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Tesla Reveals Model S Logs, Says New York Times Writer Fudged Facts Page 2

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2012 Tesla Model S

Our take

Though Elon Musk's arguments are characteristically shrill, he wins several important points against Broder. Clearly, Broder's account of his speed doesn't line up with the car's logs, and deviating from the travel route -- if indeed he did -- would've seriously compromised the fairness of the test. Most importantly, it appears that the battery on the Model S never hit a zero charge, as Broder implies.

Tesla is also well within its rights to bring up Broder's previous reporting on electric vehicles. On at least one of those occasions, Broder wrote, "Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate." Though electric cars have indeed been the source of much political wrangling, words like "dismal", "hyped", and "flops" are pretty loaded terms. 

In Broder's defense, however, he framed his piece as a test of the East Coast's charging network -- "an ideal bookend to The Times’s encouraging test drive last September on the West Coast". To some of us, that implies that this was less a test drive and more a survey of the practicalities of charging on-the-go for average drivers. 

In such a case, it makes sense that Broder would prioritize the length of his stops over the charge of battery. Each time he recharged, Broder waited for about an hour. Sure, he could've stayed in Norwich for several more hours to make sure the battery had reached an adequate charge, but for consumers curious about the ins and outs of electric car ownership, Broder's approach -- though never explicitly stated -- seems fair.

And last but not least, there's the issue of the Model S shutdown. If Musk's logs are accurate, it's true that the battery on Broder's test car never reached 0%, but it did come awfully close. Judging from the chart, it dipped to around 4% or 5%. That's the same as it was when he coasted into Milford the previous day, but it's conceivable that the car could perform differently in similar situations, when the battery is running so low -- and when the car's projected range is perched at 0.

In short, there were issues on each side -- issues with the drive and issues with the driver. However, we'd need more evidence to say for sure whether or not the car conked out in the end.

Then again, it may not really matter. For more dissection of this incident -- and its potential effect on Tesla -- check out this article at Green Car Reports.

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Comments (7)
  1. So I can recharge my electric car for "several hours" or fill my gas tank in a couple minutes? That's my choice here? Great technology, guys. Way to go.
     
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  2. @Damon: Electric cars are not for everyone, including perhaps you. Neither are Corvettes.
     
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  3. It's the age old conundrum of saving time or saving money (or gas in this case). The Model S is currently the only electric car in the world that can feasibly do a road trip. Except when doing road trips, you never have to wait for your car to charge. It does that while you are at work, sleeping in your bed, or any random place you decide to stop that has an EV charger.
    Data is data. The facts derived from the data are that Broder was not using common sense and didn't follow instructions like he said he did. You do have to plug it in at night, just like a smartphone. Carrying an extension cord is really not a big deal.
    People are also missing the point. This car is an awesome car. The throttle response is positively breathtaking!
     
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  4. Judging from Broder's response (http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-flying-over-a-test-of-teslas-charging-network/), he understands the importance of plugging in electric cars overnight under normal conditions. However, Broder's test wasn't exactly meant to simulate "normal conditions": "This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a 'normal use,' no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop."
     
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  5. Does every Tesla have a detailed flight recorder -- or just the loaners? That seems like a fair thing but the driver should be made aware of it.
    BTW, if the g'mnt/auto industry/insurance industry/legal industry have their way, all motor vehicles will. Large OTR trucks are already there. Unions will bitch about it.
     
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  6. Huh? Why was my comment disabled?
     
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  7. I dare say Mr. Broder would not set out on the same trip in a vehicle with a combustion engine after having pumped a buck fifty worth of premium, or heck, even fifteen dollars worth for this "test". Had he taken either approach his delays and frustration, even the temperature of his fingers and fanny would've suffered similarly, if not worse. He would have had to make so many stops that the same trip would be all but pointless. His "report" was similarly pointless.
    There are certain behaviors expected of responsible drivers - no matter what means of energy consumption his vehicle requires. Mr. Broder has yet again allowed his bias to get the better of him. He should be ashamed and should apologize. The NYT should print a retraction ASAP.
     
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    Bad stuff?

 

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