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New York Times Article - And My response

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/automobiles/stalled-on-the-ev-highway....

John - I assume you did the research, or perhaps someone at Tesla told you, that when you go for an extended trip you you do a max charge - that would have given you 265+ miles of rated range. When you go on a road trip in your gas car do you put 12 gallons in a 14 gallon tank?

If I go somewhere in my gas car, spend $8 to get 2 gallons and 60 miles of range, but needed 3 gallons to go 90 miles and get there, and run out of gas, shame on me. Plug in overnight, always. It's EASY.

Here's the equivalent - you get gas when you need to. You plug in every night when you get to your destination. There are more outlets in America than gas pumps - probably at least 1 million times more. Every outlet in America is a refilling station. Come on!

Why didn't you point out the basics that you failed on? If you ran out of gas would you blame Ford for not telling you the car's MPG, or Exxon for not having a station when you needed it?

Driving an electric car is NOT less convenient, it just asks you to think differently. Takes effort, just like a gas car requires effort. If you start simple-mindedly with the gas paradigm as the baseline, you have made a basic mistake. Would get on a bike and write a negative article because you couldn't make it go 65 MPH? Please make the effort next time and acknowledge when you don't.

www.teslamodels.wordpress.com

Just publish the factual car log data already and stop making a bigger deal out of it...

Just listened to Elon's phone interview with Bloomberg. He really needs some professional public speaking lessons. He sounds like a stumbling, bumbling amateur. Now that makes me want to sell my Telsa stock...

I don't want to hear a nervous, fast talking CEO. I want calm, thoughtful confidence with clear powerful delivery. Maybe he's just spread too thin...

@ dstiavnicky

Getting emotional is not advisable. Mocking Elon's speech impediment is not helpful. He for sure is very well aware of his stuttering. Appreciate brains and not mouth, content and not form. I think you shall be very happy with Elon and his competence compared to a teflon blabbermouth.

@GeirT

I'm not trying to mock. Are you sure he has a speech impediment? I've heard him speak much more eloquently in other situations. In either case, it just sounds to me like he is not prepared.

I certainly don't want a 'teflon blabbermouth' but I do expect him to be ready for the questioning with a prepared response. Perhaps his confidence and ego has told him he can just 'shoot from the hip'?
That would be a mistake for anyone.

Here is a more balanced article from The Verge:

http://www.theverge.com/2013/2/12/3969260/going-the-distance-driving-tes...

As a fellow reservation holder and avid Tesla follower, I was on CNBC yesterday afternoon discussing the NYT article (right after the story broke). I was actually on to discuss Apple, but mentioned to the producers a few minutes before air that I am a reservation holder. There seems to be tremendous misinformation amongst mainstream media about this car. Hopefully, over time, the general population will become more educated.

http://www.technobuffalo.com/videos/jon-rettinger-cnbc-tesla-model-s/

Release the logs already.....

I do think Elon could have taken the high road in this case but it is his call.
One real problem with the EV car is the anticipated range and the belief that this should drive your decisions to refuel. I agree that you need to plan any trip but does anyone fill the tank of their ICE and expect to get the EPA predicted range? IE: ICE car with 15 gallon tank and 25 mpg = range of 375 miles. However Consumer Reports will tell you to anticipate about 10% less for the average driver (=337.5miles) add in winter weather and a head wind assume another 10% (300 miles) If you ran out of gas at 304 miles people would assume you are a fool. Why; because the gas gauge drives our decisions to refuel not the anticipated range. When the gauge on the dash says refuel you refuel.

If only they had a guage like that in the Tesla. Oh wait they do! The battery range concerns are warranted and the cold weather issues require more study. However running your vehicle out of fuel is stupid. The car comes with a mobile cord that includes a 110 volt plug which means there are literaly millions of fueling options available. Would it be hours before you get back on the road: yes. Would it be very frustrating;yes. Would it avoid you the embaresemnt of being a fool; yes.

Of course running out of power on the highway would make for a more interesting story and a funny photo-op but I am sure this was not the motivation of the writer. I truely believe his is just dumb.

I agree with Elon on this I think the whole article was biased.

@ dstiavnicky, Check other videos of Elon and you'll hear the same type of stutter. No need to discuss this further. I've made my point. You believe what you believe.

I am a reservation holder and a believer in Tesla and EV (expecting delivery in May), BUT you have to understand people are afraid of the car running out on them on the road. This is a new technology and it will take time for people to understand and be comfortable with EVs. Making them as easy as possible with no surprises like large range drops will be the key.

Most people do not drive at or below the speed limit so I think the article came as a shock and frankly it should be expected that people will want to poke holes in the likelihood of EVs succeeding. Frankly I was not impressed by Musk’s response on the CNBC call in, I assumed when Tesla handed the car over to the reporter they explained to him about a full charge, but no one would expect to see huge range drops and I like everyone else will not be driving a car 55 mph on a highway with no heat. Its not about detours but what the car says the range is and what it really is.

I live in the Northeast and do have concerns of charge loss. I drive a Prius now and do see during the winter with above speed driving a loss of 20%. I am not concerned about the car dying on me as my drive is 60+ miles a day, however for EV to become more mainstream the cost needs to come down (even less than the Gen III) and have longer ranges since 300 now becomes 250 and 230 could become under 200 at a full charge.

If I factor in winter loss (my car will be in non heated garage), non max range charge, speeds above average and 60kwh battery I would go from 230 max charge to I assume closer to 160-180 range per charge. Please let me know if I am way off.

I would love to hear back from Tesla S drivers in the Northeast and how the cold is affecting the range.

A follow up to my points. Someone else pointed this page out:

http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/Model-S-range-Tables.pdf

So if this is real and I drive on the highway with ac or heat (New England) then I can expect 197 range on a 85 kwh battery??? Thats a 34% loss of MAX range. So what does that mean for a 65kwh battery with a non max range charge, 150 if i'm lucky? And thats a brand new car after 4 years it gets worse. Let's hope this article is wrong, or battery technology improves.

It does puzzle me why Tesla has such a difficult time communicating important things to customers.

It was like this with launch dates, prices and superchargers.

And now "cold weather".

To be attacked for asking for a better mechanism of managing the car in real world situations like overnight parking in cold non-electric airport parking garages seems odd.

Rather, we should all want to push Tesla to issue written advice, surface measurements, integrate re-charging options into the navigation system and provide better forecasting tools.

I can envision a much more useful navigation system that keeps you updated on what it will take to get you to your destination.

Nobody wants to have range anxiety.

Perhaps, making range information a higher priority would have prevented the NY Times article and help owners as well.

@dand

If any of these communications issues puzzle you, you've never worked in a rapidly growing startup.
Limited resources, difficulty hiring the people you need, and trying to ramp up production of a new
product all add up to insurmountable growing pains. Give them time. It sucks, but it's reality.

That EVs have limitations is certainly true and fair. But something else has happened here.

As the NYT said, the article was "factually correct".

Their careful legal words betray the core problem: Bias rather than inaccuracy.

The writer sought to focus on how the car could fail, rather than what it could do.

Yet every gasoline car could have been made to run out of gas, on that very same trip, if the driver wanted it to.

If used sensibly, the car could have made the trip. The article suggests it can't.

The writer was not dumb. He used his intelligence to slouch into a seemingly embarrassing failure.

That Elon would be incensed at such disingenuousness is not surprising. That it was on display on Bloomberg is to be human, and to defend your mission.

The contrast between the two characters in this morality play is stark:

One man bets it all on a high purpose.

The other parts with his integrity for a pittance.

DanD - the problem is the biggest variable in the range is how you will drive in the future. The car can't know that.

A gas car will also vary quite a lot, and if they have any range estimates they are also quite a lot. Nobody seems to need extra notifications that they might sometimes get 375mi on a tank and sometimes 500mi depending on how they drive, and the gas gauge suffices for knowing how much they have left.

The real problem is people holding EVs to a different standard -- they want to say "oh, you said it could do 300 miles on a charge" and ignore the conditions associated with that. Yet people don't think anything of not being able to match EPA mpg ratings when they drive differently. Yes, some things behave differently than people are used to -- heating in a gas car doesn't cost much because you are wasting all that energy normally, so you have to realize that will be different. Aside from really cold environments where you need a block heater to keep the engine from freezing, ICE cars don't use energy to keep from getting to cold while EVs do. On the flipside, everyone has their own private gas station at home, and your car fills up while you sleep. You get instant torque at 0rpm, etc.

@jat

That's an interesting comment. I think it's partly because of the ways EV's are currently marketed.
I've never bought/seen an ICE car advertised with it's range, just MPG, and *maybe* tank capacity and they let you do the math.

Maybe EV's should be marketed with just kWh/mile and battery capacity?

I think it's damned if they do, damned if they don't. They *have* to overcome range anxiety because of early limited range cars. So, they use range as a specification. But once they do that, all sorts of vagaries of driver, conditions, etc. creep in that no one complains about in ICE cars, because NONE of them state their range.

Just as a point of comparison. My prius varies WILDLY in range before it's screaming for gas. As little as 350 miles and up to close to 500 depending on weather, driving route, etc. Has anyone written articles about getting AAA for their prius because they figured it would always go 500?

@bostoncde - if you are driving 75mph, then you should know that the range will be significantly reduced. Tesla has said 300mi range on 85kWh is based on constant 55mph on flat ground with no HVAC. The EPA rated range of 265mi is based on a 5-cycle test which includes a mix of surface and highway driving. Tesla also showed a graph showing the expected range at any given constant speed.

Before I ever got the car, I calculated that I could get about 220mi max-range on an 85kWh battery at 75mph running the HVAC. My long-distance drives so far show that I will get 210-220 (sometimes faster than 75), so the car pretty much exactly meets my expectations. I'm sorry if it doesn't meet yours or that you think Telsa needs to be more proactive in making sure people understand the implications.

@vinspin, it will be great to have a few more superchargers along the way. And I am pretty sure they will crop up sooner than later.

@Brian H anyone who bought a 60 with the thought it would make a good long-distance car was self-deluded. Not necessarily. Sometimes, all that the charge the Model S needs is for those 50 or 100 miles to complete your trip. Paying $2000 for the supercharger hardware is much better than paying $10,000 for the bigger battery.

~ Prash.

prash, The problem with your thought is that the supercharger needs to be at the right spot in your trip for that to work whereas having the larger battery you are not dependent upon where the supercharger is located. If you know the superchargers are located in the right spots for your travels then by all means that is the right decision. But at this point most of us have no clue as to whether a supercharger will be located where we need it.

It's not like Tesla is being secretive about range concerns.

It's like, right on their website. Interactive and everything.

http://www.teslamotors.com/goelectric#range

It would be nice if a 75mph slider was incorporated for open freeway driving, but otherwise yeah. It's not a secret that you are less efficient going faster or using more power, whether it's ICE or EV.

@Theresa, I agree with you about the right spot for the supercharger. But, the right spot varies from person to person and from trip to trip :)

For us, the longest trip we will take with our Model S is about 320 miles. There is one supercharger, the Milford CT one, right in the middle of this trip, at 170 miles. So, for us and for this trip, 60kWh + supercharger is an excellent fit (and no delusions here). I am hoping that Tesla will install a few more along the I-95. Of course, this may not be this year or the next, but in 5 years or so, I am pretty sure it will happen.

~ Prash.

Can you do 170 Miles in your 60kWh? I'm nervous about trying, certainly not this Winter.

Worried about stop and go traffic on the GW Bridge or on either side.

Also starting to realize how unsafe it feels to drive 55MPH when the normal speed is closer to 75 (for instance on the Jersey Turnpike).

Everyone is too focused on the supercharger network. I too hope to see more of them built. But, we also have to remember this is all very new. More charging networks are in the planning stages with Tesla and other private companies. Living near Chicago I have many more options than people living in smaller communities. However, I believe it won't be long before more charging stations are set up in common areas like Target parking lots. We need to think into the future because times are changing. Naysayers should not be taken seriously as experts on the issues because they are naturally resistant to change and will try to drag you down with them.

Elon - please, in the future, follow the old bromide: "Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel." Instead of challenging the reporter, who was simply doing his job, testing Tesla's claim that one could drive from Washington, DC to Boston via Supercharger free electrons. Elon should have simply said any EV has the same issue with variability in range, Tesla will be adding Supercharging stations, and the reporter could have avoided any problems by charging in an RV park or public charging station. Problem averted. And there would have been no follow on articles about Elon's ire.

The latest from the NYT:

http://t.co/bOixmV6i

Elon - please, in the future, follow the old bromide: "Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel." Instead of challenging the reporter, who was simply doing his job, testing Tesla's claim that one could drive from Washington, DC to Boston via Supercharger free electrons. Elon should have simply said any EV has the same issue with variability in range, Tesla will be adding Supercharging stations, and the reporter could have avoided any problems by charging in an RV park or public charging station. Problem averted. And there would have been no follow on articles about Elon's "ire".

@DanD, we haven't tried the trip yet for the simple reason that we don't have ours yet :)

Moreover, there are a few reasons why I think we should be able to pull it off. 1. The trip is in Summer, when we visit my sister-in-law and her family. 2. I drive at 65 mph, 70 at the most. 3. We drive down from Boston and take Tappan Zee (not GW) as we go to Allentown.

I do know what you mean about the "unsafe" speed of 55 mph.

@L8MDL, thanks for the link.
@Neech, +1.

Heard you the first time, Bob.

But the NYT is doing active harm to the company. By using an uninformed amateur reviewer with a bone to pick, it was a "set-up". Ask any ex-journalist if content is shaped to fit editorial policy and preferences.

I believe it was FDR who said, "In politics, if it happened, it wasn't an accident." This is an illustration of the same principle at work in journalism.

So taking the "high road" and keeping up the pretense of civility with those who plan on taking advantage of your restraint is like hoping the bully's arm will get tired from hitting you. Could happen. Seventy times seven, and all that. But, IIRC, Elon's SA school days were spent taking that kind of abuse for being smart. That may be the wellspring of some of his current emotion.


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