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Comment: Re:More Range Needed (Score 2) 117

by AaronW (#47552903) Attached to: Stanford Team Creates Stable Lithium Anode Using Honeycomb Film

Usually the recharge times don't matter. I own a Tesla model S and sold my gas powered car. For most of my driving I just plug in at night and have the equivalent of a full tank every morning. It's only on long trips where the superchargers come in to play. I rarely bother with public charging stations since I don't need them. Now on long trips the superchargers come into the picture. In my last trip to Reno I stopped in Folsom to charge up. It took about 40 minutes during which time I got a nice lunch, took a bathroom break, etc while spending not a dime on fuel. Granted, more range is always better for long trips, but having to take a 30-40 minute break after several hours of driving is often a good thing.

The extra time spent waiting to charge during long trips is more than offset by the time not spent going to gas stations when most of my driving is under the range limits of the car. I typically spend 5 seconds plugging in at night and 5 seconds unplugging in the morning rather than several minutes at a gas station waiting in line and filling up.

Comment: Re:LEDs (Score 1) 278

by AaronW (#47428405) Attached to: My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...

I picked up some 3-packs of 40 watt equivalent chandelier bulbs at Costco that work quite well. They seem brighter than the original incandescents though I did have one fail within a day which Costco let me exchange without question. They also dim just like the bulbs they replaced. They're only 4.8 watts instead of 40 watts. I put in 2 months or less even though other than the single failure I have not had any other LED bulb fail on me and I'm up to around 20 bulbs so far. I don't think I'll buy another incandescent or CFL ever again. I still have a lot of CFLs to use up though.

Comment: Have you actually tried hiring these days? (Score 1) 401

by AaronW (#47397507) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

We're having the same problem. Trying to find an experienced embedded boot loader developer is next to impossible. I'm currently swamped and anytime we find someone who's decent we're one of many companies making offers. Certain skill sets are damned near impossible to find, like someone who is good at understanding both software and hardware, people who can work on the Linux kernel, or the GCC toolchain, U-Boot, UEFI, etc. I could care less about IT people, but good software developers who understand low-level stuff are hard to find. A vast majority of those I interview seem incompetent when pressed with some C programming problems or when asked about CPU archecture, stuff they should know from a decent CS or CE degree. I have to work on everything just about everything, from CPU related stuff to SATA, USB, high-speed networking, NAND flash, eMMC/SD, etc.

Comment: Not a big deal (Score 1) 143

by AaronW (#47299763) Attached to: Researchers Unveil Experimental 36-Core Chip

I don't see what the big deal is. I'm currently working with early silicon on a cache coherent 48-core 64-bit MIPS chip with NUMA support and built-in 40Gbps Ethernet support. The chip also has a lot of extended instructions for encryption and hashing plus a lot of hardware engines for things like zip compression, RAID calculations, regular expression engines and networking support among other things. It also has built-in support for content addressable memory.

It also has a network on-chip where each core or group of cores can have its own network interface to other cores. This is useful for things like virtualization or when you want to run multiple Linux kernels and other applications side by side since we also support running binaries on bare metal without an OS underneath.

Comment: Re:Solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, in that order (Score 1) 268

by AaronW (#47290167) Attached to: The EPA Carbon Plan: Coal Loses, But Who Wins?

The thing is that when you're doing research there will always be failures. If you don't have failures you're not trying very hard. That is why Silicon Valley is so successful. For every success story there are ten failures. The VCs know this. The loan guarantee program Solyndra was under was extremely successful, despite Solyndra and Fisker. Note that in many cases the loan processes started when there was an R in the Whitehouse. The problem is that there is a certain wing of the political spectrum that seems intent on keeping the status quo at all costs due to political donations from certain industries.

Solyndra made perfect sense when it was started. The cost of silicon was quite high and they had a method to reduce the amount needed for their panels. Then the Chinese started dumping solar and the price of silicon dropped to around 1/20 and there was no way Solyndra could compete.

Comment: Re:American People will be the losers ! (Score 1) 268

by AaronW (#47290053) Attached to: The EPA Carbon Plan: Coal Loses, But Who Wins?

The difference is that water vapor tends not to stay in the atmosphere very long and the amount is relatively constant due to precipitation. CO2, on the other hand, tends to accumulate in the atmosphere. The oceans absorb much of it but there's only so much that can be absorbed and the oceans are acidifying due to this. Water vapor also tends to form these white things called clouds which reflect a lot of sunlight back in to space.

Comment: Re:manucturer dealers could be worse (Score 1) 455

by AaronW (#47286669) Attached to: NADA Is Terrified of Tesla

In the case of Tesla they have showrooms. They give you a chance to see the car before you buy it and ask questions. The people who work there are not on commission. You can still test drive the car. When you're ready to actually buy the car you go on to their web site and order exactly what you want and they build to order. There's no incentive for the people working in the showroom to push features you don't want.

There is no added value by dealerships. My experience with them is they try and push you to buy a bunch of unnecessary crap.

My father bought a Fisker Karma. The dealership offered no protection from when the manufacturer went bankrupt. The warranty was suddenly null and void. Many Fisker dealerships just disappeared, leaving owners to completely fend for themselves for service and parts. For those that continued to support their customers, any pre-paid maintenance and warranty work now was out of pocket for the owner.

I own a Tesla model S. I have zero complaints about their service. It is better than anything I have seen from any dealership. They don't try and push any unneeded service. They include a loaner car and if a Tesla model S isn't available you can get a BMW, Mercedes or other luxury loaner car, all completely covered by Tesla. In fact, for the warranty they don't require that you have the yearly 12K service done.

When I got my car back from the yearly service, it was washed and vacuumed. They did not have any loaner cars available. I opted to just have them drop me off at work since it was just a few miles away. When they were finished they delivered my car right in front of where I work. My car is a fairly early VIN number.

Tesla also supports independent shops for a number of things. For example, if you need a tire fixed, they won't do it. You go to any tire shop to have that work done. Same thing for body work, though in this case you really want to go to a body shop that has been certified to have the appropriate training, especially since dealing with an aluminum body is different than sheet metal.

For general maintenance you really don't want to go to an independent mechanic for most stuff since they won't be trained. There are a lot of differences between a Tesla and a normal car. The drive train has nothing in common with other cars. Even if Tesla doesn't have a service center nearby, for $100 they will come to you, no matter where you are. If your car failed, they will usually even wave the $100 fee. Many things they can diagnose remotely over 3G or WI-FI so they know exactly what they need to do before they arrive.

For example, my car was one of the earlier VINs that received a defective 12V battery. Tesla contacted me about having it replaced before it failed from their remote monitoring They push out software updates and fixes over the air.

All of the problems I have had with my car were rattles and other issues that have all been addressed in manufacturing for newer cars, yet they will proactively go and upgrade my car to fix these problems or won't ask any questions and just make the changes if I bring it in. My car has a VIN in the low 5000s. Many of these issues require a lot of real-world experience to discover so I give them some leeway there. They have always come through and fixed every issue, no matter how minor it is. Also, they don't wait for mid-year or the next year to update their assembly line. They address the problems immediately. A common problem with the early cars was that the panoramic roof would creek during hot weather. They discovered a shim is required and immediately made the ECO change for manufacturing and went back and fixed all of the cars that experienced the problem. Even if customers don't experience the problem, when the car is brought in for service they proactively fix issues discovered in the early VINs.

No dealership that I'm aware of even comes close to this level of service. Dealerships are leaches left over from a bygone era. There is no reason why one shouldn't be able to just hop on a web site and select exactly how they want their car to be configured and have it made to order.

Also, unlike dealerships, there is no inventory of cars. Every car shipped has a buyer. Right now GM has a huge problem with their Cadillac ELR. They have completely flooded the pipeline such that at the current rate it will take two years for dealers to ship the current inventory of cars. That means a lot of money is wasted keeping these cars on the lot, plus all of the depreciation involved.

Comment: Re:Broken window fallacy (Score 1) 455

by AaronW (#47286467) Attached to: NADA Is Terrified of Tesla

One big difference is that with Tesla you typically do not buy a car on the lot. You go to their web site and select exactly which features you want and they build it. If you don't want a certain option, you don't get it. You aren't limited to which choices are available on the lot.

If you don't want parking sensors and fog lights you wont' get them nor will you have to pay for them.

If you want a blue car with a black interior with the panoramic roof, that's exactly what you'll get.

Comment: Re:No such thing as maintenance free car (Score 1) 455

by AaronW (#47278741) Attached to: NADA Is Terrified of Tesla

They do a lot of stuff that a typical dealership won't do for that $600/year. You get a free loaner car and your car comes back washed and vacuumed (my Toyota dealership would only wash the car and there was no loaner). In my case I declined the loaner and they just dropped me off at work and when my car was ready they delivered it to where I work.

Comment: Re:No such thing as maintenance free car (Score 1) 455

by AaronW (#47278731) Attached to: NADA Is Terrified of Tesla

I have a Tesla model S so I know a thing or two about not dealing with dealerships.

As for safety recalls, the Tesla recall involved an over-the-air software update for one, and mailing out a new NEMA 14-50 adapter for the other. In neither case did I have to go to the Tesla service center. They later added a titanium shield to better protect the battery but there is no urgent need to bring the car in to have it installed and it can be installed in a matter of minutes.

As far as maintenance, there's also many things electric cars don't have. They are extremely simple mechanically, with vastly fewer moving parts. There are only about a dozen moving parts in the entire drivetrain, including the electric motor.Dealers will lose a lot of money on service because there are far fewer things to break or the parts are more reliable due to being fully electric.

While the tires and suspension are the same, most other things are not and service makes most of its money off of the big periodic service changes at 30, 60, 90 and 120K miles where things like timing belts are replaced and other big maintenance items. It should be far more reliable and there's far less maintenance to perform with an EV.

1. Brakes on electric cars will last far longer since most braking will be regenerative. On my Tesla I use the brake pedal far less than with any other car I've driven.
2. No oil changes or oil filters
3. No belts to change
4. No spark plugs
5. No complex transmission. No clutch, torque converter, transmission fluid, radiator, etc. No transmission fluid or filters to change.
6. No engine air filters
7. Much lower chance of an oil leak since there are far fewer components that need oil.
8. Air conditioning system is completely sealed, no compressor/clutch mounted to the engine block and required flexible hoses. Much lower risk of it leaking or the compressor failing.
9. No oxygen sensors, exhaust systems, catalytic converters or smog equipment
10. No valves, camshafts, piston rings, timing belts or chains
11. No spark plugs, distributors, ignition coils and associated hardware
12. No throttle body, mass airflow sensors, etc.
13. No fuel injectors, fuel pump or fuel filter, no fuel tank, charcoal canister.
14. No belt-driven alternator with brushes to wear out
15. No starter motor and solenoid to wear out
16. No hydraulic power steering pump or fluid (though many cars are now moving to electric power steering).

Instead, my Model S has:

1. water-cooled induction motor. The induction motor contains no permanent magnets or brushes, simplifying assembly/disassembly if it should ever have to be done. There are no friction points other than the bearings on each end of the shaft and those are sealed and lubricated for 12 years. The 416HP 443 ft-lb torque motor is the size of a watermelon, far smaller than any ICE engine of comparable power. An induction motor is stupidly simple in design and should last forever.
2. water-cooled inverter for driving the electric motor. Again, these tend to be extremely reliable with no moving parts.
3. water-cooled charging inverter(s) under the rear seats, easily accessible. Again, these should be extremely reliable.
4. water-cooled/heated battery pack, hot swappable and easily accessible. Again, this should last a long time. Warranty is for 8 years, unlimited miles for 85KWh battery. In the case of the Nissan Leaf they are having a lot of issues in hot climates because of the lack of proper battery cooling support, other car manufacturers are not having issues. Even at 50,000 miles people are finding the loss of range to be fairly minimal.
5. single speed 9.73:1 gear reduction transmission between the motor and differential consisting of only two gears internally. Part of the same module that holds the inverter and electric motor. This is as opposed to the many mechanical and hydraulic parts in a typical transmission.
6. heat pump system with a sealed compressor with sealed tubes, no flexible hoses carrying freon. This is a more complex since it also interacts with the water coolant loop. The cooling needed for the electric motor and inverter is much less than is needed for a gasoline engine due to much higher efficiency. The sealed electric compressor is a lot more reliable since there's no seals to leak or clutch to fail. It's more like a compressor on a home air conditioner or refrigerator which tend to last an extremely long time.
7. Electric power steering, easily accessible for repair if needed.
8. A heavy duty power connector for charging. If it needs to be repaired it is easily accessible to replace.

My Tesla is also far easier to work on if it needs it than an ICE car. Everything is readily accessible since there's no big engine and transmission in the way. The electric power steering, heat pump compressor, etc. can be accessed just by removing a single panel under the car and/or removing the plastic bin for the frunk under the hood. The entire drive train can be replaced in a matter of a few hours since it's a single module with the differential, gear reduction, electric motor and inverter. (they install it in under 5 minutes at the factory (see )).

The suggested service interval is 12,000 miles or 12 months. Most of it involves inspections. They top up the washer fluid, replace the windshield wiper blades and cabin air filter, rotate the tires and do a wheel alignment and wash and vacuum the car. Perhaps the only major thing they might have to do is flush the coolant at some point and flush the brake fluid. Firmware updates are automatically handled over the air though if it is in for service they will load the latest software onto it. The car can also be diagnosed remotely in many cases.

For example, mine was one of the early cars that received a defective 12v battery. Tesla contacted me about replacing it before it failed. Almost all of the issues I have had where my car has been brought in for service were for squeaks and rattles which were addressed in later production cars. By now all of the issues I have seen were addressed so new cars coming off of the production line will be even more reliable. Having a VIN in the low 5000s does have some drawbacks but Tesla has been very proactive at fixing issues discovered in their early cars.

Another thing, if you go to a Tesla service center you will see that the floor is white and the techs aren't nearly as grubby as a typical mechanic. Most stuff is far better protected from the elements than in a typical car.

Comment: Re:Good! (Score 1) 619

by AaronW (#47276217) Attached to: 2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

As the owner of a Tesla I agree. The roads and freeways in my area are in terrible shape. The problem is that for most EV owners doing this would be difficult since there's no way to differentiate power drawn by the vehicle vs power drawn by the rest of the house. In my case I have two meters installed so I get a lower rate so this is possible.

I imagine that this would be difficult with most of the free public charging infrastructure as well unless the power usage was fully monitored. Also, for Tesla there's the supercharging stations which are free to use.

Most road wear and tear is due to the heavy trucks.

Comment: Re:Whelp... (Score 1) 431

by AaronW (#47257343) Attached to: Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year

Sounds like the story a friend of mine told me. His company decided to manufacture a product in China. All of the prototypes and early production runs were great. Then they had the company do a big production run and all of the products were missing their electronics (and the Chinese company claimed that they fully passed their Q/A testing). The mistake they made was to pay up front. The company does most of its manufacturing in Mexico since it's easy to fly down there and make sure that things are being built properly.

Comment: Re:Whelp... (Score 1) 431

by AaronW (#47257297) Attached to: Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year

A friend of mine who works on designing drivetrains at Tesla said that the problem with parts from China is consistency. Often the quality will vary from batch to batch and they'll make substitutions, not seeming to understand that it's not acceptible to do this. You can tell them all you want that you need a certain quality leve, it doesn't matter. Chinese steel is notorious for not being consistent. Once manufacturing is underway they'll make substitutions whether you want them to or not. Ofteh the first parts are great but then they'll start making changes and substitutions where quality suffers, often in order to cut cost, but also often due to their own suppliers trying to save a buck.

Another friend of mine works at a company that decided to manufacture a product in China. All of the early production runs were great and met all the requirements. Then they did a big production run and the products came back having passed the Chinese Q/A even though all of the electronics were missing. Their mistake was that they paid up front.

Unless you have very tight quality control over the Chinese manufacturer you will be screwed.

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