Will EVs' electricity usage burden the grid? A look at their impact

By Kevin Armstrong
Teslas charging via energy producting by solar panels
Teslas charging via energy producting by solar panels

Teslas, which make up the majority of electric vehicles, got caught in the crossfire during the September heatwave in California. As a result, owners of zero emissions cars were asked to limit when they plug in to charge. However, now that the emergency has passed and cooler heads have prevailed, several reports are surfacing showing how little EVs drain the electric grind. Spoiler alert, it's not much, and maybe less than you thought.

Let's start with California. According to Scientific American, EVs in that state account for: "less than 1 percent of the grid's total load during peak hours." California has more than 1 million electric cars, the most of any state in the U.S. But what about the drain caused by the other 26 million EVs worldwide? It's even lower.

A research branch of Bloomberg studies "trends driving the transition to a lower-carbon economy," published a report looking at the global situation. According to BloombergNEF, electric vehicles add around 0.2% to global energy demand. That accounts for 27 million electric passenger vehicles worldwide using 60 terawatt-hours annually.

BNEF zoomed in on a country well ahead of the curve on EV adoption. More than 20 percent of the cars on the road in Norway are plugging in, and these EVs are racking up more miles than ICE cars. Plus, nearly 80 percent of vehicles bought in 2021 in that country are electric. So indeed, the system cannot handle such a drain - right? It turns out EVs in Norway account for 1.4 percent of demand on the grid.

BNEF also crunched the numbers to forecast future consumption. It researched two scenarios for EVs in the next two to three decades. One deals with the main driver of EV growth being market demand. This situation assumes there will be 730 million electric passenger cars by 2040. If that were the case, these passenger vehicles would increase electricity demands by 7 percent. When adding other vehicles like buses and trucks, the demand would rise to 11 percent.

In the other scenario, the report assumes the world will be net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. In that case, there will be 1 billion EVs on the road, which would increase demand to 9 percent, and when adding in other vehicles, that number goes to 15. The report went even further. If every vehicle on the road were electric by 2050, the demand on the grid would be 27 percent.

With more people going electric, that demand will grow, and it is up to jurisdictions and utility providers to upgrade the system accordingly. Every country, state and city must plan for this growth to handle the EV revolution.

Tesla Vehicles Spotted With LiDAR: What Do They Use It For?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently hit the news for purchasing approximately $2M in LiDAR sensors from Luminar, one of Tesla’s long-term suppliers. You’ve probably seen photos of Tesla’s Semi and various Tesla models, including the Model 3 and Model Y sporting LIDAR equipment on the roof. These cars drive around with manufacturer plates scanning streets and highways.

However, many people confuse Tesla’s purpose in purchasing LiDAR equipment with using it for FSD versus testing. So, let’s look at what LiDAR is, and why Tesla uses it on its Fleet Validation Vehicles.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detecting and Ranging – essentially using lasers to measure distances. A laser pulse is sent out, and the time it takes to return is measured – providing extremely accurate distance measurements.

Some companies working on self-driving vehicles, including Waymo and BYD, use LiDAR as part of their self-driving suites, but Tesla is one of the few stand-outs that does not. Even Rimac’s “Verne” Robotaxi – which uses self-driving technology from Mobileye, also uses LiDAR.

While LiDAR can produce extremely accurate and high-quality 3D environments, it comes with its downsides as well. Not only is LiDAR costly and requires large gear strapped to a vehicle, but it also can not be used in bad weather and can have interference issues if there are other strong light sources present.

Why Does Tesla Use LiDAR?

A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
Not a Tesla App

At Autonomy Day in 2019, Elon Musk mentioned that LiDAR isn’t the solution for self-driving cars – it's just a crutch. Thus, Tesla hasn’t used LiDAR for any production self-driving software.

Instead, Tesla uses it exactly how it's described – they use it to gather ground-truth data. This data is then used to feed Tesla’s Full Self Driving system – which helps validate its vision-only system's accuracy. LiDAR provides very accurate measurements to help ensure that FSD’s perception of space is accurate – and is only used by Tesla to ensure that its AI technology which is the brains of FSD is capable of accurately interpreting depth from just visual data.

Tesla’s vision-only system has been seen to be extremely accurate, with Vision-only Autopark being able to park in even narrower and tighter spaces faster than the previous version that relied on ultrasonic sensors.

We’ll likely continue to see Tesla purchase LiDAR systems, as well as use them for validation well into the future.

Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi Event in August Delayed, According to Bloomberg

By Karan Singh
Sugar Design

In a report from Bloomberg, it is claimed that Tesla will be delaying its much-anticipated 8/8 Robotaxi event by two months to October 2024.

While sources other than Bloomberg haven't confirmed this report, Bloomberg has a positive track record of reporting on financial decisions. We’ll be sure to update the article if there is confirmation on X from Elon Musk or another Tesla senior official.

Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly 8.5% over the day, ending back-to-back gains over the last two weeks. It closed yesterday at $ 241 after hitting a peak of $270 earlier in the day before the news broke.

Why the Delay?

The delay – of approximately two months – has been communicated internally, but not publicly announced just yet. Bloomberg goes on to mention that the design team was told to rework certain elements of the Cybercab, necessitating the delay.

If Bloomberg’s report is correct, it sounds like Tesla’s unveil event will be largely focused on showing off the vehicle, instead of demoing how it will work. Of course, it could still be both, but given past events, Tesla has always shown off the vehicle years before it hits production.

Rimac recently showed off their version of robotaxi vehicle named Verne, and surprisingly, it could almost pass for Tesla’s own robotaxi. A lot of design cues in Rimac’s version are elements we have already seen or expect to see in Tesla’s autonomous taxi.

A recent Tesla patent revealed that Tesla is incorporating a sanitation system into their robotaxi that will be responsible for analyzing and cleaning the vehicle’s interior, although the delay itself is likely tied more to a physical feature rather than software.

Another element we know almost nothing about is how Tesla plans to charge these robotic taxis. Will they rely on the existing charge port and adapt a solution like the robotic charging arm (video below) we saw almost eight years ago, or will wireless charging or a dock finally become realized?

While the delay for Tesla’s event appears to be related to the vehicle’s design itself and not further development of FSD, Tesla is wasting no time in getting FSD working for the upcoming vehicle. Model 3 vehicles have already been spotted with camera locations that resemble a robotaxi.

Is the Delay Accurate?

We expect that this delay might actually be true – Elon Musk usually takes to X within hours of such news breaking if it's false to refute it and hasn’t done so yet.

Tesla has delayed several of their events in the past, and a delay of a couple of months seems plausible. We should hear from Musk himself soon on whether this report is accurate.

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