Popular and ‘Best-Of’ Posts


aa CT GTM TEC RENEWIND INTERMITTENCY IS EXAGGERATED – NREL study shows US wind potential is larger and more stable than previously thought with capacity factors of 65% available, see details HERE.  Better even than Handleman Post predictions, that capacity factors of 50% can be achieved in large volume.

CleanTechnica logo-JoBEST US WIND SITES ARE BARELY TOUCHED –  HERE  – is a post showing where the best sites are why they are underutilized and how we can harvest much more wind at those sites.

WIND TURBINE STATE OF THE ART – New wind turbine technology is further reducing the cost and intermittency of wind power – HERE


COST – The cost of Renewables Is Dropping Rapidly – HERE are some great graphs showing declining costs. Here is Lazards 2019 report showing that wind and solar are the least cost energy sources. HERE is Lazards 2018 report on the cost of generation showing solar and wind as the least cost sources.  You can always get the most up to date version of this annual report by searching on ‘Lazard’s Levelized Cost’.

GROWTH – The amount of renewable energy has been growing exponentially for decades.  Here are some good graphics illustrate that growth.

HERE is a link to videos of an entire course on renewable energy.  The presenter is engaging making it fun and interesting.


– Storage is vitally important for the future of renewable energy and many think that Lithium Ion batteries will play an important role if the cost can be brought down.   Elon Musk predicts breaking the important $100 / kwhr barrier by 2025.  This is in the same ballpark as predicted by Navigant and McKinsey  prior to the Tesla announcement of the Gigafactory.

aa Logo CleantechnicaGIGAFACTORY A conservative bet for Tesla – HERE .

LITHIUM AVAILABILITY – And not to worry, there is plenty of Lithium – HERE .

The Energy CollectiveThere has been much excitement over the Tesla Powerwall energy storage system.  It is important but not for the reasons described in the press.  My recent post post on the significance of Powerwall was picked up by The Energy Collective – HERE.


EV EMISSIONS – Electric Vehicles pollute less even when you take into account emissions from the generation source HERE

TESLA IS REVOLUTIONARY – Tesla really is revolutionary. HERE

BATTERY COSTS PLUMMET – EV batteries are the cost driver and they are coming down FAST – HERE   – A 2021 graphic HERE

aa CT-RENEEVs FOR LOAD SHIFTING – EVs combined with Load Shifting use market forces to increase the value of wind power while reducing the cost of driving. – HERE

EV RANGE IS A NONISSUE – HERE  CleanTechnica logo-Jo  .

The world according to Elon – Elon Musk on the Tesla road map from 2006.  And now more from Elon on the derogatory Larry Hirsh article.


aa CT-RENEGIGA SCALE AND EFFICIENCY INCREASES POINT TO GRID PARITY – Multiple entrants in the <20% Efficient PV module space points to impending solar grid parity.

SOLAR LAND AREA – The Land area required for solar is relatively small in comparison to the overall human footprint.


EFFICIENT LIGHTING – Incandescent bulbs are being phased out in favor of high efficiency lights.  The most efficient is LED lighting which is dropping in price rapidly and is more efficient than CFLs – Here.


Moving renewable energy from the best sites (eg Great Plains for wind, the Southwest for solar) to sites of highest demand such as the East Coast requires upgraded power transmission infrastructure

EFFICIENT INTRACONTINENTAL POWER TRANSMISSION – Clean Line Energy HERE is developing HVDC transmission lines – HERE to do just that.

LINKING THE THREE US GRIDS – The US is composed of three separate, independent electrical grids, by connecting the three grids Tres Amigas will make wider use of renewable energy possible.

aa Logo CT-TEC-RENEBENEFITS OF AGGREGATION, A CASE STUDY – Texas’ grid expansion demonstrates a path towards higher wind penetration HERE .  Completed transmission lines nearly eliminate curtailment.


These resources help you use renewable energy as a context to teach STEM.

Calculate the area required to power the earth with solar modules.  This post discusses this and includes a spread sheet with the calculations.

This site has lots of data from a fixed and a tracking array.  You can download the data or plot it on the site.  If it doesn’t plot data for today then select an earlier date a couple of years earlier.  It is an old site and the computers sometimes go down.

General Resources

BNEF report on the coming crash in oil.

Coffee House

Posted in EV PEV, New Energy Paradigm, Path to a New Paradigm, T&D The New Grid, US Energy Competitiveness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tesla New Factory Roadmap – My Projection

Food for thought – In Berlin, Musk said one car body every 45 seconds taking into account 25% downtime at Berlin. This looks about right when compared to video of the gigapress at Fremont. They have 8 gigapresses = 4 press pairs. This works out to about 130,000 cars per press pair or around 525,000 cars at Berlin. Looks like 12 presses possibly 14 going in at Austin. Say 12 to be conservative. But not all are going in immediately. So figure 8 by year end there. = 1 million run rate at Austin by end of 2022. Both sites have room for additional factories. Some time ago Musk said that the two sites would cover expansion through 2024. So, while some are disappointed at no announcements of new factory sites until 2023, I like it. They have trained crews at both sites. I would prefer to see those folks start building new factories same site. Should go up in under a year now that everyone from foundation diggers to local authorities know the drill.

So, I’m guessing – Between 2 and 4 additional factories at Berlin and Austin and three more at sites around the world including one on the East Coast of the US and NV expanded to cover complete site for TeslaSemi. And figure faster run rates as the factories are tuned. Say 600k per factory. 3 Austin, 2 Berlin, 1 East Coast USA, 1 India and 1 more China. By end of 2026. Add in Shanghai and Fremont ramped to 800k each and we end up with 6.5 million vehicles / year run rate by end of 2026 . ASPs will be down but Profits will stay same or higher per car. AND – Expect JV with at least 1 Japanese car maker or another plant in Japan by then so make it 7.2 Million by then. Could be more but hard to imagine it will be fewer than that. And then there is the energy business . . .

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Musk Followed the Rules and Won

Elon Musk is the poster child for how well government programs can work. He leveraged the government loan program to buy a used auto factory in which he built the best car in the world (model S). Tesla leveraged the federal EV tax credit program to sell Tesla cars on a massive scale. They were the first car company to complete the 200,000 car limit. And finally, Tesla, by being well positioned as the primary manufacture of ZEVs, has collected billions in ZEV credits through programs designed to penalize companies for producing carbon emitting cars without sufficient offsets from ZEVs. Most importantly, Tesla has plowed those profits, not into stock buybacks but into ramping production of ZEVs. Again, exactly the most societally beneficial use for the gains.

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When Will EVs Impact Oil Consumption?

Oil consumption is expected to grow to 100 million barrels of oil per day by the end of 2022. For perspective, a barrel of oil contains 42 gallons of crude which can be converted to 19 gallons of gasoline. With so much excitement about electric vehicles (EVs) and the growth of that industry, how can the oil industry be reaching all new highs? The reason is that the auto industry is enormous. With about 80 million cars and light trucks built every year and about 2 billion on the road, it would take about 20 years to replace all of the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles even if all the cars sold in a year were electric! But there is more to it than that and the impacts of the EV industry will be felt much sooner than many expect.

On average Americans drive about 13,500 miles per year which comes out to 37 miles per day. The average fuel efficiency for light cars and trucks in the US is about 22 mpg. So each vehicle uses about 1.7 gallons of gasoline per day. This amounts to about .088 barrels of oil per car per day. So about 90,000 barrels of oil per 1 million cars. Or 1 million barrels per day per 11 million cars. For purposes of approximation we can round to 10 million cars. So if we converted all auto sales to electric we would reduce oil consumption by about 8 million barrels per day every year. But Americans use more gasoline than drivers in most countries. So a good approximation is that when all cars sold are electric it would take about 20 years to end oil use for transportation! That sounds like a long time, what can we do to pick up the pace?

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What The Analysts Don’t Seem To Understand

Analysts continue to be caught off guard by Tesla’s share price growth and now by its resiliency. What they seem to miss is that it is not Tesla’s size, but its growth rate. In the first graph below the absolute car sales figures are compared. I projected Tesla out 2 years. 2021 is roughly what analysts are predicting, 2022 is what I am predicting based upon bringing new production capacity online in Berlin, Austin and Shanghai.

The second graph uses a mathematical tool called normalization. This enables the visual comparison of growth rates of things with very different sizes. The normalized graph shows that the legacy auto makers are not growing. They are stagnating. Tesla, on the other hand, is growing rapidly. If it continues at the 50% average growth rate it will produce more cars per year than Toyota by about 2027. Actually they will probably trade places sooner because Tesla will soon grow large enough that it will cannibalize market share of the other majors.

Cars Shipped by the major auto makers compared to Tesla
Growth data normalized to compare relative growth rates. The majors are in decline while Tesla’s growth is accelerating.
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Is Tesla About To Feed Fremont Production With Castings from Austin ?

UPDATE 5/19/2021: Castings are on Trucks – – See Below for Details

My Tesla Weekend pointed out that there are a lot of castings piling up at Fremont 1:40 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhNO9RzsO1c .

Video Describing Stockpiling of Castings Start at 1:40

I was pleasantly surprised that they put the gigacasting machines in Austin LONG before the factory was ready for production. I immediately thought that they could make castings there to support production in Fremont. Sure enough, the first thing they are making appears to be front castings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vjajK_G8w8&t=642s @ 10:06 .

Appear to be Front Castings, Jeff Roberts Video 10:06

Compare this to the solid model shown at battery day (below) at 13:33 for comparison https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK79ioBW8Mg .

Solid Model Mock – Up Shown at Battery Day 13:33

We haven’t seen them on trucks yet but that is something to watch for. I bet they will be shipping castings from Austin to Freemont. Elon said that each casting eliminated about 300 robots. To date they have been doing only rear castings in the Model Y. They are bursting at the seams in Fremont. Bringing fronts up would allow them to build better cars AND clear more floor space. And that extra space would be very handy if they were building . . . say . . . a cyber truck pilot line.

UPDATE 5-19-2021: Looks like the castings are headed to Austin. There is one flat bed loaded up and two more waiting. They are putting 21 on the trucks. I think that, with some care and some sort of frame or structure, they could do 54.

Castings loaded and waiting to head to Fremont? Thanks Randy

We can get a back of the envelop handle on costs. Trucking rates are as high as $4.00 / mile but lets consider a Tesla driver using a Tesla semi and call it $2.50 per mile. Its about 1750 miles to Fremont so the cost would be about $80 per casting to get them to Fremont. I found that each casting requires the energy equivalent of about a gallon of gasoline @$3.00 / gal the energy cost is inconsequential (I assume the thermal energy from gasoline is comparable in cost to natural gas). And they weigh about 100 kg. Aluminum costs about $1200 / mton but Tesla has their own custom alloy so lets double it to account for that. So at $2400 / mton and about 10 castings per metric ton the cost of the AL is about $240 / casting . That puts the total around $320 each FOB Fremont.

According to Elon, this allows them to take 300 robots out of the line. And all of the stamping and special handling and bonding and fastening of parts etc. The castings will require trimming and prepping. It is hard to know the exact trade-offs but it would appear that an $80 per casting shipping charge is a small price to pay compared to cost reductions at Freemont. And we are promised that it would also improve the quality, fit and finish of the cars. In typical Tesla style, they appear poised to do something that NOBODY does, plop production in the middle of a construction site !

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GM Is All In

GM I building a battery factory in Lordstown that is expected to employ 1,100. It is a joint venture with LG Chem. It is about 3,000,000 square feet. Its projected cost is $2.3 Billion. It is expected to produce 30 GWhr of batteries. They are in the process of deciding whether to build a second plant in TN. Presumably it would be of comparable size.

GM Lordstown 35 GWhr Battery Plant Under Construction

For perspective, Tesla’s existing plant in NV has production capacity of 35 GWhr and is ramping to 40. Their Fremont pilot line is, or will soon, produce 10 GWhr of batteries. Technology developed there will be used for the Berlin and Austin factories. Their Austin battery plant will have a run rate of about 100 GWhr by the end of 2022 and 200 GWhr by the end of 2023. The size of the Austin battery factory has not been confirmed but reading the tea leaves, it is a near certainty. The Berlin factory will also start at 100 GWhr and ramp to 250 GWhr. It is expected to be the largest battery factory in the world.

Tesla Pilot Production Battery Line

GM Lordstown OH Site August 17th

GM Lordstown OH Site as of Jan 12th

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Tesla Battery Plans Support 3.4 Million Vehicle Run Rate by End of 2023

450 GWhr capacity by end of 2023 suggests 3.36 Million vehicles / year run rate Q4 2023. Assuming 200 GWhr battery production at both Austin and Berlin.

Captive Production Capacity 450 x 10^9 GWhr = 450 x 10^6 kWhr

Assume average for cars 75 KWhr

If cars only ==> 450 / 75 = 6 million cars by end of 2023

Now add some Nuance – – :

  • 3 Million Cars end of 2023 225 x 10^6 kWhr
  • Semi = 500 – 1000 kWhr say average = 750 kWhr and 150,000 per year 112.5 x 10^6 kWhr
  • 250,000 Cyber Trucks Assume 100 kWhr Average 25 x 10^6 kWhr
  • 362.5 GWhr for Vehicles
  • Leaves 87.5 for Energy Storage – Power Walls and GigaPacks

Note that they will be purchasing batteries from other companies which will make up for any shortfalls. The questions are:

  • how quickly can they scale batteries.
  • How fast will they ramp Cyber Truck and Semi
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Giga Casting Ramifications

Giga Press Eliminates 300 Robots From The Total of 1000 Required Before

It is not an exaggeration to say that Tesla is revolutionizing the manufacture of automobiles. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than with the giga casting machine and here at the manufacturer. It produces a diecast for the entire rear portion of the vehicle (2:44 – 3:05) eliminating, according to Elon Musk, 300 robots. (Start 17:16). They soon will be casting the front portion of the Model Y. In total this will eliminate 600 of the 1000 robots from the production floor. The implications for space efficiency, increased production rate, and cost reduction are substantial. In addition, it appears to address the fit and finish issues that stand in the way of Tesla becoming the best cars by all measures (they already are in terms of performance, safety and customer satisfaction but they lag in fit and finish).

I have been struck by the fact that they have already installed one of these at Austin (as of 3/8/2021 it is close to being fully assembled), well in advance of the building being completed. It is noteworthy that the Model 3’s being built in Fremont are not currently using the Giga castings. I have wondered if the Austin machine won’t start producing castings for the model 3’s and shipping them Fremont month’s before the Austin facility starts production. This would increase the rate of production in Fremont as well as improving the quality of the Model 3’s produced there. It would also free up space at the Fremont factory which currently is bursting at the seams.

Photo screenshot from Randy’s Video HERE


UPDATE: According to THIS article, Giga Shanghai is producing about 1000 Model Y’s per day. From various pictures it appears that there are 3 giga casting machines at Shanghai. At Shanghai they only produce rear castings. So we can begin to settle on some production numbers for the giga press. Allowing for some additional refinements this suggests that the presses will peak at about 1200 units per day for 3 machines or 400 per day per machine. This comes out to about 150,000 annually per press. For Austin and Berlin they will be doing front and rear castings we should figure about 150,000 per pair of presses. In Austin it is looking like the completed factory will have between 10 and 14 presses. If we assume 12 presses that is 6 pairs or 6 x 150,000 which comes out to 900,000 cars and trucks per year. Berlin is looking like they will have 8 presses for about 600,000 cars per year when ramped.

The Giga presses are being described as the “beating heart of the Gigafactories”. They can be used to estimate production throughput at the factories under construction. They also offer a starting point for estimating the energy consumption at the auto plants as they are likely, by far, the heaviest users of electricity. Two machines are required to produce a car, one for the front casting and one for the rear casting. Given the high heat and pressure there surely will be a good bit of down time. So a reasonable annual throughput assumption is about 166,000 castings per machine (See Appendix 1). Giga Berlin will install 8 machines (2 per car, one front one rear casting ) indicating a likely throughput at that factory of about 650,000 cars annually.

The Austin factory has foundations for 3 machines with space for at least 3 more in the building as currently constructed. This is sufficient for about 500,000 vehicles annually. It appears that there is room to add on to the building with sufficient space to add 8 more machines for a total of 1,150,000 vehicles annually at the Austin factory under construction. So a reasonable estimation for the Austin and Berlin factories currently under construction, is about 1,800,000 vehicles per year. Added to Freemont (600,000 annual capacity) and Shanghai (450,000 annual capacity) this suggests annual runrate for all of Tesla of about 2,200,000 by mid 2022 . The production capacity of Shanghai phase III is unknown but it will add to this figure. And they are expanding production at Fremont, Austin and Berlin !

Photo shows the die-casting area. The red is the existing building. Foundations have been poured in half of it and they appear sufficient to accommodate 3 casting machines. The building is symmetric so it is expected that the other half of it will get three machines. The unbuilt area circled in blue is conspicuously unbuilt on. It appears to be available for expansion of the casting area. If so it can accommodate 6 – 8 more machines. Photo Credit – Joe Tegmeyer

In Fremont the giga presses went into service starting in 2020. They were installed outside the factory. This is a new approach for manufacturing car bodies so there was no provision for it in the Fremont facility. In other words this is a sub-optimal setup.

Gigacastings In Freemont – This is installed in a sub-optimal setting. It was added, after the fact, to the process. It is one of the first 2 every built. No doubt, the ones built into factories in TX, Berlin and Shanghai will have considerably higher throughput. The question I have is how much downtime do they require.


The castings have a weight of 180 lbs or 80 kg. The melt temperature is about 850 C. The casting material is a custom designed alloy of Aluminum but it likely has thermal characteristics similar to other Aluminum alloys. Taking into account the approximate specific heat and the latent heat of fusion of Al, 1000 J/kg-K and 400 kJ/kg respectively the energy per casting for melting the Al is about 96 MJ. If we assume 660 castings per day that comes out to 63,000 MJ per day or about 7.2 MW per machine for melting the Al. Given the various other functions of the process, the power required per gigapress is about 10 MW. Since there are 2 per car that works out to about 20 MW per press pair or 60 MW for the 6 presses at Austin.

NOTE: Throughput rates revised from 250,000 per year to 167,000 per year. This reduces power consumption to about 40 MW.

80kg[ 370×10^3 J/kg + 1000J/kg-K x 825 K] = 96 MJ / Casting or 27 kWhr/Casting

For perspective the energy density of gasoline is about 133 MJ / gallon

So each casting requires the energy equivalent of less than a gallon of gasoline.

Appendix 1

NOTE: I found a better estimate than an earlier one I made HERE See Below. They came up with approximately 120,000 per year based upon the machine in Fremont. This is the first of its kind installed so I will bump the estimate to 167,000 per year for machines that are installed with the benefit of lessons learned and are installed so as to optimize production flow in a new factory. That gives throughput of 500,000 / year for the 3 pairs of machines. This is consistent with published estimates for the Austin factory.

UPDATE 3/25/2021: T-Study has a nicely done updated video with gigapress cost analysis. Their daily unit estimate are converging with mine.

Screenshot from THIS video. Note: This number probably represents a lower bound. Literature from the die-casting machine company suggests much higher throughput.

Gigacasting machine throughput estimates range from 365,000, to my estimate of 166,000 (based upon directly measuring throughput using video footage of the gigapress in operation – – see video above) to the T-Study video 120,000 to JP Morgan’s estimate of 70,000 – 90,000 annually.

It should be noted that in December 2020 JP Morgan had a price target for Tesla of $90 / share and it was trading at 650 / share. They compare annual production of Tesla with that of other car makers but fail to compare the growth rate. Tesla is growing at about 50% per year. They have consistently missed the boat on Tesla suggesting that their research is flawed, I have rejected their numbers but include them for completeness.

NOTE: In this video IDRA announces their 8000 ton gigapress. Interestingly they mention it is for vehicles that do deliveries such as amazon and DHL .

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The Rise of EVs, Insights for Community Planners

Electric Vehicles and A Community Climate Action Plan

To industry watchers it is clear Electric Vehicles (EVs) are here to stay and will dominate sales of autos by the end of 2025.  Communities that recognize this quickly will be able act proactively to reap the benefits, and avoid costly mistakes.  The EV will have its ‘iPhone moment’ in 2022.  In that year an enormous amount of new production capacity will come on-line and the cost of EVs will drop below that of their Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) competitors.   It is also expected that self-driving cars will be well into commercialization.  In order for communities to respond proactively it is helpful to understand the pace of change and the ramifications. 

A note to the reader.  This article references Tesla a lot.  This is not an advertisement for Tesla, it is simply that they are ahead of all other auto makers so they are a good proxy for what the industry will look like in 3 – 5 years.  And, for the time being, they pretty much ARE the EV industry with an 80% market share in the US. 


COST:  While the up front cost of a Tesla is higher, over  5 years, the Cost of ownership for a Tesla Model 3 is lower than that of a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord and it is a better car.  Battery costs continue to plummet and experts expect even the upfront cost of EVs to be at price parity with ICE vehicles soon. 

RANGE ANXIETY:  Today’s EVs have long range and are more convenient than ICE vehicles.  No more trips to the gas station, simple plug in at night and you have a ‘full tank’ in the morning.  Range anxiety made sense in the early days of EVs when they could travel less than 100 miles on a charge.  Today 200 miles of range is the new normal and that continues to rise.  The bestselling Tesla Model 3 and Model Y exceed 300 miles on a charge and the Chevy Bolt over 250 miles on a charge.  For more information this article looks at driving habits and typical distances travelled.


In terms of injuries, Tesla makes the safest vehicles on the road today.  As far as fires go, Tesla fires make the news because they are rare, ICE vehicle fires don’t make the news because they are common. 


There are varying views on how quickly EVs will dominate.  But over the last few years, the optimist’s projections have been closest to the mark.  And the optimists are saying that by the end of 2025, about 50% of new autos will be EVs.  And credible analysis suggests it could be even more.  As is so often the case, when a disruptive technology is introduced it takes hold faster than most of the experts can imagine.  This Video examines disruptive change and then makes projections regarding the auto industry.  It is fairly long but makes most of the key points in the first 10 minutes.    

Here are some helpful factoids:  GM is accelerating its plans for EVs.  Most recently GM increased their EV development budget by $7 Billion to a total of $27 billion to be spent between now and 2025.  Recently they announced that 2035 they will sell only Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs).  VW has committed $87 Billion by 2025 and Ford plans to equal GM matching their $27 Billion development budget.  And then there are well funded newcomers such as Rivan which Amazon invested heavily in.  And Amazon has committed to the purchase of 100,000 delivery vehicles from them.  And even Apple has been indicating that they plan to get in the EV game. 

Tesla currently has capacity to produce a million cars per year.  Later this year, 2 more Tesla auto plants will be completed, one in Germany and the other in Austin Texas.  Their initial capacity is reported to be about 500,000 cars each.  Making Tesla’s production capacity at the end of 2021 about 2 million cars.  They are expanding the Shanghai factory.  They also have already started clearing additional land at both their Austin and Berlin sites see videos in Appendix I.  Most expect substantial expansion at those sites.  A conservative estimate is that Tesla will build 4 million vehicles per year in 2025.  However, with expansions already begun and likelihood of additional plants being built some are estimating 8 million vehicles per year by the end of 2025 or 10% of the worlds 80 million car annual production.  The other auto manufacturers can be expected to come in with production capacity of over 50 million by 2025.

Tesla plants are reported to cost about $1 billion.  For the sake of discussion, lets say that the other auto makers require $2 billion per plant.  And lets say that only half of what they have committed to EVs goes to manufacture with the rest going to marketing, R&D etc.  Then VW, Ford and GM combined are allocating about $70 Billion to building manufacturing by 2025.  At $2 billion per plant that gets them production capacity of about 17 million vehicles.  And that doesn’t include Toyota or other major manufacturers.  If these companies spend at the reported pace, then, by the end of 2025 world production capacity of EVs will exceed 25 million or over 30% of all vehicles built!  At that point EVs will cost less than ICE vehicles while range will continue to improve. Adoption of EVs will continue to accelerate. Appendix I links to Drone video of Tesla factories under construction. 

UPDATE 3/2/2021: Volvo announces 50% of vehicles to be electric by 2025 and all by 2030


All of the major auto makers as well as major tech players like Google and Apple are developing smart, driverless (autonomous) cars.  This video provides a good sense of the level of activity and current state of the art.  Most are focused on level 4 autonomy.  This means that they can drive autonomously in restricted (geofenced) areas such as one street or one town that has been carefully mapped out.  And there are places where this is up and running such as Las Vegas and Phoenix AZ.   

Tesla has set it eyes on the prize, level 5 autonomy.  This is essentially like a person.  Plop the car on any road, anywhere in the world and it can drive itself just as is the case with a human driver.  And they are closing in on this faster than most had predicted.  The CEO of Tesla is noted for his failure to meet timelines.  However he is also known for meeting the goals, even if late.  For example landing a rocket on a floating platform .  In this video, Musk describes the goals and promise of the Tesla Autonomous vehicle program.  In this video a Tesla Beta tester demonstrates the Full Self Driving capability of the Tesla car.  And in this video, posted February 6, 2021 the current state of the Tesla autonomy is demonstrated by a beta tester showing challenging ‘edge’ cases.


Some worry that wide adoption of EVs will strain the electrical grid.  While some grid upgrades may be needed, this concern is exaggerated.  Electricity usage drops at night.  Since most EV charging is done at night, it will enable higher utilization of infrastructure adding to utility profits.  The added profits will go a long way to providing funds for needed grid upgrades.  Ultimately, if well managed, this could make the grid more resilient, not less so as detractors claim.

Graph showing electricity demand and generation during the day of highest demand in 2020.  The demand drops off by 37% at night.  This represents the maximum stress test for the grid.  Even with high EV penetration on the grid, night charging would not break the grid.

personal experience provides a helpful case study.  My daily commute is about 50 miles.  My car is set to start charging at 11:00 PM when there is low demand on Hingham’s electrical resources.  I plug it in at night and it Is fully charged by morning.  The amount of electricity used is about 10 kWhrs.  This increases our daily use by about 30% but since we charge at night it does not tax utility resources.  Night charging is convenient and I receive a $10 monthly credit on my electric bill as a bonus for my efforts.  Will infrastructure upgrades be advisable?  Probably.  Will they be extreme, or add considerably to our electric bills, probably not.  There may be some increase but not enough to negate the savings from not buying gasoline.  And any upgrades to the transmission and distribution infrastructure will add resiliency which recent events in TX demonstrate are needed. 

While my anecdotal story is informative, more rigorous studies are needed to guide planning.  In the study cited below, Time Of Use (TOU) metering was shown to an effective way to motivate people to change their habits and charge at night.  The graph below shows how people shifted when they charged their cars in response to switching from flat rate electricity to TOU billing.  This article looks at how night charging could allow for greater use of renewable energy on the electric grid.

Source:  GTM Media

Study showing how Time of Use metering motivated people to charge at night.


There are two areas for consideration.  The near term, 5 – 10 years, little will change other than adding dedicated EV parking and some gratuitous charging stations.  Longer term there are some important changes that need to be planned for now.  1st and foremost, including high capacity cabling for future addition of high speed charging stations serving emergency services.  The second is less obvious but far more impactful from the standpoint of our day to day lives.  Within the decade and probably within 3 years, autonomous (driverless) electric vehicles will begin to appear on our roads.  From reducing traffic to increasing accessibility to transportation they promise extraordinary benefits.  But there is much to think about in terms of how to guide their introduction and it is important for planners to become conversant in this technology as soon as possible.

The high performance of electric vehicles makes them well suited for fire, ambulance, and police vehicles.  For perspective, the most popular police cars have 0 – 60 acceleration of 7 seconds.  The most popular electric vehicles have 0 – 60 acceleration about half that, under 3.5 seconds.  The benefits of better acceleration are clear for ambulances and fire trucks where every second matters for getting to emergency sites. 

Autonomous corridors for geofenced autonomous taxi:  Main St., 53, downtown Hingham, Derby street shops, all of the commuter rail stations – this could be done in the very near future – – requires dedicated parking and strict enforcement (like a bus stop)

Longer term, traffic management considerations – – AND GOOD NEWS, less traffic overall.

In 2019 they had one plant in Freemont California with a second under construction in Shanghai.  They manufactured about 367,000 EVs in 2019.  Tesla manufactured about 500,000 cars in 2020 which, by the way, to the derision of most industry experts, Elon Musk projected 7 years prior.  Currently under construction is a plant in Berlin and another in Austin TX.  It is important to realize that these are among the largest auto manufacturing plants ever built.  Their manufacturing technology is the most advanced of any auto factories in the world.  Both Berlin and Austin will begin production in 2021.  There is ample land to expand both facilities.  They are expected to ramp to about 1 million cars in 2021.  While estimates vary widely, many expect to see another doubling from 2021 to 2022 and the introduction of the cyber truck.  Tesla is expected to continue to ramp aggressively.  Many expect them to be manufacturing over 5 million cars per year by 2025.  And that is just Tesla.  Ford and GM are planning to spend about $27 Billion adding new EV products and building production facilities.  And VW has committed about $87 billion between now and 2025.

In 2023 Tesla will introduce a $25,000 car.  This will make their cars available to lower income individuals.  Hingham is an upper income community and many can afford to be early adopters.  In the opinion of the author, at least half of Hingham households will own an EV by 2025 and most will by 2030. 


Tesla is unable to get enough batteries from other sources.  So they are developing their own.  They anticipate lowering their cost for batteries by 57% in three years.  And the energy required for the new process is much lower than industry standard processes.  They already have a pilot production line running with sufficient volume that its output is contributing meaningfully to their total supply of batteries.  Publically they have stated they plan to be producing 100 GWhr of batteries by the end of 2022.  That is enough to power about 1.5 million cars.  And 200 GWhr by end of 2023.  But that is their plan for the Austin factory.  They have pulled permits to build another battery factory in Berlin which can reasonably be expected to produce similar quantities of batteries.  If you are counting that puts it at capacity sufficient for 6 million cars by end of 2023.  But wait, there is more, Musk has stated emphatically that other battery companies should not worry.  Tesla will purchase all they can produce for the foreseeable future. 

The additional capacity will no doubt be needed for things such as energy storage in the electric utility industry and the revolutionary Tesla Semi. Tesla Semi will rapidly electrify trucks and bring down the cost of shipping by truck to close to that of trains!  Not surprisingly, trucks require much larger batteries.    The Tesla Semi requires 10 – 20 times as much storage as a typical car.    

As a quick off topic aside, battery based energy storage already competitive with gas peaker power plants.  Later this decade cost reductions are expected to allow variable renewables to be combined with battery backup to displace base load combined cycle gas power plants.  In other words, all fossil fuel power will become obsolete this decade.

* Geofencing is restricting to a set area.  For example, a car could be programmed to only drive in one town or on one street. 

Appendix I   – – Tesla factories under construction:

Market Share US EVsMarket Share Total   – Tesla currently has 80% market share for EVs in the US market.  It is expected that their market share of EVs will drop as other auto makers develop credible alternatives.  However the ‘pie’ is expected to grow much faster as EVs displace ICE vehicles.  And their share of the total market is expected to grow rapidly for the foreseeable future. 

See for yourself!  The video links below show drone footage of factories under construction.  And Ford, GM and VW are just getting started.  They have committed to pour $27, $27, and $87 billion, respectively, into ramping their EV businesses between now and 2025. 

Giga Shanghai – Started in 2019, completed and in production the same year.  Another phase roughly doubling capacity went in 2020 and is now producing Model Y cars.  Current capacity is 450,000 cars annually.  Phase 3 is under construction. Video that explains the sections of the factory.

Giga Austin – Construction began in July – Production is expected to start in Q3 – Sufficient information is available to confirm at least 750,000 cars annual production capacity when complete.  There is reason to believe it could be much higher.  Pace of construction HERE And here is a great timelapse from the Start date of July 6 through February 6 Here .

Giga Berlin – While some site prep started earlier, construction started around June 1.  Production expected to start Q2 or Q3.  Sufficient information is available to assess capacity of about 1 million cars annually.  That is before the expansions that ground is already being cleared for.

Freemont – This plant is the “mother ship” for Tesla.  It is their first production facility.  Its current production capacity is 600,000 per year.

Click the link below for a High Resolution Version. Image shows various Tesla factories to scale. The land outlines show the size of the parcel of property owned by Tesla. Green shows outline of operational factories, Yellow, factories under construction, and Red, planned expansions.https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50390329512_fe6340a573_o.jpg

Other Resources:

Great data on Tesla including comparison to other auto companies:

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Tesla Crushes EV Carbon Footprint

By Clayton Handleman

The Tesla Model 3 has per mile carbon footprint about 1/3rd that of a Nissan Leaf.  It is widely anticipated that Tesla will announce a Million mile battery at their September 22nd Battery investment day. This will advance the state of the art to 1/10th the carbon footprint of a Nissan Leaf.  Incredibly this is nearly 1/40th the carbon footprint of the typical Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle if the Tesla is charged from zero carbon sources such as solar, wind or nuclear power.  But why would a longer lifetime improve the carbon footprint?

Figure 1:  The graph shows the benefits of BEVs compared with typical and fuel efficient ICE vehicles. 

Emissions in electric vehicles arise from carbon emitted to provide the energy for locomotion and from the energy required to manufacture the vehicle.  The energy required for manufacture is called  embodied energy.  If a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) is charged from zero carbon sources it’s emissions will be due only to embodied energy. The further a car can be driven before it and/or its battery need replacing, the less embodied energy there is per mile and therefore the less carbon emitted per mile.  So improvements in manufacturing efficiency or increases in battery lifetime will reduce the carbon footprint per mile.

Many analyses take into account the embodied energy in electric vehicles.  Unfortunately, few take the additional step to account for the impact on the carbon footprint due to vehicles that are capable of driving a longer distance before replacement.  As such, most estimates for per mile carbon footprint do not account for longer lasting batteries or cars whose drivetrains have million mile design lives.  This aspect of Tesla cars has been underappreciated to date.  How has this happened?

Most studies to date use a Nissan Leaf as a proxy vehicle.  It is a very popular BEV in Europe and was first to introduce a mass market production EV in the US.  The studies make the assumption that both the Leaf and the Tesla Model 3 have battery lives of about 100,000 miles.  In one of the most authoritative and rigorous articles published to date, Zeke Hausfather published, in Carbon Brief, Factcheck: How electric vehicles help to tackle climate change covers all the important issues, except, inexplicably, that of increased lifetime.  Fortunately, many Tesla owners have participated in providing data on their battery performance and have made it public.  They are finding that Tesla batteries are useable for 300,000 to 500,000 miles.  This is three to five times the assumed lifetime of the proxy Leaf.  When combined with the data in the Carbon Brief article, a complete picture emerges of the existing state of the art in Carbon Footprints for BEVs and for the expected improvements due to the 1 million mile batteries.  The findings are nothing short of stunning.  BEV’s outfitted with million mile batteries will reduce their carbon footprints by nearly 2 orders of magnitude when compared with ICE vehicles (see Figure 1 above) and over 1 order of magnitude when compared with the proxy Nissan Leaf (see Figure 2 below).

Figure 2:  Comparisons of carbon footprints of different BEVs.  The flat curve is made with data that did not account for the longer lifetime of Tesla BEVs.  The second curve accounts for the longer life of current generation Tesla BEVs and for the anticipated Tesla BEVs expected to be formally announced at the September 22, 2020 Battery Investment day.

It is useful to compare these results to those that Tesla has published in their Environmental Impact Report. Their results for a Model 3 with million mile battery are nearly identical to those found here. For ICE ‘midsize premium sedans’ they utilized statistics from consumer reports to assess average fuel efficiency. Using that data they determined that the average ICE vehicle emits .92 lbs / Mile which is roughly within 1% of our results (using data from the Carbon Brief Article). For the million mile Model 3 with renewable generated electricity we found emissions to be .02 lbs / mile when charged with renewable sources. The Tesla report appears to have conflicting values of .02 lbs / mile (which is what we determined) and .074 lbs / mile which is about 3 times higher than we found but still quite good. My assumption is that that is a typo and the .074 number is for the current generation Model 3. It is reassuring that the Tesla data stands the test of an independent cross check.

If renewable energy is used in the manufacture and charging of Tesla BEVs and they successfully introduce the million-mile battery, CO2 emissions from ground transportation becomes a very small percentage of humankind’s carbon footprint.  Arguably it becomes small enough to be considered a solved problem. This is further supported by the trends which anticipate further reductions in embodied energy and longer lifetimes for batteries.

I offer a special note of recognition and commendation to the members of my 2019-2020 Stoughton High School Physics students who fully participated in the remote learning portion of our class.  They read and processed all of the source material and checked my calculations that were used for this article.

Disclosure: The author owns Tesla stock.

Copyright Clayton Handleman September 2020

Tools: This references this tool but be careful, you have to put in correct assumptions such as car lifetime etc. Otherwise it does not differentiate between makes and models.

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