Category Archives: Energy

School Fire Caused by Tesla Solar

The buried lede in a story about Tesla defects in solar, which started a school fire, is the question of what is an acceptable rate.

…representatives told the Unit school board the U.S. Department of Energy estimates only one in 10,000 solar arrays have a malfunction of the nature seen at Olympia. Halo’s staff told the school board they couldn’t speak to that particular system, they said the technology has improved despite there being no recalls issued for the defective connectors.

Henkes just shakes his head when it comes to the one in 10,000 figure being used to say solar panel fires are rare. He calls it voodoo that one in 10,000 is a low risk and would like to find out who at the Department of Energy is spreading that around. One in 10,000 would be 0.01%. Henkes says that’s arson.

Henkes points out that if we go to six sigma, an industry standard used to reduce defects, reduce errors, minimize variation, increase quality and increase efficiency, “We are looking at the target rate for industry is 0.0000034 percent.”

That’s a truly huge difference. And a 0.01% rate would be like 10 schools on fire when you think about 100,000 or more units (number of school buildings in the US).

Illinois school fire due to Tesla defects. Source: WGLT

Electric 1987 Nissan Sunny LEAF Vintage Pickup

I just can’t get enough of Nissan EV news. When I heard from Toyota how they would leapfrog Nissan in solid-state battery production… I thought NO WAY was this the only angle. Nissan typically is way ahead on innovations so I poked around and found this nugget from them at SEMA 2022.

…the electric drive motor and 40-kWh lithium-ion battery pack from a Nissan LEAF. Rated at 147 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, the LEAF motor has around twice the power and more than three times the torque of the gasoline four-cylinder engine originally equipped in the Sunny.

Tommy Pike Customs (TPC) dropped a LEAF powerplant into a vintage Nissan truck — boosted it with way more power, and way less pollution, than its four-cylinder gas burner — while still running a factory original 56A manual transmission.


A manual EV compact pickup with 3X torque? A low cost zero-emission locally powered (solar) hauling machine?

Yes please.

The Nissan Sunny EV is a true ray of sunshine

Adding power meant upgrading the handling, of course. So they also dropped in a 240SX S13 front suspension — front coilovers, disc brakes and lower control arms.

Have to say it reminds me of the 1998 Electric Ford Ranger, as well as the old Chevy E10 Bolt pickup concept, but still this Nissan has its manual transmission and is drivable today.

In 2006 I worked with a Silicon Valley engineer who commuted from the mountains using solar power for their 1998 Ford Electric Ranger (60 mile range was plenty). They fought hard to keep it as their daily driver and won… one of the few 1990s EV on the road that weren’t erased from existence by the Bush Administration.
Chevy stuffed a Bolt EV inside their E10 pickup concept.

Every time an auto blogger suggests the reliable and smart LEAF is “tired” to them because it was the first EV to be mass produced, I see real hotrod potential. This LEAF conversion kit for old compact pickups might just be exactly what small town America needs right now.

Talk about turning over a new LEAF! In she goes for some Sunny days. Source: TPC

And on that note, Toyota seems to have… nothing (their hydrogen AE86 Collora being about as exciting as breathing amonia). Well done Nissan. Well done.

Panasonic Announces Solid State Battery for 2027 Toyotas

Toyota’s recent announcement regarding their solid-state batteries has caused a stir in the electric vehicle (EV) market, with the company positioning itself as a front runner in revolutionizing the industry. The credit for this breakthrough largely goes to Panasonic, as acknowledged by Toyota’s PR team.

Toyota is developing the solid-state batteries through Prime Planet Energy & Solutions Inc., a joint venture with Panasonic that started operations in April 2020…

By 2027, they aim to have solid-state batteries in production cars, a timeline that has impressed many observers.

A trip of 700 km on one charge. A recharge from zero to full in roughly 10-15 minutes. All with minimal safety concerns. The solid-state battery being introduced by Toyota promises to be a game changer not just for electric vehicles but for an entire industry. The electric vehicles being developed will have a range more than twice the distance of a vehicle running on a conventional lithium-ion battery under the same conditions. All accomplished without sacrificing interior space in even the most compact vehicle.

The success of a Japanese automaker leading global EV innovation should be no surprise, considering historical circumstances that have pushed them towards producing high-quality, modern EV engineering. Following WWII, with a necessary emphasis on using existing hydro-electricity (given oil refineries destroyed), Japanese war factories were repurposed under US occupation to develop early expertise in EV production. The amazing 1947 “bomb bay” hot-swap battery Tama EV is a perfect example:

During the 1940s’ switch to a peacetime economy, around 200 Tachikawa Aircraft employees moved to the newly established Tokyo Electro Automobile Co. Ltd., which embarked on the development of an electric car with “bomb bay” hot-swap batteries. One reason for this was the extreme shortage of gasoline at the time (infrastructure bombed by Allies) yet a surplus of electricity from hydro-power. In 1947, the company succeeded in creating a prototype 2-seater truck (500-kg load capacity) with a 4.5-horsepower motor and a new body design. It was named Tama after the area where the company was based.

While Nissan is often recognized for launching the first modern mass-market EV with their 2010 LEAF (not including their 30-year innovation cycle that produced earlier models like the 1980s Lektrikar or the 1950s Tama), Toyota’s recent announcement suddenly positions them one step ahead, with solid-state batteries expected to reach mass production in 2028.

Collaborating with Panasonic has played a crucial role in Toyota’s progress, leveraging expertise in laptop engineering, to further cement both as premier electronic innovators. Many people are unaware that the real technological innovation found in Apple Air laptops could be traced back to Panasonic’s Toughbook, which usually hit the market two years earlier.

Honda, too, has plans to introduce solid-state batteries, likely trailing behind Nissan. Their expected timeline aligns with other global players like the United States, Germany, Taiwan, and Korea. Ford, BMW, and Hyundai are represented by Solid Power. Mercedes and Stellantis are part of Automotive Cells using ProLogium batteries. Volkswagen and several other EV manufacturers are represented by QuantumScale. So everyone who matters in car production clearly has been shifting towards solid-state battery innovation.

That’s why Toyota’s partnership with Panasonic and their surge ahead of other Japanese EV makers is the first sign of a significant triumph. Surpassing EV industry-leading Nissan in this regard is very noteworthy.

The second indication of a triumph lies in the global shift of Panasonic’s innovative prowess and production capacity back to Japan, away from cars known more for an over-cooked “fit and finish” lifestyle brand of California or cruel inefficiencies and tax-avoidance of Texas.

On that note, Toyota’s leap ahead of Nissan should probably be attributed to an early recognition in 2012 of obvious safety design failures of Tesla. The predictable dangers (which have been repeatedly proven true, given over 70 people killed from Tesla fires alone) prompted Toyota management to prioritize battery safety and embark on an ambitious journey. Their hybrid-engine Prius positioned them sufficiently in competition with early EV models such as the enormously successful Nissan LEAF — best-selling EV in the world until 2019. Toyota meanwhile quietly filed thousands of EV battery patents, and publicly expressed interest in hydrogen as an alternative future (perhaps to distract from their quiet commitment to an EV battery revolution).

A close examination of Toyota’s recent battery-focused PR campaign reveals a deliberate emphasis on travel distance, charging time, and safety, while conspicuously avoiding discussions of accident-causing quick acceleration or selfish track performance.

This marks a significant departure from the ex-Tesla engineers at Lucid, for instance, who have been fixated on record-breaking battery distances and track times. Neither of these metrics improve quality of life. Toyota is instead looking into key economic measures that have long aligned with traditional Japanese EV sensibilities as firmly set by American occupation after the 1940s.

The ability to spend less time charging batteries, longer intervals between charges, and risk avoidance take precedence for engineers thinking about improving the world. Stellantis Fiat (perhaps keying into the post-WWII sentiment of Italy) has effectively capitalized on these values through compelling advertisements, contributing to the success of their low-stress, small and dependable EV model.

The rapid and high-quality innovation witnessed in Japanese manufacturing since 1948 also draws parallels with Germany’s experience during the US military occupation, which compelled them to balance manufacturing speed with respect for humanity. Today it should not be overlooked that Japan, Germany, and even Italy largely reflect sensible global goals for what matters most in EVs, in stark contrast to Tesla’s misguided approach.

The South African-led racist “California” company trying to avoid or game regulations of any kind has prioritized low-quality, extreme acceleration in a straight line over other crucial factors, including safety, resulting in an alarming number of fatalities. It seems Tesla failed history 101 and instead embraced a childish fantasy of spaghetti westerns and white male domination, making them inherently and always one of the worst car companies to ever exist.

Tesla has faced repeated accusations of anti-competitive dishonesty, boasting about technologies they have failed to deliver and concealing significant design flaws that degrade their overall quality.

Recent revelations have even implicated the notoriously anti-worker Tesla in employing cheap, undocumented Polish labor to staff up German factories as leadership struggles to maintain control over its expansions into Asia.

Alleged flyer that Tesla has been handing out to workers in its German factory warning them of death penalty for drinking water, taking breaks or refusing orders.

It is notable that Tesla’s last real innovation occurred around 2012 when they angrily coerced Siemens, a German engineering firm, into constructing a factory to assemble Panasonic’s Japanese innovations into an unnecessarily powerful “S” sedan.

Their Model X was minor changes to make an SUV from their S. Their Model 3 was minor changes to make a smaller, cheaper S. Their Model Y repeats the X again and starts from the 3.

What’s that spell? S X 3 Y, because they spent more time thinking about how to get away with making dumb jokes for their own amusement than taking basic engineering steps required for hard work and innovation.

No wonder tech debt and defects are piling up faster and faster from increasingly less well made versions of the same thing.

Tesla’s innovation arguably peaked much earlier back in 2004 when the actual Mr. Tesla (Martin Eberhard) funded the AC Propulsion tZero conversion to lithium-ion batteries, and “forced” Lotus to do the hard work of achieving DOT, NHTSA, and FMVSS approval.

“I got the impression he just wanted to learn as much as he could,” said Tom Gage, who was president and CEO of AC Propulsion at the time. “So he started helping us out. He put some money into the company. And that’s the time when we were converting the tzero to lithium-ion, and he copied us on that.” AC Propulsion had loaded the tzero with lithium-ion batteries and it seemed to be working. […] “That was when we sort of had a showdown. Martin said, ‘I want to buy one.’ And I said, ‘We can’t, we’re not going to build anymore.’ And he said, words to the effect of, ‘Well, if you won’t build me one, I’ll start my own car company. That’s how Tesla got started.”

How Tesla got started took a sudden extreme right turn when unjustly-enriched unfocused and jealous man took delivery of a McLaren — shortly before he crashed it — and then jumped at the next flashy thing.

This kid ran like a cheating husband out of his uninsured $1m gasoline wreckage into the EV space, without understanding anything about anything other than corruption of power, all because his first love was beaten at the track by a tZero:

Source: “Tesla’s Little-Known Prehistory”, Autoweek, 1 Mar 2021

Consider this: 2004 was basically twenty years ago, and yet Tesla has become less desirable than ever. Their increasing frequency of failures and lawsuits necessitates the production of more new cars, each plagued with numerous problems. Junkyards are filling up with Tesla vehicles that can’t even reach 10,000 miles. Owners report rejecting delivery multiple times before finally accepting a car that is still marred by design flaws despite its exorbitant price tag.

Driving an old BMW (150kW Mini E in 2009) or Toyota (129kW RAV4 EV in 2012) equipped with the AC Propulsion electric drive now seems more sensible than wasting money on any Tesla ever produced.

The high-quality manufacturing standards of a MiniE are easy to see
The AC Propulsion eBox, a $50K Scion xB conversion kit announced August 18, 2006 that installed a 35-kWh battery using 5,300 Li-ion cells arranged into 100 blocks of 53.

It is worth noting that Panasonic continues to manufacture batteries for Tesla, yet the latter remains eerily silent regarding their solid-state battery plans. Tesla, known for prematurely announcing breakthroughs and seeking the spotlight with egregious lies, has chosen not to address this crucial aspect.

Everyone surely knows by now that Tesla boasting about achieving 300 mile battery range was based on an actual range of 150 miles. Tests repeatedly proved them shameless predatory liars. Money was spent on lawyers and propaganda, information warfare, as the technology was ignored.

Without fraud there would be no Tesla.

Thus, two developments represent significant victories for Toyota: surpassing the highly skilled team at Nissan with sold-state reaching production first, and effectively dealing a huge blow to faltering fraud of a notorious EV clown show. How soon before a free trombone is included with every Tesla?

The outcome has surprised some observers, in a masterful long-term strategic move by Toyota.

It remains to be seen whether Toyota will join forces with Panasonic also to announce a retrofit solution, enabling existing EVs to upgrade to new battery technology. Such a concept aligns with Mr. Tesla’s (Martin Eberhard) initial vision when he founded his company, before he was cruelly ousted by the current toxic charlatan Elon Musk, a tinpot dictator notorious for an obsession with power that has him disseminating Hitler memes through a centralized propaganda platform.

History has an uncanny way of coming back around, and Tesla now finds itself as irrelevant and stuck in the past as the Nazi Tatra, repeating old lessons along the way.

Toyota’s leapfrogging of Nissan and their decisive action against Tesla should not be underestimated. If you are considering purchasing an EV, it is imperative to choose a brand that has made solid-state battery commitments.

2023 Ford E-Transit Supervan Beats Tesla Plaid

For some reason top EV tuners decided to settle on a common Ford van as their platform to win Pikes Peak this year.

Source: Ford

“Together with our STARD partners, we have built the E-Transit SuperVan 4.2 to be a truly competitive machine focused on getting to the top of the mountain quickly,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “The Pikes Peak Hill Climb presents the perfect opportunity to showcase Ford’s electric vehicle technology and bring light to EV Performance.”

And they were right, their 50kw battery box turned in a stunning performance of second place overall with a time of just 8:47.682 (seven seconds behind a purpose-built F1 racecar), and first in class.

Some may remember the original Ford delivery van “super” concept in 1971 was a Ford GT40 chassis and mid-mounted 5.0-litre V8 (435HP). It ran 100mph in second gear but its aerodynamics were so scary drivers kept ruining the upholstery. That might explain the heavy body modifications on what they call their fourth release of the supervan concept, based on a 1,400HP tri-motor EV far more powerful than a GT40. Of course I wish they had joked “may the fourth win” and covered it with pictures of Princess Lea.

I’m not sure but I think the class that Ford was in this year, by far the largest class, was the “CEO isn’t a loud mouthed homophobic racist Nazi enabler“.

Source: NYT. Dec 20, 1922

As much as I have always hated Ford and their Nazi past, I have to say they seem to be coming around and, at least in this case, delivered the goods with an inspiring supervan.

Source: Ford. Before “super” treatment.

For comparison, and speaking of Nazi CEOs, the boring overpriced Tesla “privileged model” Plaid strained to get into 10th overall, placing second in the Exhibition class with a time of 9:54.901.

To put that pace in perspective, a local 1994 Ford Bronco clocked in 13 seconds later at 10:07.261. And on that note, a 1995 BMW M3 achieved a 9:20.433, half a minute ahead of Tesla’s best attempt.

At least this year a malfunctioning cheap touchscreen to control window defogging, one of the dumbest ideas in car history, didn’t force Tesla’s bogus “prestige” car to quit the race again.

It really wasn’t much of an exhibition. And it named itself the “Dark Helmet” as a pathetic self-own based on Mel Brooks’ depiction of Nazism.

…now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

Not kidding. The Tesla car officially was entered as a Hitler meme before delivering a bad performance. That makes Tesla the “are we the baddies” class of clueless classless losers.

Ford delivering a second place finish overall just seven seconds behind the leader, tells me they know exactly what to do for that win. But, perhaps more importantly, do they want their brand also to permanently dunk on Tesla’s love of fascism?

It’s right there in front of them, with the full weight of history, to do the right thing.

Source: Ford

The “fourth” won. See the opportunity just missed, Ford? Instead of a tank that could be the new E-Transit Supervan in production for victory against fascism.