dmcmahon wrote:You see them everywhere here in Silicon Valley. Someone told me it's the #1 seller in Atherton (a well-heeled mid-peninsula suburb). No question the cars are sexy as hell, and incredible to drive (so I'm told) with amazing acceleration.
5. Cost - for a lot less you can have the electric RAV-4 from Toyota. Toyota, BMW, and other manufacturers trying to get in on the EV action are buying power train components (batteries, motors, heck the whole shebang possibly) from Tesla. (BTW that's a nice side business that will hopefully help Elon keep the lights on at Tesla!)
You have answered your own point there. We don't buy cars for practicality, we buy them because we like the image it projects about us to ourselves and to others, plus hard to measure things like handling, drive, style... Tesla is an aspirational good in a way a Plug In Prius or a Nissan Leaf is not (they meet other aspirations).
If we didn't buy cars on aspirations then BMW would not be the world's most profitable car company (per $ of sales).
6. Environment - yes EVs save a lot of gas and (depending on your electric grid) a lot of emissions, but...not everyone can have one. Aside from the cost and longevity issues, there's all the metals (especially lithium for the batteries, maybe some rare earths in the motors depending on whose EV you buy). An analysis I read some years ago concluded that if you accept that the amount of these metals available per year is limited, and you could choose between building X pure EVs or Y conventional hybrids, that Y was >> X and therefore a lot more emissions would be saved overall by producing hybrids.
1. beware old analyses in this space, all the numbers change so fast
2. most analyses have an axe to grind, one way or another. True 'wheel to well' analysis is difficult (AEA Ricardo did some good ones for the UK CCC, but even they hit some limits on knowledge) and I've done this for other types of products and it is HARD. Too many unknowns and assumptions.
The world may have a shortage of lithium capacity but that's an issue about negotiating with Bolivia re access (they want battery factories, not just the rape and pillage mining of Bolivian history). It's not about lithium being an inherently scarce metal.
On the 'rare earths' they are not all rare. It's just when the prices collapsed in the 1990s the rest of the world shut down, and the Chinese kept investing.
So again, worries about shortages of rare earths are generally overblown and assume away technological change (we will find substitutes and we will get more efficient, as we have done with every other raw material since industrial civilization began).
The counterfactual is weak. It's not as if the choice is 1 Tesla or 3 Priuses. The choice is 1 Tesla or some totally different use for the material, which might include the Toyota Prius but also might include mobile phones etc.
If you want to worry about a raw material shortage, seriously, worry about a helium shortage. it's a critical component of many scientific and medical instruments, and supply (from US natural gas deposits) has been declining. And we use it to fill up balloons at parties! There's also a critical supply issue in the radioactive material (Polonium?) that NASA uses to power deep space probes.
No helium in a Tesla AFAIK. And no polonium