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

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 Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:39AM (#42909917)

    The New York Times reporter just had the car run out of power, because it makes for an entertaining and popular article.

    Much like when the earlier model Tesla was tested on the UK's Top Gear TV show, just to be shown running out of battery far below its predicted range.


  • by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:43AM (#42909959)
    The CNN reporter duplicated the test, charging it properly, and had 96 miles to spare at the end.
  • by guanxi ( 216397 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:45AM (#42909981)

    Traffic? Did he stop overnight?

  • by Troll-in-Training ( 1815480 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:49AM (#42910023)

    I don't understand why everyone is so gaga over these Tesla's. Is it a beautiful car? Yeah. Is it well made? Yeah. But, the base price remains at $57,400. This is not a car for the masses. It's like writing about an all-electric Mercedes. Who cares?

    As I understand it Tesla's buisness plan is to first make a high performance sports car (Roadster) to work out the bugs in the technology, then make a cheaper sedan to scale up production of components as the more components that are made the cheaper they get. Once enough production capacity is built they can then make cheaper cars using what will then be off the shelf components.

    It's the chicken and the egg problem - if nobody mass produces electric cars they will never get cheap, so by mass producing lots of expensive high performance cars they build up the infrastructure to support making cheap ones.

    Everyone is going gaga over Tesla because they are succeeding, and with each car they sell we get that much closer to having a cheap yet powerful electric car.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:51AM (#42910065)

    However, Musk's blog post was so convincing I almost find myself not rooting for John Broder at all!

    You mean like Elon Musk claiming that Broder was lying because he didn't turn the heater down at the 182 mile mark (Which he never said he did), despite some miles later... SHOCK, A 10 degree drop in cabin temperature!

    Or how he 'was trying to kill the battery' because he drove around a building looking for the charging station? And charged it? And not, you know, letting it die?

    Or how about his claim that only a moron would leave on a 60 mile trip when the indicator said he could go 30, because he listened to Tesla's representatives who said plugging it in for an hour so that the batteries were 'reconditioned' and the range would be recovered as the batteries warmed up, after they lost most of their charge over night? (Which Tesla has said repeatedly, in the past and after the failed test drive)

    Look, I love Tesla, and Elon Musk is a great guy doing wonderful things, and I would love a Tesla Roadster or Model S or Model X... but he's wrong. Tesla's logs don't prove shit. And you know what pisses me off the most about it? Basically, THE CAR JUST RAN OUT OF GAS (Metaphorically, at least). It's GOING TO HAPPEN. Broder's review was otherwise mostly positive. Elon Musk just can't handle any implication the car is anything other that totally positive. I would still love to buy a Model S, but christ Musk's whining any time anybody is anything less that completely fawning is getting old...

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:53AM (#42910085)
    Yeah, I wish I could still buy one of those $1999 VW Beetles [], new.

    But, the reality is, the average price of a new car in the US is now over $30K.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:54AM (#42910105)

    Man, if only there were some way for you to find data to support your proposition that "A gasoline-burning car is probably less polluting than a coal-burning electrical plant." Maybe we could create some sort of globally-connected network of computers, with advanced tools to search through all the data.

    Oh wait. We have those things. You are wrong, and it would have taken about eighteen seconds to find that out. Economies of scale, man - your local power plant generates energy more efficiently and deals with pollution more effectively than your tiny little internal combustion engine. Even an electric car driven off of oil-burning power plants is less polluting (although only by about 1/3) per mile driven than an internal combustion engine.

  • by Necroman ( 61604 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:55AM (#42910115)

    Exactly. CNN did not truly replicate the test that the NYTimes did, they just did their own test that was somewhat similar. There are a lot more variables at play here than distance driven. No overnight stop without it plugged in. The temperature while driving was significantly higher for the CNN test.

    This is just CNN trying to take a shot at the NYTimes.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:19AM (#42910475)

    As far as possible. It's highly unlikely that weather alone would account for the massive differential between what CNN got and what Broder got. Read the CNN's article and compare their numbers to Broder's. You'd have to probably warm stuff up to tropical levels on the same route to get the discrepancy meaningful enough to account for Broder's account.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:21AM (#42910495)

    You do realize that BBC won the court case because it argued that "top gear reviews are not actual reviews but scripted comedy skits" successfully?

  • by trum4n ( 982031 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:21AM (#42910497)
    As an EV builder, i can assure you, the weather really doesn't effect it. In the brutal, -10F weather, i only see a 10% drop in range...with lead acid batteries. 3% with LiFePO4. The simple fact is that the first article was a complete fabrication designed to hurt the image of the electric car.
  • by rcs1000 ( 462363 ) <> on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:22AM (#42910517)

    I have a Tesla Roadster. If you leave it out overnight, at -10c, you will not lose more than 5% or so of your battery.

  • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:25AM (#42910553) Journal

    Absolutely and totally incorrect.

    This reflects directly on the NYT, and if they don't hold their own journalists accountable for doing a bad job then it reflects directly on the NYT. Then again, this isn't the first time they've done a horrible job.

    You do hold your own accountable, else your quality control becomes nonexistent. That is indeed why quality control aka editors are supposed to exist.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:40AM (#42910797)

    When he started on that 61 mile leg, the *car* told him it would go 32 miles. By rights, he should have been left 29 miles short of his destination. Instead, the car made it 51 miles, leaving him only 10 miles short. Still, it's no different than attempting to drive 60 miles on one gallon of gas in a car that gets 30 MPG. Only an idiot would try that and blame the *car* when they failed,

    I would blame the Service Rep I had been in contact with the entire trip who repeatedly assured me that, despite the 30 mile range display, the gas tank would be JUST FINE to make that 60 mile trip as soon as the gas vapors recoalesced, which is about the closest analogy I can think of.

    Tesla's logs show that, despite Broder's claims, he *didn't* fully charge the vehicle at any stage after the initial charge to start the trip.

    He always charged it so that the indicated range was greater than the distance to the next charging station, which is reasonable considering that the time the cars take to charge (Even at a supercharger station) . The problem here, and Broder's only complaint, was the MASSIVE CHUNK OF BATTERY THAT DISAPPEARED OVERNIGHT. The one which Tesla repeated assured him wasn't REALLY gone, he just had to warm the batteries up by driving it. And they were partially right, but the 90 miles before he went to sleep only yielded 52 (which is still more than the indicated 30).

    If he can provide a recording of the call I'll believe him. Until then, I'm going to consider him an idiot who can't even tell that 32 is *less* than 61.

    I've seen Tesla make the same claim in the past, that battery lost overnight in cold weather can be 'reclaimed' by driving, because the range isn't really lost, but rather the computer thinks it is because the cold battery is putting out less because the redox is reacting slower because of the cold... once the battery is warmed up, the power 'magically' reappears. I've seen it in other gadgets, it's not really that absurd. The only problem is, in this case, charge DID 'just vanish'. TESLA'S OWN LOGS EVEN SHOW THAT (Look at the 400 mile mark) []

    Maybe it was something as simple as the reporter forgetting to turn the lights off, maybe the battery conditioning pack used the power to prevent permanent damage, or maybe the cold was just too much... but Musk made a serious accusation of fraud, and hasn't provided a single shred of anything which backs up intentional malfeasance...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:07PM (#42911137)

    This has been discussed ad nauseum but apparently you missed all of the memos.

    The battery READS differently when cold. But as it gets used, it returns to operating temperature (just like an internal combustion engine) and that charge - magically! (not really) - returns. It's a problem with how the current charge status is read by the electronics, NOT electrons bleeding away through the tires.

    So, no violation of conservation of energy. Turns out chemical reactions happen slower in the cold, and we've known this for hundreds of years. Warm 'em up, and you are back to where you were.

    Stop spreading the completely inaccurate FUD.

  • by iamgnat ( 1015755 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:17PM (#42911279)

    The speeds? Is that the "lie"? Teslas have 21" wheels normally. He was driving on 19" snow tires. If the system logging his speed wasn't calibrated for the wheel difference you'd see the logs indicate speeds about 10% higher than Broder was actually traveling. There's your discrepancy between the two.

    You are only partially correct here and not where it is important. It's not the size of the wheel itself that matters, it's the overall size of the tire. A 21" tire (on this type of car) is going to have a significantly shorter sidewall than a 19" snow tire will. As such the overall size won't have changed that significantly and you are looking at far less than a 10% difference.

    Additionally what they were reporting in those graphs was the information in the ECU which would be the same information given to the speedometer on the dash since that is where the dash gets it's information. So while the car may have said he was doing one speed and he was actually doing another based on tire size, what he thought he was doing was no different than what the ECU thought he was doing. The only way he could think he was doing a different speed than the car thought was if he was using another device (e.g. GPS) to track it and in that case most of any discrepancy is going to be due to the built-in overrating of the ECU/speedo (due to various laws and penalties around the world) which is typically in the 5-10% range.

  • by Gription ( 1006467 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:23PM (#42911349)

    . . .
    The speeds? Is that the "lie"? Teslas have 21" wheels normally. He was driving on 19" snow tires. If the system logging his speed wasn't calibrated for the wheel difference you'd see the logs indicate speeds about 10% higher than Broder was actually traveling. There's your discrepancy between the two.
    . . .

    Uhhh, I don't usually drive the car on the wheels. I put tires on those wheels. Snow tires usually have more sidewall on them...
    Stock available tire wheel combos for a Tesla S: 245/45R19 or optional 245/35R21. Difference in size is .1" (27.7" - 27.8") which works out to 0.3%.

  • by trum4n ( 982031 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:35PM (#42911515)
    Heating the cabin is a concern, but not as much as implied above. Once the cabin is warm, a mere 200 watts can keep it toasty.
  • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:39PM (#42911583)
    "Teslas have 21" wheels normally. He was driving on 19" snow tires. If the system logging his speed wasn't calibrated for the wheel difference you'd see the logs indicate speeds about 10% higher than Broder was actually traveling. "

    Logic fail? Why are you assuming 2 separate systems for measuring speed? I suppose they could have used GPS for their logs, but it didn't say that anywhere. Most likely the cars speedometer and the speed on the logs came from the same source. Any error due to tire size would have affected both equally.
  • by garyebickford ( 222422 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (cib73rag)> on Friday February 15, 2013 @01:36PM (#42912351)

    IANA EE or automotive engineer, but I would probably use a heat pump rather than resistive heating. A heat pump has two purposes, air conditioning and heating. As a heater it is more than efficient, it can provide 300 or 400 watts of heat for 100 watts of power []. (Efficiency is not the correct term - 'transfer' is better - 'coefficient of performance'). The only disadvantage would be that heat pumps are noisy compared to a resistive heater, but that's not that big a deal in a car. And, of course, it can be used as an air conditioner in the summer - but then it uses a lot of power.

  • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @02:41PM (#42913389)

    And, of course, it can be used as an air conditioner in the summer - but then it uses a lot of power.

    Actually, using them in heating mode typically uses more power. The bigger the differential between ambient temperature and the desired conditioned temperature, the more energy is required. Going from 90 to 70 is only 20 degrees difference. Going from 0 degrees to 70 is 70 degrees difference, so the heating mode uses a lot more energy. It is still always going to be better than a resistive heating element, but the bigger the temp differential, the closer the two options get in terms of "efficiency".


  • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @02:43PM (#42913425) Homepage
    You need to take into account Broder's and Tesla's history if you're going to try to judge that without evidence. Broder has a long-standing animus towards electric vehicles. Tesla does not, so far as I can tell, have a history of wildly inflated claims about what their cars can do.

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