112: Sunroof? More Like SUNROOF! Talking About Solar Cars

Matt and Sean take a look at solar powered cars: sci-fi or sci-why?

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, “Why Don’t We Have Solar Powered Cars?”: https://youtu.be/SgQ2T5g3Rn8?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi7cadIj6qpCWkg-tPzN1sgj

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Hey, everybody on today’s episode of still to be determined. We’re going to talk about solar cars. Will we ever really be able to charge a car simply by parking it and if so does that mean we’ll no longer complain about the car being roasting hot when we climb into it in July and or August. When the backs of our thighs are sticking to the vinyl seats will we be saying well the tank has topped off as usual I am Sean Ferrell I’m a writer I write some sci-fi I write some books for kids and I’m all around inquisitive about. Things that are emerging in the text sphere and with me of course this podcast wouldn’t happen without him. It’s my brother Matt Matt of course is the originator of undecided with Matt Ferrell which is where we get our topics and what we’re talking about. We’re talking about his most recent episode. Why don’t we have solar powered cars question Mark and this episode dropped on March Twenty Second 2022 and Matt before we get into the meat of the episode.
Um, yeah.
I wanted to talk about the bones of the episode the bones the Youtube bones the bones that people don’t talk about too much. We live in a clickable world you more than you more than me.
Oh yeah, yeah.
Yes, yes.
Us more than most you live in a clickable world where you need people to click on your videos in order to watch them so that you can continue to make more videos and in this video I’ve seen this in other videos of yours but in this video in particular there was a comment which was accusing you. Of something clearly and viewed by the commenter as nefarious. You were being accused of using Clickbait so Clickbait I What is clickbait. How do we? clickbait.
Um, right. Um, what? what is it.
What are the ways in which clickbaiting might be bad. There. The comment that drew my attention made me raise an eyebrow because they specifically said Matt you’re setting the industry back. By using Clickbait titles.
What industry.
Apparently a a poorly phrased title to an episode has the opportunity to actually hold back the entire electric motor vehicle industry which you’re more powerful than you could ever imagine. You’re like Thanos.
I Guess so I didn’t know I had that much power I’m snapping my finger.
You’re like Thanos with a glove you. You’ve got a glove made of of ah key fobs from electric vehicles. Yeah yeah, the the comment said that your title was clickbaity and I read your title.
I’ve got my clickbait stone I put my clickbait stone in and.
As I always do to me. It sounds like you’re just asking a question.
Well are you reading the one That’s there now because I had one before this because this is something that we probably should talk about I change thumbnails and titles occasionally and the original. The original title was the truth about solar powered cars and that’s probably what he was railing against because it’s a very clickbaity title. Ah, but the question is.
Okay, all right.
What is clickbait and I will tell you right now. Nobody agrees on this my personal interpretation to clickbait. It’s like the old bait and switch from a store a store that puts out an advertisement saying we have a fifty five inch lcd tv for $99 and you go into the store to buy that $99 tv we’re all sold out.
But we have this one here for 500 ah and it turns out they only had one stock so it was they didn’t lie but you know what I mean that’s my definition of clickbait if you do say something in a title or a thumbnail that really doesn’t pertain to the video at all that’s clickbait my titles and thumbnails. Always pertain to what I’m talking about always so my definition it doesn’t but other people just think if you’re being a provocateur in your title. That’s all it takes to be clickbait and this is where being a youtuber comes in Youtube’s algorithm has created an ecosystem where you have to be provocative in your titles and thumbnails because if you don’t you can make the best video in the world and if you have a bad title, a boring title and a boring thumbnail nobody will watch it so you have to get somebody’s attention and so you have to be a little bit of a provocateur. And the tiles and thumbnails and there’s a great Youtuber um, his name is Derek from veritassium he’s put out a couple of videos about this exact issue about clickbait what is clickbait I think that’s actually the name of his video. You should go watch it because he breaks down. The differences in his videos when he switched from generic titles into more provocative titles and the difference it made on Youtube because Youtube’s all about the algorithm it’s not about subscribers. It’s not about likes and all that kind of stuff anymore. It really comes down to if people are clicking on a video and then watching that video. Like the full video Youtube will start to put that in front of more and more people so part of the equation. We always have to take into account me all my Youtube friends is. You’re not only trying to create a great video in itself. But you also have to be really provocative and get somebody’s attention in half a second to get them to want to click.
Right? right? So it sounds a little bit to me like you’re suggesting that people should interpret your titles in the same way that they interpret a commercial for the evening news.
If you can’t get that Click Nobody’s going to watch your great video.
So sadly. Yes.
Tonight at six o’clock the 3 toys that might be dangerous for your children tune in at six o’clock to find out what we’re talking about.
There’s there’s it’s one of those I hate to say this. It’s like don’t hate the player hate the game. It’s like this is the framework that all social media platforms Instagram Facebook Tiktok youtube all of them. They’re all algorithm based now it’s not. I like Matt so I’m gonna subscribe to Matt and I will see every video that he makes will get put up into my feed That’s not how it works anymore. It’s all algorithm based and so you have to get attention and so it’s sadly it’s we have to do that or nobody will watch our videos so it’s me getting blamed. Is. You’re putting the blame in the wrong place I’m doing what I have to do if I want to get people to watch my videos but I will say this I never ever will do what my definition of clickbait is I will never do something in my thumbnail or title that has nothing to do with the topic at all. It’s like it’s always whatever’s put my title in Thumbnail I will be dealing with that exact question or phrasing in the video. Always.
Right? So if you have a title that says something like amazing new breakthrough in solar technology. You will legitimately talking about something that is new that you’ve never talked before as opposed to recycling old information.
Yes, yes, well here’s here’s a good example. There’s a I’m not going to name the channel but you can probably look it up based on what I’m about to describe they talked about how Tesla just dropped a bombshell and created a revolution in quantum computing and it was an image of Elon Musk with a big. Quantum computer image Tesla has never created a quantum computer. They have nothing to do with quantum computing and I watched the video and in that 10 minute video there was Jack all to do with Tesla doing with quantum computers that was clickbait 100% clickbait. So it’s like that’s what I’m talking about.
Like if you put something in the title in the thumbnail that has nothing to do with what’s actually happening that’s clickbait.
That’s as somebody who I yeah I write books. The books are published. They’re out on the shelves I Hope people will buy them marketing yourself is a difficult and tricky thing to do even under the best of circumstances I At least don’t have to deal with.
Oh yeah.
Not directly anyway, an algorithm like Youtube I of course have to deal with the ins and outs of trying to figure out how to get attention on my work using mediums like Youtube but I don’t have the. Flag planted in the medium. The way you do so it sounds like it’s rife with pitfalls while still would you say it’s a little bit like the wild west like you’re just out there just like.
Always the.
You got a gun on your hip and you’re just trying to figure out what works and how to keep people off your homestead.
Yeah, yeah, yeha cowboy it is the wild west and I’m also I’m not perfect at this I am every video I put out I’m learning what to do and what not to do and so I’m always adjusting my strategy and you’ll notice that over time that I’m always changing my strategy of my titles and thumbnails and. I’m approaching different videos I’m trying to find what works best to find that right balance because I don’t like I don’t like clickbait either I don’t like it. It’s it’s against my nature so it’s like I’m always struggling with where is that line drawn how far to push it how far not to push it and sadly. Youtube is pushing every youtuber to get more and more provocative and so it’s kind of like struggling with that every single time I put out a video.
Yeah, it seems very much like it’s a um, you’re on shifting sand even as you’re trying to climb the the dune so back to the current video.
Oh yeah.
Which focuses on solar powered cars and questions around whether or not solar panels whether slapped on or inherently designed from the bottom up will ever be a thing that will be a part of. Are driving experience I Want you to put on your ah future cap and just answer this question shoot from the hip. Do you think solar powered cars and solar.
Influenced cars by which I mean cars that include solar power. Maybe not for driving but for other aspects of the car will become a mainstream part of cars that people don’t even think about.
At some point yes with a gigantic asterisk which is basically like I don’t think solar panels on cars in my lifetime will ever be a thing where you never have to plug In. You’re always going to have to plug in. But I think solar plant panels on Cars. We’ll just become. It’s just on cars like you’ll any ev you buy might have a solar panel on it at some point but it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to plug in.
Right? I Think it’s interesting to remember that when cars first became available on the market What you got was literally just a car. No Mirrors. No headlights, no seatbelts. The very earliest cars were just this is a vehicle that will move you. It’s a moving Wagon. It doesn’t have a horse. It feels a little bit like we’re in that zone with the electric vehicles where they’re trying to figure out. Okay, what comes inherent with the car and what is extraneous. To it being a car and some of the options that you talked about in your video felt very much like that. One of the things that stood out and I noticed this in the comments that people was at the scion which looks like a munster’s vehicle. Ah basically like a giant black box.
It says just black a black car. Yeah nondescript.
Is yeah, it’s just a black box. It looks like the doors that open up and and somebody from dark shadows would emerge one of the things that people kept saying about that vehicle. It looks like it’s the only one of the bunch you talk about that is keeping lived experience.
This is.
In mind, you could get the kids in the backseat you could put the groceries in the trunk you could take it for like a trip that might be a day long trip to the grandparents or you know run errands as opposed to the very.
Interestingly designed and I mean I don’t dislike the vehicle all but the last vehicle is the the Eptara which appears to be driving right out of the movie ai I mean it looks like.
Apt terra the uptera.
Somebody at hollywood just opened up a door and that vehicle drove out onto the street. It looks really eye catchching and captivating but correct me if I’m wrong. It looks like it’s a 2 wo-seater 3 wheeled 0 trunk and and again in the comments people were pointing out like.
3 hree-wheeled
What an amazing design. But it’s effectively the same as owning a motorcycle. You’re not going to be able to take the family out for a spin. You’re not going to be going to run errands. You’re not going to be going to the grocery store in that vehicle not yet at least.
Well, it’s it’s like those um I brought it up in the video the universities that do all these solar powered car races and stuff like that. Um I’ve had people reach out to me one of my patrons actually works at a University and isn’t in charge one of those programs. So. It’s like I actually know people that are doing this now. Ah. When you look at those cars they tend to be like ah the most aerodynamic like sliver you’ve ever seen in your life and the roof it’s like almost got no sides to it and it’s just like a roof of panels that are like curved and it’s like that’s not a practical design that will eversee the real world. But it’s they’re designing it this way to make it as aerodynamic lightweight and efficient as possible so they can just power it by the sun. The app Tera is like somewhere between a car and one of those it’s like it’s kind of like some kind of like if those 2 had a baby here’s the opara model of car where then you’ve got the light year one
Um, right.
Um, the light year which is looks more like a sedan but it’s a sedan for the rich you’re talking one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a car. So it’s it’s one of those this comes back to and then the chief side you get the scion. So. It’s like like you bring up. That’s the most kind of like practical looking car and the most useful looking car. And all 3 of these have I love I fascinated by the different approaches of one at the high end of the market one at the loan to the market and one that’s just like dreaming big and going if we rethought a car completely. What would it be but the only one in there that is probably going to be for the masses in any way shape or form is probably the scion because.
Ah, form and function of it is what we expect out of a car. So.
Yeah, for the model that was the one hundred and fifty Thousand Euro slash one hundred and seventy thousand us dollar car how does that stock up very cool car. How does that how does that stack up with the earliest teslas.
Really cool car. It’s a really cool car. Yeah.
Weren’t those cars initially much higher price point and how many years ago now is that.
Oh yeah, oh yeah, well the if you’re talking about the model s test model less. It’s still up there. It’s still that hundred K price range if you’re going to deck it out with all the stuff. Um, it was over a decade ago. Yeah.
And when was it first introduced. Okay so ten years ago a car being introduced at that price point have we just seen inflation raise the price tag so that this might be in. Twenty Twenty two dollars compared to twenty twelve dollars comparable with the earliest tesla.
But it possibly I mean that I hate always bring this up but like the analogy you could look at the smartphone industry. It’s like when you look at the first iphone which was the first rectangular slabbed touchscreen device. We really had it really didn’t do that much and it was crazy expensive. And the phones we have today are still crazy expensive but look at all the stuff they can do. It’s because the technologies that are being layered into it had to be figured out prices had to come down processors had to get better It’s like that’s kind of where we are with the evs right now. So it’s like just trying to get a battery electric car. Affordable. Is a huge struggle and we’re at that tipping point right now where it’s almost on price parity and then it’s going to become cheaper than a gasoline car. But when you tack in solar on top of that it puts it right back into like okay, it’s more expensive again because you’re layering in this expensive technology on top of a car that’s already expensive.
So eventually the price will come down in that as you increase manufacturing and the solar panel technologies get better and more reliable like once it becomes commoditized. It’s going to then once again, flip back down again. So we’re in the super early days of all of this which is why when you ask me in the beginning put in your future cap. Do you think this is gonna happen my answers. Yes I do think it’s gonna happen but just because of the efficiencies of solar panels I don’t think there’s ever going to be a day in my lifetime like for the next thirty years that I will not not have to plug in my car little double negative for you. But it’s a.
Right? A little a little double negative also a little dark news in that you see yourself only living thirty years but I wondered too about comments like this from Adam Little who wrote the vehicles that I’m most keen to see have solar added are evie.
He yeah.
School buses connected to bidirectional charging when they’re sitting at the Bus Depot between the morning and afternoon runs I’m wondering. Do you see if you were to say I mean there are different ways of of putting your money on a horse. This is the coolest horse I’ve ever seen.
Want to put my money on this cool horse and then there’s the this is the horse that I think can pull the most people So I’m going to put my money on this horse and then there’s I think long term this is going to have the most groundshaking effect on the industry. So I’m going to put my money on this horse.
And what I’m saying is horses are magic and we should all be terrified of horses. But other than that comment I’m wondering from the perspective of this horse seems to be the one that’s going to have the the widest impact is betting on a company. Like the scion which is looking at not just consumer vehicles but buses trucks. They’ve got an entire array of like a wide lens of where solar might have an impact is that the place to put your money and if so and I.
Oh boy I.
I say that as I say that again to go back to the Horse Race analogy not stock investment Analogy I’m not and so I’m not trying to imply at all that this is stock advice God help you if you listen to me around that. Yeah yes, so.
Yes, yes.
We are not investing advisors here. We’re not.
Um, talking about like if you were a betting man and you were to say like oh I’m gonna put my penny down on this horse because they just seem to be doing a wide array of things does it make sense to say solar would have a greater impact on buses and trucking in the next.
10 to 15 years as opposed to consumer vehicles simply because of the size of the vehicle the square footage for solar panels and maybe what you’re trying to do with that energy like a bus sitting in a depot for 6 hours during the middle of the day potentially has a much greater. Ability to absorb power than a car which you might have parked in your garage.
Ah, this is not investment advice but but where I would be focusing for this kind of technology would absolutely be the commercial industry and in commercial industry I include school buses things like that. So commercial technologies hundred percent and the reason for that is there’s greater service area.
The second thing is is there’s more opportunities for reducing costs and making the ah roi the return on investment make more sense because businesses have deeper pockets. They can absorb some of these costs better than a consumer can it will impacts. The consumer industry is very different from commercial and you have a best example is you have buses. There are already school districts that are just getting battery electric buses because they’re used in the mornings and they’re using the afternoons and the rest of time they sit there so they’re already finding that if you get battery electric buses. You bust the kids around. And then during the day and and overnight those buses are plugged into the grid acting as a gigantic battery system for the local school district where they can recoup some of these costs by adding battery storage to the local grid. So. it’s like a it’s a win-win not only is your gas prices reduced your operational. Maintenance costs are reduced because they don’t require as much maintenance and then you’re getting this additional hit from the battery storage. It’s like a win-win-win and then if you add solar onto those buses you might make that even better for the ah roi. So it’s like that’s why for me, it’s like if you focus on. Commercial industry I think that’s where the biggest impact can come immediately and the consumer stuff will come later like that’s when we’ll start to see it really make an impact later.
Right. So Maybe the approach is better envisioned as don’t think of it as slapping a solar panel onto your car think about it as slapping a car onto a solar battery like if you make.
If you make the focus the bottom up focus being about efficiency in power use and potential use outside of driving around it becomes like you’ve described those those opportunities. I’m also wondering about a more targeted use of power some of the comments which caught my eye were like these from super burger time one really good solar panel use on a car I saw was the automatic Ac system so in a hot. Day the car would turn on the Ac and keep the inside of the car relatively cool or in winter the ac could heat the inside of the car so as opposed to. Okay, we’re gonna put solar panels on this like you mentioned the hyunda which has the groundbreaking ability to it’s it’s.
Two miles
It’s almost taking mileage away from the car. It’s really It’s so low that it almost seems like you’re joking right? because it really does read as like oh solar on this car will be great for the marketing ad so the two miles . Per day ah in good conditions and that’s that’s I walk more than that regularly. Ah, but what if that was not about driving the car. What if that was targeting these other things. It’s.
In good conditions.
Solar power charging up a battery which is what your headlights will run on until the battery is depleted and then it starts pulling from a second battery or your air conditioning system. Is going to be running off of this thing. You know you’re you’re avoiding if instead of it just being marketing speak for marketing speak stake. It was actually intended to be targeted to a specific thing which you could then say oh yeah, when I’m sitting in this car. All of my interior lights and my headlights are running completely off of solar power which my car has.
Right? No and the main reason for that is ah, you’d be if having separate battery systems makes no sense because you’d be adding complexity and cost to the system. You really just want to have 1 big battery system you could rationalize it that way.
Charged during the day. Do you see any of that happening.
Like I’m putting enough solar onto my car that it’s actually recouping the Hvac costs and the so the headlight costs. That’s what it’s recouping. You don’t need a separate battery system for that. The only way that this would make sense in that argument would be saying if you did this to gasoline cars so you have an ice car with solar panels on it.
Um, right.
And it’s charging up a small battery that’s running your hfac your headlights and everything else but to make the car move. It’s still gasoline and at that point it’s like you’re you’re in a losing argument needs to go down that path because ice cars are not the best path forward here. It’s like It’s pretty clear. Evs are going to be the champion in the next decade so it’s kind of a losing proposition. So it’s like I don’t think that’s going to be the winning argument for this.
Um, so given that then is putting on a solar panel as inefficient as the Monday one is that really just a waste of time and money.
It’s not a waste of time. It’s a waste of money but at the same time there was one commenter that hit me which was if you want to spend your money that way go for it and I don’t disagree that if this is an add on to Monday like so you can buy this car with without by default. But you want to spend an extra 3 grand to add it on or 5 grand to add it on go for it if that makes you feel good and you want to do it and that’s what you want go for it. It’s your money to to use or waste or whatever you want to do to it. That’s fine I have no issue with that. But it’s just a waste of money because you’re talking about thousands of dollars to add two miles to your.
Your battery versus the cion or the light year which are putting in 3040 or more to your car day. It’s like it’s that’s where it makes a difference.
Yeah, you may have been referring to this comment from the 8 bit guy and just as a reminder that ah the comments. Yeah yeah, shout out to a bit. Um.
Yes, and I love the Apec guy watch his channel. He’s got a great Youtube channel by the way as.
And just a reminder that the comments on Matt’s videos are really the driving force behind our conversations as you can tell I pull from the comments we have discussions around the comments please do jump into the comments on his videos and jump into the comments here you can find the contact information in the podcast description. Or if you’re on Youtube you can of course just scroll below the video and leave a comment there but this video from 8 bit was the one that caught my eye and I think is the one that Matt was referring to I have 2 comments about this first of all the numbers don’t always need to make sense if people want a cheap car. They’d buy a Chevy spark. He’s not wrong.
P Go nope.
People are willing to pay for all sorts of upgrades on a car that don’t pay for themselves. So I think a lot of people would pay extra for solar panels on their vehicle even if the extra production cost was never recouped second thing is it’s probably not a great explanation to say how long it takes for a full recharge in practice that doesn’t matter but does it matter how many miles you drive. Per day are added to the car I think approximately ten miles is where it starts to really make sense and he may not be wrong and you and I laughed about mondays Two miles added well if you drive your car 2 times a week maybe that two miles a day is all you need. So.
Right? Yes, yeah, no, that’s why I brought up his comment. It’s I don’t disagree with that sentiment at all I Actually agree with it a lot. It’s like you know I put solar panels on my roof does not mean I think every one of my neighbors has to do it. It’s it’s your choice whether you do it or not.
Who are we to laugh.
People may think I wasted my money putting solar panels in my roof. Well, it’s what I wanted to do so I did it So it’s like if you want to put solar panels in your car. Go for it. It’s like your your equation for what makes it makes sense is for you and nobody else so you shouldn’t care what other people think.
Right? right? So listeners. Let us know would you jump on one of these vehicles even if it was just a low amount of mileage added to your daily trips like the hyunda at two miles or would you jump to the avant garde designs. Of the more forward thinking vehicles that look a little bit like they’re driving in from the twenty second century are you looking for utility as opposed to quick mobility. Let us know. Don’t forget if you’d like to support the show. Please consider reviewing us on. Apple Podcasts google podcast Spotify or wherever it is you found our podcast and if you’d like to more directly support us. You can go to still tbd dot fm and click on the become a supporter button. It allows you to throw coins at our head and we do appreciate each and every bruise that looks like a quarter. And don’t forget you can also click join on Youtube and become a member there all of that really does help the show. Thank you so much for listening or watching and we’ll see you in the next one.
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