Electric Cars and Tesla Motors


Tesla Motors is an American company founded in 2003. It sells, designs and manufactures electric cars and electric vehicle powertrain components. Based on an opinion of Encyclopedia Britannica the name comes from one of the most interesting and fascinating people in history of mankind – Nikola Tesla. In his life he registered more than 300 patents and it is behind today’s unimaginable alternating current on which most of devices are working today and light up the earth globe.

The main markets of EV (Electronic vehicle) are European Union, United States, China and Japan but in foreseeable future they have all the necessary resources to expand to other markets. The main markets correspond to the fact that around 10% of the global population account for 80% of total motorized passenger-kilometers with much of the world’s population hardly traveling at all. EV technology can help reducing environment burden of transport sector, which is responsible for one quarter of total global energy-related CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. Road vehicles are contributing the most to transport CO2 emissions and represent 75% of those emissions. Greater demands in future for transport and mobility will cause even bigger emissions. Taking the advice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change we should reduce CO2 emissions by half, by the year of 2050. Only with the reduction we will avoid some of the worst impacts of Climate change. Reduction in transport sector can therefore play an important role.

History of electric car goes back to 1880s. This decade was marked by electric cars interest because of energy crisis, but they did not become alternative to classic cars until 2000 with the use of Lion battery and higher oil prices. During the history electric power remained commonplace for trains and smaller vehicles of different types. Today they are more expensive in comparison with classic cars, but that can be changed by mass production. To get the basic idea, first EV of the company Tesla’s Roadster basic price is US$109,000. With American company Tesla and other companies that introduced EVs to wider public in 21st century a breakthrough happened. Advantage of EVs over conventional combustion vehicles lies in lower energy consumption, cheaper fuel (energy), no direct emissions, low noise level, no need for oil, cheaper motors production costs and its torque. They can get power from several energy sources that are not yet in use in road transport – renewable energies, such as hydro power, wind and photovoltaic.

Currently EVs represent only a small fraction of car sales. In 2015 (in first two months) 24.455 of EV cars were sold worldwide. On a second place, with 2.250 sold vehicles, was Tesla’s Model S. Previous year there were 320.713 EV sold and from those 17.300 were Tesla’s Model S. In 2014 Tesla was on the third place with number of cars sold. First two were taken by Nisan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. EVs are sold in greater numbers in United States, Japan, China, Netherlands, France, Norway, Germany, UK, Canada and Sweden.

The company has so far sold more than 50.000 of its first two models. The first was Tesla Roadster in year 2008, after which came Model S and this year a new model will be introduced, named Model X. They have similar range, varying from 245 to 265 miles per charge. Which is improvement from EV1 GM (General Motors) made from 1996 to 1999, which demise can be seen in documentary movie “Who killed electric car?”, that had range from 60 to 90 miles.The producers are downsizing problems of electric cars such as range, performance, recharging time and styling.

There are 396 supercharger stations with 2167 superchargers of Tesla’s in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. On those stations you can charge EV in a half of an hour and reach a range of up to 270 km for free. Tesla Supercharger network is the world’s largest and fastest-growing fast-charging network. In 2014, the number of Superchargers increased fivefold. There is also possibility of swapping the battery of an EV, which takes less time than it takes to fill a gas tank.

The general perception is, that EVs are energy efficient, make little noise and locally emission free, but what we need to take into account is electricity split used for charging, types of materials that are used for production of vehicle, since resource extraction and processing has an impact on the environment. There are always two sides of the story and according to Ecologic Institute and its report from 2011, EVs technology is far from being proven, because of battery technology and its energy capacity in relation to vehicle range, charging speed, durability, availability and environment impacts of materials and well-to-wheel impacts on emissions. We need to look also into Interaction with the electricity generation and costs and last but not least business case of large scale introduction. The future uptake of EVs will tend to be heavily supported by government and industry programs and with cooperation with private sector and public-private partnerships. It looks like a long way, contaminated with carbon dioxide, is yet to be walked.

Teja Palko
Teja Palko
Teja Palko is a Slovenian writer. She finished studies on Master’s Degree programme in Defense Science at the Faculty of Social Science at University in Ljubljana.


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