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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 parallel_prankster ( 1455313 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:32AM (#42909837)
    On one side you have John Broder who it seems like wants to see this tech fail for some reason or the other (This is just my personal opinion from reading his prior articles). That is the kind of mindset he was in before he even started test driving this. On the other side you have Elon Musk who wants to sell people this new tech which will obviously have some issues in the beginning (which Musk would rather not talk about instead and blame everyone else for it.) . The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. However, Musk's blog post was so convincing I almost find myself not rooting for John Broder at all!
  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:34AM (#42909857) Homepage Journal

    Just another journo that you can safely not read. I think Broder was caught in a near-total lie.

  • by ranulf ( 182665 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:35AM (#42909875)
    To me, 270 mile range sounds fantastic (my car only gets 210 miles to a tank). I know charging points aren't yet as ubiquitous as fuel stations and that's the point of these tests, but seriously 270 mile range is more than enough for most people to do 95% of their regular driving without even considering range.
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:38AM (#42909905) Homepage

    a) People also read about Ferraris, even though they'll never own one.

    b) This sort of tech is what most people will be driving a few years from now.

  • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:41AM (#42909937) Journal

    At what point do facts somehow become less convincing than John Broder's fabrication? Facts should be cut and dry, end of the day. If John is on one "side" and Musk is somehow on another, then you are simply misrepresenting "sides" to the story that don't exist. The opposite of facts is not another side to a story, it's called bullshit, and appropriately so. NYT doesn't get an all clear to do that any more than Faux news.

    Good thing we have penny arcade to sum up Broder:

    http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/i-5xVV2tB/0/950x10000/i-5xVV2tB-950x10000.jpg [penny-arcade.com]

  • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:42AM (#42909943)

    That's a fallacy [wikipedia.org]. It's entirely possible that Broder or Musk are entirely full of shit.

  • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:45AM (#42909979)

    Its been previously stated that powering the Tesla S to max range is equivalent to burning 3 gallons of gas.
    Compared to the usual 10-12 gallon gas tank of a car, that's pretty much a win no matter how you get the electricity (as long its not frm baby farts; while smelly, they arent very large or practical for a pwoerplant)

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:46AM (#42909991) Homepage

    Yep, and if you can charge it at home then you actually eliminate all those trips to the gas station. How would anybody not want that?

    If roadside cafes and/or mall parking lots with chargers become common, the only remaining problem would be the price. We all know what happens to the price of high-tech stuff...

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:46AM (#42909993) Homepage Journal

    Journalism is journalism, it's a form of entertainment and the major problem with it is that it's our only source of what's happening outside in the world unless we know people involved in those events that we trust (which we don't. And if we did, well, that'd be just one person too.)

    My epiphany about journalism came in the infamous Observer piece accusing Demon Internet (a major UK ISP) of selling child porn because it had an NNTP server, and anon.penet.fi - an anonymous emailer system that was used by groups like Amnesty International - of being a conduit for child porn even though that was almost a technical impossibility. The Observer was, at the time, one of Britain's most respected newspapers, largely independent, fearless, and frequently willing to speak truth to power. There were minor issues during a recently previous period in which it was owned by a gold mining company, but it wasn't owned by them any more, and even during that period it had a nearly unblemished reputation for truth.

    The Observer just made shit up, used a very obvious piece of sophistry to justify it, and put it on the front page. And never apologized.

    Why? Because they could. Scandals sell papers, and if you can take some snapshot of the world and create a tortured argument that it was scandalous, you can invent a scandal.

    And so we get to Broder, who may or may not be as guilty as Musk says, but, even discounting 90% of what Musk claims, operated his Tesla in a way no Tesla owner would have done in the real world in a deliberate attempt to get the failure he wanted.

    Why? Because he could. Scandals sell papers, and if you can take some snapshot of the world and create a tortured argument that it was scandalous, you can invent a scandal.

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:53AM (#42910101)

    I drive an average of 200 miles a week including commuting, errands, visiting family, etc. Every other month, I go to visit my parents about 150 miles away and do some light driving while I'm there. I might make a trip greater than 250 miles in a single stretch perhaps once every other year and in most cases, won't even cover that in a week. It sounds like a good fit for me - especially in a two-car home so if we need to go somewhere without charging stations, we can just take the other car.

  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:58AM (#42910147) Homepage Journal

    If journalism is now just "a form of entertainment" then as a democracy where people are trying to make decent decisions about their government and what corporations they interact with we're in DEEP SHIT.

    I doubt that Ed Murrow saw journalism as a form of entertainment.

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:00AM (#42910201)

    A gasoline-burning car is probably less polluting than a coal-burning electrical plant.

    There are huge advantages in economies of scale when centralizing pollution controls. For example each gasoline powered currently car has to carry around a certain mass of equipment in order to comply with current pollution standards. Removing that mass from a moving vehicle and putting it in a fixed location gives you an instant efficiency gain as you no longer have to waste energy carting it around with you.

    In addition, centralizing the power distribution of cars to current power stations allows you to flip over to a different primary source sometime in the future, without upsetting the consumption side. So while it may use fossil fuels now, that doesn't mean it still has to 10 years down the track. Think of it as refactoring the hardware to aid in future system changes.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:01AM (#42910213)

    If it takes an hour to fully charge I could see roadside cafes, movie theatres, etc. lining up to get them. (Not meant to be cynical: if you have people who need an hour to kill and a business that lets them kill that hour they really need to get together. It'd be quite a cultural change to routinely stop in for lunch at a particular place because you can charge you car there, of course.)

  • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:04AM (#42910251)

    But overall I am sure an electric car charged by a well tuned power plant will be more efficient than a gasoline car.

    You forgot another key thing -- when you take your foot off the gas in a gasoline car, it doesn't start magically creating new fuel and putting it back in your tank the way an EV does.

  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:19AM (#42910465) Homepage

    A "he-said-she-said pissing contest"? If he hadn't fought back, it would now be common understanding that the Tesla was a piece of shit that died on a NYT reporter. It's STILL common understanding that somehow a Tesla failed on Top Gear. Perception is absolutely reality. He had to hit back brutally and immediately, or Tesla would have been Apteraed.

  • by trum4n ( 982031 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:27AM (#42910567)
    More than 90% of the American Public should own an electric car. Charge it every night like a cell phone. Drive a gasser on the long trips, and save huge amounts of money and the environment the other days. The only issue with Tesla is the absurd price. And if you were worthy to ride in a Tesla, you would take that "gutless" comment back. My homebuilt EV will embarrass a 2014 Shelby GT500 in the 1/4 mile. My 204ft/lbs isn't a lot of torque in a gas car. But when your power band is 0-10000rpm, no gear shifting, it makes for one fast car.
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:28AM (#42910587) Homepage

    I just think this Tesla company is getting all a lot of hype for a car that the overwhelming majority of people won't be able to afford.

    Most of the equipment you take for granted in your car (air conditioning, airbags, ABS, traction control, etc.) started life in cars the overwhelming majority of people couldn't afford.

    Now a lot of it is mandatory even in cheap cars.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:34AM (#42910697) Homepage Journal

    Ed Murrow may have done. There are countless journalists out there who believe they're making the world a better place, using their craft to inform and explain, but they all know the difference between a good story and an important story, and the really, really, good journalists try to make important stories into good stories. Nobody would have read John Pilger's 1970s expose of Pol Pot's Cambodia (which scandalized Britain) if he didn't know how to keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat.

    It's more obvious that movies are a form of entertainment. They're 99% fiction, and a good movie (off topic note: Die Hard 5 is fucking awful. Just warning you. My wife and I saw it last night, attrocious. Gigli is a better movie.) is rarely an important movie (by which I mean a movie that tries to convey an important message.)

    Steven Spielberg knows that. And when you saw ET as a kid, you were entertained. But you were also entertained when you watched Schindler's List (assuming you weren't making out in the back row); Spielberg is a good director, and like a good journalist, he knows the difference between a good story and an important story, but can make an important story into a good movie.

    Recognize journalism for what it is. Journalism is about entertainment first. On occasion, if you're lucky, this will co-incide with getting better informed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:45AM (#42910859)

    Hi John, didn't know you had a /. account

  • by tippe ( 1136385 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:47AM (#42910893)

    And frankly, at least for me, there's an element of rooting for the underdog here. Tesla is doing what the big dogs said couldn't be done, and shouldn't be done, and they're doing it way better than what the big guys are doing. I haven't crunched any numbers, but I'll bet Tesla have accomplished way more (in terms of advancing the technology) with their time and $$ investments in the roadster and sedan than say GM has with the volt or Nissan with the leaf, despite those mega-corps having much more experience building cars.

  • by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:07PM (#42911139) Journal

    Neither will any gas powered sports car.

  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:24PM (#42911365)

    Some have commented on the temperature difference or the fact that Broder did an overnight, stop with the car unplugged.

    But the real difference is that Broder who was ostensibly testing the supercharging network, short charged it the Milford Supercharger.

    The CNN folks fully charged theirs.

    Broder has given multiple questionable excuses for that short charge, so it is looking more and more like it was setting the Tesla up for failure to drama up his story.


  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:28PM (#42911403)

    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?

    The New York Times is not generally considered a "comedy" publication, grouped into the same category as The Onion.

    Though I guess that could change.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:34PM (#42911513)

    It was colder on Broder's trip. The lowest being -1. The batteries are certified for -10. Meaning, down to -10, there will not be a significant difference. Broder was also told to plug the vehicle in at night during extremely cold weather which allows the battery packs to be heated. This in turn would have also provided additional charge. Broder elected not to. That's four charging opportunities he purposely avoided. Additionally, if you look at the data, you can see where Broder claims he was on cruise control at a slower speed yet the data clearly shows him constantly accelerating and decelerating at a much higher average speed, whereby at time's he hitting about 60% faster than he actually claims. In case its not clear, if you want to destroy fuel economy, constantly accelerate and decelerate.

    Basically if one had an objective to sabotage a product and then write about the failure specifically created by sabotage, you would do exactly as Broder did.

    I fully expect Broder is receiving big oil payola.

  • by iserlohn ( 49556 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:58PM (#42911839) Homepage

    Actually Broder's problem was that he embarked on a 61 mile leg, with the computer showing a range of only 32 miles. This definitively proves that he had the intention to "fail" the Model S. It doesn't matter if it was the president telling me to set off, I would not drive a car 61 miles with the range indicator saying 32 miles unless I wanted a ride on a tow truck.

  • by Lashat ( 1041424 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @12:59PM (#42911859)

    John Broder would have still had a great article if he just plainly said what he did to kill the battery. I think it is totally within the bounds of a "test drive" to punish the vehicle's limits. Especially, the range since that is the biggest talking point with the electric car technology and the Tesla Supercharger network.

    I would have driven like a road-racer on every leg. Carry my AAA card for free towing and make sure I understood how to ready the car for towing. Driving around a parking lot is so boring. A better story is how Bandit escaped Smokey in an Tesla S. Hid on a side road and waited for the Snowman to tow him back to the Supercharger station.

    Providing all of the facts about the trip and how well or poorly it held up to Telsa's claims.

    I hope journalists learn something, but I'm not holding my breath.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @01:12PM (#42912037) Homepage Journal

    I'd say that .6 miles is quite a bit, in a parking lot. Try it yourself. Go to your local mall, and drive around among the parked cars and pedestrians. .6 mile can be more nerve wracking than 600 highway miles.

  • by Cinder6 ( 894572 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @01:53PM (#42912663)

    The problem with Broder's article, if what Musk says is correct, is that he intentionally behaved like a loon while charging it. He charged it up to a 32-mile range when he knew he had to go 61 miles. Who on earth would do something like that? There's punishing the vehicle, and then there's trying to sabotage the vehicle's chances.

  • by Crispy Critters ( 226798 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @01:55PM (#42912697)
    Have you driven on I-95 in the dark much? Broder's statement about trying to find the charging station seems pretty reasonable from my experience in those giant rest stops.

    In general, the first thing that happens is that the ramp splits to separate traffic between parking trucks, parking cars, and gas station traffic. Does these signs say where the charging station is? Is it a sign that you will miss if you glance in your rearview mirror to see if there is an 18-wheeler coming zooming up behind you as you pause to look at signs?

    How can you be sure Broder is lying if you haven't been there in the dark yourself? There is no GPS recorder data and there is no camera footage.

  • by Howitzer86 ( 964585 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @02:05PM (#42912883)

    I fully expect Broder is receiving big oil payola.

    Kinda like that guy on Fox who talked about how sunny Germany is compared to the US and how that's why solar power makes sense for them...

    These are just big lies. I shudder to think of all the little lies we don't catch... the subtle manipulation of the populace by corrupt and powerful interests.

  • by makomk ( 752139 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @02:13PM (#42913013) Journal

    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.

    That's what Tesla staff supposedly told Broder was going to happen when he set of, and yet this thread and every other thread are full of people blaming Broder for setting off when he "knew" - based on the range reported by the car - that he could never possibly have made it and arguing that the only reason for him to do so was because he wanted to run out of power. Oddly enough no-one's accused them of spreading FUD or modded them down to -1, Troll...

    It's almost like Slashdotters is trying to rationalize this any way they can, regardless of whether the arguments are even vaguely logically consistent.

  • by iamgnat ( 1015755 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @02:14PM (#42913031)

    I don't know when the various laws took effect, but I know it's "broken" for cars at least since 1998 (first car I had cause to check the calibration and learned about all this) to be accurate with wheels and tires within OEM specs. It's a big deal in many places (Europe is where I'm the most familiar since I have a penchant for German cars apparently...) as the car MFG can face some pretty serious fines and penalties should it be found that one of their cars underreports the speed. Because of this they add the 5-10% buffer so that almost no matter what you do (e.g. short of 35" mud tires on a Smart) with a wheel/tire combination it won't underreport.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.