Tag Archives: Tesla

May 11, 2017 Tesla Hits Roof

On May 11 2017, Tesla announced a new solar roof tile system costing about $46,000. The tiles look like normal roofing tiles and help charge a battery similar to the one for Tesla cars. Despite the cost, this system has its advantages. First, it is better for the environment. Second, if the power goes out in an emergency, you will still have electricity. The disadvantages might be if the tiles are damaged in a hail or windstorm, or if a tree falls down on it.

Copyright 2017 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Feb. 22, 2015 Blumbers

Apple iCar

There are rumors that Apple, Amazon and Tesla are developing robocars. Frankly, this cannot happen soon enough. Traffic in Silicon Valley is so bad that drivers cannot text or talk on the phone. They should not even listen to the radio. Just keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.

Here is a top ten list if Apple starts selling cars:

1. The stores are going to have to be bigger.

2. The car will require a special set of wrenches to open it.

3. There will be only one USB port to charge it.

4. You will have to buy a black vinyl cover for it to keep clean like Porsche’s from the 1990s.

5. If you are in an accident, you will have to exchange IP Addresses and call Apple Care.

6. The most expensive model will be gold plated. The cheapest model will be available in a range of colors.

7. It will be so thin most people will not be able to fit inside.

8. If the car is stolen Siri will lock the doors and drive to the nearest police station.

9. If you fall behind in your car payments, Siri will lock the doors and drive to the nearest police station.

10. Critics will still say Steve Jobs would have made a better one.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Jan. 12, 2015 Wall Street Journal

On Jan. 12, 2015 the Wall Street Journal’s Mike Ramsey wrote “Electric-Car Pioneer Musk Charges Head-On at Detroit” about the way Tesla founder Elon Musk’s runs his car company. “During the launch of Model S production in 2012, Mr. Musk set up an office in the middle of the factory floor in Fremont Calif., and took over when hiccups emerged. He told workers to buy USB cables at nearby Fry’s Electronics Inc. stores after a snarl delayed a shipment from China.”

Gotta love the way Musk solves a problem. I wonder what kind of commission the salesperson at Fry’s got?

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Oct. 16, 2012 SVForum Cleantech Mash-Up

On October 16, 2012 in San Jose at PwC, SVForum held “The Cleantech Mash-Up: How Convergence & Innovation is Creating New Business Opportunities.” Rob Shelton of PwC moderated panelists Diarmuid O’Connell of Tesla Motors, Rachel Sheinbein of CMEA Capital and Clint Wilder of CleanEdge. Wilder is co-author of “Clean Tech Nation: How the U.S. Can Lead The New Global Economy” with Ron Pernick.

Clean tech disrupts existing economic, social and political structures. Our identity may be determined by our access to information as well as energy. It is as much about online speed as physical distance. There may be a convergence coming. Imagine using your iPhone to order a Tesla electric vehicle on Zipcar that drives itself to your house and takes you to work while you catch up on your messages. We are closer than you think. See picture below.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Mar. 22, 2011 SDF Electric Cars

On March 22, 2011 in San Francisco at Nixon Peabody, SDForum held a Clean Tech Breakfast on “Electric Vehicles – What’s Under the Hood?” Robert Ebe of Nixon Peabody moderated panelists Matt Boyle of Sevcon, Rob Ferber of ElectronVault, Gerd Goette of Siemens, Mark Platshon of VantagePoint and Ryan Popple of Kleiner Perkins (KPCB).

Under the hood, electric vehicles can be simpler than internal combustion engines. Their basic components are motors,  controllers (inverters), gauges, steering, DC converters, batteries, chargers, and accelerators.

The principles and design of the electric motor were worked out over a hundred and fifty years ago. They are ninety percent efficient and well understood. Batteries, on the other hand, tend to lose their energy density over time. Their efficiencies continue to improve with better materials and software but only with high oil prices are they competitive. Plan for evolution rather than revolution. If you can design your vehicle to be agnostic about what kind of battery it uses, it can extend its lifetime flexibility.

As fuel prices rise in America, electric cars like the Tesla, Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf are becoming available. But the most popular electric vehicle in China is not a car but a scooter. People in developing countries do not have to worry as much about older, existing, competing, subsidized legacy infrastructure. The new large cities cannot support the old ways. People just start buying small electric vehicles and are gradually creating a transportation infrastructure around it. Regardless of what other resources a country may have, any country that can generate electricity can build and drive a fleet of electric vehicles. Opportunities for investment and jobs are not only in the building of batteries but recycling them. Technology developed in the West will be scaled for manufacturing in the East and will create a global infrastructure of mass marketed vehicles.

In the West, the question is whether they will be adopted first by consumers or as fleet vehicles. Some believe that government incentives will drive purchasing decisions. Investors should not depend on constantly changing government policies. Your business model should be based on real market costs and demand.

New technology creates new headaches. One concern is about safety for first responders to an accident. How do you extract a person from a vehicle with a damaged and possibly ungrounded power supply? Another caveat is compressed natural gas (CNG). If it becomes cheaper than oil, it may be adapted for large trucks. The details will have to be worked out.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Jun. 29, 2010 SDF Batteries

On June 29, 2010 in Palo Alto at SAP, SDForum presented a Clean Tech Breakfast titled “Next Generation Batteries: Challenges and Opportunities in Energy Storage.” Jeffrey Selman of Nixon Peabody moderated panelists Dania Ghantous of Qnovo, Ashok Lahiri of Enovix, Mark Platshon of VantagePoint and Camille Ricketts of VentureBeat.

To give you an idea how much things are changing, Tesla has gone public on the NASDAQ. Storing alternative energy and  the growth of mobile technology is driving the need for more efficient and environmentally sustainable batteries. The demand of batteries for cell phones, laptops and cameras will only skyrocket when we need thousands of batteries for electric cars. We need more students majoring in math, science and particularly chemistry. Buy your child a chemistry set and walk them through a periodic table. In the mean time there will be a scramble for the raw materials for lithium ion batteries and in countries like Afghanistan and Bolivia just as there is for oil in the Middle East. There is strong interest in the outcome of battery technology. In the audience I saw people from Lawrence Livermore, Sony, Wells Fargo and one mysterious gentleman in the corner who did not want to be identified.

I mention him because over the weekend I saw a movie starring Tom Cruise called Knight and Day. A crazy secret agent finds and protects a genius who develops a super battery. I never thought batteries would be a major plot point in a Hollywood movie, but I think it will be key to our economy in the future.

Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Apr. 7, 2010 Stanford Electric Cars

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On April 7, 2010 in Palo Alto, Stanford University hosted the Electric and Fuel Cell Vehicle Showcase in Parking
Structure 2 (across from Y2E2). Major car companies like Daimler, Honda,  Toyota, VW were there as well as Pi Mobility, Tesla, and the AC Propulsion eBox from PG&E’s fleet. The Stanford Solar Car project team showed off the Apogee vehicle that raced in Australia. Electric vehicle expert Steve Schneider was on hand to answer questions.

Stanford Apogee

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eBox

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Honda

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Mercedes

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Pi Mobility

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Tesla

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Toyota

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VW

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Experimental

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Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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July 21, 2009 SDF PWC

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On July 21, 2009 at Pillsbury Winthrop in Palo Alto, SDForum held the Quarterly Venture Breakfast Series in collaboration with PWC. Allison Leopold Tilley of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Steve Bengston of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Matt Garratt of Battery Ventures, Mamoon Hamid of USVP, Dan Rubin of Alloy Ventures, Robert Walker of Sierra Ventures and Don Wood of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. They discussed trends in venture investments and how the economic landscape will change over the coming years.

The current investment picture is still flat or falling. Green or clean tech dropped from second to fourth place compared to other investment sectors. The problem is that clean tech is very much a physical infrastructure play, requiring more than what many venture capitalists are willing to invest. Startups are applying for government stimulus funds and some like electric vehicle maker Tesla are getting it, but it is a longer and more complicated process than VCs. While stimulus spending is growing, it is too early to see the impact in clean tech.

Private and government goals sometime are at odds for with each other. Public funds mean public interest. Governments like to incubate companies that create jobs. VCs like companies that create the value and not headcount.

Inside clean tech, the technologies to watch are smart grid and direct current inside the home. Almost every aspect of the smart grid needs to be developed. Historically utilities existed to provide power and encourage consumption. Entrepreneurs should not wait for utilities to change their spots but to push forward on opportunities that do not depend on them.Using an electric car as fuel cell for your home is one idea.

If few appliances require alternating current (AC) inside the home then perhaps a direct current (DC) grid to run them. It might use solid state or LED lighting, dramatically lowering costs. Your clothes dryer might need AC but your laptop computer probably does not.

All the VCs encouraged entrepreneurs to work on their pitches and why their ideas are unique and profitable. They want companies that will dominate their particular sector rather than fight for a percentage of a commodity industry. Be the biggest frog in your pond not the smallest shark  in the ocean.

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Copyright 2009 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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