Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
A Most Peculiar Test Drive (teslamotors.com)
1859 points by reneherse 1319 days ago | hide | past | web | 578 comments | favorite



Wow. I was as skeptical of the wisdom of Tesla attacking NYT's journalist for their Model S review as all the other HNers - but this is incredible.

First: I realize the fact that what the hardware logs show and what the user was shown may not be one and the same (i.e. hardware sensors may indicate charge at 28% but due to a bug (it's possible!) it may be shown to be full). But their travel logs shred, I repeat, shred Broder's credibility and claims alike.

It really does look like he was hell-bent on ripping Tesla a new one in his review. Taking Tesla's rebuttal at face value: purposely embarking on journeys over twice the indicated available range, driving around in circles in an empty parking lot to kill batteries, turning up the heat and claiming to have turned it down ("shaking, shivering, and with white knuckles" no less).

They post images, graphs, logs, maps, and more. I'm incredibly surprised at how well they're defending themselves against dishonest reviews - for example, I'd never have thought to log the changes to the cabin temperature, but apparently they've done so and more!

This post makes me want to reconsider a Model S as my next car. As far as I'm concerned, this is exactly the kind of attention to detail I want going into the engineering, design, and manufacture of my vehicle.

I'd be interested in hearing NYT's response to this - they previously stated unconditionally that they stand by Broder's review and believe it to be honest, truthful, and factual.

If indeed at the end of the day this was Broder pushing his own agenda, not only ignoring but outright faking facts, then I think his journalistic career should be over.


Like the OP, I'm assuming many of us, have a great deal of respect for his intellect and integrity, but honestly, I can't help feeling a bit let down by the way Mr Musk has handled the situation.

Musk opens the rebuttal with: "We are upset by this article because it does not factually represent Tesla technology, which is designed and tested to operate well in both hot and cold climates."

It certainly feels somewhat disingenuous to mention nothing, of what arguably should be, the central discussion point: The Model S (more specifically the car's Li-Ion battery pack) performs unusually poorly in frigid conditions.

While as a nerdier group we tend to love data and generally have a higher faith in empirical methods, in this instance, it does appear more like a data deluge. As a result, this ends up detracting focus and deflecting any valid criticism of the car.

Although I've been following TM for years now, the battery pack temperature issue was still a surprise to me. More importantly, Tesla owners are finding this out the hard way too. [1][2]

Did the NYT reporter add a little journalistic embellish to the story? Probably. Is the review a complete work of fiction as Musk judged it? Unlikely, and what is more probable is that Musk has simply overreacted and has taken it personally. Indeed he is still human after all.

[1] http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/13633-NYT-arti...

[2] http://andwediditourway.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-not-so-ev...

(attr. iyulaev)


It certainly feels somewhat disingenuous to mention nothing, of what arguably should be, the central discussion point: The Model S (more specifically the car's Li-Ion battery pack) performs unusually poorly in frigid conditions.

When reading the article I found it interesting that for the data points relating to the NYT test drive he speaks in precise and specific numbers. When discussing the vehicles in cold climates (Norway and Sweden) he speaks in "per capita" and "half", but never mentions exact numbers.

The cold weather battery issue is certainly something not worth glassing over. It doesn't have to be a deal-killer for the car, but is probably something that they shouldn't try to politic around. It's not like a firmware upgrade is going to suddenly circumvent a chemical/physics issue with the battery, so just be up front about the current state of the battery technology.


> Did the NYT reporter add a little journalistic embellish to the story? Probably.

Agree that it's not a total work of fiction and there are clearly issues that EV shoppers should consider.

But how much embellishment should we expect and allow in future reviews from the NYT? Integrity in journalism is pretty much everything, and it looks like enough questions are being raised that some readers will wonder what the NYT is mischaracterizing.


> It certainly feels somewhat disingenuous to mention nothing, of what arguably should be, the central discussion point: The Model S (more specifically the car's Li-Ion battery pack) performs unusually poorly in frigid conditions.

If you listen to the interviews Musk gave with the likes of Bloomberg about this, he explains how they have taken care to make the car perform well in the cold. Things such as moving heat from the motor into the battery-pack and, when it detects cold temperatures, closing shutters at the front of the car to insulate it.


That's a good point. Although, irrespective of how thoughtfully Tesla may have attempted to mitigate the fundamental problem through novel engineering, the reality seems to reflect something else. Having now entered the market in full swing, car owners are confirming this is a valid issue (especially in the very cold climate states).

To be fair though, sub-zero temperature battery issues generally affect EVs across the board.[1] However, Tesla is positioning itself as the first mainstream car manufacture to go all out on EV. Thus, surely the onus ought to fall with them, when it comes to educating the 'ICE(internal combustion engine)-driving' public as to the potential pitfalls and differences between ICEs and EVs? Instead the company seems to be ignoring the issue, hoping it will go away.

It's not within the public's experience, that if you leave your vehicle unplugged overnight, in extreme cold, the range can have reduced itself significantly by the next morning. Contrastingly, operating under normal conditions, the manual allegedly states (Page 25) about a 1% discharge rate per day. [2]

Now ordinarily I might say this is a once off. But it would appear, lack of adequate customer education is a recurring concern.

Consider the case of an early adopter (Max Drucker) that had his Tesla Roadster bricked [3][4]. He was told he needed to pay $40 000 for a new battery pack because he was 'negligent'. His transgression? Leaving it unplugged for 2 months in a temporary garage while renovating his home.

What could be negligent, is Tesla failing to highlight possible issues pertaining to their EV vehicles and how they differ from ICE expectations. Burying important or even critical details in the manual/warranty docket, seems questionable.

Still a huge supporter of what they are trying to achieve, but their refusal to admit any fault and tendency to blame the customer, is a tad off-putting.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01...

[2] http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/12188-Battery-...

[3] http://www.examiner.com/article/it-s-a-brick-tesla-s-batteri...

[4] http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/02/bricked-tesla-roadsters...


No, no, no. There is no such thing as journalistic embellishment. That's not okay, and certainly not for a journalist at The New York Times of all places.

I'm a journalist, and I expected what was written by Broder to be accurate, not embellished. This isn't Top Gear. There is no story to tell, just the truth.


I think that Tesla have been expecting this kind of shenanigans after the Top Gear pulava. It's clear that they have made sure that they have all the key data capture points switched on for a journalistic test drive.

It doesn't surprise me that a big media columnist on a topic is so in-bed with the industry he covers that he goes out of his way to defend incumbents from newcomers. I'm just glad that this nonsense has been exposed for what it is.

I'll be interested to see how the NYT handles it - though I suspect it'll be with denials and obfuscation as is par for the course for them in what has been a shameful decade or more of bogus stories, fabrications and toeing the establishment line on everything even in the face of countervailing evidence (that's as long as I've been in the US and paying attention).


> It doesn't surprise me that a big media columnist on a topic is so in-bed with the industry he covers that he goes out of his way to defend incumbents from newcomers.

More likely his thinking has been formed by years of contact with the industry he covers; his bias is more likely to implicit and unconscious than explicit and willful.


I don't know that this is quite the refutation that everyone is saying it is. I'm not sure what a reviewer driving in circles at a charging station proves? I imagine he wanted to find out what would happen - after all he was at the station anyway. Also he clearly does start to turn down the climate change about 20 miles or so after he claims - not sure why Tesla is really fighting on that one.

There is no denial of the Tesla losing 60 miles range overnight. There isn't a denial of Tesla telling him that the battery would regain its charge and range when it warmed up in the final leg. *Edit: Although it does certainly say they told him not to stop charging on that final charge.


Broder actually had an ok story to begin with, with a number of facts that are review-worthy. The cold weather energy loss is certainly one of them. Also, the Supercharger stations are not close enough together, admitted by Musk. Their customer support gave them incorrect instructions to use cruise control to preserve energy, which raises questions about how knowledgable their staff really is if it could leave you stranded. And electric cars use electric heaters, and you might be forced to pick some combo of heat and miles on freezing days. Most importantly, you still need to constantly be thinking about range.

But Broder pushed it. Trying to get the battery to die in his first Milford stop is an obvious one. But when he failed to do that, he got a second chance by leaving Norwich without possibly being able to make it back to Milford. Both Broder and Musk agree that the car showed 32 miles of range, and that the car had made it 51 miles. But he would have known, before he left Norwich, that the distance to Milford was 61 miles. How Broder reasonably expect he would get there?

As a result, he gets his dramatic photo of the Motor Trend Car of the Year, helpless on a flatbed truck.


> As a result, he gets his dramatic photo of the Motor Trend Car of the Year, helpless on a flatbed truck.

As they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I can't help but think all the author wanted is that photo.


Exactly like Top Gear set it up.

Face it, he's biased. Even if he made every effort to be honest in the review, in the end, he's true to himself and his own ideals.


If I was a car reviewer and rocked up at a charging station with 0 miles range showing, I'd want to know what happens if you push it for a little bit more. It would definitely be an exaggeration for the story but we're talking about half a mile out of 200. He might have even been completely honest deliberately going the extra half mile if there had been some catastrophic result - a review isn't just a real drive, it has to be part simulation.

As for driving that final stretch with 30 miles range showing - his story is that Tesla told him it would be fine because it would be regained through the battery conditioning. Tesla says that they told him not to stop charging. Well there is a lot of wiggle room for both those statements to be true.


> I'd want to know what happens if you push it for a little bit more.

Well, that should be obvious: the car stops. But even if that's what he wanted to do, he should have acknowledged it. At the end of the day, there's lots of reasons to not buy a Tesla or an EV in general. But this is a question of integrity, and when it starts to sound like the reviewer didn't provide a fair review, it brings a lot of collateral damage to the entire organization.

> Well there is a lot of wiggle room for both those statements to be true.

Agree. I went back and read that portion again. It's possible that he was falsely told that the range would be greater than indicated. Or he was told that a few minutes of charging would help the range, and simply assumed that what he did was enough, while ignoring the actual displayed range.

Clarification on this point is important because that's the headline and lead photo of this article -- that he was completely stranded.


>Well, that should be obvious: the car stops.

Yeah but does it stop on zero? Does it brick the car?

As it turns out Tesla knows what they are doing, and there is a reserve, probably that's pretty disappointing as a car journalist. But hey, when did we think car journalists were on the side of car manufacturers?


I think this is totally fair thing to try out.

But, then Broder should have mentioned it in his article, like: "I drove around for a few minutes on empty while right in front of the charging station to see what would happen. But Tesla's battery outlasted my patience and I decided just to charge instead."


What reason besides stupidity would explain a reviewer intentionally bricking the car? It would be like putting vodka in the gas tank "to find out what happens".


How about to expose the stupidity of a car bricking under normal use (if it indeed would have bricked)?


@tatsuke95 normal use being continue to drive in circles after the car flashes "0 miles" and "recharge immediately" in your face for minutes? Besides, it turns off before the battery is depleted for that exact reason, it won't be bricked unless you try really hard.


"Normal use" being "I forgot to get gas last night, I wonder if I have enough to make it to work and stop on the way home". Less likely for a car that gets plugged in every night and has enough range for 3-4 days, but more severe since you'd be at least 30 minutes late instead of 5 minutes.


This is mind-boggling, it's like every comment starts a new, out-of-context discussion. The context here is someone purposedfully continuing to drive the car after it's empty and the "car bricking under normal use" comment. In your example it wouldn't be bricked.


why would it be unreasonable to test that in a review?


it's not, but it is unreasonable to not mention it if you did it.


Both Broder and Musk agree that the car showed 32 miles of range, and that the car had made it 51 miles. But he would have known, before he left Norwich, that the distance to Milford was 61 miles. How Broder reasonably expect he would get there?

Broder claims: "Tesla’s experts said that pumping in a little energy would help restore the power lost overnight as a result of the cold weather, and after an hour they cleared me to resume the trip to Milford."

In other words, it sounds like he thought that the 65 miles of range he lost overnight would be restored by charging it a little bit more at Norwich. He says he just couldn't make it to the next charging station by the time he realized this clearly wasn't going to work.


I imagine Tesla weren't terribly keen to press the point when he left Norwich because a journalist having to stand around for several hours in the freezing cold whilst the Tesla Model S charged wouldn't look that much better in print than the same journalist running out of power and having to be towed.

It would have taken him, oooh, about 8 hours to do a full charge at Norwich. What actually seems more likely - Elon Musk's insinuations that the only reason he didn't charge up fully there was because he was deliberately trying to run the car flat, or the journalist not wanting to hang around for an entire day in a small town in freezing weather?


He did not have to sit around 8 hours for the full charge, just enough to have the estimated range match how far he needed to drive. Then if it did not make that range, he could truthfully say that the car missed fell short of its estimate. As it is, he left on a 61 mile trip with the car telling him he only had 32 miles left.


And then Elon Musk would have again blamed him for not charging up fully there. He's already insinuating that the only reason not to do a full charge was because he wanted to run out: "On the third leg, where he claimed the car ran out of energy, he stopped charging at 28%. Despite narrowly making each leg, he charged less and less each time. Why would anyone do that?"

(Also, looking closely at the graphs I think I underestimated the charge times. It'd be more like 10 hours, which would basically wind up adding another day to the trip - after which Elon would presumably have written a blog post complaining that he could have just charged enough to get to the Supercharger and done the journey much faster, and use that as evidence he was maliciously trying to discredit Tesla. It's lose-lose for the unlucky journalist.)


Well that's a straw man. You have no idea what Elon Musk would have done.


If he'd charged enough for his final trip, he would have arrived without problems. Why do you think Elon would be blaming anyone in that situation?


Eight hours is the time it takes to charge on a home outlet, not a charging station.


There's a business opportunity there though - food and entertainment and lodging for the few hours to charge a car.


The charging stations take one hour to fully charge the 85 Kwh Model S that was test-driven. A 30-minute charge would give the vehicle enough juice for 150 miles of travel.

http://www.technewsworld.com/story/77299.html


Those are the Supercharger stations. The Norwich one, that Tesla directed him to, wasn't a Supercharger. It took an hour to do 19->32.


So there's one damning thing in Broder's review: the confirmation of his range anxiety as the Model S sits on a flatbed.

Tesla explicitly refutes that point by saying Broder ignored warnings against leaving Norwich. Also, I mean, come on: range says 30 and you have to go 60 miles so...you...disconnect the power? Interesting, especially since it's not the first time he tried to kill the car (see "driving around parking lot for 5 minutes with zero range").

But then again...look at the battery chart just before the Norwich charge. You see zero increase in distance, and a large (=60-70 miles) drop in range. That's the evening where he lost a bunch of power. That's a problem for Tesla.

Anyway, Broder has a rebuttal to Musk's initial claims here [0]. I'm curious to see how he responds to this blog post, especially what seems to be a deliberate attempt to kill the car's power before recharging at Milford the second time.

[0] http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-f...


It's not JUST that he drove in circles near a charging station. It is that he had initially charged it for LESS than the recommended charge for the rest of his journey, then when he made the journey (even though the car was saying that he should recharge immediately), to get it to shutdown he drove in circles for a while to try and get it to shutdown.

It's not JUST that he drove in circles, that takes it out of context. It is within the broader narrative that you realize how sinister that action really was.


The reporter was blatantly trying to drain the battery to get a story. They were, in no way, behaving like any half-ways rational person would, and they were absolutely not behaving the way anybody driving a Tesla would

Zero doubt in my mind this was a pre-scripted hatchet job. The only question in my mind was whether the deception rises to the level of termination.


>"They were, in no way, behaving like any half-ways rational person would"

I know, right? No rational person would put the cruise on 60, sometimes do 80, and expect the cabin temperature to be a balmy 75 degrees.

Broder's article was a hack job. That's obvious. But I can't come to terms with how a rational person would want to stop every 3 hours to charge a car for an hour. Get yourself a small turbo-diesel and you're doing this trip in probably half the time, thanks to no charging and setting the cruise at whatever you want. Oh, and you can play whatever music and set the cabin temperature to whatever you'd like. And it's 1/5th the price.

I'm not surprised that the Times wrote a shitty article. I am surprised at how bad the Tesla looks as a daily driver.


If your daily drives are three hours, I'm concerned for you.


We don't all live in California and get to bike to work. I have 3+ hour drives twice a week. Sometimes it's very cold.

Granted, I'm not going to buy a Model S to do this sort of commute, but then, what is the article trying to sell me? The idea that you can take a car like this on an extensive trip. And, to me, it looks absolutely terrible in that regard, especially in the winter. Somehow people take that as an affront to climate change, puppies, the internet and Elon Musk himself.


Sure. If you can't stay on the Supercharger network, or can't charge your car where you're going, an electric vehicle is not suitable for your purpose, even if it is in other respects the best car ever built. The infrastructure just isn't there, yet.

But going from that to "absolutely terrible" reads as pretty hyperbolic, and I think that's what you're getting from "people".


>"But going from that to "absolutely terrible" reads as pretty hyperbolic, and I think that's what you're getting from "people"."

Maybe terrible is overstated. But if we're talking about average Joe making a commute between NY and Boston, how does the Tesla make any sense whatsoever? Between the low recommended speeds and charge times, you're looking at increasing the length of the trip by 50%, no? There's a huge loss in efficiency there. We're not even talking about the overnight loss of power, or the discomfort associated with guidelines on cabin temperature and gadgets.

I think it's pretty clear that the EV is still sort of niche. It's a grocery-getter/weekend driver. Definately a nice one, probably a fun one. But they have a ways to go.


I think it takes a very credulous reading of the original article to get that. Here's the trip: http://goo.gl/maps/oUEQV

The charging does add half an hour to a three-and-a-half hour trip, about 15%; maybe a little longer if it's below freezing. That's the price you pay to be off gasoline before it was cool, you know that up front.

But look at the distances: The long leg is only 144 miles, well within Model S range. And Musk has acknowledged that on the east coast, in cold weather, those charging stations should be closer together, which could bring that trip closer to 100 miles per leg, which presumably can be done in comfort even in the cold.

It's totally doable; takes a little longer, but I like to stretch my legs and grab a cheeseburger during that drive anyway. That just doesn't say "niche" to me. The people who are making that trip every day are the niche.


>The charging does add half an hour to a three-and-a-half hour trip, about 15%

This is true. I was considering round trip. The information is from the Wiki:

400 miles @ 65mph ~ 6.5 hours in an ICE, if you have to gas up along the way.

400 miles @ 54mph ~ 7.5 hours + 2.5 hours of charging.

That's quite a difference; one is a day trip, the other is an long day. And it's worse in the winter. Canada is a big place. I regularly drive, 4,5,6 hours without stopping. I have a hard time understanding how people think stopping for an hour every 3 hours of your trip is reasonable. To me, the answer would be to not use the Model S in such a situation, which is fine. But when I have to say, "That trip is too far for my car", and said car approaches 6 figures, it means it's niche, IMHO.


You are correct.

Using the same hyperdriving techniques Tesla is recommending of driving 45mph on the freeway in 80mph traffic, and turning off heat/air conditioning, one can get over 80mpg in a diesel rated 31 city 43 highway.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2012/05...

Obviously the Passat here is not rated to hyperdriving techniques like Tesla Motors is now saying are required to get the stated range in the $101,000 car they lent to the NYT journalist. No one would claim it would be reasonable for Volkswagen to advertise that this car gets 84mpg even though it has been proven to be possible. Likewise, it is not reasonable for Tesla to advertise a range that is based on hyperdriving techniques.


"Average Joe" is not making a commute from NYC to Boston. "Average Joe" is also not buying a Model S.


...or trying to find the charging point, since it was potentially his first visit there? While we're speculating on rationale, why don't we include possibilities fair to both sides?


This is a fair point, but based on this photo [1] of the Supercharger station, and the layout of the service area, it seems unlikely he would have missed it. Google Maps even has the spot marked [2], but the photography has not been updated since December 2012, when they were installed.

That's a very prominent location. I'd have a hard time believing anyone would miss it repeatedly.

[1] http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/tesla-begins-east... [2] http://goo.gl/maps/arrxP


also remember that the tesla dashboard is basically a tablet, and it has charger locations on its maps UI


It wasn't just his driving around in the parking lot - he was deliberately leaving charging locations prior to getting a full charge so as to increase the chances of a discharged battery. That was the entire point of this exercise, and he accomplished it on his first try.

I say, have someone not biased towards big-oil try this road-trip again in similar conditions, and report back with the results. I expect they will have absolutely zero difficulty.


I also thought this at first, but it was his second time visiting that station: there are two stops by Milford's supercharger in the vehicle logs and the claims are about the second, so he is potentially familiar with the area at the time.


I'm pretty sure they were talking about the first visit to the Milford supercharger. In fact, he can't have driven around the parking lot for 10 minutes before charging on the second visit, since the Model S was delivered and initially charged on the back of a pick-up truck - Tesla haven't challenged that part at all.


Why are you commenting from a throwaway account?


I know I often drive around for several minutes trying to find a pump at gas stations I have never been to. Those damn light up awnings are just so hard to find.


Scenario 1:

Article: "The Tesla's range indicator is accurate but to drivers used to having a lot of range when the tank reads 'E' the Tesla's small amount of reserve range may catch them by surprise."

Reality: Author drove until the Tesla read "0 miles remaining" then continued to drive until the battery ran out.

Scenario 2:

Article: "A range estimate misses the mark... the car fell short of its projected range and had to be taken back ... on a flatbed truck."

Reality: Author short-charged the car then pulled off the road when the range meter read 0 and drove around trying to drain the battery.

One is fine, the other is journalistic malpractice.


Yeah, well, none of those two happened, so it doesn’t really matter.


Driving in circles doesn't prove anything. But, he didn't mention it in his original article or the follow-up blog post. In fact, he took great pains to write about all the hardships he endured to maximize the car's range, and how he still ran out of battery. So, one wonders why he would do it. It seems like an awfully odd thing to do, unless you are deliberately trying to run out of charge.

Broder's defense to accusations that he should have charged overnight in Groton is that he was just acting like a regular driver. When you drive a conventional car from DC to Boston, do you pull up to the gas pumps and drive around in circles until you run out of gas? Do you add a few gallons and take off, or do you wait until the automatic shutoff on the pump trips? I think a "regular" driver would charge fully (at least a full "standard" charge) at each Super Charger and then drive directly to the next way-point, not unplug at 75% and pointlessly drive in circles.


> It seems like an awfully odd thing to do, unless you are deliberately trying to run out of charge.

It's exactly what an insufficiently knowledgeable person would do if trying to deliberately damage the li-ion battery.


It's also exactly what a sufficiently knowledgeable person would do if trying to deliberately damage the li-ion battery.


A sufficiently knowledgeable person would have succeeded.


> I'm not sure what a reviewer driving in circles at a charging station proves?

Perhaps that he couldn't find it, since it was his first visit?

Based on the rest of this thread, though, Occam is not going to be making an appearance and we're going to be questioning the journalistic integrity of someone who's worked at the New York Times since most commenters here were in diapers. It totally makes sense that he'd write a completely false story at the behest of big oil. That's the logical explanation.


Yes, yes, but isn't it awfully interesting how with all of Mr. Broder's complaints about the car, he completely forgot to mention just how hard it was to find the Supercharger station? Doesn't that seem like a relevant detail in an article ostensibly reviewing the Supercharger network?

I'm just so upset that I can't help wringing my hands. Just think of all those uninformed citizens. Those poor souls buying this fancy car with the wool over their eyes. So naive: thinking they can just drive right up to a Supercharger station whenever they want with nary a thought. Who is going to tell them that they must not only drive to the station, but commit to a parking lot odyssey? Think of all the electrons that will be burned whilst the good people of this country waste their time searching for a Supercharger! Who? Who, I say, will bring this message to the masses, if not John Broder? And he has failed! For this, I demand the Times investigate his journalistic malpractice at once!

Seriously, though, at what point are allowed to invoke Occam's Razor and admit that maybe, just maybe, Mr. Broder may not have been giving the car a fair shake?


I think you need to wait to hear the NY Times response to the specific accusations from this blog post.


there is only one electron, the chuck norris electron, and it does not burn


A reviewer driving in circles at a charging station _without mentioning it in the article_ and all the other things mentioned here proves that the journalists left out facts in the article.


Why has this been downvoted? greendestiny raises some valid points.


It hasn't. Hackernews is usually pretty good like that.


While the New York Times is a fine source of information I've learned personally that it no longer deserves a special designation of credibility.

In August 2012 a ProPublica article [1] syndicated by the Times made, at the very least, a contentious point (Sarbanes-Oxley didn't reduce the attractiveness of being public), written off with a link to a paper. I was dismayed to find the working paper [2] not only argued a different point ("the advantages of selling out to a larger organization, which can speed a product to market and realize economies of scope, have increased relative to the benefits of remaining as an independent firm") but in concluding remarks contradicted the claim it was quoted to have asserted ("although the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the 2003 Global Settlement have reduced the attractiveness of being public for small companies...").

Figuring it to be an intern's oversight I emailed the author and got the following reply (in its entirety): "Thanks, [first name], for your thoughts". I forwarded this to the editor of the Times column I received the article through and received a similar brush-off. The article, to date, remains unchanged.

The oversight was, in all likelihood, an honest blunder. The reaction's implicit intolerance of criticism, however, was jarring.

[1] http://www.propublica.org/thetrade/item/the-sox-win-how-fina...

[2] http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1954788


If you really look at the two accounts, it's not necessarily clear that they're contradictory except in a couple of statements on speed: he said 55 when he was doing 60; then said 45 when he was doing 50. Even then, it's not clear whether this is human bias or something wrong with the car log, because this data <i>is</i> from the car log and it would be nice to correlate it against that Google Map they have. Does he set the climate control to low? Yes, but he says that he did this when he switched to cruise control -- when in fact he did this a little later, when he switched to city driving, as the logs show. That's not a smoking gun either.

Poke further at the story. Look at the battery charge graph, and more specifically look at its slope, which is the fuel efficiency. Shifting to cruise control did not affect the drainage curve at all, and when he called Tesla they suggested that cruise control was a Bad Idea, because the Tesla has regenerative braking, so you see that he turns it off at about 225 mi and starts stop-and-go driving in the city. This devastates the Tesla's fuel efficiency. It does this for a very simple reason which should be high-school physics: your brakes are energy dissipaters and are bound by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Regenerative braking just lowers the loss -- it does not eliminate it.

Now, if that advice was given, then the journalist trusted Tesla when they said something which contradicted high school physics. That is a dark smear on Broder -- at least if Broder was planning to be a scientific journalist -- but also a dark smear on Tesla's customer support. What were they thinking? But the two accounts are immediately reconcilable now.

Broder now is thinking, "okay, stop-and-go city traffic will use the brakes and recharge the car, this city driving will have a less negative slope." From this impression he probably expected he was at 20% charge when he stopped; he was actually at around 8 or 9% and it immediately drops 1% overnight. That should chop 1/10th off of his remaining miles, but he claims it went from 90 miles to 45.

So, here's the story: He is expecting a number at around 100 miles because he thinks he's being more efficient now. He sees 50 miles. On a digital display at a hotel at night, he misreads the 5 as a 9, and this fits with his expectation, so he goes to bed thinking he has 90 miles of range. He wakes up and the Tesla has lost 5 miles of range inexplicably -- but it therefore has become 45 miles, which looks totally different. He calls them up complaining that the Tesla lost half of its charge overnight and some sympathetic tech support describes it as a "software glitch."

That's a perfect storm scenario right there, because now he thinks that he does have the extra range and that braking is good for the car and that the car is simply misreporting what it can do. Confirming this, he makes it to the Milford supercharge with less than 0 miles of range, and charges it back up again to 185 miles. He is confident now, and you see him averaging 65. There are a bunch of full stops near 400 miles, but remember, he thinks that full stops are good. With a bunch of this, he stops and calls up Tesla. "What the hell, I can't get back to Milford on this expected range, can you find me a nearby charger?" He goes 11 miles in the opposite direction, plugs into a station in Norwich for an hour, and he visits a diner. He confirms that he only got to 28% and really should have let the car charge here because the display never got as high as it should be, but he says that Tesla had cleared him to go to Milford and that he trusted the humans at this point over the sensors in the car.

He gets back on the highway at 45/50 to try to conserve power (which does not affect the slope of the curve all that much) and that is the subject of this second-to-last Google Map. The sensors are right, the tech support was misguided, the car stops and needs to be towed. Both stories fit pretty well with each other.


If this were the olympics of mental gymnastics, you would take the gold medal in every category.

> So, here's the story: He is expecting a number at around 100 miles because he thinks he's being more efficient now. He sees 50 miles. On a digital display at a hotel at night, he misreads the 5 as a 9, and this fits with his expectation, so he goes to bed thinking he has 90 miles of range. He wakes up and the Tesla has lost 5 miles of range inexplicably -- but it therefore has become 45 miles, which looks totally different. He calls them up complaining that the Tesla lost half of its charge overnight and some sympathetic tech support describes it as a "software glitch."

Pure gold. Thanks for the laugh.


He does have a valid point in that both the reporter and Mr. Musk may earnestly believe they are telling the truth. For instance if you look at the cabin temperature graph, it's clear that it was uncomfortably cold for nearly 50 miles; but that it wasn't see your breath cold at any point.

But hey, let's all pick sides based on our allegiance to ( east or west coast, Tesla or The Times ) and have a nice little monkey dance about who's right or wrong.


> it's clear that it was uncomfortably cold for nearly 50 miles

No, that's not a log of the temperature reading. They logged the temperature SETPOINT. An important distinction.

I do this all the time, being from cold climates. I jack up the heat at the start of my trip, and then once I get going, I eventually turn the heater off completely.


>No, that's not a log of the temperature reading. They logged the temperature SETPOINT. An important distinction.

It's a thermostat controlled temperature, though.

There's no reason to turn it down if it's set to a comfortable temperature, because it will automatically shut down when the proper cabin temp is reached.


The difference between theory and practice is ... Nah, forget it, theory is always wrong.

Anyone who drives in the cold knows this is wrong. You turn the set point to 90 at the start of the trip, because the built-in logic is going to drive the fans harder when the delta between ambient and set point is higher, and the car will warm up faster. Yes, in theory the software should recognize that. But, in practice.... Nah, forget it. Theory is always wrong.


90 is not a "comfortable" setting, though.

I agree completely that's what you do in cold weather. I do that every morning with my car. But after 3+ hours in the car, it's pretty unlikely that you'd lower the temperature at that point.

EDIT: Downvotes? Really? If the car's climate control is controlled entirely by a thermostat, then setting the temperature up to 90 will warm it faster when it's cold, but once it's warmed up the cabin, you set the temperature to something comfortable(say, 70). You don't turn it off, because the climate control system is supposed to be doing that automatically.


> If the car's climate control is controlled entirely by a thermostat, then setting the temperature up to 90 will warm it faster when it's cold, but once it's warmed up the cabin, you set the temperature to something comfortable(say, 70). You don't turn it off, because the climate control system is supposed to be doing that automatically.

Hi, I live in Michigan. You do turn it off. Your theory sounds like it could be good on paper, but in reality, humans behave a little differently. Our winters are brutal. At some points in the winter time, it's a horrifying proposition climbing into the icebox that is a car's cabin. Reflexively, many people just crank the heat up as high as it will go and blast the cabin with warm air as soon as it's available. As much as you can, as quickly as possible. What tends to happen then is that at some point, you realize that you're hot. You've been blasting the heat, you weren't paying attention (listening to news/music, concentrating on the road, on your phone, etc)and when it suddenly occurs you you that you don't need the heat to be blasting anymore, it's because you are uncomfortable. You're still in full winter gear in your car, you jacket is smothering you, and the cabin is now hot with you in your coat. People aren't always thinking "Ah, let me just lower the heat to a more comfortable level," they're thinking "OMG turn this thing OFF. Could the climate control handle this in theory? Sure. If human psychology and behavior weren't continually getting in the way.

No telling what any given person would do when you don't have the data, but I can tell you what people do do in reality. They crank it then turn it off.

Also, I'll never purchase another car without heated seats in Michigan again as long as I live here. What was I (not) thinking?


Being a controls engineer, this behavior always drives me crazy. I love to observe the temperature controller do its job. But it does depend on the car.

A good controller will blast the heat at max until the temperature gets close to the setpoint, then back it down. Turning it up to 90 does exactly nothing extra for you, but does end up overheating you.

However, not all cars have good temperature controllers. My wife owned a Honda Accord a while back, that was simply awesome at this job. We never, ever changed the setpoint in that car because it just worked great.

The Subaru Forester we have now is much, much worse, and we do end up fiddling with the setpoint because the controller's not doing its job well.


Being a controls engineer, these assumptions of thermostatic perfection drive me crazy. The things only measure air temperature, not that of the seats, dashboard, wheel, etc. When these objects are cold a person will feel colder than if they were the same as the air temperature. See also thermal conduction and thermal radiation. Also, that thermostat is located where? At the driver's fingertips? Their rear end? Not likely.

So cranking the air temperature setting beyond the desired air temperature for a while will indeed get the cabin more comfortable quicker.


Hi, I live in Ohio. And what I just read was a PERFECT description of human behavior around temp controls during Midwest winters.


Really? No. The fans spin up as quickly as they can in a cold car. If you turn the fan up and the temperature up all the way when you start the car, you are just blowing cold air on yourself. The fans spin up when they can actually deliver warm air. Keep in mind of course this is in a climate controlled car, like the Tesla S.


Indeed! And here's you've given a perfectly good theoretical answer for why cars do the verifiably incorrect thing. The problem here is your handwavy use of "as they can" to invoke some kind of hidden expertise that doesn't actually exist in the real world. The car has some vague idea of what the current fan outlet temperature is, based mostly likely on one or two thermocouples in the chain, or maybe just on the engine coolant temperature. And some egghead firmware engineer somewhere built a very solid, justifiable model of "rider comfort" and optimized the control response to that, thus giving the theoretically optimal experience for...

Nah, forget it. Theory is always wrong. I spend an hour in my car every day. Don't you[1] dare tell me how best to warm it up. Just don't.

[1] To head off the wounded screaming: no, I'm not talking about you personally here. Just the idea of "firmware knows best".


Your anti-intellectualism is quite obnoxious. It doesn't help your case that you are actually wrong on top.

The poster above you has it correct. Climate control cars will not turn up the fans until the engine block heats up. Turning up the temperature does nothing to change this.

Please stop with the attitude and name calling.


I love that you're telling me how my car (cars, actually, this has been true of all of them) works, and I'm the obnoxious one. :) Clearly I'm not wrong. You are arguing on the basis of what can be done by software given perfect inputs. I'm telling you what is true on real systems. And the fact that you can't distinguish the two is precisely the problem I'm getting at.

That's not "anti-intellectualism", it's called "correct requirements analysis". And it's something I wish more software people knew how to do.


I am certainly not telling you about your car. Your car is very much irrelevant. The topic is very recent luxury cars with climate control. Even if your car would qualify for such a category, it's behaviour does not generalize to all such cars.

A great deal of people beyond yourself drive fancy cars with climate control, myself included. Your car is a single data point. My car is another. That my car, and other posters cars, behave as we say is enough to show that your generalization is wrong.

It is still all anecdote of course; to really determine truth you would need to do a study of as many cars as possible. Further, there is no theory in such a generalization.

This is where your anti-intellectualism comes in. You repeatedly make false statements about theoretical works: "theory is always wrong". It is almost as though you do not understand the definition of "theory." Additionally, your use of "egghead" when referring to engineers is classic anti-intellectualism. I mean, why not just throw out nerd, geek, or pointdexter too? Using anecdote to support your generalization is another extremely common undesirable behavior.

Please stop.


Edit: grammar

Some cars are really good at this. Some are not. It depends on so many factors, including the egghead quality.

I'm one of those firmware eggheads, btw.

As another example, when I fuel my car from emtpy to full, as soon as I turn the key, the fuel gauge ramps rapidly up to Full. In my wife's car, it finds its way to Full after a minute or so. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure the difference is the filtering algorithm employed. One egghead knew about Kalman filters or similar, and the other didn't.

It's the same with all the other software features in the car. Some had good eggheads on the time, and some didn't. I think it's impossible to buy a car that does every single thing "right", by any single person's definition.


> the fuel gauge ramps rapidly up to Full

That's funny! Does it also fluctuate when you take sharp turns?


No, but that's just the point. It's smart enough to know that at key-on, it has very little information about the actual fuel level, so it allows the needle to move rapidly. As it continues to operate, it gradually (probably over a few seconds) filters the fuel level measurement more, so you don't get rapid fluctuations while driving.


Eh. My car is thermostat controlled, and I often adjust the temperature because the vents are close enough to me that it can become uncomfortable. The size of a car makes it a little different than setting a thermostat in your house.


And you're letting your implicate trust and bias into everything that Tesla releases show. Tesla has just as much to lose in this whole ordeal and could just as easily be fudging the numbers.


It seems like Tesla would be demanding an apology and a retraction if they were fudging the numbers. Instead, they are asking for an investigation.


Two words:

Jayson Blair.


> . He sees 50 miles. On a digital display at a hotel at night, he misreads the 5 as a 9, and this fits with his expectation

Actually, I don't think he misread anything, I think it genuinely did read 90 miles exactly like he said it did. Look at the graph on the blog post: http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/blog_images/r... At the 400 mile mark, right where he stopped for the night, there's an abrupt vertical drop from 90 miles remaining to 20 miles remaining, which exactly matches the journalist's claims.


Yup. Musk didn't explain the biggest issue here, which was the drop in mileage overnight. There has to be a perfectly reasonable explanation, but Tesla doesn't seem willing to explain it.

The .6 mile circle in front of the charging station is completely irrelevant, because it's in front of a freaking charger, which is the best place to see if 0 is actually 0.

EDIT: In this post here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5219611

There's actually a route to the charger from the highway(if you miss a few turns) that's about... .6 of a mile.


Musk certainly didn't explain the drop in mileage. As I understand it, that drop results from temperature management of the battery. When stopped in very cold weather, the car uses power to generate heat in order to maintain the battery within safe operating temperatures. In addition, when the battery is at the low end of that range, it under-reports the available mileage. That's what generated the Tesla tech's suggestion that it might regain some mileage while driven that morning. (You can see this in the graph. The slope of the graph in the little section from miles 400-411 is less than at any other point, and the section after the Norwich charge is also lower, although speeds were also lower here) However, after some time of driving or charging, the batteries will have risen to optimal operating temperature, and the range projection is correct. Mr. Broder may have assumed that he was going to recover all of the energy lost overnight, not just the little bit of error in projection. That may be why he convinced himself to leave with insufficient range to reach his destination. However, that argument fails Occam's razor in light of his earlier attempts to drive the car to failure and his departure expressly against the advice of the Tesla tech he talked to at that time.


I annotated the chart in Photoshop: http://i.imgur.com/DW7SQQe.png

As you can see, there is nothing special about his night stop. The night before, it predicted 79 miles. He ended up going 60 miles before it was out of juice. That's 25% shorter than the prediction, so the car must have lost charge during the night or due to cold weather, right? Well, if you look at the day before, the full charge predicted a range of 242 miles, but he only got 196 miles, which is 20% less than the prediction.

In other words: The predicted range is consistently higher than the actual range.


> Musk didn't explain the biggest issue here, which was the drop in mileage overnight.

Sure he did, in the manual and in the instructions given to the driver -- when you stop overnight, plug it in.


Yes. Broder's failure to plug the car in overnight already gave his story a fishy smell, even before Tesla's response.


I thought the point of the NYT article was to review the Supercharger network, not the car itself. Plugging into a regular charger unnecessarily (and it would have seemed unnecessary at the time) would defeat the point of the article.


If you're being at all conservative, and your estimated range is that close to the wire, it doesn't seem unnecessary, especially when the standard usage pattern with EVs is to plug them in every night. The Model S seems to be doing a much better job of estimating its battery life than any laptop I've ever owned.


Also unexplained, ignored, or deliberately misrepresented by Tesla is the state of the car when it was being towed. The towing company itself verified that the Model S was "completely dead" when it came to pick the car up, and moreover that the car couldn't easily be moved because the electrical emergency brake was stuck in place.

http://jalopnik.com/towing-company-the-nyt-tesla-model-s-was....


To emphasize "deliberately misrepresented by Tesla", this is Musk's relevant statement:

As the State of Charge log shows, the Model S battery never ran out of energy at any time, including when Broder called the flatbed truck.

It obliquely suggests the car wasn't dead on the road. But it clearly was (or else Musk would be loudly calling it out). It's not the responsibility of the reviewer to figure out whether his car bricked because of an empty battery, or buggy software which mimicked an empty battery (displaying zero range, automatically shutting down).


Driving back and forth in front of the damn charger speaks for itself.

Straws. You maybe holding some.

EDIT: Two words. Occam's Razor. Your explanation is so tangled that an entire battalion of Viet Cong could hide in it.


Speaks for not being able to find the charging point in the parking lot, perhaps? Don't forget that Musk formulated his assertion of Broder's motivation based on a data log of the car traveling between 5mph and 15mph for 0.6 miles. That sounds almost exactly like my average journey to find a parking spot at the mall.

But no, you're right, let's assume a long-term New York Times veteran lied in the paper, intentionally. That's a safer explanation in the face of your call for Occam's Razor...


John Broder does have an affinity for writing articles about big oil. I don't exactly want to assume he was paid under the table to denounce electric cars, but it's odd for a writer to have 90% of their articles being related to oil: http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/peopl...

On Feb 8, 4 days before the controversial tesla article, he wrote one about how poorly the Chevrolet Volt & Ford Transit performed. I think he already decided on the tone of the article before he drove the Tesla.

His other articles about oil drilling claim that they help with job creation... you be the judge.


I've had two experiences with the press. I have many friends who have also had far more interaction with the press than I have.

I will tell you this:

Both times I made it into the paper, my feeling while giving the interview was that the reporter was writing the story their way despite what I was saying. I was asked leading questions, questions that asked me to come down on one side or another of a complex issue. I was asked repeatedly the same question in different ways to elicit a response that would support a conclusion I didn't agree with.

My friends confirmed my suspicions when they saw the articles that were written. If you dont think that a significant percentage of the articles you read in the paper are pushing a particular viewpoint despite contrary evidence, I'd like a little of what you are smoking.

Just in case you were asking, one of the reporters I'm talking about works for the New York Times. This is the article I was talking about:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/18/national/18harvard.html?pa...


> His other articles about oil drilling claim that they help with job creation... you be the judge.

Since I live in ND, we have lots of oil drilling going on, and the Dec 2012 unemployment rate was 3.2% compared to the national rate of 7.8%; I would find that a factually true statement.


And how's that scale when we're talking about a population larger than 700k residents?

Just because something is factually true in a narrow context does not mean it remains factually true when abstracted to a generality.


Texas seems to be doing fine too and they have a bit of a population. The line you quoted is factual. Oil employees a lot of people and generates a lot of money.


We had a ton of fine women working as telephone operators once too. My father was a typewriter repairman for a bit.

When was the last time you saw either one of those?

Oil's biggest advantage (other than the massive amount of energy density) is that the full cost of acquiring it isn't factored into the cost per barrel. Since oil is both a commodity and a strategic resource, the government has committed its full resources in the aim of securing supply.

You can argue if this is or isn't a good thing, but you can't argue the fact that it happens.


I have no idea how your comment relates to anything I wrote. Oil employees a lot of people. The reporter's comment was factual. If we are talking subsidies then "green" isn't exactly dieting at the federal trough.


My point is this: just because oil employs lots of people, it isn't a reason to concentrate investment in those industries.

The reporter might have been reporting a true statement, but it wasn't informative or even relevant to the discussion about energy technologies. There were plenty of telegraph operators, milkmen, and dockworkers once too. Technological advancement made those jobs redundant or irrelevant.


This is fantasy. Slap a $20/ton or $50/ton carbon tax (highest non-crackpot estimate) on oil and people will still gladly pay it. The idea that oil use would severely diminished by such a cost internalization is pure wishful thinking.


Carbon tax? I'm not talking about pollution here. I'm talking about geopolitics. If the cost of maintaining a fleet of ships in the Persian Gulf was fully factored into the cost of oil imported from the middle east, you think it's be close to the price we pay for it now?


Wow, how much does Singapore's Persian Gulf fleet cost?


Now you're showing your naiveté. Do you think for a second that if the US wasn't out there securing the supply that the price would be where it is?

SO MANY nations enjoy the umbrella of protection that is provided by the unipolar geopolitical environment we live in now.


Yep, oil is totally non-fungible, and oil-rich nations wouldn't reap the immense profits of selling it on the massive global market without the US government specifically forcing them to.


Did you miss the part where I mentioned that oil is also a STRATEGIC resource and not just a commodity?

Why else do you think we've committed our military to the purpose of securing supply?


It's sad to see any factual criticism of electric vehicles being interpreted as support of big oil. It's not a religion!


Lousy education, lousy average pay vs other places, lousy level of social services.

Sure, we've got a lower cost of living than most places, but I'd argue that we've also got a lower quality of life.

When the oilfield is hot, we have lots of high paying jobs for people. Fortunately for us, it's hot right now. What they'll all do when the current boom dries up, I haven't any idea.


The reporter's statement is "oil drilling creates jobs". Do you believe he was right or wrong? He and I have made no mention of anything but that statement.


I was responding specifically to "Texas seems to be doing fine" by agreeing that yes, Texas has lots of jobs when the oil-patch is hot. But, also pointing out that it isn't necessarily worth bragging about that our economy is so dependent upon a single factor, one over which we have so little control. And, also that the definition of "fine" may not be the same for everyone here, specifically me, a resident of Texas, who certainly enjoys low taxes, but nevertheless might also like to see less blight and poverty. I made and make no comment over anything the reporter may have said, but with respect to the general statement "oil drilling creates jobs", I'd say, well, yeah so do lots of things. Does oil drilling really create the sort of prosperity that we really want?


Again, "a lot" is a statement that is only true in context. And particularly given that Oil's ability to employ is completely dependent upon geological formations that no-one has any control over, it's disingenuous to try to generalize it beyond the context where it's true.


Farming is geographically limited and it is a rather large employer in the US. Oil has a effect on more industries than just energy. Tesla would not be able to build their cars with oil products. It's disingenuous to not look at actual employment numbers and reach of industry when trying to say something factual isn't.


I'm not sure I follow.

You want to calculate the total employment of all industries enabled by oil and then say that the next barrel of oil is responsible for a proportional number of that total?

What about those industries that use oil only because it's still currently cheaper than its alternatives? What about those industries that are already transitioning away from oil and would barely notice if oil became even more expensive? What about those industries where oil is crucially important, but is a fairly minor cost concern and even a doubling of price wouldn't seriously impact their ability to produce products, profits and employees?

How in the world would we even calculate that out to determine how many jobs would exist or not, based on whether we drill the next oil well?

And how would we calculate where those jobs would exist?

Because, oil being fungible, lower production just drives global price up. And the losers in such scenarios tend to be the poorer people and industries, which tend not to be in the US. (It would take a much larger jump in the price of oil to make the next US job in an oil-reliant industry infeasible, than it would take in, say, the developing world.)

And when we do drill that next well, it just lowers (or keeps low) the existing price of oil, and the primary place we'd expect oil-dependent jobs to be created that would not have otherwise been economically feasible without that cheaper oil, is again in the developing world.

So if you want to say oil is massively important, I agree. I never said otherwise.

But if you want to say that the next oil well will necessarily create lots of US jobs, I continue to disagree on the basis that the next oil well simply doesn't directly add many jobs.

And if you want to say that cheaper oil also tangentially creates jobs, I will again agree, but stipulate that new jobs created only because of that cheaper oil, will overwhelmingly be created outside the US.

So I will continue to disagree that the next oil well in the US will have a large impact on US employment.


> Tesla would not be able to build their cars with oil products.

Petroleum is so ingrained in our economy, most people would have to make a concerted effort to fart without having used oil products.


That has nothing to do with anything. The point is that he appears to highlight the positive effects of oil drilling but not the negative effects (environmental degradation, etc.).


Not the negative effects? "Shell Violated Air Permits for Arctic Ships, E.P.A. Says"? "Interior Dept. Expedites Review of Arctic Drilling After Accidents"? "Rig Runs Aground in Alaska, Reviving Fears About Arctic Drilling"?


"Shell Violated Air Permits for Arctic Ships, E.P.A. Says"

Frankly that article reads like "EPA claims some infractions but they are no big deal". I can't imagine anyone reading that article and coming away very critical of Shell.


>he wrote one about how poorly the Chevrolet Volt & Ford Transit performed

Is the claim that they are actually doing very well, and he was incorrect in his article? Or that he is biased merely for writing an article based on negative facts?


The notion was that a pattern of articles that tend to support the same group should raise our estimate of a bias in favor of that group.

All of them could be perfectly accurate, incidentally - consider a journalist who investigates 100 stories for every one he publishes and only publishes those that are favorable; while none of the articles would contain actual falsehoods, clearly this is a bias.

Whether that's the case here is a much deeper question that I can't answer from my extremely limited skimming of the available media and this thread.


How is that odd? Energy issues are his beat.


Energy is more than Oil, gasoline, and internal combustion engines. A failure to recognize that by a NYT reporter is odd.


Huh? He writes about many, many other energy-related topics. Just page through his stories. Climate, natural gas, EPA regulations, wind tax credits ...

http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/peopl...

That this guy could be repeatedly accused here of being an industry shill reflects much more poorly on hn than on him.


Do those articles have a negative or positive sentiment for the large incumbent industries like oil?


Here's a satellite view of the rest area with the charging stations:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=milford+travel+plaza&hl=e...

The street view here is outdated but I'm pretty sure you would see them immediately as you exit off the highway and, end to end, the rest area is about 0.25 miles. I don't think there's any other way to accumulate 0.6 miles in this rest stop without driving around in circles.


So one circle would do it like, say, if he missed the first right turn and continued straight?


If this was the only discrepancy, I'd be more skeptical. However, there are a large number of problems with the reporting. Large enough that said reporter has an obligation to respond.

> let's assume a long-term New York Times veteran lied in the paper

What you are asking us to believe than is that Musk faked all this data. Because if he didn't fake the data, then the NYTimes story still doesn't add up, regardless of speculation on his activities.

Furthermore, you are asking us to believe that numerous other reviews by respectable, veteran reports, were wrong.

Maybe this report is the one man speaking out against a large conspiracy of a company and numerous reporters. But it's on him to prove now.


let's assume a long-term New York Times veteran lied in the paper, intentionally

If anything, I think that some veteran reporters get full of themselves and become unafraid of slanting things according to their biases as they get older. Look at the trouble Dan Rather got into at the end of his career because he was determined to sink George W. Bush.


What does his being a veteran have anything to do with his affinity to lie?

The main factor that affects someone's likelihood of lying is whether they think they can get away with it. Broder most likely knew that the car was logging data. However, he probably didn't know just how detailed the logging was, and assumed it was too rudimentary to refute the kind of story he was cooking up in his head before he even started the drive.


It doesn't seem likely the reporter lied intentionally - or at least, not consciously.

However, didn't we see that long apology yesterday about how easy it is to lie to yourself and others, even when truth is everything to you? This is why we have double blind medical trials etc. – because people are biased and can't help but lie to keep their preconceptions true.


It's a valid point, but if he did really have difficulties in finding the charging station he should have said so.


Can be entirely harmless: The car displays 0 miles range, and he is at the charging station. Why not try to figure out how much reserve he still has before it shuts down? He didn't report negatively about this either.


Maybe, but that's a different article. That article's headline should be more like: "Let's Drive This EV Past Its Limits and See What Happens."


Yes, this would make sense, but he didn't mention it though.


Why should he?!


Pushing a battery too far can affect its characteristics. What tradeoffs Tesla made in the protection circuitry (is it more important to protect the battery's lifespan or get you to your destination this time?) is interesting, but getting at it that way could well change the outcome of the current test if they've opted to stress the latter.


Ok, now you are nitpicking. That is such an irrelevant aside.


I have definitely done things to batteries, in devices with poor protection circuitry, that have lopped off a good portion of the time that the battery would hold a charge. Since the ultimate complaint was how short a time the battery held a charge, it doesn't seem irrelevant at all. If I'm complaining about a leaky bucket, the fact that I did something that may have added holes is highly relevant. Looking at the data Musk posted, it doesn't seem to have likely been the cause here, but that data wasn't available when the article was written.


Hmm. Now I think you're as well qualified to write the article as Mr. Broder.


Maybe, but I do think Occam's Razor favors the "expected 90, saw 50 in bad lighting, misread it as 90, could not misread it when it dropped to 45" explanation over both the "battery suddenly dropped from 90 to 45" explanation and the "NYT reporter saw 50, lied his butt off and said it was 90 to tech support for no reason, then ran with the lie in his article because he's a shill for oil and hates electric."

Driving back and forth in front of the charger doesn't seem quite so crazy given the distances involved. The distance the Tesla logs for is ~0.5 miles at a speed of ~10mph, but that's only 3 minutes of malfeasance, if it's anything at all.

And I'm not sure it's malfeasance -- because it's certainly not led to anything in the report. Maybe he wanted to park and get some food but then remembered that the charging takes a while and did it in opposite order. That could take 3 minutes easily off.


Uh, "he's lying" explains everything quite simply, you just added a lot of extraneous stuff to it to make it seem otherwise.


"He's lying" explains everything in the same way that "God did it" explains everything. Now you have to explain what John Broder has to gain from falsifying a review and why it was worth risking his livelihood. Tesla makes it sound like he just really hates electric cars.


That is also equally easy to explain: He gets more clicks because of the picture of motor trend's car of the year on the flatbed. Also, he didn't think he'd get caught.

People "risk their livelihood" all the time by lying to their boss, etc. I don't think any complex calculus is necessary to explain why someone would do that.


Did we not just read yesterday about a highly paid writer risking his livelihood by making up Dylan quotes? Clearly, it happens.

I know it's mentally exhausting, but when reading anything you have to ask, "what does the author want to be true?" Musk quoted Broder's earlier article:

"Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate.”

so I think we know what it is that Broder wants to be true.


Risking their livehood?

Do you know how many MILLIONS of conventional cars are manufactured a year? Who are the biggest companies in the world? You will be shock that they are energy companies.

There are HUGE economic interest in the outcome of different transportation methods. The salary of a man is nothing compared with the BIILIONS over the table just delaying the future one or two years.

I had a friend whose only job at a big French car company maker was organizing summer experiences for car journalist vacations in Europe. I could not believe that a journalist will accept that, now I understand the reviews you find in most car magazines(You never find anything negative).


On the contrary, he probably would have been risking his livelihood by posting a glowing review. Major automobile manufacturers would call the NYT and complain that the review was not fair and balanced and did not adequately highlight the drawbacks of the Tesla compared to ICE and to their own electric or hybrid vehicles. Not wanting to do business with an institution that severely misrepresents the products of these major manufacturers they have decided to cut ad-spend at NYT by 50%. Editor is now responsible for multi-million dollar decrease in revenue. Editor cannot afford to publish stories or employ writers that will result in significant loss of revenue.


That seems like a lot of speculation to me. Other reviewers have given the Tesla S a positive review and have not been destroyed by the oil industry so why should this guy be any different? There seems to be a lot of he said/she said going on and a lot of speculation, but not a lot of demonstrable facts.


Other reviewers may not be under the same influences from incumbent auto manufacturers or the oil industry for various reasons. They almost certainly also have less readership than the NYT so what they say matters less.

There may be speculation about certain facts in the case but there is absolutely no speculation as to the fact that this and every other corporate journalist is under systemic influence. In any other industry it would be plainly obvious that employees understand not to insult, aggrieve or otherwise harm their employers customers, especially by way of prominent national media. Somehow everyone manages to convince themselves that what is obvious is no longer so when it comes to journalists and the MSM.


All of his other articles for the NYT are about the oil and gas industry - that might explain his motivation for publishing a fraudulent negative review.


If he knew Tesla would have access to his driving logs (does anyone know?), I'd be very surprised if he was straight up lying.


If you're a car reporter driving a loaner vehicle of one of the most sophisticated production cars in the world, you shouldn't really be surprised that the vehicle has data logging. I'd be surprised if most modern luxury cars don't have some level of logging in their systems - I'm pretty sure even my 2007 mid-priced car has logged usage data accessible to the dealer on usage patterns when I take it in, because they've told me things like "you have been driving the car only very occasionally."


Your total mileage since your last dealer checkup would tell you that...


It's true they could guess that, but the issue was the interval between usage, not the mileage. As I understand it, pretty much every car built in the last 10 years does some degree of logging, if only to provide a record of what the car was doing immediately before a crash. For cars with more electronic systems - stability, ABS, and certain automatic transmissions - they do more logging so that dealers can debug problems.

For example, my car also has an adaptive transmission system that collects data on my driving behavior and uses it to improve when the car chooses to shift. Sometimes folks have the dealer erase this data so the car "re-learns" to shift fo r them.(http://www.bmw.com/com/en/insights/technology/technology_gui...)


It has been claimed that they are informed when the car is given, and they sign a waiver about that. Of course, maybe it's just in the legalese that nobody reads - though you probably should read legalese that comes attached to very expensive items.


Digital displays are easier to read in bad lighting, not harder. So it's impossible to have misread 5 as a 9 at night.


Absolutely not true. I don't know what the Tesla's speedometer display is like, but my experience with digital displays in cars is the exact opposite. I am much more likely to misread a digital display - in my old car this happened all the time with the digital clock display in the dash. I've never owned a car with a digital-only speedometer, but I've never liked them in rental cars.

Digital displays are obviously better for reading a precise value, but not necessarily an accurate one. To generalize, I would say being off by a a couple percent is more likely when reading an analog display, but off by a factor of two is more likely by misreading a digital one.


You're right -- it's not impossible but it might have been difficult. I hadn't checked out the interior and so I was not sure what sort of display one looks at to see the remaining range; there is one which suggests that you can see it right under the odometer:

http://images.thecarconnection.com/lrg/2012-tesla-model-s-di...

...in which case there is not much of an excuse for that type of thing. On the other hand there is a screen which gives the same information but would be very easy to misread, especially if there were glare:

http://elonmusktesla.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/tesla-model-s-...

But yeah, it's not like I was thinking, some display with LCD/LED style digits where a 5 is just one line away from being a 9. You are very correct in that regard.


Also: this is an automotive journalist, someone who is professionally trained to notice things accurately while driving a vehicle.


No, he's not an automotive journalist. His main beat these days is on climate/eco issues. That said, I've never heard of automotive journalists being 'professionally trained to notice things accurately' as a matter of course.


My apologies. I assumed the journalist test-driving a car for the NYT automotive section was an automotive journalist. Nevertheless, the "professionally trained to notice things accurately" applies generally to the fact that he's a journalist.


Auto-review journalists are, if anything, much worse at basic facts than normal journalists.


But if I'm writing for NYT, known for their accuracy and integrity, I tripple check every number and make copious notes. Mixing up and 5 and 9? Seems like something a journalist wouldn't do casually.


... and then ignore it if it's bad so as not to offend advertisers.


False. It's possible to misread anything at any time in any condition. It is impossible to prevent all misreading, human error will always occur.


The drop from 90 to 45 is shown in Tesla's own graph.


Or maybe Hanlon's razor applies instead: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.


Given the repeated circles in the parking lot, we'd be talking about near-unprecedented levels of stupidity.


Apparently he was driving in circles looking for the charging station, which was difficult to see in a dark parking lot:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/02/elon-musk-new-y...

We'll just have to wait for this "detailed rebuttal" for more information. This is extremely entertaining.


Musk's emphasis is "drove in circles for over half a mile."

I read that as "drove in circles for over half a mile." I.e., not really enough to make it conk out.

There are other things in Musk's post that make me worry about Broder's reporting, but not this.


"I am NOT going to park more than 4 spots away from the door!"

How many times do you see people circling the parking when 20 feet away is a spot to park?

But I don't care, this story is B.S., the guy totally was trying report on his agenda and not the facts.


All levels of stupidity have precedent.


I can attack Musk easily:

a) Lincoln tunnel isn't in NYC's downtown. Even Holland isn't. NYC downtown generally defined as below Canal St. So how NYT reporter drove through it, I have no idea.

b) .5 mile is too short for driving back and forth. I can easily walk .5 mile in under 10 minutes.

c) As the _average_ temp setting was 72F... So the next statement is funny, the NYT reported turned the temperature up to 74F? From what? The average temperature? That doesn't make any sense at all.


The spirit of pedantry is clearly alive and well on this forum.

The commenter here is guilty of forcing his impressions on the situation in the same way Broder seems to be forcing a slant on the Tesla story. How far you walk is completely irrelevant. I know people who run marathons. They don't spin around a 100 car lot many times.

If the temperature setting in the thermostat increased when he said he decreased it, which is the actual claim, that could be a smoking gun. The only innocent explanation could be that he couldn't see what he was doing while he was driving.

However, there are FAR too many BIG screw-ups and coincidences here for that to make sense. How could a professional journalist be so damn incompetent to:

1. mistake "50" for "90". 2. increase the temperature when he meant to decrease it. 3. start each leg of the journey with less and less energy after filling each time. 4. leave the car unplugged for a good part of the time he claimed to be charging it.

The commenter doth protest too much.


So the towing company confirmed that the car was DEAD. Musk wasn't there, so he cannot extrapolate from his logs.

So Musk wrong again.

Yea, too many coincidences with Musk's side of the story.

Musk is trying to be precise, I did exactly to him that he was trying to do to NYT's reporter. And yes, my pedantry was on purpose.


In NYC, downtown is anything that is down from the part of town you are referencing. Realistically, if the drive drove from the Lincoln tunnel and down the west side hwy, he would be driving downtown.

Anyway, to anyone outside of NYC, downtown is where the streets are crazy and one way and lots of business takes place... so, really, by that definition, anywhere below Central Park can be considered 'downtown'... especially if you are uptown.


Driving downtown, not THROUGH it. Driving THROUGH downtown means driving THROUGH downtown, not going towards downtown.

So Musk made a minor mistake, so the NYT reporter made few minor mistakes. I don't see lies, just two different sides of the same story.

Of course the NYT reporter could have driven downtown and take FDR uptown, but I don't see any prove of that. That would make a little sense if you took Holland, but not Lincoln tunnel.


minutia. my point was: its minutia.

You're other points are meaningful, though.


The nerve of that New York Times reporter for wanting to go through New York.


Not to nit pick, but uptown starts at 60th and above, and most people would consider midtown to be below that to 34th, then the no mans land, and the village to be downtown i.e. below 14th street. Maybe if you were being a jerk about it you'd say that the numbered streets were "uptown", which would make the line to be houston. What you are saying here is that the east village, lower east side, and soho aren't "downtown" which is crazy.

Lincoln tunnel though, clearly not downtown.


I guess I edited that out piece, but I agree that there is no clear definition what is downtown Manhattan.

Downtown / Uptown are directions. Lower Manhattan / Midtown / Upper Manhattan are places.

But Lincoln isn't in Lower/Downtown Manhattan,


Tesla says he spent five minutes driving around a parking lot. I don't know about you but in a busy station, I've spent far longer trying to find an open spot.


Article states it was a small lot with only 100 total spaces. Not exactly a mall parking lot.


>Two words. Occam's Razor. Your explanation is so tangled that an entire battalion of Viet Cong could hide in it.

Tesla's logs show that the range dropped from 90 to 30ish at mile 400.

It shows that Broden was 100% correct.


Musk's own graphs show a precipitous drop in both battery charge and rated range at the mile 400 mark, correlating closely with the same 'overnight' range drop Broder reported. So there's something more happening there, as yet unexplained, than mistakenly misreading the range before going to bed.


It's interesting to compare the state of charge and range remaining graphs around this point. Remember the x-axis is miles, not time. The car does not appear to have lost much charge overnight, but with a cold battery, it's discharging much faster just after he starts driving again. Thus the range remaining is pretty low, even though the battery is still charged. As soon as the battery warms up, the discharge rate becomes what it was the day before, even before he's got to the Norwich recharge station. For some reason though, the range remaining graph doesn't increase after the battery warms up, when you would think it should.

From looking at these graphs, it doesn't look to me that there's a problem with losing charge, but there may be a problem with how the state of charge is reported as range.


If I was designing a "distance remaining" meter for a car like this. I would think long and hard about UX. For instance, does it make sense to have the reported distance available fluctuate? That sort of behavior could be taken quite negatively by users. It could make them distrust the meter. Similarly, there is a safety aspect of always reporting the lowest estimate made by the car, even if conditions have changed more favorably. Better to have someone recharge before strictly necessary than to have someone not realize that conditions have changed after making a decision to skip a charger, and to then run out of energy.

I'm not saying this is what Tesla does, I am just saying that the considerations for the UI in this case are interesting, and maybe there were decisions and behaviors involved that are different than a simple function.


I am not even sure I would dare give a distance estimate.

If I look at some mobile devices I have access to:

Dell laptop: estimates time remaining in hours and minutes; in my experience, that estimate isn't reliable.

iPod Touch: the most concrete it gets is a warning "20% battery charge remaining". Is likely to show it multiple times. The display only shows a tiny bar.

iPad (and, I think, the iPhone): goes a bit further; can show a numerical battery percentage.

For both iOS devices, the Settings app also shows a "Time since last charge" section with "Usage" and "Standby" times. It does not dare give a time remaining.

Mobile phone: 5-bar battery full indicator.

Back to the electric car: especially given the short range for a full charge, I understand owners will want a distance remaining estimate, but I would say: if you can't give a reliable one, don't. 'Percentage charge remaining' plus a 'at similar speed and weather, you typically would have stretched this for x miles' indicator, IMO, would be better. And that is even more than a gasoline powered car will give you.


In order to display a non-fluctuating distance remaining number, Tesla would essentially have to either predict the future or vastly under-report the real number. The car doesn't know whether you are stopping for 5 minutes in 20 degree weather or 10 hours, and UX would be even stranger would it attempt to guess for you. It looks like they already under-report to some degree, but under-reporting by 1/2 the remaining distance would seem to me to be much less ideal than the current solution, which is to adapt the number to conditions currently observed.


Or they could report a "minimum safe distance remaining". Or some sort of warning that says "batteries unconditioned, don't trust readout". And so on. There are a lot of different things that don't require "doesn't exist in a good form yet" tech.


Have none of you seen the spike in cabin temperature at the exact 400 mile mark? Instead of turning the heat down he set it higher.

I'm not arguing that the log data shows the complete story in enough detail as to contradict every statement made in the NYT. And one another is susceptible to suggestion.I find it odd however that the few persons above me seem to completely ignore the cabin temperature chart for the sake of their argument.


I'd like to see a graph of the charge against time (instead of charge against distance). Did he left the heat/light on at night?


I don't know how the thermostat logic is designed, but thermostats generally have tolerances built so that the heat/AC isn't always turning on and off right around the set temperature point. So is it possible that the journalist turned down the thermostat, but this "woke up" the thermostat and made it react to the temperature sooner than it would have, and upon seeing it still to be colder than desired (even after the change, or maybe a millisecond before), start a heating cycle, before later correcting?


Sorry, I thought that at first too, but that is wrong. The "overnight" drop is visible as a small vertical jerk of about 1% difference in the "Battery State of Charge" graph right after the 300 miles mark.

That's why in my account I have the "expected around 90, saw 50 in bad lighting, misread it as 90" snafu. There is a drop, but not as precipitous as it seems.

What happened at 400 miles is apparently a set of full stops as he pulled in to a parking space to talk on the phone and say "I'm not gonna make it," followed by a short reversal of highway time which ends on the 400 mile mark as he went into Norwich, followed by a lot of stop-and-go driving in Norwich to get to some Tesla charger which the NYT article says is around here:

http://goo.gl/maps/cgctM

I can somewhat imagine his impatience and wish to get going again, if that's the situation.


Sorry, no. The original NYTimes map makes it very clear the Groton overnight stop (point ⑤) is at the 399 mile mark (114+133+73+79):

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2013/02/10/automobiles/10t...

And, the points on Musk's graph at ~399 and ~401 very closely match the reported night-before (90 mile) and morning (25 mile) range readouts.

The big drop, almost like a charging straightline in reverse -- is at mile 400. Some have suggested it's the battery's own self-heater which prevents it from getting too cold; that makes sense, but I'd love to see an official Tesla reference to that effect, if it's sufficient to explain the charge drop.


No, I think overnight was at 400 miles. The Milford Supercharge was at roughly 322 miles according to the graph. Broder says he traveled 79 miles before spending the night at Groton, so that's at roughly 400 miles.


precipitous drop in both battery charge and rated range

The drop in "miles of range" is precipitous, but the drop in the actual charge level of the battery is not.


Tesla should have records of all of the communications and should open them up. I suspect the calls themselves will confirm the driver's story and I suspect that tesla has these recordings, so the real question is why haven't they used those to defend themselves?

More generally this is a sad day for HN. Attack the argument, don't attack the actor. This isn't CNBC or Fox: attacking credibility doesn't constitute a logical refutation of the nYT piece.


I don't quite agree that it's attacking his credibility. It seems that something happened, and we're trying to figure out what. Whether the author would have a reason to lie about it figures into the calculation, but is not the entire calculation. Thus, we must question him. It's intertwined with the issue at hand, no question.

I think HN is doing a fine job of arguing both sides.


Regenerative braking just lowers the loss -- it does not eliminate it.

It's not that simple. Regen does more than lower the loss; it also allows the energy captured during braking to be re-used on the next acceleration. Regen basically means your effective range is based on your average speed, even if you are doing stop and go driving instead of cruising; you can actually get better range in city driving with regen because your average speed is lower, and lower average speeds are more efficient (because there is less loss from drag and friction). This is why hybrids typically have a higher EPA rated mileage for city driving than for highway driving.


However regen is not 100% efficient at recapturing the car's kinetic energy. The guy who drove his Model S for 400 miles on one charge in Florida was careful to drive slowly and not use regen when he could avoid it. http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/12549-Dave-Met...


regen is not 100% efficient at recapturing the car's kinetic energy.

True, but if you don't use regen you are 0% efficient at capturing it. Any positive number is better than zero. I'll have to read through the link you gave to see what the guy's reasoning was, but regen should always increase your range.

Edit: On reading through some of the links available on Google, I suspect that he didn't specifically try to avoid regen, but just drove too slowly and with too gentle acceleration and deceleration for the regen system to kick in. Regen does require a certain minimum speed and rate of deceleration to achieve a net gain in energy; if you try it when the car is going too slowly or decelerating too gently all the energy goes into losses in the electrical system and none goes to the battery. The car's control system should be calibrated to only allow regen to kick in when there will be a net gain.

So in that sense you could say that the less than 100% efficiency means there are times when there's no point in using it. But it never causes a loss of energy; you're never worse off than you would be not using regen. It's just that the car's controls won't bother trying if there's no point.


> regen should always increase your range.

True, but not compared to the alternative of avoiding stop-and-go urban driving, which I believe was the OP's point.


But that alternative usually requires driving at higher speed, which more than cancels out any gains from avoiding stop and go because of the increased loss from drag and friction. There aren't any highways where you can drive 400 miles at 25 mph cruise.

Metcalf's description does say that he accelerated and decelerated very gently; see my edit to my upthread post. So he was trying to approach the ideal of driving at a steady 25 mph as close as he could. If the car's regen system had had lower losses, regen would have saved him some energy on those unavoidable decel/accel cycles.


> But that alternative usually requires driving at higher speed, which more than cancels out any gains from avoiding stop and go because of the increased loss from drag and friction.

No, this is a false choice. The choice should not be between stop-and-go driving, versus speeding along. For a proper evaluation, the tested alternatives should be (a) stop-and-go driving with an average velocity of V, versus (b) driving at a constant velocity of V. In that comparison, a constant velocity is much more efficient. The reason is that regenerative braking cannot recover more than a fraction of the energy lost to braking.

The above is in keeping with the best scientific practice, in which an experiment changes just one thing and keeps everything else the same. So we should choose an average velocity, then compare steady speed and stop-and-go driving at that velocity. In that experiment, steady speed wins.

> Metcalf's description does say that he accelerated and decelerated very gently ...

Doesn't matter. Adding a given amount of energy E to a moving object requires the same expenditure of energy regardless of how quickly or slowly it's done (although in practical examples, fast acceleration is wasteful for reasons outside the simplest explanation of the physics). It's the same with removing energy from a moving object, and it is here that the unavoidable losses in regenerative braking prevent the two cases from being equal.

> So he was trying to approach the ideal of driving at a steady 25 mph as close as he could.

That ideal is only achieved by maintaining a steady speed of 25 MPH, not by stop-and-go driving. It's not clear at this point whether Broder was actually told by someone at Tesla that stop-and-go driving was more efficient or not, but if so, that person needs an education.

> If the car's regen system had had lower losses, regen would have saved him some energy on those unavoidable decel/accel cycles.

Yes, but regenerative braking can only minimize losses, it can't recover all the energy lost to braking. Therefore a steady speed is more efficient.


For a proper evaluation, the tested alternatives should be (a) stop-and-go driving with an average velocity of V, versus (b) driving at a constant velocity of V. In that comparison, a constant velocity is much more efficient.

I completely agree, if you are trying to run a scientific experiment. But if you're driving on real-world roads, you're faced with a different set of choices. As I said, you can't expect to drive 400 miles at a steady speed of 25 mph in the real world.

Adding a given amount of energy E to a moving object requires the same expenditure of energy regardless of how quickly or slowly it's done

I wasn't saying that accelerating/decelerating more gently saves energy. I was saying that it probably prevented the regen system on the car from activating at all, meaning that none of the vehicle's kinetic energy was recaptured. Since he could not avoid stopping and starting again (since you can't drive 400 miles at a steady 25 mph on real-world roads), if it had been possible to reclaim some energy through regen during deceleration, it would have increased his range compared to stopping and starting again with zero regen. That's all I was saying, and it's completely consistent with what you're saying.

It's not clear at this point whether Broder was actually told by someone at Tesla that stop-and-go driving was more efficient or not, but if so, that person needs an education.

Not necessarily, because Broder's choice was not between stop and go driving at an average speed of 25 mph, or driving at a steady 25 mph. It was between stop and go driving in Manhattan (you are not, I trust, claiming that it's possible to drive through Manhattan at a steady 25 mph without stopping), at an average speed of 25 mph or so, and driving on freeways at an average speed of, say, 60 mph. Given that choice, it's entirely possible that the stop and go driving would give more range; the exact tradeoff would depend on details like the vehicle's drag coefficient, rolling friction, efficiency of regen, etc.


> I completely agree, if you are trying to run a scientific experiment. But if you're driving on real-world roads, you're faced with a different set of choices. As I said, you can't expect to drive 400 miles at a steady speed of 25 mph in the real world.

A red herring. Whatever speed seems appropriate, steady speed is more efficient than stop-and go driving. My only point is that the advice to intentionally engage in stop-and-go driving is mistaken.


Whatever speed seems appropriate, steady speed is more efficient than stop-and go driving.

A red herring, because the real-world choice is usually between stop and go driving at a low average speed, and steady-state driving at a high average speed. It's irrelevant to point out that a choice that was not actually available (steady-state driving at a low average speed) would be more efficient.

My only point is that the advice to intentionally engage in stop-and-go driving is mistaken.

Not necessarily, if the actual choice is as I said above. Did you read the last part of my previous post?


> A red herring, because the real-world choice is usually between stop and go driving at a low average speed, and steady-state driving at a high average speed.

That's false, breathtakingly ignorant, and you have completely abandoned the original topic, which is to establish whether the advice given to Broder by Tesla (to engage in stop-and-go driving) would help or hinder battery duration and vehicle range. In point of fact, it would hinder battery duration.

> Not necessarily, if the actual choice is as I said above.

Try to focus on something other than your wish to be "right" in spite of the facts. Stop-and-go driving decreases the range of an electric vehicle, and it was incorrect advice to give to a nontechnical journalist.

Pretend to be a scientist, as hard as you may find that. Consider variables one at a time. The driver wants to maximize distance, so he is not going to travel above a moderate speed (this is proven by the fact that Broder knew this and traveled at a moderate speed after he realized his predicament). What is in question is solely whether stop-and-go driving aids or hinders maximum range. It hinders it -- this is physics 101.


That's false

You're kidding, right? The choice Broder had was between driving on a freeway and driving through Manhattan. It was not in any way a choice between stop and go driving and steady-state driving at the same average speed.

Stop-and-go driving decreases the range of an electric vehicle

Compared to steady-state driving at the same average speed, yes. Compared to steady-state driving at a significantly higher average speed, not necessarily.

this is physics 101.

Okay, let's do some physics. The energy required to move a car through a distance D is F * D, where F is the force needed to push the car. For travel at a steady speed, F is given by the following equation:

F = c0 + c1 * v + c2 * v^2

where c0, c1, and c2 are constants that are determined by vehicle and environmental characteristics. (Briefly, c0 is the coefficient of friction between the tires and the road times the weight of the car; c1 is a (usually very small) constant related to the internal friction of rotating parts in the car; c2 is 1/2 rho Cd A, where rho is the air density, Cd is the car's drag coefficient, and A is the car's cross-sectional area. The key is that all of these things can be taken to be constant for the duration of the trip.)

For stop and go driving, F is given by the above formula times a constant e, where e is determined by the efficiency of regen; if e = 1 then regen is 100% efficient and all of the the vehicle's kinetic energy is reclaimed on each decel. If e > 1 then regen only captures a portion of the vehicle's kinetic energy, the portion being 1/e.

So if we compare stop and go driving at an average speed v1 to steady-state driving at an average speed v2, we have

E1 = F1 * D = e (c0 + c1 * v1 + c2 * v1^2) * D

E2 = F2 * D = (c0 + c1 * v2 + c2 * v2^2) * D

If we take v2 = 2 * v1, which is a conservative estimate for Broder's situation (25 mph average speed in the city vs. 50 mph average speed on the freeway), we have

E2 = (c0 + 2 * c1 * v1 + 4 * c2 * v1^2) * D

Now subtract to get the net energy difference:

E2 - E1 = [(1 - e) * c0 + (2 - e) * c1 * v1 + (4 - e) * c2 * v1^2] * D

Regen typically recaptures about 80 percent of a vehicle's kinetic energy, meaning e is about 1.25. So we have

E2 - E1 = [-0.25 * c0 + 0.75 * c1 + v1 + 2.75 * c2 * v1^2] * D

This is going to be positive for any vehicle except a heavy one with a low drag coefficient; practically no vehicles have that. So stop and go driving at 25 mph is going to save energy compared to steady state driving at 50 mph. This is the sort of calculation that I suspect was in the minds of the Tesla people when they told Broder that the stop and go segment in Manhattan was going to give him better range than driving on the freeway.


> Compared to steady-state driving at the same average speed, yes. Compared to steady-state driving at a significantly higher average speed, not necessarily.

Look -- stop trying to change the subject. Obviously if Broder wanted to maximize range and with the choice to either engage in stop-and-go driving or drive at a constant speed with the same average speed, physics says drive at a constant speed. Your claim that one can only drive fast or engage in stop-and-go driving is false. If the point is to maximize the car's range, the driver can drive at any speed he cares to. And Broder did just that -- he drove as slowly as necessary to prevent pointless losses of energy.

Do you really think that the police will arrest you if you drive too slow on the freeway? Tell that to a long-haul trucker.

> Regen typically recaptures about 80 percent of a vehicle's kinetic energy

Absolutely false. Source: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/brakes/brake-types/...

Quote: "The miraculous thing about regenerative braking is that it may be able to capture as much as half of that wasted energy and put it back to work."

Source: http://theeestory.ning.com/forum/topics/regenerative-braking...

Quote: "Tesla Motors claims an 87% efficiency for powering the electric motor with the energy in the batteries, and the same efficiency in returning motor power to the batteries via regenerative braking. TM also claims an average 80% mechanical efficiency (this goes down as friction increases at very low speeds), including tire loss. So if I have it right, round trip efficiency from taking electricity out of the battery pack to putting it back in, after regen recovery, would theoretically be .87 x .8 x .8 x .87 = 48.4%. But the Roadster uses regenerative braking only on the rear wheels, so if you actually use the brake pedal (instead of coasting with the regenerative braking on) , then the recovery will be far less. The front disc brakes will absorb most (over half) of the kinetic energy when using the brake pedal, because braking action throws more weight to the front of a car."

Your preliminary assumptions are spectacularly wrong. According to the above, the energy recovered in the Model S is about 20% of that required to get the car to its present speed.

> So if we compare stop and go driving at an average speed v1 to steady-state driving at an average speed v2 ...

Learn about science, and don't post again until you do. Science isolates one variable, the topic of study, and keeps everything else the same to the degree that's practical.

Regenerative braking is much less efficient than driving at a steady pace.


stop trying to change the subject

I'm not. The subject is whether or not the Tesla people gave Broder good advice. Obviously that depends on what information he gave them and what they based their advice on. You are basically saying that Broder asked them: "I can drive at 25 mph steady state, or do stop and go driving at an average speed of 25 mph; which will give me better range?" If that were indeed the question he had asked Tesla, you are entirely correct that "stop and go" would have been the wrong answer.

But I believe the question Broder actually asked Tesla was more like: "I can drive at 50 mph on the freeway steady state, or do stop and go driving at an average speed of 25 mph; which will give me better range?" If that was the question he asked Tesla, "stop and go" could have been a correct answer. That's my point.

According to the above, the energy recovered in the Model S is about 20% of that required to get the car to its present speed.

The quote you gave referred to the Roadster; as far as I know the Model S uses regen on all four wheels [Edit: probably not--see below]. That would make it 48.4%, not 20%, assuming there are no other differences between the Roadster and the Model S.

If the correct number is 48.4%, that makes e about 2; so my equation would look like this:

E2 - E1 = [- c0 + 2 * c2 * v1^2] * D

I agree this is less likely to be positive; I would have to see detailed numbers for the Tesla Model S to get a better estimate of c0 and c2. The Tesla people who gave Broder the advice presumably had such detailed data, so they would have been able to make a more accurate calculation of estimated range for each alternative.

Science isolates one variable, the topic of study, and keeps everything else the same to the degree that's practical.

Exactly: to the degree that's practical. Broder was not running a controlled scientific experiment; he was running a real-world test of a vehicle.

[Edit: Looking at the Model S specs on the Tesla web site, they do say it's a rear wheel drive vehicle, and there's no mention of separate regen motors for the front wheels. If so, and if the 20% figure for energy recovery is correct, that would make it extremely unlikely that a calculation like the one I've done would give a positive number. If the Tesla people were basing their response on such a calculation, their numbers for regen energy recovery must be significantly higher than 20%, or they were estimating a significantly higher freeway speed than 50 mph, or (most likely) a combination of the two.]


You are certainly cutting this guy a lot of slack.

This isn't Jim telling you about his crazy weekend while you stand around the watercooler, this is a professional journalist writing a story for one of the largest and most well respect news outlets in the world.

To me it looks like he doesn't manage to report the correct numbers even once, he said 55, actually going 60, he said 45, actually going 50.

Is it that hard to read a digital display?

Then you say he mistakes a 50 for a 90, if he has that much trouble with eyesight maybe he shouldn't be test driving cars.

Lets see now, which source seems more credible, the guy who doesn't manage to report a single accurate number, and makes mistakes when reading a digital display... or the company which had the foresight to monitor and log everything in their vehicles right down to the state of the temperature controls.

You make a good argument, but I think you are being far too charitable with someone who is a professional journalist and should have done a better job reporting facts if they want to be seen as credible.


> Shifting to cruise control did not affect the drainage curve at all, and when he called Tesla they suggested that cruise control was a Bad Idea, because the Tesla has regenerative braking, so you see that he turns it off at about 225 mi and starts stop-and-go driving in the city.

Braking and cruise control are mutually exclusive domains. You can't drive with cruise control in stop-and-go traffic even if you wanted to.

Turning off cruise control on the highway might have some small impact on efficiency, but the cause would not be braking.


Who in their right mind, specially someone who is reportedly a climate and energy expert, would think braking recharges the car?

edit: recharge as in having a net gain of energy. Even if you roll down a 3-mile mountain with the brakes pushed, you'd only be recovering energy spent on the way up, minus losses.


Maybe he read a bit too much of Tesla's copy:

In contrast slower city driving speeds are more efficient and electric vehicles have a unique benefit in stop and go, low-speed driving due to regenerative braking

http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/model-s-efficiency-and-range


Since when does "efficient" mean a net-gain in energy? Seems like Broder needs to revisit his high school Science AND English classes.


He simply believed that stop & go city driving would help instead of hurt his mileage. Whether that's correct or not depends on the maintained speed. Driving at. steady 75mph on a highway is quite possibly less efficient than stop and go downtown. At 55 mph, maybe not, but how is Broder supposed to know this off the top of his head if a Tesla phone rep is giving him bad info?


Anyone who has driven a similar car. Priuses do the same thing and I think other hybrids do, as well.


But the second law of thermodynamics means that you can't get as much out of regenerative braking as you put in to the cars potential energy. It's not going to magically allow your car to recharge itself from braking; all it does is recapture a fraction of the energy you've spent accelerating the car or hauling it up a hill.


Regenerative braking allows you to more efficiently drive within a city.

But the big win is driving at city speeds. I had explained this the other day, but power usage depends approx. on the square of your velocity.

So averaging 30mph in the city would take about 1/4 as much power as averaging 60mph on the highway, all other things being equal.

Normally all other things are not equal, as idling at a city stoplight wastes energy in a gas-powered machine, and pressing the brakes wastes energy in a gas-powered machine.

With an EV idling uses very little energy, and you can reclaim some energy from braking. Braking is still a net loss, but not as much.

Combine the two effects with a 4x power efficiency and it's not at all impossible for a hybrid to get better mileage in city, especially in stop-and-go traffic where the average speed is even lower.


I have a friend who owns a Tesla Model S who says the regen is not as efficient in stop and go traffic as lighter vehicles. The Prius and Leaf are thousands of pounds lighter. (He still loves his car.)

He says the Tesla seems more efficient on county highways than side roads because the losses from accelerating the vehicle's over 4500 pound weight exceed losses from air resistance at those speeds.


I meant recharge as in 'add more energy than was spent'. Braking only recovers a small amount of energy, which was already used.


If you're going to make such an accusation you should be much more careful with your wording.



Sounds like a well elaborated excuse to me.


"If you really look at the two accounts, it's not necessarily clear that they're contradictory except in a couple of statements on speed ..."

So what does Broder have to say about that?

"It happened just the way I described it."

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-f...


I can see how the 2 stories might square to some extent as you've described.

However I don't understand your part about regenerative braking. From everything I've read, regenerative braking very much is capable of adding charge to the batteries.


If regenative braking adds X charge to batteries, then afterwards speeding back to original speed will take more than X energy.

Regenerative energy is much more efficient than normal braking; but in any case it's far more efficient to simply stay at the same speed. Stop & go is extremely inefficient with normal brakes, and just inefficient with regenerative brakes.


Only if there's a whole lot of downhill!


Thank you : cock-up beats conspiracy everytime


Nice try, Broder.


I find it interesting that they didn't actually show the car going in circles on a map. Either they have the GPS logged and they don't want to show it (customers could think "oh this car is going to record my location?!") or they just don't have it and are guessing?


The car park is described as a 100-lot area. Zooming in the map to show a tiny little circle wouldn't have conveyed the point - instead they showed the speed data logged instead.

As for data loggin: Elon states it's only for the media test drives unless written permission is given [1]

1. https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/301053361157988352


Or unless the United States asks for it to be turned on, or unless you have a lawsuit of some sort pending against the company.


The GPS logs probably don't update fast enough and aren't accurate enough to make for an interesting display. It'd probably look like a confused scribble, the speed data is more accurate.


If you look at the google map link above the supercharger is at a rest stop. If you don't pull in to the rest stop your only option is to continue down the highway. The start-and-stop pattern in the logs is not possible on a highway.


There are only two questions to answer here:

1. Did the reviewer take off on the final leg with insufficient charge at the advice of Tesla, or against the advice of Tesla? This caused the towing incident that created a sensational news story. Both sides disagree. There is probably no audio recording (which is illegal in many Northeast states without two party consent) so this is an area where one side can lie with reasonable impunity. One side is clearly lying, so it's a shameful situation. But that's not really as important as #2:

2. Does the car lose miles overnight in cold weather, or driving in cold weather? The answer here is unequivocally yes, and this is the story that Tesla doesn't want told, and hopes to distract from. It means you can't take it on a long ski trip deep into the mountains, or leave it in the airport an extra day without an annoying long recharge cycle. This can't be solved by charging overnight in some cases, as on long trips you still need to drive through the cold, so the range can decrease as one drives. The people who buy Teslas like to ski, like to fly, and don't want to wait two to six hours hours for a full recharge when a supercharger is not around.

The blog post doesn't really rebut #2, though it does try to distract and smear credibility with various nits which technically may be correct but are irrelevant to the basic questions. Classic courtroom defense strategy.


I read it as Tesla picking nits and ignoring the big picture issues. E.g.

* It's clearly quite hard to find the supercharger at night.

* Tesla should do a better job of indicating non supercharger charging options. This would almost have solved all the problems on its own (I got short of power owing to lousy weather and had to make a side trip to a nearby charging station.)

* Tesla's tech support people are giving out unclear (perhaps not incorrect so much as ambiguous or easily misunderstood) advice. Tesla does not dispute the advice the reporter claims to have received... Training problems?

* The car's software provides insufficient information w.r.t. charging (or buries the lead).

* The car's software doesn't account for temperature well, including not warning about overnight charge/range loss due to either heating or a cold start. I assume it has thermal sensors.

Either the reporter consistently misreports his speed or the Tesla is simply logging the wrong speed, which is entirely possible based on the variance in wheel size from spec. (I don't know the distances involved, but it should be easy for folks to verify either way.)

The 80mph (or 65-70mph if miscalibrated) speed spikes aren't worth mentioning. If you drive in traffic, rapidly overtaking someone to avoid a problem is commonplace and does not bear on the discussion. Making points like that actually undercuts Tesla's case.


Those who are rebutting this and Telsa and defending the NY Times need to read Manufacturing Consent.


OK, even if didn't run out off power and got back OK the review clearly demonstrates (as does Elon's rebuttal) that "Range Anxiety" is a real issue with the Model S (as do all EVs)... who want's to be thinking about optimal cabin temp, average speed, cruise control or not, regenerative braking, where's the next charger, calling up tech support, just to be sure they'll get home? Who?

Wouldn't a review that didn't highlight these very real issues be misleading the public?

Surely Tesla knew who was going to write the article, so presumably they were happy with his "agenda". If not they should have been more careful and had their best people on it.

Tesla has a public education mountain to climb.


> They post images, graphs, logs, maps, and more. I'm incredibly surprised at how well they're defending themselves against dishonest reviews - for example, I'd never have thought to log the changes to the cabin temperature, but apparently they've done so and more!

> After a negative experience several years ago with Top Gear, a popular automotive show, where they pretended that our car ran out of energy and had to be pushed back to the garage, we always carefully data log media drives.

Off-topic, but I'm curious whether they log this data for all cars, and whether this data is available to the driver (even if they need to work a bit to get it or ask for it)


My understanding is that for private cars, they've said they don't log this data without consent (and a signature). I don't know whether it's available to the user - that'd be neat for sure.


The Tesla logged data is definitely available to the user -- there are apps available to help the user interpret/exploit the results:

http://www.teslamotors.com/it_CH/forum/forums/model-s-iphone...


Sweet.


If indeed at the end of the day this was Broder pushing his own agenda

If that is indeed what is happening, I doubt it is actually his agenda. Rather, whomever is paying him under the table's agenda.


>This post makes me want to reconsider a Model S as my next car."

Really? I had the opposite reaction.

Let's assume the the Times lied about everything, and we only consider Tesla's words. Look at the instructions he was to follow, "Drive like this, turn off this, don't do this, charge here for an HOUR".

That seems like a lot of consideration, and the thing costs $100k? No thanks. It's cool, and it may be the future, but the technology seems over-hyped for daily use.


Within months the supercharger network on the East Coast will have more stations that will make these precautions unecessary. This was just a snapshot in time, with the minimum number of stations possible with the car's range.


I'm also curious whether something like raw charge percentage is shown to the user directly, or whether it is made more familiar like a bar graph or something.


This would probably be less useful than the range, because it follows an exponential function correlated to temperature and battery condition. You could take the log of it, and add a factor for the temperature, and then... you'd have the range indicator they have now.


Yeah, it looks like the basic display is range plus a basic bar graph. So when Musk is quoting percentages, that's not what the driver sees.


This is really damning.

I became way more suspicious when Mr. Broder started trying to weasel in lots of C.Y.A. wiggle room once Elon called his bluff: "Mr. Musk’s logs may show I hit 75 m.p.h. for a mile or two during my trip, although it was likely before, rather than after, the Newark stop..." [1] Suddenly he needed three conditionals in just one sentence: "may", "a mile or two" (now he's not so sure), and "likely".

Given all the hard data here that contradict the original story and show intentional shenanigans like laps around a parking lot, plus the evidence of Mr. Broder's stated a priori irrational bias against electric cars, it's hard to see how this might end up without a retraction from the Times.

And once again I think all the Times's griping about industry disruption is a secondary matter and a distraction from the fact that it's consistently not actually a very good news source.

1. http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-f...


Here's what I posted after the NYTimes review: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5204109

Our culture is badly broken. When "the social contract" for broad swathes of society is so little regarded that lying is a matter of course, then we have already reached worrying levels of dysfunction, of the sort that historians point out when they discuss the fall of the Roman Empire, Czarist Russia, or the USSR. A point all of those have in common: The denizens came to assume public information was false as a matter of course, as a time and sanity saving measure. Large swathes of our society think of lying, even when deceiving large swathes of the public, as a kind of sport, and profiting from such lying as a kind of serendipitous fortune to be exploited without conscience, like finding cash on the sidewalk.

Such attitudes are shoved in my face when I see exclamations like, "Pictures or it didn't happen!" It's the same when big media corporations trade in innuendo and conspiracy theories and deliberately sabotage the dissemination of knowledge for their own ends. Such attitudes are so pervasive, that large swathes of the population actually disbelieve in any kind of objective truth, and accept mere social proof as its substitute and superior.

It's entirely possible that the journalist in question is innocent of deception and only guilty of poor journalism and/or poor trip planning and/or insufficient UI design. However, the issue with the review and that of the social contract are entirely related. In a world where reality itself is relative and subject to social proof, there is no need to double check your facts or to prove the null hypothesis. In a world where science is just another fabricated self-serving belief system, there's no need to apply one's scientific literacy or application of physics learned in school when doing things like taking a car trip in winter. One only need know enough to read the dials and gauges to be a good consumer, then complain loudly if things do not go one's way.

True competence, be it in programming or journalism or any significant endeavor, requires diligence with and prostration to the truth. Our society as a whole has forgotten this and our society as a whole is oblivious to the price it is paying as a consequence.

Another way to think of it: Our society as a whole doesn't have the epistemological foundation needed for the level of technical sophistication it has.

EDIT: Some of my fellow HN-ers seem to suggest they hold such relativism as a world view. This warrants much reflection.


Depressingly, HN, or large chunks thereof, seem to lack that foundation.

Here we have an institution, the NY Times, cherished by progressive as authoritative, in conflict with a technology, cherished by progressives as environmentally crucial. The ensuing debate looks like something out of Orwell. Over an analysis of logs!

The problem isn't technological knowledge. It is "liberal" knowledge, knowledge of how we and others form opinions and deal with argument. People underestimate the impact of their political convictions on others' opinions, and their own. That impact goes really, really deep, it actually takes a lot of thought and reading and observation to see how this works.

And yet we're routinely treated to debates where people simply state whatever seems obvious to them as "fact" and then respond incoherently to any contradiction. It's truly depressing.


"Our society as a whole doesn't have the epistemological foundation needed for the level of technical sophistication it has."

Thank you sir for reminding me why I am quitting my job to begin a Master's degree in Technology and Public Policy. Those in the know with regards to technology and its impact will forever be limited by those not in the know. Maybe we will never agree on the means used to determine Truth, but we should coalesce around empiricism. Not because we need all be scientists, but because empiricism and its methods provide the best means by which the powerless may confront the deceptive and calcified agents of power.


I sympathize strongly with your comment. But, following your own standards, there should be a little voice of doubt in your mind about this narrative as well. Perhaps it seems that civilizations grow more corrupt over time merely because their ability to detect and disseminate knowledge of such corruption improves.


> But, following your own standards, there should be a little voice of doubt in your mind about this narrative as well.

That was written before Tesla's response. You're saying, that for the interest on impartiality, I should have doubted Tesla's side before I even read it? Huh?!? Does that make sense?

As I stated elsewhere, someone can replicate both Tesla's side and Broder's side by redoing the trip both ways.


That, in itself, highlights the crucial difference between an anecdote and data. Journalists as a general rule over-emphasize an anecdotal view of the world at the expense of an evidence-based view.


Realistically, that’s not possible.

The disputes are much more subtle here.


Any disputes so subtle as to require more expense than several more replication attempts is immaterial.

Plenty of winter left. Even people who will volunteer. I think replication is very possible. Hell, I have time. I'll do one!


"this narrative" refers to the post I was replying to.


THIS: "Another way to think of it: Our society as a whole doesn't have the epistemological foundation needed for the level of technical sophistication it has."

Perfect.


"Our society as a whole doesn't have the epistemological foundation needed for the level of technical sophistication it has."

I think a better description of the problem is that our cognitive infrastructure isn't robust enough to handle the interconnectedness and complexity of modern society. Epistemology and technical sophistication are both just subsets of two larger problems.


Extremely insightful comment, thank you sir.


...there is no need to double check your facts or to prove the null hypothesis.

Don't we typically attempt to disprove the null hypothesis?


No, we attempt to prove it and sometimes fail to do so, at which point we are justified in rejecting the null.


Perhaps prove/disprove is a misleading choice of words, but with those terms, the null hypothesis is never proved.

When the null hypothesis is rejected, it is because our test results are below some very small threshold of probability given the assumption of the null (this is then taken as "proving" the alternative hypothesis for the purposes of this test). When the null is not rejected, our results might be just above that threshold, which by our method doesn't reject the null (and neither proves nor disproves the alternative) but certainly doesn't prove the null either. We never prove the null hypothesis: if that's what we were trying to do it wouldn't be the null.


Thank you for this. Please publish this insightful and sobering post as a web page somewhere so it can be submitted to HN.




Musk didn't disprove a thing. He's trying to manipulate the facts.

The estimated range that Broder is referring to is the 90 mile estimate that the car displayed at the end of the first day, not the 32 miles it displayed the next morning. That is what he means when he says the car fell short of its range estimate by 2/3rds.

He also states that the reason he proceeded in the morning with just a 32 mile range is that "Tesla’s experts said that pumping in a little energy would help restore the power lost overnight as a result of the cold weather, and after an hour they cleared me to resume the trip to Milford." In other words, Tesla TOLD HIM TO. Musk does not refute this.

Tesla flunked the test due to cold weather energy loss. It's that simple. Superchargers alone cannot compensate for that. You still have to plug in overnight and take conservation measures on the road, or you may end up stranded. Musk can't change that no matter how hard he tries to distract you from the facts with "facts".

(BTW, has anyone realized that Musk's "driving around in circles in front of the charging station" conspiracy theory doesn't even make any kind of sense? If the writer wanted to intentionally strand the car he'd do it on the road.)


> He also states that the reason he proceeded in the morning with just a 32 mile range is that "Tesla’s experts said that pumping in a little energy would help restore the power lost overnight as a result of the cold weather, and after an hour they cleared me to resume the trip to Milford." In other words, Tesla TOLD HIM TO. Musk does not refute this.

To quote from Musk:

"The final leg of his trip was 61 miles and yet he disconnected the charge cable when the range display stated 32 miles. He did so expressly against the advice of Tesla personnel and in obvious violation of common sense."

I'd say that is a refutation.


Yeah. We're now in a sad he-said-she-said situation, unless someone was recording phone calls.

. . . hey, most customer services lines tell you that the call may be recorded? So maybe we do have that call.


The estimated range assumes that the driver follows the car manual which says it should be plugged into a 120v outlet over night, which he neglected to do.


So you're saying he's driving it wrong.

Still a valid thing to criticize. Musk calls the Tesla "an electric car without compromises." Finding plugs and stringing extension cords at some random hotel in the woods so as not to get stranded is maybe a little bit of a compromise.


That's exactly what I'd suspect a clueless person would do if he were trying to intentionally damage the li-ion battery. (You should drain the cells directly, circumventing the charge controller, if you want to be sure.)


> Tesla flunked the test due to cold weather energy loss.

This might sound pedantic, but the logs don't actually show any overnight cold-weather energy loss. What they do show is that it costs more energy per mile until the battery heats back up.

This makes a big difference when looking at the expected performance, because it means that it doesn't much matter how long you park it in the cold, only how cold it is when you start driving again.

It looks like energy loss, because the system apparently knows that a low battery temp will cause the batteries to drain faster and compensates in the range estimate.


> This makes a big difference when looking at the expected performance, because it means that it doesn't much matter how long you park it in the cold, only how cold it is when you start driving again.

Yes, unless you try to charge the battery while it's cold -- batteries aren't very efficient at absorbing a charge when they're cold. I'm speaking here about the basic physics, not the metering and software.


This NYTimes article has been used as evidence against Tesla's claim that you can leave the car at an airport for a week and come back without having lost (much) charge, regardless of weather conditions. I merely intend to point out that due to an inaccuracy in interpreting the drop in range, this is not evidence against that claim.


This is awesome. I've been waiting for them to show this and get it out there for peer review so no-one can say it's just he-said he-said.

It's yet another example of how the New York Times which complains so much about the hardships it is suffering in the new media economy has brought most of the problem on itself by no longer being worthy of its once-exalted status.


The problems that the New York Times complains about are not at all incompatible with the self-inflicted wounds.

When your budget is being decimated, it is hard to attract and support the quality employees who can deliver the product that you want. It gets worse with the way that new media is turning into a more virulent rehash of the old "yellow press", thereby lowering journalistic standards among the companies that the New York Times has to compete with. This means that people you try to hire are unlikely to come from a culture that cares about facts - which accelerates the downward spiral.

I do not personally believe that it will get better until it has gotten so clearly bad that the public hungers for high quality news enough to pay a premium to subscribe to it. (Which is how institutions like The New York Times got started in the first place.)


I don't think it's a problem retaining great journalists. The job market for journalists is outrageously tight, and working for the New York Times is still considered prestigious and just about the top of the profession, and they have some really fantastic reporters and columnists, but they have a lot of bad ones too, and bad editors, who consistently produce stuff like this that occasionally dips down to the Jayson Blair level.

On the other hand, the Financial Times for example manages to be consistently reliable and intelligent, and from what I gather it's not due to any spectacular remuneration for their reporters, but seems to spring from a leadership and culture of high standards of accuracy and rational thought. And not coincidentally, they are hailed as a great success story in succeeding financially in the age of digital news. But that doesn't come down to any special alchemy of their porous pay wall formula, it comes down to being really excellent at what they do.

There's no reason the New York Times couldn't become just as excellent and just as financially successful if it had a brain transplant, i.e. a replacement of its leadership with much more intelligent and rational top executives, like, say, Elon Musk.


I assume people are willing to pay for actionable intelligence on things that matter to them. Or to be entertained. But you pay an entirely different amount of money to find out an answer to "should I build a factory using natural gas in the midwest, or will prices rise, or will a pipeline be constructed in time that we can keep using our factory in Texas" vs. "what is latest on Tom Cruise and his wife?".

Unfortunately, since voting is relatively ineffective, information on political/social/etc. issues, even if it fully determines how you vote, is closer in value to entertainment than intelligence.


The problem is more complex than that.

If you want information that is actionable and of interest to very few, you're going to pay a premium. But if you want information that many want to hear, you can spread the cost out and it can be individually cheap.

But it matters how people pay. The problem is that we've moved from paying for a subscription to implicitly on ad impressions per click. With a subscription, poor quality hurt the publisher because subscriptions got canceled. On per click models, it is basically a war for the best headline. And the quality of news is essentially irrelevant. By the time you realize that you've been fooled into clicking on useless blogspam again, they've booked the ad impressions.

You can't maintain quality on a per click revenue model. And you can't generate subscription revenue when people are not dissatisfied enough with the free blogspam. Nobody seems to have figured out good solutions to this yet.


I guess with intelligence there is also value if you get the information first, or are one of a small elect with the information -- scarcity has value. With public interest, it's often to your benefit if everyone gets the information -- the value goes up from network effects or something as more people know it.


This guy has been writing for the Times for 14 years; recent budget decimation didn't cause them to stoop to hiring him.


How hard is it to find someone who won't lie in a story? What's the yearly compensating differential on that? $20,000 a year? Hell, I'll not-lie for only, like, $50 extra a year.


Maybe I'm being too nice, but I'm willing to give the NYT a little benefit of the doubt that this might just have been a single journalist embellishing a story for publicity, as has been known to happen both there and at so many other publications many times over.


I came to the US in 1999, and understood the NYT to be the "newspaper of record". Then witnessed their atrocious coverage of WMDs and the drumbeat to the Iraq invasion. There was Jayson Blair. There was Rick Bragg. Just off the top of my head. They're always "isolated incidents" ...until it becomes a pattern of behavior. Just my 2c YMMV


Americans can see the same effect just from being out of the country for a while. A few years, months, or weeks of not being subjected to the psychological burden of following 'the news' and its gradual narrative, whether that's NYT or otherwise, can have quite effective results on how ably you judge things in the future.


If I didn't live next to a journalist, I'd say it was a single journalist. But job of journalist is not to discuss the truth, inform the public, but to garner eyeballs.

"Enhanching" the truth is their standard MO.


This wasn't "embellishment" - no reasonable person can look at those charging logs and not believe that this "reporter" deliberately set out to discharge a battery and then write a story about it.

I do blame Tesla, somewhat, for not having the good sense to realize that this guy was going to do a hatchet job. Perhaps they'll learn from this and deal with actual journalists in the future.


You do understand that NYT made previously a statement for unconditionally supporting their journalist, although Tesla promised contradicting evidences?


Most media outlets are thick with this kind of skewed reporting. The only difference in this case is they did it in such a way that catching them at it was straightforward.

Meanwhile, the political stories in the NYT are just as bad; but not so easily refuted.


> When Tesla first approached The New York Times about doing this story, it was supposed to be focused on future advancements in our Supercharger technology. There was no need to write a story about existing Superchargers on the East Coast, as that had already been done by Consumer Reports with no problems!

As compelling as this blog post is, this statement really stuck in my craw. NYT, nor any other news group, is beholden to your ideal article. To make matters worse, it was Tesla approaching NYT, not the other way around. So no Elon. Just because the article didnt cover what you wanted it to cover, doesn't mean you can get your panties in a bunch about it. The truthfulness of the article is a whole other matter entirely, but as someone who studied journalism, I have to give him a big "fuck you" for this imperialistic notion.


But that's how PR works. A company or their PR agency pitches a story to the journalist, who is constantly in search of good content in exchange for publicity. While the journalist and the publication get the final say, there's an agreement of what's going to be covered, and what's out of bounds. What Musk and Tesla are doing here is sinking PR agencies' willingness to work with the Broder and NYT on a future story and reducing the chances they will get media test drives of cars in the future.

The NYT is huge and important, so they'll never be completely shut out. But I'm guessing they'll be pretty far down the waiting list for the Tesla Model X media car.


  While the journalist and the publication get the final say,
  there's an agreement of what's going to be covered, and what's out of bounds.
No. There is not. There is the notion of "off the record" when talking to sources. However NYT never agrees to whats being covered in a PR sense.

Editorial policy is pretty clear on most things like that.

Whenever we visited Google's office and such we were forbidden to sign the standard NDA's at check-in. It was fun to watch the people at the front desk get flustered ("No one ever declines the NDA!")


> However NYT never agrees to whats being covered in a PR sense.

Maybe not formally but if the subject of the article has anything the NYT wants like advertising revenue, insider information, scoops or exclusive access then you can be sure the NYT has an incentive to be cooperative that is directly proportional to how much it values receiving these benefits in the future.

In the case of Tesla this incentive is essentially zero.


The NY Times is not a PR outlet. It is a newspaper first, and moreover, is an investigative newspaper. If Tesla wanted a puff piece they should have gone with a blog.


Exactly! It's a very cynical view of the media and unfortunately one I encounter too often among tech vendors. This statement makes everything else seem like sour grapes, regardless of the facts of the matter.


In my opinion, a damning comment in the journalists rebuttal causes him to lose all credibility on it's own. "Mr. Musk has referred to a “long detour” on my trip. He is apparently referring to a brief stop in Manhattan on my way to Connecticut that, according to Google Maps, added precisely two miles to the overall distance traveled from the Delaware Supercharger to Milford (202 miles with the stop versus 200 miles had I taken the George Washington Bridge instead of the Lincoln Tunnel)."

Anyone who has driven this trip knows that a "2 mile detour" into Manhattan will cost them an hour+ of their lives, and a quarter of their soul, much less a stop and go hell ride. A true testament to his disinginuity is his pretending to think that stop and go is more efficient than highway mileage. He has no place as an energy reporter unless acting as a shill.


> A true testament to his disinginuity is his pretending to think that stop and go is more efficient than highway mileage. He has no place as an energy reporter unless acting as a shill.

Why is everyone here conflating gas-powered machines with EVs? There's a reason Tesla recommended he slow down and go through a city. There's a reason the Prius has a higher mileage rating for city driving than highway driving.

The reason is that driving faster requires proportionally more energy. It's always been that simple. The reason cities have historical given poor mileage is because of energy wastage from idling and from braking, both of which many EVs (incl. Tesla's) can minimize the energy loss from.


The data doesn't show a significant loss of charge when he was in NYC, though(which, I believe, is around the 250 mile mark). His speed is all over the place, which would be consistent with stop and go city driving, but there isn't any significant drop in range or battery charge.

So the 2 mile detour didn't appear to do anything except add 2 miles to the total distance. As far as the data shows, highway driving is actually not more efficient than stop and go traffic.


Stop and go may be inefficient since it takes a lot of energy to get a still car moving. Regenerative braking can't capture all of the energy lost when decelerating. That said, city driving may still be more efficient than highway in an electric vehicle. Note that the speed which maximizes fuel efficiency for most vehicles is around 30mph. So driving 60 on the highway isn't as good as driving consistently 30mph. Depending on how much speed deviates from 30mph and how good the regenerative braking is, fuel efficiency could plausibly be higher at 30mph with some stop and go than a consistent 60mph.

Of course, I imagine Manhattan is not the place to test this hypothesis...


That's bullshit. Traffic isn't that bad in manhattan. I've driven there for 10+ years now. Two miles is going crosstown. At worst it might take you half an hour. Typically, it's more like 15 minutes.


Not really. After his stop he went up the FDR or West Side Highway to head to Conn. The highway traffic usually moves just fine.


I found that interesting in the other direction. Elon Musk originally claimed it was a "long detour." When Broder pushed back, the "long detour" claim went away; now it's just a "unplanned detour" through Manhattan.


Musk doesn't address the big drop in estimated range overnight, which actually seems confirmed (at mile 400) in his charge/range graphs. I'm curious if temperature alone can explain this, or some other bug or drain-left-on overnight must be at play.

It does appear the reviewer wanted to trigger a car-stop scenario. Curiosity about what happens when a driver messes up, or perhaps range estimates fail because of unpredictable terrain/traffic is legitimate. So, I don't blame the reviewer for the circles near the charging station. But ignoring the range estimate and recharge opportunities, in order to require a tow and then report it as if it were a car failure, seems indefensible.


That is why when conducting a review and not just a blog post , you should have a protocol - what were you testing, how, why.

After all - see how detailed the testing methodology for some hardware sites is. For a world class media like the times it is inexcusable. So it is very sloppy to have times making reviews of expensive products that are worse than these of 300$ video card.

I pushed the car to the limits is a viable test, just notice it.


An excellent point. It's also probably worth mentioning that for this kind of review, a single data point/drive is more of an anecdote than a test. At the very least they should do a "round trip" there and back test.


>Musk doesn't address the big drop in estimated range overnight, which actually seems confirmed (at mile 400) in his charge/range graphs.

That's true. It looks like the car lost about 5% of capacity overnight, and that could have been a problem if he had stayed two nights. It looks like he used about 40% of capacity to get to Groton from the Supercharger. If he had let the car finish a standard (not even max range) charge at Milford, he would have had 90%-40%-5%-40% = 5% of battery remaining when he returned to the Supercharger at Milford the next day. That's an uncomfortably thin margin, but quite different from needing a flatbed.


My understanding is that the battery mustn't get too cold so a heating element is automatically turned on during cold nights (you can't leave your iPhone or laptop in your car during freezing weather either). This explains part of the loss in range. The second part is that the charge level is less accurate when the battery is cold, so only after driving for a bit you see your "real" range. Either way Tesla recommends you always plug in your car at night.


Or the driver left the lights on overnight.


People hear "NY Times" and think it means something. It doesn't. There's simply no way (usually) for anyone to factcheck what happened on a reporter's solo trip. The editor is completely reliant on the author's word.

In this case the writer is busted, but you can be sure that plenty of NY Times articles are equally biased without anyone able to prove otherwise. I was fortunate to personally witness absolute yellow journalism out of the NY Times, so I know just low their reporting can go.

Trust individuals, ignore brands.


From the data, all of the claims made are correct - except for the one about the air temperature.

http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/blog_images/c...

They put the arrow where it was increased for a short duration, but then immediately after this the temperature is lowered considerably. A short delay like that could be just timing differences on his watch or similar. Does not seem like a valid complaint here, as the temperature was definitely decreased substantially after that time.

Rest of it is, obviously, completely incriminating though. Tesla should have just left this at the 'driving in circles in the parking lot'. That speaks for itself more than anything.


Look at the x-axis, he doesn't lower the temperature immediately after. At 182 miles, he states he lowered temperature. Instead he increases it in small increments up to a bit more than 74 at around the 200 miles mark (18 miles after he says he lowered it). Then he decreases it in two increments, down to a little less than 70, around the 220 miles mark. He doesn't reduce it to 64/65 until around 250 miles.


That could be a genuine mistake. If that was the only mistake - misreporting 80 miles when he lowered the temperature - then this would be no proof at all. He did still lower the temperate, after all, just gave the incorrect distance at which it was done. It doesn't actually affect the review.

As I said before though, this is hardly the only part of the puzzle that doesn't add up.


I don't get it. How cold was outside? Lowering the temp in a cold weather means less drain on the battery. It seems he increased the temp from 72 to 74 for a short time before lowering it below 66.

"Putting the temp on low" means different things depending on where you look from. The blog may be articulate on some issues but it's not very clear at least on this one.


From what I've read, the temperature controls on the centre console are a touchscreen with none of the tactile feedback that physical controls have, so it's probably really easy to press the wrong button without ever realising it...


> They put the arrow where it was increased for a short duration, but then immediately after this the temperature is lowered considerably.

I don't think ~80 miles could be considered a "short duration".


elon musk accused the author of a significant detour in manhattan and not charging to max in his tweets. he provides zero proof the first thing happened and the article is very clear that the test driver/reviewer did not, in fact, charge to max when elon musk claims he didn't.

i'm also appalled elon musk would use charge remaining charts that show the battery dropping into the low single digits to prove the car never ran out of battery when the tesla runs on lithium ion battery technology. lithium ion batteries are ruined by complete discharges. if the tesla doesn't shut down above some safe threshold it's a poor piece of engineering. elon musk is definitely aware of this fact and is cherry picking facts and misleading his audience to gain sympathy for his argument.

elon musk also cherry picks a quote from a response to his tweets and attributes it to the original piece to further his argument

regardless of the new york time's behavior, elon musk is not acting in any more honest a manner and is harming his companies reputation


> if the tesla doesn't shut down above some safe threshold it's a poor piece of engineering.

Such batteries have their charge scale as displayed to the user deliberately shifted, so that even a small negative capacity actually indicates that safety threshold. Do you actually know anything about making charge controllers? Your statements seem to be of the type crafted to deceive uninformed readers.

> elon musk also cherry picks a quote from a response to his tweets and attributes it to the original piece to further his argument

[Citation Needed]

> regardless of the new york time's behavior, elon musk is not acting in any more honest a manner and is harming his companies reputation

There's no concrete proof you've offered in this comment at all, only a willful misreading of Tesla's response.


> elon musk accused the author of a significant detour in manhattan ... he provides zero proof the first thing happened

The journalist acknowledges that detour, but claims it wasn't significant.

He said the detour shouldn't have mattered because he only added two miles by going into Manhattan "stop and go traffic" via Lincoln tunnel instead of using the George Washington Bridge to follow I-95 bypassing Manhattan.

Assuming this journalist is familiar with NYC, that's the most damning comment he's made. His claim might play for anyone not familiar with the area, but if you're from around here, his claim that it only added two miles is hysterical.

As a local, I can tell you that's a difference of typically an hour and a couple gallons of gas, being generous. I've had that detour to drop a friend off in Chelsea add two hours before.

Only two miles may be true, but baldly mischaracterizes the energy cost.


Uhm.. I'm pretty sure the Teslas don't actually let you completely deplete the packs, but rather take you to the safest discharge they can handle before shutting down. Of course they aren't going to let a stubborn driver destroy $10,000 of batteries.


An issue here which fascinates me is -- how closely do we expect any subjective narrative to match the facts?

I'd love to see an experiment where you ask ten people to drive a car for 300 miles and write a story about how their trip went; then compare what they wrote against actual instrumentation data. I would be fascinated to know what parts of their narrative are most likely to be incorrect / misreported.


This isn't just one of "ten people"; it's a nytimes columnist whose very profession is to report facts, accurately. He got caught embellishing facts for a pre-determined narrative, simple as that. I can't believe people are actually trying to defend this sloppy journalism.


Hmm, I may be a little more cynical than you here.

To my eye practically all journalists are sloppy: when I read a newspaper article about a topic I know well, it no longer comes as any kind of surprise to read something inaccurate or incomplete.

I can maybe trust the facts in a New Yorker piece (their editors' attention to detail is legendary) or in a WSJ feature article, where someone has had a lot of time to put things together and probably knows 10 times more than they bothered to write down … but that's not how most news works. Most newspaper stories are a "first draft of history" and I'm pretty much prepared to accept that when I read a story, it is one person's interpretation of what happened that is likely to deviate from reality in some hopefully minor way.

I'd like to understand whether I'm being unduly cynical or whether this is really a common quirk in how people tell stories -- hence my suggestion that I'd love to see an experiment where we measure empirically how good people are at aligning their story with easily measured facts.


You're probably right to be cynical, but the issue is that most people are not. I would be that the vast majority of people who read an NYTimes article take it as gospel, which is scary.


It is scary.

But it's a shame that we're expected to distrust journalists working for a reputable newspaper.

Journalists get special legal protections; newspapers get special legal protections (at least, in the UK they do) and asking them to tell the truth doesn't seem too onerous.

Telling the truth is a professional ethical obligation for journalists, and it should be a personal ethical code for most people, and it's just weird to me that we should be asking it of journalists.

(And I'm in the UK where we have scum writing for news papers.)


> He got caught embellishing facts for a pre-determined narrative

Pre-determined narrative? Huh? Now you're embellishing the facts.


> Now you're embellishing the facts.

One, I'm not a reporter for the NYTimes, and two, I am giving my opinion.


I don't think that matters. It is well established that just asking people to recount an event is extremely unreliable. However, the difference between "ask ten people" and "have a journalist write an article for a major newspaper" makes this question a lot less fascinating.

Things maybe relative or fuzzy, but journalism is supposed to be one of these areas where the two are explicitly ruled out.


This quote from Broder is telling:

This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a “normal use,” no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. [1]

The problem is "normal use" for gasoline engines doesn't map to "normal use" for electrics. For instance, Broder left his Tesla parked overnight in the cold and lost ~60 miles of range. For a gas car that doesn't happen - you can park it in the cold for a week without losing any mileage.

An unbiased review would have pointed out the differences between gas ("old normal") and electric ("new normal"). Yes, with an electric you will need to charge more frequently (and possibly overnight) when operating in colder environments. Yes, filling up a gas tank takes a few minutes - and fully charging an electric can take 30 minutes to an hour. Yes, these are the tradeoffs involved, etc., etc.

Instead (as the Musk rebuttal shows) Broder mis-used the Tesla, didn't charge correctly, ignored advice and ended up blaming the technology. Broder's review is a PEBKAC error written in the first-person.

[1] http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-f...


See also his snarky reference to "electric-car acolytes" in the same paragraph. He seems to be a bit too careless in revealing his biases.


> For a gas car that doesn't happen

correct, for a gas car, at least in the old days, the battery would die and you couldn't get anywhere...or if it was a diesel you'd have to go plug in the engine warmer or you wouldn't get anywhere


I'm surprised people are so surprised a NYT journalist might write pieces to suit his own agenda. This is the paper who employed and defended Judith Miller, the paper who didn't know Jayson Blair was plagiarizing and fabricating stories. The entire old-media setup is suspect at the best of times, these days, but the NYT is certainly one source you always have to take with a grain of salt.


I don't get it. I'm reading all the comments and most seems to be defending what are clearly some blatant lies. Of course there are things in there where we can argue if it is overly nitty that Elon says the guy is driving 61 when the guy says he was driving 55, but maybe we should focus on the stuff that was clearly a lie?

The reviewer was instructed to fully charge the car at a station, he did not, and was then surprised how low his range got. If I stopped at a gas station and put 5 gallons in, when I knew I needed 6 and faulted the manufacturer in a NYT review I shouldn't be allowed to be a journalist anymore.

The reviewer goes on to write about how cold it was after turning the heat down at 182 miles, when he actually turned the heat up, I mean, how does one even begin to explain? Oops, I thought to turn the heat down you turn the dial clockwise?

He then goes on to talk about how he set the cruise control to 55, when he went under 60 for about 15 total seconds in the first half of the trip. It looks like the cruise control MAY have been set to like 60-62mph, but why not use those numbers? Oh hey, because the ones he made up made tesla look worse, see the theme here? He later goes on to say he drove 45 while the graph clearly shows he never went below ~52.

How do you guys defend something like this? Are we just that okay with lying as a society now? I can pick out 5-6 blatant lies in this story, but apparently the fact that some of these are debatable makes it okay to lie in a bunch of other situations? How does that work?


The reviewer already said exactly how much he charged it up at each charging stop and why, so it's hard to really accuse him of lying about that. (Also, there's apparently no temperature control dial to turn at all, just software buttons on a huge center-console touchscreen with no tactile feedback.)


There's already too much pedantry on HN; please don't contribute to it. Broder clearly was able to control the temperature, whether it was via a rheostat dial or a touchscreen controller.


It's not pedantry. The comment I was replying to argued that of course it had to be deliberate because it's not like you could accidentally "turn the dial clockwise" - but it's quite a bit easier to accidentally tap a centimeter or two above where you aimed on an unfamiliar touchscreen.


Unfortunately, I suspect Musk gave Broder and the NYT a little too much ammunition with some of his weaker claims. That's certainly what their response will be, proudly refuting one or two things while dancing around the blatant lies.


Did anyone else try to find the citations made in the blog post back in the original NYT article? I did and couldn't trace some of them down.

The third bullet point in the blog says "In his article, Broder claims that 'the car fell short of its projected range on the final leg.' Then he bizarrely states that the screen showed 'Est. remaining range: 32 miles' and the car traveled '51 miles,'"

When I do a Command-F on the article, I can't find "32", "51", "final leg", or "fell short". Where is Tesla getting these quotes from?


When Broder stopped at Norwich for the low-power charge, in the article he says "after an hour they cleared me to resume the trip to Milford". The figure that the NYT released:

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2013/02/10/automobiles/10t...

is where it says that the car showed an estimated range of 32 miles when he left Norwich.

Elon's blog post contradicts Broder's "they cleared me to resume the trip" comment, saying "The final leg of his trip was 61 miles and yet he disconnected the charge cable when the range display stated 32 miles. He did so expressly against the advice of Tesla personnel and in obvious violation of common sense."

So the car logs are hard to argue with; the contradictory claim here is about what Tesla said to Broder when he was at Norwich, which presumably wasn't recorded.


It would be interesting to see the NYT double down on this... only to have Tesla reveal that they did in fact record this conversation and it matches their version of the story.


Ha, that would be great. And even if they didn't record it, I wonder if they'll start recording those conversations now.


They're in the graphic linked to from the article: "GRAPHIC: A Range Estimate That Misses The Mark": http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2013/02/10/automobiles/10t...


It's in the graphic attached to the NYT article. It's also near the bottom of the Tesla post.


Ah thanks, whoops. Should have finished the whole thing. :)


There was an inset graphic in the original story, which lists miles driven and estimated range remaining at various way-points. I believe this is the url: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2013/02/10/automobiles/10t...


Check the 3rd image from the bottom. It shows the route, a timeline and both estimated and actual distances.


Jalopnik points out that the alleged driving "around in circles" at Milford isn't automatically nefarious, given the supercharger's geographic location:

> * Note that the Milford station is on an off-ramp and it isn't at all small. A single loop around the station is nearly a 1/3rd of a mile, and if you make a wrong turn (or even hunt for the charger) and make one turn around you're at 1/2 mile.*

http://jalopnik.com/tesla-claims-model-s-driving-logs-show-n...


Notice there is a left turn right after the first row of parking spaces, which takes your directly to the charging station. You can also apparently take the 3rd entrance from the ramp and get there directly.

The red path depicts exactly what Musk claims: driving around in circles. Look at the final leg, going around the chargers. Even with that ridiculous path it's only 0.5 miles. That is disingenuous.


Not sure I understand you...for reference's sake, here's the location:

https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=41.24586,-73.009073&z=17

How direct of a path you take from the offramp depends on the signage, it's not unreasonable to think that the writer missed it.

And when you say: "Even with that ridiculous path it's only 0.5 miles."...you did read the OP right?

Musk uses this chart in which he says the reporter "circled" around for 0.6 miles:

http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/blog_images/s...

0.6 is very close to 0.5. This doesn't prove the reporter didn't do something nefarious...but the line between accidentally and purposefully taking a circuitous route here is not a wide margin.

I mean, if the reporter wanted to screw with Tesla -- and while ostensibly being unaware that he was tracked -- why wouldn't he just miss his exit a couple of times and get stranded on the side of the freeway? If you wanted maximum damning effect, that's what I would go for...driving around a McDonalds seems less efficient.


Read it again: even with that ridiculous path it doesn't add up to 0.6 miles. Emphasis on ridiculous. The path drawn in red is "circling", it even goes through the McDonalds drive-through lanes and against the flow at the end.

You'd have to do it on purpose - or be really, really, comically stupid, which would be kind of surprising for a NYT reporter.

Look at the map you just posted in satellite view: http://cl.ly/image/233B400Z2T3w


Again...to call it a "ridiculous" path is begging the question. It only matters if it is a feasible path. Given the one-way flow-of-traffic as marked by Google, and the lack of information that we have on signage, no, it does not seem comically stupid.

What is comically stupid is that this NYT reporter, in an attempt to bring down Tesla, didn't realize that a far less detectable way to drain a car's battery (electric or gas) is just to leave the car on without moving and go watch a movie...even with non-GPS-enabled cars, it's possible to record the mileage of a vehicle by looking at its odometer. You'd think someone in the pocket of Big Oil would've driven enough gas-cars to realize that, right?


An EV doesn't spend much energy when idle. He could leave the heating on at max but that would show in the logs.


Yes but I think it's been well established that the reporter did not think he was being logged.


>You'd have to do it on purpose - or be really, really, comically stupid, which would be kind of surprising for a NYT reporter.

Or just want a soda.


If Tesla needs someone to do a fair review of the Tesla, particularly in urban environments, or for SF-Reno, I'd be happy to make the extreme sacrifice and take them up on it.

(what I'd really like to do is test a Model S in police/security duty cycle. Lots of idling, powering accessory equipment, high speed short pursuit, long highway cruise. Or test the vehicle through something like the Blackwater driving/carbine course, where the low center of gravity would make it pretty awesome I think (especially vs. a Crown Vic or an armored GMC).)


I think I could do the sacrifice as well ;)


The article is direct, factual and Brother should undoubtedly be fired.

Just why did Elon Musk not link to the article, for everyone to easily see Broder's embarrassment beats me.

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


He has a new article from February 12

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-f...

More strange things are claimed

At that point, I was already experiencing anxiety about range and had called a Tesla employee from the New Jersey Turnpike to ask how to stretch the battery. She said to shut off the cruise control to take advantage of battery regeneration from occasional braking and slowing down. Based on that advice, I was under the impression that stop-and-go driving at low speeds in the city would help, not hurt, my mileage.

What?


> Based on that advice, I was under the impression that stop-and-go driving at low speeds in the city would help, not hurt, my mileage.

If I were hiring John Broder to be a journalist covering electric cars, that right there would be enough to reveal him as disqualified: Doesn't know even the basics of thermodynamics or can't apply it to his subject.


Doesn't know even the basics of thermodynamics or can't apply it to his subject.

Oh really? You probably also think that cold water freezes faster than hot. Taking the thimbleful of knowledge that you have and making snap judgements based on it will often mislead you.

In the case of the cars, without looking it up it is not obvious to me which is worse - the energy loss in starting and stopping at low speeds, or the quadratically scaling energy loss from wind resistance at high speeds. Certainly if you go fast enough you'll find that your driving range drops substantially - this is why the old 55 mph limit was passed during the oil crisis.

If I am not certain without looking it up, then I can't fault someone else for not knowing it either.

About the water, if you have equal amounts of hot and cold water in wooden buckets and put them out in the snow, the hot water can easily freeze faster. Several possible factors are known, but their relative importance is unclear. See http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/General/hot_water.html for a detailed discussion.


> In the case of the cars, without looking it up it is not obvious to me which is worse

I wouldn't hire you either.

> About the water

Your example digs your hole deeper. There's a fundamental difference between applying thermodynamics in this case, and the regenerative braking one. That you don't know that is what's damning.


I've operated propulsion machinery completely submerged in water.

Anyone who didn't understand that energy usage is approximately quadratic with respect to speed would be considered studderingly incompetent and would fail qualification at both ends of the boat.

Of course if you don't believe me, perhaps you should ask Tesla Motors.... or look at the Prius's rated MPG for city/hwy.


I wouldn't hire you either.

I'll guess that you never passed any fluid mechanics courses either.

See? I can return snark for snark. Now let's actually discuss some physics.

There's a fundamental difference between applying thermodynamics in this case, and the regenerative braking one. That you don't know that is what's damning.

For the same trip from New York to Boston in a Toyota Camry, traveling at 80 mph the whole way takes 2.75 times as much energy as traveling at 30 mph. See http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-21-the-physics-of-energ... and apply scaling factors to verify.

That provides a lot of headroom to add starts and stops on the 30 mph trip without using more energy than the faster trip. In fact, even without regenerative braking, you could add in multiple stops/starts per mile and the slow trip still saves energy in a conventional car. (Well, until you consider rolling friction going up hills, I don't have a good back of the envelope for what that adds.)

I'm being deliberately unfair to make a point here. Standard "highway driving" for EPA efficiency is assumed to be 60 mph. Traveling at 80 mph is a lot, lot worse than 60 mph. Elon knows this, and calls out the journalist's speed because Elon knows what difference this efficiency makes.

If the highway trip is taken at 60 mph it is much harder for a slow trip to take less energy.

Now do you understand that speed hurts efficiency?


> See? I can return snark for snark. Now let's actually discuss some physics.

Not snark. Also, already knew about the possible non-intuitive results with water.

> If the highway trip is taken at 60 mph it is much harder for a slow trip to take less energy.

Now do you understand that speed hurts efficiency?

Hmmm, putting words in my mouth to spin it so it seems like my original position is actually yours and imply that I don't know a different basic bit of physics. (You can check my recent comment history.)

Nope, definitely wouldn't hire you as a journalist.


I have not put words in your mouth.

Go back to http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5218597 and look at the quote you were criticizing Broder for. Here it is. Based on that advice, I was under the impression that stop-and-go driving at low speeds in the city would help, not hurt, my mileage.

You considered this proof that he didn't know basic physics, because obviously stop-and-go driving is inefficient. My point is that your criticism is wrong because this is actually a question of empirical fact that can - and does - go either way. (In fact in published mpg figures, the Toyota Prius does better in stop and go city traffic than on the highway. If you go significantly over 55 mph on the highway, you're probably getting worse highway mileage than the published figures.)

...imply that I don't know a different basic bit of physics.

I make no claims on whether you understand how wind resistance works. I do claim that your initial comment showed no understanding for how important wind resistance is IN THIS CASE. But now I pointed it out, and then explained it with reference to actual energy loss for a popular model of car, and you have been pointed to the fact that published mpg figures for the Prius demonstrate that it leads to the very pattern that you thought Broder was an idiot for thinking possible. At this point if you believe in science and measurement, you've got to admit that your analysis missed something important, and you were wrong. If you're a mature person, you'd then apologize for some of the same things.

Alternately you can demonstrate a willful denial of basic physics by continuing to insult me for having pointed out your mistake. But if you continue that path, I won't bother to respond because I trust that interested third parties can draw the correct conclusion.


> I have not put words in your mouth

And then, you proceed to talk about an entirely different set of comments. Perhaps we've been misunderstanding referents. In my reading, it seems like you've been painting me as a rube who might think that warmer water freezing faster than cold is impossible. I find that highly annoying, because that's false.

I see your point about slower driving, regen, and range. Imagine you're the manager of a group of delivery truck drivers, and a driver comes to you after having stranded himself on a trip, and gives you that same sentence. Most people are going to look at him like he's an idiot, or have to try not to. Even knowing how regen braking works, I would still probably give him that look.

> If you're a mature person, you'd then apologize for some of the same things.

I'll apologize. The motivation for my objection was to how you seemed to be trying to paint my knowledge. From my reading, you were willfully trying to paint a picture of my knowledge or lack of it. From you POV, you were trying to make a point about the capabilities of regen braking, and saw my continued objection as a denial of that, which misconstrues of my position. (Heh, you could get the referents wrong on that last sentence too, prolonging this as well, hopefully not.)


Thank you for starting to apologize. You said a lot more that I'd appreciate apologies, but it is a good start.

Now it is my turn.

You're right that I said that you probably didn't know about the hot/cold water freezing weirdness when I had no evidence of that. I shouldn't have assumed ignorance as strongly as I did, and I apologize for having done so. A large part of the reason that I did is irritation with you for saying that anyone who could think that slow stop and go could possibly be more efficient than highway driving is an idiot who doesn't know basic physics. Since I consider that possible, and I think I know basic physics, this hit a nerve.

The reason why I brought up the water example is the following parallel. We have a situation where an obvious fact leads anyone with a basic physics education to assume that the answer goes one way. In fact it lead a lot of scientists to assume that they knew the answer, despite widespread folk knowledge and historical observations to the contrary. In fact reality is more complicated, and the obvious answer in this case isn't always right.

Now are you willing to admit that he and I weren't necessarily ignorant of basic physics when we say that slow stop and go can possibly be more efficient than highway traffic? And that furthermore the fact that I would say so is not particularly damning about my knowledge base or intelligence?

Imagine you're the manager of a group of delivery truck drivers, and a driver comes to you after having stranded himself on a trip, and gives you that same sentence. Most people are going to look at him like he's an idiot, or have to try not to.

You may not be giving truck drivers enough credit. Truck drivers make their living trying to beat operational costs while driving something with the aerodynamics of a brick. I have a couple of relatives who have been long-distance truck drivers, and they are keenly aware of the value of driving slowly, drafting off of other trucks, making no unnecessary maneuvers, etc.


> Thank you for starting to apologize...it is a good start.

It would help if you understood my position.

> I shouldn't have assumed ignorance as strongly as I did, and I apologize for having done so.

That's a good start.

> A large part of the reason that I did is irritation with you for saying that anyone who could think that slow stop and go could possibly be more efficient than highway driving is an idiot who doesn't know basic physics.

No, what I'm saying is that (despite the fact that someone who knows basic physics could figure out that it could possibly be more efficient) someone who knows basic physics who goes and makes a bet against being stranded without more info than Broder had is an idiot or is willfully acting like one.

> You may not be giving truck drivers enough credit. Truck drivers make their living trying to beat operational costs while driving something with the aerodynamics of a brick. I have a couple of relatives who have been long-distance truck drivers, and they are keenly aware of the value of driving slowly, drafting off of other trucks, making no unnecessary maneuvers, etc.

Wow, you really don't do it on purpose, do you? Feel free to read my sentence from the POV that truck drivers are very good at what they do.


I had thought there was hope, but I was wrong.

What you are saying that you were saying does not match what you actually said in http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5218597.

I've never disputed that the "journalist" had a clear axe to grind. I've just disputed your claim about the sheer stupidity of that particular statement.

And about truck drivers, I did read your sentence from the POV that truck drivers are very good at what they do. Which is why I disagreed with you about how they would react.

Anyways this conversation actually is over now.


> What you are saying that you were saying does not match what you actually said

The key is "or can't apply it to his subject." You have this problem of mistaken certainty over the other person's position.


I guess the point was: because some nonintuitive things can happen, conservation of energy isn't real. Or something.


Funnily enough, going further in stop-and-go urban traffic than on the highway doesn't violate the conservation of energy either. (Also, remember you can't just go arbitrarily slowly on the highway - that's unsafe and a lot of places ticket people for it.)


I don't know, consumers are told lots of wacky counter-intuitive things about "how to eke performance out of technology in practice". Think of the way that lots of people like to repeatedly run their laptop batteries down because they think that it helps preserve battery life, even though that hasn't been true for about a decade.

However I think that your comment about thermodynamics is revealing because it seems to me that the real point of this article is that driving an electric car requires consumers to learn a lot (about entropy!) and think very differently from driving a normal car. It sounds frankly stressful to drive, even if everything works perfectly. That's where I think the real damage is.


You don't need a Thermodynamics Ph.D. to understand this. Moreover the normal (gas) cars have the same behavior. So it's annoying that a car expert don't know it.

You get the best mpg at a constant speed of ~50mph, and it's better with the cruise control because it reduce the times that you need to accelerate or decelerate.

If you go too fast, the mpg drops because you need more fuel to compensate the additional resistance.

If you accelerate and brake (for example in a city), the mpg drops because you need more fuel to accelerate and when you brake the energy goes away as heat.

The advantage of the regenerations brakes is that some of the energy that is "lost" as heat braking is stored and used again to accelerate. This is not magic. It doesn't make braking lossless, it only recycles part of the energy so accelerating and braking is not so bad (it's only bad). This is well known for the electric and hybrid cars (I think that there are some tries to do something like this for gas cars, perhaps store the energy mechanically, I'm not sure.)

I think that the recommendation was (paraphrase) "If you are going to drive inside a city, it's better to turn off the cruise control."

The articles that he understood something like (paraphrase) "It's better to drive inside a city than in a highway with cruise control."

It's very surprising that a car expert can understood this so totally wrong that it look like it was a willfully misunderstandment.


Moreover the normal (gas) cars have the same behavior. ... You get the best mpg at a constant speed of ~50mph

This isn't true of EVs.

The engine in a gasoline powered cars are around 15 to 25 percent efficient, and the hotter you put them, the more efficient they are.

However, air resistance increases as speed increases.

The peak efficiency depends on a few things, but most cars you'll find it around 40-60 mph.

EVs don't have engines, they have motors. They are about 90% efficient, regardless of your speed.

But they have the same air resistance issues.

So EVs really do perform better at lower speeds. Even the Prius will show better city mileage than highway mileage, and that's only with a little bit of battery+motor.


My solution would be to only use half the stated range. It would be perfect for me, even so.


On the other hand, the supposed advice from the employee doesn't sound right either, if that is what she actually said.


Irrelevant. He doesn't say that's what she said. He says that's how he interpreted it.


Without knowing the exact conversation it doesn't sound super off, regenerative braking technology has been used in F1 for a while to power the KERS system, but stop-start traffic is completely different to the occasional slow down on a motorway.


Broder seems stunned to learn that he is not, in fact, driving a perpetual motion machine.


Oh, and BTW, it's not mentioned, but it would be quite interesting, and much more of a burn, if Elon is actually making some of the charges, like driving in loops, with a proof via GPS logs of the test drive.


Yes, and after a little research, I find that the Tesla log contains GPS positions, so this could be done in principle. But for a short distance like within a small parking lot (as in the account of driving in circles), the positions might not produce a useful graph (typical GPS accuracies are +- 10 meters or 32.8 feet).


GPS is only accurate to a certain amount (maybe 1.5 metres, maybe 10 metres) in an absolute sense, but in a relative sense they are much more accurate and would easily show circles being driven in a parking lot (it's just that the circle might be 10 metres away from the road).

This is also used in surverying to do something called differential GPS with two receivers: one GPS receiver fixed in a known location, and another to measure GPS locations relative to the first GPS in the known location - absolute error is completely removed by this process (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_GPS claims 10cm accuracy). If you think about it, two receivers separated by a little space is more or less equivalent to two receivers separated by a little time, so you'd expect a similar relative accuracy of 10cm.


Yes, all well understood. The problem comes up in cluttered terrain and an ordinary GPS unit that's in motion (no differential GPS option). In such a case, if the receiver encounters obstacles in its satellite line of sight, it may switch to more favorable satellites and recompute its position. As a result, the apparent position will jump around within the normal error bound (see below). I know, I've had the experience any number of times.

> GPS is only accurate to a certain amount (maybe 1.5 metres, maybe 10 metres)

Statistical civilian GPS accuracy is better understood than this. It's 7.8 meters (25.6 feet) for two standard deviations (i.e. 95% confidence):

http://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/performance/accuracy/


Good point about changing satelites. I guess an open parking lot would be fine, but who knows.

I gave up looking for an accuracy figure on wikipedia, but knew I had seen 1.5 metres in the past, and that 10 metres is too inaccurate. Thanks for the link.


> I gave up looking for an accuracy figure on wikipedia, but knew I had seen 1.5 metres in the past, and that 10 metres is too inaccurate.

It all has to do with the statistical error bound. For a specified accuracy, one must also state the deviation for which that error is true. My point is that GPS doesn't have a specific accuracy, always true, with a probability cliff on each side. For a given accuracy specification, one must always include the probability for that accuracy.


I suspect the probem is not the gps positional accuracy, but rather the data loggers recording frequency - for 99.9% of what you'd want from a gps log on a vehicle, recording the position and speed every 10 or 20 seconds would be more than enough. To generate useful plots of a car driving in circles round a small parking lot would need a much higher recording rate. Even slow old-school gps chipsets output 1Hz position data, but logging all that would needlessly produce 10 or 20 ties more data than youd need for anything except showing up lying journalists. I'd put good money on Musk getting 1Hz or better gps logs of the _next_ bunch of test drivers...


I use Google's "My Tracks" app every day to record my running, with a GPS tracked path imposed on a Google map, and it easily shows tiny shifts in position such as which side of the street I ran on or whether I ran on or slightly off of a dirt path. There's no doubt something equivalent in a Model S would be able to accurately record laps in a parking lot.


I don't think GPS would show anything substantial if his claim of a "100-space parking lot" where Broder drove in circles is true. I'd be impressed if the GPS was that accurate.

Regardless, I don't think that's a huge sticking point to this story. Broder was at the charging station - it's possible he wanted to see just how long it would take until the battery shut down.


It makes me wonder why Musk didn't provide that proof then.


Well, lets see if this goes to court.

Tesla were as robust in their attack on Top Gear, and a court threw them out. They still, regardless of the court decision, openly complain about Top Gear trying to drown out the court loss. So, to be honest, Tesla have form. They get criticised, loudly defend them selves, lose, but refuse to accept the loss. This could possible turn out the same.

I think people getting all excited about this evidence should wait and see it a) it goes to court and b) the out come of such a case.

I fully accept that their produce is likely under severe attack from their petrol (gas) competitors and frankly in their position I would be a bit foil hat about it, but equally they do seem hyper sensitive to criticism. There is a lot of instant Tesla supports here, but I would exercise caution and wait for both sides to be tested.

It is also interesting to me to see how opinion is divided. Here its all very pro-Tesla, but in motoring circles, opinion is far more sceptical. I suspect somewhere in the middle is where the truth lives.


> Tesla were as robust in their attack on Top Gear, and a court threw them out.

That's because the psychology of human beings allows for media folks like Top Gear to score their points and (incidentally) severely damage Tesla through the effect of a lie, without actually stating the lie.

> equally they do seem hyper sensitive to criticism.

As for that: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5204152

Stephen Colbert has a word for this. "Truthiness."


They can't go to court in the US, because America protects this type of speech as free speech - whereas in Britain and in commonwealth countries, libel laws are far-reaching and pervasive.

Actually...he doesn't need to go to court...something as fact-filled as this, that will get a lot of attention, almost is better than a court-case. Because it plays out in the public, and Tesla will likely come out much better for it - because they are proving, with facts (not legal arguments), that this journalist was trying to perform a hack-job...but it backfired.

I guarantee you, he is panicking right now - and the NYT editorial team (and perhaps board) is in panic mode right now.

This cuts to the heart of journalistic integrity. As far as I can see...this is easily checkmate.

Let's see how they respond.


They can't go to court in the US, because America protects this type of speech as free speech

Citation needed.

http://journalism.about.com/od/ethicsprofessionalism/a/libel... (and many, many other references) disagree with you.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_defamation_law#De...

>Defamation law in the United States is much less plaintiff-friendly than its counterparts in European and the Commonwealth countries, due to the enforcement of the First Amendment. One very important distinction today is that European and Commonwealth jurisdictions adhere to a theory that every publication of a defamation gives rise to a separate claim, so that a defamation on the Internet could be sued on in any country in which it was read, while American law only allows one claim for the primary publication.


Ah, somehow I wound up thinking that you were saying that they can't sue the NY Times here, rather than that they can't sue Top Gun.

I'd be quite surprised if they didn't have lawyers preparing a case right now against the NY Times.


That is what I was saying. I was saying that it is harder for them to successfully sue the NYT in America because the courts have upheld protection of the press via the First Amendment.

Soo....I would be surprised if they did pursue legal action against NYT - given how easily they were shut down in Britain that has more lax libel laws.

My point was that they actually don't need to.

This one blog post does more good for their reputation and more damage for NYTs than a lawsuit could/would.


In that case I have to go back to disagreeing with you.

It is harder to sue the NYT in America. However it is far from impossible, and in this case I believe that they have solid enough evidence to make a fair legal case for libel.

That said, they really would prefer to win this in the court of public opinion now, rather than in a lawsuit that finishes several years from now. (They probably want to do both.) And they would probably prefer to settle this out of court rather than having to go through courts.

As always, IANAL, TINLA.


Well....I never meant to imply that it was "impossible" for them to go to court, just that it may not make much sense - given that they had similar evidence against Top Gear in a very libel-lawsuit-centric jurisdiction and their case got thrown out.

We will see what, if any, legal action they take. If anything, I suspect it would probably be against the journalist and less the company. I can't see the company standing behind Broder's statements - given these facts.


But it's still old media vs new media

They should get their rebuttal printed in NYT competitor. Even better, make the edition for that day free


Top Gear wasn't dismissed because Tesla was wrong, it was dismissed as Top Gear presented their case that they were demonstrating the cars for entertainment and not as a factual review. The judge felt the distinction had merit and dismissed the case, Tesla felt differently of course.


This just isn't true. The entertainment angle was not at all why the judge threw out the case. It was because they felt Telsa's claims were vague and that people understand that cars perform differently under different circumstances:

http://transmission.blogs.topgear.com/2012/02/23/tesla-libel...


Interesting, after it blew up I could swear I'd read that one of the arguments the TG legal team used was "It's all done for entertainment, the situations we place cars are in are completely unrealistic".


Nope. They lost because, even if some viewers did interpret it as a serious factual review with no dramatized elements, Tesla Motors still couldn't come up with any plausible justification for why those viewers would be mislead in a way that would actually harm Tesla even slightly.

(English libel law doesn't work the same way as US libel law; IIRC, if you can show that a reasonable viewer could have interpreted the broadcast in a way that's both defamatory and false, then that's libel even if the broadcaster never intended it to be understood that way and even if all or nearly all viewers interpreted it correctly.)


exactly. Top Gear isn't a news program, it's an entertainment program.

People don't watch Top Gear to get actual car reviews, they watch to drool over the car porn and laugh at Jezza in a Robin Reliant.

I will say I don't agree with what they did with the Tesla, but it's a separate issue from the NYTimes article.


Top Gear didn't lose because they're entertainment and "obviously" not truthful.

Are you suggesting the NYT is not truthy?


The competition isn't petrol. You'll still need lots of petrol for plastic (for example). The competition is more traditional car companies that don't have an electric car yet.


The kicker is the "detour". Not a detour as the journalist claimed but rather that he drove the Tesla in circles in a parking lot to ensure the battery was flat when returned.


I think this article has woken some people up to what a lot of us have known since 2003 (or earlier), namely: Don't believe everything you read in the NYT.

In case anyone is unaware, it was recently revealed that when the government announces that "X militants were killed", that the word militant actually refers to any military age male that is killed, and does not imply there is any evidence to suggest the person was anything other than completely innocent.

Furthermore, the NYT continues to parrot the government claims, and to use the word militant in it's reporting, despite this revelation, without mentioning that in most cases there is literally no evidence at all.

In fact, the NYT public editor recently wrote an article complaining about this fact.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/public-editor/questions-on...;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/15/drones-b...


I have a problem with log data being released with analysis being imposed over it. I understand there need to show that they are in the right and NYTimes is in the wrong but as it stands now this is just pure marketing. If they had released the data plain and unadulterated i might feel differently, but at least as of the link provided i saw no link to the raw log material. So as it stands this is marketing, and that is really sad. If this data were indeed true(and i am not saying it isnt) it should be able to stand on its own up to 3rd party analysis. One can always make data look the way they want for there cause, and this goes for the NYTimes review as well.


This is a hollow complaint because releasing the data with analysis and releasing the data without analysis have one thing in common: the data.


Did they actually release the data? I just see charts, and boy can I manipulate charts to say what I want!


As someone who can manipulate charts to say what you want, I assume you are familiar with what manipulated charts look like. Does anything stand out to you?


You can only tell if you get the raw data. Omission of data is the biggest problem.

Another good way to manipulate data is how you pick your axes. like having the x-axis be miles instead of time. Both are valid, but they show very different pictures. A miles x-axis emphasizes the parts where you were driving fast, while a time x-axis emphasizes parts where you are driving slow.


Presumably you could write a script to extract the "raw data" (whatever that means) from the charts themselves.

Unless you mean you want finer-grained data. Which is just as easily faked.


I posit that if you had the raw data, you would be demanding something further, access to the sensors, internal communications about the data, whatever.


Insufficient labeling of axes?


The labeling seems sufficient to get the point across. Do you think finer grain labeling would tell a different story?


Does anyone see any discrepancy in third graph, "Rated Range remaining vs. Distance" ? The graph shows the distance from Delaware Supercharge to Milford Supercharge is approx. 200 miles. The car arrived at Milford with almost zero charge left even though projected range was 242 miles after charge at Delaware! Which means battery lasted nearly 42 miles less than the projected distance. Am I missing something?


The detour taken in NY.


Detour would show up as part of the distance calculation (x-axis in the graph).


Mass media is show business.

Whenever I have known the facts in a story that happened to become a media story, the facts differed from how the story was presented in media. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. But always some. You can't trust mass media, not even NY Times.


Theory: Broder didn't realize the logging capabilities of the car, and when the Model S' software ui initially supported his internal baises he took liberties with the truth. By "documenting" his experience through Tesla support he attempted to falsely add credence to what would be a traffic generating, "anti-electric" review masked in the journalistic repute of the NYT.

Firstly, all of Broder's excessive winging about the cold weather (I think) was designed to subtly imply that the Model S doesn't work in the cold. You future buyer, will be cold and your car will break. This is why Musk had to address the cold weather link directly in the evidence blog posting.

Secondly. Broder likely couldn't have fathomed that every parameter in the car was being logged. Very specific details add credibility and character to a story. They make the author appear diligent, and one who gives great attention to detail. In the past such details were a "literary tool used to bend the story. Now thanks to data driven engineering words and truth in such matters should align more closely in cases such as this.

Lastly. For a man who may or may not have a bias against electric vehicles (cars at least), the observation that "the estimated range was falling faster than miles were accumulating" at the outset of the author's journey might have set the tone of the coming review. With all the incessant calls to Tesla support to document all the "trouble", Broder had plenty of documentation to support his (what was IMHO a) journalistic malignment. This angle also had the added benefit of generating views for NYT - plus through the courtesy of Tesla arranging a tow - the money shot.

I hope NYT has the ethical chops to do what they must.


This is great for Tesla, but it's depressing to wonder how many other people/companies have been screwed over by dishonest journalists, but did not have the luxury of a GPS-based, by-the-minute log to call bullshit with.


I don't understand how so.

Sure, they shredded the Times article. But this looks to me like an extremely finicky car. I mean, you have to drive it slow, possibly turn off the heat in the winter and charge it for an hour at a time? That's craziness.

Edit: Whoever is just combing through the comments, down-voting anything that doesn't praise Saint Elon, how about you step up and point out what I've said that's wrong. Or do we just downvote differing opinions now?


> I mean, you have to drive it slow

Are you trolling? No, you don't have to drive it 'slow'. Citation needed, and one that isn't this NYTimes piece that's currently being called in to question.

> possibly turn off the heat in the winte

No, you don't. You're just making things up.

> charge it for an hour at a time?

Yeah. Problem?

> That's craziness.

No, it's not. You know what's craziness? Humanity driving cars that burn things and pollute our atmosphere to the point of causing and accelerating global climate change, driving species to extinction and gunning towards global upheaval. That's craziness.


>"Are you trolling? No, you don't have to drive it 'slow'"

45 mph isn't slow to you? You must not drive. Broder is criticized for driving too fast. Elon knocks the fact that he drove an average of 60+, and calls him out for driving 80. So what if he did? I do all the time. That's how people drive. If speed is irrelevant, why does Elon harp on it in his blog?

>"No, you don't. You're just making things up."

Huh? Elon is saying "Look! He turned the heat up!". So what? He wanted it warmer. This is not a problem in an ICE vehicle.

>"No, it's not. You know what's craziness? Humanity driving cars that burn things and pollute our atmosphere to the point of causing and accelerating global climate change, driving species to extinction and gunning towards global upheaval. That's craziness."

Yeah, because the machinery required to dig all those precious metals out of the ground to make these batteries aren't burning a ton of diesel in unstable countries around the planet. Nor are the machines that need to build the charging stations in close succession, because you have to charge these cars far more often than you have to fill up with gasoline (and gas stations are already too prominent on the landscape). Glad you'd like to see more. Nor is the electric grid that most people will charge from "dirty".

Why do you take this so personally? You seem really angry that people aren't as impressed with this thing.

Elon's argument is essentially: he drove too fast, he set the cabin temperature too high, and didn't charge long enough. As a guy who puts 30k miles per year on my car, those are things that would annoy me and I wouldn't expect from a car approaching six figures.


> 45 mph isn't slow to you?

Yes, it's slow. You don't have to drive that slowly in a Tesla as you just claimed.

> Huh? Elon is saying "Look! He turned the heat up!". So what? He wanted it warmer. This is not a problem in an ICE vehicle.

It's not a problem in the Tesla either. Elon's calling him out because it appears the journalist lied.

> Yeah, because the machinery required to dig all those precious metals out of the ground to make these batteries aren't burning a ton of diesel in unstable countries around the planet. Nor are the machines that need to build the charging stations in close succession, because you have to charge these cars far more often than you have to fill up with gasoline (and gas stations are already too prominent on the landscape). Glad you'd like to see more. Nor is the electric grid that most people will charge from "dirty".

Better not make any progress then, or try anything new. You're right, let's keep polluting the atmosphere.

> You seem really angry that people aren't as impressed with this thing.

On the contrary, you're the one who seems angry.

> he drove too fast

First, no that's not Elon's argument. Elon's argument is that the journalist lied. Second, didn't he drive too fast? Did he break the speed limit and drive illegally while reviewing a product? That seems like a bad idea.

> he set the temperature too high

No, that's not Elon's argument. His argument is that the journalist lied.

> and didn't charge long enough.

He didn't, but he claimed he did. Again, it appears the journalist lied.

> As a guy who puts 30k miles per year on my car, those are things that would annoy me and I wouldn't expect from a car approaching six figures.

So don't buy a Tesla yet.

Edit: Approaching six figures? Where I live, a Tesla Model S costs about $48,000. That's hardly approaching six figures.


I'm not claiming that Broder isn't a hatchet man and lied. If you'd taken the time to read, rather than going off like an crazy environmental zealot in every thread, you'd have seen that.

>"Better not make any progress then, or try anything new. You're right, let's keep polluting the atmosphere."

What are you going on about? No one is arguing anything of the sort. EVs just aren't the environmental saviour you want them to be. They have their own issues.

>"No, that's not Elon's argument. His argument is that the journalist lied."

Let me see if I can spell this out for you:

Broden said he followed the Tesla guidelines, like driving 54. He didn't. Elon busted him in that lie. But Elon didn't say those aren't the guidelines.

I'm saying those guidelines are ridiculous. Driving 11mph below the speed limit and with-lower-than-desired temperature settings, just so you can make your destination, is bad. Having to stop and charge for a whole HOUR, multiple times on a 600 mile trip, is bad.


Rather than continue the debate, you're happy to start slinging the insults and call me a crazy zealot. I'm out.


You accused me of trolling, misconstrued my argument, then ranted about environmental issues out of the blue.

I calls 'em like I sees 'em.


Story 1: Tesla shows NYT review does not reflect what actually happened with the car.

Story 2: Tesla, your mechanic, your insurance company, your spouse, the government, and anybody else with access to the box can tell exactly how you've been driving.

I'm a big Tesla and Musk fan. I have nothing but hope that Tesla rocks on. But #2 is the way larger story here.

I continue to be amazed at how in 20 years or so suddenly the world is full of people who don't mind detailed logs of their every movement and action being kept.


Musk said previously in a tweet that logging is always on for media but only on for customers with their written permission.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/301053361157988352


This is a good point. Thanks for bringing it up.

But I think you miss the gist of my statement. My apologies. I should have been clearer. I said "...anybody else with access to the box can tell exactly how you've been driving..."

The issue here is that the car is automatically equipped to provide such tracking. Whether the tracking is turned on by default, by court order, by the police hacking your system, by the company in order to verify test drives, by your insurance company convincing you to give them the data -- all good and interesting situations for discussion, but not germane to what I was saying.

In fact, it's not the company I worry about. It's consumers who will easily be lured into turning on tracking by their insurance companies -- and then this data will be available to anybody who has system access. We are our own worst enemies.

Your car -- a large, heavy, physical piece of reality which you trust to get you from point A to point B -- is now only so much software. That's a big deal.


All cars will soon require blackboxes [1]. I agree it's a big deal and it will be interesting to see how good security / how accessible these are.

[1] http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/12/black-boxes-privacy...


Logging is off by default except when the car is being driven by a member of the media. The reason they have it turned on under these circumstances is mentioned in the article: they were treated unfairly by the car show Top Gun.


That's how things are for now. His point is that all the cards are in place. Switching to default logging won't happen with fanfare.


Don't all new cars have black boxes now? I seem to recall reading something about it and how cops are using the information.


Musk: "The final leg of his trip was 61 miles and yet he disconnected the charge cable when the range display stated 32 miles. He did so expressly against the advice of Tesla personnel and in obvious violation of common sense."

NYTimes article: "Looking back, I should have bought a membership to Butch’s and spent a few hours there while the car charged. The displayed range never reached the number of miles remaining to Milford,"

So what Musk is correcting isn't actually in dispute.

-

Musk: "Cruise control was never set to 54 mph as claimed in the article, nor did he limp along at 45 mph. Broder in fact drove at speeds from 65 mph to 81 mph for a majority of the trip and at an average cabin temperature setting of 72 F."

This seems disingenuous since there is clearly a good chunk on on the graph where the reporter was driving below 55 mph on 95 in CT, which I would not recommend. Musk is comparing the "majority of the trip" before the range troubles with the parts about cruise control from the parts with range troubles.

-

Musk: "For his first recharge, he charged the car to 90%. During the second Supercharge, despite almost running out of energy on the prior leg, he deliberately stopped charging at 72%."

NYTimes: "Instead, I spent nearly an hour at the Milford service plaza as the Tesla sucked electrons from the hitching post. When I continued my drive, the display read 185 miles, well beyond the distance I intended to cover before returning to the station the next morning for a recharge and returning to Manhattan."

Reporter never said he fully charged it, and didn't have any reason to if the range gauge was accurate. Musk is basically saying the reporter should have been worried about the range and overcompensated.

-

Musk: "When Tesla first approached The New York Times about doing this story, it was supposed to be focused on future advancements in our Supercharger technology. "

Seems odd they lent him a car for a test drive then.

-

Musk: "In his own words in an article published last year, this is how Broder felt about electric cars before even seeing the Model S"

Musk should have stuck to the logs. Here is more of that paragraph:

"Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate. General Motors has temporarily suspended production of the plug-in electric Chevy Volt because of low sales. Nissan’s all-electric Leaf is struggling in the market. And the federal government has slowed its multibillion-dollar program of support for advanced technology vehicles in the face of market setbacks and heavy political criticism. "

Are those facts untrue?


> Reporter never said he fully charged it, and didn't have any reason to if the range gauge was accurate. Musk is basically saying the reporter should have been worried about the range and overcompensated.

My car doesn't have 'range'. That said when the fuel light is on I go to the petrol station. Similarly I know a drive to my parents is about half a tank. If I have less than that I put in the required amount of fuel to make it. If fuel looks like it getting low I get off the main road and look for a service station. Common sense.

If I was driving a car for the first time, was unfamiliar with my route or the presence of charging stations I wouldn't trust the range. Range is always an estimate. What if I hit traffic? I don't want the exact range because if I get stuck in an hour of slow moving traffic I am buggered. Its the same with petrol cars. Its the same with guestimating how far you can go on your fuel tank. You cannot defend idiocy.

> Seems odd they lent him a car for a test drive then.

What better way to demonstrate Supercharger tech than in a real world scenario. Drive the car, get it low, look how well it recharges to get you going again. (I assume Supercharger relates to the speed of charging) My impression of Electric cars is that take overnight to charge. Giving a car which charges in an hour would be a good way to demonstrate both the technology and the improvements in the practicalities of electric cars.


>What better way to demonstrate Supercharger tech than in a real world scenario.

My point is that Musk is saying that like he didn't write the story he was supposed to, which was about 'future advancements in our Supercharger technology'. But clearly they knew what the eventual point of the story was, since they lent a car and provided support. So why bring up the original intent of the story?


Your bias is showing.


You know what would be a killer feature? If the Model-S had an up-to-date map of the locations of all of the chargers in the network, and it monitored how close you were to the closest one and compared it to the remaining range you had. It would be able to warn you if your range started getting dangerously far from a charger "lifeline" and even give you emergency GPS directions to the nearest charger as soon as the range got within say...5% of that minimum.


See, here's the thing: this kind of stuff happens in journalism all the time. The journalist decides on what to write before they even begin their investigation (i.e. test drive), and their decision affects the way they conduct said investigation. They become majorly affected by confirmation bias and leave out or distort important details (i.e. driving around in circles in the parking lot).

The only reason Broder got called out in this specific case is because he made the mistake of going against one of the most intelligent, ambitious and accomplished figures in the tech industry - who expected the kind of shenanigans Broder would try to pull and therefore logged the test-drive data. He poked the wrong bee hive.


Now that's how you respond to media - with the truth.


I think this is an important lesson to all startups who are disrupting an industry with powerful incumbents - particularly those whose advertising spend pays the salaries of the journalists who create the narrative in their marketplace. We can all learn from Elon Musk. Yet again his startup-fu is masterful.


With confusing half-truths that are highly misleading and confusing? I guess you are right …


To play devil's advocate, I wonder if it's possible that there is no foul play on either side - if the car had issues displaying accurate data to the driver but logged properly to Tesla, he might have thought he was discontinuing the charge with a fuller battery then he had. Same for the speedometer (a chilling thought) and temperature.

As for the circles in the parking lot - I'd probably do donuts too if I was given free reign over a slick sports car.

Obviously it's far fetched to think that display inaccuracies were really the case, but food for thought.


> As for the circles in the parking lot - I'd probably do donuts too if I was given free reign over a slick sports car.

Yeah, but the middle of a range test without mentioning it in the article is a bit suspicious. Also, thanks for implicitly revealing your standards for an acceptable white lie and acceptable journalism. ;) (Okay, devil's advocate, so it only reveals about your devil's advocate persona.)


to a reporter given the chance, donuts might be considered "normal use patterns" :-)


I wonder what car insurance actuaries would make of this?


I would expect the car to show a higher speed to the driver (by 5%) not lower


Agreed if things are going right - but again, for the sake of discussion, one could fathom there being some sort of bug. I don't believe that this could realistically be the case, but I'm just trying to mention all possibilities...


While I agree that the charging logs are completely damning, I think it's worth pointing out that Broder probably wasn't taking minute-to-minute notes as he drove (which, as a fellow driver I appreciate). More likely, he simply wrote the relevant portions of the article from what he remembered the night after he drove. Which, in my mind, isn't unreasonable - Elon calling him out to say "Broder never drove 45 mph" when he was driving 52 would seem somewhat nitpicky were it not for the article's inflammatory language.


He's a journalist. Taking notes is his trade.

Journalists are well-accustomed to using voice recorders by now. Heck, most car reviewers videotape everything they do now.

I think Elon makes a pretty convincing case that this guy was going out of his way to write a hit piece against the car. No sensible person would drive any car in the manner this reporter did.


I absolutely agree with you; there was definitely a contrived scenario going on.

However, I also think that Elon's taking a bit of an overzealous approach, especially given his Tweets. I can see where he's coming from - the company's stock did dip after all - but his rebuttal is somewhat inflammatory in my mind as well. Any person able to read a basic graph can see the untruth in Broder's article by looking at the charge graph, and I think that a more cool, professional approach could have given Tesla a very big PR boost as the more mature company in the situation.


> I think that a more cool, professional approach could have given Tesla a very big PR boost as the more mature company in the situation.

That would be the case in a more perfect world. However, rebuttals usually get only a small fraction of the eyeballs of the original piece. So unless you go on an all out war and escalate to an absurd degree nobody will hear of your rebuttal and presume your guilt.

This fight is unbelievably lopsided. If Tesla didn't log everything they would have been completely unable to defend themselves. Now that they have logs and can prove what happened they still have to worry about people thinking "where there's smoke there's fire" and they still have to worry about reaching enough people with their rebuttal.


I think the aggressive tone is warranted. Electric cars are still very much looked upon as an oddity, and Tesla has a lot to prove before they can achieve mass-market appeal. One of the most respected newspapers in the country doing a hit piece on their product deserves to be addressed hard and fast - to do any less would be a disservice to his company and to his shareholders.

It's arguable that this article could have done Tesla significant financial harm. If I was Musk, I'd go for the kill and demand Broder's head on a platter alongside a published apology from the editor disavowing the review. There's no room for a lukewarm response here - the response needs to be loud, obnoxious, and the fallout needs to be messy to ensure that the rebuttal gets the same coverage as the initial damaging review.


I guess it doesn't bother me that much. I think most of his twitter followers are probably fans and are likely to be taking his side in this anyway.

The status quo for car companies is to stay quiet or give vague denials of any kinds of reported issues. Tesla has always been a different kind of car company and this is the reaction that I'd expect.

Elon is heavily involved in his product in a way almost all other carmarkers (save for Christian von Koenigsegg) are not. If he wasn't responding to performance accusations passionately, I'd think something was wrong.


> Elon calling him out to say "Broder never drove 45 mph" when he was driving 52 would seem somewhat nitpicky

The performance of a battery in a piece of equipment is a matter of engineering and empirical fact. Calling a 7 mph difference (over 15%) "nitpicky" indicates a lack of understanding of what it takes to deal with matters of engineering and empirical fact. This is even more true in this particular context, as drag tends to increase with the square of the velocity, which in layman's terms means you get a lot more drag than your increase in speed.

A journalist who doesn't understand the above isn't qualified to write an automotive article with any kind of empirical basis. (He can go be like Jeremy Clarkson and emote lots instead.)


This is a public education issue for Tesla, instead they left to a journalist to educate the public instead: EV's work differently. Job done. Frankly I think Tesla slipped up. BTW. Plenty of ICE cars run more efficiently at higher speeds due to long gearing/overdrive, increased drag or not.


> I think it's worth pointing out that Broder probably wasn't taking minute-to-minute notes as he drove (which, as a fellow driver I appreciate).

If Broder now said, "I must have forgotten a few things", it would instantly end his credibility as a journalist.


Actually... I don't get why he was doing circles on the parking lot...

I mean, think about it. Why he was doing it? I guess to check if the car will get discharged in next few minutes to write in the review that car got totally discharged after just few more minutes. Well, it didn't happen. Why then he didn't write that the car actually still held some charge? I mean, he was trying to show something negative about the car, but when he found something positive, he was no longer interested in showing it?


Regardless of who you think is right the data is kind of indisputable.

Unless Tesla is faking the data (which may happen but I really doubt it) it is up to us to determine the veracity of the NYT's article. Is it within journalistic means or did Broder straight out lie?


Maybe it should become standard Telsa practice to provide all of this information to the journalists within 24hrs of the end of their test drive.

That way there will be no confusion, and the facts are plain for the journalist to see, and use in their article.


blasting somebody in this way generates more publicity, i'd wager.


Two issues: One, in a matter of dispute, he is claiming his own logs as proof -- which is nonsense. Two, even if the logs are legitimate, the error could have been somewhere between the computer and the user (e.g., the user might have been getting wrong information).

In either case, Tesla is being very unprofessional. Very petty, too. Think about Musk: he created PayPal, where he was a total scumbag. Why would it be different here?


I have only one word for this: pwnage

Assuming this data is not fabricated (always a possibility!) - then the news reporter did some seriously shady reporting and should be fired immediately (this is THE New York Times).

The only questions I have about the hit piece are the following.

Is he getting paid by anyone to be against electric cars?

What is his past history with electric cars?

Where has he previously been employed?

And what ties does he have to the ICE industry?


Absolutely brutal way for Broder's career to end.


I'm skeptical that it will. Broder pretty much is their go-to guy for coverage of energy/big oil. His articles fit their editorial vision.

If the NYT cares about their credibility, they'll get rid of him, but this isn't an isolated incident for them. I stopped reading them a decade ago for that reason.


No, this is a Jayson Blair-level screwup. All opportunities the NYT might have had to spin the logs in their favor ended when Broder deliberately drove around a parking lot trying to exhaust the battery.

He's done. As in, "Yes, Mr. Broder, I would like fries with that."


I don’t get that.

There is an obvious explanation for driving around the parking lot in circles: He was curious what the reserves are and how the car would react. Simple as that. He didn’t write about it in his review anyway and it’s completely irrelevant for his review.


as long as we're imagining scenarios, let's imagine he DID get the car to go completely dead in the parking lot. How do you think he would have reported it?

Would he have said "I decided to drive around in circles for a little while, and eventually, after a while it died, and I pushed it to the charger"?

Or would he have said "I was barely able to coast off the highway into the parking lot, and I had to push two-and-a-half-tons of dead batteries the last quarter-mile to the charger head"?


By saying “He did this for nefarious reasons!” you are equally imagining scenarios. We do not have to consider those hypotheticals if we do not even have an explanation for this we can agree on.

That’s the first step. What could explain the data?

1. He wanted to see how much reserve the car has and how it handles running out of juice (with no intention of lying about what he did to get the car empty).

2. He wanted to see how much reserve the car has and how it handles running out of juice (with intention to lie about what he did to get the car empty).

3. The pattern in the data exists for unrelated reasons (e.g. driving around searching, etc.).

Since he didn’t actually lie about this (he merely didn’t say anything) you are speculating about his character. That seems a bit too uncertain for me.

Plus, after considering this question a bit more, I think we are wrong in focusing so much on options 1. and 2.: The third one seems very plausible to me, actually.


Yeh...I agree. Right now, Broder's job (and perhaps career) and NYT's credibility are mutually exclusive.


Is Tesla's data independently verifiable?

How is the reader to know the logs haven't been tampered with, if only Tesla has them?


Interesting data.

And of course there is another course of action that can settle this once and for all. Repeat the journey with an unimpeachable witness along for the ride.


If indeed this is true, it is incredibly despicable behavior to try to bury with lies a technology that could bring so much good to the world.


Trying to 'kill the electric car' is pure evil and sociopathic to my mind (if true).


As the State of Charge log shows, the Model S battery never ran out of energy at any time, including when Broder called the flatbed truck.

But the graph showing the visible miles was well below zero.

Did the car really force itself to stop like Broder claims, or could Broder have driven it farther?

Even if the battery had charge, if it forcefully stopped, then Broder is right in essence. The fact that there is a reserve in the battery that Broder cannot use for driving is, for all intents and purposes, the battery being out.

On the other hand, if the car didn't forcefully stop, then Broder is lying.


For his first recharge, he charged the car to 90%. During the second Supercharge, despite almost running out of energy on the prior leg, he deliberately stopped charging at 72%. On the third leg, where he claimed the car ran out of energy, he stopped charging at 28%. Despite narrowly making each leg, he charged less and less each time. Why would anyone do that?

Time constraints? Maybe he had a meeting to get to (simulated)? Arguably, people who can afford to drive around in a $100K electric car probably set the meeting starts by their arrival.


+1 for log files.


I bet that Tesla gives automotive insurance underwriters massive hard-ons.

I want one of these cars so badly. I had plans to buy the new 2017 Mazda RX-7 and keep my '88 10AE RX-7, but I might just sell the old one and figure out how to make the Model S purchase happen.


> gives automotive insurance underwriters massive hard-ons.

They already have them. State Farm keeps badgering me to turn on the OnStar in my car so that they can charge me insurance based on how far I actually drive, rather than the upper bound on mileage that I tell them.


I just bought a new 981S, but would have preferred to buy a car from Tesla, for what it's worth. I just can't get past my belief that EVs make no sense without a standardized battery-exchange infrastructure.

I tend to keep cars for a long time, so hopefully the situation will be different next time around, and I can spend the money with Tesla. I'm very glad they were vindicated in this case. That said, I still agree with the discredited report in a qualitative sense: EVs that have to be charged in real time at arbitrary leaf nodes on the power grid are a really, really stupid idea.


Maybe some day. It couldn't happen without Tesla's cars being ubiquitous and we'll never get there without having these cars out now. With the sled system that Tesla is using, one day it may be possible to do easy battery-exchange.

If you live in an area where a Tesla is convenient and you don't need to do frequent long trips, it almost seems like a no-brainer to me though.


I live in Honolulu and see Nissan Leafs on the road all the time, but I don't think I've seen a Tesla. Is the mainland different?


I don't think enough Model S vehicles have been produced to be considered common in any locale, but there are quite a few of them in the Seattle area. I'll encounter one perhaps once a month. About as frequently as I see a Ferrari on the road, I'd guess.


> I just can't get past my belief that EVs make no sense without a standardized battery-exchange infrastructure. I tend to keep cars for a long time

So, you just need enough infrastructure to allow for leasing the battery while owning the vehicle. That would mean battery swaps would have to be the equivalent of engine overhauls. Sounds good to me.


Well, there's a logical leap worthy of the Dukes of Hazzard.


Yehaa!


> EVs that have to be charged in real time at arbitrary leaf nodes on the power grid are a really, really stupid idea.

Maybe. But Tesla has proven that they can build a product that people will buy. Isn't that what matters?


Isn't that what matters?

Sure, until Musk's prediction of half of all cars sold being plug-in EVs by 2020 comes true. At that point, it will be pretty annoying when I lose power every night because half of the houses in my neighborhood are charging their cars.

And I definitely look forward to breathing the additional coal plant emissions that will be necessary to overcome resistive loss in the grid. (Of course, refining gasoline requires a fair bit of electricity on its own, but refineries are centralized sites with industrial power service, like charging sites for leased EV batteries would be in an ideal world.)

The idea that plug-in EVs are somehow a magical workaround for the externalities of gasoline-powered vehicles is troublesome. A sustainable future for EVs means addressing the externalities first, because they won't go away on their own.


I've superimposed the 'charge' and 'range' graphs. The gap indicates the reserve.

http://i.imgur.com/mfB1IJ6.png

I guess Tesla needs to figure out how to prevent wonky gaps like the one at 400 miles. Seems the algorithm jumped too quickly to the conclusion that range was going to be severely impacted.


Thanks for posting this graph. My speculation just from looking at it is that just before that recharge the car traveled in a more efficient way (i.e. relatively constant 35-50MPH rather than 80MPH or stop-n-go 5MPH), so the rates of decrease in both charge and range with respect to miles traveled were less.


A journalist conducting a review on a consumer product is a scientist. And a scientist is supposed to set out to test theories, not prove them.

Any journalist that falls short of this standard, even if it's because of honest mistakes, should not be allowed to conduct reviews.


> A journalist conducting a review on a consumer product is a scientist.

I think what you're trying to say is that a journalist is supposed to be objective.

> And a scientist is supposed to set out to test theories, not prove them.

A scientist cannot prove a theory true, but he might prove one false. Remember philosopher David Hume's famous remark about this: "No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion."

So even a completely objective journalist, with no axe to grind, might discover that a claim is false.

> Any journalist that falls short of this standard, even if it's because of honest mistakes, should not be allowed to conduct reviews.

Perhaps in an ideal world. It turns out that Broder has a long history of bias in his reporting, and a rather favorable view of the oil industry and of conventional vehicles over electric ones. Notwithstanding those facts and this episode, I doubt his career is over.


We broadly agree.

Science is more than "being objective". My "test" vs "prove" business was about devising tests that you expect would be most informative, not just accepting the results.

For instance, I could test if an apple really falls when I drop it. But I'm know it will, and I'm quite certain I will learn nothing from such a test. Therefore, I won't perform it in the first place.

I reckon objectivity is a good start, though.

Also, I did say that a biased journalist should not be allowed to conduct reviews. That indeed prove we don't live in an ideal world. Unless you made a deeper point, and asserted that such journalists actually should be able to operate precisely because of non-ideal aspects of our world?


The New York Times public editor now has an initial response to the Tesla Motors blog post, "Conflicting Assertions Over an Electric Car Test Drive," just submitted to HN,

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5221679

and that post promises more follow-up to come and links out to some other commentary on the story from other sources.

A Washington Post blog also comments about the dispute as a matter of journalistic practice.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/02/1...


I find it amusing that people will leap to defend the new shiny geek toy -- even if practically no one here can afford it. IMO, Telsa is sinking under it's own PR weight, and Elon knows it. The logs don't contradict the reporting in any significant way. The gist is that, even for a non-"sports" car, the Tesla is... lackluster compared to the non-electric alternatives.

Now, whether the reporter is too dumb to own a non-hybrid electric car may be an issue, but most drivers don't know how a transmission works, or even how to change the oil -- so I don't think a failure to understand charge cycles & regenerative braking is all that damning.


Is it possible that the sensors were broken or buggy ? A long time back, I had poured all of my money into buying a second hand Porsche .One day I was cruising merrily on I-90 when my car caught fire, even though all the indicators were normal. Turns out the indicator were not functioning -- the last mechanic (not a Porsche dealer )to tune the car had effed up the indicators. ( I have stuck to Hondas and only authorized dealerships for repairs since then).

I may be doing wishful thinking here but Car Journalist are could be biased , snarky , they might embellish a bit but they are rarely outright liars.


I think this is fantastic, especially given that I had recently purchased some Tesla stock. However, I wonder, is anyone perturbed that Tesla has the ability to monitor all of this? I know that other car manufacturers are getting closer and closer to this kind of thing. But is anyone else perturbed? I know there must be precedents set already because of technologies like OnStar. What is needed for the police or a court of law to be able to demand this type of data from Tesla or the vehicle owner (not sure where the logs are kept, in the car or in the cloud).


> However, I wonder, is anyone perturbed that Tesla has the ability to monitor all of this?

Tesla has made a public policy statement that they will turn on logging and monitor media test drives -- but they won't be automatically monitoring the private uses of their car. That would be a public relations disaster.

Also, to get to the log, they have to get to the car. It's not as though the log is automatically transmitted to Tesla by wireless.

EDIT: Apparently, with the user's permission, Tesla can log car data remotely. How they go about this isn't clear, but it's apparently an option.


Actually, assuming they had your permission, they could record all of this data remotely, just as you can: http://docs.timdorr.apiary.io/


Thanks -- as to the remote logging, I looked into this and it seems to be so. I edited my original post.


They actually turn it off by default except for the press.

I think when insurance companies, technology and public opinion catch up, it will be an always-on thing. I want that kind of logging if my car gets stolen. I want that kind of logging if I get hit by a cop and he calls his buddies to alter the evidence to make me at fault (this has happened to people).

This kind of log data will only result in lower insurance premiums for everyone and evidence useful in court. The potential savings to society are tremendous.


This kind of log data will only result in lower insurance premiums for everyone and evidence useful in court.

As long as everyone needs coverage, and accidents remain the same, the insurance company will need to pay out about the same and therefore collect something similar. That means that average premiums will not change across the population.

However you can move costs from lower risk drivers to higher risk drivers. Which may help YOUR premiums.


If all the bad drivers start getting charged more for their insurance, they might stop driving altogether and take public transit or work to become better drivers, which could ultimately lower accidents, a good outcome for everyone.


Indeed. My enthusiasm at the idea led me to say "for everyone" when in fact you are correct.

I should have said "for non-idiot drivers"


Discovery Insurance in South Africa has a car insurance policy that lowers your premiums based on the data from a logger they install in your car. Drive below the speed limit, avoid hard acceleration from traffic lights and avoid cornering at high speeds and they lower your premiums by something like 50%.

Of course it's still an optional policy for now and easy to implement because most insurance companies insist that new vehicles in SA are fitted with a GPS car tracking system anyway, but it's an indication as to where things are heading.


Is the GPS requirement an anti-theft measure? There's nothing like that in the US, AFAIK.


Yes, vehicle theft and hijacking rates are a lot higher in South Africa than in the US and the recovery rate for a vehicle with a tracker system is massively better than for those without.

One of the biggest risks with tracker systems is that if you're hijacked the criminals may force you to give up the unit's location if you know it, so it's been made public knowledge that when the tracking companies install one of the units (which is small enough to be hidden in many different places in a car's body) the owner is forbidden from watching it being done. So I have absolutely no idea where the tracker unit in my car is.

Most of those tracking companies then have their own helicopter fleets and armed response teams to initiate the search and recovery of the car and either back up the police when they reach the scene or perform the arrest themselves.

As an aside, the US equivalent is LoJack which operates in pretty much the same way, with the exception that LoJack signals are sent to the police, not to the tracking company's response units.


This would be great and I'm sure it will come to fruition sooner or later. I wonder what will happen to the auto insurance industry when self driving cars are prolific. Undoubtedly they'll be logging this kind of data constantly.


The logging capability can be turned on at the owner's request, and only at the owner's request.

Unfortunately for the NYT, Tesla Motors was the owner of this particular car.


All car manufacturers have this sort of logging enabled. It's used especially for testing and on-board equipment.

This isn't what I had in mind, but serves to demonstrate the capabilities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On-board_diagnostics#Data_logge...


if you buy a Tesla you get to decide whether this is enabled or not (at least as of today). It's on by default only for journalists after the Top Gear "experience".


While we now get accusations and nice graphs, as long as we don't get provably unaltered source log files, we'll never know who is right.

Even if Tesla were to release the log files used to create the graphs, it would still be impossible for them to prove that the logs weren't being altered prior to release.

It seems to me that either the reviewer or Tesla (or both) is playing unfairly here, but it's impossible to say who.

Instead of coming to articles linked here and commenting how clearly the party not currently defending themselves must have been wrong, lets just just ignore this mud flinging contest and move on.


> While we now get accusations and nice graphs, as long as we don't get provably unaltered source log files, we'll never know who is right.

What!? Piffle! There's this powerful tool scientists use called replicability. Just have some other journalists make the same trip as stated by John Broder in the article and compare. 3rd parties can also try to replicate the same result achieved by Broder, using the log information as published by Tesla.

> Instead of coming to articles linked here and commenting how clearly the party not currently defending themselves must have been wrong, lets just just ignore this mud flinging contest and move on.

My money's on Elon Musk. I'm pretty sure his world view is compatible with mine. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5204109 "Move along" would only be an effective damage control strategy for John Broder.


> Even if Tesla were to release the log files used to create the graphs, it would still be impossible for them to prove that the logs weren't being altered prior to release.

Think about what you're saying. If the logs were reported dishonestly, someone in Tesla could (and would) make a million dollars by being a "public-spirited" whistleblower.

A secret plan to twist the truth about an automatically-generated computer log would eventually unravel. In modern times, there are few truly secret secrets. I can think of just one exception -- where Jimmy Hoffa is buried. But that example only proves that someone was paid more to keep quiet than he would be paid to speak up.

> It seems to me that either the reviewer or Tesla (or both) is playing unfairly here, but it's impossible to say who.

On the contrary, I think this release shows who was telling the truth. Especially because Broder now has the option to sue Tesla and Musk for defamation of character -- if he dares.


Even if you ignore Tesla's side of the story, the NYTimes infographic that was supplied with the article contradicts the contents of the article itself.

The article explicitly states that the car fell short of range estimates on the final day, but the infographic clearly shows that the car was driven 51 miles on 32 miles of charge.

That detail alone might be excusable as an error, except when you account for all the other variations between the story and the infographic. For example, why did the journalist decide to drive out of Manhattan to a destination that was 73 miles away when the car reported only 79 miles of range left? Why would he claim that Tesla gave him the go-ahead to drive from Norwich to Milford with half the required range remaining. It just doesn't add up.


"lets just just ignore this mud flinging contest and move on."

Let's not. Let's re-run the trip with an actual impartial (neither booster, nor someone out to perform a hatchet job) driver in similar conditions and see how it works out.


That there are two sides of a story doesn't mean that they're equally likely to be true.

I'd wager my house for a donut that Tesla's data is closer to the truth than the vitriol spewed by a guy who's had nothing but bad things to say about electric cars in the past.


Who do you trust more - an engineering company with runs on the board, with multiple good reviews of their product, and a CEO known for attention to detail, or a journalist with a known previous bias against electrical cars?

Whilst we will never be 100% sure, I think that Tesla have proven their point beyond reasonable doubt.


That's a silly way to frame it when one side has a clear motive to make the product look good and the other side has no clear motive to make it look bad.


I dont think anyone can deny that the battery depletion could have been easily prevented. Now whether it was an act of malice is a little harder to determine. But then why did he really turn the heat up?


Trust issues abound in published reviews (with the possible exception of Consumer Reports), whether by respected journalists, real buyers on Amazon, or anonymous online posts. What I find of most interest about this story are the possibilities it suggests:

Logging data published right along with reviews would be a terrific way to add credibility.

Of course, then you need to set up a system to ensure logging data can't be faked, and that the logging data is for the review in question. Something along the lines of the black box in airplanes seems like a possibility.


What can be done to encourage NYT take appropriate action here? An apology is the very least they could do, and firing John Broder for a complete lack of journalistic integrity wouldn't hurt either. Would writing to them help? Spreading the news to other media outlets? What's the best course of action? Inaction is just what they want so the whole thing blows over, I think in this case (when there's overwhelming evidence of foul play) we have a golden opportunity to get NYT to start straightening out their act.


Elon Musk PR extraordinaire! I thought offering to help Boeing with their battery fiasco was an amazing PR coup! He's showing to be a true PR Master with this move. Check mate NYTimes?


I'm surprised Tesla is already popular in Norway. Do they offer any service outside of US? And do they sell cars in Europe or are these imported by customers on their own?


Tesla has a showroom and service center in Norway, and I believe there are 2 importers. Official Tesla and an independent importer.

Part of the popularity is price. Cars in Norway are heavily and progressively taxed on CO2 emission, horse powers and weight. This makes big strong cars extremely expensive, but normal cars are also relatively high taxed. EV's are exempted all those taxes, not just the one on CO2 emission.

Some base prices: Tesla model S 85kWH: 106 250,- USD

Mercedes Benz E 300 4MATIC (252 horsepower): 138 178,- USD

If you want something with similar horsepower:

Mercedes Benz E 500 4M (408 hp) 225 339,- USD

Audi S6 (414 hp): 236 910,- USD

(1USD to 5.6NOK conversion)

I think outfitting an Audi S6 or MB E class from base to acceptable level of accessories would be much more expensive than with the Tesla Model S

Also, electric cars can use the bus line and skip traffic where available


Thanks, I suspected Scandinavians will like Tesla cars, it is great they are already available and selling well.


Broder didn't charge long enough, but there are compensating factors:

1. the car showed enough range on the previous night 2. he didn't have any convenient place to hang out while the car was charging 3. there was possibly some misunderstanding between Broder and Tesla support

In the end the obvious happened. He started on the journey with too little battery and it died.

What I don't understand, if he had just a few miles left, why not stop again at some convenient place before running out of energy...


Too bad his message was lost by writing a 1,211 word article, explaining 2 different suspicious reviews, with multiple graphics, each with way too many words to read.

Would have been the perfect time to sit on his hands and hire a PR firm to tell the story. The details may be important in a courtroom, but potential customers just want to feel safe.

Now the story is two guys who don't like each other, screaming at each other.

Great lessons here for office politics. Or the playground.

Liar! You are! No, you are!


I haven't followed this thing very closely but has anyone suggested testing this again and trying to reproduce the problem? If someone said my code was faulty, the first thing I do is repro.

Why doesn't another newspaper just try the same experiment?

Maybe the journalist was bias, maybe he got a lemon, maybe he hit on some weird bug, maybe it's true and the car doesn't work well in cold weather.

Arguing over who said what is crap. Just test it and get more data.


I really want to buy an electric car, but range anxiety keeps me from doing so. Unfortunately, this article doesn't help.

The particular facts may be "peculiar," even fabricated, but the overall experience rings true. There are going to be trips that you can do easily today on petrol that would be difficult to do with the state of the art electric car from Tesla.

It's time for Tesla and Better Place (betterplace.com) to join forces.


I think it's worth noting that seemingly all of Broder's past NYT articles are about the oil and gas industry - http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/peopl....

I think this might go a fair way in explaining why he wrote a fraudulent review of an electric vehicle.


You might want to touch up your blog format so that Facebook finds a more useful title and topic summary to suck in when the URL is posted.

(Yes, I still use Facebook. Keeps me in touch with many "normal" friends... for certain definitions of "normal". ;-)

Since this is a blog and public communication platform, I assume that issues such as the one I point out may be legitimate concerns, in that context.)


I am a big fan of Tesla Motors. However, it should be noted in the graphs that the car's "Rated Range" and "Distance" do not decrease 1:1 as they should if the "Rated Range" was accurate. My solution would change the car's "Rated Range" actively with data on recent power levels and actual distance traveled. This would take in effect heating and other accessory's usage.


With that much log data, simply perform the same trip again at the same time.

Temperature wouldn't be the same but I bet you could get close.


Can NY Times have an agenda to support traditional car business? Not possible, this might have only been an incompetence of a reporter that NY Times can not effectively prevent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AnB8MuQ6DU


Thought this should be posted ... in case nobody else has. NY Times replies to Elon Musk: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/that-tesla-data-w...


I am not sure I would be smacking the reporter around as they are. What stands out to me is, here we have a 100k car that we cannot run the heat and get good range out of. Here we have a 100k car that if don't drive at some contrived speeds while keeping the climate control down low we cannot get good range out of.

Frankly, if I cannot drive a car at a comfortable temperature the car or the technology behind it is not ready for prime time.

I am still curious what the user is displayed versus what is in all these logs. We also have other stories linked in the original thread of other Tesla S drivers who had range issues as well.

Musk is not doing his brand any service especially when he highlights the user only operating the interior climate control in the low seventies, really you mean we cannot do that with a 100k car and have good range? Really?

Its a matter of expectations. With a 30 to 40k car similar to the Focus EV or Leaf people will expect limitations of this sort, for a 100k car people expect it to just work.


Broder (the NYT reporter) cites a $101,000 car, but the Model S pricing doesn't come close:

http://www.teslamotors.com/models/options

It could be an honest mistake, but it seems more likely the inflated price is meant to solicit comments like yours.


From your own page, with options, it can be configured to be more than $101,000. Its likely that they would have a fully loaded demo car, so this is probably right.


But he did run the heat, the car never dropped below 60F and averaged 72F.


Interesting marketing decision. I don't particularly care if a journalist lied about the cars, and I did not read the Times article, or even know it existed. But by blowing this up, Musk has made me painfully aware of the limitations of electric cars.



Crying about Top Gear again.. if they'd left that out, I'd probably have enjoyed the article more! Top Gear is an entertainment show, not a documentary!


That doesn't stop people from taking it as gospel, which could be very bad PR. Unjustified bad PR.


this is fantastic. to me this isn't so much about tesla, or hack shop journalism. it's about sensors and big data. which is really the future we are looking at more than anything. if you publish the data logs publicly as open information for every car they test, you wouldn't even need journalists.


Can someone tell me why this got all these comments and points in a couple of lines? Thanks


There should be security footage from the parking lot where the car was running in circles.


This guy needs to be fired.


Next article: Tesla tracks and publishes consumer's driving data!


Gots to love the companion image of the S in the snow. Subtle.


John Broder must change from journalist to QA.


Can't stop grinning while reading this


oh, logs, we all love you :) I only hope owner can control retention and delete these logs if desired.


Desire to purchase BlueStar++;


DATA FTW!


Check.

NYT - your move.


All my support to Tesla people.


Brilliant


I was the first one, when the NYT article was linked to here, to say:

"Be careful, journalists love to fake car reviews to display cars they don't like in a bad light"

Car journalism 101. Even journalism 101.

I consider CNN and Fox to be propaganda. Now I'm badly losing faith in the NYT too... Unless they react swiftly and promptly: public apologize to Tesla and firing of that journalist.


I used to work for a big bus company here in mexico ( A.D.O )and they implemented a system for recording everything that happened on the bus' trip. The buses had a computer that recorded the ranges, the speeds, the times, and the fuel the bus used during the trip and believe me, these sensors never ever failed.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: