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Tesla Model 3 Production Keeps Ramping — Hitting Near 2,400 Per Week in Early April

Past behavior can often be predictive of future results. Sometimes, however, we are pleasantly surprised. Such is the case with Tesla’s Model 3 production ramp this week.

Tesla’s Big Surge Continues

According to reports from both Electrek and Bloomberg, Tesla appears to have sustained weekly rates of Model 3 production above 2,000 for more than 14 days. Indicators for this continued surge come in the form of record VIN number releases. For since late March, the number of Model 3 VINs ordered from the U.S. government has doubled from approximately 14,000 to around 28,000. Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s Model 3 production tracker has surged to 2,394 all-electric vehicles per week. A new record.

(Bloomberg’s Model 3 tracker has captured a big surge in Model 3 production translating through to early Q2. Image source: Bloomberg.)

The big jump in VINs comes along with Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s announcement that he planned to continue Model 3 production rates of over 2,000 vehicles per week into early April. This higher production rate is contrary to past production behavior by Tesla — which typically surges late in a financial quarter and then backs off at the start of a new quarter.

5,000 Per Week Model 3 Production Goal in Sight

And though it is still possible that we could see all-electric, zero-tailpipe emissions Model 3 production slackening a bit following this most recent, apparent much longer-running surge, there are indications that Tesla’s capability is rapidly expanding. First, it appears that two lines are now running for Tesla Model 3 and related battery production. Second, it appears that many of the Model 3 bottlenecks have been addressed. And, third, it looks like new Model 3 production infrastructure continues to spring up in the form of dedicated facilities at Tesla’s Fremont plant and Nevada Gigafactory.

(A drone fly-over of the Tesla Fremont factory shows new buildings that appear to be dedicated to Model 3 production efforts. Video source: Tesla Factory Flyover Drone.)

Tesla’s production legs are, therefore, growing longer. And, in light of this fact, it appears that our earlier estimate that Model 3 would produce between 17,000 and 27,000 during Q2 may fall a bit short. As a result, that estimate is now adjusted upward to 18,000-30,000. This steepening ramp is increasingly possible especially if Tesla is able to maintain production rates in excess of 2,000 Model 3s per week through April and May even as it attempts a surge to 5,000 Model 3s per week by June.

Diversification of Model Line Planned For July

Tesla presently still has around 470,000 reservation holders for the Model 3. However, it’s uncertain how many of these are waiting for the long-range, rear-wheel drive version that is now in production. Past indicators are that the number is around 100 to 120K. Most of the rest either appear to be holding out for the dual motor version or for the lower price version. A 5,000 vehicle per week production rate will quickly eat through remaining long range, rear wheel reservation holders. And it is likely for this reason that Elon Musk is planning to start looking at producing the dual motor Model 3 during July of 2018.

So not only is the pace of Model 3 production quickening, the advent of new Model 3 versions is on the horizon. All-in-all this is good news for Model 3 reservation holders and for renewable energy/climate change response backers in general. We’ll have to watch Tesla indicators closely. But it appears, more and more, that the company is able to put Model 3 production hell behind it. To step it out as an all clean energy mass producer.

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From Rimac’s Electric Hypercars to Volkswagen’s Big EV Spend, Everyone’s Racing to Catch up with Tesla

In a world where human-caused climate change is increasingly damaging and harmful, a global race to produce electric, zero tailpipe emissions vehicles is a positive development. And just such a global race appears to be in the offing.

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We’ve heard a lot recently about how traditional automakers are spending boatloads of cash on electrical vehicles. Every week, we see new concept cars and planned production vehicles floated to the public in an apparent effort to show competitiveness in a key emerging industry. And the vaunted term that appears to be the sought-after standard is ‘better than Tesla.’ Ironically, this is a tacit admission that Tesla is presently the first horse in what appears to be a ramping race in mass electrical vehicle production.

Rimac’s Concept Two vs the Tesla Roadster 2.0

A recent example of this trend came in the form of the electric start-up Rimac’s Concept Two. Fresh off a 30 million euro fundraising round, Rimac is planning to produce a clean electric hypercar that’s capable of edging out Tesla’s Roadster 2.0 in a number of performance parameters. To be clear, the Roadster 2.0 is a revolution in automotive engineering — leaving former ICE hypercars in the dust in practically every performance specification that matters. But typical to the presently irresistable lure to compete with (or to appear to compete with) Tesla, Rimac attempts a one-up.

(Rimac’s Concept Two is another all electric hypercar that leaves fossil fuel based vehicles in the dust. But can it outsell Tesla’s Roadster 2.0? Image source: Commons.)

Concept Two boasts a stupendous 1,914 horsepower. And its 1425 kWh battery pack can push the car from 0-60 in 1.85 seconds while achieving a top speed of 258 miles per hour. This acceleration and speed edges out Tesla’s Roadster 2.0. But only just.

Of course a big underlying question here — is how many will Rimac build and for how much of an asking price? Rimac produced another electric hyper car (with far less compelling capabilities) — the Concept One during 2013 to 2014. Eight were ultimately built. In contrast, the Roadster 2.0 is a hypercar that’s starting at around 200,000 dollars (which is rather inexpensive for a car that can blow the likes of Lamborghini out of the water) and will likely produce hundreds to thousands.

Can Legacy Diesel Volkswagen Catch Tesla by Spending Big?

Another automaker that’s trying to catch up to Tesla is Volkwagen. Globally, the world’s largest automaker, the company appears to be setting aside 50 percent of its slated investment capital in an effort to produce a massive line of electrical vehicles. Its stated goal is to have an electric version of every model and to sell 5 million EVs annually by 2025. And the company is apparently willing to spend 60 billion dollars to achieve it.

Volkswagen is also investing in not one but 16 battery production facilities. And it states that it will be producing one new hybrid, plug in hybrid, or all electrical vehicle per month by next year. These are major goals. One that is in stark contrast to the present reality in which Volkswagen currently produces just one all-electric mass market vehicle — the E-Golf. And that, admittedly capable, attractive and well-priced, EV is selling at rather lower rates than Nissan’s popular Leaf EV.

(Volkswagen’s E-Golf is presently its only all-electric model. But the company plans a big surge into the EV market over the next couple of years. Image source: Volkswagen.)

In other words, despite big investments and big stated plans, Volkswagen is presently just barely on the EV leader board, if that. This puts the company at a pole position in the EV race far behind Tesla in 2018. And major investments and innovations will be required for it to catch up.

We’ve heard big EV promises from other traditional automakers before. And those like Volvo and Ford appear to have struggled with legacy issues in their stated attempts to put EVs on a fast track. One such issue that could hamper Volkswagen is the fact that it invested heavy sums in diesel vehicle technology during the 70s and 80s. As a result, the carmaker will have to overcome a decent amount of institutional inertia to jump into an EV leadership position. Pollution and emissions scandals plaguing the company have helped to spur its EV drive. But a history of profit-making selling polluting cars may inject a degree of cynicism into the company’s leadership. So self-sabotage is something to look out for here.

If Volkswagen manages a major internal transformation and if its engineers are capable of producing market EVs with mass appeal, then it could take a huge share of the emerging EV market and surge to match Tesla sales during 2019-2021 while possibly surpassing it by 2022-2023. Perhaps. But there’s a lot of hurdles for Volkswagen to overcome before gets there, all promises and talking aside.

Arctic Sea Ice Conditions: Thin, Melting, Cracking, Mobile

N_stddev_timeseriesMar20

(Image source: NSIDC)

Arctic melt for the season of 2013 appears to be under way. For almost a week now, sea ice area and extent numbers have been on the decline. The above measurement, produced by NSIDC, shows current sea ice extent inching lower and ever closer to the two standard deviation boundary.

Though both sea ice area and extent remain a little above record lows, a number of factors have come to dominate that may point toward a rapid melt once the season gets under way. These include cracking, rapid ice movement, thin ice, warmer than average air temps, and negative Arctic Oscillation.

Extensive Cracking

Ever since February, a growing portion of the sea ice has suffered an ever expanding and widening series of cracks. These cracks began just north and east of Alaska and have now expanded to cover almost all the ice on the North American/Greenland side of the Arctic. Today’s satellite shot from the Canadian Weather Office provides a vivid image of the broken ice:

hrpt_dfo_ir_100

From Alaska to the Fram Straight, almost every break in the clouds shows fractured sea ice below.

Broken ice melts much more easily than solid ice. The gaps are darker and therefore absorb more heat. The broken chunks are more exposed to the elements and mechanical forces that tend to enhance melt. Even worse, much of the Arctic’s last remaining thick, multi-year ice is shot through with cracks. This ice is supposed to be the Arctic’s most resilient. But its succumbing to cracking so early may well show that even this remnant is now involved in what appears to be an amplifying decline.

Sea Ice Motion

Likely aiding in this massive break-up of sea ice is rather rapid ice motion for the winter/spring of 2013. It appears that brisk winds pushed a large section of ice off Alaska and precipitated a clockwise shifting of the thinner ice. This ice, still connected to the denser, less mobile ice north of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Greenland, likely created the expanding ring of stress fractures as it moved.

These brisk winds appear to be the result of an ongoing Arctic weather system set up by two blocking ridges — one near Eastern Siberia and the other near Greenland. These ridges both facilitated a clockwise field of winds while pumping warmer air into the Arctic. Over the past week, a powerful Arctic high pressure system formed and positioned itself near the North Pole. This high reinforced the clockwise wind pattern as it pushed the Arctic Oscillation into a strong negative phase (-5.5).

You can view sea ice motion and stress fracturing on this ASCAT radar sequence provided by anonymous poster A-Team over at the Arctic Ice Blog:

ASCATradarwinter2013

Thin Ice

With sea ice volume hovering just a hair above record low values and with multi-year ice reduced to the lowest levels ever seen, Arctic sea ice is as thin as it has ever been. The below thickness graph from PIOMAS shows that current ice thickness is even lower than last year’s record values.

Piomass thickness febmar2013

Thin ice is more at the mercy of wind, warmth and weather. So it is likely a primary factor in the current ongoing cracking event. It also presents serious risk for large melt events as the spring and summer season ramp up.

Arctic Weather in Context

In the current Arctic weather pattern, a powerful negative Arctic Oscillation continues to dominate. The strong high pressure system that developed over the Arctic last week has drifted into Baffin bay, reinforcing the ridge/blocking pattern over Greenland. Forecasts seem to indicate a gradual weakening of the negative oscillation over the next seven days.

mslp_latest.big

(Image source: DMI)

Heat transport into the Arctic remains high with continued warm air influx over Greenland and Eastern Siberia. The result is temperatures well above average for much of the Arctic.

These conditions: persistent warmer than average air temperatures, continued negative Arctic Oscillation, and cracking, mobile ice would seem to favor continued slow melt over the coming week.

Arctic Crack-up Expands: Large Crack Lifts Thick Sea Ice off Anchor North of Greenland, Arctic Archipelago

LargecrackNavy

(Image source: US Navy)

Ever since early February, a growing section of the Beaufort sea ice has been breaking into a large system of expanding cracks. Now, it appears that a very large crack has run down the back of the Arctic Archipelago and the north shore of Greenland, lifting much of the remaining thick sea ice off its anchor there.

You can view this event by watching the last few frames of the US Navy sea ice animation above. These animations have a rather low resolution. So the fact that this large crack has become visible in this image is a testament to its possible size.

Clouds appear to have obscured much of this region in the satellite picture. So we don’t yet have direct observations of this cracking event. Such a direct observation would provide confirmation that the crack is as large as it appears in the US Navy composite.

Ever since Neven and Chris Reynolds and a commenter to Neven’s Arctic Ice blog monickered A-team began posting observations of the Beaufort sea ice crack-up, major news sources began picking up on the story. Climate Central and now Discover News have issued their own reports. Even NSIDC has given Neven’s Arctic Ice Blog a reference. NSIDC’s own take on the event is that the current crack-up is ‘exceptional.’

We’ll have to see if the US Navy data bears out in the satellite picture. However, it appears that the current crack-up which may pose serious risks to Arctic sea ice come late spring and summer, continues apace. Much of the Beaufort sea is riddled with very large cracks and broken sections of ice. Crack systems appear to have spread further north and east, creating the overall impression of an ongoing break-up.

Links:

Dosbat

Neven’s Arctic Ice Blog

US Navy’s Arctic Sea Ice Monitor

 

 

Arctic Sea Ice Melt Worst Seen in 3000 Years, Summer Arctic Ocean May be Essentially Ice-free Within 5-20 Years

“Curious changes have been taking place, with many animals invading this cold-temperature zone from the south and pushing up through Maine and even into Canada. This new distribution is, of course, related to the widespread change of climate that seems to have set in about the beginning of the century and is now well recognized — a general warming up noticed first in Arctic regions, then in subarctic, and now in the temperate zones of northern states.” — Rachel Carson, The Edge of the Sea, 1955

Ever since the middle of the twentieth century, Arctic warming has been a clear trend to those studying climate. Now, more than a half-century later, we are witnessing what appears to be the rapid demise of Arctic sea ice.

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(Image Credit: World Wildlife Fund)

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(Image Credit: JAXA)

For 2012, sea ice decline has been inexorable even after a stunning record loss just five years before. With more than two weeks remaining in the melt season, sea ice extent is about 420,000 square kilometers below the record set in 2007 while sea ice area is about 460,000 square kilometers below the record low set last year. If these measurements do not shatter the doubts of skeptics, deniers, and other unrealistic or traumatized persons, then nothing will. Those who cannot recognize these obvious and powerful trends have become inoculated to facts, immune to observations of the world around them, locked in a padded room of their own choosing.

In comparison with past record lows, this year alone is a 10% decline for sea ice extent and a 16% decline for sea ice area. With melt still continuing on an almost daily basis, we can expect these percentages to rise throughout the next couple of weeks. If current rates of decline hold for just the next seven days, we can expect to see loss values for both extent and area exceed 700,000 square kilometers (a 17% decline for extent and a 24% decline for area). If current decline rates hold for another week and a half, the percentage of sea ice area lost will approach the loss for 2007 — 27%.

Given these very high melt numbers, the question for many is — ‘how long can Arctic sea ice survive?’

For an increasing number of scientists and Arctic observers, the number of years remaining is swiftly shrinking. Just this year, a team of British scientists have indicated we could see nearly ice-free seas within a decade. This observation parallels those made by scientists at the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington whose sea ice volume measurements indicated a potential for near ice-free summers within the next five to ten years. Even Andrew Revkin, who has been very reluctant to admit the potential for ice-free summers in the near future, has now said that there’s about a 50% possibility for ice-free conditions within the next twenty years.

Five years ago, before the amazing summer melt of 2007, a person predicting a 50% chance for ice-free summers within twenty years would have faced scorn and derision. Most models indicated that the Arctic Ocean could experience a late summer ice-free condition by the end of this century. A seemingly comfortable, far off time that most didn’t worry about. Now, events are more pressing and far more immediate. Simply put, we are bearing unbelieving witness to the rapid loss of our north polar ice. Many of us just can’t abide with the fact that rates of ice loss indicate a high potential for nearly ice-free summers within the next 5-20 years.

It would take just two more melt seasons like the ones we’ve experienced this year and the one we experienced in 2007, to push sea ice area below 500,000 square kilometers and sea ice extent below 2 million square kilometers. When you consider the fact that these totals are smaller than Greenland, it would be more than fair to call this a nearly ice-free state. When taking into account past summer sea ice extent values at above 10 million square kilometers, this would represent a more than 80% loss since the early 20th century.

Using the same measure, we have currently lost more than 62% of sea ice for end of summer since the early 20th century. Most of this loss has occurred since the mid 1970s. So though loss is high over the course of the past 100 years, it is concentrated toward the end of the period.

To further put the unprecedented nature of this ice-loss period into perspective, it has been found through observations of the age of drift wood frozen in sea ice that this period of melt is the greatest seen in 3000 years. With melt continuing, this 3000 year marker is just a snap-shot of a dynamic and increasingly severe melt event. In the context of greenhouse gas concentration and forcing, we are currently at levels not seen in about 3 million years. So should these CO2 concentrations remain or continue to increase, we are likely to speed past the 3000 year melt mark and on into even less familiar territory.

Links:

http://classic.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=605&tstamp=&page=4

http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/cgi-bin/seaice-monitor.cgi

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

Arctic Sea Ice Extent Breaks 3.9 Million Square Kilometers, Continues Record Plunge

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Today Arctic sea ice extent continued its plunge into record territory. According to measurements provided by the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA), current sea ice extent for August 29th was 3,863,000 square kilometers. This value is 84,000 square kilometers below yesterday’s value and nearly 400,000 square kilometers below the previous record set in 2007.

NSIDC also showed Arctic sea ice continuing its plunge into record territory today. The below image provides a good visual of the lowest sea ice coverage in the NSIDC record:

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Arctic sea ice area melt also continued today reaching a new low of 2,570,000 square kilometers, according to reports from Cryosphere Today. This value is 420,000 square kilometers below the record low set in 2011.

Over the past week, all values for sea ice area and extent have pushed to significant new lows. Given the current rates of melt, it appears possible that new records will approach or exceed 500,000 square kilometers below the previous record. By all measures this is a very significant loss of ice for one year.

Links:

http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

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