Jul 02 2018

Response: Tesla’s New Master Plan and the Future of Electric Cars

Will’s blog post has become a really interesting point of comparison after almost 2 years have passed. Looking back at what Musk’s most recent plan was back in 2016, I’m pleased to see many of the points coming to fruition now. First of all, Musk has been heavily investing in solar roof technology and development on the self-driving capabilities of Tesla cars has been a strong focus both for the company and for national news outlets. The second point in his second Master Plan, expanding the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments, has recently been announced. Tesla will not only continue the production of SUVs and sedans but will also begin producing electric pickup trucks, vans, and commercial semi-trucks while also bringing back a new and improved roadster.

While the Model 3 had a couple hiccups in reaching the consumer on the expected timeline, the efforts put forth by Tesla are not going unnoticed. Now with an affordable option on the electric car market, especially from a luxury and expert brand name, consumers options are increasing and so is general interest in electric vehicles. This interest is not limited to the consumer side of the equation. Just as predicted in Will’s blog post, large car companies have begun to invest more money in research and development surrounding electric vehicles. With an electric semi-truck in the making, a significant proportion of driving miles in the United States can now be made without insane emissions, but it’s not that simple.

One aspect I believe is important to analyze when looking at electric vehicles is whether or not their time has really come. Currently I don’t see many charging stations while driving down the road, which would deter me from making a purchase. More importantly, looking at the concept of an electric car from a holistic mindset, the upfront cost can be incredibly high (depending on make and model), with uncertainty in where gas prices may go. The investment may not pay off for many years if gas prices unexpectedly drop, but in the same sense the investment may pay off early if gas prices rise. Similarly, there is a general green connotation with electric cars in that their use is less damaging to the environment due to decreased emissions. Although this may be true while you’re driving down the road, when an electric car is charging it requires energy. The overall emissions from an electric car should thus include the emissions from the respective process used to generate the electricity that charged the car. As of right now, much of the electricity generation happens from coal power plants, which have significant emissions. Although advances have clearly been made in the past 2 years, there are still areas of improvement, some of which are contingent upon large scale energy resource changes.

 

References:

Etherington, Darrell. “Tesla to Reveal a Pickup Truck within Two Years, and Final Model 3 Design in July.” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 17 Apr. 2017, techcrunch.com/2017/04/13/tesla-to-reveal-a-pickup-truck-within-two-years-and-final-model-3-design-in-july/.

Korosec, Kirsten. “Elon Musk Reveals Tesla Truck With a Model 3 Heart.” Fortune, Fortune, 17 Nov. 2017, fortune.com/2017/11/16/tesla-semi-truck-model-3-unveiling/.

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