Repair Hidden in Plain Sight: Tesla’s Electric Car
The preservation of the world is something which cannot be overlooked. All things in life rely on natural parts of the world. All the things in the air make up what we as humans breathe and is what allows other species to survive and grow. The air, today, is threatened with noxious fumes. These fumes are Carbon Dioxide and they are pouring into our atmosphere at an alarming rate because of the amount of waste that we create with our products we make. What is the source of this waste? How can we slow or stop the production of this waste? What are the implications if this waste is not stopped? Carbon Dioxide comes from everyday life. Even if we may not see it, we contribute to it. A source of this which I will focus on is the land transportation used daily: cars. Cars consume a lot of energy and therefore produce a lot of waste. This is common knowledge, but what must be determined is the direction humanity takes to resolve this problem. A tentative solution is Tesla’s Electric Car. In this essay, I will examine the techniques of Tesla creating an Electric Car compared to that of the techniques of Louise, Elisabeth, and Irene as well as ruins in Spelman’s Repair. Though the techniques of Tesla share commonalities, their repair helps to expand the type of repair Spelman describes by offering a different scenario, with a different approach to that scenario. From there, we can see the effectiveness in Tesla’s solution and achieve hope for the future.
In today’s world, there is a huge demand for energy in all aspects of life. In a person’s home; in a person’s vehicle; in a person’s phone; in a person’s work. Everywhere. This demand is attainable to an extent but can come with major implications. Something that people almost virtually always see in a given day is the use of vehicles for transportation. Cars are used worldwide as they are the most efficient for traversing over any terrain for any need of distance. Cars have a huge benefit to society but what people do not see is the major problems which cars can contribute to because they are for the most part fueled by the use of gasoline. The gas used in cars is octane which when combusted in an engine, it produces carbon dioxide. “Transport accounts for more than 25% of total CO2 emissions, over 90% of which are attributed to road transport” (Papagiannaki, Katerina; Diakoulaki, Danae). This may not seem important but this creates a huge change in the environment; even though people don’t physically see the change, it is changing the entire infrastructure of the world and the way people live. With an increase in atmospheric CO2 it negatively impacts the environment in the fact that there is a direct correlation between the increase and the climate change that is affecting large parts of the environment (Papagiannaki, Katerina; Diakoulaki, Danae). With the influx of CO2 emissions, it causes the plants to no longer be able to photosynthesis correctly which has a large effect on the climate warming. There is a huge fundamental issue with the emission of CO2 and this is seen largely in part to vehicles used all throughout the world. For the benefit of the environment, there is a need to reduce the CO2 emissions that are being released by cars. This means that there must be a repair on the vehicles which people use in order to repair the overarching problem which is the effect that CO2 has on the environment. Cars in society pump out a vast amount of CO2 which is detrimental, but through repair of the emissions by cars, it can allow the air people breathe to be detoxified. There are different ways that a car can emit cleaner emissions, whether it be using the emissions for something else, or changing the car fundamentally in order to produce fewer emissions. What is gathered is that from the copious amounts of CO2 emissions, the environment is greatly affected. In order to slow or restore it back to where it wants to be in order to function, cars must be repaired to emit fewer emissions.
There is one product which seeks to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and that is Tesla Motor’s electric car. Tesla’s Electric car worked specifically to reduce the amount of emissions that the car gives off. Tesla fundamentally changed the engine of a regular vehicle to run from electricity rather than from gasoline. Tesla ultimately repaired the amount of CO2 emissions from the car which, in turn, helps to restore and slow the decay of the world that people live in. In this way, Tesla helps elaborate the role of one whom repairs something while not fundamentally changing the car like Louise, Elisabeth, and Irene with the painting in Spelman’s Repair. Meanwhile, Tesla, at the same time, succeeded in not only changing the amount of emissions to be more ecologically friendly, but they made the car more efficient so people can travel further with less energy and less emissions making the car more marketable. This is an innovative product that, rather than using, octane burning, gasoline, uses electricity to power the vehicle. This vehicle alternatively does not give very much CO2 emission while driving the vehicle at all.
The most efficient ordinary gasoline car made was the 1993 Honda Civic VX, which was EPA-rated at 51 mpg for combined city and highway driving.4 Converting to metric, this car was rated at 21.7 kilometers per liter of gasoline. Thus, its efficiency is 21.7 km/l / 42 MJ/l = 0.52 km/MJ. Keep in mind that the Honda Civic VX got about twice the gas mileage of typical cars — a car like a Toyota Camry is rated around 0.28 km/MJ (Eberhard, Martin; Tarpenning, Marc, 2).
Conversely, “even with tires and gearing optimized for performance (rather that absolute efficiency), the Tesla Roadster only consumes about 110 watt-hours (0.40 mega-joules) of electricity from the battery to drive a kilometer, or 2.53 km/MJ” (Eberhard, Martin; Tarpenning, Marc, 2). The electric car produces 46.1 g/km of CO2 emissions whereas a regular natural gas engine produces 166.0 g/km of CO2 emissions (Eberhard, Martin; Tarpenning, Marc, 4). The electric car can travel a much further distance than gas powered vehicles for every unit of energy while producing less CO2 emissions for every unit of distance. From this it can be gathered that electric cars are much more efficient at reducing the CO2 emissions of a regular car while using energy more efficiently, simultaneously. Tesla does a wonderful job of repairing the CO2 that is emitted from the car. The car they produced allows the environment to restore itself back to equilibrium.
Many people have been skeptical about changing the status quo to make electric cars the standard from the regular gasoline powered vehicles. The argument is that even though the car gives off fewer emissions in use, the production of the battery itself in the factory gives off more emissions making it an inefficient vehicle. The disparity in opinion draws the question as to whether the repair is truly helping the environment, or if the change is just changing the problem to another area. Though it can be thought of in this sense, this is narrowing the scope of the true effect of the Electric Car. One cannot simply look at the portion a cars life-cycle but the entire life-cycle of the car. If the car is viewed in this sense, the Electric Car has far fewer emissions from creation to the day it breaks down as compared with that of a gasoline powered car (Eberhard, Martin; Tarpenning, Marc, 1). This refute shows that the Electric Car is the truly effective Repair to the copious amounts of emission because the worst amount of emissions it has would be much less than anything else a gasoline car would have by the end of its lifetime.
This leaves Tesla Motors with a few problems to solve. The first problem is the challenge of overcoming the behemoth that is the gasoline driven car industry. Gasoline cars control most of the market which will make it hard for Tesla Motors to compete. Though they change the engine, the product is still a car and this makes it still be marketable. This expands Spelman’s view on repair. While not branding a whole new product, a company can brand their own design without changing the product from its original glory in the eyes of the public. The other factor that Tesla Motors must account for is the fact that this is not the most efficient that the car can get. There is so much room for expansion and this is where they could expand in the future for an even better product. In fact, Tesla could easily double the energy capacity of what is currently being used. Not only more efficiency from Lithium batteries, but if Chromium use is discovered then it could give the battery 600–700 watts per kilogram of energy capacity which would in turn put gasoline car companies out of the market (Eberhard, Martin; Tarpenning, Marc, 1). This means that electric cars could one day become even more efficient than they are at this point. Not only does the electric car produce less emissions and is repairing the issues of emissions, but they have room for expansion, so if the industry moved over to Electric vehicles more people would be working on it and there would be even better innovation and repair. The final challenge that Tesla must overcome is the affordability issue. It is nice to think that all people could switch and it would be more environmentally friendly but it the car is not readily available to all people. Many people can barely afford inexpensive gasoline cars and even less, expensive electric cars. For those who are looking for a more long term car, Tesla is much more affordable per mile used. Tesla is a great alternative and a great repair to the current CO2 emitting vehicles, but there is a large gap for expansion.
Repair is seen throughout the world. Wherever a person may travel, or whatever a person may experience, there is a background of repair not always seen by the naked eye. A copious amount of effort is put into the repair, restore, and preservation of the environment and nature in which people live. Some of this is clear. People may go and plant trees or work to keep the ground clean or etc. People will do this where they make a direct change on a specific area. What people may not see, but is always there, is the people who work to change their habits in order to make it a completely friendly environment worldwide, and not in just one spot, but everywhere. These are the people who do not use sprays because they give off noxious fumes or those who use organic materials where they can or use reusable water bottles, etc. Often times those who do the background repair can cause the most change. This is the case of Tesla’s Electric Car. Tesla’s Electric car does a fantastic job of emitting less CO2 than that of a regular gasoline car and this directly coincides with Elizabeth Spelman’s view on the nature of repair in her book, Repair.
In Spelman’s book, Repair, she covers aspects along all different types of repair and Tesla’s Electric Car is an extension of that repair she describes. Individuals and companies seek to repair as it is human nature to do and Tesla’s Electric Car innovation directly corresponds to the idea of Homo-Reparans described all throughout Spelman’s book.
Much of Spelman’s book goes into the deepest roots of repair, but a thing that can sometimes be overlooked is that repair does not have to be as complicated as it can seem. “Louise, Elisabeth, and Irene… their interpolations are to be kept to the absolute minimum” (Spelman 20). This is a simplified answer to a complex-to-solve need for reparation. They are tasked with repair while making no noticeable changes to the object itself. This is the same goal of Tesla Motors. Make a vehicle that has few CO2 emissions while not changing the car fundamentally.
Louise, Elisabeth, and Irene do in the art world what in the tailoring trades is called invisible mending: They try to fix the painting is such a way that it will look as if it never had been ripped. At the same time, their work is not supposed to be a secret: The distinction between the work of art and their surgical intervention must be kept clear. Careful records of what they have done must be kept so that if need be it can be undone. The more their work is necessary and present, the more the creation of the artist has disappeared (Spelman 16).
The three working on the ripped painting must not fundamentally change the painting that they are working on but they must fix the painting with an invisible hand. Unseen and not taking credit, but traceable and undo-able. Tesla was tasked with repairing an issue not similar to the mending of an artist’s piece, but was tasked with repairing the overlook of society in allowing CO2 emissions to become a problem in the environment. Though different in their tasks of repair, the repair of these issues is similar in the nature of the task. Tesla Motors could not change the entire design that a neoclassical car would have, nor can they inconvenience the consumers which purchase the cars or the efficiency of the car would be of no use, since no people would purchase or use the car. Also, they would have to be able to trace their steps for future repair of the vehicle. Louise, Elisabeth, and Irene are different in that are not supposed to brand the painting with their names. Tesla is changing the car itself in an unnoticeable way and they are repairing the environment, but they are also taking credit in doing so which is the only difference between the two. By outlining the details of Tesla, it expands the way the reader views Spelman’s project of repair. Spelman outlines how in certain scenarios, Homo-Reparans seeks to edit others work in order to preserve it. In many scenarios, like with Louise, Elisabeth, and Irene, Homo-Reparans seeks to make it a change where they do not personally brand it, but in other scenarios, they can, like with Tesla’s Electric Car. Tesla can add their personal touch in however they like internally, as long as it does not change the view to the outside public view.
Tesla’s Electric Car does not only share its type of repair with Louise, Elisabeth, and Irene, but also mirrors that of the repair of ruins. Spelman makes the distinction that the repair of ruins is to not do too much extensive repair or they are no longer ruins. “Though ruins have sometimes themselves been considered candidates for repair, restoration, or reconstruction, the literature on ruins is filled with lamentation over such attempts at intervention” (Spelman 108). Spelman makes the point that people do not want extensive repair over certain ruins. “The ruins may not be beyond repair, but extensive repair would destroy their desired brokenness” (Spelman 109). Ruins are ruins because they have a certain amount of brokenness which makes it the unique ruins that it is. It is not the desire of people to completely change the infrastructure of ruins but to slightly repair them in order to keep the ruins at their present or past glory. This is a balance that Tesla must achieve with their Electric Car. Tesla must not fundamentally change what the car is or else it would not be attractive to consumers. This means that the car would also not make an impact on repairing the environment. This is also true for the amount of emissions that the car gives off. If the car were to give off zero emissions, then it would fundamentally change the environment and the stability of the ecosystem. It may go unnoticed that the Electric Car is changing many things where people cannot see, but at the same time, it is keeping the car the same exterior design of a regular car, almost like it isn’t making a big impact when it is.
Tesla makes it so that it can make a change without ever making the public even notice that there was a repair done. Much like repairing a painting or repairing ruins, Tesla keeps the same authenticity that the outside public yearns for. People do not want a fundamental change in the way transportation works but they do want a repair in the environment. If there was a torn painting, it takes away from the piece. If there is a broken building in ruins, it takes away from the authenticity and heritage. If there is too much CO2 in the atmosphere, it changes the ecosystem and affects everyday life. Tesla is tasked with making a pivotal change that repairs a big issue while making this change unseen to the naked eye, much like with the repair of ruins or like with the repair done by Louise, Elisabeth, and Irene. Tesla not only simply repairs the environment, but they do it discreetly enough for people to not even know that the repair is happening before their eyes. Tesla helps to improve the point that Spelman strives to elaborate: Repair that which needs to be conserved, but do not change the entire presentation and perception of the product in its truest form.
I think that I should begin with acknowledging the other students in my class whom helped through the entire process of writing this essay. From the class, Frank’s larger group helped with a little revising and editing, but most notably, the members of my smaller group, Julia, Karley, Daniel, and Erica, were very important to the process of writing. My group helped me progress through by helping generate ideas and for helping in giving me direction. I would like to show my appreciation to my roommate, James, for always keeping me on track and for helping me keep clarity in my essay. Also, I would like to give a huge thank you to my teaching assistant, Frank, who was always there to answer my questions while simultaneously helping to proofread and help in the process of crafting my topic into an intriguing essay. I must show my huge thankfulness for my Professor, Joe Harris, who was always there to give me direction in every possible part of creating this essay. Every step of the way, from the very beginning when he first gave me direction for the essay, to the very last edit of my essay, he was there. Finally, thank you to my parents for teaching me the right values to work my very best.
This topic was one of the hardest topics that I could have chosen. After the numerous revisions and help from numerous people, I was able bring the piece together. In the beginning, I was thinking of things that intrigue me and this is one thing that is extremely interesting. In crafting this, I was struggling to make it clear to the public that this car really does something pivotal. In the end, I was able to effectively get the point across that the Tesla is a greatly efficient and environmentally positive machine. This essay allowed me to show the quality of the car and the need for change in the car industry. The essay did something very good for everyone and me: broke down a complex issue that the world is facing, and raised awareness and a potential field for expansion to make the world a better place to live in.
Eberhard, Martin; Tarpenning, Marc. “The 21st Century Electric Car.” (2006)Print.
Papagiannaki, Katerina; Diakoulaki, Danae. “Decomposition Analysis of CO2 emissions from Passenger Cars: The Cases of Greece and Denmark.” Energy Policy 37.8 (2009): 3259–67. Print.
Spelman, Elizabeth V. Repair: The Impulse to Restore in a Fragile World. Boston: Beacon, 2002. Print.