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Comment Re:Relevant XKCD (Score 1) 102

I'd suggest you watch the lecture linked in my original post. All your questions are answered there.

But briefly: Yes, many major automakers have announced plans for EVs in the next few years. And of course, Nissan, Toyota, GM, and Daimler already have EVs on the market.

The main point in the lecture is the trend in battery cost over the last 20 years, which has been falling at 14% per year. Mapping that trend into the future, the speaker (Tony Seba) predicts when EVs will cross certain price thresholds, finally hitting the $20k mark by 2023. He also notes along the way that the "fuel" cost for EVs is roughly 80-~90% less than for ICE cars. And since EVs typically only have about 20 moving parts, their maintenance costs are little more then fresh tires and wiper blades.

At that point, how many people will still want to buy an ICE car? When the equivalent EV costs the same (or less) to buy, costs WAY less to operate, and has much better performance, how many people will opt for the more expensive ICE vehicle? I guess we'll find out over the next few years.

Comment Re:Relevant XKCD (Score 1) 102

Having 1-2% of your cars be EVs is better than having 0% of your cars be EVs

The point is, manufacturers are adopting EVs at a much faster rate than the "1~2%" curve would lead you to believe.

Put it this way: When Tesla announces the Model 3, and in less than one week a BILLION DOLLARS of pre-sales are logged, the industry sits up and takes notice. THEY sense that a tipping point is imminent, which is why they are rushing to meet the market.

Comment Re:Relevant XKCD (Score 2) 102

Manufacturer projections are that they will be only selling 1-2% EVs by 2020

This point is directly addressed in the talk. He cites a 1985 McKinsey study that predicted cell-phone penetration would by 900k by 2000 (the actual number turned out to be 100+ million) to show that "experts" often fail to notice these disruptions. Yes, auto-makers may be projecting 1~2% sales by 2020, but the vast majority of them are rushing to bring EV's to market in the next few years. Their actions speak louder than their words.

Based solely on the falling price of battery "energy density", he predicts the "tipping point" for EV's will come in the early 20's... If we then apply your replacement rate for the vehicle fleet of 9%-per-year, we're pretty close to a complete turnover by 2030.

Comment Re:Relevant XKCD (Score 1) 102

The speaker (Tony Seba) extrapolates the drop in Li-Ion batteries over the last couple of decades (~15%/yr) and predicts when an EV with 200mi range will reach certain price points over the next few years. (The book came out in 2014, so some of his predictions have already come true.)

By 2017-18, a 200mi EV will be available for $35~40k on the mass market.
By 2020, a 200mi EV will be available for $30k (whereas the median price for a car in the USA is $33k).
By 2022~23, a 200mi EV will be available for less than $25k... the low range for cars in the US market.

Given that EV's have a much lower cost of ownership -- lower cost for "fuel" plus FAR lower cost of maintenance -- only a complete IDIOT would buy an ICE car after 2023.

That's how 'disruptions' happen...

Comment Re:Thanks! (Score 1) 102

Same here. There's been a ton of work being done in the area of "storage" in recent years, and I've been following it all with geeky obsession... It's refreshing to get such a unique POV on the current state of the art from a veteran without much of an axe to grind. (Of course he favors his own new invention, but he's up-front about that... meanwhile, his insights on the overall industry and the basic chemistries in play are very illuminating.)

Comment Re:Relevant XKCD (Score 5, Insightful) 102

I recently saw a talk about the upcoming "Clean Disruption" which is right around the corner. He looks at secular trends, such as the falling price per watt of solar PV or the price per kwh of Li-Ion batteries, and concludes that our current modes of energy and transportation will be obsolete by 2030.

To portray the speed with which such 'disruptions' can occur, he begins the talk with a photo of 5th Ave., NYC, Easter Sunday, 1900. The street is packed with horse-drawn vehicles, but there is one car ("horseless carriage") in view, if you squint... Then he shows a photo from the same spot, same day, in 1913. The street is packed with Model-T Fords, and there is one horse in view, if you squint even harder.

He claims that we are on the threshold of a similar tipping point right now. By 2030, that same photo of 5th Ave. will show an ocean of EV's with only one ICE vehicle in view.

Comment Re: Golden age of remakes maybe (Score 5, Interesting) 1222

I would also put some of those originals (and their contemporaries) in the top tier: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing from Another World, War of the Worlds... Obviously, you have to forgive the limited special effects of the day, but some of the stories were every bit as good as the top-rated films today.

And, though it's not a movie per-se, um... Twilight Zone anyone?

Comment Re:Its called mass transit (Score 1) 168

I recently saw a lecture that made a similar claim: our current transportation and energy systems will be obsolete by 2030. (There's a book by the same guy called "Clean Disruption".) He cites several examples of disruption, from automobiles to cell phones, and notes that they are not incremental (though they may seem so at first). Instead, they follow an "S-curve" of exponential increase. He believes we are right now at the inflection point where several disruptive technologies are about to "go vertical" -- energy storage, electric vehicles, computing power, self-driving cars, solar PV, etc...

In 2014 (in the book) he predicted that $35~40k EV's would hit the market around 2017~18, and was right on the money. He further predicts that sub-$30k EV's will be available in 2020, and they'll hit $20k by 2023. Given the far lower operating costs of EV's, it will be very hard for gasoline cars to compete by that point.

As for self-driving technology... he predicts this will be "standard" on all new cars by the early 20's. In particular, he notes that the cost of LIDAR has dropped like a rock -- from $70k in 2011 to $90 in 2015 -- and Nvidia now sells a 2-TFLOPS GPU for fifty bucks. Adding the 'self-drive' option will cost about as much as the seat belts, and it has such obvious benefits... at some point it will probably become mandatory.

There's a lot more to the story... if the above sounds interesting, I recommend checking out the video.

Comment Re:Hey GM, how about that EV1? (Score 1) 289

Indeed, Elon talked about building-out customer support infrastructure in the recent quarterly "investor call." This is one of the reasons why they won't be paying any stock dividends in the foreseeable future.They need those revenues to build-out the infrastructure you describe.

My point is, they seem to be aware of the challenges you raise, and are devoting significant resources toward meeting them.

PS: I like your .sig.. it looks vaguely familiar. ;-)

Comment Re:Hey GM, how about that EV1? (Score 1) 289

True. But another of Seba's points is that self-driving tech, combined with ride-sharing apps (like Uber) will make vehicle ownership itself obsolete (or at least 'moribund') by the mid-20s. The overall point is that technology revolutions don't happen incrementally, they follow an "S-curve" of exponential adoption.

Of course, in some situations, it will always make sense to own a car (eg: rural areas), but even then, there will be economic incentives to switch from gasoline to electric, both for maintenance and fuel cost per mile. At that point, it's just a matter of how "emotionally attached" you are to your 20-year-old gas guzzler... especially if oil prices go up again by that time, which is not a particularly unlikely scenario.

Meanwhile, the price of solar just keeps dropping. And the installed 'base' of solar capacity has doubled every two years since the 90s. I don't know what percentage of the world's energy demand is met by solar, but let's just say it's 1%.... how many more "doublings" will it take for solar to dominate the market? As any hacker can tell you, 2 to the 7th power is 128... which means that (if the current trend continues) solar PV will be the dominant player in the energy market by 2030 at the latest.

BTW, Seba puts the tipping point at 2025, when all new vehicles on the market will be electric. It will be interesting to see how that prediction plays out.

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