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Musk said he'll publish the driving log soon

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is ready to take The New York Times head-on over a "fake" review of the auto company's Model S sedan.

John Broder, a staff writer at The New York Times, recently tested out Tesla's Model S sedan on a road trip along the east coast. However, Broder’s final, published review spilled details of a failed trip and the many troubles the car gave him along the way.

The Model S sedan has an EPA rated 265-mile estimated range with an 85-kilowatt battery pack. This was the model provided to Broder for his road trip, and while other Model S testers were able to achieve about 300 miles under perfect conditions, Broder reported that the east coast's cold winter temperatures had severely depleted his charge on multiple occasions -- and bad advice from Tesla employees along the way only made matters worse. The car even eventually had to be towed.

Tesla Model S being loaded onto a flatbed after running out of "juice" [Image Souce: NYT]

Broder's report, released just last week, detailed a trip from the Washington area in Maryland to Norwich, Connecticut, with many stops in between including Newark, Delaware; New York City; Milford, Connecticut; Branford, Connecticut and Groton, Connecticut.

During his trip, Broder mentioned many instances where the battery suddenly depleted quickly and he had to call Tesla for assistance on how to maximize range between charging stops (which were about 200 miles apart from one another or less during the trip). He said he received different advice from different Tesla employees, and even bad advice from one that said to sit in the car for half an hour with the heat on a low setting in order to warm the battery after it depleted from an overnight stay in Groton.

At one point, the car even needed to be towed in Branford because the battery drained much sooner than anticipated.

When Broder published the article about his trip, Musk posted the following tweet:

Musk investigated the accusations by referring to the diagnostic data logged into the car from the actual journey. He discovered that the report wasn't entirely accurate, citing the car's data that suggests Broder was driving too fast at times, took a detour that he never mentioned in the article, and didn't charge the car completely.

Musk accused Broder of not following the car's instructions, which he was briefed on before the trip. The New York Times claimed he did.

“Our reporter followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel,” The New York Times said in a statement. “He described the entire drive in the story; there was no unreported detour. And he was never told to plug the car in overnight in cold weather, despite repeated contact with Tesla.”

Musk said he would publish the driving log from the trip soon to prove that Broder lied in his report.

This isn't the first time Musk has gone after those who gave his company's vehicles poor reviews. In March 2011, Tesla's Roadster made an appearance on the UK car show "Top Gear," where the car overheated, had brake issues and had a range of only 55 miles on track conditions. Tesla sued BBC for libel and malicious falsehood, but an English court threw it out stating that the estimated ranges are always affected by driving conditions and that there was no basis for libel claim.

Sources: Bloomberg, The New York Times



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By M'n'M on 2/13/2013 1:47:47 PM , Rating: 2
Here's a quote from the article that I find the most important.

quote:
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.


If you use the car like a normal car you begin to find out how limiting the EV experience is going to be. That should be fairly portrayed.


By Mint on 2/13/2013 4:19:50 PM , Rating: 2
This is why plugin hybrids are the future.

If Elon made a Model S where the front trunk had a tiny 30hp engine with a generator and 5 gallon tank, it'd add maybe $4000 to the 40kWh base model's cost. Such a car would offload 90%+ of driving to electricity (so who cares if the 10% gas mileage is only 25 MPG), and range would be effectively unlimited and much better than the expensive 85 kWh version.

That's a real no-compromises plugin.


By M'n'M on 2/13/2013 4:41:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is why plugin hybrids are the future.

In the immediate future, you maybe right. I'd not count out fuel cell vehicles in a slightly longer timeframe though. They are basically EVs but carry their energy in a different form.

One very hard to get around problem with pure EVs (as already mentioned in the comments) is the recharging time. To move a lot of energy quickly requires high voltages and/or high currents. Neither of which the present street wiring or house wiring support. That means hours of time spent charging the car. Perhaps just a minor hassle if you own a home, not so minor if you're cruising the highways or live in an apartment. To that end Elon has chosen his market more wisely than Nissan has.


By Mint on 2/14/2013 10:14:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'd not count out fuel cell vehicles in a slightly longer timeframe though
Fuel cells have an infrastructure problem.

Yes, pure EVs have a recharging time problem, but it's not a problem for PHEVs. They're built to charge overnight to offload daily driving loads to the grid, and whenever recharging time gets in the way, gas is there.

quote:
Perhaps just a minor hassle if you own a home, not so minor if you're cruising the highways or live in an apartment. To that end Elon has chosen his market more wisely than Nissan has.
I suppose, but googling shows me that only 9-13% of new homes don't have a garage/carport, so we're looking at tens of millions of households that can charge overnight.

People in apartments probably aren't a big part of the new car market anyway.


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