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The driving logs disprove many of Broder's claims

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has fulfilled his promise to provide the driving logs from the recent Model S test drive by The New York Times -- and it looks like John Broder has some explaining to do.

Broder, the NYT staff writer that took a Tesla Model S for a test trip up the east coast this winter, published a final article that details a failed trip and the many troubles the car gave him along the way.

However, Musk became suspicious of Broder's claims when so many other journalists had made similar or more tasking trips in the Model S.

"To date, hundreds of journalists have test driven the Model S in every scenario you can imagine," said Musk. "The car has been driven through Death Valley (the hottest place on Earth) in the middle of summer and on a track of pure ice in a Minnesota winter. It has traveled over 600 miles in a day from the snowcapped peaks of Tahoe to Los Angeles, which made the very first use of the Supercharger network, and moreover by no lesser person than another reporter from The New York Times. Yet, somehow John Broder 'discovered' a problem and was unavoidably left stranded on the road. Or was he?"

Musk dug up the driving logs from Broder's trip, and earlier this week, he said he would share these discoveries after claiming that Broder had "faked" his article. Now, Musk has come equipped with the goods and it's not looking good for Broder.

Musk first addressed Broder's claim that the Model S ran completely out of energy and required a flatbed truck to tow it in Connecticut. Musk said the car never, at any time, ran out of energy.

Broder's article also mentioned that the Model S fell short of its projected range "on the final leg" of the trip, which was 61 miles total. On his final charge before embarking on this last leg of 61 miles, the logs show that Broder disconnected the charge cable when the range display showed only 32 miles. However, despite not fully charging the car, it managed to travel 51 miles -- and still wasn't completely out of charge when the flatbed truck was called for a tow. Also, during that last leg of the trip, Broder drive right past another charging station where he could have given the Model S another boost. But Musk said Broder "constructed a no-win scenario for any vehicle, electric or gasoline."

Musk also said that Broder never set the cruise control to 54 MPH or drove at 45 MPH, as stated in the article. Instead, he drove at speeds of 65-81 MPH for a majority of the trip.

He also had the cabin temperature at 72 degrees, and when he mentioned turning it down in the article, he had actually turned it up to 74 degrees.

Musk further noted that Broder's charge time on the second stop was 47 minutes, and not 58 minutes as stated in the article's graphic. If Broder didn't turn off the Supercharger at 47 minutes and went for the full 58, it would have been "virtually impossible" for him to run out of energy so quickly.

Speaking of charging, the driving logs also showed that Broder recharged the car to 90 percent on his first stop, to 72 percent on the second Supercharge and to 28 percent on the last leg -- signficantly cutting charging times at each stop.

Finally, Musk's driving logs from the Model S show that Broder had taken a long detour in Manhattan, and upon reaching Milford, Connecticut (where the range display said 0 miles), he drove the car in circles in a for over a half mile in a tiny parking lot. The Model S wouldn't give in and die, so Broder finally took it to the charging station.

Musk added that Broder was biased against electric vehicles from the start, and had set out to make the Model S fail before even receiving the car.

"When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts," said Musk. "Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth. You are a news organization where that principle is of paramount importance and what is at stake for sustainable transport is simply too important to the world to ignore."

Broder, who had his article published last week, was given a Model S sedan with an EPA rated 265-mile estimated range with an 85-kilowatt battery pack. He traveled 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, Broder said the car even needed to be towed in Branford because the battery drained much sooner than anticipated.

Let's see what Broder has to say now.

Source: Tesla Motors

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By mrisinger on 2/14/2013 1:33:10 PM , Rating: 5
"its annoying as hell that you must go 45-55 for optimal distance which is extremely counter to how a naturally aspirated engine performs (greater speed tends to enable greater milage to a point)"

No, this is EXACTLY how a combustion engine performs. The "point" which you are referring to, where mileage starts dropping, is almost always right about 50 - 55 mph.

By Sivar on 2/14/2013 1:47:33 PM , Rating: 3
Right -- Resistance from air (which the engine/motor must overcome) is about the square of speed.

It is possible to gear a car such that it gets better mileage at 75MPH than 50, but that would be due to inefficient gearing (it isn't that the car is so much more efficient at 75MPH, it's that it has to run at a strangely high RPM at 50MPH).
The most efficient speed for most cars with gear transmissions is probably just over the minimum cruising speed at the highest gear, though automotive engineers may want to chime in if I am missing important variables.

By Droidmage on 2/14/2013 2:06:12 PM , Rating: 2
Most cars with a single overdrive gear usually around 30% overdriven get their best milage around 55mph. Some newer cars have an even higher overdrive, sixth great in a corvette is right around 50%, will get better gas milage at higher speeds.

By Solandri on 2/14/2013 2:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
Least resistance is around 45-50 mph. Air resistance is a b***h.

Higher overdrive gearings don't raise that. It just reduces the mileage dropoff at higher speeds. Sivar is correct. If a car's best mileage is at a higher speed, it doesn't mean least resistance is at that higher speed. It just means the car has crappy gearing for the lower speed, and you probably shouldn't buy it.

By DanNeely on 2/14/2013 2:30:45 PM , Rating: 3
Least air resistance is at 0 MPH relative to the wind. ~50 MPH is when it becomes larger than other sources of energy loss in the vehicle.

By Solandri on 2/14/2013 3:26:02 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for pointing out that alternative interpretation of what I wrote. My fault for not being more clear about what exactly I meant.

If you calculate purely based on instantaneous resistance or resistance over time, the fuel efficiency equivalency you're calculating is gallons consumed per hour.

That's not what we're after here. We're after gallons per mile, since the objective is to travel between point A and point B using the least fuel. So the resistance figure you want is resistance per distance covered.

If you do that for air, rolling, and engine friction, the minimum ends up being around 45-50 mph. Consequently your best mileage (assuming ideal gearing) is at those speeds. This is in contrast to gallons per hour, where your lowest fuel consumption happens at (obviously) 0 mph.

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