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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 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 j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:55AM (#42910123)
          That's only because he didn't circle around the parking lot until the battery was drained. That is the proper procedure as we all know...
      • 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 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 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]

      • To be fair, the "NYT" didn't lie - Broder did. The NYT backed up one of their journalists. Which they should! You don't throw your soldiers out into the enemies tender mercies, just 'cause. But if Broder lied - or was confused - then he has lost their protection, one would think. Let's see how this plays out. Reportorial lying is not well received at any paper.

        • 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.

      • "Facts should be cut and dry, end of the day."

        But they aren't. There are supposed phone calls with no tapes. There are routes with no GPS recorders.

        We have a journalist with notes and memories with errors and a businessman with access to uncheckable logs who is also a mind reader (look at how often Musk claims to know why Broder did something).

        One fact is clear and consistent from Musk's graphs: Under reasonable winter driving conditions, the actual range on the car was only 75% the estimated range,

    • 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 jythie ( 914043 )
        Well, there are a number of layers to this, and it can be useful to unpack them. In a way the OP has a point, both have a known bais and preformed a similar test with drastically different results. Once all the data is looked at, of course it is possible one of them is, as you say, completely full of shit.. it is also possible they both are a bit off, and a whole range in between. However the final outcome does not negate initial bais, and looking over their respective reviews and results should be done
      • 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 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 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 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 listen

    • 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 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 lorinc ( 2470890 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:45AM (#42909989) Homepage Journal

      Forget about miles and think in kilometers. In Europe, we say that 640k should be enough for anybody.

    • 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 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 prefec2 ( 875483 )

          Sounds like a great plan. People should hang out more often. Beside that, people already go out for lunch, or park their car at work. Every time the car is parked it can also charge.

          • Every time the car is parked it can also charge.

            I'm sorry, but I just don't see that happening in the next 20-40 years, unless your only destination is an official quick charge station.

            Look at you average parking lot/garage. What do you see? Lots of spaces, and very little wired cabling.

            The problem is, these parking lots would have to be dug-up and completely resurfaced to run cables to each parking spot (can't just wire-up a few spots and "reserve" them for EVs, no way people will obey that). Or you cou

    • 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.

    • Now just make small thorium reactor to self-charge these cars and I'm sold!

    • "270 mile range sounds fantastic (my car only gets 210 miles to a tank)." You should get a better car. I drive a VW TDI, and on a half tank (somewhere between 12 and 13 gallons) I can do at least 200 miles -- and I do not exactly drive in a way that maximizes fuel efficiency. Diesel cars sound a bit different and smell a bit odd after short trips, but even with higher-priced fuel you are going to see a cost advantage to diesel (maintenance is a bit pricier too, but even factoring that in you'll have a co
  • 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 guanxi ( 216397 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:45AM (#42909981)

    Traffic? Did he stop overnight?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Necroman ( 61604 )

      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.

    • There seems to be a misconception on the temperature difference.

      Go Read Broders piece, He said he recieved the car on a Sunny 30F day. He mentioned the temperature while driving was in 30's on day 1.

      It only hit 10F overnight while the car was parked. This was the major difference. He parked the car overnight, CNN kept going.

  • 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 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.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.