not far-right he’d still be working for the IPA’s funders who fund the Libs and Nats.

    • disqus_3PLIicDhUu 6 years ago

      You’re right Jane, whilst Turnbull is a true middle of the road liberal aspiring to want prosperity with progressive action, unlike the rest of the dumb conservative stooges acting only for the minerals and the IPA.
      He’d be all for renewables and EV’s, but he knows the LNP are totally owned by big business and to a lesser extent the ALP, that’s why Rudd got kicked out, shhh don’t mention super mining tax.

  5. tsport100 6 years ago

    We don’t need Tesla to set-up EV manufacturing in Australia, we’ve been making cars for over a century in this country while Tesla Motors only delivered their first in-house manufactured car less than 3 years ago.

    Australia has enough locally developed EV technology close to commercialisation that can provide the IP required for the automotive industry to make the transition to vehicle electrification that both Ford and Holden simply refused to do in Australia.

    • disqus_3PLIicDhUu 6 years ago

      That’s right we already have our own highly prized Tritium Wave Sculpture controllers and electric motors designed here in Australia, I think a leap ahead would be going over to flow cell technology, fill the car with electrolytes, rather than the complicated, slower and high energy density batteries and charging systems that convention EV’s, such as Tesla uses.

      • Its Obvious 6 years ago

        The key is energy density. While a vanadium flow battery is wonderful on an industrial scale, in a car, it doesn’t make sense as the distance between charges would be disappointing. Its great for backing up solar and wind. Unless the car was the size of a semi truck….

        • disqus_3PLIicDhUu 6 years ago

          I don’t think you understand the technology for cars is already proven.

          “Quant e-sportlimousine concept powered by nanoflowcell, In the quant e-sportlimousine, the flow cell is said to have a storage capacity of 120 kwh. by comparison, the tesla model s’s biggest battery has an 85 kwh capacity..”

          • Its Obvious 6 years ago

            But is it economical? Nano flow technology usually is built in a lab vs on an industrial scale.

          • disqus_3PLIicDhUu 6 years ago

            The car might be a million bucks, but the battery, if it’s a basic series of flow cells, with membrane, it’s a relatively cheap technology.
            There would be probably hundreds of series cells to give the high hundreds of volts, required at the output terminals.
            The mix of electrolyte ingredients is supposedly the key to it, it could be overstated, but even if it gives a few hundred kms, and hundreds of kW’s, its still amazing, because recharging can be fast, as filling up, but two tanks.

          • Anti Lord Kelvin 5 years ago

            Yes, two tanks of 200 litres each, the nano fuel cell (big one) the supercapacitor and the motors…complicate and taking a lot of storage room from the car (unlike the Tesla). And you know, it’s not simply salt water that you have to fill the tanks with, it’s not magic, it’s a complete solution with metallic salts and ionic particles that made the electrolyte very expensive. And this electrolyte have to be charged each time before filling the tanks again, and it’s not a 100% efficient process, by far.

          • Mint 6 years ago

            LOL it’s hardly proven. Nobody has even seen their “nanoflowcell” battery, let alone independently tested it. PNNL just recently published a paper on a new flow cell chemistry with the highest known energy density, and it’s still only half that claimed by Quant.

            Their CEO is Nunzio la Vecchia, who is a known con artist. Don’t bet on anything coming from this company.

          • disqus_3PLIicDhUu 6 years ago

            167Wh/L, 500L is about what 80kWh?
            Remember a flow cell can do 100% DOD too.

          • Mint 6 years ago

            The Quant F is promising 500 miles range:
            It’ll need 150 kWh to pull that off.

            Yes, that is the PNNL research I was referring to. The nanoflowcell would need to have almost twice the energy density to get 500 miles range from 500L. Note also that the PNNL research was just recently publicly disclosed, and it has cycling issues (notably zinc dendrite formation through the membrane). They have much of the world’s leading battery research, and I seriously doubt la Vecchia has outdone them.

          • disqus_3PLIicDhUu 6 years ago

            Youre right, they might get that, limping around, under track conditions lol, same as Tesla would.
            It’s an interesting innovation though, because it means liquid ‘fuel’.

          • Albert Bodenhamer 5 years ago

            In my mind “Proven” = “A product is available”

            Flow cells are promising tech, but at the moment it’s all empty promises.

    • einsteindavinci 6 years ago

      Not necessary. Elon Musk has taken the unusual step to make all Tesla patents freely available without having to pay royalties. Engineers can attend free seminars which explain the Tesla design architecture. All we would have to do in Australia is design our own body for the standardized proven Tesla platform. The development costs would be quite small compared to starting from scratch. Mercedes is doing just that with the electric B-class model. It uses a Tesla drive platform. This is a no brainer, really.

  6. wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

    I read a vague reference to a Spanish company making noises about a “polymer graphene” storage device (presumably a super-capacitor) in 2016. I wonder how far Tesla has committed to the batteries that their Gigaplant will be mass producing.

    “Polymeric batteries can have a longer lifetime compared to conventional hybrid ones (up to four times!) and due to graphene’s light weight, the battery itself will be light enough to improve the electric car’s fuel efficiency.

    This battery is even supposed to be 77% cheaper than lithium batteries, and it is rumored that prototypes have already been sent to several German car manufacturers, which at this time remain undisclosed.”

    On Tesla:

    • Its Obvious 6 years ago

      Those are a ways off. There are many wonderful battery technologies like Prieto, graphene, out there but doing it on an industrial vs laboratory scale is always what matters in the end. If someone comes along with a better technology and execution they can bump Tesla off the block but nobody seems to perform well. The reason Musk is a great bet is he is a CEO with a history of performing from zip, to to pay pal, Tesla, Space X, Solar City. I will always take the CEO over the technology. Unfortunately too many CEO’s screw up great technologies.

      • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

        Well this Spanish company is claiming a commercial product shipping 2016 which is much closer than a ways off but until it ships…

        I guess they could change up the manufacturing at Gigaplant once they have a roof over their heads and a whole bunch of solarPV on top of it. Possibly a hybrid of graphene for fast charge and

        I interviewed Kaner who found a dead-cheap, innovative way to produce graphene sheets only an atom thick for BZE radio show and he was talking decades for this stuff to get into the commercial world for energy storage but much sooner for miniature and inert electronic devices for medical implants and the like.

        Although he also said buses in China were already using super capacitors (I assume graphene ones) and charging in seconds at each stop then travelling to the next and recharging. Also graphene already used for solar module terminals he said as it’s much more durable.

  7. Chris Fraser 6 years ago

    Ready for Tesla ComCars. And with some help, bulletproof ones too ! Tony’s getting one with a bike rack …

  8. Cooma Doug 6 years ago

    How can you sit there on the fron bench Mal and listen to the three word slogans that are opposite to your own ideas?

  9. Cooma Doug 6 years ago

    Lets play the “emperors new cloths”…..let him walk to the next election in his red budgie smugglers thinking he has our cover.

  10. Rob G 6 years ago

    The sooner Malcolm replaces Abbott the better Australia will be.

  11. Rob 6 years ago

    Finally a LNP politician capable of imagining the future. It sounds like if Malcolm replaced Tony as Prime Minister, Australia’s political class might finally recognise that there is a global energy transition taking place and that Australia should get on board. Malcolm has always said that we should be involved in high-tech. manufacturing, well, why don’t we start with making electric cars ( the OZe? ) or at least rolling out the infrastructure to support them. Not to mention supporting a viable renewable energy industry in Australia. Australia has fantastic solar, wind, wave and geothermal resources as well as others. We also have young engineers ready and willing to lead the way ( look at the Sunswift Team! ) This would be incredibly exciting! C’mon Australia…… move yer bloomin arse!!!

  12. onesecond 6 years ago

    One not rotten apple in a basket of moldy apples is not enough. Vote Green or at least Labour.

  13. ElisaShackelford 6 years ago

    Tesla’s prospects in Asia to determine whether current challenges in the region could hinder the stock’s performance!

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