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SXSW: Elon Musk Talks Reusable Rockets, Tesla Controversy

timothy posted about a year ago | from the he's-jes'-this-guy-y'know? dept.

ISS 167

Nerval's Lobster writes "Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, took the keynote stage at this year's SXSW to talk about everything from space exploration to electric cars. Joining him onstage to ask questions was Chris Anderson, the former Wired editor and co-founder of 3DRobotics. Musk used his keynote discussion to show off a video of a rocket test, which he said had taken place earlier that week. In the video, a ten-story rocket takes off from a launching pad and hovers several hundred feet in the air before landing in the same spot, upright. It's an early test of SpaceX's reusable-rocket project. 'Reusability is extremely important,' Musk told the audience. 'If you think it's important that humanity extends beyond Earth and becomes a multitenant species' then reusable rockets will prove essential. Musk also talked about the recent controversy involving his Tesla Motors, which started when a New York Times reporter claimed in a much-circulated column that his electric-powered Model S sedan had ground to a halt during a test drive up the East Coast. 'I have no problem with negative feedback,' he told Anderson, in response to the latter's question. 'There have been hundreds of negative articles, and yet I've only spoken out a few times. I don't have a problem with critical reviews, I have a problem with false reviews.'"

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167 comments

Short term gain (5, Insightful)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | about a year ago | (#43130365)

I think the biggest reason he gets so much flak is because no one can figure out how to make a quick buck off his businesses.

Re:Short term gain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130439)

I think the biggest reason he gets so much flak is because no one can figure out how to make a quick buck off his businesses.

The traders have been making money off of the "flak" Elon has been getting.

Investors in Tesla are quite patient in regards to the life cycle of a business such as Tesla. They knew full well the history of electric cars, the hurdles they will have to overcome, the hurdles that Tesla will have to overcome, and public perception of electric cars.

Some investors have a long term hope of Tesla being a big car maker and others think that eventually, a big car maker (Toyota, GM, Ford, Mercedes, etc ...) will purchase Tesla for the IP.

And then there are some who think that eventually, Tesla will become this generation's DeLorean - other car companies are finally getting into the electric, hybrid and alternative fueled vehicles and they have the expertise and distribution channels and sadly, the political clout to push their cars to the forefront.

The space stuff is even longer term.

But never the less, there doesn't seem to be much "get rich quick" off of Elon Musk's current business ventures that I have seen.

Re:Short term gain (2)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#43131747)

Considering that DeLorean Motors [delorean.com] is still in business and they are even looking at restarting production, it is an interesting comparison to make. Admittedly that the company is certainly no longer under original ownership of any kind and that being a shareholder of the original company was likely a bad idea, the company still seems to have some amazing life and seems to be a company that can't quite die even if it is a Zombie of sorts.

The better comparison that has been often used for Tesla has been the Tucker Corporation [wikipedia.org], although Tesla has produced far more automobiles than Preston Tucker ever did. The only sales figures I can find reliable about the Roadster is that about 2500 were produced over its model lifetime, with about 2500 Model S vehicles that have been produced.... still less than what John DeLorean was able to produce before he got into trouble.

It will be interesting to see if Tesla can genuinely break out and become a "real" automobile company. Hundreds of other people have started "automobile companies" of some sort or another and have largely failed.

Re:Short term gain (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130717)

I think it is because the entrenched "Complexes" (American Auto Manuf & NASA sub contractors) have no interest in moving the industries forward they just want to keep feeding at the trough. Along comes this guy with the crazy idea of engineering a better machine. In doing so he shows the world that what they were told cannot be done can be. The entrenched complexes then panic as their trough might be taken away and that is where all the hate is coming from.

Re:Short term gain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43132181)

All too true. The established industry is always out to get rid of the innovator because they might then have to innovate themselves in order to compete, and that might cost money better spent on executive bonuses. John DeLorean and Preston Tucker are prime examples of the extent the industry will go through to keep the status quo.

I call BS (-1, Flamebait)

SerpentMage (13390) | about a year ago | (#43130405)

"I have no problem with negative feedback"

BULLSHIT! Who did you sue and recently lost to? Sure TopGear was sensationalist. But hey you installed blackboxes without telling ANYBODY and then when you show them, it shows how crappy your car is. Here is what I posted to the Tesla website to his weblog many weeks ago. And guess what Tesla did not publish it. These were my issues:

* In the space of 550 miles one had to charge 4 times meaning that I would have "eat" for at least 1 to 2 hours. That is just not good!
* 72F is considered to warm? Really? I live in Zurich and have lived in Quebec. 72F is no way too warm, if anything too cold for a car.
* 62 to 81 is considered driving too fast? Really? I drive on average 140 KPH and have driven on the autobahn at 155 MPH. The "good" speed of a Tesla means that I would be driving quite a bit below the speed limit of a typical European highway.
* Even with these "higher" values as per the reporter the battery underperformed by about 20%. That is not just a bit. Imagine for the moment I had driven this car in Europe during a winter. I would have to find a charger every 50 to 100 miles.For a car that costs 100K this is about the worst performance I have ever seen in a car.

What gets me with this nutter is that he invents does something once and wants to be considered a god. Remember who the two wheeled segway was supposed to revolutionize the world? Silicon Valley sometimes needs to do a reality check and stop living in their own darn bubble.

Re:I call BS (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130471)

Ok, You sound very angry and I don't know why, but let's break down your points:

1. 550 miles over 2 days. If the NYT journalist had charged properly and as instructed, then it would have been 3 charges, but even with 4 charges, eating for 1-2 hours over a 2 day period isn't "not good" it's normal. If I stop at a charging point, plug in and go to a cafe for lunch, it's going to take 45mins to over and hour to complete lunch. I don't think Tesla were suggesting you eat solidly for 2 hours without a pause.

2. The temperature is irrelevant. The NYT journalist claimed he turn the heat down to extend range, the logs show he increased the temperature from 72F to 74F. The actual temperatures don't matter, it's the lie that matters.

3. Same with speed. The journalist claimed he had cruise control on at 55, logs show him travelling at 62-81MPH. Again, it's the lie that matters no the actual speeds.

4. It's well know batteries perform worse in low temperatures, if the journalist had used common sense and charged his battery sufficiently then there wouldn't have been an issue. Most cars, no matter the power source, get 10-20% less than the claimed economy figures. Is this right, no, but to single out one company seems to smack of double standards.

Admittedly I don't follow news columns that closely, but I'm not sure where he's ever appeared to want to be considered a god, and I have no idea what the Segway has to do with Elon Musk or the Tesla.

Re:I call BS (0, Offtopic)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#43130695)

If the NYT journalist had charged properly and as instructed, then it would have been 3 charges

The problem is that he did exactly as instructed. Perhaps a little too religiously, but he was given a lot of bad advice here.

The NYT journalist claimed he turn the heat down to extend range, the logs show he increased the temperature from 72F to 74F. The actual temperatures don't matter, it's the lie that matters.

He said he turned it to low. Which presumably means he set it to "Eco" as per Tesla's range extending guidelines.

The journalist claimed he had cruise control on at 55, logs show him travelling at 62-81MPH. Again, it's the lie that matters no the actual speeds.

This all seems pretty odd. One of them is lying or mistaken. Was Tesla's logging actually accurate? The comments about going to 81mph is misleading though since his speed leaped up that high a couple of times.

Most cars, no matter the power source, get 10-20% less than the claimed economy figures. Is this right, no, but to single out one company seems to smack of double standards.

Most cars, if you fill them up and don't quite manage the range will mildly inconvenience you. A Tesla S running out means that you've a good chance of running out of juice before you get a chance to refuel.

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130973)

Interesting AC is harking back to NYT article whilst replying to a poster reportedly from Zürich, if you don't know your geography do a Google map lookup for Switzerland. There are a fuck load of Tesla fanboys/workworkers are posting as AC. I regularly drive from SJ to Phoenix, 700 miles in 11 hours in my BMW, how long would it take to do it in the Tesla?

Re:I call BS (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130997)

Anyone who drives a BMW is a fucking cunt whose words are meaningless. Fuck off, you damned Nazi cunt.

Re:I call BS (2)

The Wannabe King (745989) | about a year ago | (#43131253)

Add up to two hours, most likely less. At an average speed of 64 mph the range should be about 275 miles. Two 45 mins charges at a Supercharger should add enough range, provided there are Superchargers available. Three charges of 30 mins would be better though as the charging power falls with higher charge levels. Add an extra 30 mins somewhere if you want higher margins. You could (and should!) spend some of this time eating anyway which you do while the car charges. Charging is not like filling up a gas car. It has to be done more often and it takes more time, but you can leave the vehicle and do other things while it charges. You will not have to spend two hours watching the car. Best example here is overnight charging at home which is quite slow, but most people need sleep anyway so it is irrelevant.

Whether this is acceptable or not is up to you to decide. If "regularly" means "a lot" or even "primary use of the car" it may not be. And if there are no Superchargers along the way, that trip would require at least two days, possibly more, depending on what outlets you can use.

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131435)

You aren't in the target market for an electric car without a generator. Using their figures, it would take about 14 hours. To drive that far in a Tesla.

Then again, it would take me 14 hours to do that trip anyway in a gas car because me and driving endurance style don't mix, I need to get out and stretch every 2 hours, and eat every 4. I also don't like to phone and drive at the same time so those rests are also used to check messages and such.

In short your commute profile is nuts and would be better helped with a diesel Audi, a volt, or maybe just fly at that point because it will be cheaper, and not wear down the car as fast

Re:I call BS (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43131703)

Zurich is where those Gnomes are, part of the Illuminati or something, who are hellbent on stopping electric cars at all costs.

Get a fuckin' clue, n00b! >:-(

You should read the actual NYT review (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131377)

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/automobiles/stalled-on-the-ev-highway.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

You should read the actual NYT review and not Musks disingenous claims. The truck driver has confirmed the brakes were locks and charging from his charge would not free them. Musk's claims stem from his logs, and a rather fluffy misinterpretation of them.

"The temperature is irrelevant. The NYT journalist claimed he turn the heat down to extend range, the logs show he increased the temperature from 72F to 74F. The actual temperatures don't matter, it's the lie that matters."

And yet Musks own data shows him dropping it sharply at that time, so the NYT journalists DID drop the temp at approximately the time he said he did. Musks argument is to move the arrow a little to the left and say "this is the exact time he said he lowered the temperature", and look he's raising it, but the graph shows a sharp drop shortly after. Nitpicking.

So the lie is important, the Musk lie, the graph clearly shows the cabin temperature dropping shortly after Musk chose to decide was the exact time the journalist referred to (based on Musks wilful misinterpretation of time).

Musks says he averages 60mph when he said cruise was set to 54. And of course he did. Because he's driving it, like a car! So what! Nitpicking! The rest of the traffic does 75-80 and Musk knows this. He's lucky he wasn't rear-ended at 60!

" It's well know batteries perform worse in low temperatures"
News to me, news to him, news to his readers.

"charged his battery sufficiently then there wouldn't have been an issue"
And there was the lie, the PR man from Telsa told him it would recover charge, if he hadn't lied to the journalist then he would have charged it at Norwich and it would have been enough.

Musks other complains are that he drove for 0.6 of a mile around a car park. And? So what? He quotes the cars rated range, but we know that number is misleading.

Really, they should invest in finding a battery alternative, Musks BS doesn't help Telsa at all.

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43132061)

It actually would have been 2 chargers. He only charged to 70% at the second supercharger, if he had of charged to 100% that would have been more then enough. CNN, MSBC, and the Tesla Roadtrip crew all did it in only 2 chargers, and some of the Tesla roadtrip people DID stay overnight and did not plug in. None of the others ran out of fuel.

Re:I call BS (3, Insightful)

Mad Quacker (3327) | about a year ago | (#43132339)

All true but I don't know why rebuttals have to be so complicated:

Broder didn't charge the car to full, charged it less at each charging opportunity, and didn't bother plugging in overnight, cold night or not. Then he hit the road when the car told him he would not make it.

No one that owns a smartphone can say what he did wasn't moronic or malicious.

Re:I call BS (2)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#43132451)

Disclaimer: I don't really know who's telling the truth here. Some of the NY Times article author's claims sound dubious, but I also spotted some problems with Musk's interpretation of the logs.

1. 550 miles over 2 days. If the NYT journalist had charged properly and as instructed, then it would have been 3 charges, but even with 4 charges, eating for 1-2 hours over a 2 day period isn't "not good" it's normal. If I stop at a charging point, plug in and go to a cafe for lunch, it's going to take 45mins to over and hour to complete lunch. I don't think Tesla were suggesting you eat solidly for 2 hours without a pause.

A Supercharge will realistically give you approx 150-200 miles of range. If you're driving at 50 mph, that's a 30-45 min pit stop every 3-4 hours, less if you're driving faster. I do not eat every 3-4 hours. Also, my lunches are typically 15-20 minutes. A dinner at a restaurant will be 45 min to 1.5 hours. But not lunch.

2. The temperature is irrelevant. The NYT journalist claimed he turn the heat down to extend range, the logs show he increased the temperature from 72F to 74F. The actual temperatures don't matter, it's the lie that matters.

If you look at the beginning of the speed and charge logs, there's a little slop there. It looks like the logs start with when the car left Tesla's showroom. The author then drove it home and charged it overnight. The day of the trip it looks like he drove it around town for 15-20 miles. Then the highway speeds start. If you assume the start of the trip is when the highway speeds begin, then the miles into the trip where the temperature is decreased matches exactly with the author's claims. Musk's claim that the author raised the temperature only fit the logs if you assume the trip began at the beginning of the logs.

3. Same with speed. The journalist claimed he had cruise control on at 55, logs show him travelling at 62-81MPH. Again, it's the lie that matters no the actual speeds.

It's exceedingly rare to find a car review by a major publication done on public roads where the author admits to driving above the speed limit.

4. It's well know batteries perform worse in low temperatures, if the journalist had used common sense and charged his battery sufficiently then there wouldn't have been an issue. Most cars, no matter the power source, get 10-20% less than the claimed economy figures. Is this right, no, but to single out one company seems to smack of double standards.

No it's not well known. And (barring the development of technology which can charge a battery in a few minutes) if EVs ever hope to become accepted by the general population, the public won't ever have to know this. The computer will have to measure the ambient temperature, location, weather reports, and do its best to accurately report how many miles in range it can realistically deliver.

The initial charges at the Supercharge stations were exactly how you'd want to charge an EV if you want to maximize distance traveled while minimizing time spent charging and risk of damaging the battery. It's the disputed third charge (which was not a Supercharge) that is key, and it's a he-said/she-said. The author claims Tesla staff told him to undercharge because as the battery warmed up it would recover some of the reported range it lost while parked overnight. Musk claims his staff told him no such thing.

Re: I call BS (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130473)

As head of a company, you have an obligation to your employees and shareholders to defend your brand. Lawsuits are a perfectly acceptable means to accomplish that.

Re:I call BS (5, Insightful)

ioconnor (2581137) | about a year ago | (#43130655)

You have some valid points but it's more a matter of changing your perceptions than a problem with the car. Your first point about charging 4 times to cover 550 miles is valid. However you'd only have to charge more than once while on your trip for a total of about 30 minutes if there was something strange going on. Maybe you ought to mention why you feel the need to charge 4 times? Why do you think 72F is too warm? You realize the cars are made to work in Southern California where he lives and where the temperatures routinely are over 100F. So what made you think 72F is too warm for the car? I share your driving speed preferences and perhaps like to drive a bit faster than you. The Tesla car gives amazing neck straining torqued out acceleration at any speed up to about 130mph. Because of it's low center of gravity due to the battery packs people end up looking for curves to take because it feels so good. So when you say 62 to 81mph is too fast I can only assume you left out a qualifier. Perhaps what you meant to say was too fast for optimal efficiency. Despite the Tesla being the best aerodynamic car on the market and second best in the history of cars you still must take into account how aerodynamic drag increasing exponentially as the speed goes up. Take a BMW out and drive it at 55 and then drive it at 155. You'll notice you get about 1/3rd the mileage or even less at 155. It's physics. As for needing to charge your car in a European winter every 50 to 100 miles. Sure. If you say parked it outside and only drove a mile to 3 miles per day you might have to charge it every 50 to 100 miles. The Tesla keeps the battery packs and such at a working temperature and this drains the batteries slowly. Unlike a gas vehicle. So this may make the car unacceptable in a few strange cases or to the luddites looking for reasons to avoid change. By the way the judge declared Top Gear manufactured the lies but threw out Tesla's lawsuit because it was unclear how much financial damage resulted in the outright lies. I don't know about you but I don't start out a long trip without feeling up my gas tank, especially when the gas light is on, like the NY Times author did. I think Tesla should have blasted the NY Times harder because there are still some nutters out there that apparently don't get what happened.

Re:I call BS (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#43130805)

Take a BMW out and drive it at 55 and then drive it at 155. You'll notice you get about 1/3rd the mileage or even less at 155. It's physics.

Almost all BMWs are top speed limited to less than 150 mph. It's policy.

By the way the judge declared Top Gear manufactured the lies

Do you have a reference? I can't find this by Googling, which is why I ask.

Re:I call BS (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43130923)

Almost all BMWs are top speed limited to less than 150 mph. It's policy.

You are going to quibble over 5 mph, when the limiter can be defeated by anyone with money? We call that prevarication.

By the way the judge declared Top Gear manufactured the lies

Do you have a reference? I can't find this by Googling, which is why I ask.

It is nigh-impossible to find a reference because the google results are packed with copies of the same story reprinted by various news outlets with no reason to exist. It's too bad Google won't let you block an arbitrary number of websites from your search results permanently, because it is rapidly becoming useless for actually finding any targeted information on anything which has ever been major news. But the judge ruled that no one would take Top Gear seriously, that factoid shows up in multiple articles. That's because they're known to be full of shit. It's an entertainment program, not education.

Re:I call BS (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#43131693)

Almost all BMWs are top speed limited to less than 150 mph. It's policy.

You are going to quibble over 5 mph

I think you read me wrong. I did not say that almost all BMWs are top speed limited to 150 mph, but less than 150 mph. In most cases far less.

(Disclaimer: I own a BMW with a raised top speed limiter.)

when the limiter can be defeated by anyone with money

Yes, with enough money, pretty much everything is possible.
But most BMWs on the road can't go faster than 125-135 mph without modifications, which makes it a bad example.

Re:I call BS (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about a year ago | (#43132331)

That's not quite true

http://green.autoblog.com/2013/03/10/uk-appeals-court-dismissed-teslas-bbc-top-gear-lawsuit/ [autoblog.com]

Tesla Motors' efforts to clear allegations of reduced range on its electric cars just took another hit. A British appeals court dismissed a libel lawsuit filed by Tesla against the BBC's Top Gear show. The court rejected Tesla's appeal of a court decision last year that struck out its "libel and malicious falsehood" case against BBC. Tesla had asserted that the popular British automotive TV show had faked a scene that appeared to show a Tesla Roadster running out of power, which the Palo Alto, CA-based automaker said caused sales to drop.

Top Gear road tested two Roadsters in 2008 around a track - much more like racing conditions that typical day-to-day driving. Drivers tested the electric sports cars for acceleration, straight-line speed, cornering and handling. Top Gear claimed the car ran out of power after 55 miles - much lower than the automaker's estimated range of 200 miles. The TV show's review wouldn't have misled "a reasonable viewer" into thinking that the Roadster's range was less than the company's estimate under normal driving conditions, said Martin Moore-Bick, an appeals court judge in London, in his decision.

Tesla claimed it had lost $171,000 in lost sales as a result of the show's review of the car, and were well below the level of sales in the United States and European Union. Tesla's lawyers argued that the comments were defamatory because it had "intentionally or recklessly grossly misled potential purchasers." Judge Moore-Bick disagreed, saying the comments did not libel Tesla. Viewers would recognize that Top Gear's high-speed track testing was quite different than a normal driving style, he said.

Inaccurate media coverage can cost Tesla Motors much more than $171,000, according to CEO Elon Musk. He said that the "fake" report by New York Times writer John Broder on reduced range during his Model S road trip may have wiped out as much as $100 million in stock value for Tesla Motors. Musk asserts that the article resulted in several cancelled orders, probably costing Tesla "a few hundred" Model S purchases.

Mr Moore-Buck chucked out Tesla's libel lawsuit because "Viewers would recognize that Top Gear's high-speed track testing was quite different than a normal driving style, he said"

The problem with this is that it's a horrible piece of PR on the part of Tesla. Firstly Top Gear are petrol heads and very sceptical of electric cars and it was dumb to give them a car to review. Having done that it was even dumber to sue them for libel for making a negative review. All Tesla have ensured is that journalists will simply not review their cars in future. Plus of course they lost - if the object of a libel suit is to make it clear that the criticism was false they failed.

If you're making something new and different it is probably better to get reviews - even slightly negative ones - than have people ignore you. You can see this with Windows Phone. Windows Phone is really different from Android and iOS, even philosophically because it is much less based on installing applications and much more based on using the device out of the box.

Now Microsoft have screwed up the marketing big time but one thing they did do right was to hand our review phones to people who were previously presumed to be confirmed Apple users and then let them publish reviews that were at best mixed. Sure you can have a marketing person explain all the cool features and they'll end up in the review but you probably need to let them mention the negatives too. If you stopped that it wouldn't have been convincing.

Tesla are selling a funny product compared to most cars - the acceleration is stellar by all accounts and it would have been easy to get a petrol head to cover that in a positive way. They're always going to whine about range and it would have been better to either let them or alternatively only release cars for review to people who are going to believe that the 'greenness' of the car outweighed the limited range.

And it's even worse with the NYT - a paper that is much more sympathetic to green issues. Letting them review it and then getting into a public shouting match with them is disastrous.

British people of a certain age will remember Sinclair's electric C5. That quickly became the but of jokes in the media. Clive Sinclair was a very odd person but at least he was smart enough not to hand out machines for review and then sue reviewers for criticizing them.

Re:I call BS (1)

elistan (578864) | about a year ago | (#43131891)

Almost all BMWs are top speed limited to less than 150 mph. It's policy.

Not really true. 130 mph limit for cars that come with all season tires from the factory, 155 mph limit for cars that come with summer performance tires from the factory. And from what I can tell the higher performance models come with the 155 limit only.

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131591)

I don't know about you but I don't start out a long trip without feeling up my gas tank,

Pervert.

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131797)

I'm guessing he meant "filling up" the gas tank, but there are a lot of weirdos out there so who knows.

Re:I call BS (1)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year ago | (#43132163)

If warming the cabin to 72 is too much of a drain on the batteries, I'm quite interested in what the performance would be while running A/C.

protip: cooling is more energy-intensive than heating.

I've started trips with my fuel gauge on E -- it was broken, but I knew how much gas was in the tank. The NYT article stated that Tesla's people told the author that the charge would recover, that it was displaying an incorrect charge level due to the cold. They were, obviously, wrong.

I'm sure there's records of that call but I've not seen them offered up. Wonder why?

Re:I call BS (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#43132255)

It's the New York Times, I find it hard to believe anyone thinks the article is accurate considering the source. The only thing in the Times worthwhile is the crossword puzzle.

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43132457)

how aerodynamic drag increasing exponentially as the speed goes up....It's physics.

Um, if you want to reference physics on slashdot, drag is a force which increases quadratically as speed increases.

New York Times should have removed the article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43132539)

I don't know about you but I don't start out a long trip without feeling up my gas tank, especially when the gas light is on, like the NY Times author did. I think Tesla should have blasted the NY Times harder because there are still some nutters out there that apparently don't get what happened.

New York Times should have removed the article, and Tesla/Musk probably should've sued them.

Re:I call BS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130691)

"I have no problem with negative feedback"

BULLSHIT! Who did you sue and recently lost to?

Did they lose the lawsuit because the journalist told the whole truth? Or is it because a journalist is allowed an opinion? (Think gossip magazines..)

 

Sure TopGear was sensationalist. But hey you installed blackboxes without telling ANYBODY and then when you show them, it shows how crappy your car is.

Or did the blackbox show that the story from the 'journalist' was not the real truth?

 

Here is what I posted to the Tesla website to his weblog many weeks ago. And guess what Tesla did not publish it..

Gee, it they didn't publish it, then it must automatically be the truth!

 

These were my issues:

* In the space of 550 miles one had to charge 4 times meaning that I would have "eat" for at least 1 to 2 hours. That is just not good!

Sure, if you do a incomplete charge!

(Gee, my phone is empty again. Maybe I should have loaded it longer than 10 minutes?)

 

* 72F is considered to warm? Really? I live in Zurich and have lived in Quebec. 72F is no way too warm, if anything too cold for a car.

Nice way to distract from the real issue:
If the journalist states that he lowered the temperature, but instead the black box tells the temperature increased.

 

* 62 to 81 is considered driving too fast? Really? I drive on average 140 KPH and have driven on the autobahn at 155 MPH. The "good" speed of a Tesla means that I would be driving quite a bit below the speed limit of a typical European highway.

Very funny: The German autobahn has no speed limit. So can state any ridiculous speed you want.
This speed does not make sense outside Germany . (Yes, Europe has many more countries than Germany)
And you have driven 155 MPH? That's 250 km/h! That's insane!

 

* Even with these "higher" values as per the reporter the battery underperformed by about 20%. That is not just a bit. Imagine for the moment I had driven this car in Europe during a winter. I would have to find a charger every 50 to 100 miles.For a car that costs 100K this is about the worst performance I have ever seen in a car.

I this it is still pretty good for a electric car. But maybe its not meant for the "you suck because I drive 155 MPH"-crowd.

What gets me with this nutter is that he invents does something once and wants to be considered a god. Remember who the two wheeled segway was supposed to revolutionize the world? Silicon Valley sometimes needs to do a reality check and stop living in their own darn bubble.

Ok, personal attacks do not make your statement any more convincing. And what has the Segway to do with the Tesla?

Re:I call BS (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43130741)

you installed blackboxes without telling ANYBODY

It was not necessary to read any further than this to discover that you are either too ignorant to read, or trolling. The car is a black box. Of course it has logging. And you can bet your bunghole that whatever they had to sign to get their hot, lying hands on the car included a clause about being tracked. You are either an idiot or a liar, or both.

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43132543)

While the car may have the capability, musk said this was turned on and radioed real time because it was a test drive. Most cars record powertrain and braking data, though maybe not your air conditioner temperature, and it just rolls off the end if you don't have an accident. The only difference here is it is radioed back because its a test drive.

Musk still claiming that review was "false" (2, Insightful)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year ago | (#43130449)

The fundamental claim that Musk put out -- that the reporter intentionally drained the battery, and that the towing was faked -- has been completely disproven. The reporter used the car in non-optimal user behavior, and the car failed. This is entirely legitimate reviewing, and Musk called him a liar. '

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (5, Insightful)

The Wannabe King (745989) | about a year ago | (#43130625)

Broder deliberately charged it less than he needed. When he left the last charging station the car very clearly stated that it would not be able to reach the destination. This is not "non-optimal user behavior", but a complete driver failure, except that it almost certainly was intentional to make a "good" story. An ICE car would behave in the exact same way. This is not specific to EVs.

An EV generally gives a lot more warnings before it runs out of charge than an ICE car does before it runs out of gas. You are no more at risk of being stranded with an EV than with an ICE car and probably less. If he wanted to make a legitimate case against EVs he should criticize the charging times instead.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (3, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#43130855)

You are no more at risk of being stranded with an EV than with an ICE car and probably less.

That is completely untrue. With an ICE, a handheld tank of fuel can be carried to any 'stranded' vehicle and it can be refueled and the vehicle can immediately proceed on it's way. There is no equivalent (yet) of a mobile recharging device that can be transported to an EV. This fact was shown by the reporter's experience. If anything, the reporter demonstrated that the typical impatient traveler, who might jet off at what they thought was the earliest point after a tediously long recharging period (compared the time to refuel an ICE vehicle) would get in this sort of trouble. In essence, doing all the early adopters a favor, so that everybody could hear about the experience early in a review article, instead of in anecdotes from their early adopter friends.

There is the potential for some really sucky 'stranded on the road' experiences with EVs at the present day, and the reporter did a good job of exploring them.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43130947)

With an ICE, a handheld tank of fuel can be carried to any 'stranded' vehicle and it can be refueled and the vehicle can immediately proceed on it's way.

Or an hour and a half later, when AAA gets there. At which point you could be towed to a charging station instead, anyway, and then get a quick cjarge.

There is the potential for some really sucky 'stranded on the road' experiences with EVs at the present day, and the reporter did a good job of exploring them.

He did a good job of deliberately causing them, you mean. That's not a good way of exploring the situation. And lying about it later wasn't, either. That was fraud.

Of course, if you trust the NYT you're a stupid fuck anyway. They have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to commit fraud.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (4, Informative)

The Wannabe King (745989) | about a year ago | (#43131003)

I talk about the risk of being stranded, not how to solve the problem when it happens. Even then, there are more possibilities than you are aware of. Look at this: http://news.aaa-calif.com/pr/aaa/PRN-first-electric-vehicle-charging-232337.aspx [aaa-calif.com] My point is that it is a lot harder to experience an unexpected stop in an EV than in a gas car since the EV tracks the remaining range more accurately and gives out a lot of warnings. Electricity is also more widely available than gas. Electric outlets are everywhere, gas pumps aren't. Even if you drive it until you hit "turtle mode" (or whatever it is called in a Tesla, I have a Leaf), you would most places be within range of an outlet.

Broder knew very well that he would not reach his destination and he left anyway just to make a "better" story. If he wanted to make a case against EVs he could have focused on having to stay 10 mins longer than he wanted at the last Supercharger. Or he he could have insisted of driving somewhere where there are no Superchargers. These are the real drawbacks of an EV today.

My family has driven a Leaf as our only car for the past year and we know very well how it behaves. We have never feared being stranded anywhere or having the car unexpectedly stop. However we do have to spend more time charging on longer trips than we would have wanted ideally.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131037)

Just because electrity is everywhere doesn't mean you are allowed to access it? Why do electric car nuts think they are entitled to plug their car in where ever they want ans steal people's electrity?

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (4, Insightful)

The Wannabe King (745989) | about a year ago | (#43131275)

Who said anything about stealing? Just ask! Offer to pay! I have had to do that a couple of times and have never been turned down. Then, I live in Norway, perhaps people are nicer here than in the US?

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43132591)

I want you to try that in Compton CA at night. See how that works out for you.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131339)

Who said anything about stealing? Say there are no charging stations around, but there are a few houses nearby that are connected to the grid, why can't you ask nicely and offer them a bit of cash for their trouble?

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43131905)

Yeah, i totally want to knock on the door of Cannibal Redneck Cabin and ask if I can borrow a cup of electrons.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (2)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year ago | (#43131117)

With an ICE, a handheld tank of fuel can be carried to any 'stranded' vehicle and it can be refueled and the vehicle can immediately proceed on it's way

In theory, yes, but in practice virtually nobody does that, particularly not stupid people who think they can go twice as far as their gas gauge says they can.. That's why towing companies offer to deliver a gallon or two of gas for $60 and up.

The reporter charged the car up to the point where it said it had a 32 mile range, then left knowing that it was 61 miles until the next charging station. That is not a flaw in the car, it's a reporter intentionally running the battery down so that he can report how big of a failure the car is.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year ago | (#43132233)

When he left the last charging station the car very clearly stated that it would not be able to reach the destination.

... because Tesla support told him, via phone, that the range indicator was unreliable below freezing, and that "range" would return as the battery warmed. They were right - the range improved - but not enough to get to the charger. You'll still filtering the story down to support the PR version of events.

Funny that Musk has declined to release logs of those phone calls.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130649)

More like, the reporter tried to reach the designated maximum range in a nonoptimal way. Even cars based on petrol will NOT reach their maximum range if you drive it in a nonoptimal way, why would you expect an electric one to be any different? News at 11, if you try to do trips like these, you better be damn sure not to drive stupidly (go into city detour with lots of idling and stop and go traffic which will waste far more energy then wind resistance will which can be dealt with driving slower).

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (2)

itsdapead (734413) | about a year ago | (#43131341)

Even cars based on petrol will NOT reach their maximum range if you drive it in a nonoptimal way, why would you expect an electric one to be any different?

The difference is this:

Petrol car doesn't make its maximum range: as soon as it starts getting below about 5% full, spend 5 minutes refuelling at any filling station. If the station is busy, spend an extra 10 minutes queueing. If you get caught short (which is stupid because of the convenience of refuelling) then call out the rescue service with a can of petrol and you're back on the road in an hour or two.

Electric car doesn't make its maximum range: as soon as the gauge drops below 40% or so, start worrying about whether you can make your destination ans, if not,where you are going to re-charge. If you're lucky enough to find a rapid charger, wait an hour while it recharges. If you have to use a regular charger, book into a hotel. If the charger is busy, you're screwed. If you get caught short (more forgivable considering the hassle of finding a charging point and waiting to charge) , then call out the tow truck (wait an hour or two) get towed to the nearest charging point (may take a while) then wait an hour, or overnight if you can't find a rapid charger.

Consequently, the "maximum range" is a much, much bigger deal for an electric car than it is for petrol. Basically, these things are "second cars" for commuters who do a few tens of miles a day and can keep them topped up in their garage overnight. Only an obsessive hypermiler would want one for long trips.

I'm not completely dissing the idea of an electric car: personally, I could almost see myself using an electric car most of the year (but not something as pricey as a Tesla) and hiring a petrol car for long trips. Or how about a plug-in hybrid with a detachable petrol engine (so you didn't waste energy carrying a big block of metal on battery-range trips)?

You don't need a long range car: RENT (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year ago | (#43131843)

If you have a 2nd car:
+ upkeep: depends on how much you do, what shape it is in. easily over $100 per year average
+ having to use it often so it doesn't stagnate: an inconvenience
+ additional insurance costs: minimal insurance about $500 per year, more if you cover the car's value
+ storage space: an inconvenience
+ initial cost of a 2nd car: $500-15,000
+ additional theft or vandalism risk
+ sell it before its a lemon: an inconvenience or an art form...

Since this would be a long-range car, one has to factor in just how cheap you want to go with it - since a junker may not be what you want to take on a 500 mile journey. An electric might take time to recharge and beg for an outlet - but a gas car has a much higher failure rate - a mechanic might fix it quick (for a high fee) or you might be down for more than 8 hours.

For many people, it is cheaper to RENT a car than pay the insurance for a largely idle possession. If I average the total cost of ownership I am paying approximately $3000 per year to own a car. I get bye cheaper than most people. I won't have an exact average until I change cars, but I spreadsheet everything. Removing gas will save over $1000 per year. The savings from a switch to electric will cover the rentals. Its the initial electric car price that is the current problem.

Rental and shared ownership will become easier and cheaper.

Re:You don't need a long range car: RENT (1)

itsdapead (734413) | about a year ago | (#43132183)

Well, yes, I did actually suggest that in my post.

That's one reason why a luxury car like the Tesla doesn't make that much sense, other than for someone who has the space, money and inclination to run two expensive cars.

However, even with a "short range" car you want one with enough, predictable range that you can use it without worrying about charge all the time. 50 miles sounds fine for commuter use, but not if its likely to plummet to plummet in sub-optimal conditions.

Re:You don't need a long range car: RENT (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about a year ago | (#43132391)

If I average the total cost of ownership I am paying approximately $3000 per year to own a car.

It is interesting that $3000 works out as about $8 per day. I reckon you could probably rent or lease one for not much more than that if you shopped around. Certainly in the UK you can get a car for about GBP10 a day (the terms are fiddly because you have to get them for fixed one month periods). That's about $14. So more than the US, but then I bet owning a car would be more expensive too. So the perception that you're better buying than renting - the reason most people own cars - isn't necessarily true.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130879)

Musk did NOT claim the towing was faked. He claimed that the journalist lied about how he drove it and about how he charged it. BIG difference.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (3)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43131091)

The logs don't lie. The logs of that trip have been published. As the Wannabe King has already posted, Broder deliberately undercharged the car, repeatedly. The logs indicate that he intentionally sabotaged the test, so that the car would fail the tests. Broder used the test to "prove" that the car doesn't work as advertised. Broder had an agenda, and dishonestly used the car to promote his agenda.

As I recall, my telephone had an instruction manual, that suggested that I charge it for an hour before initial use. Had I only charged it for thirty minutes, then complained that it doesn't hold a charge very long, would that be honest? Hell no, it wouldn't. If subsequent charges were only permitted to half-charge the batteries, would I have a legitimate complaint that my phone doesn't hold a charge? Again, hell no.

Read the logs.

In a gasoline powered car, you can't put ten gallons into a sixteen gallon tank of a car that gets 12 mpg, then expect to drive it 180 miles. It just doesn't work that way. You WILL run out of gas!

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (2)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#43132313)

The logs don't lie. The logs of that trip have been published. As the Wannabe King has already posted, Broder deliberately undercharged the car, repeatedly. The logs indicate that he intentionally sabotaged the test, so that the car would fail the tests.

Charging a Lithium-ion battery isn't like filling a gas tank. It doesn't happen linearly, especially if you're doing a high-amperage quick-charge (which is what the Supercharge is). It starts off charging quickly, but when you get to a certain point close to full you have to slow down or risk destroying the battery [batteryuniversity.com]. The whole point of the Supercharge isn't to give you a full charge in 1 hour (which I doubt it can do without crossing this danger threshold). It's to give you approximately a half charge in half an hour. Ideally you don't want to quick-charge above maybe 80% full charge.

Which is precisely what Broder did - giving the car approx 150-200 miles in range at the two Supercharge stations. Which not so coincidentally was a little more than needed to get to the next Supercharge station. This isn't evidence of trying to sabotage the test. This is exactly how you would want to charge the car if you want to maximize distance traveled while minimizing the time spent charging and potential for battery damage. If you insist on charging the car to full at each Supercharge station, you're going to spend more time charging per distance traveled, and you're risking damaging the battery.

The disputed third charge was not at a Supercharge station. Broder claims Tesla staff told him the car would regain some of the reported range it lost while parked overnight, so he didn't need to charge until the miles remaining showed enough to get to the next Supercharge station (he spent ~45 minutes charging trying to add enough range to get to the nearest Supercharge station). Musk claims Tesla staff told him no such thing.

Re:Musk still claiming that review was "false" (2)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#43131459)

Years ago laptop manufacturers often called reviewers liars because the reviewers ran the laptops under real world conditions and achieved battery liars that were fractions of the stated battery life.Those manufacturers that overstated the most were the most vocal.

In cars energy consumption is traditionally widely overstated, as can be seen with the recent manufacturers that had to cut estimates. Some are accurace. The Subaru, in my experience, does can go 60 to 70 miles on a scant two gallons. One of my cars is rated 17/23 mpg, but in fact can be driven to get up to 30 mpg on the freeway, and typically get closer to 20 in the city. however that is assuming the the on board computers are correct, which various drivers have shown they are not through hand calculations.

So in the culture of auto manufacturing, and laptops, there is a culture of widely inaccurate estimates of energy consumption, which mostly does not matter. Most of the time we tend to be around a gas station or a wall outlet, and refueling either is pretty fast.

The problem is, and I got out of the NYT report was saying, is that when charging takes a relatively long tim, and when station are not everywhere, it is easy to get stuck. Not because the car is bad, but because no one is going to drive under ideal conditions, and the temptation to go when the estimates say you can will be great. More work needs to go into energy management.

rocket up and down video (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43130455)

I see people discussing the video, but where is it? Here are a few screen shots [businessinsider.com] of the rocket, it's not obvious that this rocket went up and down, however even if it does, I don't think it means that the rocket is reusable completely, but if it can get up and get back to Earth safely before it reaches certain height in case if something goes wrong with the launch, that's a big deal. However what can go wrong with a launch that would allow the rocket to be so well controlled and balanced that it's not tipping over and blowing up in the first place? Why bring down a rocket if it is in normal operation this way? Is it theoretically possible for a launch vehicle to make it all the way to orbit and back? Probably, but it's extremely inefficient! It's a circus trick, by the time the rocket is up in space, it has no fuel left, that's why multistage parts are jettisoned in the first place, the only valuable parts in them for the launch was the fuel and it gets burned up completely for the rocket to get to space.

Musk can achieve partial reusability, with the engines parachuting to earth and being reused, that already would be great, having a rocket that can go to space as a single stage and all the way back means it has to lift huge amount of fuel into space, not burn it all up and then use the remaining fuel to get back to earth in an inefficient manner (not just fall back but slowly descent on a column of fire) and that's crazy expensive and inefficient! If you can lift enough fuel into space to do that trick, you shouldn't be lifting fuel, you should be lifting useful cargo.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43130489)

Oh, and I did read that Musk said that cost of fuel is 0.3% of cost of the entire vehicle (launch or building it, it's not clear from TFA), but then the real efficiency should come from making production of the rocket cheaper, using the profits from launches to increase production efficiency. Reuse the engines if you can parachute them to Earth safely and grow production capacity to a level, where the rocket is cheap to construct.

That's where the real gains in efficiency can be implemented - make a factory that produces as many rockets per year as Honda produces cars per day, so this requires building a conveyor line for rocket parts and assembly. Reuse everything possible, but don't try to take up fuel to make the descent back to Earth to be just a reverse of ascent, that's a waste of flight capacity.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

hey! (33014) | about a year ago | (#43130701)

Oh, and I did read that Musk said that cost of fuel is 0.3% of cost of the entire vehicle.

Sure, but what I'd like to know is the cost of tankering the fuel you need to make a powered landing into space.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43130739)

Well yes, exactly, what is the real cost and why concentrate on carefully bringing down stages of a rocket if instead he can be bringing up more cargo?

What is more important, to get the tube back down very slowly without damaging it (and burning up a huge amount of fuel while doing it and obviously making the entire flight much less efficient) or putting more cargo into orbit?

I think he can achieve partial reusability by bringing down the rocket on parachutes (or at least the engines, which are probably the most intricate and expensive part) while using all the fuel in the rocket for its actual purpose - launch cargo.

As to finding efficiencies, that's where he should shine as opposed to a government operation, that's why it's better that Ford builds cars rather than US government. Ford will figure out the how to produce more cars in a shorter time for less money, that's where Musk really should be outdoing all the governments - figuring out the manufacturing conveyor line, investing into tools and robots that would automate and speed up production of rockets.

Re: rocket up and down video (3, Insightful)

John Howell (2861885) | about a year ago | (#43130891)

Flying a rocket like this doesn't make much sense.... Here on earth, but as you can't parachute down to the lunar surface, or rely on chutes on Mars for hopping from place to place, then a reusable VTOL rocket becomes really handy. But it does have to be test flown somewhere, and easier to test here than out there.

Re: rocket up and down video (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43131035)

I don't know when his rockets will be going to the Moon and landing there, but if he doesn't get his business off the ground first by becoming very efficient here, then it's just another experiment without any chance of success in the long term. I think figuring out the way to produce the rockets as cheap as at all possible is the most important thing in the beginning. Cost of going up is the real reason there is so little business in space, USA (and USSR) Moon programs were colossally expensive, figuring out a way to make extremely cheap rockets that can launch plenty of cargo into space should be the primary goal.

Re: rocket up and down video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131561)

Reusable rockets do this, as a 300 miillion dollar rocket that can be reused 10 times is going to be tremendously cheaper, even with the same payload capacity, as the current 150 million model for the heavy lift model.

Unless you seriously think a 40 million dollar launch is more expensive then a 150 million launch. If they can get reuseability up to 100 or so, orbit access can get down to 5 million or so a launch. You can't even get a seat on a Soyuz for that little, let alone 30 + tons of payload

Re: rocket up and down video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131745)

No, I think the real reason there is so little business in space is because, well, it's space, dude. It's fucking empty. Do you see ants crossing the Atlantic in a paper hat? That's what you're proposing.

Re: rocket up and down video (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43132137)

You really think people wouldn't be lining up to spend a week's vacation in space if they could buy it for the cost of a week-long cruise?

The big problem with spaceflight is that there's enough of a market at $10,000 a pound to keep several rocket companies in business, and there's a much bigger market below $100 a pound as mass tourism becomes viable. But there's no clear new market between those two, so an existing rocket company is likely to make less money as costs drop.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131203)

The first stage weighs comparatively very little after it has been used because all the fuel is gone. So adding just a bit of extra fuel to land the now much lighter stage is not much of an expense, while being able to reuse that stage is a big deal. You seem unaware of this, but the cost of the fuel is not the main cost in sending things to space. The cost of the fuel per kg sent to space is about 16$-50$ [rsynnott.com]. It actually costs about 10,000$ to send a kg to space, so the costs of the fuel is not the main thing. Reusable rockets are a big deal.

Parachutes are already used to land rocket parts, but usually that's done in the ocean because they'd be crushed otherwise. Landing in water requires an overhaul of the engines. Rockets that land with parachutes on land also have boosters to slow their speed just before landing and they include crumple zones to keep the cargo safe from the impact. Also, with parachutes, you can't control where you land with precision. The SpaceX rocket lands exactly where you want it to land and no part of it is damaged from the landing.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43131279)

The first stage weighs comparatively very little after it has been used because all the fuel is gone. So adding just a bit of extra fuel to land the now much lighter stage is not much of an expense,

- except to launch that fuel it takes more fuel, any amount of fuel that needs to be launched to a certain height requires the same amount of fuel to launch it. So if you have to use say 20% of the fuel capacity of the launcher to bring the rocket down this way, then you have to add another 20% to launch that fuel. However you can't add 20% to launch that fuel, you have to not use 20%.

All of a sudden 40% of fuel is used to raise the first stage of the rocket up and down and you are only using 60% of the first stage capacity launch your cargo. So at 60% capacity gone, you have to add the difference to the second stage of the vehicle or you have to design a much bigger rocket (at least 20% bigger) to do the same job as a much smaller rocket was doing.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131315)

You're just pulling numbers out of your arse. I suspect the amount of extra fuel needed to land the rocket is more in the region of 1-2%, but I don't know. What I do know is that Elon isn't an idiot (shame I can't say the same about you), and he will reuse the rocket the most cost efficient way possible. It is also likely that he has already had his engineers run the numbers on how feasible performing a powered landing is and how much fuel it will use.

Re:rocket up and down video (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43132193)

A lot depends on whether you can land downrange or have to turn around and return to the launch site. The former takes very little fuel as you just have to survive aerobraking and land, the latter takes quite a bit more as you have to cancel all velocity, launch yourself back toward the place you came from, then land.

But still, the mass of the first stage does not have a huge impact on the payload. Adding a ton of structure or fuel might cut 100kg off your payload, and even if you have to add enough return fuel that you cut the payload in half, you'd only need to save half the launch cost by reusing that stage to break even. Reduce the launch cost by 60% and you'd be ahead.

Re:rocket up and down video (3, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#43131647)

What is more important, to get the tube back down very slowly without damaging it (and burning up a huge amount of fuel while doing it and obviously making the entire flight much less efficient) or putting more cargo into orbit? I think he can achieve partial reusability by bringing down the rocket on parachutes (or at least the engines, which are probably the most intricate and expensive part) while using all the fuel in the rocket for its actual purpose - launch cargo.

Have you tried building a parachute to land 25 tons? NASA has for Ares I and it is very heavy and complex, more than a ton in itself. Alternatively you could do just the engines that are about 5-6 tons but then you'd need some kind of detachment system as well and you'll be throwing away a lot of expensive sensors and electronics not just a big tube. The bigger downside is that they're uncontrolled, you need to clear a big sea area, recover them then transport them back to base - not to mention they're drenched in salt water. If you just land there's not any added costs. The empty shell is only 7-8% of the launch weight and you're only slowing the decent so how do you need? Fuel is still only about $200k on a $50 million launch so even if you have to increase that by 10% you're probably shaving many millions off each launch. I think they know what they're doing.

Re:rocket up and down video (5, Informative)

ZankerH (1401751) | about a year ago | (#43130515)

The video in question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=2Ivr6JF1K-8 [youtube.com]

This rocket (the Grasshopper RLV) is just a test article. It's a mass simulation of the first stage of a Falcon 9 [wikipedia.org], which has been launched to orbit successfully 5 times in a row. The idea is to test and prove the re-usability concept on the Grasshopper RLV before adapting it to the first stage of the Falcon 9. They've only done small hops so far, but the plan is to continue launching the Grasshopper RLV with more and more fuel until it can replicate the trajectory of the Falcon 9's first stage and safely return, at which point they'd be ready to begin adapting the Falcon 9 first stage for a safe return and landing.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

zenyu (248067) | about a year ago | (#43130633)

That video is awesome!

I will have to stop telling my daughter that's not how rockets land in real life.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

Fusselwurm (1033286) | about a year ago | (#43131683)

Video blocked in Germany. Im starting to hate it when ppl upload vids with unrelated music copyrighted to big labels

Re:rocket up and down video (1, Redundant)

Spectre (1685) | about a year ago | (#43130609)

Elon Musk is a visionary. He isn't looking to just do what others do, or limiting himself to what can be done next year, he's looking several years ahead. One of his goals is manned travel to Mars and return. That means being able to land a rocket in a non-destructive fashion and more efficiently than was done for Apollo. He's taking logical steps toward that goal.

Re:rocket up and down video (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130651)

Electric cars have been around for over a century, he's hardly doing something new. The hash reality is that battery storage is very inefficient compared to the alternatives. His rocket talk is just jumping on the bandwagon started a decade ago. He's nothing more than a snake oil salesmen, looking to sell something that doesn't work and others have already done before. Plus he loves seeing his name in print, a little ego issue perhaps?

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130885)

Who are you working for?
Reasonable intelligent people generally give arguments against a person's ideas and action rather than the person themselves. You seem to just be desperate to discredit the person but don't have the mental bus fare to discredit (or even attempt) his work.

TL;DR: Shill harder, troll.

Re:rocket up and down video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130975)

Obviously, the point being made is that his ideas are nothing new. Did you miss that in the first sentence. Right there in your post you engage in a personal attack, exemplifying the technique you claim to bemoan. What a fucking troll. Examine thyself, dude.

Re:rocket up and down video (2)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year ago | (#43131355)

Sure, the idea of an electric car has been around for a while. So has the idea of a rocket, but dismissing every advancement since the Chinese launched glorified fireworks at the Mongols around 800 years ago is obviously idiotic, yet that seems to be exactly what you're doing with respect to the advancements in electric vehicle technology.

Re:rocket up and down video (0)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43132057)

Um, ACTUAL, REAL electric cars have been 'around for a while', if you count over a hundred years as 'a while'.

They sucked so bad that our ancestors dumped them as soon as the internal combustion engine came along, and they still suck for the same reasons. They still need a 10x improvement in battery technology and a 50% reduction in cost to be competitive with ICE cars.

SpaceX are taking an established, profitable technology and making it better and cheaper. Tesla are taking a sucky technology that we abandoned over a hundred years ago and trying to make it work.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year ago | (#43131205)

Uranium offers about 1.7 million times the energy density of gasoline. Sometimes we trade off energy density for other qualities. In the case of electric cars, it's the elimination of emissions from the vehicle and the ability to use solar, wind and other clean sources of energy to refuel.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about a year ago | (#43131559)

I don't really see why you got a "redundant" mod, but I'm going to risk one by spelling some things out which you left unsaid. Elon's aiming for the long term, and probably counts a even permanent colony on Mars as only intermediate term. He has little interest in parachute return because eventually, he wants systems that can take off and return to planets such as Mars where chutes have little to work with. Mars also having lower gravity, it would be great if we already had a way to get there and could develop a reusable vehicle suitable for Martian use in situ, but guess what? We don't currently have a Martian colony!!!!!
              Testing here on Earth is the only alternative we have, and anyone talking about the cost and potential uses (as at least half a dozen posters have done), should realize that they are comparing the wrong alternatives - it's not Earth with Fueled return VS Earth with Parachute return, it's (over)design for testing some parts on Earth VS do all the construction on Mars, with Mars first developed enough to provide the infrastructure and Earth developed enough to both put that infrastructure there and provide an alternative method of return from Mars while the bugs are worked out of the reusables.
            The real question is, why are the people who have at least figured out that it will cost more than the bank bailouts to put a permanent colony on Mars with current tech being modded down for it, instead of the people posing false equvalencies that show they don't even get that?

Re:rocket up and down video (1, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#43130623)

Oh you naysayer, you! Mister Musk has demonstrated that he now has a solution for when you need to lift something light up a few hundred feet by rocket. This will surely change our lives forever.
That it has nothing whatsoever to do with landing a rocket that is in space is just you being negative. You're supposed to extrapolate that this is the first step towards that goal, even though tail landings aren't in anyone's plans, and has no place outside 1940-50s Sci Fi books.

By the way, I remember seeing a short clip of a German WWII rocket that lifted off, then put down again on its tail (without exploding). Anyone got a link?
It's relevant given that most of the Saturn research was directly based on V2, and that Space-X builds on that. There's nothing wrong with standing on the shoulder of giants - unless, of course, you beat your chest and pretend to be one.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43130753)

There's nothing wrong with standing on the shoulder of giants - unless, of course, you beat your chest and pretend to be one.

You mean when you come on like a hard-on in spite of having done nothing whatsoever to advance the cause of humanity in space? Check.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

tgd (2822) | about a year ago | (#43130637)

Why bring down a rocket if it is in normal operation this way? Is it theoretically possible for a launch vehicle to make it all the way to orbit and back? Probably, but it's extremely inefficient! It's a circus trick, by the time the rocket is up in space, it has no fuel left, that's why multistage parts are jettisoned in the first place, the only valuable parts in them for the launch was the fuel and it gets burned up completely for the rocket to get to space.

Yes, by all means, you are in fact more knowledgeable than the experts!

Re:rocket up and down video (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43130905)

I am not a rocket expert but this is not a question to rocket experts, this is an economics question. Taking up fuel instead of cargo and using fuel to bring back the launch vehicle safely as opposed to parachuting the launch vehicle (or its engines, the most complex part) and launching more useful cargo into orbit.

The question is about cost of production of a rocket and cost of fuel and cost of unit of cargo per launch, not about difficulty of a controlled descent. Assuming it's perfectly easy to do a controlled descent (which is probably much more difficult to do from a much higher altitude than a few dozen meters above Earth, given that the rocket also needs to reorient itself and maneuver a much longer distance down to the surface) then the question is: how much cargo are you not taking up because you are taking up a huge amount of fuel to do this controlled descent, so it's not just a question of cost of fuel, it's a calculation of cost of launch of unit of cargo and cost of launch in total, etc.

One thing I don't have to be a rocket scientist to know is that if you do this, you are not being very efficient with your rocket, you are using huge amount of fuel just to haul fuel, you are not launching as much cargo as you can. You are launching and landing fuel. Then why not launch more cargo and a parachute to land some of the launch vehicle and instead work on manufacturing the rocket cheaper, more efficiently with a manufacturing conveyor line, with robots, with fewer people?

Why not use the money to improve efficiency of manufacturing of the rocket?

Musk wants to be in this business end to end, he wants to manufacture rockets and launch them and do everything. I don't need to be a rocket scientist to know for sure that he will not be as efficient at all of these as he can be at just some of it, that's why we have complex supply chains and specialisation.

Maybe he wants to be a total solution, but that would be Apple of space, not Linux of space so to speak. How about concentrating on the manufacturing side, creating the production process that is the most efficient and the cheapest and then mass producing launch vehicles for all who want to launch and operate them?

No, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to look at the overall business model.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

dave420 (699308) | about a year ago | (#43131457)

Maybe the equipment required to parachute the rocket to the ground weighs more than the fuel required to land it?

Anyway, Skylon seems to be a far better launch vehicle for us here on Earth. Entirely reusable, and very efficient.

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43132085)

Anyway, Skylon seems to be a far better launch vehicle for us here on Earth. Entirely reusable, and very efficient.

Except I can't see any business case for Skylon that makes any sense. You'd have to invest ten billion dollars or more to develop a flyable vehicle, and if it worked, it would launch cargo to orbit for about the same cost as SpaceX expect for a reusable Falcon which can be making money as an expendable or semi-reusable launcher while it's in development.

Any business plan which starts with 'first spend tens of billions before we bring in a cent of income' is pretty precarious.

Re:rocket up and down video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131771)

This logic works even better with cars! Why are we spending fuel to carry the fuel needed to get back from whereever we drove to? Just work on making cars cheaper, and we'll simply discard them when we get to our destinations and buy new ones. In the future, single use cars will come with fuel in sealed tanks and microchips to prevent you from refilling them, like printer cartridges. After all, what with nano-technology, 3D printers, memristors, social media, and mobile web 3.0, manufacturing things should be free soon, right?

Re:rocket up and down video (1)

Troll-in-Training (1815480) | about a year ago | (#43132363)

I am not a rocket expert but this is not a question to rocket experts, this is an economics question. Taking up fuel instead of cargo and using fuel to bring back the launch vehicle safely as opposed to parachuting the launch vehicle (or its engines, the most complex part) and launching more useful cargo into orbit.

The question is about cost of production of a rocket and cost of fuel and cost of unit of cargo per launch, not about difficulty of a controlled descent. Assuming it's perfectly easy to do a controlled descent (which is probably much more difficult to do from a much higher altitude than a few dozen meters above Earth, given that the rocket also needs to reorient itself and maneuver a much longer distance down to the surface) then the question is: how much cargo are you not taking up because you are taking up a huge amount of fuel to do this controlled descent, so it's not just a question of cost of fuel, it's a calculation of cost of launch of unit of cargo and cost of launch in total, etc.

One thing I don't have to be a rocket scientist to know is that if you do this, you are not being very efficient with your rocket, you are using huge amount of fuel just to haul fuel, you are not launching as much cargo as you can. You are launching and landing fuel. Then why not launch more cargo and a parachute to land some of the launch vehicle and instead work on manufacturing the rocket cheaper, more efficiently with a manufacturing conveyor line, with robots, with fewer people?

Why not use the money to improve efficiency of manufacturing of the rocket?

Musk wants to be in this business end to end, he wants to manufacture rockets and launch them and do everything. I don't need to be a rocket scientist to know for sure that he will not be as efficient at all of these as he can be at just some of it, that's why we have complex supply chains and specialisation.

Maybe he wants to be a total solution, but that would be Apple of space, not Linux of space so to speak. How about concentrating on the manufacturing side, creating the production process that is the most efficient and the cheapest and then mass producing launch vehicles for all who want to launch and operate them?

No, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to look at the overall business model.

Lets say a disposable rocket costs 150 million, thats 150 million per launch.

If a reusable rocket costs 300 million and gets 10 launches thats 30 million per launch, if it costs 600 million thats 60 million over 10 launches, if it costs 1 billion, thats 100 million over 10 launches. A reuseable rocket can potentially save a lot of money even if it is vastly more expensive.

Considering he is figuring out how to make his current rockets reuseable this will make launches dirt cheap. As fuel is only 2.5 % of launch costs even if you double it relative to cargo orbited to make the rocket reuseable, you still save a lot of money. If a rocket costs 200 million, and fuel costs 5 million, if you only launch half as much cargo but get to reuse the rocket 10 times you spend 50 million on fuel to save 800 million on the 10 replacement rockets you would have destroyed if you launched at full capacity on a disposable rocket. Thats 750 million dollars saved if you only launch at 50% capacity. As a rocket is much lighter landing than taking off launch capacity will likely be reduced by less than 20% which means 1.45 billion in savings over the 8 disposable rockets for the same mass orbited. Thats 250 million for 10 uses of a reuseable rocket vs 1.64 billion for 8 disposable rockets and fuel for the same mass orbited. Thats around an 85% reduction in cost per unit of mass orbited.

The only cost between launches will be recertification and refueling, If the rocket is designed right, recertification will be cheap (10-20% of manufacturing cost or less). Reuseable rockets will also increase manufacturing efficiency, as every man-hour spent on the manufacturing line will enable 8 times as much mass orbited as a disposable rocket, which means reuseable rockets increase manufacturing capacity by a factor equal to the number of times a rocket can be reused times the percentage of capacity lost to recovery. A rocket that can be used 10 times to launch 80% of the mass of a disposable will increase manufacturing capacity by a factor of 8 as 1/8 as many rockets will have to be made per unit of mass orbited. If the rockets can be reused more than 10 times it gets even cheaper.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to look at the overall business model, but having a grasp of basic mathematics really helps.

TL:DR Where can we watch the keynote? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130591)

Where can we watch the keynote?

CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year ago | (#43130627)

CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors

Holy shit, I just realized it was the same guy although I know a little bit about both company!

Re:CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131031)

Yeah, Elon Musk is as common a name as Bob Smith.

Re:CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131039)

Holy shit your post is fucking pointless!

Re:CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43131215)

He also founded PayPal... did your head just explode? :)

Re:CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43132269)

How do you fell about being responsible for the exploding head of a fellow slashdotter?

Re:CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43132357)

Not so fast, Is671, we're trying hard to keep up with you....

Where is the video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43131027)

I attempted to watch the stream of it live yesterday, but it didn't work out so hot. I would have expected SXSW to have figured out how to stream a video, or at least the audio portion for people who have crappy internet connections.

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