Attentive readers may recall that a few years ago we U.S. taxpayers lent $465 million to Tesla, a maker of electric cars. More recently we restructured the loan so that Tesla wouldn’t run out of money. (It is now, after all, a matter of vital national interest that Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial speculations actually pay off.)
Though I don’t think any of us were consulted about this, I guess we’re all Tesla investors now, so it’s only natural to ask: How’s our little business venture going?
Well, I’ll say this: I’ve seen these cars up close (Rob Nail of Singularity University had one parked out front while I was there last year), and they certainly look mighty snazzy, tooling silently around the streets of Silicon Valley. But a New York Times reporter recently tried to use one of these government-subsidized doo-hickeys for the sort of thing people actually need cars for — going from one place to another place far away — and the results were a bit of a letdown. Pit stops for recharging took an hour, and the battery, clearly better suited for the clement Bay Area than for the meteorological rigors of the Northeast, failed to hold its charge in the winter chill. All in all, our man would have been better off in a Yugo, and that’s saying something.
It’s really frustrating; electric batteries just seem to have some serious intrinsic limitations. As Joshua Treviño remarked Twitter, just imagine if instead there were some sort of energy-dense substance that was cheap to produce — maybe some sort of naturally-occurring material that concentrated eons of energy from the Sun into some convenient liquid form — that our vehicles could simply carry on-board in some sort of container?
Naah. That’s just pie in the sky, folks.
Anyway, read the story here.