Thursday, May 7, 2015

What it would take to build a true Tesla competitor?

What it would take to build a true Tesla competitor?

Autoblog just posted a fascinating article titled "What it would take to build a true Tesla competitor?" This is a question I keep asking myself. In other words, I believe that in order for anybody to compete successfully in electric cars they need to use the skateboard system that Tesla patented, and later open-sourced. 

The obvious challenge is that a company like Mercedes is probably highly conflicted about how to best more forward on making electric vehicles.

The design challenge is that, as I just mentioned, in order to make a car with the greatest space utilization they have to incorporate Tesla's battery skateboard design. If they do this, it makes it difficult if not impossible also create ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars on the same platform.

Domenick Yoney wrote:

"The Tesla formula is really simple. Take the cheapest and most energy-dense lithium battery cells available, build a thin, rectangular pack and place it in the floor of the passenger cabin. To get around the low-power output ability of these individual cells, use a lot of them. Then, stick the electric motor, inverter, and gear reduction unit between the rear wheels. Immediately, this creates a vehicle with the lowest possible center of gravity and maximum amount of rotational inertia – the two most important fundamental elements for creating a great-handling car."

The photo below shows a Tesla 18650 lithium Ion battery, which was made by Panasonic. Each Model S contains approximately 7,000 of these "laptop" batteries.

In order to illustrate my point, let me offer this example. One of my favorite cars I would love to own would be the current Mercedes SL550. The challenge is that I will NEVER buy another ICE car. In other words, I will only ever buy another car if it is electric/ Why? Because there are a zillion advantages Electric has over Internal Combustion. I took the photo below in February of 2015, in front of the Palace Of Fine Arts in San Francisco. It shows off the stunning lines of the Mercedes SL silhouette. 

Imagine if this Mercedes has the Tesla battery skateboard chassis, it would free up a tremendous amount of space in the front for huge frunk (front-trunk). 

Recently I observed a current model Mercedes SL that a couple was traveling in as they were on vacation, and had their suitcases stuffed behind the rear seats. The car was parked, and the suitcase were really crammed behind the two front seats. This is because if you put the top down, there is not enough room in the trunk for the luggage. If Mercedes-Benz made an SL with the skateboard battery pack design, like the one found in the Tesla Model S, it would free up the entire front trunk for luggage, which would make perfect sense.

The challenge is that Mercedes would not be able to dual purpose such a chassis to also produce an ICE version, and therein lies the challenge.

The solution to this challenge may be found today in the BMW i3 electric car, which is the only vehicle that uses the Tesla inspired "Skateboard" design. 

The image below shows the "skateboard" battery platform on the BMW i3, which is remarkably similar to the Tesla Skateboard design. There are so many benefits to this design, I don't see how any other automobile manufacture could match or exceed the design with something different.

The clue here is it appears BMW decided to develop their electric vehicle division completely isolated from their standard ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles. It's almost like BMW's electric vehicle division is a different company altogether, and perhaps that is what all other brands will have to do in order to compete with Tesla in the future.

It is going to be really interesting to see how the entire auto industry evolves of the next quarter-century, as it seem inevitable to me that in the future all cars will be electric. Until then, the Tesla Model S remains the king of cars.

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