The world will be a different place after Elon Musk builds a time traveling device (don't ask us how we know that will happen). For one thing, the Tesla Roadster of the rewritten future will not have been built using the chassis of the Lotus Elise. Also, verb tenses will be becoming even more confusing and, possibly, awkward.

"We ended up changing most of the damn car" – Elon Musk

We know about the not-using-the-Lotus thing because the Tesla Motors CEO said as much yesterday at the World Energy Innovation Forum at the Tesla Factory in Fremont. The two-day event, which also offers Model S test rides and a factory tour for attendees, featured a fireside chat with the electric automaker's CEO and Ira Ehrenpreis. During the discussion, Musk revealed that if he had to do it over again, he would have built the Roadster from the ground up instead of using the Lotus Elise chassis. "We ended up changing most of the damn car, so we thought later, why did we do that," he said.

Another problem with the original idea for the car was the drivetrain. At first, Tesla had meant to use the motor and other propulsive bits from AC Propulsion, only to find that powertrain didn't work well in a commercial application. Instead Tesla only licensed the reductive charging patent, which allowed some integration of the inverter and charger.

Besides knocking Tesla's own early efforts, the outspoken entrepreneur took a couple swings at other technologies with quotable quotes such as: "The internal combustion engine is a ridiculous thing!" and "Current lithium ion technology is better than theoretical fuel cell limits. So, game over. Why bother with fuel cells?" Looks like there are some things Musk is not interested in going back in time and changing.


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  • 134 Comments
      jack smith
      • 1 Year Ago
      @Joe You spout that the majority of EV/plug-in hybrid drivers only use 10kWh per day on charging. However, if a Tesla model S has a fairly accurate rated range of 265 miles from an 85kWh battery, then it gets roughly 3.11 miles per kWh. Are you trying to say that most people only drive 15 miles to work and back? No more than a 30 mile round trip? While that may be true for some, MANY people have to drive much further. Then you go on to state that "The EIA reports average American home consumption is now 903 kwh per month.", which is possible. I quoted 20012 numbers at 888kWh a month, your "new" numbers are only 15kWh hours per month higher, or roughly 0.5kWh per day. That's your argument? Really? A whole half a kilowatt hour per day? As for your last statement of "Also, the EIA is reporting less than 38% coal nation wide", I suggest you look at this: Union of Concerned Scientists Coal vs. Wind Coal generates 44% of our electricity, and is the single biggest air polluter in the U.S. http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c01.html January 23, 2012 New Report - Coal Use Shrinks while Clean Energy Expands 2012 Annual Energy Outlook: In the 2012 Annual Energy Outlook presentation about new coal generation they stated that no new coal generation is added “beyond that which is under construction,” and that coal’s percent of electricity generation will shrink from the current 44 percent to 39 percent between 2010 and 2035. In the Reference case, without (greenhouse gas) regulations, coal accounts for the largest share of total electricity generation (Figure 61). With slow growth in electricity demand, little new coal-fired capacity is added, and the coal share falls from 48 percent in 2008 to 44 percent in 2035. Yet another EIA report: Coal production growth limited by competitive fuel prices and little new coal-fired capacity Coal exports, which totaled 3.2 quadrillion Btu in 2012, remain at that level through 2020 and then increase to 3.8 quadrillion Btu in 2040. Overall, U.S. coal use grows by an average of 0.3%/year in the Reference case, from 20.6 quadrillion Btu in 2012 to 22.6 quadrillion Btu in 2040. So 20.6 quadrillion BTUs of coal was burned in 2012. To simply things, let's forget the six tenths and just underestimate at 20 quadrillion, shall we? So 20 quadrillion divided by 3,412 (the magic BTU to kWh conversion) equals 5,861,664,712,778.429 kWh. Now of course the actual mechanical conversion process (from BTU into electricity) is only about 35% efficient, so 2,051,582,649,472.45kWh is the real number that was actually produced. Now per: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.ELC.PROD.KH , U.S. energy production in 2012 totaled 4,281,694,000,000kWh in 2012, meaning the 2,051,582,649,472.45kWh we derived from the coal use numbers is damn near (but slightly less than) half of that production, and therefore VERY likely is roughly accurate.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      JB: Heck yes. Large users get much better rates on electricity than you do. Refineries have no significant need for natural gas, in fact some refineries burn the byproducts of the refining process to sustain it. In the case of England, Fully Charged claims that the nearest power station to each of England's 3 refineries (only 3?) is powered by coal and that means the electricity used is the dirtiest (but cheapest) available.
      Cayman
      • 1 Year Ago
      Most, if not all, modern rocket engines use an internal combustion chamber. The gases are then released through a nozzle where additional combustion can take place. They are in fact, internal combustion engines.
      porosavuporo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Fuel cells ( probably not hydrogen though ) are and will be entirely applicable _as range extenders_ for flight and long haul trucking and heavy machinery. The relative proportion of capital investment in drivetrains and refueling infrastructure there makes sense.
        Jon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @porosavuporo
        I wonder how much development of hydrogen fuel cell technology really helps for other kinds of fuel cells. Hydrogen is just not a very convenient way to store energy. If we could make working compact and efficient direct ethanol fuel cells (DEFC) that would be revolutionary.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @porosavuporo
        The onboard equipment would be huge and heavy (heavier than batteries). To process non-Hydrogen fuel through a fuel cell, with enough power to run the vehicle. They currently are no where near the size they would need for automotive applications.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hennessey also did a huge amount of changes, similar in scope to build the venom, but it was still a lot less work than designing and building a new car from scratch. Don't forget, this is not a steel tube kit car. It needed to pass all of the red tape for US road use as a production car as well as meet customer expectations for fit and quality of a six figure sportscar.
      Bernard
      • 1 Year Ago
      At this point, batteries are so far ahead of fuel cells that you have wonder if the people still investing in it are only doing so to get credit for trying and possibly government grants as well.
        ScottT
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bernard
        You could have said the same thing about EV's versus ICE just 5-10 years ago.
        Mountainkings Racing
        @Bernard
        @ScottT Ahh, but we're talking about batteries being past even fuel cell's theoretical limit. Hydrogen is essentially just a chemical battery, an energy storage medium, and not a very efficient one at that. ICE were not beyond the theoretical limits of EV's 5-10 years ago. They're still not.
          Pryz Fytr
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Mountainkings Racing
          I don't drive a theoretical car, unfortunately. I drive a Ford C-MAX hybrid, which does pretty well with its ICE and energy recovery system. The energy in a dime's mass of matter would propel a car for its mechanical lifetime - theoretically.
      Fadic4
      • 1 Year Ago
      The combustion engine is a ridiculous thing? Just like the **** interior of the tesla model s right? The car that idiots buy for 80k+ Thinking it's the future or something. Tesla model s has to be the most overhyped thing around this time. It's not revolutionary. It's just a good electric car and that's it.
        Grendal
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Fadic4
        After test driving the Model S I can say with certainty that he is absolutely correct. Compared to the simplicity of an electric motor and how it works the internal combustion engine is a ridiculous contraption that has been cobbled together. In many ways it works in spite of itself. It works by thousands of little explosions a minute. Think about that. Don't get me wrong, the ICE has created our modern industrialized world. Humanity needs to grow beyond it because the damage from the tens of billions of these on the planet is a problem. Electric motors are not perfectly clean either but they are a big step in the right direction. We need to grow up and clean up our mess. Sorry for the speech.
        Hooman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Fadic4
        I agree! Its funny how some people get upset when corporations get tax breaks and federal subsidies. As soon as you call it "green" these sheep follow. Here's a quote from MotherJones.com, an extreme liberal online publication: "In January 2010, as Tesla was developing the Model S, it received a $465 million dollar loan from the Department of Energy (DOE). That's not to mention other, less direct subsidies, like the millions of dollars in subsidies in Japan that helped Panasonic develop the lithium-ion batteries that are at the heart of every Tesla car"
          Grendal
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Hooman
          Except Tesla paid their money back in full with interest over a year ago. You need to stop reading things that have an easy to see biased agenda. You're complaining here while you should be posting that sort of thing on Ford articles. They still owe taxpayers $5.7 billion. That's billions, which is a whole lot more than millions, Hooman. If you really care about taxes and government spending then start making a fuss about the contract that the Air Force signed with ULA cutting out SpaceX. ULA charges the American taxpayer $420 million per orbital launch. SpaceX charges $100 million to do the same thing. That's a $300 million savings PER launch. The contract was for 36 launches. That is $10 BILLION extra dollars the Air Force is paying to support their buddies at ULA (owned by Beoing and Lockheed). See now fight that and you will really be doing something since $10 billion is a serious amount of government money. If you continue to come here and annoy us with your uninformed BS then you are a hypocrite that doesn't really care about government wasteful spending.
        m_2012
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Fadic4
        So how much did you short? Ugh, why does school take the summer off?
        Koenigsegg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Fadic4
        Look at you, you look like you drive a POS toyota who works the drive through and isnt in school. You on dial up connection son. Your the idiot. And your momma has a horse ass, smells like sh*t
      leong
      • 1 Year Ago
      i don't understand why Musk would expect the ac propulsion stuff would work like a refrigerator out of the box. Not even a mirror would work in a car if it is not tuned for that specific model. Tesla is still using most of the ac propulsion original technologies like the copper rotor induction motor, discrete igbts, 18650 cells. these three items gave them all the technology advantage they have today... while Tesla didn't pay a penny for using those technology, ac propulsion didn't bother to go after it.
        danfred311
        • 7 Months Ago
        @leong
        Leon, I agree with the strengths you list but I don't believe ti's true that they didn't pay for it. I have heard Tesla say specifically that they bought license from ACP for the Roadster drivetrain. No duobt a significant amount. A license I don't think they needed since none of the 3 strengths you mention are protectable IP. The specific board layout and component choices are not necessary to achieve the same. And it's far from unreasonable to expect that the ACP controller would work as is. The problem they encountered is as I understand due to analog control in the AC150 and maybe different ratings of the matched IGBTs. Tesla said no two performed the same. Incidentally the tesla inverter used 84 IXGX72N60B3H1 IGBTs. Or one of the production revisions did. It doesn't seem like an obvious choice to me but it's possible it's good for the application
          danfred311
          • 7 Months Ago
          @danfred311
          leon, I think you are imagining things. how do you know what tesla licensed?
          leong
          • 7 Months Ago
          @danfred311
          Dan 1. Tesla only licensed the "integrated charger" part. 2. IP includes not only patents, but also art work. 3. analog control or digital was not the key in the high power application. 4. Ixys was screwed by tesla the same way as it did to Magna. Jack, the "idea" of acp components were presented as schematic, pcb, bom, mech drawings, actual product. again, i'm not arguing the legality, but to clarify the statement now i'm seeing all over the internet as "Tesla didn't use acp techonology", which is totally bogus.
        Joeviocoe
        • 7 Months Ago
        @leong
        The "idea" of copper rotor induction motors, discrete igbts, 18650 cells.... was not patented. AC Propulsion has very specific technology that Tesla wound up not using most of... There are 1,000 ways to create and integrate copper rotor induction motors, discrete igbts, and 18650 cells. And the way Tesla ultimately did it, was significantly different than the T-Zero
          leong
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          the patent law has been broken for years. copy ideas is legal, just like any other copycat of crocs or a land rover; not a problem but please, ADMIT IT. there are 10,000 ways to create rotor and motors, tesla chose the same construction method, same cooling blower, same size, same number of slots, same number of encoder teeth, of that of an acp motor. there are 10,000 ways to construct power units out of power devices, tesla chose the same part number as acp used. there are a million ways of printing a pcb and tesla chose the same board layout, the same stacking sequence, the same capacitor arrangement, the same bus bar geometry, the same pressure plate, the same current sensing scheme, the same devices for the current sensing, the same number of toroid, the same temperature sensing scheme, the same temperature sensing location, the same number of capacitors, the same capacitor arrangement, the same board cut-out geometry, even the same mistakes on the board. yes you are right, the idea was not patented...
          jack smith
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Leong Patenting an idea has never been legal per the USPTO, you CAN NOT patent an "idea", only an implementation of the idea, and never could do otherwise. No one can monopolize an idea, if someone else finds a slightly different method of achieving the same end result, then it is entirely legal.
      danfred311
      • 1 Year Ago
      Of course they should have built the roadster in house. I've said as much several times. It's a very simple chassis and the suspension is kit car style. Huge mistake to depend on a reluctant costly very far away supplier. In house would naturally also be more flexible. Other big mistakes very made as well. The 100watt vampire drain is a major one. The battery pack also got too heavy because of too much packaging and the lighter it is the less capacity it needed. Roadster like that shouldn't weigh above 800kg And here's an additional mistake. That they didn't continue the production with a new chassis of their own. The truth is, it's a very simple and small car and can be produced at very low cost if done right. Yet they managed to lose 100k$ on each one they sold. Make a new roadster and price it at 25k$. Fiberglass on welded alu. 3.5 second acceleration. 200km range. Fast charge. And make it aerodynamic of course.
        EVnerdGene
        • 1 Year Ago
        @danfred311
        Dan, you really need to build it to either prove it or . . . "build it and they will cum"
          danfred311
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Kit cars is a data point that should make it obvious that it can be done. I shouldn't have to prove anything. Simple logic should be enough but alas it isn't. Even if I wanted to spend 5-10 years of my life on such a venture, I'd still have the problem of money men being idiots as well. Eberhard had trouble finding money for Tesla Motors. Had it not been for Elon having a couple hundred mill laying around and having the same idea already it would probably not have happened. It's an equal opportunity stupidity world. Venture cap people are idiots too. Best you can hope for is that their random unintelligent decision happens to be in your favor. And Gene, I don't think come is spelled like that in that context :)
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Dan, in a later post you stated that 84 IGBTs were used in the Tesla inverter. I looked um up; about 10.50usd each for 84. That's $884 just for the IGBTs, and you've still got a buttload of labor and a buttload of other parts just for the electronics. Your overall cost estimates for the Danmobile always make me cringe and gaggle. Money men being idiots? Marco and I comb the EV world daily for projects that may someday have a positive ROI. And no, the money men will not invest without a proof of concept; unless you have an incredible track record before sharing your ideas withum on paper. Get to work.
          danfred311
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Good thing you recognized your mistakes and learned from them instead of just continuing the mistake of thinking I'm wrong... A car of lower weight takes less power electronics to accelerate at the same rate. Meaning fewer IGBTs. Meaning lower cost of that part. That should be within your ability to understand although I'm not holding my breath. As for your point that cost goes up to reduce weight, that's only true when far more expensive materials are required which it isn't. Lowering the weight is in part a self fulfilling prophecy to begin with. If it's half weight it needs half structural strength to carry it thus naturally half weight already. The only constants are the weight of the people (and only 2 in the roadster case) and the volume of the car for drag and material span. So I get a lot out of simply wanting it lighter. If you try really hard you can understand that. Then I can easily reduce the battery weight, not only is it reduced dramatically already by needing to move a lighter car but the roadster was 450kg to do 53kWh. That can be bested by a factor 1.7 today, better packaging, better batteries. So let's say we get factor 1.5 reduction just for aiming for lower car weight, then the factor 1.7 on density improvement, then a further factor 1.6 on lower desired range because 400km range isn't that much better than 250km if you have fast charge. That's a combined reduction in pack weight of 4, placing it around 115kg for the pack. That puts the car around 700kg without using any exotic materials. Even going to fiberglass instead of carbon. The 1200kg Tesla used a 38kg AC induction motor. A 700kg roadster would only need a 22kg motor to do the same. Maybe even less because smaller motors have better heat dissipation. Similar reduction in gearbox size and cost. No exotic materials needed. I am right, you are wrong.
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Dan, you make a lot of good points - sometimes; that's why I waste my time dancing with you. Less weight doesn't necessarily equate to less cost. In fact, the cost per pound goes up as weight goes down (and way up, when it drastic lightening is required, like for racecars and aircraft). note: this is why the auto mfg's love SUVs They can give the perception of giving you so much more just by increasing steel content (which is still fractional dollars per pound - much cheaper than tomatoes and parsnips) More closer to reality: Cost is proportional to the number of parts. One of the great truths learned in my engineering econ class; still remembered and proven to me over and over again ever since.
          danfred311
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          You can cringe all you want but I am still right.
          danfred311
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          There still aren't any holes in my 'theory' Gene. That's your weakness, you aren't moved by logic. you adhere to sheepish heuristics like the big automakers has to be competent, Dan couldn't possibly be that much smarter. But I am. It's not that I'm super smart, it's just that they are soo soo stupid. You have an opportunity to improve yourself greatly by realizing that about yourself. That you can free yourself from such herding conventions. See them for the idiots that they are. I say again, Bob Lutz is so stupid that he thinks global warming is made up. Head of Audi USA is so stupid that he said Volt is a car for idiots. Carlos Ghosn is so stupid that he hired that guy to lead Infiniti. And he's so stupid that he invested greatly in Better Place. And he's the smartest of them all basically. In all the details they have to deal with daily, they simply forget to think. Elon and pals also forgot to think when they made their cars burn 100 watt when off. To the point that it kills the pack in the roadster if you leave it for 2 months. They are doers, I'm a thinker. They are idiots, I'm a genius. They run the world, I can't get anything done :) If only the idiots would listen to this thinker... but alas the world is **** instead because they know best... And so do you.
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Dan, I try to have reasonable discussions with you, but your ugly-to-the-bone personality and naivety take the cake. You've drooled some outrageous numbers for producing your wonder car, like $1M. Yes, a very small team might be able to cobble together a one-off worthy of the Frankfurt Auto Show for that amount. Then, before Marco and I invest; I'll need to see a solid business plan that shows among other things production development. You know, developing tooling, modifying facilities, buying equipment, , , then marketing plan, staff, , , I'm not going to waste anymore of your valuable time, but here's a hint. Tesla spent a coupla hundred mill developing the Roadster, and as we know lost money on every one of them sold. q: How do you keep a Dane in suspense ?
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          @ EVnerdGene Dan would have built it by now, except that it's very hard getting the stamping plant up to his bedroom without his mom noticing !
          danfred311
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Gene, if you weren't dumb you would have noticed that I didn't endorse that IGBT and that it's for high performance of 1200kg. You will recall I advocate a much lower weight as part of the cost reduction. I would use something like this one STGW50H60DF which is a 2$ part and superior in a couple of ways. And wanting to see a success come to fruition before investing instead of being able to understand the merits of a pitch is exactly my point.
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          I didn't say you were wrong, Dan; just overly optimistic. The dollars or krones are the problem. Shooting another hole in your theory; the more weight you take out of a battery pack, the harder it is to get the high voltage you need (for speed); and still having capacity - all still costing boo coo krone. I'm a fan and have preached "simplicate and add lightness" also. Been a sports car fan all my life and raced a few. I also cringed when I first read the T-Roadster was pushing 3000 pounds. Thought their next move would be a lighter-cheaper version. Wrongo. They built a bigger and even more expensive (sunk cost). Profits are still elusive. Then they announce their next eV would be an SUV. Sold the stock. I only invest in what I believe in (irrational engineer-think).
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Yeah Dan, I've often said going to engineering school stunted my creativity, and made me too narrow-minded. Some of the greatest inventors and industrialist never made it out of high school, some not even grade school. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Soichiro Honda, Nicoli Tesla. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the Woz, were all college drop-outs. Maybe that's why Elon is so brilliant - not trained as an engineer like he leads people to believe. Stop wasting your time arguing with the ignoramuses like me. We're expecting to see your genius-car at the Frankfurter Auto Show next year. Marco and I will be there with our checkbooks in hand.
          danfred311
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Ttesla didn't spend a 'coupla hundred million' developing the roadster. They spent a bit under 100million and their plan was to spend 40m$. And they ended up losing over 100k$ on each one. but of course I'm the one who is wrong with the ugly personality and you are so right. Never mind that you spelled come, cum. You humble me.
          danfred311
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Idiot. With a car at a motorshow, it's already done. Your money will be too late. You keep idiotically making my point and 'thinking' that you are proving me wrong. I don't have to show you nitwits any damned thing for me to be right. That's just the simplistic metric you need because you can't understand the merits of the engineering specifics. When you refuse to be corrected you cement your stupidity.
      Quest
      • 1 Year Ago
      Musk's date with destiny - day of reckoning if you will - draws near; whether that's a good or bad thing... one thing's for sure it's probably not going to be with a whimper. From such lofty heights... ascent to the heavens... it's a long, oh so very long, way down. ;-)
      Kimithechamp
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ah well, if Musk said it!
      jack smith
      • 1 Year Ago
      @Rotation You are a bit off. It does NOT take 5kWh of electricity per gallon, it's technically 6kwh, but actually closer to 3, and I'll explain. You see, they reached that number by assuming that ALL of the energy to refine a 42 gallon barrel of crude oil is spent solely on gasoline, but it is not. Diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, propane, naptha, etc., all come from that same barrel. Also of note, one barrel of crude produces approximately 19 gallons of gasoline, but none of it is wasted, the remaining 23 gallons are turned into other products. They work off of the supposition that it takes roughly 400,000 BTUs to refine a barrel of crude which produces 19 gallons of gasoline. Therefore, 400,000 divided by 19 equals 2,152, in which 21,000 BTUs is equivalent to 6kWh. But the rest of the crude isn't wasted, nor is electricity used to heat the crude. In reality, it takes closer to the equivalent of 3kWh to produce one gallon of gasoline, but they actually use natural gas or other fuels to heat the oil during refinement, meaning very little ACTUAL electricity is used. Here's an interesting thought that Musk DIDN'T have, though... What happens when just 1/4 of all American homes own an electric/plug-in hybrid vehicle? Per the U.S. EIA, the average household electricity consumption for the year 2012 was 10,837kWh per year per home. Divide that by 365 days in the year and you get an average of 29.6kWh per day. Now let's do a little math, and let's use Nissan's new 48kWh Leaf. Fully charging a Nissan Leaf's battery everyday with 40kWh (let's leave the 8kWh for battery safety/longevity) results in total use and strain on the grid of adding another whole house and 1/3 of one to the grid. Recharging a Tesla Model S results in the equivalent of almost 3 full houses of electricity use. Furthermore, search around the Tesla forums for something called "charger vampire drain". People who own Teslas have shown that by using a "Kill-a-watt" meter between the wall charger and the wall socket, the average 110v charger draws 3.5kWh per day when not in use. How many of those with electric/plug-in hybrid vehicles unplug their wall charger every morning? Wouldn't it be safe to assume that people using a 220v charger would lose 7kWh daily as well? So the average American home uses 888kWh per month, then if they own a Nissan Leaf they will use 2088kWh per month, and if they leave the 110v wall charger plugged in all day every day, they will use 2,193kWh per month. If just 1/4 of all homes in America owned such a vehicle and used it daily, total electricity demand in this country would increase by at least 150%. Where will all this extra electricity come from? Also from the EIA, 44% of ALL electricity in this country is generated from coal. An additional 28% is produced from natural gas, 19% from nuclear, and 1% from burning petroleum. Therefore, 92% of ALL of America's electricity comes from fossil fuels or highly damaging nuclear. Think about it.
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