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Tesla's High-Tech Lawsuits in Silicon Valley War

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the lawsuits-are-positively-negative dept.

Transportation 79

An anonymous reader writes "After pressing charges against its chief competitor in the race for the world's first production electric sports car that we broke down here recently, Tesla Motors seems to be shifting from the high-tech company re-writing Detroit's script to another Silicon Valley startup trying to sniff out the competition. So says Engadget's legal analyst in an in-depth column breaking down the legal ramifications. From the article: "This could upset the whole race for major production of an electric car in the U.S., which may be the main result of this whole drama. If anything, that's a win for Tesla. Let's just hope the company that set out to upend the automotive industry achieves its competitive goals in the lab and in the marketplace — and keeps its future fights out of the courtroom.""

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79 comments

So ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23133912)

So Sunday morning is the time that Slashdot reposts all those rejected stories from the past week under Anonymous Reader?

What's the problem? (5, Insightful)

Hubbell (850646) | about 6 years ago | (#23133928)

The guy blatantly stole information and scammed them pretty fucking hard.

Re:What's the problem? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23134780)

Ok, this clears it up. I was trying to remember if Tesla was a company we liked, or one we hated, so I could decide what to think about this. I mean, Google and Apple and Microsoft are easy to remember because there is a story about them every day. And anything Torvalds is involved with is easy too. But Tesla..... So your comment clears it up what with the +4 Insightful and all. I mean you use the phrase 'stole information', like Tesla doesn't have it any more, yet you still got the mod. So obviously we like Tesla because they make electric cars and that makes them anti-establishment and we like that. So they can file IP based lawsuits and its all good because we can all picture them flipping off the man with their other hand.

Re:What's the problem? (2, Informative)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 6 years ago | (#23134892)

There is an easy rule to follow. /. will ALWAYS support the little guy. Because the market is so shitty in most areas there is often 1 dominating leader. This eventually leads to garbage due to the lack of competition.
 
Anyways... tesla builds electrics cars that out race porsches how could you think it wouldnt be popular?

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 years ago | (#23136744)

Jeebus it's EASY to make an electric car that outraces Porche, Lamborgini, fararri. There is a guy locally that has an ice cream truck that is a 7 second 1/4 mile Drag Race electric vehicle. That's faster than a Bugatti Veyron.

Fast electric cars is nothing special. hell it's EASIER to make a fast electric car. Making one that can go 300 miles between charges, that's hard.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 6 years ago | (#23137054)

Fast electric cars is nothing special. hell it's EASIER to make a fast electric car. Making one that can go 300 miles between charges, that's hard.

Exactly. The 0-60 time of any car is the last thing I consider. I need to go from 0-60 *once* in any trip I make. How well it copes with being driven flat out for 300 miles is a far more pressing concern.

I'll start looking at electric cars when they can produce one that takes no more than 60 quid to charge from fully flat, can carry four or five large adults plus their luggage plus at least 200kg of equipment, and can average no less than 100mph for 350 miles on a charge. That would be getting close to being able to replace my ordinary car, assuming it's actually nice to drive and doesn't give me a numb backside.

Re:What's the problem? (2, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | about 6 years ago | (#23137336)

Exactly. The 0-60 time of any car is the last thing I consider. I need to go from 0-60 *once* in any trip I make. How well it copes with being driven flat out for 300 miles is a far more pressing concern.

I'll start looking at electric cars when they can produce one that takes no more than 60 quid to charge from fully flat, can carry four or five large adults plus their luggage plus at least 200kg of equipment, and can average no less than 100mph for 350 miles on a charge. That would be getting close to being able to replace my ordinary car, assuming it's actually nice to drive and doesn't give me a numb backside.

Chrysler just announced such a car at the Detroit Auto Show (aired on TV a few days ago) - up to 250 miles on a charge, all electric, carries 4 plus luggage. They also claim it will be very inexpensive (normal car price for a car of it's class).

Now, if it IS real, I see it as something finally pushing other car manufacturers to follow suit. I'd see such a product forcing them to - IF (even though they announced a planned release year) it ever sees the light of day (which such "concept cars" never seem to).

I have a hard time believing that a startup like Tesla is the only company that could figure out how to get such mileage off an all electric car (especially since there are aftermarket kits that can get close to that mileage without all the fancy new technology using existing car structures). Especially considering that the major car companies spend many times the amount of money on R&D.

I am beginning to believe that 250-300 miles/charge isn't that difficult per se... but that the auto manufacturers have too much invested in their current production lines, servicing, distribution, service center training, etc to WANT to make an electric car for anyone other than the hobbyist (ie: 50 or so miles/charge).

And of course, others have speculated about the tie-ins with the oil/gas industry. (not saying I agree - or not)

And additionally, others have speculated on a (our) government not wanting to see affordable, long-range electric cars because of the large decrease in gas tax revenue that would result (and thus bankrupting most states). (not saying I agree - or not)

For whatever reasons, neither the car, oil, coal or other such industries seem to care about such things. That is evidenced by the ridiculous "Coal Initiative" (or whatever it is called) commercials on TV of late touting how great and clean burning coal is.

Or the recent oil ads I've seen in the paper talking about how oil heat in the home is the way to go - even over natural gas - and how clean it burns... (gee, you can vent many natural gas heaters INTO your house - and the only thing you have to worry about is oxygen depletion (thus the internally vented ones come with an oxygen sensor to prevent such)... anyone want to vent an oil furnace into their house?). Maybe some people have coal heaters in their house? I have no idea what they are comparing it to - cleaner than what? In my area, the choices are oil, propane or natural gas (or a fireplace/wood stove setup - which shouldnt even be in consideration in their scenario).

So in my area it would be natural gas, propane, oil, coal (with of course coal not being something used here for home heating... but that is the only way their claims make sense at all).

But the point is, all these commercials & ads - including the car companies talking about all their "green" initiatives (that we have yet to see bear fruition in any usable form) all seem to indicate no desire on actually getting there, while spinning the hell out of the situation to convince the average consumer that they are doing so well on such issues.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 years ago | (#23137388)

Chrysler's car is a load of dreams and vaporware. you CAN make the 350 mile Electric car it just takes $120,000 in LithiumPolymer batteries. and a $12,000 high efficiency set of electric motors (1 at each wheel. coupled with some other common OTS parts you can convert a Kia Optima a very comfortable and luxury car that happens to be much lighter than a BMW and Other luxury cars to get the 300+ miles at 100mph with AC running and stereo thumping away.

nobody will buy a $190,000 electric sedan that the Gas counterpart is $28,500. because even at $8.00 a gallon I can drive for the rest of my life on the price difference.

Chrysler is hoping (hope is not a method) that the prices of the batteries and motors come down drastically, They need it to drop to 1/10th the price they are now before anyone can build it.

This is why the tesla is expensive. It's really a mediocre car compared to sports cars, 90% of it's cost is in it's batteries.

Re:What's the problem? (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | about 6 years ago | (#23138546)

Lithium polymer? Why? Lithium phosphates, titanates, spinels, etc are far, far superior for automotive applications. Yes, they're also currently expensive (although your estimate on the amount of batteries needed is way overboard), but their raw materials are cheap, so under mass production, they can be expected to be quite cheap.

As for the amount of batteries. Let's go with something like the Aptera at 200Wh/mi. Cars like the Aptera are only 80Wh/mi, but we'll go with 200. That's 70kWh. For the pack to cost 120k, you'd be having to pay $1.50/Wh. While you could possibly pay that much on titanates currently (Altair certainly has their problems), that's not a realistic price, and certainly not realistic for mass production.

90% of it's cost is in it's batteries.

That's an even more ridiculous claim. They use off the shelf laptop cells, which are, what, $0.15/Wh to $0.20/Wh? They have, what, 52kWh packs? That's ~$10k for the cells.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23151066)

Lithium polymer? Why? Lithium phosphates, titanates, spinels, etc are far, far superior for automotive applications.

LiPo batteries have a far higher power to weight ratio. that's why. I agree the others are better ideas but they are a lot heavier. The LiPo batteries are insanely light (and insanely delicate, I've personally blown $500.00 in those batteries in only 6 charge cycles because the point wher you need to drop the charge rate so you dont boil the battery is so hard to detect it's really easy for the charger to go past and damage the battery hard.

anyways, the test electric bike we built with those batteries went 50 miles at 35mph and weighed only 15 pounds more than a standard bike. It rocked, and when you kicked in the batteries only on hills you could go for a really long distance.

And he is right, if they use LiPo batteries, it will cost $190,000 easily espically generating the KW they are doing on that car.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Rei (128717) | about 6 years ago | (#23152112)

LiPo batteries have a far higher power to weight ratio. that's why.

No, they have worse power density. They have better *energy* density. :) But that's not as big of a deal as all of the other factors in automotive apps.

anyways, the test electric bike we built with those batteries went 50 miles at 35mph and weighed only 15 pounds more than a standard bike. It rocked, and when you kicked in the batteries only on hills you could go for a really long distance.

Yeah, but have you seen what bikes like the Killacycle could do? :) Also, LiPo will only last you a couple years before you need a replacement.

And he is right, if they use LiPo batteries, it will cost $190,000 easily espically generating the KW they are doing on that car.

Actually, the more range you want, the easier it is to get higher kW. High power is harder to achieve in short range vehicles. But either way, if power is your limitation, you *definitely* want something like phosphates or titanates.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | about 6 years ago | (#23150186)

Actually, there are plenty of methods of using one electric motor coupled to the drive train/shafts. I am not sure why you think it would require 4.

But regardless, there is still the battery issue - which I also will not touch - since someone else covered that nicely.

If you take into account ONE motor (as their concept car has, IIRC), and the battery options Rei noted, then you come out with a car that costs about as much (or slightly more) than Chrysler's current offerings. Do the math off that basis... a current drivetrain in a "conventional" car (transmission, engine) are not cheap... while on the other hand, even high end electric motors needed for such applications are cheap (in comparison)... leaving the difference in the cost of batteries. So, you are talking about a car that may be a few thousand dollars more. Not $170K more like you speculate.

And as for me... if I had the choice of buying a gas burning car for $20K... or an electric, 300 mile/charge car at $25K - or even $30K... I would choose the electric car, knowing I would easily make back up that money on not buying gas, and a far less expensive maintenance regime.

No oil changes, no tune-ups to speak of, no transmission tuneups, no air filter and oxygen sensor changes (checked the price on oxygen sensors for most cars lately?), no worries about EVER failing emissions tests... and of course no gas station stops to buy gas.

An average person who lives near me and commutes to the city 5 days a week (assuming they do nothing else with their car) spends over $4,000 a year on gas - and that's at 25mpg (keep in mind, even though they are getting there on the highways, it is not "highway driving" in the sense used for mpg ratings... they are going and coming during rush hour - which fits more in a vehicle's "city driving" mpg - thus 25mpg is probably high).

Now, figure the cost of recharging a car every 2-3 days... in 3 years (give or take) one would easily offset a $10K price difference... so even if Chrysler comes out heavy on their estimated price, it is still worth it... now factor in the differences in maintenance costs...

Then there are the added "fringe benefits" such as being able to drive in almost any HOV lane - even with no passengers (most states around here on the East Coast, as well as Cali, give out "Clean Pass" stickers so such cars can be driven in the HOV lane with only one occupant).

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Rei (128717) | about 6 years ago | (#23138576)

Where *can* you drive 350 miles at 100mph without getting pulled over within the first ten minutes?

Anyways if those really are your needs, right now, your best choice is a PHEV like the Volt. I don't know how much a quid is or how much your power costs, but car-sized EVs are usually 200Wh/mi or less. So, for something like the Tesla, a kilowatt hour will take you about five miles.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Gospodin (547743) | about 6 years ago | (#23141232)

I need to go from 0-60 *once* in any trip I make.

Lucky bastard. ...red lights... stop signs... traffic... school buses...

Re:What's the problem? (1)

ebichete (223210) | about 6 years ago | (#23153952)

Exactly. The 0-60 time of any car is the last thing I consider. I need to go from 0-60 *once* in any trip I make. How well it copes with being driven flat out for 300 miles is a far more pressing concern.

I'll start looking at electric cars when they can produce one that takes no more than 60 quid to charge from fully flat, can carry four or five large adults plus their luggage plus at least 200kg of equipment, and can average no less than 100mph for 350 miles on a charge. That would be getting close to being able to replace my ordinary car, assuming it's actually nice to drive and doesn't give me a numb backside.
Your requirements are absurd. To summarize, a feasible replacement car for you must:

- take no more than 60 quid to charge (or fuel)
- carry 4 or 5 large adults + luggage + 200kg of equipment
- reliably handle being driven for 3 hours at 100mph (average speed) on a single trip

From these specifications I surmise your current "ordinary car" is substantially bigger, more powerful and more fuel efficient than any Range Rover (or equivalent).

Every car, electric or otherwise, is a compromise in Speed, Carrying Capacity and Cost (Price and Fuel Efficiency). Don't conflate your requirements when evaluating electric cars, look at your typical usage and go from there.

By the way, building an electric car with those specifications is well within the capabilities of current technology. However, I doubt that you would be willing (or able) to pay the price required.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 6 years ago | (#23155438)

From these specifications I surmise your current "ordinary car" is substantially bigger, more powerful and more fuel efficient than any Range Rover (or equivalent).

Not really. My current car is a 1981 Citroen CX Break. It *is* bigger than a Range Rover, or at least about six inches longer (much lower though). Having an engine a little bigger thann half the size (2400cc) and a far better drag coefficient (the name "CX" comes from the French term for Cd, the coefficient of drag) does the rest. Because it's got self-levelling hydraulic suspension and a very strong chassis, it can carry a lot more weight than a Range Rover without becoming unstable.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 6 years ago | (#23135756)

I mean you use the phrase 'stole information', like Tesla doesn't have it any more, yet you still got the mod.

There are two types of ways to protect information on a piece of paper. You can not let anyone see it (trade secret) or let everyone see it but no one copy it (copyright). When someone violates a trade secret, there was an actual loss. Before, they had a secret. After, that secret is gone. There is something that can be identified that belonged to them before that wasn't there after. But you are right in that when parts of Windows trade secret source code is leaked, people cheer. But for those of us that respect property and contract law, we mourn when it happens to Tesla Motors or Microsoft. One can have that stance and sill think that all copyrights should be abolished.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Hubbell (850646) | about 6 years ago | (#23136526)

It's more a matter of just common sense. If I hire you to design something for me, and you give me a shitty design yet a month later open a business with a top notch design for the same product, aka the design you promised me, I'd go kick the shit out of you. Sadly I wouldn't be able to do that legally, so my only recourse would be to sue you. IMO they should just get a bunch of thugs together and have a towel party with the guy.

Tesla: STFU (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23133952)

Dear Tesla Execs,

Quit talking and suing and build some fucking cars, that will solve all your problems.

Or just come out and say that you plan to switch to "IP protection" as a money making scheme, so that we can put you on the SCO list and basically ignore you.

Signed,

All internet users tired of 2+ years of hype about your vaporware company.

PS Yes, I know they shipped 2 or so cars, but that isn't getting them any experience as a real car maker; they need several thousand people using the cars as daily drivers to get proper feedback about the pros and cons of their product.

Not a litigious person but, (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23133968)

God knows there's a bunch of crap going around in the courtrooms: *AA lawsuits, rediculous IP infringment, submarine patents, etc. Frankly, I'm sick of lawsuits that are practically used as part of SOP business strategy. But, having kept somewhat up to date on this particular case, I can't say that I'm totally against it. Tesla contracted Fisker to help in the design of their electric car. Fisker then turns around and starts his own electric car company. At the very least it looks highly suspicious and rightfully should draw a great deal of scrutiny. As for the article I think it's tripe and can't see how it relates to "another Silicon Valley startup trying to sniff out the competition".

Re:Not a litigious person but, (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23133988)

... after 2 years of watching a former contractor not make cars, Fisker decides that it's high time someone actually make electric cars instead of scam investors ... however, they get sued.

Re:Not a litigious person but, (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23134316)

Frankly, I'm sick of people not being able to spell "ridiculous". It's not copyright infrigement if you check in a dictionary. You're allowed, nay, encouraged to check in one.

Re:Not a litigious person but, (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23135440)

Fisker is not building an electric car. Fisker is building a plug-in hybrid.

Come on... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23133970)

"Tesla Motors seems to be shifting from the high-tech company re-writing Detroit's script to another Silicon Valley startup trying to sniff out the competition."

SNUFF! The cliche is "snuff out the competition," as in to extinguish a candle.

Re:Come on... (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 6 years ago | (#23134770)

The cliche is
Sorry, that's not a cliche. It's a perfectly acceptable phrase.

A "cliche" is a demeaning way to refer to a phrase that you think is hokey, dated, or just shouldn't be part of the language. "snuff out" is embedded enough that you've got as much hope of panning it as "think outside the box", "in the nick of time", or, the best example of linguistic snobbery, "ain't".

Not quit accurate. (5, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 years ago | (#23133976)

Calling Fisker's Tesla's chief competitor is a lot like calling MS IBM's chief competitor. Fisker was a sub-contractor to Tesla and had signed on as just that. Apparently via documents, Fisker was not going to go into car development, just stay in design. During that time, Fisker found out how to build the car, as well as the relatively low cost of doing so (much easier than a gas car) and decided to create his own with a one-off design of the roadster. So he basically delivered less to Tesla than was promised and then used the internal information that he had acquired from Tesla to help design his own, and as well as obtain funding.

Almost certainly, Fisker will have to pay back all the money that they obtained from Tesla. The real question is, can Tesla block Fisker's new car company?

The true loser on this will be customers and the world. In a way, for Tesla/Spacex to be successful, they need to move with speed. Spacex has contractual obligations to meet, and tesla will have to compete against major car companies in about 2-3 years. This lawsuit is taking Musk away from Tesla core AND Spacex. Both of these companies are innovative and are pushing the industry forward. But if he gets bogged down in court, they will stall. It would be far better for Tesla/Spacex, if Musk settles with Fisker quickly and moves on. In addition, the more companies that are doing EV, or even REV, the better it is.

Re:Not quit accurate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23134008)

So then the message of my STFU comment is not a troll and basically says the same thing you are saying. The only thing that will save Tesla is making cars asap (if they want the company to be saved), people for some reason feel the need to defend Tesla since they are backed by google money, etc. But if a software or hardware company had talked so much for so long without rolling a product out, there would being mobs calling for public lyncings.

Re:Not quit accurate. (2, Informative)

Aranykai (1053846) | about 6 years ago | (#23134018)

Reminds me of some other situations. Windows 3.1 for instance :P

Anyways, just wanted to say I enjoyed your post. Don't have mod points, but it was quite insightful.

Re:Not quit accurate. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 years ago | (#23135698)

Reminds me of some other situations. Windows 3.1 for instance :P

The Altair computer comes to mind. They decided to focus on suing competitors rather than move forward with technology. Getting bogged down in court, they folded just when the market for micros exploded in the late 70's.
       

Re:Not quit accurate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23134652)

During that time, Fisker found out how to build the car, as well as the relatively low cost of doing so (much easier than a gas car) and decided to create his own with a one-off design of the roadster.
How is designing an electric vehicle so much easier that an IC engine vehicle? You removed the IC engine, cooling and fuel systems, and have added a motor, motor controller, regen braking & charging systems.

Yes, there are allot less parts with the removal of the engine, but separate the engine from the vehicle. In most cases when any of the current large manufacturers develop a vehicle, the engine & transmission is already being used in other models. The focus is packaging those existing power trains into the new vehicle design. With electrics, you still have to design new power anti-lock brakes, steering, and HVAC systems which takes quite a lot of development since the method for powering these is quite a departure from the current supplier status-quo. Just about everything else in the vehicle remains the same.

Developing one-off prototypes is easy compared to developing a refined vehicle that will meet consumer demands, all government regulations, can be manufactured efficiently and be built at a competitive price. If is was easy as you make it out to be, why is it that no one has done it yet?

Re:Not quit accurate. (1)

bbn (172659) | about 6 years ago | (#23136114)

Developing one-off prototypes is easy compared to developing a refined vehicle that will meet consumer demands, all government regulations, can be manufactured efficiently and be built at a competitive price. If is was easy as you make it out to be, why is it that no one has done it yet?
Plenty have: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Former_production_electric_vehicles [wikipedia.org]

There is nothing new that needs inventing here. Only better batteries, which may have arrived.

Re:Not quit accurate. (1)

Rei (128717) | about 6 years ago | (#23138610)

The problem is, there hasn't really been a "successful" in modern times (historically, you could argue that the Detroit Electric was, back before gasoline cars got a stranglehold.) They've all either been way underperforming (by design, usually), such as lead-acid powered NEVs, or they've been way too expensive (and sometimes subsidized, such as the vehicles created as a result of the CARB mandate in the '90s -- the EV1, the RAV4EV, etc).

Thankfully, the combination of interest in EVs and advancing tech seems ready to remedy this. I'm on the waiting list for an Aptera [wikipedia.org]. 120 miles@55mph, 0-60 in 10 sec, top speed of 85mph, $27k. 10kWh battery pack means quick to charge and low cost of replacement, which -- since they're using lithium phosphate batteries should be very rare, if ever, over the course of the car's lifespan. Only 80Wh/mi, so power for it is almost free. In my situation, I can show that switching to an Aptera will actually save me money overall -- something you can almost never claim about a new car. Let alone a neat-looking eco-friendly car.

Re:Not quit accurate. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 years ago | (#23151238)

With electrics, you still have to design new power anti-lock brakes, steering, and HVAC systems which takes quite a lot of development since the method for powering these is quite a departure from the current supplier status-quo. Just about everything else in the vehicle remains the same.

ABS brakes don't use engine power; they just interface with the existing hydraulic brakes, and release hydraulic pressure to individual wheels as necessary. This has nothing to do with the engine.

What you may be thinking of is the hydraulic brakes' power booster, which is vacuum operated, and has been that way since the 50s or 60s (again, this has little to nothing to do with the ABS). This is a small problem, since that vacuum is supplied by the gas engine, which doesn't exist in an electric car. No problem; there's now electrically-assisted brake master cylinders. You can buy them at Summit Motorsports and other places.

The other thing you're very wrong on is steering. EPHS (electric hydraulic power steering) and EPS (electric power steering) have been in cars for years now. The Mazda 3 has EHPS (basically, an electric motor is integrated with the hydraulic power steering pump, and operates independent of the engine), as do many European cars. The Acura NSX, Honda S2000, Honda Civic Hybrid, and various GM cars have EPS, where an electric motor is connected directly to the steering rack to provide assist, and hydraulics are eliminated entirely.

The only thing you got right was the need for electric HVAC systems. I don't know if these exist yet or not, but I would be surprised if they don't already have them for the Toyota Prius, and also for various series hybrid-electric construction equipment. This isn't a difficult thing either; it's basically the same thing as the EHPS systems: combine a small electric motor with a pump, all in one unit, except that instead of a hydraulic pump, it's a compressor for refrigeration.

You're right that car makers already use their engines in transmissions in a range of vehicles, but you're very wrong that they would need to design all new braking, steering, or HVAC systems. With the possible exception of HVAC, all this stuff already exists and can be had off-the-shelf.

Hard to call (4, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | about 6 years ago | (#23134010)

Not a chance we can call this ourselves. It will be down to what evidence Tesla has for its allegations. If their claims are true then I have little sympathy for the guy ( forget trade secret laws, fraud and sabotage alone should land him a decent slap if proven true ). If these accusations cannot be proven, on the other hand, then Tesla deserves a great kick up the arse for making such accusations against a competitor without reliable evidence.
 

Re:Hard to call (2, Informative)

Narpak (961733) | about 6 years ago | (#23134106)

Never the less Fisker has lunched a product in direct competition with one he designed on contract for Tesla. Even if everything is above board and legal he has still kicked his own reputation in the nuts.

Re:Hard to call (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 6 years ago | (#23134620)

Fisker Coachbuild, fraudulently agreed to take on Tesla's $875,000 design contract to gain access to confidential design information and trade secrets, then announced a competing vehicle. Tesla Motors Files Suit [nytimes.com]

7/8 of a million just doesn't seem like a lot of money for what they were hired to do, I suspect that if the contracts had real NDA's and non-compete clauses the costs would have been substantially more. Even more likely the "trade secret" was that there were no trade secrets and any joe snuffy can hire an engineer or two and build one of these things using predominately off the shelf harware if he has enough mad-cash to get it going.

Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

mrcaseyj (902945) | about 6 years ago | (#23134028)

Add a small removable hydrocarbon fuelled generator to an electric car with just enough battery capacity for your daily commute and you have a great system. Emission free and chargeable by various clean technologies for your daily commute but with extended range for occasional trips. Generators are cheap and if you leave it behind on a daily basis your car is lighter. You can power extended trips with biodiesel or ethanol. I don't see how electric will work very well for long haul trucks though.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

Dersaidin (954402) | about 6 years ago | (#23134110)

I'd say Tesla are doing fine with a pure electric approach. Swappable batteries at service stations or super capacitor based batteries with incredible charge times would work well for longer trips. Better to leave the fossil fuels behind completely as soon as possible. Having an engine as well as a motor is kind of wastefull.

Electric for haul trucks, well, idealy you'd want (electric) trains for transporting heavier things.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (4, Insightful)

loshwomp (468955) | about 6 years ago | (#23134230)

Add a small removable hydrocarbon fuelled generator to an electric car with just enough battery capacity for your daily commute and you have a great system.

People who aren't automotive engineers always trivialize the implementation and think it's a great idea. Actual vehicle engineers realize that in many ways a series hybrid is the worst of both worlds: more complicated than an EV and a gas car combined, less efficient than an EV for short-range driving (because of the extra weight), and less efficient than a parallel hybrid (or even a normal gas car!) on long trips.

Yeah, I realize you said you wanted the generator to be removeable, but that's another fantasy of armchair engineers. Yes, it's possible to engineer your complicated system, but it will add unacceptable weight and cost. At least you didn't say you wanted a removeable (swappable) battery.

Look, we need electric vehicles for short range -- several standard deviations of our vehicular transit. Some applications and some drivers need longer range. The hybridization doesn't have to be in the vehicle -- it can be in the fleet. Gas cars will be around for decades, so you can borrow/rent/own a second car if/when you really need it.

I don't see how electric will work very well for long haul trucks though.

They're called railroads. Many countries use electrified rail for hauling freight. It's the only option that's long-term sustainable. The US is screwed in that respect -- a pathetic rail system and approximately none of it electrified.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

Mattazuma (1255022) | about 6 years ago | (#23134758)

In the US (unlike Europe) we have decided not to have a $1/gallon+ gas tax to subsidize passenger railroads. So, not surprisingly our passenger rail systems aren't very good outside of NYC & Chicago. The freight rail system is actually pretty good considering how large the US is compared to Western Europe. Just like what you said re: electric & gas cars, electric rail makes sense around cities, but diesel-electric makes more sense for 1000+ mile routes.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

njh (24312) | about 6 years ago | (#23135450)

I agree that the US freight rail is good (heck, rail is still used to deliver to lumber yards), but I disagree about the spending for decent passenger rail. Europeans spend 7% of their incomes on transport (including indirectly), Americans spend nearly 20%. Diesel electric is certainly an excellent starting point (getting up to 1000pmpg); just like buses are an excellent starting point for streetcars and subways. But in the long run you want 90mph light rail and 220mph AGVs powered by renewables. European passenger rail also makes a profit. The real problem is that for the last 50 years, the US gov't has been subsidizing (giving for free) road transport to the tune of $60B a year (in current money) and rather than spending any money on PT, they have only provided _loans_ of about $1B/year. Even though PT has a much higher return on investment. This is clearly going to result in poor system design and bankruptcy of PT companies.

Incidentally, when you consider the dense parts of the country, BosWash, the south-east and the west coast, the service area is actually roughly the same as Europe. They just made more sensible design decisions (using US money via the Marshal Plan too :). We fly to cities 300 miles away (50mpg), they catch the train (200mpg and powered by nukes).

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (3, Informative)

bbn (172659) | about 6 years ago | (#23135078)

People who aren't automotive engineers always trivialize the implementation and think it's a great idea. Actual vehicle engineers realize that in many ways a series hybrid is the worst of both worlds: more complicated than an EV and a gas car combined, less efficient than an EV for short-range driving (because of the extra weight), and less efficient than a parallel hybrid (or even a normal gas car!) on long trips.
The so called series hybrid is very old tech. It used to be called diesel-electric and is what many locomotives use. If it was less efficient, it is curious how it came to be _the_ standard for diesel locomotives.

Yeah, I realize you said you wanted the generator to be removeable, but that's another fantasy of armchair engineers. Yes, it's possible to engineer your complicated system, but it will add unacceptable weight and cost. At least you didn't say you wanted a removeable (swappable) battery.
Some not so armchair engineers at Renault decided to implement battery swapping. They have announced to make 500,000 cars with that system. What makes you qualified, to denounce what a real car company like Renault is doing?

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

Hasmanean (814562) | about 6 years ago | (#23135168)

The main reason is because at 3000 hp, an electrical drive system is easier to build than a mechanical transmission.

Diesel-electric !- series hybrid (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 6 years ago | (#23135196)

Diesel-electric does not store power even for short periods. It uses a generator attached to the engine to drive a motor attached to the wheel shaft. The technical challenges of the extra stages of conversion needed to store electrical energy in the middle are considerable. Not least is that to make a light generator/engine combination you need high voltage (kilovolts) whereas electric storage is usually in batteries at tens of volts. The conversion up and down is not efficient.

It is also not that efficient for locomotives, it is just better than the slushbox alternative. Diesel electric drive was tried for ships because it seemed to offer many technical advantages, but in terms of efficiency nothing beats a low speed direct drive engine.

Re:Diesel-electric !- series hybrid (1)

bbn (172659) | about 6 years ago | (#23135458)

It is trivial to make a bypass system that connects generator to motor directly. Perhabs that is even how it is done - the battery is charging as an extra load on the generator-motor connection.

A car like Tesla is not using tens of volts. IIRC it using something like 400V. Each cell might only be 2.5V, but even a kid knows how to connect cells in series to get any voltage.

Re:Diesel-electric !- series hybrid (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 6 years ago | (#23142464)

but in terms of efficiency nothing beats a low speed direct drive engine.
The big advantage of a Diesel-electric drive is that the engine speed is not a proportion of wheel speed. If you always drive on level roads, with your cruise control set at 60 MPH, and never stop, you are more efficient with a mechanical drive. Once you vary speed and load you have a big advantage with an electric drive because speed and load can be varied independently. This advantage usually outweighs the losses of the electric transmission.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

MushMouth (5650) | about 6 years ago | (#23136664)

I big reason it is standard is that you would need an enormous clutch to start a train from a stop with a straight diesel engine, whereas the electric motors can put out very high torque at very low speeds.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23150760)

Exactly. The answer is torque, torque, and torque, and that's why electric vehicles can and should win, for passenger cars and long haul trucks alike. Imagine leaving a stoplight behind a tractor-trailer that is accelerating as fast as you are, without shifting even once. I imagine the tractor would need more than 4 drive wheels to handle the pressure on the tires, but that can be dealt with. If the railroads had diversified to road as well, and built their own tractors, the world might be a very different place. As it is, the endless starting and stopping that road vehicles do should be the reason for electric drive vehicles to win, regardless of their source of power. The gasoline engine torque curve couldn't be any worse for the task at hand. The electric motor torque curve couldn't be any better. I don't understand why we're even discussing it, and if I was a mechanically inclined hobbyist, I'd be buying a totalled vehicle and trying to get a deal on lithium batteries. Might start a few fires, wiring things together, but what mechanically inclined hobbyist hasn't done that...

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 6 years ago | (#23135108)

People who aren't automotive engineers always trivialize the implementation and think it's a great idea. Actual vehicle engineers realize that in many ways a series hybrid is the worst of both worlds: more complicated than an EV and a gas car combined, less efficient than an EV for short-range driving (because of the extra weight), and less efficient than a parallel hybrid (or even a normal gas car!) on long trips.
Somehow I think you're ignoring some important considerations, such as "gasoline generator runs at maximum efficiency", "no need to combine drive trains", "electric motors built with fewer moving parts", etc.

Considering that a "serial hybrid" is how diesel freight trains and M1-A1 tanks work, I'm less than convinced of your random dismissal of their potential. Especially with GM pushing exactly that concept as their next fuel design.

Yeah, I realize you said you wanted the generator to be removeable, but that's another fantasy of armchair engineers. Yes, it's possible to engineer your complicated system, but it will add unacceptable weight and cost. At least you didn't say you wanted a removeable (swappable) battery.
Wow. If only there was some way, some magical way that we could (1) standardize power output and (2) secure heavy loads in automobiles...

A removable generator is hardly the engineering nightmare you make it out to be. Heck, the darn thing has to be removable ANYWAY, for service/replacement/etc. Throwing in the manual and letting a dedicated owner do it themselves is hardly an engineering problem.

Gas cars will be around for decades, so you can borrow/rent/own a second car if/when you really need it.
Quick: how many Americans will buy a car they cannot drive from one end of the country to the next?

Many countries use electrified rail for hauling freight. It's the only option that's long-term sustainable.
Electric rail only makes sense if you don't have a more cost-efficient alternative. Even if all the fossil fuels go away and we are forced to produce all our own fuel, I wouldn't assume that hydrogen or artificial hydrocarbons won't be more efficient -- and both are every bit as long-term sustainable as pure electric.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (3, Informative)

loshwomp (468955) | about 6 years ago | (#23135342)

Considering that a "serial hybrid" is how diesel freight trains and M1-A1 tanks work, I'm less than convinced of your random dismissal of their potential. Especially with GM pushing exactly that concept as their next fuel design.
It's not a random dismissal; I'm an electric vehicle engineer, and I'm less than convinced by your use of GM (or their vaporware product) as an example of success.

Neither locomotives nor the tanks you mention use any type of electrical storage. Rather, the only reason for the the hybrid electric system in those vehicles is to replace what would otherwise be a very complicated ultra-high-torque transmission.

A removable generator is hardly the engineering nightmare you make it out to be. Heck, the darn thing has to be removable ANYWAY, for service/replacement/etc. Throwing in the manual and letting a dedicated owner do it themselves is hardly an engineering problem.
Like I said. Fantasy. Armchair engineers. Sure, the internal-combustion engine in your car is technically removeable. Along with the fuel system, exhaust system, cooling system, etc. Making their removal easy and practical for the uninitiated in a consumer product is just crazy.

Quick: how many Americans will buy a car they cannot drive from one end of the country to the next?
More than the number of people who have any desire to remove their engine. Economic reality will eventually cause cars in America to approach what they are elsewhere in the world: primarily for short-range travel. $4/gal gasoline has only caused whining. Real behavior change will happen as prices near $7 or $8.

I'm not sure what your point is; that's what gas cars are for. And driving across the country is, by and large, stupid, and it represents an astronomically small fraction of what we do with cars. But for those who want to do it, gas cars will be around for decades. (But no fair whining about fuel prices!)

Electric rail only makes sense if you don't have a more cost-efficient alternative. Even if all the fossil fuels go away and we are forced to produce all our own fuel, I wouldn't assume that hydrogen or artificial hydrocarbons won't be more efficient -- and both are every bit as long-term sustainable as pure electric.
Hydrogen is way less efficient, and artificial hydrocarbons are a joke. Electricity is the ultimate flex fuel -- you can make it from anything, and you can use it to power your rail directly with no further conversion or storage. (Round-trip conversion to hydrogen is about 25% efficient.)

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23135530)

It's not a random dismissal; I'm an electric vehicle engineer, and I'm less than convinced by your use of GM (or their vaporware product) as an example of success.
http://www.autoblog.com/2008/04/17/real-photo-of-the-real-volt-powertrain-mule/

There's your vaporware.

mod parent up! (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 6 years ago | (#23135742)

I lost mod points just before I saw this. A note of practicality in this thread (bbn is a complete fantasist). I'm afraid a lot of these whiny NASCAR types are going to have to face up to it - their fantasies about driving 600BHP hydorgen fueled SUVs across America are just that.

The Mitsubishi electric vehicle, on the other hand, is being to look like not being vaporware and I already want one.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

bbn (172659) | about 6 years ago | (#23136080)

Neither locomotives nor the tanks you mention use any type of electrical storage. Rather, the only reason for the the hybrid electric system in those vehicles is to replace what would otherwise be a very complicated ultra-high-torque transmission.
That might be true, but it is also true that it can not be significantly more inefficient than the alternatives. Fuel cost is a major cost in operating a train, and inefficient engines would not be able to compete.

The loss from converting motion to electric and back again, is made up by being able to run the engine at optimal load and RPM.

You can also not ignore that all other (mechanical) transmissions have losses. There is no such thing as a lossless transmission.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 6 years ago | (#23136728)

Economic reality will eventually cause cars in America to approach what they are elsewhere in the world: primarily for short-range travel. $4/gal gasoline has only caused whining. Real behavior change will happen as prices near $7 or $8.

One thing about the people of the USA. We *Love* our high performance gas burning cars, trucks, and SUVs. Once fuel prices reach those levels, expect a huge black market for fuel and massive amounts of thievery..tank-truck hijackings, theft from gas station holding tanks, break-ins and paperwork fraud at refineries, maybe even black market small-scale refineries with "gas-runners" reminiscent of the moonshine runners, etc.

I expect it could even rival the "war on drugs" in scope eventually as there will be a huge demand, with an equally huge profit potential similar to the illegal drug market. I could even see a point where a gas-vehicle driver would be required by law to keep and produce fuel logs, receipts, and mileage logs on demand along with a license and proof of insurance at a traffic stop. I could see random traffic checkpoints set up similar to the random drunk-driving checkpoints used in some states, only with vehicles being checked for fuel logs/receipts and hidden fuel-transport tanks.

It reminds me a bit of the old Rush song, "Little Red Barchetta".

Cheers!

Strat

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23136814)

Fantasy. Armchair engineers. Sure, the internal-combustion engine in your car is technically removeable. Along with the fuel system, exhaust system, cooling system, etc. Making their removal easy and practical for the uninitiated in a consumer product is just crazy.

Really? wow. I'll have to contact the Pontiac and VW engineers and tell them that they are stupid morons as a guy on slashdot says what they do is fantasy.

Most pontiac cars, the drivetrain is INCREDIBLY EASY to remove as a module. It's on a fricking cradle 4 bolts and it separates from the car, unplug and go. VW also does this.

They make it easy because the moron engineers make it impossible to do normal maintenance without engine removal for something like spark plug replacement or in the case of some Pontiac cars, the Battery. therefore easy drivetrain removal is needed so that service centers can do it quickly to maximize profits.

Personally, all auto engineers need to be beaten hard for every thing they design that is not easy to maintain for the parts that need it. A baseball bat to the knees is par for making it impossible to replace spark plugs without engine removal.

I blame it on lack of education to you engineers.

Re:Plug in hybrids not electric only (1)

bitrex (859228) | about 6 years ago | (#23135642)

The US is screwed in that respect -- a pathetic rail system and approximately none of it electrified.
I'm not sure where people get the idea that the US has a pathetic railroad system - there's over 140,000 miles of track currently in freight operation. Rail accounts for 40% of all freight-ton miles, more than any other mode of freight transport. The tonnage hauled per year has been increasing steadily over the past 15 years. Personally, I'd call the US rail system our hidden jewel.

sniff? (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 6 years ago | (#23134044)

Tesla Motors seems to be shifting from the high-tech company re-writing Detroit's script to another Silicon Valley startup trying to sniff out the competition.

"Sniffing" out the competition would mean Tesla is trying to figure out who their competition is. I have a feeling that the intended word should be "snuffing" out the competition, which would mean Tesla is being anti-competitive, which seems to be what the article is talking about.

Familiar situation (4, Interesting)

wrook (134116) | about 6 years ago | (#23134088)

I'm curious. Is Tesla looking for more investment money? TFA has an all too familiar ring to it for me. I've worked in a number of startups before. When you're 90% the way there and you run out of money, one of the tactics I've seen is to:

1. Stop paying your bills
2. Get into a big court case that effectively ties you up until your development has a chance to deliver.
3. Go to potential investors and say "Well, we would have delivered on time if it weren't for our competitors cheating. We're in court with them now. As soon as the court case finishes we'll get a good chunk of cash *and* we'll be in full production.

As wacky as it sounds, it's better than saying "Well, we didn't quite meet the sales window, but we're hoping you'll give us more money so that we can keep working..."

I'm not saying this is what is happening. It's looks very similar to what I've seen on a couple of occasions.

Re:Familiar situation (2, Interesting)

iamsamed (1276082) | about 6 years ago | (#23134108)

I've never been in that situation but I understand that if you start missing deliverables, the VCs usually have some sort of clause that enables them to throw you out on your ass. You lose everything.

Re:Familiar situation (2, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 years ago | (#23134304)

They are delivering their roadster and are backed by a billionare with plenty of money. I doubt that this is the case. I think that the real issue here, is that fiskers delivered an inferior product to Musk while at the same time, stealing Tesla's IP to be able to create their own.

Re:Familiar situation (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 6 years ago | (#23136154)

Bingo. And after Musk got hosed by the whole Paypal fiasco, I doubt he's going to let Fisker pull this crap based on principal alone, no matter how much he has to spend to fight him.

It's divorce-type litigation (0)

Animats (122034) | about 6 years ago | (#23134546)

It's one of those stupid divorce-type business litigations, where someone involved with the project went off to do one of their own. It's a vague trade secret case. But the "secrets" are available to anyone who buys one and takes it apart. That, incidentally, is normal practice in the auto industry; all the big automakers buy each other's new models and disassemble them.

There's not really much innovation in the Tesla; it's a bunch of laptop batteries, an electric drivetrain, and liquid cooling on the batteries and motor. It's like a Prius with a case mod and a Coolermaster.

Re:It's divorce-type litigation (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 6 years ago | (#23136244)

You my friend need a lesson in patent law and the Tesla Roadster.

First, when someone sinks millions or billions of dollars into R&D, and than patents the resulting technology, you don't get the pleasure of buying the end product, reverse engineering it, and then making/selling said products yourself for pennies on the dollar. If patented, it's illegal, and personally I think people who think that's OK to do the above should be dragged out back for a "conversation".

Second, Tesla Motors (or more specifcally, Elon Musk) has sunk $35-$50 million dollars into R&D for the Roadster. If, like you say, "there's not really much innovation in the Tesla", why the hell aren't billion dollar car manufacturers churning them out by the train-car loads? Better yet, if it's "just a Prius with a casemod and a Coolermaster", why aren't you building one? Because the design wasn't easy and someone had to sink money and time into researching how to mate all the technology together and provide a consumer-friendly product.

Only on Slashdot can the majority of users bitch and complain about intellectual property law, yet most of said Slashdot users' employers exist because intellectual property law exists.

don't blame the victim (1)

EricBoyd (532608) | about 6 years ago | (#23134574)

Tesla got screwed over by Henry Fisker, and now they are trying to get some compensation (presumably after Fisker refused to settle outside of court). I wrote that this negativity would happen [xprizecars.com] on the day the lawsuit went public, and I truly hope it doesn't hurt the nacient EV industry.

I am especially hopeful that the Automotive X Prize [progressiv...xprize.org] will drive this industry forward - and on that count, don't you think it's interesting that Tesla is an official contestant, but Fisker is NOT? See X Prize Cars [xprizecars.com] for more information.

Tesla's High-Tech Lawsuits in Silicon Valley War (1)

FurryOne (618961) | about 6 years ago | (#23134578)

After reading the links I'm left scratching my head... I thought the whole point of Tesla was to build Electric cars, not Hybrids. I mean, let's face it - what kind of market is there for a $60K hybrid sedan when you can purchase a Prius for about 1/3 that amount? What happens if Toyota wakes up one day and says "We need a 2-seater hybrid", or "We need an upscale Prius" and actually builds one? In my opinion, Tesla has just admitted defeat - that they can't build an all-electric sedan for less money.

At Least.. (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 6 years ago | (#23134608)

At least Tesla and the other EV/REV startups aren't facing what Mr. Tucker faced when he decided he could build a better, safer car.

Yet.

Cheers!

Strat

Tesla needs to ship a product (1)

Animats (122034) | about 6 years ago | (#23135264)

I go by the Tesla dealership site in Menlo Park regularly, and it's still not open. Not even close. Their blog claims the car "began regular production" on March 17th, but they're not actually delivering cars.

They may still be struggling with the fragile transmission problem and the motor cooling problem.

Re:Tesla needs to ship a product (1)

Zuato (1024033) | about 6 years ago | (#23135314)

They've delivered one car so far (as reported) and that went to the CEO. So far they have not delivered a single production car to paying customers outside of employees of Tesla.

It's starting to look like they are heading down the litigation route that SCO was going. Hopefully they can actually deliver the product and not just sue people for IP.

Magna has already filed as suit against Tesla in regards to the transmissions used in their cars, so it should get interesting soon.

Re:Tesla needs to ship a product (1)

I kan Spl (614759) | about 6 years ago | (#23136614)

Funny... I've seen at least 3 or 4 Tesla roadsters driving around near Redwood City (CA) on a regular basis.

Somebody must be getting them.

Re:Tesla needs to ship a product (1)

Zobeid (314469) | about 6 years ago | (#23136978)

They have a lot of prototypes and demo cars, and have been giving test drives to people who are already on the waiting list, showing them off to magazine writers, etc. But the only person who's actually taken delivery of his own car thus far is Elon Musk.

Tesla shipping RSN (1)

Zobeid (314469) | about 6 years ago | (#23136942)

Tesla's flagship store -- in L.A. on Santa Monica Blvd. -- will have its debut on May 3. It won't actually be opening for business that day, but will be having an "open house" for customers and their guests, so they are calling it a preview.

The cars are being assembled, albeit at a very slow pace, and some of them I believe should already on the boat from England. Tesla's approach seems to be: assemble four or five cars and then put them on a ship in one lot. Then it takes a few weeks to cross The Pond.

Car number one has already been delivered a while back to Elon Musk. But I think car number two is the important one, since that's the start of "series production", and that's when they start handing the keys over to people outside the company. (Granted that Martin Eberhard isn't outside the company by his own choice.)

Sniff Out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23136430)

What, they want to see what the competition smells like?

It's because... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 6 years ago | (#23137016)

... their technology is snake oil, and they know it.

All they've done is turn out a couple of one-off prototypes that work *sometimes* but mysteriously don't seem to be usable when anyone with a camera and half an ounce of engineering nouse is around.

Funny that.

By Neruos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23139726)

No replacement auto will succeed unless it performs equal to that of the current production and that is just the fact of life, business and everything. Fuel cells, no matter how small you get, just will no cut it for electric, there currently is not a conversion that will produce electric for power out put, the science just isn't advanced enough yet.

35MPG * 18GalTank = 630Miles of running power (this does not include actual road miles) @ $27.00 USD in 2000 and $62.00 USD 2008. Unless the next replacement tech can match that or better, it will fail.

If you travel less then 50miles round trip a day, all these 'novelty' cars may help you out, but to the rest of the world, they wont.
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