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Electric transport

Sven Gustafson reports that Tesla’s long-range Model 3 gets 80.5 kWh battery, per EPA. A cell phone has a battery in the 2-4 Wh range so this is about the battery power of 20,000 cell phones. A typical standard car battery is good for about 1 kWh so the Tesla, the “long range” version has the equivalent of 80 standard car batteries.

Looking at Gasoline Gallon Equivalent (wikipedia) indicates that the Tesla battery is the equivalent to a 2.4 gallon gas tank (80.5/33.4). Conversion of energy to motion is important to consider here as gasoline engines are perhaps 30% efficient while electrical battery charging is in the 80% range. That reduces the battery to 65 kWh effective and the gasoline equivalent to that to 8 gallons for the same transport capability.

The “long range” for the Tesla is stated to be a bit over 300 miles. Typical gas sedans may get 30 miles per gallon so this represents about ten gallons of fuel for them. That fits pretty well with the theoretical energy capacity and efficiency numbers.

This is why electric vehicles have limited utility. A ten gallon gas tank that takes hours to refill means a vehicle with restricted transport options. For daily commute or occasional errands, this might work. In town commercial service might start to push capabilities. There is no reserve capability to support any long haul uses.

Then there’s the battery costs. This might be offset to some degree by maintenance cost differences. The battery has a lifespan of 5 to 10 years and will cost several thousand dollars to replace. That’s a nearly $1000 per year maintenance cost just for batteries. 

The biggest problem many have with cars and money is that they don’t properly amortize initial and expected expenses. Ongoing costs such as registration and insurance often get separated from transportation. Depreciation is often ignored until its pain is felt at sale or trade-in. Major maintenance items such as tires tend to be surprises. 

There are reasons for the market being what it is. You can fight them or use them to your advantage. Make your choice.