Getting Gas (and Electrons) Across America

This is a small photo essay with comments about gasoline and Diesel prices across America, along with one observation on charging your Telsa in California. We’ll start off in Louisiana. I was startled to find that a couple of off ramps in Louisiana have now put Traffic Circles at the end of them. This dumps a constant stream of unsuspecting motorists into a “circle” that has a highway trying to cross it the other way. At busy times this will inevitably result in a circle full of cars from one way or the other blocking the circle and then either the freeway or the highway will end up backing up until “there are issues”.


Traffic circles may be cheap and easy for low use areas (so you avoid the cost of traffic lights and all) but for an intersection of a significant local highway with a major freeway off ramp, it’s just asking for trouble. They have apparently already had trouble as the “on ramp” portion had added a fairly dense set of vertical plastic “bumper” dividers to keep folks tracked into the right lane to right turn to onramp and out of the circle proper.

I wish folks designing roads in the USA would not look to Europe and their traffic circles for guidance… Ever try to take a 5th wheel or 18 wheeler through a traffic circle? Ever try to get into one with one of those guys already in it? Just OMG PITA.

With that out of the way, somewhere off I-12 bypassing New Orleans, I needed gas. This was fairly typical across most of Texas and L.A. along with much of Mississippi, Alabama, and New Mexico. Prices rose a little in Florida and Arizona.

The South & Louisiana

Tesla Anyone?

Louisiana Gas Prices Jan 2019

Louisiana Gas Prices Jan 2019

A couple of things to note about that sign. First off, it is mostly advertising Regular Gas. A H/T to Larry Ledwick on Octane. In another comment thread about why octane was lower in the West than on the East Coast, he reminded me that cold and altitude reduce octane needs. This caused me to experiment a bit. Turns out that Angus (my black Mercedes 190) has a knock sensor, so will run on “less than premium” but with reduced performance at full throttle as “what the added gas giveth, the spark retarding taketh away”.

I did some tests. On Mid Grade it loses a bit of the very full throttle, on regular it becomes doggy at about 1/2 to 3/4 throttle (you give it more gas and nothing much happens) while on Super it stays fast and with full acceleration. But if you are sitting at 1/2 throttle for 6 hours on the freeway why pay extra to have “zoom on tap”?

So after some tests, I started slowly working down the octane. Turns out that I can easily run Regular once out of the desert hill climb of California to Arizona and especially in the cool of the night. So now I fill up with Super in town (need that ‘off the line’ zip and freeway onramp performance!) but then do a tank of mid-grade for the ‘get out of dodge’ and then swap to regular for the Long Steady Cruise. It has saved me buckets of money with almost no impact on drivability. On the return from Florida I do run some mid-grade for the climb up the Rockies or for the climb to the High Desert as that’s fuller throttle use.

So, in fact, about 3/4 of my “run” is on Regular. (Some of the “mid-grade” is ‘mix your own’ where I’ll add 1/4 tank of Super to a residual 3/4 tank of Regular to get it ready for the climb. Octane enhancement is non-linear, so 1 unit of boost (think Ethyl lead) would give mid-grade but then it took 4 to get Super. This means 1/4 tank of Super in 3/4 of regular would give that same 1 unit of booster as mid-grade. I’m assuming non-lead octane boosters work the same as TELead…)

Lowest price I paid was about $1.69 / gallon. Nice.

So, ok, what else? Notice that yellow price of $1.95 ? That’s for “E 20” or 20% ethanol fuel for Flex Fuel cars. It is one octane point higher (88 vs 87) but costs a lot more, and with less fuel value. I have no idea why folks would pay more for less fuel heat content. However, it might let Angus pass California Smog Testing… except they don’t sell it here ;-)

Next up, Diesel at $3 / gallon. WT? About a 70% price premium? Just crazy. In a real competitive market the max you would expect is a 30% premium for the added fuel value. For decades it was in fact sold at a discount to gasoline as it was a residual from gasoline manufacture. Yes, in winter the demand for #2 Heating Oil raises Diesel price some (as they are both #2 Oil just different degrees of clean) but usually that was a dime or 20 ¢ / gallon. Not a $buck. All across the nation I saw Diesel running at about $1/gallon MORE than gasoline. Often more than Super by a $buck, and in some places as much as $1.35 to $1.50 a gallon more. Just crazy. Yet mixed in along the way were a few non-brand places with Diesel at about $2.50 / gallon. Still higher than gasoline, but at least quasi sane. If running a trucking fleet, I’d be seriously looking at Gasoline engines or LNG alternatives, despite Diesel being a better engine and much more efficient.

Next we go to Texas:

Texas Gasoline Jan 2019

Texas Gasoline Jan 2019

Now much of Texas was cheaper than this place. This was at a Truck Stop middle of nowhere and without much competition. Texas had some places down in that $1.6x range (but I couldn’t see how to get to a couple of Exxon stations with that price near Houston… Texas has these “frontage roads” next to the freeway and you get on / off on short suicide ramps that cross frontage road traffic at an angle… and then you may get to drive 5 miles to an underpass to get back another 5 miles to that gas station you passed and saw from the freeway… just not worth it.) So I stopped at the easy on / off Truck Stops instead ;-)

Now here we see “only” about a dollar spread of Diesel over gasoline. So I’m driving my 25 mpg Gasoline car instead of my 25 mpg Diesel car… I’m sure that’s some Green Nuts idea of a benefit, but one carries a lot more “goods” for the gallon than the other one. We ought to be encouraging Diesel cars, not discouraging them. They are about 30% more efficient and that is the same as finding 30% more oil reserves.

Next note that they sell Propane for $3 / gallon. Propane ought to sell for less than Regular Gasoline on a BTU basis (or thermal energy basis). At one time it did and car conversions to propane were popular. At these prices not so much. Still, it’s about $1 to $2 / gallon cheaper than in California. So folks with RVs planning a cross country trip ought to plan a fill up in Texas and avoid arriving in California needing cooking fuel.

Texas is 1/3 of the cross country trip. On I-10 it is 880 miles. IIRC entry on I-20 is a bit longer at 938 miles. For a 2800 mile trip from SF area to Orlando 1/3 is 933 miles. Essentially the trip is 1/3 “mostly California” with a smidge of Arizona and New Mexico, then 1/3 Texas, then you get the
Ready for California Sticker Shock? 1/3 that’s 200 miles of Louisiana, a tiny bit of Mississippi and Alabama (about 80 miles) and then that long Florida Panhandle and I-75 down the middle. Florida gas used to be about 30 ¢/gallon more expensive but they seem to have gotten closer to their neighbors recently (more likely by others raising taxes on gas rather than Florida backing off…)

So when making that drive, it is optimal to put as much of your drive in Texas and each side of it as possible and have as little as possible in California. Why? Well let’s look at California prices…

And Then There Is California

Ready for California Sticker Shock?

Returning from Florida, California is mostly the drive from Arizona across the Mojave Desert and the L.A. basin, and then a run up I-5 to San Francisco. I always tank up just before leaving Arizona, and then top up about 1000 Palms or Desert Center (so as to avoid the need to stop in the L.A. Jungle.) Prices tend to rise after the desert and while you can find decent prices in the L.A. Metroplex (especially at ARCO stations) it isn’t easy to spot the good ones. Then, on the run up I-5, it can be highly variable. We’re talking $1/2 / gallon in 14 miles from the “one gas station” exit to the “several with competition”. It can be a $5 answer to know where to stop. I try to use Gas Buddy before I go to make sure I have some clue about where to buy.

So I’d been stopping at a cluster of gas stations at about highway 46. On the way out I stopped there only to find a Holy Hell Traffic Mess. Most of the right side of the west bound road having cement barriers, loads of folks backed up trying to make turns into solid (stuck) traffic to get out of gas stations and back to the freeway. There’s an ARCO station there with good prices for cash (they stick you for an added fee for cards though) but just not worth the pain with all the construction. A few miles down the road I saw an IHOP sign with a price (not in the usual Diesel Green nor in Gasoline Red but in ?? Yellow) that was quite nice. So decided to stop there on the way back. Turns out it’s a “Bait & Switch” gimmick.

IHOP Shell south of Hwy 46  on I-5 California

IHOP Shell south of Hwy 46 on I-5 California

Yeah, over $4 / gallon. Welcome to California…

The interesting thing for me is that this Diesel Price is rather nice. I’m assuming it is Diesel as it is in green. Why “no brand” is so relatively cheap is an interesting question. Clearly they expect most folks to think it’s a gasoline price, take the exit, and then say “Oh Well” buy gas anyway and then get food at the IHOP. In reality, most folks will do what I did: Note I’d been snookered and vow to Never Ever stop there again. The IHOP was empty as were most all of the gas stalls. Then again, it was late in the evening.

Now of particular interest to me was that those prices were not the end of the gouge. Turns out there was a smaller sign under this that let you know the real gouge amount:

Detailed Gas Cost at Shell / IHOP Jan 2019

Detailed Gas Cost at Shell / IHOP Jan 2019

You get a 20 ¢ “uplift” if you use your pay-at-the-pump card for convenience. Even a Debit card. I saw this at other Shell stations too (including one in El Paso Texas – so it isn’t just a California thing).

Still, think just a moment. $1.69 was my low end, and this is $4.69 for premium on the card. A full $3 / gallon MORE.

Now just so you don’t think all of California is completely insane, I drove down the road a ways to another gas station and here’s what I payed at the ARCO there (no uplift for the card, BTW):

ARCO California I-5 Jan 2019

ARCO California I-5 Jan 2019

So $2.67 / gallon is a heck of a lot better than $4.29 / gallon and even $3.29 / gallon is better than $4.69 (by $1.40 !) so clearly a bit of shopping around is a big win. Furthermore, as I-5 is dead flat and I drive it in the cool evening, my comparison was really $2.67 vs $4.69 by combining modest gas price shopping with some octane management. That’s a cool $2 / gallon saved on about 12 gallons or $24 in ONE gas stop. It really really pays to shop your gas in California.

But then I’m still left wondering what I’m getting for my $1 / gallon MORE paid for regular gas in California over Texas / Louisiana…

Tesla Anyone?

It was interesting to note that the IHOP Shell station had a Tesla charging station installed. I’m sure the Tesla drivers will feel smug about avoiding all that $4+ gasoline (having no reason to shop around and find out it is much cheaper just down the road…). At least they would if there were any of them:

Tesla Charge Station I-5 California at IHOP / Shell Station

Tesla Charge Station I-5 California at IHOP / Shell Station

This is an 8 stall charging station. It is just as you pull into the property. Behind me are the gasoline islands, the convenience store and the IHOP restaurant. Note the lone Tesla parked at the furthest way stall? I did not see a charging cable attached to it (but didn’t look much) and why would you park as far away as possible at the entrance?

My guess is that this belongs to the owner. Was it given to them as an inducement to have the station installed? Perhaps with the “free” electricity early Tesla buyers got in the package? I note in passing all the other stalls are empty; and parked at the driveway entrance, it acts as an advertisement that this is where to stop.

Now also note that brown box / enclosure behind the charge points. That’s the Semi-truck sized charger that drives those charge points. That’s a massive amount of electricity for 8 stations.

On my drive into LA (headed out to Florida) I noticed that 2 cars / second were going the other way. My side was about as full. That’s 4 cars / second for all of about 6 hours of freeway. 3600 seconds / hour. 21600 seconds. 86,400 cars. Two charges to get to L.A. and a third on arrival so you can get somewhere interesting gives 259,200 charges. Figure about 10 kW-hr / hr for an average eCar at cruise x 3 hours is 30 kW-hr / charge (likely very conservative estimate) or about 7,776,000 k-W hours of charge.7,776 MegaWatt hours. 7.7 GigaWatts. From where would that power come were all those cars electric? Notice this ignores the trucks… That is just to run about 1/2 of ONE of our major interstate highways. There’s also Highway 99 on the other side of the valley and 101 by the coast. Then all the crossing highways. Then the entire SF Bay area and the killer, the LA Metroplex. I’d guess easily it goes over 100 GigaWatts. Where are the 100 new nuclear power stations to make that electricity 24 x 7 x 365? (You can’t expect the freeway to come to a halt on windless nights… we have them most of the time.)

So 8 empty charging stations (not counting the advertising car) when the goal is closer to 1/4 Million full…

By the year 2020 or 2030.

Ain’t gonna happen.

I’m ever more convinced that the world divides into Engineers who can do math (easily and well) and the Green Fools who can’t and just don’t believe that the numbers matter. There is simply no way you will get 100 GW of new power, 24 x 7, for charging eCars and get all those charge points built and get about 40 Million eCars sold in California alone in anything under a couple of decades (and that only with a massive emergency level of pressure). Even then, the only technically practical way to get that power is nuclear generating stations. The size is just too large for anything else.

Then there is that small matter of nobody bothering to drive their Tesla to LA due to “range anxiety” and not wanting to sit at the IHOP At Nowhere for 3 hours while it charges… certainly not when they can stuff gas in their car in a minute and be rolling again.

Now generalize that problem to the 2000 mile runs coast to coast of Interstates: 8, 10, 20, 40, 70, 80, 90 and all the 1000 mile N / S runs that connect them about every 50 to 100 miles… The required electric generation is a full on boggle. I think I’ll need to find other ways to estimate that quantity. Perhaps taking our “Quads” of fuel burn and figuring an eCar kW-hr conversion. Even without that, it’s pretty clear it just isn’t going to be possible to charge a nation of cars & trucks.

In Conclusion

Imagine you want to build something. You get materials and parts shipped in. Product taken away in trucks. Your workers arrive in their cars and expect to make enough money to feed themselves and those commuting costs, as wages.

Where would you put your company? Where Gas is $4+ / gallon, or where it is $1.80 or less / gallon?

I’ve noticed groceries and fast food have similar price “uplift” in California. As a worker, would you chose to work in a place with a $4 fast food lunch available or where it ran you $6 to $8 for lunch? Where you get 50% more groceries for your earned dollar, or where they tax it at 11 % when you earn it and 10 % when you spend it and THEN the stuff you buy costs more too?

Some of the absurdities of manipulated markets can last for a few years (like pricing your Diesel at $3.50 and then giving a $1/gallon ‘discount’ to corporate trucking lines back to the real $2.50 it ought to be; and blowing off the individual trucker and car drivers) but eventually reality bites.

In California, we have a large influx of Hispanic and Asian new arrivals. There is an exodus of the Middle Class. The State is dividing into a Rich Elite and a poor immigrant class. That is not stable and will fail.

With that context, why on Earth would anyone start a business in California, or keep one here if they can move it?

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Political Current Events and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Getting Gas (and Electrons) Across America

  1. A C Osborn says:

    E M I am shocked at the price of Diesel in the US, I thought we were hard done by in the UK when it went from 2 pence cheaper to 10 pence dearer due to Green Tax increases.

  2. cdquarles says:

    A bit of info about LA, MS and AL. Diesel cars are rare here, only slightly more common than Teslas ;P. Diesel is used by the big rigs almost exclusively. I suspect AL, MS and LA increased their road use taxes recently on diesel.
    About propane, well, propane is most heavily used for home heating and cooking, distributed by pipeline, for the most part. Bottled propane runs about $3 per gallon, cheaper if you find a Tractor Supply store and have your bottle refilled. That’s mostly used for gas grills and RVs. Pumped propane for transportation use is also very rare.
    Remember, prices are not ‘facts of nature’ but are opinions held by people making decisions. Folk here are more than willing to pay $3 per gallon for bottled propane.
    Before the recent price increases, you could get regular gas cheaper than E85. Oh, you can buy 100% gas, too; but I suspect you’d have a time finding it near the Interstates. Pump regular in AL is up to 10% ethanol by volume, at least locally; so you may find that the regular gas near me actually has more gas than you’d expect.

  3. kakatoa says:

    Filled the propane tanks up last week for $2.06 gallon. Our marginal kWh cost from PG&E in the winter is $.2745 (off peak) or $.2913 at part peak times (5 to 8 pm).

    Our little 4 banger RDX needs high octane fuel as the turbo kicks in all the time up here in the foothills- Placerville.

    How many decades will it take for the owner of those Tesla charging stations to recoup the cash needed to buy the hardware and install them? Oh wait they were likely free………… as the extra buck a gallon the poor are paying for FF in the state flows to various good works.

  4. H.R. says:

    Re the Shell station chargers: “Now also note that brown box / enclosure behind the charge points. That’s the Semi-truck sized charger that drives those charge points. That’s a massive amount of electricity for 8 stations.”

    wOwza! That 8-station charging installation was not cheap. It probably cost as much as 8 Tesla’s. Just imagine recovering the costs of it. In-ground gas tanks are relatively cheap.

    The gas stations themselves aren’t architectural masterpieces, so they’re pretty cheap to put up. The stations make their money off the mini-mart sales. At a few minutes per car, they have a lot of people coming through that fill up and buy coffee or a cold drink and snacks and sandwiches. An EV customer is stuck for a while and will buy drinks, snacks, and sandwiches, but no more than a fill-and-go customer. It’s like someone in a restaurant ordering coffee and a Danish and then sitting in the booth for three hours.As they say in West Texas German, oy vey! Money loser if you don’t price that in.
    Hey! Love’s is one of our favorite EZ-off/EZ-on stops. They have a great coffee bar, they partner with the usual fast food chains, such as Hardees, Wendy’s, Subway, etc. and the restrooms are always nice.

    Our first trip, we’d get gas, then stop at a rest area for a potty break for all, critters included. Oh, then we’d hunt down a place to grab a bite to eat. Every stop costs time. Second trip we learned to do the top-of-the-off-ramp all in one truck stops like Flyin J, Love’s, or Pilot. A lot of truckers travel with a dog for a companion, so all of those places have a grass strip for the dogs to take a potty break.

    And those places always have room to maneuver a truck with a trailer or a motor home with a towed car.. Some of the in-town stations are impossible to drive into and expect to get out again. It is worth the extra 10 or 20 cents per gallon for the time savings, which includes the easy maneuvering through the pumps. Obviously, every minute at zero mph really cuts down the average mph for the trip.
    You mentioned that Florida gas prices seemed more in line with other states this year. I’ll back you up on that. Last year the price difference entering Florida was really noticeably higher, like 40-50 cents per gallon just for crossing the state line. This year, not so much; maybe 15-20 cents higher. My last fill-up on Saturday was at $1.94/gal and I know I wasn’t at the cheapest station in the region

    I have no idea why the spread is lower this year, but I’m thinking it’s just strictly the effect of a percentage. If Florida is 20% higher for whatever reason (taxes, no doubt) then when gas is $3.00 per gallon elsewhere, then it’s $3.60 in Florida, but I’m not convinced it’s all due to just a higher tax.

    I also note that the prices don’t move as much. At home, prices change almost every day or every other day. The same price per gallon for three days running is unusual. But the station outside the RV Resort had the same price per gallon for the whole month of December. There are plenty of other stations up and down the street to supply competition, so I don’t know what explains that pricing.

  5. rogercaiazza says:

    I am from New York and currently in Sacramento on a winter get out of snow and cold trip in my diesel Class A motorhome. My observations agree with yours. I have noticed that the truck stops all have diesel much more expensive than elsewhere. I think your note that the chain truck stops are giving the big trucking companies a discount must be the reason. I have a Pilot discount card but ten cents does not cover the difference. My rig is small enough that I can get into most regular gas stations but the pumps are very slow compared to the truck stops. Fortunately at home there is a station with faster pumps are lower prices – usually at least sixty cents different than the local truck stop.

  6. Pouncer says:

    Our kind host writes: ” I’m ever more convinced that the world divides into Engineers who can do math (easily and well) and the Green Fools who can’t and just don’t believe that the numbers matter. ”

    Not only Greens. I attended a church meeting last evening, and an upcoming doctrinal debate was reviewed for the prior 5 decades of history. At one point, we were informed, over 100 clergy and seminarians revealed a stance.

    Wow. Over 100. Big number. And the ONLY such number presented in the half hour.

    But there are, at present, over 40,000 ACTIVE clergy in this denomination. The count of clergymen (clergy-persons) is declining, as congregations shrink, churches close, and those who feel “callings” choose other careers. At the time the stance was revealed, (assuming trends of even 0.5 % per year among clergy while we see 2% decline per year known for membership) there were over 50,000 active clergy-people in the denomination — from which 100 vocal dissidents spoke up for the proposed reform.

    Presumably not all the others were silent. This “debate” would not have continued for decades had there not been a number, some number, some leaders and followers expressing vocal opposition to the 100. Perhaps there were more than one faction, each of whom has some number of speakers advocating some position. But the number of vocalists speaking out on other positions was not documented, last night.

    Numbers never tell the whole story. And after all the modern church is an institution that represents the growth of a movement that started from one guy who chose only twelve followers. There is more to a debate or dialectic or argument or even a TV infomercial, than can be put across using the numbers alone.

    But introducing one number, devoid of context, into a narrative is a trait of those who assume from the very git-go that numbers really DON’T MATTER. Numbers, and calculations, and ratios and trends and charts and graphics are “really” (in this view) only tools of persuasion, used by those who control the immediate narrative to influence those who do not have such control. And because numbers don’t really matter the person at the lectern presenting the narrative can pick and choose and compare and neglect and invent quantities and relationships, however and whenever convenient. I’ve seen this at work when the HR guys “informs” the staff about our pension plans. I’ve seen this in local politics when the superintendent of schools presents “information” about the student demographics, or test scores, or capital expense programs, or monthly utility bills. And in national politics, a guy like Ross Perot who DARES to introduce a (valid) chart of data into a political discussion is roundly mocked! To some significant portion of the US population math doesn’t matter. Quantities don’t matter. “If it saves even one life…” “Who can put a price on…” “We have the largest economy in the world, surely we can…” and yes “In a budget this size, billions of dollars represent nothing but a rounding error.”

    You can literally position most dumb animals equidistantly between two differently sized quantities of identically desirable food, and see the beast choose the larger pile. Quantities actually matter. They mean something. They are not a socially-constructed tool of the dominant powers to oppress the powerless.

    But some portion of our culture thinks — honestly believes, deep in their unconscious souls — that numbers do NOT meaningfully matter.

    I pray to God that that portion has not, yet, quite, topped 50%.

  7. Pingback: Getting Gas (and Electrons) Across America – Climate Collections

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Very well put. My Statistics Class included an entire section on “How to lie with statistics”. It was intended as warning; but I think too many folks took it as guidance…

    Yes, it is the case that the semi-numerate use numbers to lie to the innumerate. It is up to the rest of us to expose them as liars.


    Note that Gasbuddy has a choice to show Diesel prices…

    reporting $3.49 / gallon at

    One Stop Gas (58)
    2401 16th St
    Sacramento, CA

    No idea if a Class A can get in… the next closest is:

    Shell (26)
    1515 S River Rd
    West Sacramento, CA

    And since West Sacramento is largely just an off ramp, probably easy to get in / out.

    The “Fun Bit” though is when you know you will be going a ways and can gas up anywhere on the run. I happen to know there’s a low price “island” just south of Sacramento along I-5 (at least as compared to the SF Bay Area) and I usually fill up there. Though now, with the Major Truck Stops doing some kind of collusion on prices (why else would they be $1 / gallon more than the minor stations…) for Diesel, who knows. Last Diesel run across the country, I found best prices was off the freeway in modest towns (farmer friendly places).

    So drop down to Stockton:

    Best prices are:

    A&A Gas (169)
    16 E Harding Way
    Stockton, CA   $3.51
    Shell (45)
    2320 N El Dorado St
    Stockton, CA  $3.49

    So a Shell station as cheap as the One Stop in Sacramento.

    They have a nice map function which lets you zero in on the cheap spots (or the one with stale prices ;-) without a lot city name searches:

    You can click on a station and it puts up a banner at the top of the map with their info. So the map showed a cheap station in Modesto:

    $3.29   76  (8 reviews)
    1521 N Carpenter Rd
    3h ago

    I’ll take $3.29 at a 76 Station any day!

    Note you can use Google Maps street view to check out the station for RV clearance….

    Saving 1/2 a buck on 100 gallons makes it worth while to check out the odd ones and plan accordingly ;-)

    I usually do this at the Starbucks / Truck Stop coffee stop with free WiFi ;-)

  9. Larry Ledwick says:

    I have noticed similar price bumps you can bet that the first gas station you hit after a long highway stretch will have predatory pricing, especially if the last gas station was on the order 60-100 miles ago or more. Very often if you go into town and go near the end or the built up area there will be a gas station that sells mostly to locals with much better prices.

    The california prices are among other things driven by the fact their regulations demand a special blend and they cannot freely trade gasoline or other motor fuels with nearby states as you would see if all fuels were identical blends (save minor regional differences like blends for easier starting in cold weather in Montana vs in Houston or the altitude shifts for the high altitude states mostly Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah along I70 and I80.

    My first gas stop leaving Colorado was at the Loves just south of Cheyenne on I25 before turning west on I80.

    For the combination of easy in and out, good selection in the attached stores etc. I like the TA truck stops with Loves as a second preference. I always would stop at the TA truck stop in Rawlins on I80 going through Wyoming. Headed west bound I would drive all the way through Salt Lake and hit a small neighborhood Phillips 66 at mile exit 113 near the airport just as you are leaving town headed west bound. The gas stations on the east side of Salt lake, especially up near the ski areas are high priced and depend on the panic need for gasoline after a long drive with little or no services.

    Try to avoid buying gasoline in Rock Springs or Green River Wy they are a long way from anything and know it, fuel prices noticeably higher than up the road in Rawlins or down the road in Evanston Wy.

  10. John F. Hultquist says:

    About Shell and other name stations;
    Years ago (and this might have changed) at a university, the use of the fleet auto came with a credit card. If you could not make it back to base without fuel, then you could go only to that Company-branded station.
    I recall, for this particular university, it was a Chevron Station card.
    At busy places there are usually 4 or 5 gasoline stations within sight of one another. Why go to the most expensive one?
    A: that is the Card you are given [ Why ? ]; or
    B: you think they sell better gas.

    Low cost gasoline for us this week is $2.579 (Central WA State)

    H.R. wrote: ” … gas stations themselves aren’t architectural masterpieces, …”
    I know of a Shell station that was allowed into a new and pricey development. It is as fancy as the development, made of red brick and nicely landscaped. And, it is the only station in sight.

  11. Bruce Ryan says:

    Let me start by saying my sister died recently from the result of diminishing physical ability from MS. She left my brother and me a relatively large sum. Her politics were somewhat left of center and a certified green. Up until then the thought of a tesla never entered my mind. In her memory, I bought a Tesla model 3.
    It is really a pretty neat car. Autopilot is in beta in this model but even so, makes driving a lot more relaxing. It features regenerative braking which makes one pedal driving nearly a reality. The Tesla supercharger stations you see cost me money to use. My understanding is there is a partnership with property owners and Tesla to install these things. I charge at home so it goes on my electric bill. I have no smug belief I’m saving anything or keeping the world from heating or anything else. I do find the car a pleasure to drive, and like the idea, I can hop in it can go around town without thinking of the engine not being warmed up. Driving my other car, (not a slouch) is a different experience, not quite as reflexive.
    I foresee some sort of charge being levied on me (before long) to compensate for my not paying gas tax.
    I drove the 3 down to Bisbee AZ around New Years and ran into the snow you saw on your trip. Had to charge up at the house I stayed at. They had installed a 240 outlet just for electric cars.

  12. H.R. says:

    Bruce Ryan: “The Tesla supercharger stations you see cost me money to use.”

    I did not know that. Thanks for the info.I was aware that some municipalities or county or regional governments have installed free charging stations, but I didn’t know the Tesla charge stations were charging for the charge.
    I like electric cars. The performance characteristics, particularly acceleration, are downright grin inducing. They will have to solve the battery cost, range, and rapid recharge problems before I can consider them, though. It would be nice if they could solve the 3 problems I mentioned. The demand for EVs would go up quite a bit.

    I have a Honda Fit and a Ford F-250 4×4 V-10 crew cab plant food generator extraordinaire. They suit my needs. Of course that pairing wouldn’t suit a lot of others’ needs. If I had an EV, I could use it, but I’d still need my other two vehicles quite often.

    A lot of resentment of EVs is due to the subsidies. Those subsidies have started coming off, and the grumbling (more like outright hostility) against them is ramping down.

    Then there are those pesky infrastructure and generation capacity problems, but they’ve been pointed out often enough, so I won’t give them further mention.

    Thanks again for that bit of info.

  13. Terry Jay says:

    We use a card lock (Pacific Pride or CFN for example) for interstate travel, and find the pricing quite reasonable for the specific area, and a lot less $$ than the easy exit stations, but the card locks are large, accommodate large trucks, and also have easy access. In the rural West they are used locally by truckers and business people, and some locals, as the nearest truck stop is a hundred miles away.

  14. J Martin says:

    Roundabouts in the UK mean that our road system will cope better if an atomic bomb is exploded 200 miles above the country. That said we have a fair number of traffic lights as well.

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    You are welcome. Do remember though that sometimes prices are “stale” and have changed when you get there. So plan to not arrive completely “dry” for the killer price as you may need to drive on the the second choice. Also the “weird name” stations can have odd rules (card lock stations or “memberships” – I get gas at COSTCO relatively cheap but you need a costco card…).

    @J. Martin:

    There was a roundabout at a lake near me in Florida. It was not large… Watching big pickups pulling boat trailers go through (and sometimes slightly over….) it was “fun to watch”… but not for the drivers. I’ve never had a “roundabout experience” as a driver that I would call “good”…

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    I’d love to have an eCar as a daily driver commute car, especially if my employer paid for the charging (as many do).

    As “The Answer” for everyone and everything, they are stupid. That’s my beef. It is the “One Size Fits All” mandate / subsidy crowd that offends.

    At one time in the 80’s I was going to convert one of my cars to an eCar, before you could buy them. I’d still not mind at all having a hybrid electric that can go about 50 miles on e- then 300 miles on gas. IMHO they are an ideal solution. So Chevy just killed theirs…

    What’s nuts is thinking we can convert the whole fleet to eCars and that people can drive across Texas in them…. Just getting from SF to LA takes special effort. Having everyone do that, and soon, is a logistical impossibility.

    So were it up to me, I’d either have an eCar for the city car / commuter and a light Diesel for cross country, or a hybrid electric that can do both. But since I’m now officially retired, I don’t need the commuter car anymore… FWIW, as of now I’ve most likely bought the last car I’ll ever buy; so no eCar in my future unless it’s a golf cart in a retirement park ;-)

    As of now, I’ve got about 400,000+ miles of life left in the car fleet, and about 150,000 max left in me so not seeing where I’ll ever buy another. Probably even more miles in the fleet with proper care. The Diesel has 175,000 miles on it an my last one went to about 400,000 so… But realistically, even at 10,000 a year (unlikely without commuting…) and even with 20 more driving years (highly unlikely as “pushing 90” is not synonymous with lots of driving) that’s 200,000 miles. Since I could likely get that on any one of 3 of the cars, I’m way over subscribed on transports…

    What this means is that whatever subsidy or other “inducements” are forced on the market, I’m not buying… so it’s all academic to me now.

  17. kakatoa says:

    A recent EIA post-
    “Changes in marine fuel sulfur limits will put temporary upward pressure on diesel margins.” indicates the rather large price premium for diesel compared to regular unleaded is going to last for a few years!


    Tesla Supercharger works quickly, Typical road-trip drill is:
    – Back into Supercharger, plug in. Battery will have 5% – 20% charge, depending on my bladder capacity, distance to next Supercharger and overall trip plan.
    – Car starts charging at over 100 KWatts.
    – Walk to a nearby coffee shop, restaurant or convenience store.
    … Fluid exchange.
    … If it’s meal time, sit down to eat. Phone app will alert me when there’s adequate charge to reach next stop.
    ,,, Otherwise, stroll back to car. If it’s a day trip, there’s adequate charge. If there are more long laps, walk around for 10-20 minutes or nap.

    We’ve had a Tesla S (larger sedan) 100 (KWh battery) D (AWD) 14 months / 17.5 K miles. It’s the best road trip car I’ve driven. Quiet, powerful, smooth. In-car navigation tracks charge level and burn rate, suggests appropriate Supercharger stop. Plug in the cable, walk to an establishment with rest room and coffee, walk back to the car.

    Battery has enough capacity that I can make a PHL-DC-PHL round-trip without recharge when driving with daughter and grandchildren. My wife has range anxiety. When I make the trip with her, we’ll plug into Supercharger at a rest area. Take our break, return to the car, unplug and proceed.

    Lower-power sources, such as dryer outlets, do require hours of charge time. PHL-Cape Cod calls for a brief Supercharger/bathroom stop in Connecticut. Then overnight recharge at the summer house. Very practical.

    My wife hates buying gas. I’m an engineer, neutral at best about environmental cost/benefit. It’s simply a great car. Also, expect the driver assist features will allow us to safely drive longer than our parents did.

    Finally, electric utilities could use home car chargers as “rapidly dispatchable load.” If I got a break on home electric rates, I would allow our utility to control charge start/stop and even modulate charge rate through our HPWC (high-power wall connector). This could help the grid absorb sudden rises in solar or wind generation with fewer on-off cycles for expensive dispatchable power sources.

    Tesla HPWC supports a twisted-pair bus that allows up to four of them to share a single circuit breaker. The units report energy (KWh) and maximum charge rate requested by their attached vehicle, the primary one then tells each unit how many amps it can feed to the vehicle. Suspect an electric utility could tap into that same interface.

  19. H.R. says:

    @Nicholas: How long in minutes does a recharge take from about 10% to full charge? Have you ever had to wait for an available charging port where you have stopped?

    I looked at the national map of Tesla Supercharger stations that’s on the Tesla site. The Northeast seems to be well covered and the spacing of the stations seems well thought out.

    I like drag racing and there are some EV racers out there that are really strong runners. A Tesla Model S out of the box can pull a 1/4 mile in 10.2 seconds @ 125 mph. Only a few production cars top that and probably none of the stock muscle cars from the ’60s could top that. They were running 11s and 12s.

    Somebody is going to try to get an EV that can compete with the Top Fuel dragsters. Top Fuel racers run sub-4 second quarter miles @300+ mph. It’s just a matter of time before someone puts an EV on the strip to compete against Top Fuel.

  20. NickF says:

    @H.R.: How long in minutes does a recharge take from about 10% to full charge? Have you ever had to wait for an available charging port where you have stopped?

    Tesla has typical Li-x battery recharge profile. Very rapid energy addition at low state of charge up to about 80%. Then much slower. Also limited by ability to cool the battery pack. Nissan Leaf battery is air-cooled, limiting its charge rate.

    Most time-efficient Tesla strategy is aim for recharge stop with battery at 5%-15%. Then recharge to 80%-90% – enough to get to the next Supercharger or your destination. That takes 15-35 minutes. Since you can take care of your needs while the car charges, nets out close to a gas stop where you first pump into the car, then park it and attend to your personal needs.

    Charging from 5% to 100% at a Supercharger would take about an hour. It would only make sense if you needed every last KWh to reach the next convenient charging point.

    Adequate safety margin is important in battery-only vehicle since exhausting the battery gets ugly. Unlike gas or diesel, you can’t hitch a ride to a supercharger, fill a jug with “charge”, then return to the car with enough energy to reach the next charger.

    On the other hand, the car can charge from almost any 120- or 240 volt electrical outlet. Adds 5 or 6 miles every hour connected to 120 Volt/15 Amp outlet. The car comes with a mobile connector and a few adapter plugs. My engineering / mobile recording background led me to buy a broad suite of adapters.

  21. NickF says:

    @H.R.: East Coast Superchargers tend to have open stalls. The stalls are paired, 1A and 1B use the same power supply, for example. Etiquette is to avoid sharing a power supply. If you do share, the equipment will prioritize charge for first arrival. If you’re the second one in the pair, your charge will start more slowly until the other car leaves.

    Tesla has introduced per-minute fee for cars that remain at Supercharger after charge completes.

    Haven’t yet seen anything like the 4+ vehicle lines at New Jersey Turnpike gas stops during heavy travel periods.

  22. E.M.Smith says:


    Per his statements, a 100 kW battery and 100 kW-hr charger, so one hour per full charge (minus minimum residualmcharge, plus charge losses due to less than100% efficiency, so about a wash).

    That means about one hour per 300 miles, 2 hours for SF to LA so my 6.5 hour run becomes 8.5 hours, minimum (though arriving almost empty to a place w a charger could make that 7.5 hous with and end stop overlapping with destination)

    As I regularly run 2800 miles in one shot, the utility on a 300 mile trip is of little interest… that’s roughly 8 charges or 8 hours added. Which would mean another day driving and night sleeping…

    I’m also pretty sure my Mercedes ride is as good or better ;-)

    On my high speed runs, I’ll do a gas stop in about 5 minutes, sometimes less… the idea of “walk around for 20 minutes” when the cars isn’t ready enough is just a non-starter for me. Lots of times in rain, snow, and below freezing come to mind… one stop in Nebraska(?) and fingers near froze just walking to the store from the pump… Wonder what waste heat is avilable at 10 F or what range reduction happens?

    Like I said: I’d be glad to have one for a town car / commuter. Once you are more than one charge to done for the day, I’m not interested. Folks who dine out on long drives and stoll around gas stations, go for it. I’m from the “sandwich while driving” and avoid all zero speed time possible cohort. At 63 hours coast to coast it is 2 nights on the road. Make that 4 days and 3 nights it is exponentially less comfortable. Do it in a week (did that with family) the costs and comfort both become painful. That added 8 hours charging becomes a $80 hotel room and $40 of meals added as the limit of “nap in the car” bites after the 2nd day (for me at least).

    I could maybe see one for the run to L.A. IFF your trip includes a meal stop along the way. But since I usually make at least one (and usually both) directions “dead of night” that isn’t me. Crossing LA is best done 9 PM to 5 AM as is the “getting out” time, so I usually leave after dinner. For folks who leave during the morning traffic jam or arrive during the afternoon-evening crush, well, a long meal in the middle is a feature. (Their trip will already be an 8 to 9 hour trip instead of 6 anyway so making it 9 or 10 not as big acdeal…) The idea of walking around a charge station middle of nowhere near Kettleman for an hour just to get home is not attractive… IIRC, my usual run was about 420? miles, so I suppose that could be made 210 from 1/2 way or 150 with some range anxiety at the first charge and arriving home near empty with a 45 minute thumb twiddle in the middle…

    I also wonder what happens to the 300ish mile range in the Mojave & Sonora Deserts in August with AC on full… From the back side of LA to about San Antonio can be terribly hot and dry, then it gets terribly humid, hot and wet to Orlando… In summer, AC on full the whole day.

    I know my habits are not the average, with multiple coast to coast runs. Still, the section from El Paso to Fort Stockton is long and nearly empty. Without attention to gas management, you end up searching for gas in Van Horn (at night I found 2 stations, one closed but card gas available). I doubt there are a lot of charge points along that run… I checked for nat gas (when looking at one of them for cheap) and it was not possible to make the run. One hopes Tesla & Musk with his $ billions have taken care of that… It is an easy run in my 450 mile range Diesel, but prone to range anxiety in my 330 mile range gas car… there were 2 stops where I was watching the guage closely. Better than it was in the 80s, but still an issue. I’m pretty sure the electricity situation is worse than the gasoline one…

  23. H.R. says:

    Thanks very much for the added info, NickF.

    Fifteen minutes to charge isn’t bad to get enough juice to get to the next charger or to get home. Thirty-five minutes to ‘refuel’ probably would have anyone antsy and pacing around. As Nicholas pointed out, if you coordinate lunch with a long charge, it doesn’t matter much.

    Where I live and the places I travel to don’t have the fuel queue waits that the Northeast would have with its denser population. Being 4 cars back is probably about a 20+minute wait, longer if the pumps are slow. I hadn’t considered that since I don’t experience it, but the guy in the fuel line in the 4th car back would probably be an easy sell on an EV.
    I’ve been waiting for Larry Ledwick to chime in on any inroads the EVs are making into racing. He had/has the need for speed and used to post under the name ‘Hotrod.’ I was hoping he was keeping his hand in and knew a bit about EV racing developments.

    One thing is for sure, I think the 24 hour races like Le Mans or Sebring are off the table for now.

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    The Tesla map shows a charger in Van Horn and Ft. Stockton so you can make that run. I did notice a bunch of dead spots in “off the freeway” places like Nevada and the Midwest. In general, the map looks like “good in major select cities, OK cross country freeways, not so good rural”. Much better than it was a few years ago.

    Still not keen on the time cost. I mostly never stop longer than pay and grab food to go time…

  25. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Yeah, the cross country runs are problematic for EVs, but the Northeast looks surprisingly well covered… until every kid and his brother has an EV. Then the lagging infrastructure buildup problem raises its ugly head. For arguments sake,you could sell an extra 50,000 EVs in the very next year, but I’m not sure you could add the charging capacity for those 50,000 cars in the next year.

  26. E.M.Smith says:


    When I choose my day badly at the local Costco fueling, I can be 4 cars back. No snack shack and all pay at the pump, so folks don’t park at the pump… wait is usually under 5 minutes. (2 filling at the same time and part full when I pull in #4 or #5; inside a couple of minutes they finish and we move up 2. Not bad at all.

    I’ve never had a longer wait in ANY of my cross country runs or on the Florida Turnpike, so whatever that queue is in the N.E. does not generalize.

  27. H.R. says:

    Oh… IF the charging infrastructure for EVs lags sales by too much, the queue time for charging becomes a big deal. It’s bad enough if you’re the 4th car back in the gas line, but I wouldn’t want to be the 4th car back in the EV charging line.

  28. H.R. says:

    @E.M. per the Northeast gas queues – Yup, I pointed out to NickF that I wasn’t aware of the gas line waits since I’m in the Midwest and travel South and Southeast. It just isn’t a problem.

    So the Northeast is an attractive market for EVs… until the queues form.

    Oh! I looked on that cool map on the Tesla site and my greater metro area has two – yes two! – supercharging stations, no doubt with zero queue time. However, I’d have to drive 30+ minutes to get to the closest one.

    I have also seen zero charging stations in my daily travels. Now all that means is I’d be stuck with 120v or 220v charging at home, and if I only used the car around my neck of the woods, it would generally work out for me. There’d only be a couple of dozen or so days where I’d be driving beyond the car’s range (fishing trips!) and would need a recharge, and at present, there ain’t no recharge. That puts me back to a choice between 2 gas vehicles and an EV or 2 gas vehicles.

    If the EV had motors on all four wheels and posted elapsed times in the 1/4 mile of around 4-5 seconds, then the obvious choice would be 2 gas cars and an EV. 😜

  29. Larry Ledwick says:

    I’ve been waiting for Larry Ledwick to chime in on any inroads the EVs are making into racing. He had/has the need for speed and used to post under the name ‘Hotrod.’ I was hoping he was keeping his hand in and knew a bit about EV racing developments.

    Except for marketing demo type efforts I see very little interest in EV racing among the traditional racing crowd. Watching a silent EV zip to the finish line in a drag race is pretty anticlimactic.

    I was out at Bonneville for some of the early speed records with all electric vehicles and it was almost funny to watch the streamliner come by at almost 300 mph. All you could hear was a slight whisper of wind noise on the body and the crunching of the salt under the wheels. In fact if you missed the announcement it was on the way he would go right by you and you would miss the run before you realized he was on the course.

    Buckeye Bullet Streamliner

  30. H.R. says:

    … and the EV has to be able to hold my assortment of 10′ and 11′ and 12′ fishing rods. Is that asking too much? 😆😆

  31. Larry Ledwick says:

    The cost for the special high energy batteries, and high output low weight electric motors make them an exotic critter only affordable by heavily sponsored folks.

    In recreational racing like drag racing the recharge cycle kills their ability to participate in rounds of elimination, as you get near the end of the elimination the runs get closer and close together in time as they eliminate cars. A fully charged Tesla could probably make normal eliminations (ie 6 or so quarter mile runs) but the high end classes like funny cars (never mind that there is not class other than exhibition right now) would make for some spectacular electrical fires if they crash and I am not sure the tracks would want to deal with that issue. If anyone built them they would be a one off novelty car like the jet cars probably in a match race type event between a conventional car and the Electric just to draw a crowd.

    A good example are the turbocharged diesel dragsters. They are incredibly quiet for the power they are putting out due to the supercharger muffling the exhaust noise. As they accelerate you can hear a continuous chiriping squeal from the tires as the slicks try to find traction fun as a novelty but does not have the visceral appeal of a fire breathing fueler pounding on your chest as it accelerates with 5 ft plumes of flame coming out of the headers and the pungent smell of the Nitromethane fuel

  32. Larry Ledwick says:

    That said the NHRA is contemplating the move to add an electric car class.

  33. H.R. says:

    @Larry L – Thanks! I hadn’t heard of the Buckeye Bullet.

    243mph is kind of slow and that’s at Bonneville. A Bugatti Veyron off the dealer’s lot has a top speed of 254 mph (408Kph) and has leather seats, air conditioning, a better sound system and other goodies too numerous to mention. Though hard to compare, with the Buckeye Bullet being a student project, the Bullet probably cost about the same as a Veyron.

  34. Larry Ledwick says:

    They have gone over 300 mph now. The Bugatti does that on dry pavement with good traction, bonneville has several other factors that limit speed, poor traction being right at the top of the list, and the added rolling resistance on the rough salt.

    Honda spent a ton of money and a great deal of effort to almost go as fast in a Formula 1 car a few years ago.

    Ohio State is slowly working its way up to a target of 400 mph.

  35. Larry Ledwick says:

    Those are also very different speed records the Bugatti reaches and holds that speed for a few hundred feet then stands on the brakes to get stopped. At bonneville you reach and hold that speed over a full mile or kilometer in both directions within one hour.

    That record is the average speed over that mile long or km long trap in each direction which is then averaged for the final record. Exit speed is often 20 to 30 mph or more faster than the record.

    The wheel driven gasoline powered cars have multiple runs over 400 mph under their belts and a few over 450 mph. So the electrics still have a way to go.

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    I was invited to a drag race a while back. I must second the observation about the roar and vibrating chest….

    They accelerate faster than a jet fighter catapult launched from a carrier…

    It is about 900 revolutions of the crankshaft from start to end of the course, then you rebuild the engine. The car moves about 1.5 feet or 1 cubit per revolution.

    At the end of the run, the sparkplug ends have melted and it is Dieseling on the hot nubs.

    It is basically the controlled explosive demolition of the engine in making max GoFast.
    And noise…

    We were in the top deck back from the railing a couple of rows. The whole structure shakes.

    If you have never been to a drag race of rails, GO!
    It is an amazing thing.

  37. NickF says:

    EV fan favorite drag race video:

    As the URL suggests, Alfa Romeo 4C against Tesla Model X (cross-over SUV) towing (dragging?) a trailer carrying a second Alfa Romeo 4C.

    First weeks with a Tesla require tremendous self-control. “Use the Force wisely…”

  38. Larry Ledwick says:

    Something funky with that Tesla x video, I could not close the window until all the video clips played.

  39. Steven Fraser says:

    @Larry Ledwick: On the topic of the ‘refuel’ cycle implicit in drag racing with EV…

    Why not just do a battery pack replacement? If the category is not strickly ‘stock’, this would work just fine. If not, then there are all sorts of alternatives. In non-stock:

    – alternative battery technologies could be used with higher discharge rate, but shorter battery life
    – mods to electric motor architectures (for example, centralizing the motor, and even making ‘gearing’ could be considered

    and probably a lot of other things that someone thinking outside the box could do.

    As to entertainment value, Since you have such a mondo power source, spend 50 pounds of weight on an audio power amplifier, and some piezo transducers to play a recorded, performance-synched output.

    Just having some fun with what would be possible.

  40. jim2 says:

    WRT “fueling” electric cars, start a company that featured rolling charging trucks. Rig up a system such that the charging truck can “plug in” to a special connector in the back of the car. It might be difficult on the go, but might work if the vehicle owner calls ahead, stops for the charging truck, then they both head down the road.

    Or maybe an induction system would work better. Don’t know, just a thought.

  41. jim2 says:

    Of course, a charging truck would be burning petroleum products, a silver lining :)

  42. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes since the practically rebuild the engine on dragsters it will eventually come to that. I think they still have a rule on the dragsters that they can replace any component between rounds except the engine block. A battery swap is the obvious way around that to make sure they are running on a full charge pack for each pass. Racing does drive all sorts of technology. The high efficiency engines of today share a lot of technology with the 4 valve pent roof head racing engines first developed in the early 1900’s.

    The two areas I see likely moves in is improving the power density weight of electric motors. To get really high power electric motors you need very strong rare earth magnets and then you have to deal with cooling a big lump of metal after the run. In a conventional engine you can dump a huge amount of heat by draining the cooling system and refilling with cool water. Not so easy on an electric motor which has not internal cooling system and depends on air cooling and mass to survive brief high power operations. Super conductor windings of course would go a long way to allowing very high current draw, but right now high temperatures and super conduction are mutually exclusive goals.

    On power storage I am sure someone some where is working to improve battery performance using nano particles to get high surface area and ease rapid chemical reactions to produce high currents and power density. Maybe they will end up going to super capacitors.

    On a safety front my biggest concern with electric battery systems is unlike a gasoline like fuel system which although it can burn it releases its energy over some period of time. A catastrophic accident to a super capacitor or high energy density battery would result in a near instantaneous dump of the energy in a giant plasma explosion. Fast acting fire bottles used on normal race cars would be irrelevant to a million amp arc discharge.

  43. Simon Derricutt says:

    It may be possible to use the principles of the homopolar motor to get a light, wheel-mounted, very efficient and easily-cooled motor. Among the other stuff I’m doing, this idea turned up accidentally and got added to the to-do list. Since it won’t need a stator, and input/output leads are on the axle, we can get a lot of power in a small space and it will run up to very high rpm. No stator needed, so intuitively it can’t work, but the textbooks say it does and I’ve tested the theory before, just not this way. Make the motor the hub of the wheel and it should hardly be much heavier than a normal wheel.

    Lots of work is going on to get fast charge/discharge of batteries, and there seems to be some new idea every week. Some of them look workable, too. A friend has also worked out a way of printing supercapacitors (and batteries) of thin film or paper, which could produce a very high energy-density (surprisingly). Supercapacitors may be the best thing for drag racing, though, since the rate of discharge is not so limited by the ion movement. There’s still the problem of charging it in the time, though. Take your several-MW generator to the race as well.

  44. H.R. says:

    In the (brief) article linked below, Tesla is hiking the price of electricity. No biggie. Rates are up so they have to charge more. Profits from the increase will go to adding more Supercharger stations.

    Tesla is also developing a V3 Supercharger for even faster charging. They kind of blew by that in the article, but in light of our discussion here, I thought it was interesting.

    I only regularly read here, WUWT, Conservative Treehouse, p.g.’s blog, and Willis’ blog and there are some other blogs (hi beth!) I visit less frequently. On the blogs I listed I’ve seen a good deal of discussion of the problem of adding enough charging capacity if EV sales really take off, regardless if the cars are mandated or if they just suddenly gain mass popularity.

    I don’t think the charging infrastructure problem is being discussed much elsewhere, but then I just admitted to not surfing widely or hitting any news aggregating sites. Still, I don’t think the problem is being widely discussed and it is being hand waved away.

  45. E.M.Smith says:


    Something in that article causes my BS-o-Meter to mumble at me.

    Tesla’s efforts to improve its bottom line go beyond layoffs and disappearing perks. Electrek has learned that Tesla is raising Supercharger rates around the world, with per kWh rates climbing about 33 percent in numerous markets. While it’s still less expensive than gas (even the 36 cents per kWh in some California locations is modest), it’s not quite the savings it represented in the past. According to Tesla, this is really a matter of adapting to financial realities.

    In a statement, Tesla said it was increasing prices to “better reflect differences in local electricity costs and site usage.” It added that it was still launching new Supercharger stations on a “weekly” basis, and stressed that it didn’t treat its EV chargers as a “profit center.”

    33% is a very non-trivial amount. Like gasoline suddenly jumping from $2.99 / gallon to $4… That’s a big sticker shock item.

    Um, local costs and global increase? Now it might just be poorly worded and they really mean something like “Various locations have increased electricity costs so we are covering that by spreading the price impact over the whole globe with a minor increase for everyone”, or not… But something is amiss in the statement as written. Or perhaps it was supposed to be “some local markets around the world will have price rises, but not all”. Who knows…

    I note in passing that they noted California rates are now “Crazy High” at 36 ¢/k-W-hr (and rising) thanks to Green Policies… I also could not help having a corner of the brain echo a “yet” after not treating it as a profit center…

    Then there is that odd bit about “site usage”… When you are funding an expensive fixed infrastructure project, more “per hour” use charges is usually a good thing. Amortizing the fixed cost over more variable uses… Here they imply it is a bad thing.

    You might have seen this coming. Electricity isn’t getting cheaper, and the rapidly increasing number of Tesla cars on the road (particularly the Model 3) was going to increase the costs of operating a given Supercharger. The company also has to think about the future. On top of dramatically expanding its coverage in 2019, it’s planning to roll out its first super-fast V3 Superchargers. The money for those upgrades has to come from somewhere, and Tesla wasn’t about to willingly take a hit when it’s already trying to cut costs.

    Only if they were running sites at a loss on variable costs (i.e. electricity) would that sentence make sense. In which case Telsa “investors” have been subsidizing Tesla drivers for years as a “loss leader” (and in many jurisdictions “loss leaders” are illegal under anti-trust laws…) and “someday” there will need to be a very rude surprise on charging costs… I know some early adopters were given sweetheart deals with free electricity (for life?) and eventually that program ended (or at least an article went by saying it had been ended…).

    In any case, there’s a discontinuity flag raised by that statement… More utilization of expensive fixed cost capital stock to sell more variable cost electrons requires a price rise? Um, no. Something else is missing from that explanation…. (and I think it is the word “subsidy”…)

  46. Simon Derricutt says:

    EM – yep, not only is there a problem with the superchargers themselves but also the total generation capacity, and if you want enough generation capacity in 10 years’ time you need to have already started building the extra generation facilities now. In the UK, retirements of old nuclear power stations by 2035 and the early retirements of coal-fired power stations already mean that total capacity is seen to be a problem shortly without EVs adding to the load, and new generating capacity is being stalled. Hitachi have just mothballed development of a new nuclear generator in Wales, because it’s not financially viable. In France, the nukes are getting close to EOL and no new ones are being built. The can is being kicked down the road. I think the USA is in much the same position, where there’s so much opposition to new-build generation capacity (and especially nuclear) that the plans may be abandoned because the delays result in increased up-front costs.

    Looks like a perfect storm coming up, where we all start getting brown-outs and supply cuts because there’s not enough capacity, and since ICEs will be no longer on sale people will have to use EVs or not go anywhere (and they won’t be able to charge the EVs).

    Long-term energy policy looks like it sucks. Meantime, China will likely have more than enough electricity from their coal-fired stations and imported coal from Australia. If Oz was honest about the need for CO2 reduction then they’d stop mining and selling coal, on the grounds that if it’s mined it will be burnt *somewhere* and that thus by mining it they are adding to CO2 production. Either CO2 is a problem or it isn’t (hint – it isn’t…) and if you believe CO2 is evil then you’d not mine the coal or gas or oil at all. There’s no honesty in claiming you’re not actually burning it yourself and so it’s not your fault, when you’re making large profits on the sales.

  47. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – I read it as “We need money ’cause the subsidies supporting our expansion have gone away. We can’t keep it up on our dime, so the users will have to pay.”

    The economic illiteracy you point out probably is on the author of the article and not from Tesla. I think Tesla is well aware of the dicey economics and is pedaling (peddling? 😜) as fast as they can to void a total crash and burn.

    Then again, Musk may just be so much of an egomaniacal narcissistic nutcase (but very bright!) that he is always in the position of reacting to economic conditions that he should have foreseen or thought that they didn’t apply to “a genius like me” (Musk).

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