By Martin Eberhard
Testimony of Martin Eberhard CEO and Co-founder of Tesla Motors Inc. before the Senate Finance Committee on May 1, 2007.
EVWorld - Open Access Article Originally Published: May 04, 2007
Good morning, Chairman Bingaman, Ranking Member Thomas, and Members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify about electric vehicles and battery technologies.
The efforts of this Committee properly reflect our country’s renewed emphasis on addressing global climate change and dependence on oil from nations that do not always have our best interests in mind.
These concerns are my own top priorities and are the reason that I founded Tesla Motors. Four years ago, I had no bias towards electric cars
or any other technology – I set out from an engineer’s perspective to
understand which technologies could best help break America’s
dependence on oil. After considerable research, I came to the
conclusion that electric cars are by far the most efficient
transportation technology – even when the electricity to power them is
produced from coal; much more so with cleaner sources. Electric cars
have the added advantage of being the only kind of car that breaks the
tradeoff between performance and efficiency.
To put this in perspective, allow me a brief commercial to describe
Tesla’s first model, the Tesla Roadster. The Roadster is a great
looking two-seat convertible designed to beat a gasoline sports car
like a Porsche or a Ferrari in a head-to-head showdown, yet with twice
the energy efficiency of a Prius. It is a great sports car without
- Breathtaking 0 to 60 acceleration in 4 seconds
- 135 mpg equivalent, per the conversion rate used by the EPA
- More than 200 mile driving range
- Fully DOT-compliant: crash tested, with airbags, crash structures, etc.
In short, the Tesla Roadster is the first electric car that people want
to own because it is a great car. But at $92,000, one could reasonably
ask whether such a car does any good for the world. Do we really need
of another high-performance sports car? Will an expensive car make any
difference to global carbon emissions or to our oil dependence? The
answers, of course are no and not much. However, that misses the point.
Almost any new technology has high cost before it can be optimized, and
this is no less true for electric cars.
Full article: http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1245
[This Insider Commentary is delayed four weeks as part of your
free Basic subscription. Click here to learn about the advantages of becoming a
The EVs of AFVI
Electric Vehicles are definitely back. That's
obvious from the number of EVs on display at the 13th Alternative Fuels and
Vehicle Industry conference and exhibition. They aren't -- as yet -- from the
major OEMs who abortively shelved their own battery car programs in favor of
hybrids and fuel cells. Still, compared to the Palm Spring's event in 2005, the
Anaheim event showed a resurgence of electric cars including the following:
- Miles Automotive introduced the new, highway-capable Javlon, a Corolla-sized
all-electric sedan that it plans to offer in 18-months.
- Phoenix Motorcars Altairnano lithium-ion equipped sport utility truck, which
I finally got the opportunity to drive and can affirm that it is for real.
- Dynasty Electric Car Corp. IT neighborhood electric vehicle
- T3 Motion law enforcement scooter
- Global Electric Motors NEV
- ZAP Xebra and a new four-wheel flat-bed truck.
- ZENN NEV
I interviewed on video representatives from most of these companies, as well
as the CEOs of Connaught Motor Company and Naro Car, both out of Wales and each
planning to eventually offer hybrid and electric versions, respectively. Also
present was CalCars with a plug-in Prius.
Missing was AC Propulsion and Tesla with their electric cars, but I'd caught
up with ACP a month earlier. At some point, I'll have to visit Silicon Valley to
see the Tesla Roadster and Wrightspeed X1.
So, while AFVI still has a strong ethanol, diesel, natural gas and propane
focus aimed mainly at commercial and government fleets in keeping with its Clean
Cities origins; nonetheless, EVs made a favorable showing, especially those
hoping to line up orders from those same fleets.
OEM's Present and Unaccounted For
It's always an interesting
commentary on the shifting marketing strategies of the major OEM's to see who is
and isn't present at events like this. GM and Honda both had strong presences,
while Ford and Toyota had surprisingly small displays; a single Prius, in the
latter's case. As for GM, they occupied the largest and choicest spot on the
exhibit floor, which featured the Sequel fuel cell concept vehicle, along with
several E85-capable platforms. Honda's primary interest is showing off its
CNG-fueled Civic GX, a popular choice for fleets looking to meet their
alternative fuel obligations; Honda now being the only OEM to offer such a car.
DaimlerChrysler, also having largely abandoned propane and natural gas in
favor of diesels, which are not looked upon favorably in California, keeps its
hand in the game with a tactically-smart offering of GEM variants befitting its
share of the market. Even BMW had a chip in play in the form of its
hydrogen-fueled 7-series sedan.
Nissan Altima Hybrid and Beach Babes
Present, but not accounted for
at the conference was the Nissan Altima Hybrid that was parked in the Hilton's
parking garage, the keyless fob to which rested in my pocket. Nissan presently
has little interest in marketing its new hybrid to government fleets; in fact,
it's only interested in selling it to consumers on the east and west coasts of
America for the moment.
So, I was lucky enough to have the car for the time I was in Los Angeles and
came away with a very favorable impression, though I'd liked to have had it a
bit longer and figured out how to operate more of its information systems, as
you'll learn in Altima
Hybrid: Nissan's ICE-breaker.
It was while I was photographing the car on the water front in Manhattan
Beach that an interesting event occurred, not with the Hybrid but with a Ford
Here in the United States, Ford's Mercury division has been running a
television commercial featuring a very attractive mother and her three daughters
climbing out of their Mercury SUV, slipping on wet suits and preparing to surf a
pristine beach. It is pure California dreaming; beautiful women hallo'ed in the
golden light of the Pacific coast.
Except it's not a dream. Parked next to me while I was photographing the
Altima, was a Ford Excursion and climbing into it was a quintet of beautiful
young women -- mostly teenagers and all blonde -- that could have been the
models from that same Mercury commercial. They'd been surfing the waves off
Meanwhile back in Nebraska, a cold wave was killing the blossoms on my
Ford to the Rescue
When Fords aren't transporting California
lovelies; its CEO is pulling the U.S. president from the jaws of disaster.
The Detroit News reports that during a recent While House lawn
photo op featuring alternative fuel vehicles, including Ford's Edge plug-in
hydrogen hybrid, Alan Mulally broke protocol by taking George Bush by the arm,
preventing him from attempting to plug an extension cord into the hydrogen
refueling port at the back of the car, instead of the plug at the front of the
Mulally told journalists at the New York auto show that he intervened to
prevent President Bush from plugging an electrical cord into the hydrogen tank
of Ford's hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid at the White House last week. Ford
wanted to give the Commander-in-Chief an actual demonstration of the innovative
vehicle, so the automaker arranged for an electrical outlet to be installed on
the South Lawn and ran a charging cord to the hybrid. However, as Mulally
followed Bush out to the car, he noticed someone had left the cord lying at the
rear of the vehicle, near the fuel tank.
"I just thought, 'Oh my goodness!' So, I started walking faster, and the
President walked faster and he got to the cord before I did. I violated all the
protocols. I touched the President. I grabbed his arm and I moved him up to the
front," Mulally said. "I wanted the president to make sure he plugged into the
electricity, not into the hydrogen This is all off the record, right?"
Presumably Ford engineers had provided safeguards against just such a
contingency and nothing would have happened. Still, there's no point in taking
any chances, especially with this president.
The End of Easy Oil
Given Mister Bush's curious pre-occupation of
late with plug-in hybrids and alternative fuels like hydrogen and ethanol, one
wonders if he's been briefed in one of those secret PDBs (presidential daily
briefing) about the end of "easy oil" -- known in other quarters as "peak oil."
If he hasn't heard yet, I'd wager that any day now some CIA briefer is going to
tell him about the comments made by the heads of Total and Royal Dutch Shell as
reported by Bloomberg's news
The days of so-called "easy oil" are over, making it harder to meet demand
without complicated and expensive projects, the heads of two of Europe's largest
oil companies said today.
The International Energy Agency, an adviser to energy importing nations,
estimates oil supply will have to rise 39 percent to 116 million barrels of oil
a day by 2030 from about 86 million barrels a day now to meet world demand.
Meeting such targets with conventional oil sources will be "extremely
difficult," Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive officer of Total SA,
Europe's third-largest oil company and its largest refiner, said at a conference
in Paris today. New supply will be based on 'huge high-tech' projects.
Jeroen van der Veer, the chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc,
Europe's largest oil company... said at the same conference... "We can't expect
profits in easy oil."
What van der Veer is saying is that with so much of the planet's remaining
oil now in the hands of national oil companies, the once dominate "Seven
Sisters" are finding it increasingly difficult to get access to profitable oil
fields, forcing them to explore in more physically daunting regions, largely
offshore like the Jack #2 field in the Gulf of Mexico where the oil is located
in 7,000 feet of water and 28,000 feet of bedrock.
The end of 'easy oil' also means the end of cheap oil.
$4 Gasoline this Summer
There are reports now circulating -- the
most recent on CNN today -- that the price of a gallon of gasoline here in the
States will hit $4 a gallon this summer. Between at least two major refineries
being off-line for repairs and oil inventories dropping globally, according to
T. Boone Pickens, as well as continuing rising demand here and abroad, we're
likely to see $3 gasoline this Spring -- it's near that now in California. $4
gasoline would seem to me a clear signal that the planet is producing all it's
capable of producing.
The advice of the CNN consultant in the face of high prices again? "Maybe
it's time to consider buying a hybrid."
Did You Get A Tax Break?
A long-time EV World reader asked me last
week to investigate how many people who bought a hybrid this past year actually
qualified for the federal tax deduction. It turned out that because of the
federal minimum tax, he didn't qualify for the deduction, and he wondered how
many other buyers discovered they too missed the boat in what critics are calling a
federal 'bait and switch" scheme.
If you too have discovered you can't take the deduction, I hope you'll let me
know about it. Send me email explaining your circumstances at:
Mexico City EV International Forum
Finally, Mexico City is getting
serious about its air pollution problems, some of the most serious in the
Hemisphere. With the blessing of the city's mayor, a small group of
entrepreneurs have put together an ambitious plan to convert thousands of
vehicles around the city to electric drive, including 1,000 that will use Azure Dynamics drives.
The group has also put together an EV International
Forum to be held in Mexico City on May 8, 2007, which will feature EDTA's
Brian Wynne, ZENN's Ian Clifford, CommuterCars' Rick Woodbury, as well as EV
leaders Ron Freund and Ricardo Espinosa, to kick-off the program.
The group has also invited me to attend and I have accepted, so I am finally
going to make my first trip to the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. They
have promised to arrange some interesting story and interview opportunities for
EV World. Now if only I spoke Spanish beyond "cerveza".
Until next time, stay plugged into EVWorld...