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Comment: The part count is not a cost advantage (Score 1) 159

We're not talking about evolutionary change but revolutionary. Drop in parts number is so drastic that it allows for more competitors to sprung up (hence Tesla)

I'm a cost accountant and I do this sort of stuff for a living. You have the cost accounting completely wrong. The different in part numbers provides Tesla no cost advantage at this time because the parts they have to buy are significantly more expensive. Electric vehicles have such low sales volumes currently that any cost advantage they might have from reduced part counts is hugely swamped by the high R&D costs and fixed costs of production. They simply don't have enough volume to reach minimum efficient scale.

The risk for established players is in going from oligopoly and into a commoditized market.

There is minimal risk of automobiles becoming meaningfully more commoditized than they already are. Switching to an electric platform will not change that. A commodity product is one that one unit is indistinguishable from another. That does not describe the car industry unless you abstract more than is appropriate. The established players you are talking about already have the capability to develop and sell an electric vehicle. Several of them have already done so. Nothing Tesla is doing is outside of the big automaker's capabilities. They are staying out of the market because the market simply isn't big enough given the state of the art in electric vehicle technology right now to make it worth their while. There is enough room for a few niche products but that's it for the time being. It's not worth their time right now because they cannot make a profit doing it yet. Even Tesla hasn't made any sort of meaningful operating profit on car sales yet.

Comment: Risk is non-zero (Score 1) 159

Are there any reasons (safety or otherwise) why it wouldn't be easy to install a natural gas compressor in my house?

Any time you have a compressed flammable substance near your house there is some risk involved. I don't think it is substantially more than the risk from a propane tank but it's non-zero. Nothing to get paranoid about but there are safety considerations.

Would having a high pressure tank of natural gas sitting in or near my house sit well with my insurance company?

It could affect the underwriting premiums potentially.

Comment: Their job is dangerous (Score 1) 307

by sjbe (#48449689) Attached to: Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

I was about to say the same thing, but from an American perspective. Why is it understandable?

Because their job is genuinely dangerous unlike yours. Nobody calls the police to give them hugs and cookies. They get called when bad things are happening. Often it's no big deal but at other times their lives are genuinely in danger. People draw guns on police on a regular basis. Cops wear bullet proof vests for very good reasons. It is impossible to tell in advance whether the dispatch call they are on will be the one that results in them needing to draw their gun. You'd be a little tribal too if you weren't sure who you could trust.

Understanding why they behave the way they do is not the same thing as condoning their behavior.

Seriously, before anybody tries to defend them, answer me this, when was the last time you can think of that a cop actually prevented a crime. Not caught a criminal, but actually prevented a crime from happening.

Their job is to enforce the laws. Not to prevent crime. That said it's easily demonstrable that police presence reduces incidence of crimes. There is plenty of data out there if you had bothered to look.

Comment: Re:Trust (Score 1) 307

by sjbe (#48449643) Attached to: Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

What? Why is that understandable?

Because every day they have to go into situations where their lives are potentially in danger. Nobody calls the police to give them cookies or hugs. Their job is dangerous and that tends to make them a bit tribal. Every single time a police officer stops a suspect there is a chance they could be injured or worse. Most people are good decent people but it's impossible to tell in advance the few that are not because they don't look any different. If some small percent of the people you dealt with on a daily basis represented a non-trivial chance of you being injured you would be a little cautious about who you trusted too.

You could say that it's understandable that waiters have an us-vs-them worldview. Or IT support. Or musicians. Or doctors.

Exactly my point. I said it is understandable. I did not say it was the right thing to do. You can understand why someone does something without supporting what they are doing. I understand why cops behave the way they do. Doesn't mean I condone their behavior when it becomes a problem.

Oh, and except for maybe doctors in dangerous areas none of those groups you mention face even close the amount of danger that cops do. IT support is not likely to get shot even though a few of the worse ones might actually deserve it. (yes that's a joke) I'm not especially worried about anyone drawing a gun on me in my day job.

Comment: 132 stations is not "blanketing the US" (Score 2) 159

niche?, you can go coast to coast in a tesla using superchargers this year

Yes niche. There is precisely 1 supercharger station in my state and it is on the other side of the state from where I live. Having a route by which you can go coast to coast means very little by itself unless that happens to be the specific route you need to follow. Believe it or not, not everyone lives in NYC or LA or even particularly close to the interstates that directly connect them. Good luck getting across North Dakota in your Tesla.

most of the US will be covered by 2015, get some research fingers going on google

That's not even remotely true. They have 132 stations in the US. Yes they are building out quite a few of them but that isn't remotely the same thing as having them "cover the US". When they get the number of stations into the tens of thousands then I'll concede the point. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see them building this sort of infrastructure but I'm also not going to pretend it is a bigger deal than it actually is.

Comment: Filling up a natural gas car currently no picnic (Score 1) 159

Natural Gas is already flowing through hundreds (thousands?) of pipelines across the US. There are already filling stations.

Yes there is infrastructure accessible (like electric) but there aren't very many fueling stations for CNG vehicles readily available to most people. I honestly could not begin to tell you where there is a CNG refueling station near where I live though I know there are a handful. I can however tell you where there are some electric and plenty of gasoline/diesel refueling stations. CNG is an easier problem to solve than pure hydrogen but it has similar problems to electric as far as infrastructure goes. It also has the chicken/egg problem of building out the refueling infrastructure much like electric, though with admittedly fewer technical issues.

Honda has offered a CNG fleet vehicle for ages.

The key word there is "fleet". CNG cars currently are only really practical as fleet vehicles presently. That could be changed but I doubt it will be.

Get the price of a home compressor down to a Level 2 charger ($1000) and let me by a CNG car.

Which gets you a nice car that you can (mostly) only refuel at home. I know such a vehicle would be less practical for me than even a pure electric vehicle.

There is of course the fact that CNG is still fundamentally a fossil fuel even if it isn't quite as dirty as oil derived fuels. Maybe you care about that or maybe not but it doesn't really get us away from fossil fuels which is kind of a big deal.

Comment: It has nothing to do with the part counts (Score 4, Insightful) 159

I think the major manufacturers are afraid of the reduced parts count that pure electric cars have and the implied loss of profit margin because of it.

I'm in the auto industry and I'm a cost accountant. The part count on cars generally has only a modest (though significant) effect on profit margin and increasing part counts usually implies negative effects on profit margin. If anything they would welcome the reduced part counts because it would likely reduce costs, particularly warranty, production and maybe engineering. It's a competitive market so unnecessarily inflating part counts translates into reduced profit margin, not increased like you are implying.

So they keep trying to sell hybrid systems that bundle an internal combustion engine with an electric motor in order to keep the parts count high.

They sell hybrids because that is the state of the technology. We don't have the battery technology or charging infrastructure to go fully electric yet outside of some niche markts. We may in due time but not today. Hybrids are expensive because the technology is new, complex and doesn't enjoy full economies of scale yet.

Comment: No refueling infrastructure (Score 1) 159

A fuel cell + hydrogen tank have a much higher energy density (even when measured in fuel cell output) as any battery in the next couple of years will have.

Which is irrelevant because hydrogen powered vehicles lack even rudimentary refueling infrastructure and thus will not be a meaningful part of the discussion for at least another 10-20 years a minimum.

Especially, as with renewable energy sources the production of hydrogen could be triggered just then when there is an overproduction of electricity and store it.

You have to have something to do with the hydrogen. We have no infrastructure that could absorb such production even if it made economic sense to store energy that way. It's a solvable problem if the economics make sense but doing so would take considerable time. Not a bad idea in principle but I don't know enough about the technical feasibility and economics to evaluate it fully.

But, true cars (electric or otherwise) are not the best solution for all our transportation problems.

And what exactly do you think is going to replace cars within our lifetime? For better or worse they aren't going anywhere.

Comment: Wake me when they solve the infrastructure problem (Score 1) 159

Honda recently delayed its hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle until 2016, while Hyundai is planning to build 1000 fuel-cell powered Tucson's by the end of the year

Wow! A whole 1000 cars. Drop meet ocean. [/sarcasm] Those sorts of production volumes make even electric cars look like hot sellers.

Proponents of hydrogen point to the vastly improved fueling time (roughly equal that of gasoline) as opposed to the 20-60 minutes required to recharge a vehicle like Tesla's Model S.

With the downside that there is no refueling infrastructure in place. At all. Kinda hard to refuel your car in 5 minutes if there is nowhere to refuel it. And without a substantial number of hydrogen powered cars on the road there is no economic incentive to build hydrogen refueling stations. If you ever needed an example of a strawman argument, here you have it. Electric cars might be slow to recharge but there is no lack of places to actually charge them as long as you have a long enough extension cord and enough time.

Yes hydrogen fuel cells are beautiful in principle but until they solve the infrastructure problem such cars are useless to 99.99999% of the car buying public.

Comment: Trust (Score 2) 307

by sjbe (#48448345) Attached to: Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

It sounds like cops hate anyone who is not a cop.

Hate is probably the wrong word for most cops but it would be fair to say cops don't trust anyone who isn't a cop. Cops tend to (understandably) have an us versus them world view and see everyone's actions as those of a potential suspect. Apply a bit of low grade racism and you have a real problem with police distrusting a minority population and the minority population growing to distrust the police.

Comment: Training? (Score 1) 307

by sjbe (#48448333) Attached to: Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

We could send them through something called "training" before we let them loose on the streets. Where can I collect my Nobel Prize?

Wow! Training eliminates racism? Training gets rid of stupid racists laws? Training solves economic and social inequality? How did we never think of this before...[/sarcasm]

Comment: Education versus racism (Score 1) 307

by sjbe (#48448319) Attached to: Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

Civics classes have been sorely missing from school curriculums and this is exactly the kind of civics information people need.

I have NEVER seen a civics class where how do behave during a police stop was anywhere on the curriculum. I think it is incredibly depressing that something like this is even remotely necessary. And sadly it actually does seem to be necessary. These kids are basically being taught (for good reasons) how to behave safely in the face of institutional racism. Learning how to behave during a stop and frisk should never be necessary. Ever.

Add in some basics on personal freedoms and rights, civic duties, local government, and taxation and you've got an educated populace.

Knowing your rights and knowing how to (safely) go about asserting those rights in front of some racist thug with a gun and a badge are VERY different things.

Comment: Re:What's it good for? (Score 1) 225

by sjbe (#48435021) Attached to: Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

Plenty of species managed to survive the last rock from space.

Doesn't mean we will be one of them.

No matter what catastrophe you can imagine happening to Earth, there is no way other planets in the solar system would be more suitable to life.

Perhaps not but irrelevant. Right now we are completely dependent on Earth so if something unfortunate happens to Earth then we are screwed. The ONLY solution to that problem is to have a meaningful portion of the human population somewhere other than Earth.

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. Biochemistry is the study of carbon compounds that crawl. -- Mike Adams

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