Checkmate: Tesla's Elon Musk Provides Driving Logs from NYT's "Peculiar" Model S Trip
February 14, 2013 12:41 PM
comment(s) - last by
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
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.
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RE: what this really shows
2/14/2013 3:40:27 PM
That's not really a limitation of the gasoline car though. If you go 200 miles in your car, all you have to do is drop by a gas station for 5 minutes and you're ready to go another 200 miles. The range on a single tank of fuel isn't that big a limitation. You don't have to plan around the tank running empty because it only takes 5 minutes to correct it. If a detour puts you over the 200 mile range, you just spend the 5 minutes at the gas station now instead of later.
For the Tesla, best case you'll need to charge for 30 minutes to add another 150 miles of range (worst case it needs hours of charging). So unless you like stopping in random locations for 30 minutes to several hours every 3 hours, you
have to plan your trip around the battery running flat.
EV proponents need to stop pretending there are
drawbacks to EVs. They have their advantages and their disadvantages compared to ICE cars. For some usage cases the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages. For other usage cases the reverse is true. Informing consumers means telling them about both the advantages and disadvantages. Not pretending the disadvantages don't exist.
RE: what this really shows
2/14/2013 4:34:43 PM
Well, that is not exactly fair to EVs either. Just because we have nearly 100 years of infrastructure built to support gasoline cars does not make EVs which barely have made it to the point where there is a standard method for charging them enough so that stations can be built to supply said charging.
Mind you I still think the batteries we use for EVs have a long way to go. And even then the kind of current necessary to push 200 miles of power into some future super battery in 5 minutes would be scary. So while these EVs currently have a 30 "supercharge" to just the half way mark, which is impressive for batteries I still think it kind of stinks for long distance travel. And I can't imagine myself considering a EV beyond a little short distance commuter at this time.
Personally if we really wanted EVs to be a success in road power along the major roads/highways is the way to go. Then at least the batteries would only be needed to "boost" and be used for the areas without in road power infrastructure. You'd likely be able to shrink the batteries and cost of said vehicles greatly with that sort of design. Throw in some clever design work and I bet you could also use the same power lines to help cars navigate, communicate, and pay tolls making the roads that much smarter for everyone.
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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