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Tesla Motors Battles the New York Times

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the musk-faces-krugman-in-single-combat dept.

Businesses 700

redletterdave writes "Days after the New York Times released a brutal review of Tesla's electric Model S sedan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has fired back, claiming the Times article was completely bogus and misleading. In the article in question, Times writer John Broder took the Tesla Model S on a test drive from Washington to Boston, stopping at various service plazas in Delaware and Connecticut well within the projected 265-mile range of the car, as rated by the EPA. However, Broder's Tesla Model S, despite a heftier 85 kilowatt-hour battery for an extra 100 miles of range in 'ideal conditions,' died shortly before reaching its final destination. Broder blames the cold weather and heating issues for his abridged trip; Musk, however, claims the driver did not follow Tesla's instructions, which is why his trip was cut so short. 'We've taken great pains to ensure that the car works very well in the cold, which is why we're so incensed by this ridiculous article,' Musk said."

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CEO Switchout (5, Funny)

regular_guy (1979018) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876461)

You're driving it wrong.

Re:CEO Switchout (4, Interesting)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876521)

He also says they have the car logs. That's gonna be interesting to look at.

Re:CEO Switchout (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876549)

They should publish these logs. Given that there's a PR disaster on their hands, I'd think full disclosure would be wise.

Re:CEO Switchout (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876615)

That really really depends on whether it was the cars fault or not, if it was they obviously wouldn't want to, but would that be a statement in and of itself? It typically is, otherwise they can use the logs as weight against Times.

Re:CEO Switchout (1, Interesting)

siddesu (698447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876663)

Logs don't mean much in this case, unless they show the journalist purposefully took the car out on half charge and drove around much more than he's describing. These two are quite unlikely to have happened.

If you buy a luxury car, even an electric one, you expect it to handle itself like a luxury car. You surely should not be expected to look at the log all the time, to adjust your manner of driving to suit your battery, your route to be within a pushing distance of a charging station all the time, and to have no heating inside.

Re:CEO Switchout (3, Informative)

preaction (1526109) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876703)

That is indeed what the logs do say: The car was not fully-charged, and the journalist took a detour from the given route. The logs are only on the test models, though regular customers can get them added if they want. I imagine this means they aren't meant to be real-time monitors that you look at frequently.

Re:CEO Switchout (1)

siddesu (698447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876713)

I take it that you've seen them, then? Care to post a link where I could take a look too?

Re:CEO Switchout (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876845)

They haven't released the long-form logs.

Re:CEO Switchout (2, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876943)

That's because they show that the reporter made a stop to drop of guns in Sandy Hook.

Re:CEO Switchout (4, Informative)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876947)

There's a bit more "he said / she said" in this followup article:

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-flying-over-a-test-of-teslas-charging-network/?ref=johnmbroder [nytimes.com]

including links to Elon Musk's "detour" claims, and the NYT journo's rebuttal.

Re:CEO Switchout (3, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876715)

It wasn't fully charged, but he didn't need it to be fully charged.
It had plenty of charge indicated to get him to the next charging station.

Re:CEO Switchout (0, Offtopic)

Mike Buddha (10734) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876829)

The article accurately states the route he took and what he did when charging. He didn't charge the car to full capacity, but he did charge it until it showed that it was well within the range he wanted to go.

Elon Musk was trying to say that he never mentioned driving in Manhattan, but he did state that fact. He took the car on a detour through Manhattan to Connecticut, and when he parked it, it still said he had plenty of miles to get back to the charging station. When he got up in the morning, 2/3's of those miles dissappeared from the car overnight.

Not what I'd expect from a luxury automobile.

Re:CEO Switchout (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876811)

Yeah, they should just stick to luxury gas powered cars. At least then you just take the car and do what you want with it, no need to pay attention to the gas gauge or make sure it is full enough to go to your destination, no need to take driving conditions into consideration when deciding how far you can get on a tank of gas. You should not be expected to check your gas gauge all the time, to adjust your driving to suit your gas tank.

Re:CEO Switchout (2)

siddesu (698447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876851)

I have yet to park a gas-powered luxury car with half the tank full for the night and find the tank empty in the morning, dimwit.

Musk to NYT (-1, Redundant)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876471)

"You are holding it the wrong way..."

Re:Musk to NYT (4, Informative)

gajop (1285284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876567)

In the actual interview, Elon Musk mentioned the NY Times reporter failed the following three things:
1) Didn't have a full battery
2) He took detours
3) He went above the speed limit
And gee surprise, your battery ran.

Re:Musk to NYT (1, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876635)

Well shit, I can't buy this car, I do all three of these daily in a normal car... and the only reason I would ever wait for a battery to charge on a car would be while I'm swapping it out for a fully charged one... we're not there yet (+ these batteries cost like 2k?), nor do I own a car with a battery.

Re:Musk to NYT (2, Insightful)

gajop (1285284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876749)

This isn't about your daily car usage, it's a test to verify the car's range, and failing to do all three should have one marked as an idiot (or malicious).

Re:Musk to NYT (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876815)

With Tesla being a public company, it could be considered criminal.

Re:Musk to NYT (2, Funny)

Mike Buddha (10734) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876847)

So reviews should verify theoretical device usage instead of real device usage? Why doesn't Elon Musk write his own reviews then? Oh wait, he's trying to do that now.

Re:Musk to NYT (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876919)

No, the problem is, the alternative route, likely exceeded the "real device usage" guide.

Realize they were doing drives that were very long, toward the maximum of the vehicles range.

Re:Musk to NYT (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876775)

The battery array in a more standard electric car are far more than $2k. Closer to $12-20k.

Re:Musk to NYT (2)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876781)

We may not be there yet for individuals, but there is at least one taxi company doing this, swapping out batteries.

Re:Musk to NYT (5, Funny)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876841)

nor do I own a car with a battery.

Do tell? Do you have to start it lawnmower style?

Re:Musk to NYT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876641)

Who doesn't go over the speed limit? It is pretty much a given that everyone goes five miles over the speed limit on average.

Re:Musk to NYT (-1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876763)

"Everyone" can't do anything "on average".

Re:Musk to NYT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876825)

It is pretty much a given that everyone goes five miles over the speed limit on average.

Then everyone should be fined.

Re:Musk to NYT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876683)

So the Tesla is only suitable for people who:

1) can be certain of a full charge every time they leave the house;
2) never take detours, or get forced into detours by road construction;
3) never go above the speed limit;

Given that, I'm absolutely shocked that this isn't already a mass-market blockbuster - it's clearly suitable for all the common use cases!

Re:Musk to NYT (4, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876743)

So the Tesla is only suitable for people who:

1) can be certain of a full charge every time they leave the house; 2) never take detours, or get forced into detours by road construction; 3) never go above the speed limit;

Given that, I'm absolutely shocked that this isn't already a mass-market blockbuster - it's clearly suitable for all the common use cases!

To be fair, if you do start with a non-full tank, drive longer distances or raise the RPM (by driving it at higher speeds) to a fuel-driven car engine, you can expect that you may not be able to reach the next petrol station (i.e. what you describe is, in principle, not specific to electric cars). The difference is in the advertised range.

Re:Musk to NYT (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876827)

I can tell you with pretty good certainty exactly how much further my car can go based on the gas guage. Clearly there isn't that same capability with this car and the battery. No shock tho... how many times do you see laptops that take hours to get to 50% and then 30 minutes the next 50?

Re:Musk to NYT (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876839)

To be fair, you're never more than about 5 miles from a gas station in most areas of the northeast - can't say the same of EV charging stations.

To be fair, refueling your gas/diesel engine takes about 10 minutes - can't say the same of EV charging stations.

To be fair, running the heater in cold weather will not trash your gas engine's range - can't say the same of EV charging stations.

To be fair, leaving your internal combustion engine out in cold weather overnight won't cause you to lose approximately 2/3 of your remaining fuel - according to the article, can't say the same of EVs.

These are all engineering, infrastructure, and design problems that ARE specific to electric vehicles, and which need to be solved if they want their products to catch on in the mass market and compete with gas-powered vehicles. If they want them to be the exclusive toys of the rich who have time & money to waste, then great, keep telling people "you're driving it wrong." If you want to challenge the existing motor vehicle industry, you have to offer a compelling reason to buy your alternative product. So far, other than "wow it's super expensive," there doesn't seem to be too much to recommend the Tesla.

Re:Musk to NYT (0)

Mike Buddha (10734) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876877)

The problem was that the car was telling him that he had plenty of miles to go when he parked it for the night. I would expect the car to give me a reasonable approxiamation of the range I have left, which is what the car says it's doing, instead of some BS PR number, even if I didn't charge it up 100% or decided to drive through the city.

Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876493)

So, nobody can read NYT's article (without registering/logging in), but everyone can read Musk's rebuttal. That's going to make the debate fairly one-sided in the public's mind.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (4, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876525)

Well, if the logs to show that he didnt fully charge the battery.. then he didnt fully charge the battery.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (2)

Anaerin (905998) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876543)

Apparently, the logs also showed he took a lengthy detour through Manhattan, rather than a direct route.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (2, Interesting)

Niac (2101) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876581)

And it totally makes sense that to drive a hundred grand luxury car that you'd have to take only the direct routes, not the ones you may actually want to take. This is a gigantic failure of useability.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876609)

Well, that's one honest thing that could be written in a review. Its quite another to lie about how the reviewer tested the car, given such poor results.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

cgimusic (2788705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876619)

Sure but it is still something you expect to be mentioned in the article.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (3, Interesting)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876623)

And it totally makes sense that to drive a hundred grand luxury car that you'd have to take only the direct routes, not the ones you may actually want to take. This is a gigantic failure of useability.

The main downsides to electric cars are:
- Range
- Refueling time (charging)
- Cost/Maintenance of the batteries

These limitations aren't new. If they severely impact you then an electric car is not suitable at the moment; end of story.

Also, a semi has great towing capacity but the city mpg is terrible.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876789)

Oh, you can take long detours, as long as you have enough battery charge for that. You need to manage your battery charge in the very same way you have to deal with your gas tank in combustion engines.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876903)

It doesn't matter how much you pay for a car or what its source of power is, if you plan a route that takes almost a full tank/charge to get to, then take a detour to some place without a source of power, then you are going to be in trouble. Whether it is because you decided to take your solar powered car through a long tunnel, or because you decided to take a detour in your hundred grand luxury car driving to Vega and ignored the "last gas station for 100 miles" sign, you're going to have a bad time.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1, Interesting)

LordKaT (619540) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876583)

I wonder if there was a software glitch telling him the car was fully charged while it wasn't.

As for driving through Manhattan - yeah I know, it eats up fuel; but, it's within the supposed range. In the writers defense, nobody told him that city driving would be worse for the car. Hell, the popular assumption with regenerative braking is that it's actually better because you'll regenerate more power as you brake.

The NYT article seems pretty fair, from a consumers standpoint. Admittedly, driving through Manhattan - as a life-long New Yorker - gives me fucking nightmares, but who's to say some guy driving to Boston from South Carolina, wouldn't like to make a brief drive through Manhattan. After all, it's within the range guidelines.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876667)

Regenerative braking isn't better, that would violate conservation of energy laws. It's far better to not stop at all, and continue to cruise at a constant speed.

Regenerative braking is only better than not having regenerative braking...

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876819)

City mileage has traditionally been worse than highway, despite the far higher resistance at highway speeds, because braking saps away so much energy. Regenerative braking takes away much of the downside to braking, this making city mileage better than highway. So yes, as the grandparent said, regenerative braking makes city driving better than highway driving in terms of efficiency.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876933)

It makes it less worse, but not quite better in this case. Both EPA and Tesla's range and efficiency numbers show that the Tesla S gos further on highway than typical city driving.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (4, Insightful)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876717)

the popular assumption with regenerative braking is that it's actually better because you'll regenerate more power as you brake.

You're fired. Pack up your shit and get out.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876823)

Well, that is not that wrong an assumption.
Driving on interstate at interstate speeds (I-95, without blocking others) involves driving at higher speeds. Wind resistance increases quadratically with speeds, so you are spending a lot more on drag on interstates compared to driving in the city. On the other hand you lose some energy to breaking. Regenerative breaking efficiency is about 50%, so depending on how often you break and how fast you drive on interstate, it is possible to have better efficiency in the city than on interstate.
You also have to consider that any time you break at high speeds, your recovery efficiency goes down. Slowing down using breaking is when regenerative breaking works best.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876889)

And the article said that he did that. And the article also said that the range indicator said he had plenty of range left when he parked it for the night. And when he woke up 2/3's of the projected miles had disappeared in a puff of smoke over night.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

starless (60879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876893)

Apparently, the logs also showed he took a lengthy detour through Manhattan, rather than a direct route.

According to the reporter in a subsequent followup:
Mr. Musk has referred to a “long detour” on my trip. He is apparently referring to a brief stop in Manhattan on my way to Connecticut that, according to Google Maps, added precisely two miles to the overall distance traveled from the Delaware Supercharger to Milford (202 miles with the stop versus 200 miles had I taken the George Washington Bridge instead of the Lincoln Tunnel)
http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-flying-over-a-test-of-teslas-charging-network/?hp [nytimes.com]

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876657)

Why does he need to charge the battery? Just bring an exercise bike and a pair of jumper cables with you wherever you go!

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876751)

The reporter says in a blog post that he charged the battery until the charger said "charging complete". Tesla says that it is not fully charged battery since battery can be charged further by setting a fuel economy mode on and leaving it charged for 20 more minutes. The battery was 90% charged. If this was an FAA test, this would be recorded as "Pilot unfamiliarity with craft", not "Pilot error".
There is also the detour - NY times reporter says he took a two mile ride through city traffic. Having ridden the routes the reporter is talking about, this again is probably something a normal driver would do - stop for a sandwich or just see some city on the way. The traffic is pretty bad from Long Island going into the city, so mostly anyone would stop after driving around an hour.
I think the problem with the report were not bad reporting, but procedural. The reporter tried to test a car in a "normal use" scenario, but did not familiarize himself with the car (as a normal user would). That said, this is a newspaper review, not a federal test conducted in test environment. So I would trust the reporter on this one.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

tphb (181551) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876783)

He did charge the battery. To the point where the care said "Charging Complete"

It turns out, there's a special "extended range" mode that will put the battery at 100% instead of 90%. It reduces battery life.

Most normal people would consider "charging complete" to mean, you know, charging complete.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876797)

The weight of all those logs must have used the power.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876537)

That's odd, because I seemed to have been able to view the article when I clicked on the link in the story. Unless you are viewing a lot of NYT articles, then they may ask for a subscription, that's how I understand how it works.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (5, Informative)

CityZen (464761) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876539)

Delete your nytimes cookies and then you should be able to read the article.

Re:Unexpected consequences of paywalls. (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876799)

So, nobody can read NYT's article (without registering/logging in),

I'm not logged in to nytimes, and the link in the summary worked fine.

Plus, in many of these cases, you can google the article title and get the full article that way (through a link to the original site). It's a not so secret secret. (Heck, I saw the host mention it on the Press Here TV show.)

Maybe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876511)

Maybe there was no problem with the car at all -- just a problem with the brown envelope.

He forgot to charge the car....... (4, Insightful)

iserlohn (49556) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876523)

WTF? Isn't it common sense to fully charge an electric car before embarking on a journey to test the car's range? This guy should be fired from the NYT.

Re:He forgot to charge the car....... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876601)

From what I read, he did not "forget" to charge the car, he just used the fast-charging option until the car computer told him "you've got enough juice to cover your planned journey".

Otherwise, the article is on par with my experience with hybrids and all-electric vehicles -- the electric motor/battery underperforms. In another 10 or 20 years and a breakthrough or two in batteries or cold fusion, maybe the electric car will be a comparable offering, but currently it is good only to show off.

Which is why Tesla CEO is whining at every opportunity, he needs the media exposure for his half-baked products.

Re:He forgot to charge the car....... (4, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876701)

From what I read, he did not "forget" to charge the car, he just used the fast-charging option until the car computer told him "you've got enough juice to cover your planned journey".

The claim by Tesla is that after doing so, he did not stick to his planned journey. Taking alternate routes, going above the speed limit, etc.

Re:He forgot to charge the car....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876773)

That's a pretty lame claim to make about a car. I do detours on a quarter-full tank all the time, and I have yet to need to call the towing service to take me to a petrol station. The claim by Tesla amounts to this: "the only way to drive our cars is slowly, without heating and along a route that has a charging station every 2 miles, so that you can always push your car to one". For $200k there are better options.

But the marketing is cool.

Re:He forgot to charge the car....... (2, Informative)

makomk (752139) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876807)

Well, that's what Tesla want you to assume anyway. The detour, going above the speed limit etc. were apparently on the first leg of the journey which was hairy but not really the problem. The real problem was that he then went and gave the car enough charge to make the planned next leg with some to spare if it wasn't for the car losing the majority of its charge overnight, an issue Tesla Motors apparently neglected to mention. That left him unexpectedly stranded with insufficient charge to reach a recharging point...

Re:He forgot to charge the car....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876857)

What is your experience ?

Bet you couldn't pry the keys to any model Prius from their owners hands.

Re:He forgot to charge the car....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876725)

WTF? Isn't it common sense to fully charge an electric car before embarking on a journey to test the car's range? This guy should be fired from the NYT.

The guy obviously had an ax to grind, and its not like the NYT hasn't had issues telling the truth in recent years.

Re:He forgot to charge the car....... (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876883)

WTF? Isn't it common sense to fully charge an electric car before embarking on a journey to test the car's range?

It would be common sense if the reporter wasn't biased. But there's no chance that the NYT is biased right? After all, there aren't other external entities which fund their business model that would have an outside influence is there?

After all, the NYT gets all of it's funding from subscriptions ... right???

Barbara Streisand Effect? (2)

milbournosphere (1273186) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876541)

I hadn't read the review until Musk started talking about it. This alone made more news than the article. In the end I don't think there will be a large effect on sales; those who can afford to buy a Tesla will buy one whether or not it runs a little shorter in the cold. That said, if the logs reflect that the car wasn't fully charged, then Musk does have a valid reason to complain.

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (1)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876559)

leaning towards Musk not having a valid reason. Tesla gets pretty pissy about any negative PR -- recall the debacle between them and Top Gear, which amounted to nothing more than Tesla being crybabies.

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (3, Interesting)

milbournosphere (1273186) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876617)

Let me clarify: I do think he over-reacted. That said, not fully charging an electric car's battery before doing a range test is somewhat irresponsible of the reviewer, and it's not hard to see why Tesla might not be happy with the results of the test. Perhaps the NYT should fully charge the car over night, then re-run the test.

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876747)

It wasn't a range test though; or at least it wasn't supposed to be. If you read the original article, the intended route should have been comfortably within the range of the car.

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876785)

Overnight charges before a short trip are unreasonable. What if I need to use the car, "oh I can't drive my 101,000 dollar car tonight...it has to charge for 8 hours before I drive 265 miles."

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (1)

div_2n (525075) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876685)

They're going to publish the log data which should prove interesting, but apparently he didn't charge the car completely. For a range test. If the log shows he didn't charge it all the way, then I'd call that quite a valid reason. It's borderline libel.

Cry baby, hell! Top Gear faked the failure (2, Informative)

Catbeller (118204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876951)

Tesla got a copy of the script for Top Gear - written before they drove the car - and it had pre-planned a battery disaster. That was the major beef - it was a fix, a fraud. (Top Gear is not a auto review show - it is entertaiment) I think that on trial the matter of the fake-drained script simply wasn't considered. The judge simply ruled that the TV show was a known bender of facts and that the show, even doctored as it was, didn't hurt Tesla - no libel, no financial harm. He simply ruled that the audience knew it was fake, more or less.

And here's Jalopnik: http://goo.gl/AdRdN [goo.gl]

Of course, Top Gear admitted the car they pushed wasn't out of batteries but that it was done for effect and that it is completely true that the car would have run out at 55 miles of track time. Producer Andy Wilman defended their actions by basically saying "Duh, it's a television show" and accusing Tesla of trying to use them for press.

From Treehugger: http://goo.gl/ILrHB [goo.gl]

...

As Mike posted in November, however, it was looking unlikely that Tesla could actually prove that any substantial harm had been done, and indeed that's how it ended up, with the judge throwing out the lawsuit arguing that TV viewers are savvy enough to know that not all is as it seems. Jalopnik has a pretty decent summary of the rejection of the Tesla lawsuit (complete with gloating Top Gear fans in the comments):

The judge today dismissed this as unreasonable as motorists are aware that cars will perform different under different conditions, such as being on a racing track.

Justice Tugendhat also made mention that what Tesla appears to want is a legal ruling saying Top Gear is a bunch of lying liars who lie, but that "rectification of inaccuracies is not a function of the courts unless that can be achieved in the course of proceedings properly brought to enforce a recognized course of action."

Of course what is legal, and what is moral, are not always the same thing. And the Top Gear script writers and presenters had made up their minds to highlight the shortcomings of the vehicle, even before they got their hands on the thing. ...

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876679)

That said, if the logs reflect that the car wasn't fully charged, then Musk does have a valid reason to complain.

Except the NYT article never claims to fully charge the battery. He says exactly how long he charged it for and what the expected range displayed with each charging. Nothing Musk claimed to have discovered in the logs is inconsistent with the story I read. Now, I agree, trying to take a road trip in a Tesla is a stupid idea, but the guy did follow what the gauges said and the advice he was given as best as I can tell. Of course, battery/range gauges don't work at all well compared to gas/range gauges. We know that, but did the journalist?

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876699)

At $101,000 there's a very targeted market for this car... namely to the people who think it's cool and have more money than they know what to do with. You can land a very nice bmw, benz, or lexus at this price range that's been established for a lot longer in it's design and features... as well as reliability.

Also, a 1/2 ton electric battery under the cockpit creeps me out a bit, not a pretty way to go if shit hits the fan.

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876741)

Yeah its nothing like having 16 gallons of explosive fluid under your butt.

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876863)

Yeah its nothing like having 16 gallons of explosive fluid under your butt.

What's explosive in diesel fuel, precious [youtube.com] ? (or do you often use fertilizer as a fuel additive?)

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876831)

At $101,000 there's a very targeted market for this car....

The highest price for model S is $87,400 [teslamotors.com] . The lowest priced model for which the range is still defined (60kWh battery) is $62,400. Me thinks you are using the prices for the Roadster [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876757)

It's not about whether they can sell cars (that is part of it). It's about whether they can sell the company/technology. That's the real cash for an entrepreneur like Musk; otherwise profits get reinvested in the company (except in the case of Apple).

Re:Barbara Streisand Effect? (1)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876843)

You may not have heard about it, but plenty of other people did when Tesla's stock price plummeted 2.5% moments after the review was uploaded to New York Times's website. The damage was immediate. In other words, Tesla lost $100 Million in capital in a matter of minutes because of the New York Times's review. That could be a devastating libel claim, but in the mean time, Tesla has to deal with $100 million fewer dollars.

Well naturally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876545)

It's a ridiculous article for a ridiculous car.

Heater (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876547)

This was on boing boing a few days ago and one conclusion was that the Tesla charging stations are spaced at almost the maximum range of the car but the car can't get that range in cold weather when the cabin heater is being used. In an electric car there is not enough parasitic heat loss to heat the cabin so the energy comes from the batteries.

Streisand effect (1)

volkerdi (9854) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876569)

The NYT review has now been seen by at least an order of magnitude more people than would have had any awareness of it had Tesla's CEO made no comment about it at all. The vast majority of Telsa's previous reviews have been of glowing, fanboy type. Now they've completely countered those reviews by causing this article to become the most prominent one on the Internet.

In the digital age, when the press gets something wrong (especially in an opinion piece) it's just usually better to walk away.

Re:Streisand effect (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876643)

Unless they completely screwed you over, and you have evidence to prove that. I'm not saying that Tesla is correct, but if they're telling the truth I'd do the same thing regardless of the Streisand effect. NYTimes screwing up a review is a big deal. If they did, that should be exposed.

Imagine that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876585)

Another member of the media says that a Tesla is not perfect so Musk gets upset.

I am sure there is a vast conspiracy trying to keep Tesla down.

(Really, its not the fact that electric cars are very range-challenged, its not!)

Re:Imagine that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876761)

Yep, same thing as those ignorant darkies. Always someone elses problem.

That'll Teach Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876591)

Next time, they'll outright buy a good review on Slashdot, as opposed to leave in the hands of some 'journalist' at some fly-by-night organization where they say whatever they want about you.

Not yet idiot-proof enough (2)

CityZen (464761) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876603)

A car (or any high tech product) designed and built by engineers is not suitable for the masses, at least on the first revision. You need a bunch of "real people" using it before you can figure out all the "user interface issues". And I'm not trying to be an elitist; it's just that everyone does "think different(ly)", so this needs to be taken into consideration, which doesn't usually happen when there's only a like-minded group of people working on the project.

What'd he do wrong? (1)

Chronus1326 (1769658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876639)

A car company telling you how to drive it? I wonder what on earth the instructions were that the guy 'drove wrong,' What'd he do, gun it out of every red light....? Hahahahah he used the heat!? This is like when that city switched from Incandescent traffic lights to LED traffic lights, and wondered why the signals suddenly started getting covered in snow...never happened before. No heat from LED's, and no engine w/ water cooling. LOL

The EPA calls them estimates for a reason. (4, Insightful)

WillgasM (1646719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876645)

Have you ever read how EPA estimates are done? You put a car on a dyno and run it through some fanciful schedule for what a "trip" should consist of. Too many hills, some extra wind, or a heavy foot will heavily skew real-world numbers. If your car gets 50mpg, what sane person would pump one gallon of gas and set out across the desert for the next gas station, 50 miles away. I get the iPhone joke, but if you're trying to max the car's economy, you very well could be driving it the wrong way.

A little information (5, Informative)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876671)

Lithium batteries really don't handle cold temperatures very well at all -- one of the many reasons that aircraft have continued to use good old fashioned Nickel-cadmium or lead-acid batteries (until the Dreamliner came along).

When they're too cold, they neither take a full charge, nor do they deliver their rated capacity or maximum current.

I would say that, given the weather on the East Coast of the USA during the drive, this played a significant factor in the lack of range encountered -- but I acknowledge that it may not be the only factor.

Perhaps another factor is the enhanced need to heat the passenger compartment. Unlike a regular IC-powered car, there's very little "waste heat" in an EV so perhaps over-zealous use was made of the electric heating - thus producing further heavy drain on the battery and reducing range.

The problem (for Tesla) is that people don't want an EV that comes with a long list of "don'ts" and "cautions" in respect to power management and the effects of low/high temperatures on range. They just want a car they can unplug, jump in and drive -- with an unqualified guarantee of a known range. That's effectively what they get now with their IC-powered cars and that's what they want from any replacement.

Re:A little information (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876779)

Electric cars that need frequent recharging *could* work, if you can get about two hour's driving out of the battery for about as much charging time as it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

I wonder how they're going to fit electric vehicle charging stations every 150 miles or so on all the little twisty mountain roads around here?

Re:A little information (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876835)

I read the NYT article a few days back, and as I recall, he turned the heater off entirely partway through his trip, then spent the rest of the trip with feet that were freezing. Despite that, he still didn't make it.

Re:A little information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876901)

Remember IC cars come with their own "don'ts" and "cautions". Really hot weather? Turn off the AC and turn on the heater to keep the engine from over heating.

I actually RTFA.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876675)

The article sounds identical to the problems of charing a cell phone.
The car contains many lithium ion packs, right? Is this a parallel problem? ie, assuming you could get a massive amount of power to them, how fast would they charge? You would need to be using 1000's of volts (with all the dangers that entails), but surely you could get the charge time down to a reasonable time? Otherwise you could use 100's of volts with a 6" thick cable. Either way, people want to be 100% charged (real 100%, not pretend 100%) in 15 minutes.

Electric Cars just simply aren't there yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876765)

Energy densities aren't there for the storage.
We're still going to rely on Coal to charge the silly things- until someone wises up and realizes that Wind and Solar isn't going to be filling the bulk of the power and decides that something like Liquid Salt Low-pressure Thorium reactors are the bees-knees in power.

So...they're less effective than internal combustion engine based vehicles AND they cause more carbon to be dumped into the environment. Great green move, gang!

When you can get higher energy densities and can honestly rid yourself of the coal fired and stupidly designed nuke reactors, THEN it'll be green and be "the" answer for things. Right now, not a single Hybrid or EV is even remotely green. They all contaminate the environment worse than the things they're supposed to replace.

Perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876833)

He wasn't holding it right.

I am going to side with Elon Musk (Melon) (4, Interesting)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876871)

Let's consider this...

NY Times has a flawless ride, everything goes well, the result? An article like all the rest...nothing noticeable. It's not like the Tesla S is unknown anymore.

NY Times can push things hard to try to make for a failure, now we have a controversial article on a new technology. That'll sell. And that's really all those old paper rags care about.

Blaming the press?? (3, Insightful)

briancox2 (2417470) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876899)

The fastest way to look overly-sensitive and closed minded is to blame the press. It's just about the worst PR move you can make.

What they should have done is issue a press release that they were working closely with the reporter to find out what anomolies may have occured so they can improve the design if needed. They are in serious need of a new PR firm.

"Real World" conditions (0)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42876907)

Elon Musk should be releasing range figures that are based on how people actually drive in everyday life, not the range that results from "following our driving instructions to the letter," because that is not real life.

Let's not forget that Tesla has already sunk $500M in taxpayer money down this rathole and still doesn't have a product.

It's only a matter of time before Tesla joins the ranks of A123, Solyndra, and Satcon.

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