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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.

Related GalleryTesla Model S

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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]

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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

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By Luke Vandezande

Elon Musk regrets not saying more about NYT Model S review

Tesla Model S



Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk has always taken pains to pitch how far his cars can go when sufficiently charged. The man himself is proving he can go quite a distance as well.



Sufficiently chafed by a review of the Tesla Model S in The New York Times that said the electric vehicle’s single-charge range was far less than advertised, Musk called the February 8 article a “low-grade ethics violation” in a recent interview at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas, Reuters says.



Musk has had his say in the matter. Citing data logged from the reviewer’s car that differed from his report, Musk called the review “false” and said it was “not in good faith.” Following a spat between Musk and the Times, the Times’ public editor subsequently said that there may have been some inaccuracies in the reporter’s note-taking but defended his integrity. Musk has estimated the Times review cost Tesla as much as $100 million in sales.



But there was apparently another response, one Musk himself wrote, that never saw the light of day. Musk said he sent it to an editor at The New York Times, but it was not published. Musk said he might still publish what he wrote.



Currently, Tesla has reached its full production capacity of 400 Model S sedans a week, and Musk has said Tesla could have its first profitable quarter for the three months ending March 31.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Danny King

Tesla Model S road trip drivers find success along NYT’s failed drive route [w/video]

tesla model s road trip


“There is a learning curve to taking long road trips in an EV, especially in the cold.”

In the last week, we have read and written many thousands of words about the Tesla Model S road trip that The New York Times writer John Broder could not accomplish. Thanks to a critical tweet by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a digital firestorm erupted about the electric vehicle test drive (if you need a refresher, please read these posts in order: one, two, three and four). In all those passionate paragraphs, nothing stood out quite like this little understatement: “There is a learning curve to taking long road trips in an EV, especially in the cold.”



That’s from an open letter to Broder written by Peter over at Electric Road Trips. Peter recently drove his own Model S almost 5,000 miles from Portland, OR to New York City. Despite the reality that most EVs aren’t particularly suited for long drives, the truth is that it can be done, and a group of Model S owners set out to prove that fact once again this weekend.



We’ll spoil the story now: all the drivers made it. From a report by Xander over at Strassenversion, a small number of Model S owners (something like six, but at times there were over a dozen vehicles together) spent Saturday and Sunday recreating the east coast drive that Broder attempted and failed. In his honor, as it were, they came up with the term Brodering – “running out of power due to human error, or generally dropping the ball when dealing with electric cars” – along the way.


Two special firmware updates (delaying one driver by an hour) were required to set things right.

Still, despite the drivers being well in tune with their EVs, the drive wasn’t 100-percent easy. One Model S plugged into a Supercharger just stopped charging and wouldn’t fill up past 180 miles of range (the target at that point was 270). Strassenversion reports that two special firmware updates (delaying the driver by an hour) were required to set things right.



Late last night, the official Tesla Road Trip group tweeted, “The trip was a success and everyone has diverted to their homes” (see the official twitter feed here). Thom Landon tweeted, “This is an amazing show of solidarity. Hopefully an antidote to the crummy he said/she said coverage of NYT.” Two short videos of the trip are available below. We expect more to surface soon.



In other Tesla/The New York Times spat news, the Atlantic Wire threw some cold water on CNN’s recreation of Broder’s drive, saying it was done in “a Tesla-controlled PR bubble. Yes, it proves the car can do the coastal trek. But it doesn’t mean that Broder did everything in his power to sabotage the trip. Nor does it signal much for consumers. Some people spending $100,000 on a car might not want to drive it up the coast without going above 65 miles per hour or, on a particularly bitter day, turning the heat up.” The Oroville Mercury-Register talked to some experts who agreed that Musk was well within his rights – and was smart – to respond to Broder’s article. And, let’s admit, Musk certainly has gotten a lot of mileage out of 140 characters. Too bad you can’t power a car on tweets.

Related GalleryTesla Model S Owners Road Trip

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By Sebastian Blanco

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