It’s not a Tesla-thing, It’s a car-thing

A few days ago, there was a MarketWatch article published that summarized the difficulties Tesla’s competitors are having going electric. The article goes through a litany of companies in electric vehicle manufacturing having difficulty catching up to Tesla. Some of the companies include Volkswagen, Jaguar, Dyson (yes that Dyson), GM, Porche, Toyota, Kia, China’s Nio, etc. The article even includes mention of Harley-Davidson briefly halting production of its LiveWire electric motorcycle due to charging issues via low-voltage home outlets.

While the point of the MW article was to discuss how much Tesla has a head start in the electrification of cars and will maintain its leadership role in EVs for some time, it occurred to me that the article itself could not have been written even five years ago. Half a decade ago, Tesla’s competition didn’t include other electric vehicles but only manufacturing building cars with engines that run on gas. That long list of today’s competing electric vehicle companies have led me to conclude the EV industry is about to enter a new phase as the industry matures.

The market is changing very fast and as more and more electric cars hit the market we as consumers are focusing less on the fact that these cars are not running petrol. Instead our attention has begun to focus on traditional car differentiation factors such as comfort features, body style, safety features, maintenance needs, and the type of personal service the dealer has to offer. Case in point, Ryan Wallace who is a YouTuber with a Tesla Model 3 has a series of videos that doesn’t always acknowledges the Tesla is an electric vehicle. In a recent video on Tesla Model 3 Autopilot he mentions while the talk of charging and range is important (he’s made those videos too), for Tesla the “cool factor” is actually its advanced driver-assistance system, AutoPilot. AutoPilot offers the driver automatic lane centering, adaptive cruise control, self-parking, the ability to change lanes, and recently the ability to summon your car from your garage or a parking spot.

As electric cars become more common, we as consumers are most likely still going to talk about the driving range of a vehicle but more and more those car discussions will be in the same context we discuss range and the MPG of our gas automobiles. These will be “fun facts” letting us tell others we bought an efficient vehicle, but those other factors of convenience and luxury that help us personally differentiate that one car we decide to buy among many other cars will still remain. We’re not going to buy a car just because it’s electric because over time that will be a given just as buying gas powered vehicle once was. In 2001, I never told anyone I bought an Acura TL because it ran on gas. A decade from now, buying electric will not be as significant of a differentiation as it is today.

In the next few years, we’re likely to see affordable electric pickup trucks from Tesla, Rivian, and Ford.  When all three vehicles are electric…what’s the most important feature to a truck driver? Well for me it’s the creature comforts of the cabin (I like a nice roominess, the stereo, and heated seats of my F-150) as well as the towing and cargo capacity of a truck. How well will this truck pull my Jayco travel trailer? I’m just going to expect the truck can go 300+ miles on a “full tank” like any other truck…but which truck is better at towing my 8000 lb trailer over Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado? The answer to these questions will always remain why I buy one pickup truck over another.

In another video, Ryan Wallace asks the question, is the Tesla Model 3 the perfect car? His answer right up front is “no”, the Model 3 isn’t a perfect car. But in this particular video he notes that the issues he’s found in Tesla’s cars “isn’t a Tesla thing, it’s a car thing”. His point is that all cars are going to break, it’s going to happen, so why would you expect the Tesla to be any different?

My prediction is the electric vehicle skeptics will go the same route as those annoying friends of ours insisting we need to learn how to drive a manual over an automatic.  Sure, hile learning to drive a stick shift may have been important one time, the world has moved on with 90% of us driving an automatic and now expect any car we drive to be an automatic. As more and more electric vehicles hit the road, there will be a day where the decision to driving an electric car over a gas car won’t be a second thought. Electric cars will no longer be electric cars…they’ll just be cars. That’s not a Tesla thing, that’s a car thing, and that’s the next step in the evolution of the electric vehicles industry.

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Huritgruten and Battery-Powered Snowmobiles

Hurtigruten has announced that their land-based adventure travel company will be providing tours that include electric snow mobiles. A Finnish start-up company called Aurora Powertrains will be providing the technology to make this happen.

With the eSled snowmobiles, Hurtigruten expands its battery revolution on shore—adding a truly unique experience for adventurous Arctic explorers.

“At Aurora Powertrains, we have a global mission to make ‘Snowmobiling Recharged.’ eSled is based on ready-made chassis, combined with revolutionary technology. This will take Hurtigruten Svalbard’s guests into the Arctic wilderness, without emissions, or the risk of disturbing wildlife,” says Ari Karjalainen, CEO of Aurora Powertrains, Ltd.

Travel Pulse

While that’s interesting news, I thought it was even more interesting that Hurtigruten is also setting up it’s own power infrastructure which it will use to charge these snow mobiles. Because, you know, who really wants to get stranded on a snow mobile without power near the Arctic Circle or anywhere?

To fully utilize the green potential in the sustainable operation of electric snowmobiles, Hurtigruten Svalbard will set up a separate power supply including solar panels, a windmill and battery packs for energy storage. The complete renewable energy solution will be delivered by Assemblin AS.

“Our eSleds and the entire operation will literally be powered by the midnight sun and Arctic winds. For us, this is only the beginning—we’re already planning similar solutions to be installed at our hotels and other parts of our Svalbard operation,” says Krisztina Uzonyi, Hurtigruten Svalbard destination director.

Travel Pulse

In the month of May of this year, my family had the privilege of touring with Hurtigruten by sea along the coast of Norway. That “midnight sun” is really cool and it’s pretty surreal to be on a boat with the sun shining at you at 1 AM. Having an interest in solar energy, I wondered why not rely more on solar energy during the summer months.

I’m not so sure how power from the Sun is going to work during snow mobile season as the nights are much longer . So it seems to me that “windmill power” will be much more of the renewable energy for snowmobiling purposes.

Anyone actually ridden on an electric snowmobile? I wonder how the batteries do during the cold of winter?

New Atlas: BMW beefs up its EV battery for 160-mile i3

Electric cars are on the march and critical to their appeal are advances in battery capacity, or in other words, how far you can drive them on each charge. BMW has made new efforts to ease range anxiety among future owners of its premium i3 EV, packing more battery density inside for an extended range of up to 260 km (160 mi) in everyday conditions.

– Nick Lavars, BMW beefs up its EV battery for 160-mile i3New Atlas, October 1, 2018.

Forbes: Review of the 2018 Zero FXS Electric Motorcycle

My experience with the ZF7.2 taught me that I could expect a reliable 60 miles per charge in mixed riding situations, and close to the full 100 when I rode around town exclusively.

The issue of range might be enough to scare off some potential buyers, but it shouldn’t. The FXS isn’t a touring bike, nor does it pretend to be one. It’s an exciting, lively bike for commuting, weekend rides, and quick hops. Leave it plugged in in your garage, and it’s always ready to go, with minimal maintenance required. You don’t have to worry about your gas going stale in the tank, or keeping track of oil changes, or gapping spark plugs. There’s no clutch to adjust, no cables to lubricate. The FXS has black composite body parts that don’t require wax or paint care, so you won’t need to spend hours detailing and polishing the bike. I really like the rough and ready aesthetic of the bike.

–  Jason Fogelson, 2018 Zero FXS Electric Motorcycle Test Ride And Review: Charged UpForbes.com, September 17, 2018.

Los Angeles Times: Electric motorcycle is a magic carpet ride

For two months this year I used a Zero DSR electric motorcycle as my main commuter vehicle. The experience deepened my appreciation for battery-powered transportation, and my admiration for the Zero line. But it also taught me that electric bikes aren’t for every rider, or for every ride. Even a state-of-the-art bike like the DSR could not satisfy all of a dedicated biker’s biking needs.

The DSR is Zero’s top model, and the company is right to be proud of it. Wickedly quick off the line, delivering spookily seamless power, the bike feels like a magic carpet ride that violates the laws of thermodynamics.

– Charles Fleming, Zero DSR electric motorcycle feels like a magic carpet ride — for everything but longer trips, Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2018.