Test drive: The Tesla Model S and the "insane" button | RenewEconomy

Test drive: The Tesla Model S and the “insane” button

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Test-driving the Tesla Model S on its Australian launch in Sydney. What other car has an “insane” button for driving modes.

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I’m not into cars. Well, not much really. I’m more of your average Aussie car driver, who takes the odd interest in a cool sounding vehicle. So, while I can’t offer an in depth analysis of all the technical aspects of the Tesla Model S electric vehicle that made its first deliveries in Australia this week, I can offer an angle of what the average punter might make of such a vehicle.

So what brings me to Tesla Motors on their Australian launch to drive one of their new cars? An invitation is a start. But additionally, there’s an aura about Tesla Motors similar to one you might find with Apple. After all, some people quip that a Tesla – because servicing mostly amounts to a software update downloaded from the web – is just an iPhone on wheels.

Tesla isn’t the first electric vehicle to launch in Australia, but it is, by far, the most alluring. And it is the complete package: Walking into the Tesla showroom in St Leonards, Sydney, the first things you will notice are the supercharging stations lined up at the front of the store, charging their demonstration vehicles.

Photo: Sam Parkinson

These are the petrol stations of the future, but instead of spending 3 minutes holding the bowser whilst you inhale some toxic fumes, you’ll attach a cord to your car and then have a cup of coffee and a read of the paper. I quite like the idea of having to take 20 minutes to refuel the car, and here’s why.

  1. It will force people to take a decent break on long trips
  2. Even if you’re not on a long distance trip, we all need to take a few more minutes of our day to relax, and for those who just can’t take a few minutes out of their day, they’ll just have to charge their car at home overnight!

Imagine a re-fuelling station that’s actually a pleasant experience! Anyway I’m getting a little off track.

Back to the test drive. The car I’m driving is a black Model S P85+. The 85kWh batteries means the driving range is up to 500km (if they allowed it in Australia, it could power an average house for several days). Tesla’s come in a + version or a D version, with the P85D offering a more robust sporting experience, with the P85+ offering a smoother alternative.

Photo: Sam Parkinson

The front of the car where you’d normally find the engine, is a roomy storage area. The boot at the back offers excellent space. Additionally, you can lift up the floor to find even more storage space from where the fuel tank would normally sit. Fold the seats down, and you can make yourself a comfy double bed which is over 2 metres long! But I wasn’t here for a rest.

In the driver’s seat, the left-panel where you’d find all your buttons for radio, GPS, controls and charging status is just a huge screen. The OS inbuilt on the Tesla is impressive, and with such a large screen the car can show you all the information you’d want to have without you have to flick through different screens. The in-built sim card means GPS and music streaming comes standard, not to mention being able to tune into practically any radio station in the world.

Photo: Sam Parkinson

Pulling out on the road, I was a little nervous at first. This was a big step up from my normal ride (Mazda Metro 121). One of the first things I noticed was the re-generative braking. That’s the conversion of the vehicle’s kinetic energy into chemical energy stored in the battery, where it can be used later to drive the vehicle. As soon as you take your foot off the pedal, the re-gen braking kicks in, slowing you down automatically. And yes, the brake lights still come on.

Zero emissions, zero fuel consumption. Photo: Sam Parkinson

Going up a windy road, I noticed the grip of the car was incredible. Now to be fair, I’m comparing to my Mazda Metro, but nevertheless I was impressed.  The car has such a low centre of gravity, that it is apparently near impossible for the car to be flipped over.

Five minutes later and I’m finally stopped at a traffic light at the front of the queue. This is the moment I’ve really been waiting for, as much of a car-noob as I am, I couldn’t help but feel excited at the prospect of flooring it and seeing what kind of power I could get out of it. I was excited and nervous. “I think I’m gonna floor it”, I said out loud to the Tesla staff member in the car with me. “Oh I wouldn’t do that”, he said nervously. Too late, I had already sent the message to my foot to floor it, and I couldn’t get the word abort down there quick enough stop it from flooring the pedal.

Now at the risk of making this whole article sound like a puff piece for Tesla, superlatives are inadequate for the effortless speed and quietness in which the car went from 0-60km’h. Once the Tesla staff member realised I hadn’t in fact totalled his vehicle, he told me about the smile I had on my face when I floored the car. “I call that the Tesla grin”, he said.

Arriving back at the Tesla dealership, I was unsure how to turn the vehicle off. “Just step out of the car, it will turn itself off once it knows you’re no longer in the car”. Unnecessary perhaps, but cool nonetheless.

The Tesla Model S is without a doubt a class vehicle, you don’t need to be an expert in cars to know that, but combined with its new technologies and what it represents for the future of car driving and energy storage for the matter, its a car worth having if you can afford it, and as some of the owners testify, it doesn’t matter whether you are there because you are a tech buff, a greenie, or just love the feel of the car.

But the affordability is a big if for most of us, with base models starting at around $100,000 in Australia, and the top of the range at just over $205,000 (which rivals the F1 McClaren in acceleration). Oh, did I mention the P85D comes with 3 driving modes;  Normal, Sport, and “Insane”? Not even joking, the button says “insane”.

Would I buy one? Yes. Can I afford one? No. But if you can, and in the market for a new vehicle, I would strongly encourage you to at least test drive a Tesla, and see how it compares to it’s industry rivals such as Mercedes, Audi, and BMW. You may be pleasantly surprised. With this test drive out the window went all my previous concerns that electric vehicles meant a compromise in performance and class, and I’m excited about the EV future. And so are its new owners.



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  1. Leigh Ryan 6 years ago

    So what i want to know is, what is the issue with the 85Kwh battery coming into Australia to power homes or the 60Kwh for that matter, is it a conspiracy to protect the evil utility companies.

  2. Carolhowes 6 years ago

    Yup, that’s exactly what it is ! Get rid of ABBOTT!

  3. john 6 years ago

    Frankly as driver who has done about 3 million kilometres or so probably more let me tell you I always fuel up go get a coffee something to eat and sit down and often go refresh in the abolition block.
    So being a responsible driver I know the advantage of taking a break not fuelling up and driving down the road with the inevitable result another death on the road.
    Perhaps people need to have some driver education after all this is the bigger killer of people from when the infernal car was built.

    • Alex 6 years ago

      The “infernal car” – powered by the infernal combustion engine.

      • john 6 years ago

        If your a young person get a EV there is no question about this

  4. Haggy 6 years ago

    Whether or not you can afford it depends on how much you drive. With petrol prices what they are, a person with a long distance commute could easily spend $10K/year. That’s $50K over the term of a five year loan. If you consider what that person’s monthly expenses would be with car payments and petrol prices, and compare that to the monthly payments on a Tesla, they would be about the same as they would be buying a much cheaper car. But the Model S is more likely to appeal to somebody who might have bought a Mercedes or BMW who could now get much more car for the money.

    Let’s not forget that the savings don’t end after five years. A person who keeps the car for ten years might find the cost of ownership lower than it is for your Mazda.

    The 20 minute charge has another advantage. It’s free. But for those who don’t want to wait 20 minutes, the trick is to charge at home. It takes less time to walk over to the car with the charging cable and plug it in than it takes to type this sentence, and with the time you save by not having to turn off the ignition or lock the car, it comes out to no time at all to charge the car. You simply set it to charge at night, and you need to make that setting only once when you first buy the car.

    Since Tesla plans to use solar for most of its charging stations worldwide, protecting the “evil utility companies” won’t be an issue. The electric grid is taxed most heavily during the day and there’s excess generation capacity at night. Power companies have a lot to gain by giving cheap EV rates for night charging. The infrastructure is largely there and it’s a matter of wiring homes to support it, but a big issue is getting enough supercharging stations to allow for major trips.

    I say all this as an American who spent the past few weeks driving around Australia and New Zealand, and wishing I could be driving my Model S that I have in California. Instead I spent money on more than just a bit of petrol but also realized that it’s not yet possible to replace rental car fleets with EVs. I’d love to see it happen though.

    • Joe Dick 6 years ago

      Good points, and yes it is about if you can afford it. It is a lifestyle vehicle. Some people want an iPhone, some want a simple cell phone that just lets them get and receive calls, and some would rather just wait until they get home to listen to the answering machine. Given that the average car averages 25 miles per hour during its lifetime, why do you need more than three horsepower? If you need to go on a trip, trains are more efficient: Steel wheels rolling on steel rails have a lot less rolling resistance than rubber wheels on asphalt or concrete. The difference in rolling resistance is orders of magnitude!

      Meanwhile, why would you drive to work if you just work at a computer? Judging by the timestamps on many of these posts, a lot of you clearly have nothing to do but get on the internet at work. If you’re going to do that and get away with it at work, clearly you should be allowed to work at home, and your immediate superiors should be fired for letting you get away with that at work. Therefore you really don’t need that cubicle you’ve been slaving away in, your boss didn’t need paid, and you clearly didn’t need the car or use of public transportation to get to your “job”. In fact, your cubicle didn’t even need that computer, or the chair. You have those at home too. What a lot of waste.

      You know what? I’m sick to death with the utter stupidity. Want to save the world? Demand to work at home if you use a computer at work as a primary thing.- and if you’re at home, get a life by telling your bosses that you want to work at home all day so you don’t have to worry about some penny-ante useless piece of bullarkey brought to you by – that’s right, the guy that employs creators of the total failure that was supposed to change our world, the Segway. Right. A $3,000+ toy that couldn’t do what a $150 bicycle could do a decade ago.

  5. Joe Dick 6 years ago

    Okay, so let’s say everyone on the freeway was driving electric cars that take 20 minutes to recharge. Let’s say that’s a good thing to take a break. Okay, fine so far. Now, how insanely large would a typical petrol station have to be to service it’s typical maximum throughput capability? Gas pumps have a 10 gallon per minute rate limit, and I can fill my 15 gallon tank in two minutes with my credit card.

    With a 20 minute “fill” time, the station would have to have 10 times as many “pumps” to service it’s maximum throughput. Now your roadside gas station with four pumps servicing 8 cars at a time with four dual pumps requiring a tad over 8 parking places worth of real-estate dedicated to refueling, now requires 80 parking places of real estate for refueling alone.

    Then there’s the problem of the little walk in mini-convenience store, and what must be done for that. I’m not going to sit in my car for 20 minutes, and I’m not going to stand around either. In the US, people don’t generally like to share tables with strangers. Therefore you will need at least 80 tables worth of seating. Granted, some of those can be two-tops, but most will need to be four-tops. Then you need a staff to serve those 80 tables. And of course there’s the bathrooms for 80 cars worth of people vs. 8. And so on.

    I find it quite humorous how who have visions of a new future don’t quite think it all through. By the way, don’t get angry at me. I’m just bringing up some interesting points to remind the author that “wouldn’t it be nice” isn’t a real-world approach to engineering the future – but it is a song by The Beach Boys. 🙂

    • rsteeb 6 years ago

      EV’s ARE the future. And unless you’re traveling much further than your normal everyday commute, you will NEVER have to charge the car away from home, while it sits in the garage, over night. No logical reason will ever exist for big crowds at the charging station. Along the interstate highways, charging stations will be integrated with dining and shopping facilities, so sitting in your car 20 minutes wasting time will not be much of an issue.

      • Joe Dick 6 years ago

        Wow. You take my comments way to seriously. Didn’t you see the smiley face? Anyway, as an engineering professional in the aerospace and automotive industries, EVs are not the future; but if you want to believe that that’s your option.

        • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

          So, what’s the future?

          Do we continue to drive ICEVs and kill the climate?

          Do we switch to FVECs and spend 10c to 17c per mile for fuel?

          Do we assume there’s some miracle fuel coming out of a lab somewhere?

          Here’s the likely competition. A 200+ mile range EV for the same price as a similar model ICEV that can be driven for about 3 cents a mile. What beats that?

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            Answering your questions in order:

            –The future looks pretty much like the present.

            –I rather doubt that we going to “kill the climate” http://rps3.com/Files/AGW/EngrCritique.AGW-Science.v4.3.pdf

            –The important cost of transportation is life cycle cost per mile.


            –Again, the life cycle cost per mile of transportation is what’s important. The flaw in your argument is that a 200+ mile EV costs much more than a comparable IC vehicle.

            It’s important to understand that Tesla doesn’t generate a profit by selling sexy cars, but rather by selling sleazy emissions “credits,” mandated by the state of California’s electric vehicle requirements. The competition, like Honda, do not have a mass market plug-in to meet the mandate and therefore must buy the credits from Tesla, the only company that does. The bill for last quarter was $68 million.

            Absent this shakedown of potential car buyers, Tesla would have lost $57 million, or $11,400 per car. As the company sold 5,000 cars in the quarter, though, $13,600 per car was paid by other manufacturers, who are going to pass that cost on to buyers of their products.

            First, there’s the $7500 taxback bonus that every buyer gets and every taxpayer pays. Then there are generous state subsidies ($2500 in California, $4000 in Illinois—the bluer the state, the more the taxpayers get gouged), all paid to people forking out $63K (plus taxes) for the base version, to roughly $100K for the quick one.

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Joe, there’s no room here for climate change deniers. This is a pro-science, pro-facts site. That that foolishness elsewhere.

            It is true that we have no affordable 200 mile range EVs on the market right now. We have strong indications that we will have soon. So humor me.

            Your Tesla claim is incorrect.

            February 2014

            “In yesterday’s earnings call from the fourth quarter of 2013, Tesla Motors announced that their net income of $46 million late last year came without selling any Zero Emissions Vehicle credits.”


            Now, what is this vehicle which will either sell for far less than an EV and/or operate for well under 3 cents per mile?

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            Gee, I thought Burt Rutan did a great job analyzing the facts. If you’re really pro-Science, you would read his presentation that I attached, and respond with discussion. By the way, do you have a degree in science? I do. So does Rutan.

            Jalopnik isn’t what I would call an unbiased source of information. The link you provided is pretty much an editorial, rather than a report. What you refer to as “my” Tesla claim is shared by Forbes magazine, which is focused business viability which requires hard assessment of the facts: http://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickmichaels/2013/05/27/if-tesla-would-stop-selling-cars-wed-all-save-some-money/

            Your last sentence demonstrates that you did not read what I wrote, but rather what you wanted to see. If you are also indeed pro-Fact as well as pro-Science, you would have understood what I said the first go-around; but I’ll try again in lay terminology:

            It is useless to argue the energy consumption per mile of a vehicle as a merit. Besides the direct energy per mile consumed over its life, It takes energy to produce a vehicle, maintain it, and properly dispose of it at the end of its life cycle.

            A properly maintained internal combustion engine automobile can readily run for 250,000 miles or more. I owned a 1982 Jaguar XJ6 with over 280,000 miles on it. In its 28 years of dependable service, it saw an average of 10,000 miles per year. It cost a mere $38,000 and was paid for long ago. It consumed 14,000 gallons of fuel during its life, and the average cost of fuel during its life was ~$2.25. It consumed a little under $6,000 in tires, spark plugs, wiper blades, oil, washer fluid, etc, and had a total life-cycle cost of $75,500. That equates to an life cycle cost per mile of $0.27, or 27 cents per mile. I have a friend with a Chevrolet Cutlass that only cost $14,000 that he still drives daily, and his mileage and maintenance costs have been comparable. His life cycle cost per mile is $0.18 or 18 cents per mile.

            A Tesla Model S sells for $65,000 and according to Forbes would have had to sticker for an additional $11,400 for Tesla to break even were it not being subsidized by other car manufacturers buying mandatory carbon credits from Tesla. therefore the real sticker price should be more like $76,400. I rather doubt a Tesla Model S can run for 280,000 miles – at least not with the same maintenance costs, but just for giggles let’s make the very flawed assumption that the battery will have a prayer of lasting a couple of decades. With $6,000 worth of maintenance and 3 cents per mile of electricity adding up to $8,400 in electricity, that’s a life cycle cost of $90,800, which works out to $0.32 or 32 cents per mile. That’s five cents per mile more than my Jag, and almost double my friend’s Cutlass.

            Now I’m sure you’ll argue that a ~$40,000 car in 1982 would cost a darn sight more today, and you’d be right; but there are plenty of fine internal combustion cars to be had for less than what I paid, and properly maintained can readily go more than a quarter million miles. Therefore internal combustion is still cheaper per mile than a Tesla.

            Now, you refer to a Tesla as an EV, or electric vehicle. They are also called zero-emissions vehicles, aren’t they. The first label is a half-truth, isn’t it, and the second is just an outright lie. A Tesla is really an EC, or external combustion vehicle. Sure, you can go on about windmills and solar panels and such, but at the end of the day those are heavily subsidized and don’t make any more sense than electric cars – but that is beyond the scope of the discussion. By and large, Teslas are charged from coal fired power plants. Hardly zero emission, is it.

            At the end of the day, dollars are all equatable to burned fuel. Currency is merely a convenience, as carrying gasoline or lumps of coal in a wallet isn’t very practical. So, if anyone here is a “denier”, I would have to lean toward it being you, rather than me. Wave your hands in the air all you want, they’ll still be passing through all the CO2 that is created by so-called zero-emissions External Combustion powered automobiles. Not that CO2 is a bad thing; plants love it. That’s Science and a Fact; but you’ve already demonstrated that you are not really interested in either of them, haven’t you.

            Now that I’ve explained how your electric bill per mile isn’t relevant to the argument, do go have a sober read of Burt Rutan’s presentation. You might learn a thing there too.

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Sorry, Joe. Science has moved on and left you and Burt behind to contemplate how far it is to the edge of the Earth where one tumbles off.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            Sorry Bob, but snarky statements like yours are evidence of a losing position in a discussion.

            Are you a scientist? Do you have a degree in a science related field? I’m guessing not. Therefore you’re not really in a position to state anything about what science is or does.

            I am particularly amused by the “flat earth” element of your attempted insult. You do realise that the whole Earth being flat thing was a myth created by Washington Irving in his biography of Christopher Columbus; he is, of course, better known for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and both are essentially works of fiction. Mankind has never thought the Earth was flat. Sailors always referred to ships being hull-up near port and hull-down further away, fully understanding that the Earth was a sphere. Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth to within 5% two hundred years BC. What a shame you don’t know that; which should call into question your other convictions about a field in which you appear to have neither experience or training.

            It used to be that people deferred to those with expertise in a particular area, and were willing to learn from them. What a shame that doesn’t hold true in your case.

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Actually, Joe, I’m a published research scientist (was during part of my career). PhD from a very major university.

            It really doesn’t take more than a high school science degree to understand the basics of how greenhouse gases operate to retain heat. It’s stuff we’ve known for over 100 years.

            You might wish to look up the Flat Earth Society.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            Excellent. Then do have a look at Burt Rutan’s presentation and tell me what’s wrong with it. Let’s start with the fact that there is no such thing as a “high school science degree”. I presume what you mean to say is education, and it takes far more than a high school science education to understand the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere.

            For instance, Rutan correctly presents data on the efficacy of CO2 in the atmosphere on page 30. The ability of CO2 to act as a greenhouse gas is highly non-linear. The bulk of its ability to act as a greenhouse gas in in the first hundred parts per million. Once we reach 400ppm, the area under the curve pretty much summed up, and as Rutan correctly points out, doubling CO2 does not double the effect. Please offer me your comments on this.

            I would remind you that you are the one that brought environment into the discussion. I merely commented on the interesting real estate aspects that would attain giving the author’s comment on 20 minute charge times. I attempted to inform, and bring an interesting aspect to the discussion. Others have been polite in their comments in response. You’ve been downright rude.

            For instance, there you go again with the flat earth thing. If you really are a scientist, why not seek to discuss science and facts rather than hurl insults? Again, hurling blatant insults is a sign of weakness, along with being childish.

            I would think that a research scientist would be capable of assessing the true energy costs of a vehicle – i.e. the life cycle energy costs – instead of going on about the energy cost per mile alone as if that told the whole story. You might want to think about that, as it does not reflect well on the “major university”, PhD degrees, and research science.

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Joe, I have no desire to waste time in a conversation with someone who puts beliefs ahead of facts.

            However, if you are a person who operates from a factual base but has a bunch of bad information on board then I’d suggest you spend some time catching up.

            If you don’t understand climate science then read up on it.

            Here’s a very accessible site that approaches the science from the standpoint of all the anti-science myths.


          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            Okay, so you’re not really about science or facts. I ask for your comments on a single graph that presents the actual measured ability of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, and you are unwilling to discuss it. It is a shame that the public is unaware of such information, as it demonstrates how incredibly stable the environment is. If people were aware of such information, I wonder if they’d be as fearful of our ability to destabilize the natural world in a catastrophic way. I find it utterly amazing that you claim to be a man of science, and yet cannot engage in a simple discussion about a simple graph!

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Here – this is from rocket scientists.


            (Why do we encounter so many ignorant engineers?)

          • MorinMoss 5 years ago

            I’m replying to this older comment because some of your newer ones have been deleted. I imagine the moderators are tired of our offtopic discussion.

            I can’t speak for what is or is not there; I’m not affiliated with any of the climate monitoring sites and am not a scientist or data collector.
            I know that NOAA says their data is freely downloadable but if you want raw, unadjusted data then I would recommend you check (or ask) at wattsupwiththat.com for the best sources of unadjusted data.
            If you tell them what your purpose is, I’m sure at least a few would offer to help.
            If you find some glaring contradiction using your analytical methods that stands up to scrutiny, you could well had a paper worth publishing.
            You can also check at the Wood For Trees site to see what his data sources are as he appears to have downloaded from all the major ones incl raw data.

            Or you could try asking the BEST folks, There’s a phone number on the Contact Us page as waiting for an e-mail reply may take some time.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            I’m a published engineer with several US patents. I kind of have doubts about your claims, however, since you state, “It really doesn’t take more than a high school science degree…”. I don’t know of a single high school that offers degrees in science. Generally they offer high school diplomas.

            Actually, it takes at least a bachelor’s degree in science, including specialization in thermodynamics, heat and mass transfer, and the like to understand how greenhouse gases operate. This is why I brought page 30 of Rutan’s presentation to your attention for discussion, which you evade discussing at ever step.

            What a shame that the public is not aware that CO2’s ability to act as a greenhouse gas is highly non-linear, starting out having a large effect at 20 parts per million and then rapidly diminishing to ~1/24th of that effect at today’s levels of CO2 and further progressing asymptotically to zero soon after that. This sort of information never gets presented to the public, as it isn’t “scary”, even though it’s real.

            If a company hyped a stock, telling people that early investors made huge sums of money and they could too, while the company’s actual performance looked like this graph, it would be called fraud. “See how much these early investors made? You’ll get rich too!” Yeah, right.

            So, anyway, I find it amazing that you claim to be a PhD in science, and love to discuss facts, but you refuse to discuss the basic performance of CO2 as a greenhouse gas when it is plotted on a graph that properly puts its efficacy in perspective.

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            You’re an ignorant old git, Joe.

            You give us other old guys a black eye.

          • Giles 6 years ago

            thanks Joe. Take your stuff to another site.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            Hey Giles. Welcome to the real world. I have a multiplicity of US Patents in automotive engineering, and I come from a long line of engineers. As it turns out, I might just know a thing or two. Also, I did play a very minor role in your ability to have the opportunity to tell me to “go away”, courtesy of a long dead friend named Carl Anderson, who pioneered this sort of text exchange. So, Giles, are you just overly proud of your monetarily purchased power to shout other people down that you disagree with, or are you part of the solution in terms of having a conversation with people that helped you have that opportunity? Long before the ARPANET was converted to the “interweb”, we used this medium to exchange ideas, not to tell other people that there were other chat-rooms in which to have a discussion.

          • Dale Smith 5 years ago

            But you fail to consider that higher levels of CO2 allow the atmosphere to hold more water vapor which is a much more effective heat trap. A rise in CO2 creates a rise in water vapor because a hotter atmosphere will hold more water vapor.

          • Joe Dick 5 years ago

            I see nothing wrong with a warmer world. Don’t bother to comment. You’ll be wasting your time.

          • MorinMoss 6 years ago

            “By and large, Teslas are charged from coal fired power plants”
            If you were being completely honest, “by & large” would be 40% – and falling.
            There are places where the %age from coal-fired power plants is much higher and places where it’s close to ZERO.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            I agree. In California you’d be looking at over 60% natural gas generating the electricity. Natural gas is replacing coal in some areas of the country, but it still makes CO2.

          • MorinMoss 6 years ago

            Coal mining & burning has emissions above and beyond CO2, and so does oil & gas usage. Natgas is not without its problems and poorly-drilled wells leaking methane is a concern but let’s not overlook the fact that one important benefit of the “long tailpipe” is that your emissions are concentrated at a smaller number of large power plants rather than from hundreds of millions of exhaust pipes mere feet away from vulnerable lungs in highly populated areas.

            Even if the net amount of CO2 is no different, managing or mitigating the other emissions is made easier.

          • MorinMoss 6 years ago

            JB Straubel, Tesla’s tech wizard-in-chief ( and also a guy who by sheer co-incidence has a science degree ) knows Rutan very well – they collaborated for years on a project for Boeing.
            If Rutan couldn’t dissuade a colleague as smart as JB, it’s likely that his reasoning is flawed.

            I’m glad to hear your Jag has served you well. But, an average of 10,000 miles isn’t a lot and I’m curious as to what was the most miles in any 12 month period and how much maintenance was needed during that time.
            By contrast, Bjorn Nyland of Norway posted a video of his 85 kWh Model S surpassing 100,000 km in about 1 year, most of his charging done for free at Tesla’s Superchargers but also a lot at home and some public chargers.
            His mileage includes a lot of winter driving and road trips as far as southern Germany, Geneva and France and as far north as Hatteng, 69N latitude and over 800 miles north of his home city of Oslo.

            He’s previously owned a BMW E61 so I’m looking for a video where he compares the two. He did say recently that the BMW had a much nicer interior.

            So far, he has not seen a noticeable decrease in range despite racking up just over 62,000 mi.
            That said, it’s not likely he’ll get 20 yrs out of the battery even if he cuts back drastically on his driving but EV batteries are still in the early stages and prices are dropping significantly.

            Most of the Toyota RAV4 EVs are still on their original batteries after 10+ yrs and 100,000 miles. Keep in mind that by the time an EV battery is out of warranty, it’s still performing at around 70% of original capacity which most people can live with.

            And lay off the carbon credits and subsidies,okay?
            If you’re old enough to have bought a 1982 Jag when it was new, you’re likely also old enough to remember what every major city was like before we started cleaning up exhaust emissions and power plants.
            These were actions that were, and in some cases still are, fought tooth and nail by the FF companies.
            The public paid the cost of that pollution with every breath and many shortened lives and then the cleanup costs that the capitalist corporations were only too happy to socialize.
            That’s a much bigger bill than any subsidies for renewable energy.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            As part of my research on the public’s understanding of science and technology, I find your means of coming to conclusions rather interesting. Rather than look at the data Rutan provides, you point to a guy who has a different opinion. I wonder why it is that people defer to “authority” as opposed to taking a look at the data first-hand.

            Straubel is an interesting guy, but his training in energy systems engineering at Stanford didn’t include the sort in-depth training in fluid dynamics and heat and mass transfer and meteorology or the analysis of complex physical systems that would give him a leg up on guys like Rutan and myself. Just the facts, man. I find it curious that you take it as given that Rutan ever attempted to “dissuade” Straubel on CAGW. Either of them tell you that that occurred, or have you a reliable source for that?

            The average driver in the US currently drives ~15,000 miles per year. So Bjorn Nyland’s 100,000km (62,500mi) is racking up the miles way above our national average. Only 328 Rav4 electric vehicles were sold to the public, and another 1156 were leased. According to Edmunds, just a fraction of those remain on the road. The reason they few remaining are all on their original batteries is because Panasonic ceased production.

            Why should I lay off the carbon credits and subsidies? They are real, and they cost me money. I don’t appreciate being robbed with a gun or a pen. Again, according to Forbes, Tesla would be in the red without subsidies and carbon credits.

            Yes I remember very well how big cities were in the 1960s and 1970s. Fortunately we came a long way with catalytic converters, port fuel injection, sensors and electronic engine controls.

            At the end of the day, electric vehicles are a lifestyle product in a niche market that will never be mainstream anytime soon. Just basic engineering facts.

          • MorinMoss 6 years ago

            Because I’m not a scientist, it takes slow & careful reading & analysis on my part to determine whose data & conclusions are plausible and I don’t have that much free time.

            But over the course of the past couple decades, I’ve seen one expert or another, usually from an unrelated discipline, prop up a set of conclusions that were wrong.

            If Rutan’s work is so convincing, put it in front of actual scientists, not merely on a blog for interested laymen – and off-topic, too boot.

            Back in 2007, Straubel spoke at Stanford about climate change education and CO2 intensity. If Bert isn’t aware of his former collaborator’s wrongheaded view and hasn’t personally tried to change his mind, he’s being scientifically irresponsible.

            Look at all the effort you’re putting in with complete strangers.

            “We’ve” only come a long way, in terms of widespread usage of catalytic convertors because of the environmental activism of a previous generation, which caused GOVERNMENT intervention and laws for phasing out the leaded gasoline that poisoned these devices.

            That is also real and also costs you a LOT of money – at least 1 or 2 Trillion bucks since the laws….., er, since the Christian consciences of the oil & automotive industries were tickled, depriving us of the joy of coughing up lungfuls of freedom phlegm.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            Oh, I’ve shared it with many of my fellow scientists, and they agree Rutan does a great job – especially at making the information understandable in lay terms. That’s Bert’s main focus. The information is there to read, and Straubel is more than welcome to consider it. That is how science works – really the onus is on Straubel to avail himself of all available data and information, not for Rutan to actively win him over. In fact, if Straubel were as objective as Rutan, he could easily do the same thing: Plot all the known data and look at it.

            While I agree that environmental efforts helped us clean up car exhaust, you really shouldn’t forget that there were many engineers within the industry that not only championed these improvements, but also did the hard work of making them reality. Don’t think for a minute that environmentalists should get all the glory; in fact, they really only played a supporting role. Where you see it as a green-twists-industry’s arm and forces them to spend “1-2 Trillion bucks since the laws” – a figure I think you’ll find hard to substantiate – the actual picture is quite different: Engineers by nature want to use the least amount of materials to get a thing built and to make it go, and they don’t like things any messier than you do. Most of the improvements you put down to environmental legislation were already in the process of happening anyway, which is why the legislation was able to pass.

            By the way, why wouldn’t I put in some effort with complete strangers? That’s what authors do. I enjoy engaging potential readers. For instance, type in “Helium Hokum” and give my article at Scientific American a read on an off-toopic subject. Then, give Burt a chance. After all, it’s free, and only takes a little of your time, and you can disagree with it if you want to – but only if you really give it a read! Cheers! http://rps3.com/Files/AGW/EngrCritique.AGW-Science.v4.3.pdf

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Rutan makes sophomoric mistakes.

            He argues that too little CO2 is a bad thing, therefore too much can’t be a bad thing.

            He claims that there was a global cooling crisis belief in the 1970s when a quick look at the literature proves otherwise.

            He lumps a bunch of stuff together under the heading of “Modern Human-Extinction Scares” when some clearly don’t belong there, some were avoided (or have been avoided so far), and some need to be dealt with.
            He says things like –

            “The temperature trend is so slight that, were the global average temperature change which has taken place during the 20th and 21st centuries were to occur in an ordinary room, most of the people in the room would be unaware of it. ”

            Disregarding the fact that the “slight” rise to date has caused increases to sea levels to the point where they are now impacting our coastal infrastructure, has melted a very large portion of Arctic sea ice and equatorial glaciers and has changed our agricultural zones.

            Some more “slight” is really going to screw us.

            I’m sorry, Burt should go back to flying planes. He’s disgracing himself with his dabbling in climate science.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            How is it sophomoric to say too little CO2 is bad? Explain, please.

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Read more carefully, Joe.

            And do learn some climate science. The basics aren’t hard to grasp.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            And, uh, in the 1970s all the data from ice cores was pointing to the next ice age – to the point that that there were earnest serious proposals that we spread our coal dust on the glaciers that were soon to progess south at an alarming rate to slow their advance. Did not “The Blizzard of ’78” come up in your Googling or memory? Even Leonard Nimoy was on board: “In Search Of: The Next Ice Age”. Good grief! 🙂

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Leonard Nimoy is a climate scientist? Who knew? Well, well, well….
            Why don’t you read some science?


          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            PS, why did Al Gore buy a mansion in San Francisco which should be well below the sea level rise he “predicted” was to have occurred by now in “An Inconvenient Truth”. It amazes me that you chastised me that only facts and science are to be discussed here. C’mon. Surely a guy who claims to have a PhD can do better. http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2012/06/26/rising-tides-of-terror-will-melting-glaciers-flood-al-gores-coastal-home/

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Hate to break it to you, but Al Gore is not a climate scientist. And he obviously got that wrong if that is what he said.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            And yes Bob, you are correct if what you mean is that the majority of scientists did not buy into “The Next Ice Age” in the 70s. They simply said it is impossible to predict. That, however didn’t prevent marginal scientists from hogging the media spotlight to improve their notoriety and scare up funding and profit from it. In those days there were only three networks, no internet no 24 hour news stations, and no social media. So why is it that the bulk of scientists stayed off-record politely back then, and now 30,000+ and of them 9,000+ sign a petition to say, “Enough”, when a comparative handful yet again hog the spotlight with “science” they clearly do not agree with? You never did respond to me about that. You just resort to calling a very talented and wise professional, who took the time to think for himself, collect the data, and graph it for himself and then share it “sophomoric” without explaining how that is so? That’s not the professional nature of scientific inquiry and discussion they taught us at Purdue. And your “major university” was… Surely you can see why I doubt your credentials and honest intent in discussing “science” and “facts” only here.

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            Joe, let me open by saying that you are a very tiresome person and I’m not going to spend time playing whack-a-mole with you.

            If you don’t want to take some time and learn some climate science but spend your time trolling, that’s your decision.

            You’re obviously not a dumb person. But you are, apparently, intentionally ignorant.

            Don’t end up being one of those old fools sitting on the general store porch declaring the 21st Century version of “Cars will never replace horses.”

            Science isn’t debating, Joe. Science is based on empiricism. There are tons and tons of collected facts. Learn some.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            I never asked you to play whack-a-mole. You started this tangential discussion on climate science, and you were welcome to tune me out at any time. My atmospheric studies as part of my degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering included climate science. After all, the very heating of the Earth and the transfer and retention of that heat as it travels back into space drives the atmosphere, and atmospheric turbulence and its generation and modelling as an input to modeling the response and loads on aircraft happens to be a particular forte of mine.

            So don’t get snooty and effectively say I don’t know any thing and I’m intentionally ignorant and I need to take the time learn, and that I’ll become an old fool if I don’t.

            All I asked you do do was discuss one graph on one page of one presentation, and you refused. Amazing that you choose to hurl insults and refuse a discussion about a simple graph. All I wanted to find out were your thoughts on that one bit of data. That’s all.

            All I wanted to do was comment a little comment on the required land usage of electric charging stations vs. traditional gas pumps. You’re the one that took it to the great climate debate of 2014. I was just trying to raise a little awareness and get some people to consider the whole picture of what an electric service station would be – since it’s not just smack a charger in place of a pump.

            So I will tell you again: If you don’t want to talk about a simple graph on a single page of a presentation, you are of no use to me. I was curious about what your comments on that would be, but clearly you have an entire agenda to push, and don’t have time to talk with a fellow human being. Fine.

            By the way, Bob, I’m not the troll here. I’ve told you repeatedly to go away if you don’t want to talk about a simple little graph, and you keep coming back shout things at me, so I’ve patiently responded to your things, and then I’ve repeated my couple of questions – which you conveniently never answer. You could have been done with this days ago if you’d just looked at the damn graph and gave me a comment or two.

            That’s sad, Bob. Big ol’ PhD’s too busy to answer a simple question… Science _is_ about exchanging ideas, discussing, and yes, even debating. Instead, you make with the insults: “21st Century version of ‘Cars will never replace horses.”” indeed. You’re so consumed with spitting vitriol and saying I don’t understand anything and telling me to go read some website because I don’t know anything; you’d have had an opportunity to find out what I really do know instead of forming a prejudiced opinion of me. Not very scientific, Bob.

            Mean while Science is based on both the experimental _and_ the purely theoretical. Ever hear of theoretical physics? That branch has done a lot before any experiment was conducted to back it up.

            Oh, and by the way Bob, Empiricism is based on Science. You really need to ask for your money back on that PhD if they taught you that:


            the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience. Stimulated by the rise of experimental science, it developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, expounded in particular by John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume.

          • MorinMoss 6 years ago

            There’s one who stands head & shoulders above the crowd:

            Arie Haagen-Smit, a chemist, not so much an engineer, with a very green thumb whose initial interest was the effect on Los Angeles’ terrible air quality on his beloved pineapples and then on people, after much public outrcry from concerned citizens and some of their elected reps ( who today might be referred to as bleeding-heart liberal Hollywood greenies ).

            What really pushed Haagen-Smit to abandon fruit flavorings for foul fumes was the denigration of his work & conclusions by a Stanford Research Institute scientist whose own research was funded by the oil & auto industry.

            I don’t know much at all about you but your posts are very much like those of present-day deniers who also want to rewrite history to make it seem like they would have been passionately on the side of the choking masses when, like professional contrarian Fred S. Singer, they would have been happily collecting industry paycheques to counter, obfuscate, deny and derail.
            It was those choking citizens, not your industry engineers, who force the shutdown of the butadiene plant on Aliso St in Sep 1943.
            There’s a great irony that the inventor of the catalyst for butadiene, Eugene Houdry ( an ENGINEER – you’re vindicated!! Hooray!) would go on to invent the automotive catalytic converter.
            It’s a great pity that it took so long after that for the use of the catalytic converters in cars because of the aforementioned lead poisoning, despite the work – and stolid activism – of Clair Cameron Patterson.
            But why trust a ivory tower geochemist over practical industry ENGINEERS like Charles Kettering (Delco founder and inventor of the electric starter) & Thomas Midgley who together presided over the creation of both tetraethyl lead AND CFCs ?
            These two accomplished experts, with over 200 patents between them, were willing to go to such lengths to defend their products, glossing over multiple deaths and lead-induced insanity at DuPont and later GM / Exxon’s Ethyl Corp with Midgley TWICE suffering lead poisoning requiring prolonged treatment & convalescence.

            Midgley’s engineering prowess served him well when he became disabled due to polio and designed a pulley system that permitted him to be easily hoisted from his sickbed – only to be further hoist by his own petard several years later when the aforementioned contraption was the cause of his demise by accidental strangulation.

            I can’t say that foresight was among his strengths.

          • Bob_Wallace 6 years ago

            And that, folks, is the Tour de Force Comment winner of the day.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            It is interesting how you cherry pick things that were moves forward that later turn out to have had bad side effects. In Marie Curie’s day, we were going to heat our homes with radium, let alone the benefits of radium in toothpaste and other products of daily grooming use. Of course discoveries of science get misapplied. Those incidents have a lot to do with what the public wants – including tetra ethyl lead, because people wanted their engines to run smooth at the high end of performance they seldom used.

            Today is no different. Do you want to have a more efficient ride? Nothing beats the low rolling resistance of steel wheels on steel rails. Semis run 100 psi. Hybrid cars pretend at efficiency with 66 psi tires. Tesla apparently specifies 42 psi, “cheating” a bit. Typical internal combustion cars run 32 psi.

            Rolling resistance is an inverse function of pressure, and that has been known since the invention of the pneumatic tire. That’s why big trucks run high pressure narrow tires that incidentally don’t hydroplane as readily as well as roll with relative ease. Meanwhile, hybrid car owners brag about their mileage while putting up with a rough ride the would never tolerate in a gasoline or diesel powered car. Even Tesla pushes the envelope, betting on the “halo effect” of “feel good”.

            We engineers have known how to cut the rolling resistance of your wheels – the predominant efficiency loss of a passenger car – by as much as half for over 100 years. Customers want a cushy ride that has “performance” they really don’t use, nor should they in a daily driver.

            Unfortunately the public has been sold a bill of goods about what works, when what works is patently obvious: When it comes to using limited energy to the max, what do the cyclists in the Tour de France roll on?

            Skinny, high pressure tires.

            When the customer base gets realistic about saving the environment, then maybe they’ll start to think about that. Just saying’, as kids say today. 🙂

          • MorinMoss 6 years ago

            Kettering had another solution to the engine knock problem – blending with ethanol.

            But that option couldn’t be patented so TEL it had to be, right?

            What else could he do? And hiring Dr Robert Kehoe only 2 yrs after, to “inform” the general public that leaded petrol was safe would surely have received the seal of approval from the Curies, no?

            After all, lead protects against radioactivity 😀

            And I suspect you truly know what “cherrypicking” is.

            What I did was draw straight lines from the identification of auto emissions as harmful to who tried to solve the problems and who – quite deliberately – stood in the way, for decades.

            “public has been sold a bill of goods about what works, when what works is patently obvious”

            So who was selling the lie? And why were the conscientious engineers who knew what worked not speaking out?
            Those skinny tires would have worked just fine on better roads that could be more easily maintained,which sounds like an engineering problem. Any solution to that?

            I would like to clarify what I said about your posts and climate deniers as it may have been unduly harsh.

            What I meant was that some of the things you say / write remind me of comments made by many prominent deniers or contrarians that exposes a particular bias.

            I’ll give 3 examples:

            Jim Inhofe, (R-OK) Committee on Environment
            “Do you realize I was actually on your side of this issue when I was chairing that committee and I first heard about this? I thought it must be true until I found out what it would cost.”

            Roy Spencer, (PhD) Univ. Alabama, Huntsville
            “my job has helped save our economy from the economic ravages of out-of-control environmental extremism.
            I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government”

            and your hero, Bert Rutan,

            “My bias is based on fear of Government expansion and the observation of AGW data presentation fraud – not based on financial or any other personal benefit. I merely have found that the closer you look at the data and alarmists’ presentations, the more fraud you find and the less you think there is an AGW problem”

            What I see in these quotes from very different men with very different accomplishments is a troubling mindset. Inhofe is not a scientist but Spencer & Rutan most certainly are – and they exhibit a mentality that’s all too common among the anti-AGW camps.

            Hypothesis: solving global warming would mean more government control & bureaucracy, less freedom for me and would take a huge amount of money.

            Conclusion: the problem doesn’t exist and anyone who claims otherwise is a fraud.

            Rutan says that his fear of government expansion led him to look closer at the data and, voilà, it’s all lies!! Lies, I tell you!

            I’m reminded of Christian preformationists who, examining semen under early microscopes, could clearly “see” the tiny but fully formed humans & animals contained therein.

          • Joe Dick 6 years ago

            It’s funny that you can’t simply look at the data in the plots and talk about their content with me. Instead you put a lot of effort into shooting the messenger instead of looking at the message.

            As I mentioned earlier, I suspect a lot of fraud on the part of “climate science”. Good scientists publish their mathematical model and the supporting data, so that other scientists can evaluate their work.

            A truck axle manufacturer has to qualify their product, and publish the test data: Its beam fatigue life under different loads, the torsional fatigue life of its gears and shafts, the life of its bearings. Only then will a manufacturer buy that axle and put it under a truck.

            By that standard, Rutan is right: Michael Mann refuses to release the raw data that he used, how that raw data was arrived at, and the mathematical methods he used to reduce the data. How are we supposed to judge the quality of his work? Why would we trust him? Well, the fact is we cannot judge the quality of his work, or reproduce his results independently, so we cannot trust him. That makes Michael Mann a bad scientist, if you can even call him one at all.

            If the climate scientists are so all-fired worried about the fate of the world, why can’t they get us all to buy in? Above, you said Rutan should prove his point, but that simply isn’t the way it works. Climate scientists have an obligation to put the data on the table for all to see and test for themselves. They haven’t. If anything stinks of religion, that right there is it.

          • MorinMoss 6 years ago

            In the words of the great statesman Marco Rubio, “Buddy, I’m not a scientist”. But you know who is?

            THIS CHAP. The word on the ‘nets is that he’s been known to take the time to look at and analyze huge amounts of raw data

            He’s no greenie-weenie – he’s on record as an enthusiastic supporter of fracking natural gas. Check out his work or put Burt’s in front of him.