Saturday, July 8, 2017

Idle Chatter Saturday Morning -- Flathead Lake, EVs -- July 8, 2017


August 6, 2017: in the original post I mention the challenges of charging the millions of EVs in the not-too-far-distant future. Now, Fortune asks the same question: where are all those electrics cars going to charge? Something tells me no one has thought this through.  

Original Post
I had a great week up on Flathead Lake, Montana.

I flew into Portland, OR, from DFW to pick up our younger daughter and the two of us picked up a rental car and drove to Lakeside, MT.

Economizing, I wanted a compact sedan but they were more costly than compact SUVs. We drove a Chevrolet Trax. It's a lot of fun to drive a "new" car (10,000 miles) but I certainly was not impressed by the "dash."The knobs were incredibly small -- I mean, really, really small. They were hard to operate with ungloved fingers; in the winter one could not operate the knobs without taking one's gloves off. The standard "menu" was not intuitive -- to display mileage, trip odometers, etc. In addition, they eliminated the little stem that is the easiest way to re-set mileage to zero. The car was snappy; fun to drive in town but I assume most new compacts would be fun to drive in town. So, a nice rental, but I would never buy it for myself.

The cross-country ride was wonderful -- we left late Sunday afternoon, stayed overnight in Spokane, and arrived at Lakeside early the next morning. On our return trip we drove back in one day. It took about 10 hours, I suppose -- it did not seem long. The traffic was easy except in the Coeur d'Alene area where it was extremely heavy southbound on "395" (our return trip). We avoided the city on the way out to Flathead Lake, bypassing it on I-90 (also quite busy at that point) and turning north at St Regis.

I love the speed limits in Montana. I think they post speed limits just to give someone something to do. With small two-lane country roads allowing 70 mph there certainly is little need to get caught speeding.

We stopped for gasoline about every three to four hours -- fuel range would have allowed longer stretches, but it was nice to stop and stretch. It was quite incredible. No matter where we were, we simply exited the highway, pulled into a service station -- no waiting -- re-fueled and were back on our way, unless we wanted to take a little break to stretch. But it was incredibly convenient.

I say all that to imagine what it would have been had we had an EV. First, of all, it would have been a pain to find a charging station. Under the best of circumstances, we would have had to watch paint dry for 30 - 40 minutes while charging the vehicle. Under the worst of circumstances we would have had to wait 2 to 3 hours for our turn to charge.

Ten years from now when everyone has an EV, imagine the current service station with twelve gasoline pumps. Cars spend an average of five minutes or less filling up with gasoline; driving in and driving out. During peak summer driving, the service station lots are completely full of cars, moving in and out at a fairly brisk pace. Now imagine if each of those pumps were replaced with a charging station. Cars wouldn't be moving in and our every five minutes; they would be parked for 30 - 60 minutes. It will be an interesting phenomenon.

For some reason there were a lot of stories this past week about EVs. The one that caught my attention was the one suggesting that by 2025 (less than ten years from now), 75% of all new car sales in the US would be electric. LOL. I must be missing something.

The big news coming out of Tesla this week: Elon Musk said their production milestones had slipped due to a severe battery production backlog. That sounds plausible with plans to ramp up to 100,000 to 200,000 vehicles by this time next year. So, what is Elon Musk looking for this month? He said he plans to deliver thirty ... repeat, thirty ... vehicles by the end of July. With all the hype and all the stories surrounding this announcement, one would have thought he was preparing to launch 30 Americans into space on the nation's first manned space voyage to Mars. In fact, he was talking about delivering 30 EVs. This is not rocket science. And Tesla's market cap is greater than that of GM's (although it has since dropped back a bit). I must be missing something.

Hopefully, CNN and ABC and MSNBC and CNBC will stream photos of the thirty Tesla EVs when they are delivered.

One wonders if the grid will be able to handle 30 more EVs all delivered on the same date. Hopefully they are not all delivered to the same West Hollywood neighborhood.

Fire Pit Grill

This was the grill / fire pit down by the dock out at Flathead Lake.


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