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Tesla is Racing Ahead of the EV Competition. Can Major Automakers Like BMW Catch up?

During the first quarter of 2018, Tesla’s Model 3 production ramp enabled it to steal the top EV producer crown from BYD and BMW. But with Tesla now building as much as 3,500 Model 3s and 5,500 EVs in total per week, it appears to be set to establish a major lead in the critical clean energy auto segment.

(Other automakers appear to have been caught somewhat flat-footed by Tesla’s high-quality EV surge. Traditional manufacturers like BMW have got a lot of work ahead of them if they want to catch up.)

Overall, total electrical vehicle production from all automakers is surging during 2018. And BMW is a credible part of that surge. During early 2018, it established a goal of producing and selling 140,000 EVs for the year. This would be almost 40 percent growth on its sales during 2017 — which hit just over 103,000.

Pretty impressive. But it’s nothing compared to what Tesla is now doing. During 2017, the high-quality EV manufacturer sold just over 101,000 electrical vehicles. But during 2018, that number is likely to double to around 200,000 — driven by a very rapid ramp in Model 3 production. The effects of this ramp are clear as day. It will propel Tesla into the position of global EV sales leader for at least the next 1-2 years.

(Tesla Model 3 Production appears to have surged to around 3,500 during mid-May. This is evidence of Tesla hitting its targets. Model 3 production is likely to surge to around 5,000 during June. No other automaker presently produces EVs in such high volumes. Image source: Bloomberg.)

Tesla’s advantages in the early stages of this race are multiple. It owns a massive supercharger network that is presently without parallel. It owns a very large battery and growing battery production capability. And it presently produces the fastest, longest range, easiest to recharge EVs in its market segment. Not only that, hundreds of thousands have reserved Tesla vehicles for purchase — so a huge chunk of future demand is in the bag.

Traditional automakers like BMW presently possess none of these advantages. BMW must contract out with other battery producers to guarantee its electrical vehicle ramp. This makes it less able to respond to demand signals than Tesla. BMW’s charger network is also third party — and it presently lags behind Tesla in supercharger capability. And BMW won’t be producing EVs capable of competing directly with high-spec Tesla cars until 2020 at the earliest. This due, primarily, to the fact that Tesla has a leap or two ahead in battery tech. BMW, in other words, is waiting on lower cost batteries from Samsung.

(Tesla has a luxury that most other EV manufacturers don’t — owning battery production allows it to rapidly ramp its EV offerings. Only BYD possesses a similar capability. And, presently, Tesla battery tech appears to have achieved economies that are 1-2 years ahead of the competition. Image source: Building Tesla.)

Moreover, automakers like BMW will see increasing competition coming from Model 3 for their high-margin luxury and sport ICE vehicles. Model 3 performs as well or better than pretty much all of these cars, has a lower cost of ownership by far, and doesn’t spew nasty fumes.

In short, Tesla has established for itself a top pole position in the race to provide win the future of automobile manufacturing. The rest of the pack is pretty far behind at present. And if we know one thing about Tesla, it’s very good at acceleration.

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46 Comments

  1. China is having success with its push to get the public to buy electric vehicles. Six cities have imposed limits on gasoline cars, and those six now account for 40 percent of electric vehicle sales in the country, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Sales of electric vehicles in the cities—Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Guangzhou—are increasing by two to four times the national average.

    => These Six Chinese Cities Dominate Global Electric-Vehicle Sales

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    • Cities can play a big role in the EV transition. If they’re able to integrate EV policies and renewable energy expansion, it could ensure a survivable future climate scenario for many of them.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
      • rhymeswithgoalie

         /  May 24, 2018

        “Cities can play a big role in the EV transition.”

        I think about all of those cities like Bogota that sometimes, for air quality reasons, limit driving days based on odd/even license plates. EVs should always get a pass.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  2. BP plans to invest $20 million in StoreDot, an Israeli startup that says it can charge lithium-ion batteries in 5 minutes. Officials for the oil giant say this is part of their plan to “be the fuel provider of choice—no matter what car our customers drive.”

    => BP Invests $20M in Tech to Charge EVs in 5 Minutes

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    • So timetable for when BP will start adding charging stations to its gas stations?

      Like

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    • Abel Adamski

       /  May 24, 2018

      Things are happening the UK.
      https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/pivot-powers-plan-to-fund-a-u-k-supercharger-network#gs.nc5DFXM
      Pivot Power Plans Massive UK Supercharger Network Paired With 2 Gigawatts of Batteries

      Using battery revenues to pay for substation upgrades could help the business case.
      It plans to deploy forty-five 50-megawatt batteries at substations close to major auto routes across the U.K. Each battery would make money from grid services and energy trading.

      Crucially, though, the cost of adapting each substation for battery storage would also allow it to be used for EV charging.

      By connecting rapid charging stations directly to the high-voltage transmission network, Pivot Power intends to gain access to up to 20 megawatts of cheap power per site. This would grant it efficiencies that would be hard to attain via regional distribution network connections.

      The battery installations are a vital part of the plan, though, because converting a substation to deliver vehicle-charging services would require “seven figures’ worth of work to be done,” according to Matthew Boulton, chief operating officer.

      “It’s not like a DNO [distribution network operator] application. It’s a far more complex process.”

      This significantly weakens the business case for standalone vehicle charger installations. Under Pivot Power’s plan, though, “these chargers are only there because a 50-megawatt battery has paid for the connection,” Boulton said.

      EV charging, once up and running, would create extra revenue for the battery system. The battery, meanwhile, would be able to store cheap electricity, so vehicle owners could charge their cars at a discount compared to standard tariffs.

      Along with its 2-gigawatt battery network, Pivot Power aims to install the world’s largest network of rapid charging stations, with up to 100 rapid 150-kilowatt chargers plus 350-kilowatt charging points when the technology becomes available.

      The “world’s largest network” claim may be disputed by the charger infrastructure company ChargePoint, which this month boasted more than 49,000 charging points and 767 express DC chargers across U.S. cities including Boston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

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      The Hornsdale battery is almost doing too good of a job.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • 2 GWh is quite a large battery storage system. The fact that it’s mated with an EV charging system makes it far more versatile.

        Like

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  3. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents General Motors, Ford, Daimler AG and nine other car companies, is urging President Trump to work on rewriting fuel efficiency standards, because “climate change is real.” The carmakers made the demand in a letter earlier this month to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

    => Carmakers to Trump: ‘Climate change is real’

    Liked by 3 people

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  4. kassy

     /  May 23, 2018

    As CO2 increases, rice loses B vitamins and other nutrients

    Testing higher carbon dioxide concentrations in experimental rice paddies in China predicts losses in four vitamins — B1, B2, B5 and B9 — an international team reports May 23 in Science Advances. Adding results from similar experiments in Japan, the researchers also note an average 10.3 percent decline in protein, an 8 percent fall in iron and a 5.1 percent fall in zinc, supporting previous studies of rice and other crops. (SN: 4/1/17, p. 28). Two bright spots: Vitamin B6 levels remained unchanged and vitamin E increased.

    In experimental setups nicknamed FACE (free-air CO₂ enrichment) in China’s Yangtze River delta and near the Japanese city of Tsukuba, researchers grew a total of 18 varieties of rice. Piping exposed the rice to CO2­ concentrations elevated to 568 to 590 parts per million — higher than the current level of 410 ppm, but in line with the current trend toward 570 ppm in this century.

    The nine rice varieties from China, from three years’ crops and analyzed in their unrefined brown form, differed in degree of vitamin loss. On average, B1 levels (thiamine) declined 17.1 percent; B2 levels (riboflavin), 16.6 percent; B5 (pantothenic acid), 12.7 percent; and B9 (folate), 30.3 percent.

    Such declines in rice nutrients could hit economically strapped populations in Asia the hardest. Nine of the world’s 10 most rice-dependent countries are in Asia. (The other is Madagascar.) The researchers predict that about 600 million people currently without good options for switching diets could risk nutrient deficiencies from rice declines. B vitamins help with a range of bodily tasks, from maintaining a healthy brain to enabling normal fetal development.

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/carbon-dioxide-increases-rice-loses-b-vitamins-nutrients

    Liked by 5 people

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    • rhymeswithgoalie

       /  May 24, 2018

      “…higher than the current level of 410 ppm, but in line with the current trend toward 570 ppm in this century.”

      Most people are familiar with the AGW/acidification double-whammy that high atmospheric CO2 represents, but there is a third problem in the background: High *indoor* CO2 levels are known to cause health problems, and having a high *atmospheric* level of CO2 establishes a greater baseline from which indoor levels start. So an unadapted building that reaches 600ppm indoors in a 400ppm world would have, say, a 750ppm level in a 550ppm world.

      https://thinkprogress.org/exclusive-elevated-co2-levels-directly-affect-human-cognition-new-harvard-study-shows-2748e7378941/

      Liked by 2 people

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      • Jim

         /  May 24, 2018

        Interesting. Automobiles with the “recirculate” button engaged can easily get over 1000 ppm, a level that affects mental performance (cars really should be equipped with CO2 alarms).

        Plus some cities, like my hometown of Phoenix, can have CO2 levels that average more than 100 ppm above background levels due to thermal inversions.

        The first link shows how CO2 is tied to mental performance. The second shows the high level of CO2 variation in an urban environment – in this case Phoenix. Fun times….

        https://www.advancedsciencenews.com/co2-on-the-brain-and-the-brain-on-co2/

        http://www.co2science.org/subject/u/summaries/phxurbanco2dome.php

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
        • kassy

           /  May 24, 2018

          Interesting points. Never figured indoor CO2 would end up that high and never thought about in car either.

          At least Phoenix has a good reason to promote electric vehicles (quote from 2nd link above):

          As to why low-level atmospheric CO2 concentrations behave as they do in the Phoenix metro area, Idso et al. note that “the primary controlling factors of the strength of the CO2 dome are (1) the presence of air temperature inversions at night and in the early morning, which inversions trap vehicular-generated CO2 near the ground … and (2) solar-induced convective mixing during the mid-day period, which greatly dilutes the air’s CO2 content near the ground.” Secondary controlling factors identified in the study were wind speed and direction, particularly with respect to the locations of primary sources of CO2 (freeways and major roads) and areas of pristine rural air.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Jeremy in Wales

     /  May 23, 2018

    While Tesla has an advantage for the time being in particular by controlling its own battery supply and charging infrastructure and in doing so has guaranteed itself a place as a major car manufacturer but are there disadvantages?
    VW are going down the route of placing orders with a variety of manufactures presumably to be able to drive down costs and reduce risks with changing technology. But it also represents a loss of profit opportunity and represents a shrinking of the value of the company.
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-volkswagen-results/vw-assigns-20-billion-euros-in-battery-orders-in-electric-car-drive-idUKKCN1GP12L
    The traditional manufactures have three intangible advantages, well known brands some with attractive histories, and skills with chassis design and interior design and fittings. The last two can be learnt fairly quickly, but the brand lives with us for a long time and this will fit with the publics gradual acceptance of the technology.
    It seems that car manufactures will have lower capital values letting more insurgent companies to join the fray, if you can buy the battery and drive train technology then coach building may become more common even self building kits.
    Interesting times?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Tesla has at least a two year lead on the likes of Volkswagen. All those supposed advantages regular manufacturers had for decades. What did they do with it? Wait for someone else to lead and innovate. Legacy ICE manufacturing is also going to turn more and more into dead weight. Sure these are big companies. But they have sunk assets in all the wrong places.

      True, though, that VW is investing billions. But their big start point is 2020.

      Like

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      • “Tesla has at least a two year lead on the likes of Volkswagen. All those supposed advantages regular manufacturers had for decades. What did they do with it?”

        Cheating customers with their “clean diesel”. Reason: Pure greed and a German government which has been lobbied by car manufacturers for many decades.

        Liked by 3 people

        Reply
  6. Mike Keith

     /  May 24, 2018

    I’m cheering for Tesla, but we need to cheer for the electric auto manufacturing of other businesses. I don’t really care if it’s Tesla leading the pack or some presently unheralded company coming from behind. We need a rapid uptake of electric cars. Period. So what’s the overall picture?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • The overall picture is that Tesla and the Chinese are leading the way as major manufacturers struggle to catch up. Tesla in the west has lit a fire under conventional automakers. Some are moving, but not yet as fast as Tesla. The net effect is that some 1.6 to 1.8 million EVs will sell this year and that the annual growth rate is compounding at 40 to 60 percent for at least the next five years.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  7. Mblanc

     /  May 24, 2018

    Given that we have a worldwide battery shortage, Tesla certainly has multiple advantages in play over the next couple of years. I get the feeling that they will probably sell as many as they can make for the foreseeable future.

    I would think it is Nissan/Renault/Mitsubishi that are the best of the rest at the moment, in terms of production numbers, but the famous ramp should push Tesla into a clear lead later in the year.

    That base Model 3 could sell in millions worldwide, so let’s hope those good production numbers keep coming, for everyone’s sake.

    On another related note, my gf got an e-bike this week (and absolutely loves it). Interestingly the bike shop said it was quite hard to source replacement batteries at the moment (as well as being half the price of the e-bike), so encouraged her to take battery security seriously. I think supply might be almost as important as intent at the mo, for Tesla’s competitors.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • The hard call for batteries has been made. We are going to see some major scaling of production over these coming years. Hold onto your hats. The battery revolution will bring with it a second and probably larger wave of wind and solar even as it provides an avenue for the swift de carbonization of transportation.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. The Trump administration is considering a national security investigation into automotive imports that would clear the way for the imposition of new tariffs on cars from Europe, Japan and South Korea and lead to a major escalation of global trade tensions.

    President Donald Trump said on Wednesday night he had instructed Wilbur Ross, commerce secretary, to look at launching an investigation into imports of cars, trucks and automotive parts, using Section 232 of the 1962 trade act — the national security provisions used to justify the introduction of tariffs on steel and aluminium earlier this year.

    The move risks inflaming talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, which have stalled in recent weeks over the issue of the content rules for cars.

    => U.S. launches national security probe of vehicle imports

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    • Trump alienation of trade partners and allies is never ending. This will also hurt the auto industry in the US as a whole. Of course, manufacturers like Harley are already closing down factories and offshoring following the GOP tax scam. More trickle that never made its way down. But now add trade tensions and the rising risk of trade wars.

      Oh and the republican congress has killed Dodd Frank laying open the path to Wall Street abuses and rising risks of financial collapse. It will probably take time. But deregulating the markets is like a never ending game of Russian roulette. Eventually the bullet is bound to fire.

      Suicide economics.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  May 24, 2018

      The hilarious aspect there is the anti ICE vehicle push in China to address pollution and the fact that US auto manufacturers already have plants in China, Ford I understand is building a massive plant in China. So doubt many vehicles will make it – maybe big SUV’s which would work in the major cities as the roads are wide, rural – them roads tend to be skinny.

      Increasingly travel in China over distance is by fast train – like up to 350Kph in super modern comfortable trains – cheaper than flying and taking into account loading, unloading etc no slower than flying

      Like

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  9. Robert McLachlan

     /  May 24, 2018

    For a compatible view, see “Testing Tony Seba’s EV predictions”, https://therationalpessimist.com/2018/05/18/back-testing-tony-seba-1/
    For a contrary view, or Seba vs. ExxonMobil, http://sl-advisors.com/futurists-vision-energy

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  10. Greg

     /  May 24, 2018

    I could write great comments for hours about Tesla but have to get some sleep. /Pay attention to the Arabian Peninsula. Tropical Cyclone Mekunu is strengthening as it tracks toward it, where it is expected to make landfall near the border of Oman and Yemen late this week. Mekunu comes on the heels of Tropical Cyclone Sagar, a rare storm in the western Gulf of Aden, which triggered flash flooding, destroyed homes and killed more than a dozen people less than a week ago. Landfall for Mekunu will likely be near Salalah, the third-largest city in Oman. The metro area of Salalah in southwestern Oman has a population of more than 300,000 and measures about five inches of rain on average annually. Almost 10 inches of rain could fall from Thursday through Monday, with most of the precipitation occurring Friday into Saturday. This amount of rainfall (2 years worth) over a short period of time would likely result in life-threatening flash flooding.
    https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/2018-05-23-tropical-cyclone-mekunu-oman-yemen-arabian-sea

    Liked by 3 people

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  11. Abel Adamski

     /  May 24, 2018

    Back to SA (Aust) and the New Conservative Govt, going at renewables and storage even harder than the previous Govt. First official meeting of the premier was with Tesla and all systems go+. Plus that hero Sandeep Gupta – not only planning to build EV’s but also a humungous RE and Battery and pumped hydro network, not just SDA but other states where he has plants.
    Billionaires especially self made think and plan big

    The energy conference also heard from Whyalla steelworks boss Sanjeev Gupta, who wants to turn his company GFG Alliance into one of the nation’s biggest energy providers.
    The British billionaire outlined plans for a massive 10 gigawatts of solar energy, saying the proposal would be backed up by a huge grid-scale battery and pumped hydro dams.
    The latest announcement is for 10 times as much power production as previously flagged.

    “Our largest investments will be in solar. We have stated 1,000 megawatts in South Australia,” he said.

    “We have some ambitions in other industries … depending on that we could be as much as 10 gigawatts of solar across the country,” Mr Gupta said.

    He said GFG also has plans to build an electric car factory, which could provide another option for household energy storage.
    “Taking solar, generating your own energy, then using your car battery as your house battery to basically store that energy,” he said.
    “We are looking at setting the plant up, we will definitely do it. Whether it’s here or another part of the country is subject to what conditions are best for that production.”

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    • Vic

       /  May 24, 2018

      Mild mannered conservative Premier Steven Marshall…

      Acting in the interests of the clean energy corporates…

      Liked by 1 person

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      • Vic

         /  May 24, 2018

        He’s also followed through on his pre-election promise to ban fracking in the state’s southeast farming regions, an offer that his Labor opponents failed to match. It’s just all so confusing.

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-12/decade-long-fracking-ban-may-not-need-law-change/9642876

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • To be clear, his party has delivered blow after blow to effective climate policy and carbon emissions reductions. In other words, he is a major outlier. If the rest of his party behaved according to his example, then we might have some hope for them. But they clearly do not.

          Hopefully this is part of a generational shift. I’m sure that many Labor proponents are cheering him on. And Labor, overall, has been proponents for much stronger climate policies.

          ****

          This guy, who has obviously gone rogue in a good way, doesn’t have a party that stands behind his actions. But Labor would.

          Liked by 2 people

  12. Bob

     /  May 24, 2018

    Projected temperature increase is now 4 degrees by mid 1980 or earlier. Emission continue to increase.
    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/5/24/1766693/-Sprinting-to-the-finish-line-Earth-s-climate-to-increase-4-Celsius-by-2084#read-more

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    • We have the opportunity to start decreasing emissions now on a global scale. It just takes a bit more acceleration of clean energy and efficiency. A bit more resolve to shut down oil, gas, and coal. But we are very close to getting in to net reductions in carbon emissions from human sources.

      Meanwhile, carbon intensity is falling at a faster rate:

      The primary reason is that coal use is falling. If renewables continue to advance, EVs will hit oil demand, and wind and solar + storage will hit gas demand. This needs to happen for carbon emissions to peak early. Which is one reason why we support EVs. Presently EVs displace about 350,000 barrels of oil per day of demand including buses and cars. We need to get to an annual add of about 5 million EVs per year and growing at a rather swift clip in order to start crimping down oil demand. We have that opportunity. Who is blocking us? Politicians aligned with fosssil fuel interests. In the U.S., this is primarily republicans. Over the western world, this is, in vast majority, conservatives.

      A token conservative or LMP member in Australia hasn’t changed this broader fact. However, clean energy is something we should all support regardless of political affiliation.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
    • Mike Keith

       /  May 25, 2018

      Katherine Heyhoe thinks (in a tweet) that’s a bad headline. It’s a possible timeline in a high emissions scenario.

      By the way, it’s mid 2080s, not 1980s!!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  13. Bob

     /  May 24, 2018

    As the worlds 250000 lakes warm they release significantly more methane and water vapour. Two more positive feedback mechanisms not presently incorporated in climate models. Both will mean projections are conservative.
    Climate News Network

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    • To be clear, we are very aware that human-forced warming of the Earth System results in carbon feedbacks and the reduced capacity of carbon sinks. However, the capacity of the Earth System to produce carbon feedbacks is slower and less intense than the capacity of human beings to dig up carbon and to burn it. Which is why we need to tamp down fossil fuel burning as swiftly as possible.

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  14. kassy

     /  May 24, 2018

    ANU presents climate change in beer coaster and bracelet form

    It’s climate change….just presented very, very differently.

    Rather than the usual graphs and pie charts, the Australian National University is presenting climate data in the form of beer coasters and even bracelets.
    The gadgets have proved so popular that a website has been launched visualising climate change data from 112 locations around Australia to help people get their head around the topic.
    Putting climate data into a tangible form was originally the work of researchers Dr Mitchell Whitelaw and Dr Geoff Hinchcliffe from the ANU School of Art and Design.

    more including a link where you can look at the beercoasters for seperate cities on:

    https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/anu-presents-climate-change-in-beer-coaster-and-bracelet-form-20180524-p4zhb3.html

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. Jaguar to spend $4m on network of 150 charging stations ahead of release of its first EV in Australia in October.

    => Jaguar plans big charger network ahead of I-Pace EV release

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    • rhymeswithgoalie

       /  May 25, 2018

      Hah! That EV has a grill. They’re still doing conservative design for marketing, rather than taking advantage of the opportunities for E-motors.

      Like

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      • Abel Adamski

         /  May 29, 2018

        I believe they use a radiator for cooling for the batteries for heavy duty use. Some manufacturers do ave em

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  16. David Steele

     /  May 27, 2018

    Hello folks,

    Here we have another relevant gem of prose from NYT’s preeminent global warming contrarian tool, Bret Stephens. An excerpt from a recent opinion piece:

    ‘Tesla, by contrast, today is a terrible idea with a brilliant leader. The terrible idea is that electric cars are the wave of the future, at least for the mass market. Gasoline has advantages in energy density, cost, infrastructure and transportability that electricity doesn’t and won’t for decades. The brilliance is Musk’s Trump-like ability to get people to believe in him and his preposterous promises.’

    If not epitaph grade, it’s certainly a worthy entry in a future “dumb quotes” compilation. On second thought, Stephens probably merits his own anthology of dumb quotes:

    ‘His November 2015 column ($), “Liberalism’s Imaginary Enemies,” previewing the Paris climate talks, calls concern over climate change “hysteria” and compares global warming to hunger in America, institutionalized racism, and campus rape statistics — all things he says are “imaginary enemies.”’
    https://thinkprogress.org/new-york-times-hires-extreme-climate-denier-after-hyping-itself-as-antidote-to-fake-news-441826c4071d/

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  17. Interesting snippet:

    “The ramp-up will start from this year as the production moves from 130 units a day to 200 as the company responds to increased demand and competition from Tesla which is now building 5,000 Model 3’s per week”

    From

    https://wattev2buy.com/top-5-electric-vehicle-news-stories-of-week-21-2018/

    Is this true – have they finally hit that level 🙂 ?

    Like

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    • BMW is presently on track to sell around 140,000 EVs this year. And there appears to have been a ramp up of the i series that jibes with this report.

      Like

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