Shared Robot Cars to Kill Keystone XL and Big Oil… But What About Rural Rides?

Even if TransCanada does build Keystone XL, Colorado tech consultant Seth Miller predicts it will run dry by 2025, thanks to the adoption of self-driving electric cars.

(Ah, maybe that’s why Republican Senator John Thune wants more government regulation of autonomous vehicles.)

Miller says oil won’t disappear—we’ll still need asphalt, heating oil, and plastics—but drilling and refining built on automotive consumption will collapse as the internal combustion engine follows film cameras, Nokia phones, and coal-burning power plants toward marginality or extinction.

Miller bases this prediction first on the superior simplicity of the electric vehicle drivetrain:

Cars are complicated.

Behind the hum of a running engine lies a carefully balanced dance between sheathed steel pistons, intermeshed gears, and spinning rods — a choreography that lasts for millions of revolutions. But millions is not enough, and as we all have experienced, these parts eventually wear, and fail. Oil caps leak. Belts fray. Transmissions seize.

To get a sense of what problems may occur, here is a list of the most common vehicle repairs from 2015:

  1. Replacing an oxygen sensor — $249
  2. Replacing a catalytic converter — $1,153
  3. Replacing ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) — $390
  4. Tightening or replacing a fuel cap — $15
  5. Thermostat replacement — $210
  6. Replacing ignition coil(s) — $236
  7. Mass air flow sensor replacement — $382
  8. Replacing spark plug wire(s) and spark plug(s) — $331
  9. Replacing evaporative emissions (EVAP) purge control valve — $168
  10. Replacing evaporative emissions (EVAP) purging solenoid — $184

And this list raises an interesting observation: None of these failures exist in an electric vehicle.

The point has been most often driven home by Tony Seba, a Stanford professor and guru of “disruption”, who revels in pointing out that an internal combustion engine drivetrain contains about 2,000 parts, while an electric vehicle drivetrain contains about 20. All other things being equal, a system with fewer moving parts will be more reliable than a system with more moving parts [Seth Miller, “This Is How Big Oil Will Die,” NewCo Shift, 2017.05.25].

That durability boosts the business case for fleets of autonomous taxis replacing individually owned vehicles, at which point it becomes cheaper for darn near everyone to take a taxi than maintain a personal vehicle.

Darn near everyone. Miller lives in Longmont, Colorado, a town of more than 90,000 on the north side of the Denver metroplex. Miller’s essay does not mention rural drivers. Electric cars offer the same mechanical and cost advantages in Aberdeen and Ipswich as they do in Albuquerque and Indianapolis. Self-driving cars could be just as appealing to rural long-distance drivers as to in-town errand-runners and could entice more current urbanites to move to rural areas and commute to work. But fully autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing may not work to the same extent here on the open prairie:

Of course, there are limitations. Low population densities and long median travel distances mean ridesharing and carsharing are unlikely to ever take hold as they have in urban areas, meaning personal vehicle ownership (and lower asset utilization) are likely to persist. And the vision of some pioneering companies of a vehicle that can only operate in fully autonomous mode—with no steering wheel or pedals, for instance—could meet resistance from country dwellers who often use their vehicles as a tool as much as a conveyance. For those who, say, use their pickup truck to haul firewood from one part of a property to another, as I have in recent months, the ability to revert to human-controlled operation is likely to be essential [Derek Pankratz, “Rethinking Self-Driving Cars in Rural Areas,” Deloitte: Innovation in Manufacturing, 2017.05.23].

But don’t forget: a lot of rural folks are also older folks, and Liberty Mobility Now is testing out its ability to serve that market in Yankton, as it is in Nebraska, Ohio, and elsewhere away from the bright city lights.

My Volkswagen Beetle has a good ten years left on it. I’ll be curious to see if I need to buy a replacement for it in 2027, or if I’ll find it cheaper to catch a robot lift to Sioux Falls or Rapid City.

52 Responses to Shared Robot Cars to Kill Keystone XL and Big Oil… But What About Rural Rides?

  1. Great post Cory. Part of the reason the electric car has taken so long to really hit the market is due to what you hint at… the simplicity. GM makes a lot of money selling cars, but they also make a lot of money fixing cars. You take away the need to perform all of that routine maintenance and you remove a lot of potential profit.

    It isn’t a coincidence that a company like Tesla (an outsider to the automotive world) was the company who really make the world stand up and take notice of electric vehicles. Now the bigger companies like GM and Toyota are trying to play catch up not because they want to… but because the consumer demand tells them they have to.

    The fact is, electric powerplants are just simple. No oil changes, no transmission fluid changes (or transmissions for that matter). No exhaust systems, no air intake systems, no radiators, no emissions control equipment, no power steering pumps (they use electric power steering), and even the brakes last longer due to regenerative braking. Granted electric cars do have some high-tech electronics to maintain, but those are simple in comparison and many of the routine diagnostics and fixes can be done over wifi as the car is parked in the driveway.

    No doubt that electric cars are the future. No doubt that the fossil fuel companies are upset about it. No doubt that there will be a day in the not-so-distant future where the majority of cars on the road will be electric and we will one day look back upon the landscape and find a whole lot of gas stations have been repurposed for other uses.

    It won’t happen tomorrow or next year, but 20 years from now I’d bet you’ll find electric cars make up the vast majority of sales and gasoline cars will be a small fraction. In fact, the UK just announced their banning all sales of new gasoline or diesel vehicles after the year 2040 – so you know it is coming.

  2. Tesla has three charging stations in South Dakota right now. Murdo, Rapid City and Mitchell all are on line and ready to charge. Does not take much to put one of these in so you could have one just about anyplace you now have a petrol station. Put your own solar or wind charger in and you could put one in Hooker, South Dakota (snickers to himself) in Turner County. The gas lines won’t freeze either nor will they jell up.

  3. mike from iowa

    Was an article just this morning claiming the state of Nebraska was the last hurdle to clear before KXL could be built. The article claimed the ither 2 states had approved it-meaning Kansas and South Dakota. Where and when did KXL re-apply for necessary permits from SD’s PUC? And why wasn’t the public informed?

  4. Robert McTaggart

    If everybody switches to electric vehicles, then there needs to be enough power to recharge all of those vehicles, and you have to supply enough batteries for those vehicles, and you have to consider the sustainability issues of said battery technology….at a lower price.

    Liquid fuels are also a means of energy storage, so a green gasoline made from algae or something could still play a role if the production issues can be overcome.

  5. When everyone switches to electric vehicles, there will be a huge welcome employment change in our world. Imagine having an electric vehicle as a legacy to keep driving throughout your lifetime and then transferring it to your children.

  6. Douglas Wiken

    Wind and solar can probably keep an electric car charged for most of the driving people do. I hope people with brains like Dr. M. will put their talents to work on wind and solar and energy storage rather than pushing uranium-based nuclear power. Tesla, Monk, is building a huge battery energy storage system in Australia.

    The new $45,000 Tesla is claimed to have a 350 mile range. Couple electric vehicles with high-speed light rail powered by wind and solar energy and huge improvements in insulation and siting orientation of new housing and a major dent can be taken out of the global warming threat. Such an energy shift would also generate a tremendous increase in employment.

  7. Porter Lansing

    Excellent post, Mr. Wiken. Currently the Trump Administration is green lighting oil and coal exploration and mining within National Parks across the west. Even if there’s no feasible market for the coal, once the earth has been opened up it can never be healed. These lands were set aside by USA and now they’re going to be changed forever just to satisfy a campaign promise. SAD!!

  8. Watch the Repub Luddites install the corporate protection measures to discourage electric car and self-driving vehicles. Their ‘circle-the-wagons’ rearward looking is restricting larger scale adoption of solar, wind, and geothermal energy — dancing to the piping of the corporate utilities. Similarly, the US has some of the slowest wireless speeds and worst service among the first world nations — because the Repub Luddites continue throwing regulatory road blocks in the path of adapting future technologies.

  9. Recall also that GM, yes that GM, had the world lead in electric vehicles in the 1990s. But would only lease the EV1 to customers. Then in 2003 GM recalled the beloved EV1s – because of the economic threat to the standing industrial-petroleum-automotive complex. GM crushed all EV1s sending them to the dump. That hubris and rearward looking convinced Musk to get into electric cars. One rarely receives revolutionary change from corporations comfortably entrenched in the status quo – and their Repub Luddites will fight long and hard for the status quo.

  10. (Mike, the South Dakota PUC renewed Keystone XL’s permit in January 2016.)

  11. No oil, no tranny fluid—are there still points to grease?

    GM crushing its EV1s—I remember that now!

  12. Repub Luddites—ha! Trump will probably mandate that we bring back steamers and burn coal on the road.

  13. Ah, Robert mentions the electricity demand. A 2014 Slate article estimated switching all automotive activity from gasoline to electricity would require 29% more electrical power production and reduce CO2 emissions net 6.4%. Another expert in the same article pegged the electrical demand increase at 19%.

  14. Mr. H, do not mock the Luddites, for they are closer to assuming control than you may realize. There are two groups of Luddites: the insaner overgodder ones and the ones who are Conservatives with Common Sense. Beware, all.

  15. I refute Mr. Wiken’s claims about huge increases in employment. He states no facts. It is as if somebody said “grudznick said ‘If Mr. Wiken’s claims were to come true the arctic ice shelves would collapse!’ ” and then it all happened.

    Stop being such fake news people, people. grudznick will hold you accountable if Mr. H does not ( become a real journalist )

  16. That’s not refutation, Grudz; that’s just your usual teasing resistance to fact. I substantiate Mr. Wiken’s claims thus:

    The recently published Department of Energy 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report shows that clean electricity jobs are no doubt the engine that drives America’s electric energy economy, outstripping the number of paychecks provided by the fossil fuel industry by at least five to one. While that doesn’t mean fossil fuel generation is gone, it certainly means that if you are a politician looking for ways to grow jobs for the long term in your community, clean energy is the path to take [Lara Ettenson, “US Clean Energy Jobs Surpass Fossil Fuel Jobs By 5 To 1,” CleanTechnica, 2017.02.01].

    Trumpist Luddism will make us the leading third-world country of the 21st Century.

  17. barry freed

    Storage is the elusive goal. Prius batteries have a real world life of about 150K and cost $2,500 plus labor. I have an early 90’s GE catalog that lists a controller (throttle reostat) for $2K. Electric cars wear out and break down like every other car and their parts are just as expensive, or more, if there aren’t any aftermarket manufacturers.

    The first cars built were electric.
    Henry’s first Model Tee ran on alcohol. Some say Prohibition was to redirect automobile fuel to gasoline.
    Steam is viable. Technology has made them warm up in seconds and safe to operate. Using fryer oil, they are very efficient and clean. I wrote a letter to Jay Leno, a steamer fan, asking that he have his crew build a Steamer that would be a bolt in replacement for small block Chevy motors. Home made alcohol made from sugar beets powering South Dakota farm trucks.

    The future is Pneumatic. No toxic battery manufacturing or disposal, no fossil fuel pollution.
    Compressed air is easily made and safe in storage. Carbon Fiber and steel tanks do not explode when ruptured.

  18. Thank you Jerry for the article.

    I can buy the reduced CO2 emissions from driving, but what is the tradeoff in rare earth mineral extraction vs oil/natural gas extraction (battery materials vs go-juice)?

    A car that goes 350 miles on a single charge is great for the daily commute. But the 348 miles from my house to Rapid City means it sucks for the family vacation. We’d have to pull over in Wall Drug and charge for what – 30 minutes minimum? Not to mention when we actually try to go out to the boonies.

    I think electric vehicles are great. It’d be awesome to be able to afford multiple vehicles; one to fit daily commuter needs & one for the stuff that electrics just can’t do well. But I doubt I’ll be able to afford both a Tesla & a pickup for hunting, boating, camping, etc. So I’ll stick with the truck.

    Especially since I need time behind the wheel to be good at driving; the less you do it, the worse you are. Therefore, for the few times a year you actually need to take the wheel from a self-driving car, you’re really going to suck at it.

    Don’t believe me?

    When was the last time you used trigonometry? The last time I used it was in calculating angles to cut for rafters on a shed. Three grown adults – one engineer – all struggled with Trig to figure out what our angled cuts needed to be. Long gone are my rote memories of Sine, Cosine, and Tangent.

  19. Robert McTaggart

    Silly me….wanting to generate the amount of energy we need while actually reducing carbon and other wastes.

    250 million vehicles * 15,000 miles/vehicle * 1 gallon of gas equiv. / 100 miles * 33 kWh / gallon of gas = 1.2375 X 10^12 kWh.

    I assume that each electric vehicle gets the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon, and that one gallon of gas contains the same energy as 33 kWh of electricity.

    Let’s also assume that the efficiency of your power generation/transmission is 50%. Then you have to double this to 2.475 X 10^12 kWh (2.475 trillion kWh) of new energy on top of what we generate today.

    The EIA reports that in 2016, we generated a total of 4.08 trillion kWh of electricity.

    So that says we really need more than 60% of our total today for new electricity generation. If they mean actual electricity delivered to the consumer, then the number is closer to 30% (i.e. the 29% Cory mentions earlier). That is a really good question…do they account for losses due to efficiency and transmission? You can’t really ignore those.

    15% of the 4.08 trillion kWh comes from renewable sources today (the most from hydropower). So that would have to increase by 400% to cover the energy needed for electric vehicles alone. Wind and solar together are about 7%, so we would need to increase wind and solar alone by around 800% to account for the difference (The 400 and 800% assume 50% loss due to inefficiency and transmission losses).

  20. Douglas Wiken

    Grudzmick suffers from reading comprehension problems. I did not say huge energy savings would result, I wrote huge increases in home insulation would be part of reducing inergy consumption. In any case Cory presented data supporting the importance of energy conservation technology to economy and jobs. We have seen nothing from Grudznick proving anything except his inability to comprehend simple English.

  21. Douglas Wiken

    Dr. M. tosses out some good data that may also be totally irrelevant. The Danes have used electric car batteries to store excess power generated at night by wind and solar. The rural electrics of SD are urging people to set water heaters to heat at night essentially storing that energy as heat. Even LED lighting can make a significant reduction in energy consumption. Better home insulation and siting are gifts that keep on giving and reduce energy consumption summer and winter.

  22. Wayne B. true that you would have to stop for 30 minutes on a 350 mile drive. I would suggest that should be the norm for anyone who drives that long of a distance in any vehicle. To sit on ones arse for so long does your circulation system no good. Stop and stretch, have a nice cool drink of water take that pee you have been holding since Presho and then move on to enjoy the scenery of Spearfish Canyon before Daugaard sells it to his kinfolk or some other deal he is working on.

    Something else as well, if your daily commute is that kind of a drive, it might be something to think about to move a little closer to your worksite. Speaking of pickups, we have that taken care of for you as well you lucky duck Yep, you can take this rascal into the boonies to catch you some bass or perch from a remote stock dam, hunt in Mellette/Jones County, drive into Murdo to charge up at Rangeland and then head on home with your fantastic Mule deer chillin like a villain in your cooler in the back powered by your electric vehicle. Good on you to use electric to hunt, fish, sight see, and take that long commute.

  23. Robert McTaggart

    50% efficiency may be too high of an estimate, as it does not account for the brand new energy required to mine the minerals or manufacture the batteries that we are not doing today. You also lose energy in the storing of energy in a battery and in its future use from the battery. At home that just means you will need a bigger solar panel.

    Home insulation reduces electricity use in the summer due to AC, but would reduce natural gas for home heating over the winter. The latter doesn’t put more electricity into electric cars from renewables, but it would help us reduce carbon emissions.

    If we have replaced all the old light bulbs with LEDs already, then additional LEDs above what we use today will mean more electricity consumption (just at a lower rate than without LEDs).

    We really need additional efficiencies beyond what we are already doing. Both in the generation of electricity and in the reduction of losses. But at some point you simply have to make more energy. Avoiding nuclear altogether means we burn more natural gas to power our electric cars.

    There is also the possibility that we really do hybrids that can run on pure electricity and/or a greener fuel than gasoline when necessary (hydrogen, biofuel, etc.).

  24. Pneumatic?! Barry, do you have any info on the energy it takes to pump up an air tank (and how far we could go on such a tank) the energy Teslas over the same stretch?

    If all we need for our transportation needs is air, then we bloggers really can save America.

  25. If we could just make an electric truck powered by fish, deer guts, and camp trash, Wayne would be set. Mr. Fusion, where are you?

  26. Thanks for the link, Jerry. The Workhorse W-15 is novel, but looks impractical for us sportsmen. 80 mile range (cut that by 40% in the winter), then reliant on a gas motor (so now you’ve got all those maintenance issues brought back into the consideration) to keep you going.

    I think it’s a great option for fleet vehicles if it’s truly cheaper to maintain.

    I checked out Tesla; turns out it’ll take about 1.25 hours to charge a battery on one of their turbo chargers after going 300 miles. After my father’s DVT, I’m religious about getting out of the car every hour to hour and a half… but if I add in those stops, even if there were a charger at every point, we’re talking a significantly longer time spent refueling.

    I can get to Rapid and back on a single tank of gas in my F150 (driving 65mph, mind you.. not 80!). Fill up in Rapid, go do all the tourist trap stuff, get off the grid, and go home.

    I put about 40 miles on my truck a day. I would LOVE to pay less than a cent per mile :) I love the idea of a vehicle that could last 50,000 hours. 95% of the time, a Tesla or something like that would do just fine for the daily commute.

    Could I live closer to work? Yup. But I live out of the city for my mental health. The extra $800 a year in fuel costs are worth the quiet, the turkeys in the front yard, the deer across the channel, and the geese flying so low I could bean them with a bat.

    Since it’s tough enough owning just one vehicle, that vehicle is more than I need 95% of the time, but exactly what I need to do the things I love doing.

    But it’s got to be able to do what I need it to do to fit my lifestyle.

    I think we’ll get there in my lifetime. I just hope it doesn’t come at the cost of Tesla charging stations at campgrounds. Primitive is primitive, dangit.

  27. Douglas Wiken

    “Home insulation reduces electricity use in the summer due to AC, but would reduce natural gas for home heating over the winter. The latter doesn’t put more electricity into electric cars from renewables, but it would help us reduce carbon emissions. ”
    Electric heat costs less than heating with oil or perhaps propane unless price of those fuels drop precipitously and electric rates explode. Ground source heat pumps work well in summer and winter and are more efficient in all seasons. They also already use electricity.

    Dr. M. Pushes nuclear as if no fuel goes into building massive containment structures and water pollution and costs of extraction from the ground is not a factor compared to finding rare earths for solar and similar uses. When nuclear proponents start talking about Thorium systems which can apparently be made in smaller sizes easily, then we should be taking nuclear more seriously.

    Even so, nuclear is very likely to be much more environmentally friendly than producing electricity with coal or fossil fuels.

    Barry’s comments on steam and compressed air are interesting and they have been tested, but I don’t remember results. Steam always seemed to me a better option than conventional combustion engines. Rotary cylinders would work well with steam I suspect. They have worked for Mazda?? .

    Minnesota has done research on using something like reverse fuel cells to produce anhydrous ammonia using solar and wind energy. I never saw followup results of that however. Anhydrous ammonia can apparently be used as a portable fuel for combustion engines.

  28. Nick Nemec

    The 350 mile range on a Tesla makes an electric vehicle look pretty darn good to this farmer/rancher. I rarely drive that much in a day. My day in the pickup is maybe a drive to town, check fields, go to field to work, herd a herd of cows 15 miles down a county road in 10 hours. A big day might be a 100 mile round trip to Fort Pierre to deliver a trailer load of cattle to the sale barn. Electric vehicles might be just the ticket for a farmer or rancher. I rarely get too far from home, rarely drive more than 350 miles in a day and am nearly always back home by evening for an overnight charge.

  29. Nick,

    I concur. I know what a hassle it was driving to town for gas; hence the dual fuel tanks!

    If you could just plug Ol’ Blue in at night, it’d save a ton of time.

    I imagine a 100kWh battery would do decent for a half-ton truck for your standard field work. Even the towing we did (bales, cattle, chemical) wouldn’t strain too much that range for a typical day.

    Though I’ll say I’m super impressed I averaged 18 miles to the gallon from SuFu to Rapid, through the Hills, and back, all while pulling a boat.

    Still, money talks. Most people have to take out a loan for a vehicle anyway. And loans are getting longer (72 months!?!?!). If electric vehicles can truly last significantly longer with less maintenance, then amortizing the expense out over time works better – your loan payments are more of a short term replacement of fuel & maintenance costs.

    That’s some big IFs, though.

  30. Wayne B. $26 to $28,000.00 for a 2 wheel drive ford f-150 for $500.00 bucks a month. Add another 7 grand and you have yourself a Tesla for maybe $650.00 a month. What you save in all the rest of the bells and whistles like gas, oil and maintenance will more than offset your cost like you note year after year after year.

    Bonus points as well. When you hunt, you might have to give up road hunting and driving up to the creek and popping your Muley. You might have to…dare I say it..walk some. Leave that Tesla back at the camp and head on out, who knows, you may walk up on a trophy that wonders what kind of creature you are without wheels. White tail were scarce last year, I dunno what our count is going to be this year. I have seen some pheasants and some grouse so that may be a good hunt but the hatch looks like it was down some.

  31. Robert McTaggart


    I like geothermal heat pumps, until you have to pay through the nose with a higher electricity rate when the efficiency drops off when it is too hot or too cold.

    Overall the key metric to follow with regard to infrastructure is cost per kilowatt-hour…because ultimately one needs to generate a lot of new kilowatt-hours.

    In general, nuclear opponents do not want to ascertain if less concrete could be used in radiation safety, because the costs of building nuclear would come down. They don’t even want the new designs that require fewer resources to be built. That even includes next generation reactors that could use thorium.

    If renewable energy is dedicated to battery recharging, that gets around my typical complaint about having to burn natural gas to make up for intermittency…until one cannot deliver the amount of energy people actually use.

  32. Doc, folks are kinda tired of paying for something that goes broke. South Carolinian’s took the bait and now they are on the hook and will be for decades of getting nothing in return. Can we just say that nuke and coal have done their thing and now just need to retire?

  33. Robert McTaggart

    If you spend several decades making it difficult to build nuclear plants, you shouldn’t be surprised when there are problems in actually building them. Particularly when the construction expertise and supply chain have largely moved away from the US, and the regulatory infrastructure forces about a 10 year wait between license application and power generation.

    The primary driver in a lot of the nuclear plant closings is the low cost of natural gas, but they also did not anticipate a flat demand curve nor the success of efficiency measures.

    But don’t worry….when we use more natural gas to replace nuclear/coal, and backup wind/solar, and use more of it in industry, and liquefy natural gas to sell to Europe and Asia, the price will go up. Then the true costs of not having a diversified energy portfolio with nuclear will come into play…including more expensive electricity that emits more carbon for our electric cars.

    Redirecting steam from electricity generation to a secondary use (like process heat for industry) when the grid does not require more electricity is a better approach for nuclear. That will avoid a lot of wear and tear by not having to ramp power up and down. But the secondary uses need more development.

  34. Robert McTaggart

    Jerry…are you willing to pay full price for an energy source that only delivers energy 20-30% of the time? People may get tired of that too ;^).

  35. Nuclear and coal heat just feels warmer.

  36. Looks like we already are paying full price for nothing doc. This industry is a rigged game man, like Deadwood, the house always wins with us suckers picking up the tab.,-with-more-bills-due

  37. Jerry, you make assumptions about me, and in a pretty condescending way. I don’t appreciate it.

    Remember, you’re not going to win people over to your way of thinking by being disrespectful and acting as though you’re the paternalistic father who knows best.

    I don’t road hunt for deer. I park at the road and walk 3/4 mile to get to my trees.

    But say I get said Tesla. Where the heck am I gonna stuff that muley? In the trunk? At least the W-15 has a bed I can get blood in :)

    But you bring up a good point. Electric trucks can be completely silent. Anyone who doesn’t have that ethic of the hunt could get a whole heckuva lot closer to that trophy buck than you could with a diesel or gas motor.

    The bigger question than range is battery longevity and replacement cost.

    The 2010 Nissan LEAFs’ batteries are failing writ large; many are down to just 50 miles real-world use.

    The biggest question, though, is price. Elon Musk has stated the pickup is going to be at least $70,000 for a base model. That’s $50,000 more than the absolute base F150 (single cab, ect.).

    So let’s look at maintenance costs for an F150 vs that electric truck. >YourMechanic Service</a puts the annual maintenance for an F150 at $404.

    Edmunds places the annual fuel cost for an F150 at $1,631

    So we're at $2,035 per year.

    If Tesla didn't cost a dime to maintain, and electricity was always free, it would take 25 years to pay for that differential in price.

    Sorry… it just doesn't pan out. My truck came with a lifetime powertrain warranty. Anything goes wrong with it and $100 fixes it for me. I'll drive it til the repairs cost more than the truck is worth, and put that extra $50k into investments for retirement.

  38. I am but a small voice Wayne B. I don’t intend on winning anything. That was not meant to be cutting to you at all.. There are a couple of trunks in that Tesla you could put as storage. As you note, there is always a certain amount of blood that drains when you take the carcass down from hanging. You could put that carcass in a trailer for towing. So there is that.

    Edmunds and their fuel costs are based on your current service provider. Saudi Arabia just purchased Shell Oil and with it, the biggest refinery in the US at Port Arthur, Texas. This kind of control puts the US in maybe difficult circumstances regarding price controls and needs. In any kind of crisis, those prices tend to go up dramatically while changing the savings equation you were working with. That would seem to make a much better argument for electric as well.

    You also note that in your analysis, it would take 25 years to pay the difference. While F-150’s are fine pickups, with the driving you say you do, this will not last you 25 years. From the miles you are putting on, you may replace that pickup more than once more for the trade in value alone. Suddenly, the Tesla with its long term advantage of road life, changes the equation even further.

  39. Robert McTaggart

    We need the current plants to keep running to avoid emitting carbon…otherwise we’ll do everything with natural gas.

    The true costs of carbon and fighting climate change mean that we should be building nuclear differently, not eliminating it entirely. Without load-following nuclear, you need to find dedicated uses for renewables, such as battery recharging which would not require burning natural gas unless the demand could not be met otherwise.

    “If it leaks unburned into the atmosphere, then methane traps heat about 80 times more effectively, molecule for molecule, than CO2. The point of this chemistry lesson is: If as little as 3 percent of natural gas leaks in the course of fracking and delivering it to the power plant through a pipe, then it’s worse than coal.

    And, sadly, it’s now clear that leakage rates are higher than that. In January 2013, aerial surveys of a Utah fracking basin, for instance, found leak rates as high as 9 percent. Data from a Harvard satellite survey showed that between 2002 and 2014, U.S. methane emissions increased more than 30 percent.”

  40. Take a look at what is presently going on in Greenland doc.

    I am not sure what we can now call global warming according to trump. Is it not climate change anymore as that word has officially been banned by the cult. So now we are all to use “who needs polar bears”

  41. Here ya go Wayne B, even John Deere has upped their game as well. John Deere has a working hybrid but it also has this way cool all electric large tractor. You can check the video out. It is in French as that is where this is being utilized. So you could have solar, and wind chargers at your home place and do your farming with equipment that is more or less self sustained. Open the hood on this bad boy expecting to see a mammoth diesel and what do you have?, the future.

  42. Robert McTaggart

    The battery on that is only good for four hours of work. I would think one would want to use one battery while another one is being recharged, and then exchange them.

    So to really make it sustainable and get the farming done, you need to figure out how much solar/wind will be necessary to recharge a tractor battery in a day. Otherwise, one will rely upon the grid to some degree.

  43. I think John Deere should be applauded for stepping up to do the R&D on something as large and important as this implement. Yep, to have a replacement pack available would be the ticket for sure. 4 hours is a long time of farm work though to begin with. They are already using electric in place of hydraulics in several cases, so it is coming.

  44. Robert McTaggart

    They should be applying this to their products for home use as well.

  45. Douglas Wiken

    Electric lawn mowers have been available for some time. Thanks for info on electric tractors, I never thought that would even be possible, but I suppose electric motors can generate a lot of torque.

  46. Look, these robot cars might be OK but they cannot be our overlords. I, for one, do not welcome robot car overlords especially if they are not built by Ford. American Ford. Here in America.

    But if we must have robot cars, I am against sharing them. I want my own. This sharing is for the socialists. No robot sharing.

  47. Douglas Wiken

    I am guessing that electric vehicles may be common and successful soon, but I think the potential of robot cars is probably greatly exaggerated. It may be in cities where commercial rides are the custom, that having a robot drive may seem acceptable. I don’t think the same kind of attitudes exist in rural South Dakota.

  48. Robert McTaggart

    This just in….the nuclear power plants in the path of Harvey made it through with flying colors. They continued to power homes, emergency operations, hospitals. Wind and solar shut down, natural gas and gas prices are going up. Haven’t heard of any issues with electric cars due to the flooding, but any around could still be recharged with nuclear.

    “The two nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project plant near Houston were operating at full capacity despite wind gusts that peaked at 130 mph as the Hurricane made landfall.”

  49. Great point, Dr. McTaggart. Thank goodness for the nucs!
    How did the solar and wind fare?

  50. Robert McTaggart

    Wind power shut down at 55 mph according to the article (it was too windy!). Doesn’t sound like much damage to them while shut down, but difficult to get things up and going again.

    Solar hard to come by when it is cloudy and debris is hitting the solar panels, or the wind is blowing the solar panels off the roof.

    Does FEMA ever deploy emergency solar power? More likely generators running on gas or other fossil fuel.

  51. Makes me wonder what percentage of the first responder types, or the citizens with monster trucks, are driving electric vehicles. When the stuff hits the other stuff, it’s fossil fuels to the rescue, with nuke keeping the juice running in the important facilities.