Tesla S Adds Highest Safety Rating to Best Car Rating

Tesla S Highest Safety Rating

In this modern era of clean technology, the electric car is finally having its day.  Nikola Tesla would likely have been happy that 100 years after his discovery of alternating current, that his name represented the best safety in and best all-around motor vehicle.

It’s highly uncommon for a vehicle to receive a rating above 5 and officially it is impossible, but the Tesla S received a very impressive, effective 5.4 rating.  Most of this rating is due to how the vehicle deals with an impact. An electric motor takes up a great deal less space than internal combustion engine, thereby allowing the S to absorb more damage without pushing the motor into the passenger compartment.

In the Rollover Test, conventional methods proved impossible to cause the Tesla S to roll.  Instead the vehicle required a special circumstance to get it up off its wheels.  The primary reason for the incredible stability is that most of the batteries are in the floor, which drastically lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity.  Another thing that Tesla needed to do for these vehicles was to heavily reinforce the roof structure in the highly unlikely event that the S ended upside-down.  It would need to support more than 1000 lbs of batteries weighing down on the roof from the floor to keep from crushing the passengers.

These intelligent advancements in vehicle safety and proof thereof, are only going to further they cause of electric vehicles in the future. Tesla is proving itself above all its competitors including those who continue to manufacture only internal combustion.  And above all else it is surviving, where its predecessors (Tucker / Bricklin / Delorean) did not.

Tesla to Remove Side Mirrors, maybe

Credit: Eric VFX / Tesalmotorsclub

Its no secret that the side mirrors on any vehicle can cause extra drag.  It is likely that nearly every automobile manufacturer would like if it were possible to design their vehicles without this American mandate.  Tesla Motors may be the only car company with a legitimate position on this request.

The permanent and mechanical nature of current side mirrors on a car is not merely classic, but more traditionally reliable.  However for once, in the case of Tesla, the supposition to use monitors to access the rear side view is quintessential to the core idea of electricity.  If the power on a Tesla is unavailable to use to view the rear side monitors for the spaces of the vehicle, you wouldn’t merely be unable to see behind you, but drive at all.

But Tesla along with all electric vehicle manufacturers (and really any manufacturer who desires better fuel efficiency), could reduce wind-drag and improve the coefficient of air resistance to remove the rear side mirrors.  As an example, Nissan has already found a good use for the four camera system that they have on several of their vehicles.  Although the four-camera system does not currently address rear viewing, it does give the driver an over-head view of the vehicle when maneuvering in and out of parking spaces.

There are further advantages to using video monitors for rear views.

  1. By increasing the total space viewed by use of a wide-angle lens, to potentially eliminate blind spots.
  2. By changing the view when being used to park, to better track obstacles.
  3. By enhancing vision at night through alternate light such as infrared or sonar.
  4. By video feed of the last few minutes of a collision to a black-box
  5. The displays of these cameras can be placed in front of the driver, in the dash or as heads-up-displays so that they driver does not need to turn their head away from facing forward.
For now these changes may come slowly if at all, as each new advantage must be studied and verified.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will need to approve and vet each new concept to enable all manufacturers a safe and compliant technique.

Charging Station Rage and Solutions

Charging Stations
Credit: Oregon Electric Vehicle Assoc

Many drivers have run into the issue of road rage at some point, but charge station rage is somewhat new.  It’s a whole other situation that drivers of non-electric vehicles may not understand, but can possibly relate to.  In this post I will discuss the problems and the possible solutions both now and what may come in the future.

There are several types of electric vehicles currently available in the world; pure electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid.  As electric vehicles are new in the market, early adopters may find the the issues mentioned in this post commonplace, at least until electric vehicles are more common.  Pure electric vehicles do not have an alternative power source available, just as pure gasoline vehicles do not.  But in these modern times, finding a gas station is not too difficult.  Hybrid vehicles rely on the gasoline aspect to provide power and for the most part do not need an external connection to refuel their batteries.  Plug-in hybrids however also have access to gasoline, but in many cases the owner would likely rather use electricity whenever possible as it is much cheaper than gas.  
Since electric vehicles are still scarce, there is also a scarcity to the number of electric charging stations available (although the numbers are increasing daily).  Electric vehicles suffer from decreased range as well as elongated re-fueling times.  Often an electric vehicle will take hours to re-fuel, rather than the 5-15 minutes required for a gas vehicle.   And the typical range of a pure electric tends to fall between 60 and 110 miles (barring any Tesla Models). So when the driver of an electric vehicle arrives at a charging station to find any number of obstacles, anxiety is a common reaction. 
At the gas station, it’s a very rare event to leave the pump running for more than a few minutes.  It is just as rare is not more so to have a random stranger remove the nozzle and take it to their own vehicle or return it to the pump.  Who would do such a thing? But in the case of electric vehicles the situations are slightly different. 
Because of the long charge times and short ranges of electric vehicles, it certainly could be frustrating to arrive at an electric vehicle parking space and charging station, to find it occupied by another.  And likely even more so infuriating to find a non-electric vehicle in the spot. Hopefully the forethought of the driver of an electric vehicle, having the patience of a saint to have waited so many years for the re-advent of the electric vehicle, could wait a few hours longer for access to a charging station.  But when non-electric vehicles usurp the place, it shows the ignorance or deliberate animosity of that driver.  In any case, a cool head and a calm tongue will respond appropriately.  
Further legislation or actions that recognize the logistics in the use of electric cars will hopefully resolve these confounding problems.  
  1. An electric vehicle could have an display on the charge point to indicate total charge, thereby allowing the next customer an idea of how much time remains.  Most electric vehicles already have an app that can notify the owner of the status of charge, but not necessarily any one else. 
  2. The charging station connector could have an auto break-away that would disconnect the vehicle once it was done changing, giving an indication to the next customer that the current vehicle was done.  
  3. Street parking meters could all be replaced by dual functional charging station  / parking meters.
  4. Electric vehicles could use induction at the head undercarriage to have change take place without a corded interaction.  This could eliminate the fear of accidental or deliberate disconnects for the current customer.
  5. Parking lots could have special sections dedicated to electric vehicles only.
  6. EV parking spaces could be time-shared with ICE
These solutions are only with regard to current electric vehicle charging situations.  The hope by all is that in the future charging an electric vehicle will be as fast or faster than gasoline fueling and the range of electric vehicles will be comparable or greater than their gas-powered cousins.  
No matter the situation whether by usurpers or legitimate use, electric car owners should retain the peaceable perspective and level-headedness when dealing with the problems of these early charging station troubles.  We should consider the good fortune and grace that electric vehicle owners have managed to achieve by escaping the dependency on oil.  And despite these minor inconveniences at the charge station, the road is just that much more quiet from the use of electric vehicles than ever before. 

Competition in the EV Trailer Market

French Made EV Trailer

It seems that the concept of a generator trailer is growing in the electric vehicle market.  EP Tender, a French company has developed a tiny trailer that contains a generator.  The generator can extend the range of current electric vehicles up to three times.  The idea is not intended as a permanent solution, but like the eBuggy to only be used for longer distances.

Some people might balk at this saying that it to attach a gas-powered generator to the back of an electric vehicle is defeating the purpose of the electric vehicle.  And that would likely true if the trailer were used 100% of the time that the EV is driven.  In fact, in the case of this generator it would be worse as the motor is unregulated like a motorcycle engine.  But if the generator is only used when the driver is aware that the vehicle will need to go beyond it’s normal range, then the practicality is still real.

German-made EV Trailer

The aforementioned eBuggy is has been working on a similar idea in Germany for the last several years.  The concept is strikingly similar in that electric vehicle owners would not own the towables, but rather rent them when using highways between cities.  It’s not clear as to where the EP Tender would be available between uses, but the eBuggy design would have a depot.

AC Propulsion

It hasn’t really been since the early 1990’s and the T-Zero by AC Propulsion that anyone has set this much though to making a generator trailer for an electric car. But I’m all for it, until batteries get more capacious and cheaper.

Tesla To Perform Battery Swapping

Credit: Project Better Place

Ten years ago Shai Agassi attempted to do the impossible and build an electric car company that swapped batteries rather than develop the technology to increase capacity.  His idea was only ahead of it’s time by a few years.  Although the idea has been around, like the electric car, for over 100 years only now is it coming to fruition.  According to CEO, Elon Musk, Tesla will be announcing it’s new battery swapping technology on Thursday this week.

It’s nothing new to say that the Model S was capable of a battery swap as this feature was released with the announcement of the vehicle.  But with the success of the SuperCharging stations and the impressive acceleration of sales, it would seem like the best time to announce the ability to swap out the battery.

Last night, just after midnight, Elon tweeted that the “Live pack swap demo [will be] on Thurs night at 8pm California time at our design studio in Hawthorne. Seeing is believing.”

We will soon see, hopefully, if the future really is now.  I wonder if there will be cake or pie for guests?