Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is blasting an NY Times reporter over what appears to be a shoddy Tesla Model S test drive report last weekend. Musk's twitter posts on Monday call the article, by John Broder, a fake and says they have the data logs to prove it.
In his piece, Broder describes having borrowed a Tesla Model S from Tesla Motors to drive from Washington DC to Connecticut and back. Along the way he'd be doing some range testing to verify Tesla's claims. The company recently installed Supercharger stations in Delaware and Connecticut, and Broder did visit both of those stations.
The Supercharger system allows a Model S driver to gain 150 miles of range within a half hour, and have a full recharge within one hour. The 85 kilowatt-hour Model S has an EPA certified range of 265 miles, however Tesla Motors often claims a 300 mile driving range. The two Supercharger stations are over 200 miles apart. On the surface, that looks like a Model S driver would make it from one station to another and be able to drive from Washington DC to Boston with two recharging sessions along the way.
However Broder claimed to have barely made it to the Milford CT charging station after claiming to have gotten a full recharge at the Delaware station. The only reason he made it to the CT station was by turning off the climate control system, and driving at 55 miles/hr in the right lane, all to conserve energy. At the Milford CT station he appears to have not done a full recharge, because he said the car claimed it had only 185 miles of remaining range. It was after this point that Broder's story goes haywire.
He drove 79 miles to a town in Connecticut, and spent the night. In the morning it was 10 degrees F, and the car claimed it had only 20 miles remaining when it had had 90 miles remaining the night before. That led to an "adventure" finding a charging station, attempting to return to Milford, but ending up with a tow truck hauling the Model S to the charging station. FAIL, right?
Broder's article lays a large problem at the feet of Tesla Motors by portraying the Model S as being unsuitable for long road trips. For Tesla's part, the company positions that car as the first electric car that can credibly be taken on a long road trip, between a 265 mile electric driving range, and the Supercharger stations that can do a full recharge in an hour.
But, to an experienced electric vehicle driver, Broder's story includes several major mistakes. These include believing Tesla's own claim of a 300 mile driving range, not accounting for cold weather effects on range, not grabbing a full recharge when it was available in Milford, and not plugging into a 120 volt outlet during the overnight stay. If Broder had grabbed a full recharge in Milford, or have taken an overnight trickle charge, he'd have had the range to make it back to Milford, even with cold weather effects.
What Musk tweeted goes even further, however, in portraying Broders story as shoddy. First, Musk claims that "Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn't actually charge to max & took a long detour."
That is, Tesla Motors can remotely monitor data from their vehicles. The feature is only turned on at owners request, according to Musk, but "after Top Gear BS, we always keep it on for media."
Additionally, Musk disclosed there will be other East Coast Supercharger station installations soon. If those stations had been available for Broder's test drive, he'd have made it with ease.
Source: NY Times
UPDATE: A Model S owner posted an excellent blog post going over even more points showing that Broder just didn't understand what to do.