Tesla Truck Unveiling 11/21

ajdelange

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Anyone want to take a stab at what the carbon payback time is for an EV? I’ve seen some studies, and I recall that the carbon payback is region dependant, and on the order of 5 years.
Payback time? As an EV does not remove any CO2 it can never recover the CO2 released in its manufacture, operation or recycling. One does, however, often see comparisons to similar sized ICE vehicles. The two long poles in the tent are the amount of CO2 released in the process of producing the battery and the amount released in operation. The latter clearly depends on where the electricity used to charge comes from. The CO2 released in Quebec (where power comes from hydro) is 0. In West Virginia where power comes from burning coal it is clearly much higher but still only perhaps 20% of that from an ICE vehicle. As estimates of battery carbon burden vary all over the place time to parity also varies all over the place. I've seen estimates of from 2 to 7 years.
 

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Payback time? As an EV does not remove any CO2 it can never recover the CO2 released in its manufacture, operation or recycling. One does, however, often see comparisons to similar sized ICE vehicles. The two long poles in the tent are the amount of CO2 released in the process of producing the battery and the amount released in operation. The latter clearly depends on where the electricity used to charge comes from. The CO2 released in Quebec (where power comes from hydro) is 0. In West Virginia where power comes from burning coal it is clearly much higher but still only perhaps 20% of that from an ICE vehicle. As estimates of battery carbon burden vary all over the place time to parity also varies all over the place. I've seen estimates of from 2 to 7 years.
So same studies I’ve seen.

best one I’ve read so far is here:

https://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/19457/Is-my-Electric-Vehicle-Really-Green.aspx


Does a good job of factoring in regional effects and references some data on battery carbon burden.
 

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I've spent enough time geeking out over these trucks now that I really don't see that many advantages the CT has over the R1T.

The big advantages are ~100 miles more range at (edit) at the top trim level only (/edit - previously said every trim) and the supercharger network. If either one of those matters enough to somebody, they are perfectly sensible reasons to go CT over R1T


The big subjective differences are, IMO:

* Size: bigger bed vs. better agility/easier-parking/city-viable

* The looks (I still think anybody who doesn't immediately recognize that the R1 headlights are stunning is off their taste rocker but subjective etc...)

Cost is less of a CT advantage if you want L3 and I think most of us ultimately do or at least will whether we know it now or not. CT's mid-level trim is 57k with FSD (for now - assuming Tesla continues to bump that up over time). Rivian will not be making Musk's very big mistake of adding the feature as an inflating-over-time upcharge if you don't lock it down now, so that's built-in. And Rivian's got plenty of full tax credits left, so the mid-trim Rivian R1T is going to be about 61,500.

At the mid-tier, I like what I'm getting from an R1T for the cost of:
* less charging infrastructure convenience in the near-term
* 300 instead of 400 miles
* 4,500 more dollars.


Across all trims:

* R1T always has 4 motors per wheel. CT gets 1-3 total depending on the trim level. This is massive. The 4-motor torque vectoring and slippage/traction control will make CT handling a joke compared to the R1T at the lower trim levels and I expect Rivian will maintain an outsize advantage here at the top trim as well. What happens when you actually turn that steering wheel has not historically been as big of a priority for Tesla as straight-line acceleration and Rivian maintains the all-wheel-motor advantage even at the top tier.

* R1T is more than merely air suspension at each trim level. It has a kinetic suspension. That's an air plus linked hydraulic system meant to eliminate the downsides of air and eliminate the need for rollbars. I'd wager this is in part what they poached the McLaren guys for; supercars like McLaren being the sort of cars that currently equip a system like this. This pickup is basically a supercar/truck hybrid.

* R1T will be way better at offroading. Tesla hasn't made a strong case for it in their current lineup, nor in their marketing of the CT. The previous two bullet points alone make the case for the R1T. For CT offroading, you're probably going to want to pay extra for the ATV.

* R1T is much faster at the first two tiers. Near tie at the top trim with Rivian's longer range actually being .3 seconds slower to 60 but the mid-tier is probably a near-tie with top CT in RL at .1 slower.

* The interior is less subjective, IMO. We can debate subjectively about looks (I guess, but... lol), but the packaging is more empirical. The CT's brutalist minimalism looks roomy but as always they're not doing so hot in the personal item stowage department.

* More consideration for the big-giant-battery-on-wheels factor. You can plug into the battery all over the place in the Rivian. I can have fridge in my frunk and a kitchen running out of my gear tunnel in addition to running stuff out of the bed. I'm not so sure the CT will have that many different places where you can hook up to the battery. I'm pretty confident that's not the case with any of Tesla's current models. Even if the CT ultimately does have that same level of battery-accessibility, the gear tunnel at least, is still a big plus over the CT in its own right.


Advantages I'm only guessing/predicting:

* Temperature control/sustained driving under load - Rivian's cold-plate sandwich design sounds legit to me. I think it will do a lot better than a Model X towing big loads and I suspect it will outperform the CT too unless Tesla corrects their historical priorities in this regard. I would expect an unmodified R1T to do much better at an endurance run on a track than any current model of Tesla and most likely the CT.

* Cold weather handling will be far superior in a Rivian. Designed in Michigan. Designed for the not-just-central-CA-outdoors. And they've got a lot of different ways to channel heat to the battery as it builds in different parts of the car. I'm highly confident Rivian will have the edge here.


The thing about the CT that would make me worry the most if I were seriously considering it:

* The exoskeleton. How hard is it to access the interior when you run into a wiring or suspension problem? How expensive will it be to repair the unibody when something much larger than a bullet yet faster than a sledgehammer puts a bowling-ball sized crater in this one gigantic lump of cold-rolled steel? Tesla doesn't have a great record on thinking ahead about car servicing/maintenance considerations and this is a radical departure from a conventional auto body approach that could make owning a CT a giant PITA if you run into any problems with it. I've always liked Tesla for taking risks, but this looks like one of the not very carefully managed ones like falcon doors and power-everything in the Model X, or those Model S maintenance-PITA door handles.
 
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Coast2Coast

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Pherdnut, nice analysis and write-up. Maybe I can add my 2 cents and hopefully a little more.

Cost. It's really too soon to know what the pricing of the CT will be and, historically, the least expensive trims in the Tesla vehicle lineup are hard to get, if not down right impossible to secure. Given that Tesla's tax credits are expiring, and there's a greenfield ahead for Rivian's credits, I'm thinking the cost difference may a couple thousand at best.

Battery tech. Rivian's cold plate sandwich design may be important, but we don't really know. Tesla's battery tech keeps getting better and Tesla's shown a willingness to work with different battery partners, Panasonic and LG Chem, as well as different battery configurations and chemistries. I'm not sure which firm has an advantage here, but you have to give Tesla credit for millions of miles of accumulated battery development, production and management experience with five different models - coupe, S, X, 3 and Y - on the road.

Charging network. A clear win for Tesla in terms of cost, convenience and size of network.

Autonomous driving tech. Tesla has hundreds of thousands of vehicles on the road. In spite of concerns about reliability, an up-and-running autonomous driving system, being tested and proven on an hourly basis, has to be considered a win relative to a system not yet deployed. Advantage Tesla.

Across all trims. To your list, I would add a few more factors. The practicality and versatility of the Rivian models, on and off road, are impressive. We don't yet have CTs to compare with, but practicality and versatility are the Rivians' strong suit. And, as you say, maneuverability is another Rivian win and I would add better visibility. There's also more model choices, the R1T and R1S, and both boast, at least in my opinion, better designed, friendlier interiors. I believe there will be much higher levels of customization possible with the Rivian models, as Rivian has been working quite a while with suppliers of kitchen, camping and tenting equipment.

Service. This will likely be an area of major difference. At the Mill Valley/SF Rivian event, every single Tesla owner I spoke with, at least a dozen, complained about service and maintenance. This highlights a huge difference between Tesla and Rivian with respect to how to run an auto company. Tesla tries to do everything itself, including doing such non-automotive things as making seats. Given that modern motor vehicles have thousands of parts, components, sub-assemblies, assemblies and systems, trying to do everything in-house is daunting. Trying to do everything well in-house, that's frankly impossible.

Rivian has chosen a more traditional approach. It focuses its efforts in doing a limited number of things well, and it chooses partners who are good at doing the other things that Rivian doesn't choose to do. So, Rivian has partners. And three of Rivian partners - Amazon, Cox and Ford - are likely to be highly beneficial in the area of service and maintenance. And these are the partners who are known at the moment. More will follow. This is likely to be a huge win for Rivian.

Again, I'm trying to add to the CT vs Rivian comparison. It's really too early to say anything definitive, but objectively and subjectively Rivian is clearly winning in my opinion.
 

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Pherdnut, nice analysis and write-up. Maybe I can add my 2 cents and hopefully a little more.

Cost. It's really too soon to know what the pricing of the CT will be and, historically, the least expensive trims in the Tesla vehicle lineup are hard to get, if not down right impossible to secure. Given that Tesla's tax credits are expiring, and there's a greenfield ahead for Rivian's credits, I'm thinking the cost difference may a couple thousand at best.
They've already committed to pricing for each trim here:

https://www.tesla.com/cybertruck/design#battery
 

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Tesla "commitments" have not always matched reality.
Well, yeah, and lol at them actually making their launch date with no shared parts with any other Tesla and a design that's more radical than the years-delayed Model X, but I'm not sure they could deviate from a cash-down pre-order commitment without getting into legal trouble.

What's going to be hilarious is seeing how they jump from their mid-tier's 300 mile range to 500 and 4.5 to 60mph to 2.9 with less actual space for battery than their mid-tier due to the extra motor. Might just be a 2-seater cabin for the expensive CT.
 

ajdelange

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Well, yeah, and lol at them actually making their launch date with no shared parts with any other Tesla
They probably wouldn't make their launch date had they no shared parts with other Tesla's but obviously they do - lots of them. Motors, inverters, rectifiers, computers, brake assemblies, motor assemblies, steering gear, HVAC components, lights, cameras, software......

...and a design that's more radical than the years-delayed Model X,
Part of the beauty of the design is that it represents an appreciable simplification in manufacturing. No gull wing doors.

What's going to be hilarious is seeing how they jump from their mid-tier's 300 mile range to 500 and 4.5 to 60mph to 2.9 with less actual space for battery than their mid-tier due to the extra motor.
[Edit]I'm changing this to get to the point much more directly
You re thinking upside down. They don't build the low performance car and then add extra stuff. The build the high performance car and then take stuff out. This the approach Rivian is taking and that Tesla will take. Thus they'll build the trimotor 500 mile CT first and then remove battery and motors to make the lower range versions. The question is not, thus, how will they get the extra battery and motor in but rather what will they do with the extra space when the take the extra battery and motor(s) out.


Here's where my old response stated:

Clearly the only way to get a vehicle substantially heavier than the X to go faster than the X and farther than the X is to have new battery technology i.e. higher specific energy cells/packs. And clearly they do have these in the laboratory evolved enough at this point in time that they feel they can start taking orders or at least reservations for orders at this time. IOW they have enough data at this point in time to think they will have that stuff out of the lab and on the assembly floor in a couple of years. There isn't room for improvement in motor or inverter efficiency as those things already have efficiencies in the high 90's and there isn't room for much improvement in drag because drag isn't that big a factor in range. But they will still go for improvements in those areas, of course. But the big push is going to come from the batteries and the CT was clearly designed based on the breakthroughs we are all anticipating on "Battery Day". So they design the new truck with the new battery. What can we do with these new batteries and three PMSWM's? Answer: 500 miles and amazing 0 - 60 times. What's next? Take out half the battery and 2/3 of the motors. What can we do with that? Respectable range and acceleration and now we've got extra room. What shall we do with that?

Now I don't actually expect them to make any particular delivery date. I'm trying to think of any project in my lifetime experience that has ever delivered on the original schedule. Corona virus alone has pushed them back and there will be more things like that. We used to say "Divide the lines of code by the lines per week estimate then double that then double it again".

[Edit] I have to take that back as the Tesla Model Y deliveries have actually started 3 - 6 months earlier than expected.
 
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[Edit]I'm changing this to get to the point much more directly
You re thinking upside down. They don't build the low performance car and then add extra stuff. The build the high performance car and then take stuff out. This the approach Rivian is taking and that Tesla will take. Thus they'll build the trimotor 500 mile CT first and then remove battery and motors to make the lower range versions. The question is not, thus, how will they get the extra battery and motor in but rather what will they do with the extra space when the take the extra battery and motor(s) out.
The cold rolled steel unibody thing is very interesting, particularly the cost-reduction factor. Also new, and in Tesla's hands a highly likely service liability. I respect his accomplishments but it does seem to take Musk a few repeats before he learns from his mistakes in a lot of cases. The model Y was specifically designed to not get delayed, but it's still impressive they got it out two quarters early. I'm not so sure they're going to pull that off with the CT. That doesn't look like something you'd be able to manufacturer like a normal car, and I'm aware the Y also has a unibody.

But what I'm thinking is that they didn't design their top tier first. I think it's a good bet they've been actively designing the CT since before the R1 series debut came out of nowhere. Consider that they chose to build their mid-range prototype for the unveil. The interesting thing about the lower two CT tiers is that they have comparable range but get blown away in all other categories by the same R1T tiers (probably because the R1s keep the 4-motor arrangement at every tier and they're a bit smaller and displace less air). So why show a model so obviously outclassed by equivalent R1 tiers?

The mid-tier CT has the same range as an R1T but is slower by a full 1.5 seconds to 60, less towing, motors per axle rather than wheel, etc. But then their as-of-yet unseen top of the line model just happens to be .1 seconds faster than Rivian's fastest and a whopping 200 more miles range than their mid, putting it 100 more than Rivian's longest range. The jump from their low to mid-tier is less extreme and that's doubling the motors. The price difference from mid to top is also double their low to mid price diff. I suspect the reason the range and price jump from mid to long is so much more is that they needed to be be able to pull juice from a lot more channels to beat the size-class smaller R1T which means that version of the CT is going to be stuffed to the gills with batteries, giving it a crapload more range when you're not flooring it the whole way as a side-effect. But where are those batteries gonna go? Probably a whole bunch of places they wish they didn't have to put them.

Remember, they were giving people rides in it. Wouldn't you want your speediest version for that? Rivian also films and does showings with their mid-range, which also happens to be their fastest, but also doesn't lose the space to battery that the long-range-tiers do, making them more ideal to demo. The LR R1S loses its third row. The R1T just loses the storage under the backseats. But consider that the CT is pushing a lot more air than Rivian and adding a third motor.

I think their mid-range was their original top-tier. They were talking about 3 motors for plaid mode but every Tesla trim strategy prior to Rivian and the CT debut was 1 or 2 motors. Then Rivian showed up. And now Musk is promising something his people haven't figured out how to do in a not-ugly way yet. So they demoed the pre-Rivian model they had in the works and called it their mid-tier.
 

ajdelange

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But what I'm thinking is that they didn't design their top tier first.
You are, of course, free to think whatever you like but engineers don't think that way. What probably happened is that Elon said "We need to build a truck. Let's see what we might be able to do in the 2020 time frame with the technologies we expect to have around then." It wouldn't have taken the design team long to conclude that with such technology they could do a 500 mile range truck with a 6.5' bed that could tow 14,000 pounds 200 mi and, that if they could get the market to accept unpainted bent stainless fabrication, do it for under $70K. After a couple of years of evolution of Maxwell and Hibar etc tech, and some focus groups, and the PMSRM it became apparent that they could indeed do a 500 mile range truck that can tow 14,000 pounds 200 miles for under 70K which should have tremendous appeal to the pickup truck demographic and so they build a chassis, put a motor or motors in it with some batteries and roll it out for people to see. You can be sure that they designed for the 14,000 pound 200 mi requirement because that it the most stringent requirement and if it can meet that it can do anything less. Once having designed a vehicle that meets the defining requirement it is a piece of cake to take out a motor or two and a few cells to produce vehicles of lesser performance at lower price.


I think it's a good bet they've been actively designing the CT since before the R1 series debut came out of nowhere.
Yes, Elon has been talking about a truck for a long time.

Consider that they chose to build their mid-range prototype for the unveil.
They didn't. They hand built a chassis that would withstand the stresses of towing 14000 lbs 200 miles and put current production (Model 3) batteries and a Model 3 motor(s) in it. All it had to do was roll out onto the stage (remember the infamous Faraday roll out?), take some folks for demo drives and convey Elon to Nobu's.

The interesting thing about the lower two CT tiers is that they have comparable range but get blown away in all other categories by the same R1T tiers (probably because the R1s keep the 4-motor arrangement at every tier and they're a bit smaller and displace less air). Sorry, I'm not following this. What are "all the other categories"? All the CT models have a larger bed. They all have greater approach angles. They all have more ground clearance and better (or equal in one case) range. None have 4 motors.

So why show a model so obviously outclassed by equivalent R1 tiers?
What they showed was what the CT's, all of them, will look like and projected (on the screen) the performance numbers for all of them. The thing they showed was not any one of the production models. It was a Cybertruck frame with current production batteries and a current production motor (most likely - I really don't know what was in it).

The price difference from mid to top is also double their low to mid price diff. I suspect the reason the range and price jump from mid to long is so much more is that they needed to be be able to pull juice from a lot more channels to beat the size-class smaller R1T which means that version of the CT is going to be stuffed to the gills with batteries, giving it a crapload more range when you're not flooring it the whole way as a side-effect. But where are those batteries gonna go? Probably a whole bunch of places they wish they didn't have to put them.
In going from the vehicle they designed to pull a large trailer to a less expensive model not intended primarily for trailering they take out a motor and half the batteries. In going from that to a "city only" model they take out a motor. Even at $100/kWh 100 kWh of battery capacity is $10K. That would mean $10K for the motor which fits the published pricing.


Remember, they were giving people rides in it. Wouldn't you want your speediest version for that?
I would hardly be able to demonstrate 2.9 sec 0 - 60 in the parking lot. But anyway the speediest version doesn't exist. In fact none of them exist though if they intend to use the 3 motor and put a 3 motor or perhaps even two 3 motors in what they demoed would be close to the what the production dual will be.

... but also doesn't lose the space to battery that the long-range-tiers do, making them more ideal to demo. The LR R1S loses its third row. The R1T just loses the storage under the backseats.
You are still thinking inverted. When RJ sat down with his initial design team the conversation would have been much the same as with Elon and his "Here's the technology. What kind of a truck can we build with that?" Answer: something that goes 400 mi and tows 10,000 lbs 150 miles. At that time (a whole 15 months ago!) 400 miles was pretty exciting (it's what got me to pull out my credit card) and as the market is more likely to be towing a camper van than a 14,000 lb 5th wheel rig hits squarely in the center of Rivian's target market. So that's what they designed for. Now what about the market that doesn't want to spend close to $100,000? Well we can take out half the battery and save them a lot of bucks AND we can use the space occupied by the battery we took out for something else (storage). Wonder what Tesla will do with the extra space in its 1 and 2 motor versions?


But consider that the CT is pushing a lot more air than Rivian and adding a third motor.
Drag actually has relatively little to do with it in most regimes. I think both R1T and CT are going to turn in about 2 mi/kWh.

I think their mid-range was their original top-tier. They were talking about 3 motors for plaid mode but every Tesla trim strategy prior to Rivian and the CT debut was 1 or 2 motors.
Could be, I suppose, but I don't think it was long before Tesla realized the implications of their new battery technology and the PMSRM. The motors they'e had for a while. The batteries were, a couple of years back, much more iffy. So they decided to check out a 3 motor traction system to be ready in the event the battery people came through. Thus Plaid is thought to be (at least by the local Tesla emoloyees) - a test bed for the CT TriMotor traction system. All furphies, of course, but makes sense (as so many furphies do).

And now Musk is promising something his people haven't figured out how to do in a not-ugly way yet.
They certainly have figured out how to do it but not for $70K with a stamped painted body. To some it is ugly. To some it looks cool (which was Elon's hope) even though the market is guys over 50. About half a million of them have been reserved.

So they demoed the pre-Rivian model they had in the works and called it their mid-tier.
They demoed a design which they are very confident they can build to the most demanding spec at close to the current reservation price. Looks as if they have a winner to the point that I am beginning to be fearful for Rivian. The CT outperforms the R1T in every category I care about (e.g I don't care about the extra 1.8° departure) at every trim level and is less expensive. I don't care very much that the Rivian is more elegant looking. At this point the biggest appeal of the R1T is that I'll get it sooner. I hope they don't slip on delivery because I am very much looking forward to owning one but if it looks as if the CT is going to deliver only a few months later than the R1T coupled with the Super Charger situation that might be enough to cause me to cancel..
 
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