Tesla tears down NYT Model S review with car’s own logs

Feb 14, 2013
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Tesla tears down NYT Model S review with car’s own logs

Tesla has torn into the New York Times review of its Model S electric car, using systems logs showing charge and recharge status, driving style, cabin settings and more to undermine claims the EV is unreliable. In a detailed run-down of the stats gathered by the Model S' onboard computer - something Tesla says it always does "carefully" on media drives, after UK car show Top Gear made similar reliability claims about a previous model, in a case which ended up in the courtroom - Tesla CEO Elon Musk argues that NYT reviewer John Broder was prejudiced against electric cars from the start, and did as much as possible to portray the Model S as unfit for the road.

For instance, the onboard logs showing what charge the Model S had at points of the journey, and when Broder decided to recharge, indicate he took the car off the power connection earlier than stated in the original review. "The final leg of his trip was 61 miles and yet he disconnected the charge cable when the range display stated 32 miles" Musk argues. "He did so expressly against the advice of Tesla personnel and in obvious violation of common sense."

Meanwhile, some of Broder's claims about how he tried to minimize power consumption are also challenged. Musk points to the typical speeds driven at - 65 to 85 mph - and the average cabin temperature of 72F for the duration of the test, and the fact that the reviewer also actively turned the heating up when charge was getting low.

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Broder is even accused of trying to artificially run down the Model S' battery by more than it would typically, driving "in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot" in front of one of Tesla's Supercharger power stations, in what Musk suggests is an attempt to fully drain the car. Tesla also points out the sheer number of charging points - both its own, and those run by other companies - along the length of Broder's drive, as a counterpoint to the number of times the reviewer actually stopped to rejuice.

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For his part, Broder wrote a follow-up article - prior to Musk's breakdown of the numbers - in which he challenged some of Tesla's defenses around the Model S' performance. He maintains that the car is susceptible to cold weather, with an effect of reducing range, and claims nobody from the company gave the power-saving advice Musk refers to.

Tesla now says it will not be making further reference to the test drive, as it believes the data run-down "speaks for itself." Whether it will put Broder behind the wheel for a second attempt, as the NYT author says Musk originally offered, remains to be seen.


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