2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors fires back at NY Times John Broder over failed Model S test drive

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk shows off vehicle log data to back up claims that John Broder essentially fabricated a no-win situation that ended up with the Tesla Model S he'd borrowed on the back of a flatbed truck.

On Wednesday evening Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk posted a response to John Broder's Tesla Model S review in last weekend's NY Times. That review portrayed the Model S as unable to finish a simple road trip, while Musk's response, with its detailed data, instead claims that Broder's article was very inaccurate, or worse. While Musk praises the NY Times for its reputation for honest and fair reporting, his blog post describes Broder's article as inaccurate or a fabrication and calls on the NY Times to investigate.

Broder's article was ostensibly meant to be to test the Tesla Model S on a fairly typical road trip, from Washington D.C. to Connecticut, and back. We went over the trip previously in NY Times' writer Broder makes EV rookie mistakes on failed Model S road trip. The short version of the story is that he traveled from Washington D.C. north, stopping at the Supercharger stations in Delaware and Milford Conn. along the way. These Supercharger stations were installed in December and are the first part of the Supercharger network on the East Coast. Eventually the Supercharger network is meant to allow owners of the Tesla Model S, Model X and future Tesla electric cars, to drive coast-to-coast on electricity. It would be more than interesting to see careful testing of Tesla's claims for that network.

Broder made several mistakes along his trip such as not ensuring the car was fully charged at critical parts of the trip. He ended up in a not-terribly-remote part of Connecticut (Norwich) with insufficient range to make it back to Milford. He ended up stranded on the side of the highway, and was able to take a picture of the Tesla Model S on a flatbed tow truck.

On Monday, Elon Musk took to Twitter and a CNBC interview to slam Broder's article, promising a detailed blog post. Which was not published until Wednesday afternoon. That blog post tells a story similar to the conclusions we drew in the article linked earlier ("EV rookie mistakes") but has detailed data to back up the reasoning.

That blog post makes a list of claims that run counter to what Broder claimed. Each side in this argument has made claims, the question is which side is correct and are either of them purposely fabricating evidence?

A key fact remains in all the details printed below. Broder only recharged to 73% at the Milford Supercharger station. If his intent was to travel to Boston, the route he chose was 163 miles, and a 90% recharge would have given the car a 242 miles range, and a 100% recharge would have given it a 260+ mile range. That would have ensured a comfortable arrival in Boston. In addition, Broder could have chosen a different route to Boston, that required fewer miles, and had more public J1772 charging stations to use as a backup charging solution. For some reason Broder failed to do any of that, and it isn't explained why by either himself or Tesla.

Musk claims:


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I find the next batch of anti U.S. American powered vehicle newswires on this topic that are trying to support the feeble attempt made by the NYC to show plugins are junk, now do not allow reader comments. Folks, there are bought and paid for media outlets where Big Money speaks. Clearly the NYT and the Wash Post can be had for a price you have an agenda you want them to write about. ... It is quite clear to me the NYT writer would have trouble finding where to wipe themself afterward. If you are not knowledgeable on how to drive, where, and when to refuel a shorter range non-foreign-oil vehicle that runs via: hydrogen fuel cell B100 100% biodiesel or straight vegetable oil (svo aka wvo) natural-gas/CNG or an EV, then you should not only not write the story, you should not be on the road as you are a clueless loser. I wonder, what would any normal person's response be to someone who said to them, "I drove my SUV out into the middle of the desert yesterday with only 2 gallons of gas in it. And would you believe it ran out of gas in the middle of no-where, and I had to call the AAA to rescue me! These gas cars are junk!" Unfortunately, separating stupidity from motor-journalists seems to be difficult. Why on Earth would they stay overnight where they couldn't plug the EV in? That is basic EV driving 101. {brucedp.150m.com}.