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

February 14, 2013

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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