2017: The Year Electric Cars Go Mainstream

Until now, EVs were either limited in practicality or priced in luxury car territory. Both of those issues will go away this year. The Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 are the first all-electric vehicles for the masses.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

200+ Miles on a Charge

Most of the major auto players have put out compact EVs hovering around 100 miles per charge. The average daily commute is about 37.5 miles, so technically these EVs would work for a lot of people. However, longer trips could get complex,  and I imagine this fact puts off a lot of potential EV buyers.

EVRange.png

With the Model 3 and Bolt, drivers can expect 215 and 238 miles per charge, respectively. This means a day trip is now within reach. Tesla boasts a growing Supercharger network that enables cross-country trips. Chevrolet offers a charging station locator in several apps.

Competitively Priced

The total cost of ownership of these new cars is close to hybrids and not much more than internal combustion engine cars in the compact class. Because electricity is cheaper per mile than gas, the cars have a remarkably similar TCO after 3 years.

basemodelstco

premiummodelstco

basedmodelsfinanced

premiummodelsfinanced

These prices reflect the vehicle MSRP, options prices, delivery charges, cost of gasoline ($2.30 per gallon), cost of electricity ($0.12 per kWh), charging conversion efficiency (90%), tax credits ($7,500 for EVs and the Chevy Volt, $4,500 for the Prius Prime), and any incentive programs available around the time of writing. Insurance, maintenance, and taxes are not considered. My analysis is in this spreadsheet.

Side note: The Toyota Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid with 25 miles of all-electric range, has a lower TCO than the standard Prius. The non-Prime Prius does not have an EV-only mode. The reason for the lower price on the Prius Prime is a tax credit not available for the standard Prius. Of the cars compared, this is my top pick for those really needing the extra range of a hybrid.

More Where That Came From

Maybe you’re not in the market for a compact. While this top-selling segment is getting a lot of attention right now, we’re sure to see EVs with many more shapes and capabilities in the next few years.

wetport_1.png
Tesla Model 3

The Chevy Bolt is already out in limited quantities. I saw a handful on the road during a recent trip to California. The Tesla Model 3 is ramping up for production now, with deliveries slated for midyear.

Advertisements

Notes #12: Back to Earth

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Lands Successfully

This past weekend, an historic launch took place at Kennedy Space Center. The launchpad, last used by the shuttle program in 2011, is now open to commercial use. SpaceX’s rockets are innovative in a variety of ways, but a standout feature is the ability of the first stage to land and be reused.

This Self-Driving Car Drives Flawlessly in the Rain at Night

From drive.ai.

Bullet Points

Blog Update

My latest blog post is about lane detection in self-driving cars.

Notes #11: The Inevitable

Meet the Chicanos of Japan

How did a Los Angeles subculture make it all the way to Japan?

Watch a Chevy Bolt Drive Itself Through San Francisco

By Cruise Automation, GM’s self-driving car skunkworks.

Bullet Points

Notes #9: An All-Electric Future

  • Tesla’s Model 3 will be out this year. For $35,000 (before incentives) you’ll be able to buy a 215-mile electric car. But GM’s Chevy Bolt may be out even sooner, with a similar price and range. Get ready for a hockey stick pattern in EV adoption.
  • Speaking of Tesla, the company just brought online the largest battery storage substation in the world. 80 MWh can power 2,500 homes for a day. The system is charged during off-peak hours and delivers power during peaks.
  • Face recognition is now in use at turnstiles at Baidu’s HQ in lieu of ID cards:

Notes #5: Accident Avoided

Cuba’s Internet is More Powerful Than You’d Think

Officially, the internet in Cuba is useless. But a team of data traffickers use USB sticks and hard drives to transport music, movies, and software between Miami and Havana. They get access to content just a few days after it is released in the US. It’s all quite an impressive workaround.

Tesla Autopilot Predicts Crash Seconds Before It Happens

If you’re not convinced of a driverless future yet, watch this Tesla avoid a multicar collision in the Netherlands.

Redesigning the Traffic Light

Speaking of safer traffic, what if traffic lights in the US included countdown timers? These are already present in some other places in the world.

Voice Recognition in an Elevator in Scotland

Voice recognition is improving by leaps and bounds, but maybe an elevator in Scotland isn’t the best place for it yet.

Casio DG-20: It Came From the Future

My friend Max Goldberg (of Five Five Collective) made this stunning video about a synth-guitar from the 80s.

Echo Dot was Amazon’s 2016 Best-Seller

Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home
Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home

The Echo and Echo Dot were the best-selling products on Amazon this year, and the Dot was the top-selling item during the holiday season. The demand was so high that the company had trouble keeping stock. With millions of Alexa-powered devices now in people’s homes, it’s inevitable that this technology will shape our lives in a big way very soon.

83% of US Primary Household Shoppers Used Amazon This Year

A WSJ article pointed out that 17% of US primary households never shop on Amazon, but I think the big news is that 83% did use the site this year.

Notes #2: We are in the Future

Legal Shoplifting

Amazon’s newest AI offering is a grocery store with no lines. Just grab and go, and you’ll be charged automatically. The question becomes: just how smart does one need to be to shoplift in the future?

The Ta’u of Solar

Tesla and SolarCity have installed a solar microgrid on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa. Solar arrays and battery storage replace not-so-green diesel generators to supply nearly 100% of the island’s electricity. It would have been nice if they didn’t clear-cut the area, but still, this is undoubtedly a net positive.

Google Speaks Your Language

Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home
Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home

Now developers can write their own apps for Google Assistant. It’s currently limited to just a few devices like Google Home, but this will no doubt expand. It looks like the voice intents are more free-form than Alexa, although I haven’t dug into the API yet.

In the Spirit

One of my favorite light shows is Mike Ziemkowski’s Lights on Display. This year is no exception.