I love Tesla. I wish I owned one. But we still have a long way to go towards cleaner energy, and Electric Vehicles are just playing a sly shell game with gas & particulate emission, shuffling it across town to the coal fired electric plant that's shoveling that juice into your wall charger.
Let me introduce you to the people most excited over the Tesla Model 3 pre-order:
We need a national energy policy that promotes a mesh of wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, hydro and nuclear on an epic scale. It needs to be half mandate, half significant financial incentive.
Exxon, BP, et al need to stop thinking of themselves as just "oil companies" and start thinking of themselves as "energy companies."
According to a 2012 article from Bloomberg, one new offshore oil platform cost $650 million dollars. What do the numbers look like if BP put a $650 million wind farm at sea, get the federal government to pay for the transmission lines back to shore to sell power to the local utility companies? According to a recent Purdue University study on Wind Turbines, typical 1.5 megawatt turbines by GE & Vestas have a 20 year service life.
When will household rooftop solar be mainstream? Not something used only by granola-munching superliberals like actor Ed Begley JR?
If Electric Vehicles are to replace the industrialized world's fleet of gas & diesel powered automobiles, these challenges need to be met:
1, Establish battery recycling programs on an industrial scale, comparable to the high-90 percentile rate at which current lead-acid car batteries are recycled.
2, Solve current Electric Vehicle range problems with a massive network of rapid chargers or modular automated battery module swap stations.
A. If the petroleum companies repurposed the drive-through car wash at their filling stations into automated battery pack changeout systems, that solves both massive water waste and range anxiety in one stroke. The changeout system sockets and supercharges the depleted packs in the storage basement below the drive-through floor. Drivers pay a petrol-competitive fee for the battery swap.
B. Destination locations - Shopping malls, strip malls, theme parks, large restaurants, parking garages, highway rest plazas - Install rapid charging stations. This acts as a draw, which will be popular with the merchants clustered around the charging stations. Tap to pay, loyalty card discount programs, various incentive programs to draw consumers to X mall vs Y mall across town, etc. - Everyone wins. Again, range anxiety is solved. Thirty minute supercharge time - idle time- becomes "I'm going to get a sandwich at that deli" time, or "I'm taking the kids into the Disney Store" time. What retailer wouldn't love having a parking lot full of rapid charge stations in a world full of Electric Vehicles.
3, Solve future Electric Vehicle range anxiety with improved battery chemistries.
A. Longer runtime between charges
B. Faster charge times
C. Chemistry must support battery module rebuild-ability, recycle-ability, lowest possible eco footprint
4, Understand and accept the slow adoption curve, balance against petro fuels
EV adoption can't happen overnight no matter how quickly the recharge, range and consumer price picture changes. We still need petrochemical fuels for the foreseeable future. Think of it as a teeter-totter. On one side, EV's are at the bottom, inching up slowly. High on the other side are petrochem powered internal combustion engines - Gasoline cars, diesel Semi Tractor-Trailers, commercial equipment - Bulldozers, farm tractors. Specialty kerosene vehicles - Aviation fuels. Passenger jets, military jets & rotorcraft.
It will be a slow shift over many decades as the EV side of the seesaw comes up and the petrochemical side slowly goes down. And the petro side will never completely touch the ground - Those fuels, lubricants, and chemicals will be necessary for a long time until replacements can be found - if ever.
I love the Tesla cars. I watched the Model 3 press event. I wish I had the pocket change laying around to buy one. But we as a civilization have larger structural problems to solve than just designing a stylish passenger vehicle with a semi-affordable price. The entire SYSTEM of how energy is produced and delivered needs to change from the bottom up.