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A Most Peculiar Test Drive (teslamotors.com)
1859 points by reneherse 1737 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.

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