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CNN Replicates John Broder's Drive In the Tesla Model S 525

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-that-anybody-hasn't-already-made-up-their-minds dept.
karlnyberg writes "Adding a third voice to the conflict between Tesla's Elon Musk and New York Times Reporter John Broder, CNN/Money's Peter Valdes-Dapena drove from DC to Boston (primarily to test the SuperCharger network). As he says in the article: In the end, I made it — and it wasn't that hard. ... As for the Supercharger network? Turns out that works, too.' He expands on this a bit: 'Looking back on the trip, it would be even easier if Tesla would install one of their fast-charging Superchargers along the New Jersey Turnpike. (These charging stations can fill up a nearly dead battery in Tesla's longest-range cars in about an hour, which is enough time to stop for a meal.) Tesla's working on that, spokeswoman Shanna Hendricks said. But the first priority was to install enough to make this trip, even if you had to take it easy most of the way. But I didn't have to take it that easy, which is good because the Model S provides a pretty amazing mix of smooth and silent performance along with brain-squishing acceleration. So even if you're not driving from Washington to Boston, it's an impressive car, all on its own.'"
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CNN Replicates John Broder's Drive In the Tesla Model S

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  • by ColdGrits (204506) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:06AM (#42910287)

    Within the next 10 years or so I am sure you will see many more solar powered homes.
    That's what they said 10 years ago. Just sayin...

    As I look through my window right now, I can see 16 homes.
    6 of those have got solar panels on their roofs generating electricity (2 have also got solar water heating).
    10 years ago none of them had any solar.

    Just sayin'...

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:10AM (#42910331)
    I'm also more likely to trust someone whose bias is out in the open as opposed to someone whose bias isn't. Musk has an obvious interest in selling his cars but made no effort to hide that. Broder on the other hand didn't say "I'm an oil shill and have X interest in trashing electric cars."
  • by synapse7 (1075571) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:16AM (#42910425)
    There may have been some faults on Musk's end, but it does seem Broder was caught in multiple lies about the journey. I'm not sure I buy Broder's reason for the stopping and starting in a parking lot for five minutes was him attempting to find a charging station, unless he can not turn his head side to side.
  • by makomk (752139) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:41AM (#42910813) Journal

    That's actually the weird thing; if you look at the graphs Tesla have released, it appears he did only lose about 5% of charge overnight, but for some reason this caused the available range - again from their graphs, not relying on anything Broder said - to plummet from a safe 90 miles to an oh-fuck-can't-reach-the-Supercharger 20 miles.

  • by wchin (6284) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:44AM (#42910853)

    As a journalist, we have high expectations that Mr. Broder would reports impartial facts. Since he wrote it in the New York Times, we have expectations about the journalistic integrity of the writer and the facts within the article. The article at best, is misleading and plays loose with the facts. At worst, it is a hatchet job just on the side of possibly escaping legal culpability.

    First of all, he has to decide what he was trying to accomplish. He if is trying to test Tesla's supercharger network and that is the primary motivation, then Mr. Broder exceeded the test parameters. It is not that hard to successfully travel where he went using only the superchargers. However, if he wants to exceed the test parameters, then by all means he could have chosen to plug in at any number of other EV charging locations, had chosen to charge fully, or chosen to plug in overnight. The closest analogy I can think of is if a journalist is trying to verify mileage claims of say, a Prius. The mileage claim is provided given certain test parameters. If you drive too fast, you won't get that mileage. If it is too cold or too hot, it won't get the same mileage. So if you want to see if you can get that mileage, restrict yourself to only fueling near the limits of that resulting range, and then drive fast *and* choose to not fuel all the way up, then yeah, you didn't get the mileage. Whose fault is that?

    Mr. Broder on several occasions noted temperatures and speeds that were not indicative of what he actually experienced throughout the drive. His writing clearly exaggerates the situation, most of which is his own doing. Further, it's nearly impossible to not see the ability to charge further. As a long time energy reporter for the New York Times, can we reasonably expect that he is this incompetent? Mr. Broder didn't need to be so loose with the facts, since the current generation of BEVs are not really ready for most people. They do need to be plugged in. They are fantastic for those that can afford it as a daily driver, mostly commuting and 2 hour round trips. Cost of ownership has dropped to roughly equivalent of gasoline power cars (battery replacement costs gas costs, probably less repair needed for BEV vs. gasoline car over time). But for road-tripping where multiple back to back full energy transfers are necessary, it isn't as convenient as a gasoline car at the moment. Mr. Broder, as a journalist writing a piece that is expected to accurately portray the facts, could have pointed this out while sticking to the facts and competently operating/handling the vehicle and he failed to do so.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:31PM (#42911471)

    You'll be surprised how much difference traffic conditions, wind, and rain/snow will make on your range. It's more than just temperature.

    If we were to survey all the reviews of the Tesla S, we would consider Broder's review an outlier and disregard it anyway.

  • by AVee (557523) <slashdot@NOspAM.avee.org> on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:34PM (#42911497) Homepage
    Broder had two main complaints. The first one was 'loosing' range during the cold night. The range lost there is what caused the problems for him, it all went downhill from there. CNN didn't park the car overnight and drove it in slightly better weather. Batteries tend to respond pretty badly to low temperatures so this might well be enough of a difference to explain the different outcome. His second problem seems to be bad advise from Tesla. Tesla wouldn't be making the same mistakes during a follow up test. Needing advice to complete a trip is bad enough though and CNN called Tesla during the trip as well.

    So when done properly the system seems to work, but when stuff goes wrong it goes wrong badly. You either and up spending a long time a a slow charging point, or you ended being towed away. Even if Broder was being stupid, it still shows the system isn't as idiot proof as you'd hope. But that will hopefully improve over time.
  • by EXrider (756168) on Friday February 15, 2013 @01:13PM (#42912053)
    Just out of curiosity (and because I'm too lazy to google it, AND you're an EV builder), how exactly does the heat in an EV like a Tesla or Fisker work? I know it at least has to be supplemented by some type of resistive electric heating element, but is there also a method for circulating waste heat from the batteries and motor(s) to the cabin area to provide heat as well? Does this waste heat provide a usable amount of heat for say a Northern US winter climate?

    I'm just wondering, because I know resistive electric heat has to suck a lot of amps. Depending on whether you just bundle up and tough it out with no resistive heat, vs cranking the heat like you would in an ICE-powered vehicle probably has a very considerable effect on range.
  • by EXrider (756168) on Friday February 15, 2013 @01:56PM (#42912715)
    IANA EE, automotive or HVAC engineer either, however I do have a heat pump that heats and cools my home. Heat pumps work great for stationary applications, but you need a relatively large evaporator coil to generate any significant amount of heat. Compare a regular residential A/C unit to the equivalent tonnage heat pump and you'll see that the unit is almost twice the size. Automotive A/C condenser coils already take up all of the surface area they can get in the front of the vehicle's radiator. Also keep in mind that heat air-to-air pumps also require defrost cycles to clear the evaporator coil of frost accumulation, this requires an auxiliary heating method as well, unless you don't mind ice cold air being blasted at you during each defrost cycle. Place the evap coil on the front of a moving vehicle with precipitation constantly blasted at it and these defrost cycles will be even more frequent.

    In theory, a heatpump would be great, but you need to solve a few problems with the conventional heat pump application first to make it practical. I really think it would just be easier to have propane catalyst heat that used those canisters that camping applications use. VW used to offer something similar for their air-cooled vehicles that burned gasoline called the ebersparcher [google.com]
  • by TheSync (5291) on Friday February 15, 2013 @02:11PM (#42912979) Journal

    The thing about these Tesla journey's is that they read like an newspaper column about automobile touring from 1902:

    AUTOMOBILES IN BOSTON; Sixty-nine Machines Complete First Half of the Journey.

    BOSTON, Oct. 11, 1902. -- The first half of the 500-mile reliability contest of the Automobile Club of America from New York to Boston ended at 5:15 to-night in a drenching rain, when Kenneth A. Skinner, in a De Dion-Bouton car, arrived at the finishing point.

    Of the 75 machines which left New York Thursday morning 69 finished. The roads from New York to Springfield were excellent, but from Springfield to Boston they were poor and muddy, and the tourists were well splattered with mud when they arrive.

    The severest test was Foster's Hill, a severe 12 per cent climb. Several machines went into the side ditches in an effort to clear some that were stalled. In many instances it was necessary for the riders to get out and push the cars up the incline.

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Friday February 15, 2013 @02:57PM (#42913651)

    Unfortunately we only have Broder's word on that, and he has proven to be a bit of an unreliable narrator.

    It would help a great deal if Tesla were to release recordings of his support calls.

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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