Heavy-duty BEVs like the Tesla Semi won’t work—biofuels a better option: Bill Gates

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TruckElectric

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Bill Gates’ recent post about electric vehicles contained a number of interesting insights about his views on electrification. While the Microsoft co-founder noted that EVs present an ideal solution for short-haul travel, he argued that battery-electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for heavy-duty machinery like 18-wheelers. This makes vehicles like the Tesla Semi inherently flawed, at least according to the tech visionary.

Gates explained in his post that EVs do not work as long-haul vehicles like semitrailers because batteries are big and heavy. According to Gates, this results in an inherent problem, since moving more weight would require batteries, and more batteries would result in additional weight. Thus, even if electricity is drawn from zero-carbon sources, and even with innovations in battery tech, there are simply things that batteries would not be best at.

“The problem is that batteries are big and heavy. The more weight you’re trying to move, the more batteries you need to power the vehicle. But the more batteries you use, the more weight you add—and the more power you need. Even with big breakthroughs in battery technology, electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets. Electricity works when you need to cover short distances, but we need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles,” Gates wrote.

With this in mind, the tech visionary explained that cheap alternative fuels would be a much better optionthan all-electric vehicles for long-haul travel. Gates noted that there are several types of these alternative fuels, though he took a particular focus on biofuels and electrofuels. The Microsoft co-founder explained that biofuels today are far different than the biofuels of the past such as ethanol. He added that some biofuels could be drawn from plants that aren’t grown for food, and some could even be used in existing engines without requiring any modifications. However, challenges remain with the rollout of biofuels for long-haul travel.

“I’m optimistic about these biofuels, but it’s too soon to think about replacing gasoline and other fossil fuels with them. Research on advanced biofuels is still underfunded, and they aren’t ready to be deployed at the scale we need. We need a lot more innovation before they become a realistic, cost-effective option for long-haul transportation,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote.

Gates also discussed electrofuels, which combine the hydrogen molecules in water with the carbon in carbon dioxide to create a liquid fuel that could work in existing internal combustion engines. According to the tech visionary, electrofuels have a lot of potential, but they remain very expensive, costing about 3 to 7 times the price of fossil fuels. The billionaire also noted that for electrofuels to work, the electricity used to create them would need to come from zero-carbon sources.

Interestingly enough, Gates’ recent post on electric vehicles did not mention Tesla at all, nor any of the company’s projects. That being said, the tech visionary’s remarks do suggest that he does not believe that the Tesla Semi could be a viable alternative to fossil fuel trucks. Gates’ stance would likely be put to the test soon enough, however, since Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated that it is now time for the Semi’s volume production to start. This suggests that Tesla has finalized the design and specs of the Semi, whose production version will likely meet or even exceed its impressive specs, which were announced over two years ago.

Source: Teslarati
 

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Bill Gates’ recent post about electric vehicles contained a number of interesting insights about his views on electrification. While the Microsoft co-founder noted that EVs present an ideal solution for short-haul travel, he argued that battery-electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for heavy-duty machinery like 18-wheelers. This makes vehicles like the Tesla Semi inherently flawed, at least according to the tech visionary.

Gates explained in his post that EVs do not work as long-haul vehicles like semitrailers because batteries are big and heavy. According to Gates, this results in an inherent problem, since moving more weight would require batteries, and more batteries would result in additional weight. Thus, even if electricity is drawn from zero-carbon sources, and even with innovations in battery tech, there are simply things that batteries would not be best at.

“The problem is that batteries are big and heavy. The more weight you’re trying to move, the more batteries you need to power the vehicle. But the more batteries you use, the more weight you add—and the more power you need. Even with big breakthroughs in battery technology, electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets. Electricity works when you need to cover short distances, but we need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles,” Gates wrote.

With this in mind, the tech visionary explained that cheap alternative fuels would be a much better optionthan all-electric vehicles for long-haul travel. Gates noted that there are several types of these alternative fuels, though he took a particular focus on biofuels and electrofuels. The Microsoft co-founder explained that biofuels today are far different than the biofuels of the past such as ethanol. He added that some biofuels could be drawn from plants that aren’t grown for food, and some could even be used in existing engines without requiring any modifications. However, challenges remain with the rollout of biofuels for long-haul travel.

“I’m optimistic about these biofuels, but it’s too soon to think about replacing gasoline and other fossil fuels with them. Research on advanced biofuels is still underfunded, and they aren’t ready to be deployed at the scale we need. We need a lot more innovation before they become a realistic, cost-effective option for long-haul transportation,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote.

Gates also discussed electrofuels, which combine the hydrogen molecules in water with the carbon in carbon dioxide to create a liquid fuel that could work in existing internal combustion engines. According to the tech visionary, electrofuels have a lot of potential, but they remain very expensive, costing about 3 to 7 times the price of fossil fuels. The billionaire also noted that for electrofuels to work, the electricity used to create them would need to come from zero-carbon sources.

Interestingly enough, Gates’ recent post on electric vehicles did not mention Tesla at all, nor any of the company’s projects. That being said, the tech visionary’s remarks do suggest that he does not believe that the Tesla Semi could be a viable alternative to fossil fuel trucks. Gates’ stance would likely be put to the test soon enough, however, since Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated that it is now time for the Semi’s volume production to start. This suggests that Tesla has finalized the design and specs of the Semi, whose production version will likely meet or even exceed its impressive specs, which were announced over two years ago.

Source: Teslarati
Yeah, I read that and some of the responses. The sad thing is that we listen to mega millionaires simply because they have been successful in the business sense and not because they are inherently saying something either intelligent or reasonable. I see Bill Gates as a person that made a few lucky choices and turned them into an empire - not based on great products but in convincing the world to buy those products. He has no more expertise with EVs and associated technologies than anyone here, most likely less than some. He may be right, but it would be serendipitous...IMO.
 

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I have a lot of respect for Bill Gates for many of the choices that he has made, but I don't see why he would take make such a certain statement about how something could never change. I find it ridiculous to completely deny a possibility especially in a field that is constantly improving towards exactly what is being denied.

We have seen many companies, not just Tesla, that have recently been talking about how they are improving battery technology. We also have battery day around the corner to release even more information that could make this possible. I have no doubt that if we have solid state batteries released, even if that takes another 5-10 years, that will greatly improve the trucking industry with range, recharge rates, and immense cost savings.
 

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Every ton of battery or hour charging is a ton of cargo you're not carrying or an hour you're not getting where you need to go.

And those extra tons cost money. Alot. Upfront.

So he does have a point, which is why we haven't seen any fully electric trucks (and only a handful of hybrid demonstrators) adopted for long-haul.

-Crissa
 

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I'm not saying that we've seen enough evidence that electric semi's will be viable but i'm not going to dismiss the idea that it could be better. We haven't seen how fast a semi will charge but i'm confident that it will be an impressive number. I work in aviation and I know how expensive it is to have a plane or a truck sitting in one spot not earning revenue or carrying weight that isn't being paid to be transported. But we have to look at that trade off to see if the time of charging over filling a tank will be paid off with the difference in cost to charge over fill.

I've spoken to a driver with a huge dual tank and he told me it cost him over $1000 to fill it up, now this was a few years ago when the cost of gas was high, but that's still a massive cost. Already I can see Tesla making some crazy Semi charger and probably charging multiple batteries at the same time. I think that would make a positive impact on the trucking already. Then we also have to consider the possibility of upcoming solid state batteries that are being worked on by several companies which will probably charge faster than you can fill a semi's tank. At that point I don't think there would be any question to use electric.
 

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In the far future, sure. Maybe even in the near, but getting people to put calculations with that fuel cost in it is so hard.

And Tesla Semis currently use multiple Superchargers at once.

-Crissa
 
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Bill Gates says Tesla Semi and electric airplanes will 'probably never' work, and he is wrong


Bill Gates has thrown some cold water on the Tesla Semi project and recent comments from Elon Musk about the possibility of commercial electric airplanes.

Is he right?

In recent years, Gates has focused on using his fortune to try and fix major problems in the world.

He is getting more attention lately due to his early warnings of the world not being ready for a pandemic prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Now, he is using his platform to issue a similar warning about climate change:

Earlier this month, I wrote about how COVID-19 is a cautionary tale for climate change. There’s no doubt that we have experienced terrible suffering and economic hardship over the last several months. But as hard as it is to imagine right now when we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, climate change has the potential to be even more devastating.
In a new blog post, he emphasizes the need to electrify transport in order to address climate change.

However, he made some controversial comments about the segments going electric.

Gates does believe that passenger vehicles are going to be electrified, and they already are to a degree:

“Plus, increased competition in the market means there are more choices available to customers than ever before, from compact sedans to sleek sports cars. You’ll even be able to buy an all-electric pick-up truck soon thanks to legacy companies like GM and Ford and new carmakers like Rivian and Bollinger.”
The Microsoft founder, who used to drive a Model X, snubbed Tesla and its Cybertruck in mentioning electric pickup trucks.

bill-gates-tesla-model-x.png

No big deal, but where Gates’ comments get more controversial is that he claims that electric semi-trucks, like Tesla Semi, and electric jets, will “probably never” happen:

“The problem is that batteries are big and heavy. The more weight you’re trying to move, the more batteries you need to power the vehicle. But the more batteries you use, the more weight you add—and the more power you need. Even with big breakthroughs in battery technology, electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets. Electricity works when you need to cover short distances, but we need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles.”
That’s despite several electric semi-truck programs, like Tesla Semi and the Freightliner eCascadia, being quite far along.

As for electric airplanes, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been predicting that they would become viable once batteries reach an energy density of 400 Wh/kg, which many battery manufacturers are currently working on.

Instead, Gates suggest biofuels as potential alternative to batteries for those segments of transportation.

Electrek’s Take

I won’t pretend to be smarter than Bill Gates, but I’d like for him to revisit these comments because I think he is not looking at it the right way.

First of all, it’s not all about batteries being “big and heavy.”

If you look at the problem through that lens, you assume that we have reached the efficiency limit for all those types of vehicles (trucks, cargo ships, and planes).

I don’t think that’s true.

With the electrification of passenger cars, manufacturers have doubled down on their efforts to improve efficiency in order to use fewer batteries in their vehicles and they have found plenty of room for improvements.

As we start to electrify trucks and planes, we will likely find new efficiency improvements because “necessity is the mother of invention.”

We just didn’t have that need until now.

But if you want to focus on the batteries, I find it kind of crazy that he doesn’t believe they will improve enough to enable electric trucks and planes.

Especially when you consider that he is a major investor in Quantumscape, which claims that its technology is going to enable 500 Wh/kg batteries:

Source: Electrek
 

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Every ton of battery or hour charging is a ton of cargo you're not carrying or an hour you're not getting where you need to go.

And those extra tons cost money. Alot. Upfront.

So he does have a point, which is why we haven't seen any fully electric trucks (and only a handful of hybrid demonstrators) adopted for long-haul.

-Crissa
Every ton of battery or hour charging is a ton of cargo you're not carrying or an hour you're not getting where you need to go.

And those extra tons cost money. Alot. Upfront.

So he does have a point, which is why we haven't seen any fully electric trucks (and only a handful of hybrid demonstrators) adopted for long-haul.

-Crissa
Agreed. Gates makes valid points. I also think times and technology are changing.
As a species we tend to see things into the future as they are right now. For example, the economy is good/bad now. It will be good/bad for the foreseeable future. Warren Buffet, the Wizard of Wall Street said in 2012 (?) that for the next 30 years the stock market will average around 8%. 2016 election comes and the stock market was on unprecedented levels until the pandemic. Even the master investor can be influenced by that same thinking.
 

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90% of Semis on the road are under 73,000 pounds. So, that means a 9,000 pound battery won't impact cargo capacity very much at all.

The average distance a semi travels is around 300 miles a day. So, range and recharging isn't going to impact revenues. Anyway, if they have a 500 mile pack now, a little more range will be over the max of 650 miles that a driver can do in a day anyway. And then just recharge over night.

So, his two major objections can be countered with a couple minutes of research. He obviously did none.
 

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Bill Gates’ recent post about electric vehicles contained a number of interesting insights about his views on electrification. While the Microsoft co-founder noted that EVs present an ideal solution for short-haul travel, he argued that battery-electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for heavy-duty machinery like 18-wheelers. This makes vehicles like the Tesla Semi inherently flawed, at least according to the tech visionary.

Gates explained in his post that EVs do not work as long-haul vehicles like semitrailers because batteries are big and heavy. According to Gates, this results in an inherent problem, since moving more weight would require batteries, and more batteries would result in additional weight. Thus, even if electricity is drawn from zero-carbon sources, and even with innovations in battery tech, there are simply things that batteries would not be best at.

“The problem is that batteries are big and heavy. The more weight you’re trying to move, the more batteries you need to power the vehicle. But the more batteries you use, the more weight you add—and the more power you need. Even with big breakthroughs in battery technology, electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets. Electricity works when you need to cover short distances, but we need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles,” Gates wrote.

With this in mind, the tech visionary explained that cheap alternative fuels would be a much better optionthan all-electric vehicles for long-haul travel. Gates noted that there are several types of these alternative fuels, though he took a particular focus on biofuels and electrofuels. The Microsoft co-founder explained that biofuels today are far different than the biofuels of the past such as ethanol. He added that some biofuels could be drawn from plants that aren’t grown for food, and some could even be used in existing engines without requiring any modifications. However, challenges remain with the rollout of biofuels for long-haul travel.

“I’m optimistic about these biofuels, but it’s too soon to think about replacing gasoline and other fossil fuels with them. Research on advanced biofuels is still underfunded, and they aren’t ready to be deployed at the scale we need. We need a lot more innovation before they become a realistic, cost-effective option for long-haul transportation,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote.

Gates also discussed electrofuels, which combine the hydrogen molecules in water with the carbon in carbon dioxide to create a liquid fuel that could work in existing internal combustion engines. According to the tech visionary, electrofuels have a lot of potential, but they remain very expensive, costing about 3 to 7 times the price of fossil fuels. The billionaire also noted that for electrofuels to work, the electricity used to create them would need to come from zero-carbon sources.

Interestingly enough, Gates’ recent post on electric vehicles did not mention Tesla at all, nor any of the company’s projects. That being said, the tech visionary’s remarks do suggest that he does not believe that the Tesla Semi could be a viable alternative to fossil fuel trucks. Gates’ stance would likely be put to the test soon enough, however, since Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated that it is now time for the Semi’s volume production to start. This suggests that Tesla has finalized the design and specs of the Semi, whose production version will likely meet or even exceed its impressive specs, which were announced over two years ago.

Source: Teslarati
 

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Bill Gates is an ass. He needs to stay with what made him locking everyone else out of the computer software business. And he can’t even work the bugs out of that, also Involved in vaccines no thank you Gates. He is no expert in this area and my money is on Elon. Also why can’t the EV semi transportation system run like the pony express large charging depots across the United States at the end of a semi’s Power it drops trailor and a fresh charged semi takes the trailer in what ever direction as the original semi fully charges and grabs another load, it would save on charge time. Just As they did with the pony express but with well rested horses. Just saying 2020
 
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Bill Gates says Tesla Semi and electric airplanes will 'probably never' work, and he is wrong


Bill Gates has thrown some cold water on the Tesla Semi project and recent comments from Elon Musk about the possibility of commercial electric airplanes.

Is he right?

In recent years, Gates has focused on using his fortune to try and fix major problems in the world.

He is getting more attention lately due to his early warnings of the world not being ready for a pandemic prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Now, he is using his platform to issue a similar warning about climate change:


In a new blog post, he emphasizes the need to electrify transport in order to address climate change.

However, he made some controversial comments about the segments going electric.

Gates does believe that passenger vehicles are going to be electrified, and they already are to a degree:


The Microsoft founder, who used to drive a Model X, snubbed Tesla and its Cybertruck in mentioning electric pickup trucks.

bill-gates-tesla-model-x.png

No big deal, but where Gates’ comments get more controversial is that he claims that electric semi-trucks, like Tesla Semi, and electric jets, will “probably never” happen:


That’s despite several electric semi-truck programs, like Tesla Semi and the Freightliner eCascadia, being quite far along.

As for electric airplanes, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been predicting that they would become viable once batteries reach an energy density of 400 Wh/kg, which many battery manufacturers are currently working on.

Instead, Gates suggest biofuels as potential alternative to batteries for those segments of transportation.

Electrek’s Take

I won’t pretend to be smarter than Bill Gates, but I’d like for him to revisit these comments because I think he is not looking at it the right way.

First of all, it’s not all about batteries being “big and heavy.”

If you look at the problem through that lens, you assume that we have reached the efficiency limit for all those types of vehicles (trucks, cargo ships, and planes).

I don’t think that’s true.

With the electrification of passenger cars, manufacturers have doubled down on their efforts to improve efficiency in order to use fewer batteries in their vehicles and they have found plenty of room for improvements.

As we start to electrify trucks and planes, we will likely find new efficiency improvements because “necessity is the mother of invention.”

We just didn’t have that need until now.

But if you want to focus on the batteries, I find it kind of crazy that he doesn’t believe they will improve enough to enable electric trucks and planes.

Especially when you consider that he is a major investor in Quantumscape, which claims that its technology is going to enable 500 Wh/kg batteries:

Source: Electrek
Sometimes people need to step back and add a little more perspective to their artistic creations.
Sweden is an excellent example of a country who understands the human immune system is an excellent match for the Covid 19 pandemic when given enough time to develop herd immunity in the young and focusing on social distancing/isolation political techniques on the elderly and immunocompromised with regard to both deficiency and hyperactivity, without disrupting the national economy and daily life.
Similarly the costs of creating high energy density large batteries to power electric motors in Semi’s and CT’s are easily made up in savings from simplified vehicle maintenance involving ICE’s and emission control systems and increased longevity and power train performance without built in obsolescence.
 

Crissa

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90% of Semis on the road are under 73,000 pounds. So, that means a 9,000 pound battery won't impact cargo capacity very much at all.
That's not how cargo capacity works.

The average distance a semi travels is around 300 miles a day.
Long-haul trucks aren't average trucks. And the way we have set their work day, they need to be able to run for ten hours before charging. Drivers only allowed to drive a ten-hour day. Any time charging takes away from their range directly.

-Crissa
 
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Joe Maw

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Bill has done great things for humanity and is a great visonary in his fields of expertise.
Biofuels come from plants or algae also animal waste.
I do have concerns using farmland to grow fuel instead of food this may lead to other problems as the population keeps on growing.
Algae and poo fuel just dont sound as appealing as sun and wind powered electricity.
Im sure battery tech will continue to grow with both range and storage just look how far we have come in the last 10 years.
I repect Bill Gates however his comments in my opinion dont really offer a long term sustainable solution.
 

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