John with Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley shared some interesting Tesla Solar news for those who plan to take a loan to install it. He discovered that Tesla has launched better rates on solar loans. Previously, the loan option was for a 20-year plan with 10% down and 5.99% APR.
Recently, Tesla made the loan option much more affordable with a new 10-year plan, 10% of the cost down, and only 0.99% APR. John tweeted that this was a complete game changer and that Elon Musk is making solar more and more affordable.
Breaking: @tesla launched better rates on solar. 10 years 0.99% with 10% down. It was 20 years 5.99% before. Complete game changer. @elonmusk is making solar more and more affordable. Take my money Tesla. pic.twitter.com/faQmqboczl
— Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley (@teslaownersSV) June 15, 2021
In a Twitter direct message, John told me, “I had the solar loan for 20 years at 5.99%. Then I saw on the website that it changed to 0.99% for 10 years. It literally will take me half the time to pay off the same rate.”
John also shared a screenshot, and looking at his details, the loan is cheaper on a monthly basis than my own electric bill. This is with 4.08 kW of solar panels and one Tesla Powerwall. After the federal tax credit and California’s Solar Renewable Energy Credit, his total cash price goes down from $20,292 to $14,835. His estimated loan payment is $160 a month before the incentives — and afterward, they drop down to $112 a month. This is for 120 months with a 0.99% APR.
Elon Musk Explained Tesla’s Low Solar Cost In 2020
In 2020, Zach Shahan wrote an article for CleanTechnica after having a short chat with Elon Musk about the low cost of solar Tesla is offering.
Zach asked Elon Musk how it was that Tesla got the cost of rooftop solar so low, lower than seemingly anyone else in the industry. Elon said:
“Solar panel cost is only ~50 cents/Watt. Mounting hardware, inverter and wiring is ~25 cents/Watt. Installation is ~50 cents/Watt, depending on system size.
“The other solar companies spend heavily on salespeople, advertising and complex financing instruments. We do not.”
This info came soon after Tesla announced rooftop solar would cost around $2 per watt across the country, $1.49/watt after the US federal tax credit. However, all of that just covers the cash cost. When financing, as many do, you also have to pay interest. This is where the news this week comes in. Offering 0.99% APR instead of 5.99% means further savings (dramatic savings) for people who go solar with Tesla.
U.S. Solar Installations Rose By 46% In Q1 2021
Solar installations in the U.S. rose by 46% to over 5 gigawatts in the first quarter of this year, CNBC just reported. The article cited a report by Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Here in the U.S., we are on track to install 24.4 gigawatts this year, which will be an increase of almost 24% compared to last year.
Technology costs have also declined to the point that solar is now competitive with power generated from fossil fuels.
Almost three-quarters of the total solar segment in the first quarter came from projects for utilities and other big customers. Much more is planned, too. This part of the market has almost 77 gigawatts worth of projects in the pipeline.
The demand for clean energy, especially solar, is high, and with more competitive costs and interest rates, it will only get higher.
So far, almost 100% of new power capacity added to US grids is coming from wind power and solar power. That led to 25.5% of U.S. electricity coming from renewables in March.
The Biden administration wants much faster growth, though. “The sector’s growth has also benefited from a long-standing generous federal tax credit for solar energy systems that the administration of President Joe Biden wants Congress to extend by a decade as part of its push to address climate change by investing in clean energy,” CNBC writes.
A combination of extended solar tax credits, more state & federal support for solar, lower solar costs and interest rates, and rising consumer awareness should lead to many more record quarters for solar power installations and for solar-generated electricity. Whether from Tesla, Sunrun, SunPower, Vivint Solar, or others, many more solar panels are getting installed on rooftops every day of the year. Large solar projects are also being built in open fields. Stay tuned for more sunny solar news.
SUPER73 launches Adventure series e-bikes, kids bikes, and new e-motorcycle details
Southern California-based electric bike company SUPER73 has been quite busy lately, at least if today’s triple whammy of an announcement is any indication. The company dropped a new line of off-road e-bikes, new kids balance bikes and new information about the upcoming C1X electric motorcycle.
SUPER73 Adventure Series
The SUPER73 Adventure Series is an update to each of the company’s existing model lines, adding more hardcore tires and in some cases extra suspension, among other new components. According to the company, “Each SUPER73 Adventure Series model comes standard with more aggressive SUPER73 GRZLY tires, an extended performance seat with gripper vinyl for added comfort, a headlight and rear light, fenders, and the relocation of the battery to the down tube for the S and R models giving them a lower center of gravity for better handling.”
All of the Adventure Series bikes will also come standard with an 8-speed cassette, which is sure to make those off-road hill climbs much easier, at least when you opt to use the pedals.
According to SUPER73 CEO LeGrand Crewse, the new lineup was developed by listening to customer feedback:
“At SUPER73, we combine thoughtful design with features riders want on our vehicles. It’s a combination of form and function that sets us apart from the competition and the SUPER73 Adventure Series delivers in spades, so we’re excited to announce the new lineup is available now. We are huge proponents of listening to our customer feedback, especially from our Super Squad, while understanding the critical details that take our product to the next level. We’re always evolving our product lineup to reach the widest array of riders possible, showcasing a steadfast commitment to current and new customers.”
The new SUPER73 Z Adventure will start at $2,695, the SUPER73 S Adventure will start at $3,595, and the SUPER73 R Adventure will start at $3,995. All three models will include hydraulic disc brakes and suspension forks (a major upgrade for the SUPER73 Z), while the S Adventure and R Adventure’s forks will be fully-adjustable.
SUPER73 K1D kids balance e-bikes
First teased over a year ago, SUPER73 is finally ready to release its K1D lineup of kids balance bikes.
According to the company, these little two-wheelers feature a design that was influenced by 80’s BMX and Motocross culture. They offer a 60-minute play time thanks to the battery and tiny electric motor.
That little battery uses LiFePO4 cells, which are virtually fireproof and also offer over double the lifespan. That means your kid will all but certainly outgrow the bike long before the battery would ever need to be replaced.
In another nod to safety, the K1D features regenerative braking to offer stronger stops and recharge the battery at the same time. A low and medium power mode selector lets young riders slowly develop their skills, while a third “Track Mode” can be unlocked by a parent for the highest power level.
Crewse boasts about the tiny bike’s safety and performance-based design:
“The technological advancements in the K1D youth series balance bike is groundbreaking from a safety, performance, and durability standpoint. We’re excited to announce the highly anticipated product has officially arrived. At SUPER73, we’re focused on driving the technology of our products forward, while making it fun and safe for our customers. The launch of K1D provides us with an entirely new customer base of young, aspiring riders and we’re thrilled to be leading the charge in our industry.”
The K1D is priced at $1,295 and will begin shipping in June.
SUEPR73 C1X electric motorcycle to feature super fast charging
We’ve heard a lot about faster charging for electric motorcycles lately, and it sounds like SUPER73 is eyeing the top prize for quickly juicing up.
So far we’ve known that the bike would feature highway-capable speeds and a city range of around 100 miles (160 km). But now we’re getting new info about the expected charging times, and they’re quite impressive.
According to the company, the C1X should be able to charge from 10% to 80% in only 15 minutes, which will give riders about 70 miles (112 km) of range in little more time than it took to read this article.
The new technology and its integration into the bike was made possible thanks to SUPER73’s efforts to hire a team of engineers with backgrounds in top tier EV manufacturing, aerospace mechanics, and consumer electronics.
As Crewse added:
“I’m incredibly proud of the dedication our team has shown in order to bring the C1X to life. The secret behind our innovation is the belief that the user experience should always serve as the guiding principle behind everything we create, and our electric motorcycle is no exception. This year, we’ve set out to prove that you don’t need to break the bank in order to take advantage of cutting-edge technology. Our riders can now enjoy the benefits of fast charging in a more accessible and approachable package with the C1X.”
The C1X’s development will continue through this year, with the company hoping to deliver the first production units in 2024. Upon its release, the C1X will likely challenge recently released or upcoming light electric motorcycles like the SONDORS Metacycle, Ryvid Anthem and CSC RX1E.
ICE car values plummet in China and it is the canary in the coal mine
A looming crisis is brewing in China, as hundreds of thousands of unsold, polluting gas-powered vehicles may be rendered unsellable due to incoming emissions rules. It’s another sign that the global auto industry isn’t ready for the shift to EVs and will be caught unawares if it doesn’t ramp EV production fast enough.
The new Chinese emissions rules were announced all the way back in 2016 and are set to go into effect in July. This gave automakers almost seven full years of notice to get it together and prepare to produce and sell less-polluting vehicles, more than enough time to bring a new model fully from original conception to production.
The rules don’t ban all gas cars, but they do set stricter emissions standards on several pollutants released by internal combustion vehicles. Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen oxide, particulates, and other pollutants must all be reduced by a half or a third.
Automakers seem to have planned to continue selling polluting vehicles up until the deadline, but then COVID hit. This affected the production of vehicles but also affected purchases. Auto sales dropped, and while sales have started to recover somewhat, most of that recovery has been in EV sales, while ICE sales are still depressed.
Dealership foot traffic is high, but customers simply aren’t buying. This has left dealers with a huge glut of polluting vehicles and a ticking clock that will make them unsellable in July.
China was originally somewhat slow to adopt EVs – in 2015, EV market share was less than .84%, similar to the US market share of .66% and well below California at 3.1% at the time. But in 2022, US market share had risen to only 7.2% and California to 18.7%, whereas China’s EV market share is now a whopping 30%, leapfrogging several countries in the process. So China was a little late at the start but has advanced much more quickly in recent years, catching companies by surprise.
As a result, dealers have been offering massive discounts on polluting inventory vehicles, but this hasn’t been enough. Even the government has stepped in, with provincial governments adding additional subsidies to reduce the price of locally-produced vehicles.
Rapidly dropping prices have resulted in a “wait-and-see” attitude among Chinese buyers. Given that prices are already falling, customers think that they can wait longer and that these prices will fall even further.
Given the dealers and manufacturers are confronted with a situation where their cars will soon become valueless and that there simply aren’t enough customers interested in buying the number of cars they have in inventory, any price they can get for the cars that’s greater than zero may be worthwhile come July.
But the problem most harshly affects foreign automakers in China. Chinese companies have been faster to adopt EVs than foreign ones, so automakers from Europe, Japan, and the US will be most affected by this glut of vehicles. Sales from Chinese brands are flat year-over-year, but sales from US brands are down 12%. German and Korean brands are down 22%, and Japanese and French brands are down more than 40%.
China’s car dealership associations are scrambling for a fix. The China Auto Dealers Chamber of Commerce (CADCC) asked that the emissions rules be delayed six months, until January 1, to help clear the backlog. This is not an unexpected request from a Chamber of Commerce – organizations which so often take the side of polluters over people – but the CADCC also requested that automakers stop production of new cars that don’t meet the upcoming standards immediately, rather than continuing their production plans up until July.
But that’s just China – the same will happen around the globe
China’s turnaround on EV adoption may be an exceptional case. It has gone from a relative laggard to one of the global leaders and now stands only behind Northern Europe in current EV market share. The timing of COVID, the rapid shift to EVs, and new emissions rules have created somewhat of a perfect storm in the country.
But make no mistake – similar trends will play out elsewhere in the world in the coming years, and many automakers simply are not ready.
It takes time to design, build, and distribute vehicles, as these companies know well. But the inability to project trends seven years into the future will prove to be the downfall of laggard companies that don’t take EVs seriously.
I don’t say this in an attempt to function as some sort of oracle of the automotive industry, but from simple observation of events happening now.
We’ve seen other regions shift to EVs faster than expected. Even Norway, long known to be a standout in EV adoption, has taken many by surprise. The country planned to end gas car sales in 2025, but it’s already basically there. This has resulted in some brands hastily withdrawing their gas cars from the Norwegian market – Hyundai only gave a few days of notice that they would stop selling gas cars in the country at the start of this year.
This sort of thing is possible in a country that’s part of a large economic bloc where cars can be shifted around to other nations, but when the entire bloc goes electric, what then? We get a situation like China’s, with stranded vehicles that may end up being worth nothing or close to it.
We’ve also seen some drivers, not even high-mileage ones, realize that renting, fueling, and maintaining an EV is cheaper than the continued running costs of using a paid-for gas car. When that happens, the value of the gas car is effectively zero – it’s worse to continue driving it than it is to get a whole new EV.
It doesn’t take much to see that these trends could result in a full-on “bank run” to abandon gas cars and buy EVs, depending on how unbalanced the supply-demand equation becomes.
Tesla as a case study
Tesla started selling cars in 2008, and 100% of those cars were electric. But it only really got into “mass production” in 2012-2014 with the Model S. At the time, one could look at a chart of sales trends of the Model S versus competing models like the BMW 7-series, Mercedes E- and S-class, Lexus and Audi offerings, etc., and see a strange dip in all of them which coincided with the rise of Model S sales. Tesla wasn’t creating a new market, it was eating the market that existed – and fast.
And these trends continued with other models. It was clear that EVs – as long as they were designed to take advantage of the inherent benefits of electric drive and sold with purpose rather than as compliance vehicles – were going to take market share from gas cars.
The company making these moves loudly proclaimed that in order to make EVs work, one needed to ensure that they had enough batteries to manufacture these cars, enough dealers who cared to sell and knew how to sell these cars, and a suitable charging network for owners to get around in a transparent manner. So it did those things. All around a decade ago.
This wasn’t a secret; other automakers could see it happening. I had this discussion with executives from various automakers around the mid-2010s, many of whom saw it happening but couldn’t get their organizations to act with proper urgency. Meanwhile, most of them thought that they would easily overtake the newcomer with their superior manufacturing expertise – with VW famously claiming they’d reach that point by 2018 (spoiler alert: they still haven’t).
And now, we’re still hearing CEOs say that “batteries are the constraint,” while Tesla outsells every other brand’s EVs combined, twice over, in its home country. Tesla also happens to have a battery factory that broke ground nearly ten years ago now, while some manufacturers are just starting to break ground or announce investments this year.
This is not even a case of Tesla being uniquely right in these prognostications. It is the pure EV company that started first (which is to say, the only one that started at the right time), had enough funding to get off the ground in time (a difficult task), and was confronted with a blue ocean, a market that refused to build EVs in any significant number.
Tesla thus became essentially the only game in town. People want EVs, and everyone else just isn’t bothering to make them yet. This didn’t need to be inevitable. This happened due to intransigence from the major players in the industry. And this case study shows that it was not impossible to see these signs coming, nor impossible to act on them. Other automakers just…. didn’t.
The signs were there from the start
We, the EV faithful, have been trying to shout this from the mountaintops since the beginning. In fact, Electrek exists largely because of this tweet from our publisher Seth Weintraub, ten years ago this year:
We’re a few months out from Seth’s deadline, and look at what’s happening in China. In the next three months, potentially hundreds of thousands of cars are under threat of becoming valueless because they don’t meet the emissions guidelines that were announced long ago. Buyers could buy them now for a song but still aren’t interested.
In 2018, we saw the same thought make its way into “mainstream” car media when WSJ’s Dan Neil said the same. That was five years ago now, and even then he said that he would be stupid to buy a gas car at the time, because by the time he was ready to sell that car, ICE car values would likely drop to zero.
Meanwhile, the EV deals of the past (which we catalog here on Electrek) have largely dried up (well, except for the Chevy Bolt, which is a screaming deal). Automakers don’t need to give deals on EVs – everyone wants them. They’re going to sell out regardless. Heck, you can barely even find one for MSRP these days.
This mismatch of supply and demand is because automakers have consistently underestimated EV demand for a decade now. We heard for so long that the demand wasn’t there, and all of a sudden, now we’re hearing the opposite. But if you wait to react until after the demand is too high for you to fulfill, you’ll still have years worth of prep to do before being able to meet that demand.
At this point, it could be too late already for some automakers. Even the largest on Earth, Toyota, seems likely to suffer from their obstinacy (along with other Japanese automakers and perhaps the entire country of Japan). Toyota’s new CEO, Koji Sato, has given some indications that he wants to turn things around, but it’s very late in the game already.
And going back to China, this is part of what the China Automobile Circulation Association warned about in a March 24 note. It recognized that auto manufacturers got demand drastically wrong and that those companies’ underestimation of EV popularity is what has led to this situation. It called on all levels of the auto industry – government, manufacturing, and dealerships – to shape up and embrace change in a way that these entities have not yet done.
We need to see the same in the rest of the world, lest the same fate happen elsewhere. You’ve been warned.
Weird Alibaba: An inflatable Chinese electric jet ski for $2,000 – What’s the catch?
As usual for entries in this Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week column, the fun EVs we dredge up tend to bridge the gap between fun-looking and palm sweat-inducing. Would you take a cheap inflatable electric jet ski out into the bay or off the coast? What if I told you that you had to build it yourself?
That appears to be the case here with this week’s find. It’s an inflatable vessel that is jet ski shaped, though I’m not sure it fulfills all of the requirements to become a jet ski – namely the water jet turbine.
In fact, there’s actually no motor at all. It seems to be just the 3.5 meter (11 ft) boat itself, but at least it comes with a convenient transom in back to mount your own motor.
And in our case, we can slap on an electric outboard to turn this thing into not just a bad idea on water, but a green bad idea on water.
If you really wanted to stay true to the advertising, you could actually get an electrically powered jet ski-style water turbine to add to this boat. Amazon can hook you up with an impressive offering that looks like it would require cutting an inlet hole in the bottom of the boat and an exit somewhere through the rear transom.
Short of building a true jet ski though, I think an overpowered trolling motor will probably suffice. The vendor for the motor linked above seems to propose that is equivalent to 10 hp, which sounds reasonable for a small watercraft like this.
Technically the motor is only rated at 2.2 kW, which is around 3 hp. But we generally find that small electric outboards offer performance of around 3x the rated power of combustion engine outboards due to their much higher torque. It may not rip as fast as the larger gas engine below, but then again maybe it will. Who knows until we find out ourselves?!
You’ll need a whopping 60V of battery for that awesome little electric outboard, which I’m hoping will fit either under the seat or under the “hood” of the jet ski.
I’d actually be pretty interested to get a look under that hood to see what’s going on with that steering wheel. Since the jet ski/inflatable boat seems to be set up for a transom-mounted trolling motor, I don’t know how they expect to tie in steering linkage to something like that.
But my past experience of buying electric boats on Alibaba has taught me to never discount the ingenuity of East Asian engineers building low-cost vehicles that will presumably hold the life of one or more people in their hands.
One thing is for sure: At around $2k, this will definitely be the cheapest new jet ski you could buy, electric or otherwise. Personal watercraft aren’t cheap, and the electric ones carry a significant premium.
But if you’re handy, don’t mind wiring up a motor and battery yourself, and also don’t mind a steering wheel for show while you twist around to control a tiller motor, then you just might wind up with one of the most unique vessels on your local lake or river.
And consider the ease of transport! You probably don’t even need a trailer like you would for a traditional jet ski. The entire thing weighs just 176 kg (388 lb), though the spec sheet also says it is made from fiberglass, so perhaps the data isn’t quite accurate. Either way, this inflatable vessel can’t weigh too much. And the fact that you can deflate it to fit in the back of a van or SUV is a big benefit too. Or you can just leave it inflated and probably fit it in a truck with the tail gate down. Not my mini-truck, but maybe your truck.
At $2,025 for this thing, it’s pretty darn cheap – though that’s before the cost of batteries and a motor. Don’t forget though that there’d be several thousand dollars in shipping costs, customs import charges, taxes, broker fees, etc. Also, don’t forget that you should absolutely not buy this thing. While I’ve picked up some cool and weird little EVs from Alibaba over the years, it’s never a good idea. The process is long and complicated, not to mention fraught with extra charges at every step of the way. And you never know if the company who just received your wire transfer is even going to deliver your product in the end, which is just another fun little stressor that comes with shopping on Alibaba. So please, don’t join the ranks of my foolish readers and risk your hard earned money on something weird like this.
But if you ignore my warnings and decide to go for it, be sure to let me know what happened! And maybe update your will before the maiden voyage.
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