Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk recently took the New York Times to task for an unflattering article about the Tesla Model S. Speaking to CNBC, Musk said, “Essentially, we think the article is a bit of a set up and is unreasonable.”
In the New York Times article, John Broder said that although the road trip started out well enough, later on the car kept losing its charge, making the entire trip seem unlikely on one charge. He received the car with a full charge, and after going from Washington to Delaware, Broder still had half of his charge. While stopped, he recharged the car and with a 242 mile range, set off for Milford. “As I crossed into new Jersey some 15 miles later, I noticed that the estimated range was falling faster than miles were accumulating. At 68 miles since recharging, the range had dropped by 85 miles.”
Broder believes this was due to the harsh temperatures, and in order to save the remaining charge, he turned off the heater and set the cruise control to 54 mph, well under the speed limit of 65. When he arrived at his destination, he parked the car with 90 miles of charge. However, by the next morning, “The thermometer read 10 degrees and the display showed 25 miles of remaining range–the electrical equivalent of someone having siphoned off more than two-thirds of the fuel that was in the tank when I parked.” Broder ultimately had to have the car put on a flatbed trailer to a charging station.
In response, Musk notes that when the vehicle was returned after the test drive, the logs showed that Broder did not charge the car at all overnight; if charged completely overnight, the weather would not have been a factor.
The reason for the dispute is that John Broder from the New York Times didn’t fully charge his vehicle before taking it out on the trip, along with taking a long detour. Broder wrote that the Tesla Model S, when in cold temperatures, the charge drops. However, he did not charge the car to the maximum before heading out on his road trip. “It’s like starting off a drive with a tank that’s not full,” commented Musk.
Although Broder didn’t fully charge the vehicle, he had enough of a charge to get to the next Supercharger station. By taking a detour through Manhattan in a way that the logs show reduce the car’s range, he wasted the charge that would have let him reach the station in plenty of time. The New York Times responded to Musk’s claims, saying, “He described the entire drive in the story; there was no unreported detour. And he was never told to plug the car in overnight in cold weather, despite repeated contact with Tesla.”
Automotive.com’s take: While Broder may not have been explicitly told to recharge the car overnight, we think common sense says that you plug in your plug-in car whenever it’s going to sit for a while. This would go double if you’re in an area with cold weather, which isn’t good for batteries. That said, electric cars are a new thing, and it will take time for drivers and infrastructure to adjust to the technology.