Tag archives for john broder

CNN recreates infamous Tesla Model S drive with miles to spare, others to try this weekend [w/video]

white tesla model s

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Even more prisms through which to look at the failed (or is that “failed”?) Tesla Model S drive up the East Coast that The New York Times reported on last weekend. We’re going to assume you know what’s been happening with this, but if not, then you can get caught up by reading this, this and this. All set? Good.

Today, CNN reporter Peter Valdes-Dapena easily completed all of the miles in a Tesla Model S that the Times’ John Broder reported he could not do. The takeaway line: “In the end, I made it – and it wasn’t that hard.” That Valdes-Dapena managed the trip is perhaps not that big of a surprise, but a small group of Model S owners will try to prove again that 200 miles is no problem, even in the winter cold, for an electric car that’s officially rated at 265 miles. The owner convoy is going to set out from the Tesla Service Center in Rockville, Maryland tomorrow morning and then spend the night in Groton, Connecticut, just like Broder did, before turning south again. If you want to follow along tomorrow, stay tuned to TeslaRoadTrip on Twitter. Think it’ll start trending?

Also today, Road & Track chimed in to suggest the whole affair is about way more than range, it’s about trust: “If you can’t fully trust Tesla, then you’ll continue to be a customer for the Times. Think for a moment about Broder’s article in that context: it’s an advertisement for his product at the expense of Tesla’s.” We’re not 100-percent on board with that line of thinking, but it does suggest that there is a lot of meat on the test-drive bones of the original article. Check out the CNN video of its bon voyage below for more.

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By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla’s Elon Musk offers “final” thoughts on NYT spat, but Twitter flames continue

Tesla Model S

For a while there, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was having a kumbaya moment after the public editor The New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, wrote that her publication may have been overzealous in its criticism of the Tesla Model S and admitted that Times reporter John Broder was not entirely precise with his mileage or speed logs.

Musk, writing on the official Tesla blog post, thanked Sullivan and the Times for the response and also singled out CNN, CNBC and Consumer Reports for duplicating Broder’s test (without running dry, of course). Musk also sent a shout out to Tesla owners who wrote the Times to tell the publication it may have been off base with its findings. The Tesla chief also used the post to pitch the fact that Tesla’s installing more fast chargers along the East Coast and improving the model’s software.

That was on the blog. On Twitter, thing have been a bit more heated. The New York Times automotive editor, James Cobb, wrote a series of tweets to Elon, which we get into below.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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Cobb praised Musk for what he’s done for plug-in cars but then defended Broder, saying that Musk calling the original post “fake” was “over the line & impugned reputation of a good man and a consummate pro.”

To which Musk responded that there were, “enough sour grapes … to start a winery. Can we just bury hatchet & move on?”

Earlier this month, the Times started the entire brouhaha with a report that a Model S fell well short of its advertised single-charge range during an East Coast drive between Superchargers. Musk responded by calling the article “fake” in a tweet and said the car in question wasn’t fully charged and was driven at faster speeds than reported. As Twitter shows, this story continues to inflame passion on both sides. Check out Musk’s official blog post here.

By Danny King

Elon Musk’s attack on “fake” New York Times article prompts lots of Tesla talk

Despite an official promise that Tesla Motors would respond to the online kerfuffle kicked up yesterday between The New York Times reporter John Broder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the official Tesla website remained silent today. The wait doesn’t mean the internet has been mute on this subject, though. That’s just not how it works.

First up, Broder’s detailed response to Musk tweeting that his article about running out of electricity was a “fake” is clear and straightforward: “My account was not a fake. It happened just the way I described it.” He goes on to describe the ways that he could have babied the Model S to hit the range targets, but points out that the plan was to test the Supercharger network. He added, “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.”

The rest of the web got in on the action, too. After noticing Musk’s tweet that revealed “Tesla data logging is only turned on with explicit written permission from customers, but after Top Gear BS, we always keep it on for media,” other journalists wondered if they had been tracked when they test drove the Model S. It appears so. The Atlantic flat-out says, “Elon Musk’s Crusade Against The New York Times Isn’t Helping Tesla.”

Over at Automotive News, Mark Rechtin points out an important – and unfair – difference between the way automotive journalists test cars:

If you drive an EV on the autobahn full tilt, your mileage and range will drop precipitously. But so will it if you drive your Porsche 911 or Toyota Camry in a similar fashion. Yet for some reason, while traditional cars are given a pass for lead-footed driving, the reaction to an EV’s reduced range under those conditions is, “Aha!” in a tone mixed with outrage and schadenfreude.

So, yes, the discussion is growing while we wait for Tesla’s delayed official response. The big question is if it is too late to put this genie back in the bottle. By the time Tesla’s report is released, it’ll be just one more item in what is fast turning into a much bigger deal than you would think could ever grow from just 140 characters.

Related GalleryTesla Model S

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By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla takes New York Times to task for damning Model S review

The social media tête-à-tête between The New York Times and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, stemming from a defamatory review by John Broder of the Model S and Tesla’s new “Supercharger” network on the East Coast, is heating up in a major way. Just yesterday we summarized the Twitter spat, and now Musk has expanded upon the data recorded during Broder’s test drive – adding major credence to the criticism of the NYT writer.

The smoking gun in this case is the information that was captured by the data recorder in Broder’s loaned Model S. The data recording function is one that is only activated for consumers when permission has been expressly granted, says Musk, but is always turned on in the case of media vehicles. Thusly equipped, Broder’s vehicle was keeping track of speed, charging data, map data and more, presumably without the writer’s foreknowledge.

The evidence recorded by the in-car systems happens to contravene Broder’s most damning claims of the Tesla, says Musk in his article titled A Most Peculiar Test Drive. First, and perhaps most shockingly, the Model S “State of Charge” log shows that Broder’s test car “never ran out of energy at any time.” Broder’s reporting indicated that the car ran completely out of juice at one point and had to be evacuated on a flatbed truck. The data log also points out that the trip was made at speeds ranging from 65 to 81 miles per hour, where the writer claimed to have set the cruise control at 54 mph, with periods of driving as slowly as 45 mph.

Musk’s piece also indicates that Broder – who was ostensibly driving to test the charging network – didn’t tell the truth about how long he charged his Model S. At one stop he specifically writes that he charged the car for 58 minutes on his second stop, where the log indicates that he was on the Supercharger for just 47 minutes. Tesla claims that the writer charged his car to 90 percent of capacity on his first stop, 72 percent on his second and just 28 percent on his third – all despite his concerns over just barely having enough energy to complete the respective legs of his trip.

Taken at face value, Tesla’s data seems compelling to say the least. With that said, we’re no more in a position to attest to the veracity of the logged data than we are the claims of Mr. Broder. At the very least it will be fascinating to see what the NYT does to respond, if anything at all, to this rather serious, high-profile assault on its credibility.

For its part, Tesla is taking Elon’s article as the final word on the matter. A company spokesperson released this statement, just this morning: “Please note, no one from Tesla – including Elon – will be providing additional comment on this topic moving forward as we feel the blog speaks for itself. At this time, this post is the company’s final statement on the issue.” We’ve collected all of Tesla’s charts and graphs from Broder’s trip in our attached gallery, so you can have a closer look for yourselves, too.

Related GalleryTesla Charts

By Seyth Miersma

Tesla vs The New York Times: Round Three

In what has turned into quite the battle between New York Times writer John Broder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Broder has issued a response to Musks’ most recent claims.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused Broder of purposely sabotaging the test, to which Broder has adamantly stated that isn’t the case. In his new blog, Broder gives more clarity as to what occurred – essentially his side of the story as to how he reached the conclusions that he originally reported.

SEE ALSO: Tesla CEO Releases Official Rebuttal to NY Times Story

Those that have been following the story know that Tesla has accused Broder of driving in a “tiny 100-space parking lot” to purposely drain the battery. According to Broder, that was him driving around the Milford plaza on Interstate 95 in the dark, trying to find the “unlighted and poorly marked Tesla Supercharger.”

Broder’s larger defense, however, against all of Musk’s claims is that the actions he took were a direct result of advice provided to him by Tesla staff, including engineers and PR reps.

If you’d like to read Broder’s full account, which offers plenty of responses to Musk’s statements, follow the source link below. Tesla has already stated that its response would be the American automaker’s last one, so we don’t expect a rebuttal from Tesla… for now.

[Source: New York Times]

Discuss this story at GasStinks.com

By Jason Siu

New York Times admits Tesla Model S writer didn’t use “good judgment” [Update]

tesla model s owners road trip

And, lo, in the case of John Broder vs. Elon Musk, The New York Times is admitting defeat. A little bit. Sort of.

“Musk is at fault, too, for using the car’s driving logs “in the most damaging (and sometimes quite misleading) ways possible.”

Yesterday, the NYT’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote the official* Times response to the very public dispute between the newspaper’s reporter, John Broder – who wrote a story about how a Tesla Model S failed him on a trip up the east coast – and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who called that original story a fake and then dumped a bunch of data from the car’s log to show why he used that word. Editor Sullivan admits the drive “did not go well.” In the aftermath, she says she tried to look at the facts in an unbiased fashion, eventually determining that Broder was not precise enough at times and did “not especially” use “good judgment along the way.” Musk is at fault, too, she says, for using the car’s driving logs “in the most damaging (and sometimes quite misleading) ways possible, as he defended his vehicle’s reputation.” Sullivan also says she believes Broder, “took on the test drive in good faith, and told the story as he experienced it” even as he “left himself open to valid criticism by taking what seem to be casual and imprecise notes along the journey.”

This whole story, of course, is really about the fact that electric vehicles suffer a drop in range in cold weather, which matters more than in normal cars since there is less range to begin with (not to mention it takes longer to refuel an EV’s energy reserves than it does its liquid-fueled counterparts). There are a number of factors in play, but Tesla has said range drop in the Model S is about 10 percent (which, interestingly enough, is about the same as what vehicles powered by gasoline engines suffer in such weather).

Interestingly enough, a 10-percent efficiency drop is about the same as what ICE vehicles suffer.

Consumer Reports has an interesting article up about learning how to adjust to cold-weather changes in its Model S, including a tale similar to Broder’s about running the car down to the “charge now” warning screen, but the institute managed to make it to their destination. CR writes, “To its credit, the Model S delivered 176 miles from a full charge in cold weather – considerably more than any other EV on the planet. While it was in line with what the car predicted, it proved well short of the rated 240 miles the car promised when I started, let alone the 265 estimated by the EPA or the 300 touted by Tesla.”

Meanwhile, over in take-a-step-back-ville, Grist suggests that the entire public dispute is a “sideshow” and that:

It is probably true that electric cars will never be able to replace gas cars, if the cars themselves – the widgets – are the only thing we replace. The entire system was designed and built around ICE cars. Turns out it’s difficult to build a luxurious, two-ton armored tank that can travel 300 miles on a quick-charging battery pack. The problem, however, is not merely that our cars consume too much oil. It’s that our transportation system consumes too much oil. A better system won’t merely involve better cars, it will involve driving less, telecommuting more, using more public transportation, sharing cars, making cars smarter, and building more and better electrical infrastructure.

This story is far from over, even though the facts and he-said/he-said nature of the situation seem to be solidifying. Late tomorrow, Tesla will hold its quarterly earnings call, and we’re going to bet this incident will come up. One interesting tidbit we learned in a preview article of that call is that Musk earns only $33,000 a year from his part-time CEO role at Tesla (he splits his time between Tesla and SpaceX). No one ever said changing the way the world drives was going to be easy… or instantly profitable.

*Update: Just to clarify, Sullivan’s role as Public Editor does not mean her response was “the official Times response.” She wrote that, “As public editor, I speak only for myself. My opinions about what happened during and after the Tesla Model S road test, expressed in my Monday blog post, are not those of The Times.

Related GalleryTesla Model S Owners Road Trip

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By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla CEO Releases Official Rebuttal to NY Times Story

Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks’ world turned upside down on Monday after CEO Elon Musk issued a stiff rebuke over an article in the New York Times he called fake.

Shortly after the controversy began, the paper responded, saying “any suggestion that the account was ‘fake’ is, of course, flatly untrue.” But Musk wasn’t finished. At the height of his heated Twitter salvo, he vowed to reveal the details behind the article. Tesla turns data logging on for all media drives after Top Gear’s “BS” report on the Roadster. Musk’s official response is now available, days after the initial flare-up.

In a blog post released late Wednesday, Musk attacks several points from the story in question. One of several issues is that John Broder, the story’s author, reported setting cruise control at 54 mph. According to charts released in the blog cruise control was actually set at 60 mph.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk Calls NY Times Piece on Tesla Model S a ‘Fake’

Another chart from Tesla shows Broder increasing cabin temperature while reporting that he decreased it.

But perhaps the most concerning part of what the data log reveals is that Broder seems to have misrepresented how far the car actually travelled and how long he spent charging the car. The car’s log shows it actually exceeded its stated range rather than falling short as he reported.

Musks blog suggests that Broder carried a vendetta against electric cars.

“We were played for a fool and as a result, let down the cause of electric vehicles. For that, I am deeply sorry,” Musk wrote.

GALLERY: Tesla Model S Data Log


Discuss this story at GasStinks.com

By Luke Vandezande

Elon Musk Publishes Final Note on Tesla vs. New York Times

As the saga between Tesla and The New York Times comes to an end (allegedly), Tesla CEO Elon Musk has released a final, final note on the controversy.

Recently, the publication released a statement in regards to the article, stating that Public Editor John Broder had “problems with precision and judgment,” “took casual and imprecise notes,” and made “few conclusions that are unassailable.” Over last week, several other publications did the same drive as Broder, as did several Tesla Model S owners in order to compare their data with The New York Times.

SEE ALSO: Tesla vs The New York Times: Round Three

Musk took the time to thank The New York Times for looking into the matter, as well as the other publications that did their own individual tests. And of course, he also thanked the rally of hundreds of Tesla customers that helped recreate the same route Broder had driven just to prove a point.

You can read more on Musk’s statement by following the source link below.

[Source: Tesla]

Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com

By Jason Siu

NYT writer “cannot account” for discrepancy, still disputes Tesla Model S data

Tesla Model S

They can’t both be right.

When Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued his official response to The New York Times journalist John Broder’s negative review of the Tesla Model S (well, a description of his charging and range problems, more than a review), Tesla said it would be the company’s last word on the topic.

So others spent the day investigating the data. Over at GigaOM, Katie Fehrenbacher learned five lessons from the public spat and our friends at Wired found holes in Tesla’s data. Plug In America came down hard on the Times, pointing out that Broder has been anti-EV for quite a while. Now, we have to assume, Broder’s just-published-this-evening detailed response will flow like water off a duck’s back.

Yeah, right.

In any case, this deep into the war of words between Broder and Musk, we find some equivocating about minor details even as some facts remain in dispute. For example, Musk wrote that, “the Model S battery never ran out of energy at any time,” while Broder writes in tonight’s response, “The car’s display screen said the car was shutting down, and it did.” Or this, where Tesla says Broder charged for 47 minutes and Musk writes, “had Broder not deliberately turned off the Supercharger at 47 mins and actually spent 58 mins Supercharging, it would have been virtually impossible to run out of energy for the remainder of his stated journey.” In Broder’s response, he says, “According to my notes, I plugged into the Milford Supercharger at 5:45 p.m. and disconnected at 6:43 p.m.” They can’t both be right.

One odd bit is where Broder tries to explain away his memory about speeds compared to the Tesla data dump: “I cannot account for the discrepancy, nor for a later stretch in Connecticut where I recall driving about 45 m.p.h., but it may be the result of the car being delivered with 19-inch wheels and all-season tires, not the specified 21-inch wheels and summer tires.”

Things got personal, too. Musk said he called Broder, “to apologize for any inconvenience that he may have suffered and sought to put my concerns to rest, hoping that he had simply made honest mistakes. That was not the case.” Broder says Musk, “not only apologized, he said the charging stations should be 60 miles closer together and offered me a second test drive when additional stations were built.”

Yes, we know what the official word is on further responses from Tesla, but we’ll be keeping an eye on Musk’s twitter feed just in case.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Sebastian Blanco

NYT’s Tesla Model S trouble report is “fake,” says Elon Musk [UPDATE]

Tesla Model S

Remember that episode of Top Gear, where the notoriously anti-EV crew pushed a Tesla Roadster to show what would happen if the car’s battery had run out of juice? And then Tesla got all litigious and filed suit (which the company eventually lost)? Well, we might be in for another public scuffle about the merits of electric vehicles.

The New York Times recently sent John Broder out in a Model S between the two new Superchargers on the east coast, located in Newark, DE and Milford, CT. Since, as Broder notes, the stations are “some 200 miles apart” the 85-kWh battery in the Model S should be able to make the drive. The EPA rates this model at 265 miles, after all. Heck, even the 60-kWh mid-range model has a 208-mile range. The trick, as we all know, is that your mileage may vary.

Following a 49-minute visit to the Supercharger in Delaware for a full charge (well, at least seeing a screen that read “charge complete”), Broder kept on driving, but discovered that, after 68 miles of driving, he had lost 85 miles of estimated range. He shifted over to energy conservation mode (driving slow, turning off the cabin heat, etc.). He writes:

Nearing New York, I made the first of several calls to Tesla officials about my creeping range anxiety. The woman who had delivered the car told me to turn off the cruise control; company executives later told me that advice was wrong. All the while, my feet were freezing and my knuckles were turning white.

The report caused TSLA to drop 2.5 percent to $38.27 (it has since regained some ground and sits at $38.42) and got a response from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who tweeted that, “NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.”

Tesla has promised it will post an article later today that “will refute Broder’s version of what happened, with data points pulled from the car’s logs.” Stay tuned for an update after that report is published.

*UPDATE: Tesla still hasn’t published a response article, but Musk did talk to Bloomberg West about the situation, and you can find the audio and transcript of that discussion below.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Sebastian Blanco