Share →


It is not precisely an accident that we are evtv.ME instead of evtv.COM. It’s all about ME.

That may appear a shocking admission, but it is actually a communication technique. It gets your attention. And in a way, it’s quite true, I use my self as a comic foil to disengage from the world of self aggrandizement and ego that permeates virtually everything. My mission is of course to communicate sometimes perniciously technical detail to intelligent humanoids in hopefully understandable or more rational terms, with some context as to what it might mean for the future. It’s a mission I’m bound to fail at because the potential audience for such is quite varied across the scale of competence, education, and intellect. My intent is to fail productively.

I’m keenly aware that MANY of our viewers actually know a great deal more about the topic at hand than I do. And some segment of our viewership will be ill tasked to put two batteries in a pocket flashlight and get it right before the third try. And if you pay careful attention, you might find I repeat myself a bit. Actually I don’t at all. But if you have a solid grasp of the subject matter, it would seem so. Actually I’m saying the same thing several different ways. And it strikes different levels of viewership slightly differently, noting also that a SIGNIFICANT segment don’t actually hold American English as precisely their first choice in language.

And so a word on why EVTV is long, boring, and technical. Many of our viewers know exactly why. But the recent series of Model 3 and Solar explorations seems to have caused a dramatic influx of new blood into our little club. And that is a GOOD thing I suppose but problematic at the same time.

The universal reaction is “too long, sorry”. This implies very effectively that they are very busy very important people very focused on much more important things than our trivial videos. Or else it implies the attention span of a four year old. I imagine it varies.

I’ve spent 40 years following technology, not just its development and processes, but its impact and adoption. During a couple of previous rodeos, first involving the development of the Personal Computer, and subsequently the development of the Internet, two amazing and delightful things happened. The first was that by keen observation and deep dive, I discovered I was remarkably adept at fingering which parts where important and would change the future and the world, and which parts were, while perhaps technically interesting, inevitably destined to be part of the abandoned detritus along the freeway to the future. And this was both valuable and transferable. I could empower others to know these things as well.

The second and probably much more valuable “gift” granted me was a visceral understanding of how true CHANGE occurs in our society and particularly regarding the adoption of technology. How does it REALLY migrate, adapt, and evolve to bring meaningful and REAL alteration of our future.

The caricature is of Thomas Edison “inventing” the lightbulb. In truth, there were 23 prior art “inventors” of converting electricity to light. And Edison never was a “genius” though certainly clever. He tried to explain this a number of times but it wasn’t really in his commercial interest to correct it and it was an impossible act to perform anyway in the face of media coverage and subsequent books on the topic.

I can recommend Steven Johnsons’ Where Good Ideas Come From but I don’t entirely agree with some signficant parts of it. I think it is much more about the two guys in the garage and much less about the large organizations than Mr. Johnson apparently does. But the interplay and “connections” between a lot of sources is very real.

We are all interconnected. But advances do not come from governments and governmental leaders and almost never from “corporations” and large entities. It’s not that they can’t. It’s that they don’t.

The Frisco Railroad had all the engineers and all the aluminum necessary to easily create the DC-3. But Donald Douglas with a tiny few helpers actually did. And of course AT&T could EASILY have built the Internet. But they didn’t. In fact they fought against it. Now everyone is all a twitter waiting for GM and Ford and Daimler and VW to smack down the upstart Tesla. They can. But they won’t. Dyson Vacuum Cleaners might. Google might. Apple might. Chinese battery manufacturer BYD might. But its essentially a sure bet that General Motors won’t.

Eastman Kodak SHOULD have invented digital photography, they certainly had the resources to do it. But they preferred to sell off their office furniture at 6 cents on the dollar?

Most things are started small. And spread person to person. But it takes a specific KIND of person. They have to have a good mind. THey have to be curious. And they have to be willing to tinker with stuff that doesn’t quite work, often for a long time.

I built an electric car in a little over 2 months in 1980. It went 110 miles on its first charge and I still had pedal left at 94mph when my courage failed weaving in between trucks on Interstate 55 in a high wind in a light fiberglass convertible.

And I called then for 100,000 man army to build electric cars and show them to their brother in-law. I knew that if a 54 year old unemployable working half days falling down drunk in yellow shoes could build a car in his garage that went 24 mph over the speed limit and 110 miles on a charge, using NO gasoline and NO emissions, we didn’t precisely have an enormous TECHNICAL challenge in front of us. But the acculturation and adaptation required to move to battery powered magnetic drive for personal transportation was non-trivial. Everyone was FAMILIAR with batteries. And the familiarity was very akin to disdain. Would you believe that right this minute, 10 years later, over half of the U.S. population BELIEVE if they buy an electric car now they will have to replace the batteries within 2 years and at enormous cost? We’re winning. But we’ve not won.

We are well into the early adopter stage and my impact therein will diminish exponentially as electric vehicle sales rise and the metoo’s clamor and vie for attention as the reason for it all. I’m all good with that.

But years ago, I rather mastered the art of very targeted “micropublishing”. And to do so I had to learn a couple of non-intuitive central concepts. The mission isn’t to get ALL the readers. It’s to get the “right” readers and what constitutes “right” is very much about your mission. Above all, it is about making the WRONG readers go away quickly and at minimum expense.

Those are particularly key in fadish or popular areas. The problem with alternate energy, solar, and electric vehicles is that it draws huge crowds that are totally and completely USELESS and indeed can be DAMAGING to that mission. Environmental religious adherents – tree huggers – are just a shitshow horror of misdirected uninformed good intentions. And they annoy and alienate everyone they come in contact with.

The second group we refer to as copper foil helmets. These are people who wear copper or aluminum foil helmets on their heads purportedly to block out cosmic rays, gamma rays, neutron particles, gravity waves and of course to prevent both aliens and the U.S. government from reading their thoughts. But they have an endless series of ever more complicated variations on over unity energy schemes, perpetual motion, hydrogen electrolysis gasoline mileage enhancers, and more. I actually had a pair of these whackos pay me $10,000 to let them fly out and talk to me for a day. Fifteen minutes into the conversation I handed them their check back and asked them to leave the building in all due but safe haste. It took over an hour to convince them I was serious, I was REALLY handing them back their money and REALLY had no intention of any prolonged discussion regarding an investment of over $200,000 they had already made in a totally moronic perpetual motion machine of truly ridiculous description.

Many of you will find this of no surprise. Anyone who has been a PLAYER at any level in the EV game knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about. They’ve had to deal with it as well, just not at the scale a publisher does.

So ideally, I want ALL SEVEN BILLION humanoids to take a quick look at EVTV and then LEAVE peacefully, quietly, and inexpensively. The handful that stick around, I think I can provide some very interesting information with the specific INTENT to enable you to change the entire world to a cleaner, brighter, quieter, greener, more peaceful, less expensive, existence and a seriously higher standard of living for yourselves personally but really for everyone on the orb as well both directly and indirectly.

And I’m really QUITE good at it.

And so EVTV is quite technical. If you’re not already pretty intensely interested in that already, or have a very curious inventive mind you will find it extremely LONG and extremely BORING. And I let it run as long as the topic seems to need. No cat videos. No tits. No hip fast talking entertaining personality host. Do you think I couldn’t HIRE all that for not much over minimum wage? It’s by design.

I actually had a guy from the UK call and talk for hours how he wanted to basically do what I do but better, using a young beautiful talking head woman, some jazzy music and some professional camera work to make a very appealing fast paced video series on how to build an electric car yourself. I laughed out loud and encouraged him to do so and assured him he was not wrong he would have MILLIONS of viewers. That he might as well chain himself to the wagon bound for hell I might have failed to mention. He’ll find out soon enough. Copper foil helmets and green religion snowflakes aren’t a market for anything, can’t do anything, and no one wants to sell them anything because they never never BUY anything and they avoid actually DOING anything at all. That he would intentionally filter to ATTRACT them delighted my sense of whimsy. It might actually give me a place to dump these people beyond poor Jehu.

Today we face a fork in the road. A new age in a way. Solar is not new, but it is a curious thing. More than HALF of all residential solar installations in the U.S. have had the breaker turned on for the first time in the past 24 months. Nobody mentioned that I know. But it is true. And 97% of them have ZERO energy storage capability. If they lose the grid, the $70,000 investment on the roof can’t generate enough energy to charge an iPhone in a day of full sunshine. It’s “grid-tied”.

I have to tell you that it takes a certain amount of chutzpah and cajones to be able to just walk out back in your garage and seriously intend to just build your own damned car. We’re talking a tiny fraction of the male population, and no females of any kind.

But there is about two orders of magnitude MORE people who believe they can put a couple of photovoltaic panels out in the sun and hook them up to a used car starter battery. Unfortunately, 100x the number of players, 10,000x the number of copper foil helmets and tree worshippers in the Gaia persuasion. I watched in astonishment a guy bemoaning the gradual but measurable decline in the function of his two solar panels and his $30 charge controller, searching for a solution to the problem of his BATTERY APPROACHING FULL CHARGE!!! This was a 30 minute YouTube video.

Tesla is going viral. I’m not sure I really want to go viral with it. We did a segment on the Model 3 battery. And I was actually personally wounded by the huge number of comments regarding my age, girth, weight, shortness of breath, haircut, lack of eye shadow, small breasts, and so tiny ass, clothing and dress, my shoes, facial ticks, cigarette smoking, eating habits, and how they knew what I smell like from a video I will just never know.

But it doesn’t matter. These people are not our viewers and can’t ever be our viewers. And that is not a condemnation. MOST people just aren’t interested in this stuff. And most people don’t have the tools to BE interested in this stuff. What I don’t quite understand is why they would take the time to point out that I was the difficulty.

The bottom line is that many, indeed the vast majority of you, should NOT watch EVTV and indeed should just GO AWAY. Hopefully peacefully and quietly. That should leave me with a VERY small audience of very capable viewers equipped and inclined to change the world. Many of them provide ME with information which I then REFLECT much as a mirror to the others. In this way, the info is shared and accelerates the pace of change. And I overlook the fact that they at times run our videos at 2x speed to get to the part they are interested in at the moment.

We have apparently sprung an affiliate, Jehu Garcia, now condensing our 1:24 to a scant eight minutes. And it works. Current fadish interest in the Model 3 is such that we’ve had some 43000 views on our very secondary YouTube distribution while our viewership on our native Amazon AWS space is consistent. But Jehu sports some 63,000 views on his version for child minds.

At one point Jehu was actually a paid contributor to EVTV. But he fancied he could gain riches and fame as a YouTube personality and make millions from YouTube ads. I tried to explain how YouTube works but he assured me I just didn’t “get it”. How’s that working out for you Jehu?

The problem of course is that they won’t all comment to Jehu. Some are going to “leak” back to EVTV. And between the move to the much larger Solar universe and the fadish interest in the Model 3, I’m kind of “run over the top of” now.

So the bottom line for the “too long sorry” crowd is you’re “too short sorry” from our perspective. And while we could probably shorten our videos at whim, you can’t get any taller most likely.

Lady Astor commented at a dinner party to Winston Churchill “Sir Winston, why I do believe you are drunk.” Churchill was reported to have replied “And you Lady Astor, are ugly. On the morrow, I shall be sober.”

So some techniques that are hopefully NOT in your face and obvious but very deliberate at EVTV

1. We “opinionate” and contextualize technical information. I learned long ago that reading technical material off a spec sheet is a schnoozer. If you think EVTV is BORING now, you should see a version that way. By expressing an unqualified but strongly held opinion on a technical item, which is actually usually NOT very strongly held, it makes it more palatable and also more MEMORABLE. If high current capacity is BAD and not necessary and a “stupid thing to do”, for about half of you, it isn’t necessary and for about half, it’s just what you are looking for, and in any event ALL of you now KNOW that this type of device has a relatively high current capacity. Or this battery is less stable and more dangerous. Well that’s because it stores MORE energy in the same size package. You get the drift. It’s not that I hold these opinions in very high regard or with much tenacity. They are a communication technique I learned years ago and to good effect. It emphasizes that particular feature or aspect and it should be remembered.

2. Don’t talk down to the audience. We assume half our viewership is a lot smarter than we are. Of course that leaves the other half. But on balance, a signficant portion already knows much more on the specific topic at hand than we do.

3. Don’t hide mistakes. Success provides little value to anyone about anything. Errors and mistakes contain valuable information. It doesn’t matter how we “look”. If we share mistakes, you don’t have to make them yourself. You can vicariously steal our experience.

4. Do not rely on “common wisdom” industry practice, or tribal knowledge. If it IS such a way, it should be easy enough to hook it up and demonstrate that. And time after time after time I have found direct testing OFTEN provides surprising results. Passing on the same information you just got from somebody else who didn’t know either is not productive. I call it “typing yourself smart.” If you think it so, test it. If aren’t able to test it or view someone test it, then you are rumormongering and the misinformation could easily damage someone elses body or pocketbook.

The other aspect of this blog revolves around my astonishment at the level of technology in the Model 3. As I said, I guess I expected a smaller less expensive Model S. Rather, I cannot find a single CIRCUIT, a single device, a single NUT that could have come from a Tesla Model S. Ok the sun visor is suspiciously close. But beyond that not much. And I’m trying to suse out why a company would spend billions developing a highly successful EV, and then start with a clean sheet of paper on the next model and abandon all lessons learned wholesale, baby, bathwater, kit and kaboodle?

Mr. Wang Chuan-fu is Executive Chairman of the Board, President, Chief Executive Officer of BYD Company Limited. Neither Samsung nor Panasonic is the “largest battery manufacturer in the world.” BYD probably is.
Mr. Wang has an interesting approach particularly for a company stressing low cost replacement batteries. He hires the entire top 10% of ALL the engineering schools in CHina. Moves them to a campus where they are housed, fed, paid rather well by Chinese standards, and worked about 10 hours per day. At the end of the year, he fires 2/3 of them and brings in the next graduating class. Over time, he has amassed one of the largest pools of engineering talent in the world. They are by the way in just a few years now the largest electric bus manufacturer in the world and aiming to be the largest electric automobile manufacturer in the world.

Which is interesting in that Tesla has already achieved the status of ultimate automotive status symbol in China. In 2017 they sold $2 billion in Tesla cars representing already 19% of their automotive income. The Chinese car market became the biggest passenger car market in the world as of 2009, and annual production of automobiles in China exceeds that of the European Union or that of the United States and Japan combined. While Americans now buy about 17 million new cars and trucks per year, Chinese drivers purchased 22 million in 2017, a number that may rise to 29 million in 2018.

Volume isn’t the only way China represents an alternative automotive universe, either. The Chinese car universe is not governed by the whims of buyers. Facing a crisis of congestion and air pollution—and desiring an industrial advantage in building electric cars, President Xi Jinping and his transportation ministers are enforcing a quota on Chinese automakers that 10 percent of car sales be EVs by 2019 and 25 percent by 2025. The floor of the recent Beijing auto show featured a remarkable 175 electric models, nearly three-quarters of which are domestically produced. With a population of 1.4 billion, growth in their automotive market should continue unabated. By the way, they sold 1.1 million cars there in 1992.

China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show EV sales reached 81,904 in April, and 225,310 in the first four months of the year. Sales in the January-to-April period are up 149% compared with the same period in 2017. They expect to sell 1.1 million EVs in 2018.

Bottom line is America currently has Tesla as the only real possibility of even being PART of a global conversion to electric drive vehicles.

American automakers were caught completely off guard by the move to economy vehicles in the 1970’s and the result was a permanent tilt for Japan and Toyota ever since in the American market. And it is about to happen AGAIN in electric vehicles. And literally all we’ve got in the game is Tesla.

Tesla has gained approval to not only build a factory in Shanghai, but to own all 100% of it. And with China’s recent announcement of a drop in automotive tarriff from 25% to 15%, Tesla sold TEN Model S’s out of the Shanghai showroom in a single DAY. They have achieved the status of ultimate automotive status symbol in China, with 25% tied behind their back.

Back to the Model 3, since I purchased my Model S in 2013 Tesla has grown from 8000 employees to over 37000 currently. And I’m trying to picture myself as a young 23 or 25-year-old coming out of MIT, Stanford, or Rensselaer Polytechnic with a EE degree. A Masters would be cool. Where would I want to go to work?

SpaceX sounds sexy. But Tesla has to be at the top of the list as well. And so it would appear Elon Musk and Wang Chuan-fu, have similar approaches. A skunkworks campus of the top engineering talent in the world. At some point of specific gravity, it doesn’t matter WHAT you want to build or productize. You’ve already got people in house that can do that. And right now I would guess Tesla gets to chooose from the cream of the crop. I’m told they hired 2500 last year, from 500,000 applications. SO you still have a one in 200 chance.

And so rather than productize existing technology, leveraging their already considerable investment, Tesla threw it out the window and said let’s build the next generation. I just wouldn’t have the cajones to do that I have to tell you. But on reflection, in a fast changing tech environment, it is EXACTLY the right move. While BMW and VW and GM play catchup, move on to the next generation. “We’ve upped our game, so UP YOURS”.

Porsche will have a “Telsa Killer” on line by 2020? We don’t even know what a Tesla will LOOK like in 2020.

And not only have they become the most attractive place for young talent to go, they’ve also become the most attractive place for suppliers to go. Why would NOT Analog Devices and NVIDIA, never mind Panasonic want to showcase electronic subassemblies in the Model 3 which STARTS with a 500,000 order book and who have challenged such suppliers to collaborate on the NEXTGEN electric car? And what level of R&D and development would they care to make that bet with?

Note that I’m NOT predicting the future. I’m describing a well kept PAST. True, by examining chicken entrails but I’m pretty GOOD at examining chicken entrails. I’ve gutted a shitpot full of chickens.

Tesla is on a roll. Model 3 production woes actually do not matter AT ALL in even the current scheme of things. And yes, the shorts will get KILLED. Elon Musk will be able to summon $10 billion, $20 billion or $100 billion, whatever he likes with a crook of his finger. And if Tesla never turns a profit for the NEXT TEN YEARS it won’t matter. It will still be the growth stock of the century.

Never mind that orders keep piling in for large scale solar battery installations, electric semi’s or whatever else.

And I still think Autopilot is a loser. A Tesla T-boned a police cruiser yesterday – on autopilot.

And I STILL think an Apple/Tesla/SpaceX merger-of-equals stock swap is in order, as long as Elon takes the helm. Apple has repatriated their $250 billion war chest, and I know a guy who knows just how to spend it.

Jack Rickard