New York Times Responds to Data Released by Tesla


Well, that didn’t take long now did it?

Google Maps aerial view of Supercharger station in Milford.  Blue dot indicates location of charger.

Google Maps aerial view of Supercharger station in Milford. Blue dot indicates location of charger.  (click to enlarge)

The New York Times has fired back on all cylinders.

Yesterday, Tesla Motors refuted the accuracy and accounts of a Model S review published by The New York Times.   The Times’ reviewer still insists that there are discrepancies in Tesla’s posted data, but Tesla’s evidence seemed to prove that claims made by The Times were “fake.

Or did it? Broder has now lashed back against nearly all of the claims made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.  Is this war or words over?  Doubt it.

While we won’t post all of Broder’s rebuttals to data and graphical representations released by Tesla Motors, we will suggest that truth seems to exist on both sides.  With that in mind, here’s but one of Broder’s rebuttals:

 “At the point in time that he claims to have turned the temperature down, he in fact turned the temperature up to 74 F.” (Claim made by Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk in blog post).

Broder’s response:

“I raised and lowered the cabin heat in an effort to strike a balance between saving energy and staying somewhat comfortable. (It was 30 degrees outside when I began the trip, and the temperature plunged that night to 10 degrees.) Tesla jumped to the conclusion that I claimed to have lowered the cabin temperature “at 182 miles,” but I never wrote that. The data clearly indicate that I sharply lowered the temperature setting – twice – a little over 200 miles into the trip. After the battery was charged I tried to warm the cabin.”

The graph below shows that Broder did reduce the cabin’s temperature, but not at the 182-mile mark.  However, it seems clear that at some point Broder tried to conserve range by reducing the temperature setting.

Notice the sharp did in the temperature setting?  Though it didn't occur at 182 miles, Broder did act to conserve energy.

Notice the sharp dip in the temperature setting? Though it didn’t occur at 182 miles, Broder did seem to act to conserve energy.

And then there’s this:

“Instead of plugging in the car, he drove in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot. When the Model S valiantly refused to die, he eventually plugged it in. On the later legs, it is clear Broder was determined not to be foiled again.” (claim made by Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk on Tesla’s blog post)

To which Broder responds:

“I drove around the Milford service plaza in the dark looking for the Supercharger, which is not prominently marked. I was not trying to drain the battery. (It was already on reserve power.) As soon as I found the Supercharger, I plugged the car in.”

Data points showing Model S driving in circles.  Broder claims he was searching for the Supercharger, which is in an unlit back corner of the parking lot.  Locating this requires circling most of the lot

Data points showing Model S driving in circles. Broder claims he was searching for the Supercharger, which is in an unlit back corner of the parking lot. Locating this requires circling most of the lot

Obviously, there seems to be valid arguments made by both Tesla Motors and the New York Times.  In this a case of right or wrong?  We don’t think so.  Misunderstanding between the two sides?  Maybe.

Is it now time that both sides decide to let this go?  Or is more brewing?

via New York Times Wheels Blog

Categories: Tesla

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26 Comments on "New York Times Responds to Data Released by Tesla"

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It’s still crystal clear that progressively less charge time over the course of the trip, was a conscious choice by Mr. Broder, to smear the vehicle’s results to create some newspaper drama.

I have no clue regarding Mr. Broder’s motivation, but I feel he’s being unfairly brushed here. This back and forth has been illuminating for me personally since I now see the Model S CANNOT BE CHARGED WITH A 110 VOLT CORD IN COLD WEATHER. This is highly important info for northeasterners who only have a carport and a 120 volt outlet. The car will NOT be driveable since if thats your only option the car CANNOT gain miles in cold weather.

If Tesla is smart they will drop the subject, unless they feel like being honest and admit the car’s limitations. But in the meantime I’ve gotten a free education.

How did you come to the conclusion that the Model S cannot be charged with 110 Volt cord? I’m fairly positive you can charge it with 110V/120V just like any other EV on the market. Just be prepared for it to take longer than on 220V/240V

Bill specifically states “in the cold”. Tesla uses a large amount of power just to keep the battery warm while charging. When the temperature is low enough, that energy seems to be more than a 110V / 12A cord can supply. Therefore, there is no energy left to charge the battery.

One of Tesla’s own plots seems to corroborate this theory.

Broder did NOT plug the car in overnight, if he had, it may have added range. Secondly, the drop in the estimated range was much larger than the drop in state of charge. The car did not use a lot of energy overnight, but the usable energy at the right voltage from a cold battery is a lot less than if it were warm.

What evidence? Which plot? In my own all too short test drive experience (another anecdote, so apply appropriate grain of salt) I plugged in during single digit weather (snowing) on 110 and it mostly worked. I picked up a bit more than 30 miles overnight and drove it to an L2 EVSE in the morning to pick up the rest of a full charge. I’m thoroughly unclear on why you are saying it can’t gain miles (or more precisely… state of charge) on 110 in “cold”. Charges slower? Yes. Now, I expect there must be a min temp point where it just can’t keep up, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the negative numbers. According to the quick guide: Temperature limits: Do not expose Model S to ambient temperatures above 140° F (60° C) or below -22° F (-30° C) for more than 24 hours at a time.


I believe Bill is referring to this blog post by an owner of a Tesla Model S:

See also Bill’s comments in this previous thread:

Like Brian said: “Bill specifically states ‘in the cold’. Tesla uses a large amount of power just to keep the battery warm while charging. When the temperature is low enough, that energy seems to be more than a 110V / 12A cord can supply. Therefore, there is no energy left to charge the battery.”

Well thanks for the support guys.

It was only a theory until the Minnesota Lady Proved it.

The key chart was Tesla Graphic #2. There it confirms Mr. Broder’s claim the car went from 90 to 25 miles over the 10 hours in the motel while he was sleeping. With an 85 kwh battery that is 18.4 kwh lost, over 10 hours thats an effective 1840 watt drain.

Charging at 120 volts is 1440 watts ideally, under 1300 under some practical conditions. This means quite obviously, in very cold weather, the Juice from the 110 outlet cannot even keep up with the heat loss, let alone even begin to think about charging the car. Again, this was only my theory until the Minnesota lady actually tried it and confirms a further range loss.

I read the responses from Broder and though I still felt his motivation was more to create a good story than test the supercharger network, Elon Musk went a little far in calling him a liar. It might be interesting to hear the conversations Broder had with Tesla during his trip, since he repeatedly mentions that he was “cleared” to continue after not fully charging several times. I suspect the conversation was something like:

Broder: “I’d like to keep going, do you think I have enough charge?”
Tesla: “Well, it would be better if you did a full charge, but you’d probably be ok.”

Of course, perhaps I give too much credit to Tesla, maybe they didn’t hesitate at all and probably those on the phone with him also didn’t have a lot of cold weather EV experience.

Bill Howland – perhaps you mentioned it in another post, but can you explain how/why the Tesla won’t change off of 110v? I assume you mean under a certain temperature and with limited amperage draw – just curious (I’ve had some problems myself charging on 110 in the cold – fried my charger AC fuse).

Hi Dan, Oh, I wasn’t talking about loose connections causing heating at the outlet, this all assumed very heavy duty cords and wall outlets and no problems that way. The problem as I see it ( go to see my other posts regarding the calculations), but my Roadster apparently loses 450 watts in very cold weather, which is not much since the battery is pretty square and has a very small surface area exposed to the cold elements. The model S, has a HUGE surface area (the foot print between the 4 tires) exposed to the cold. I calculate the loss during very cold weather at an effective 1840 watts. See the previous posts for more detailed analysis. This means at a 1300 watt charge rate (practically all that could be expected with a 120 volt cord some distance from the building’s electric service entrance), the car will not only NOT have anything left to charge the battery at all, but will still drain the battery even though constantly plugged in ( lose miles). People in warm locales could care less. Those of us in Minnesota or New York State have to pay close attention to this. If someone by… Read more »

I didn’t read the rebuttal. Did Broder refute the speed discrepancy? Did Broder come out and say he was exceeding the speed limit and by how much?


He could not explain it away. My questions, is the speedometer calibrated correctly? Is the speed listed in the log actually what is displayed on the speedo or was it calculated using the gps/cell towers?

Regarding his speed, he wondered if the car’s spedometer was set for 19″ wheels, and he had the 21″ wheels. Which would be a 10% gain (54mph would be 60mph). But, when I looked at the Tesla log originally, I didn’t think this guy had a particularly heavy lead foot. I don’t think he drove at speeds excessive for that stretch of highway.

I don’t really want to defend the NYT reporter because I love Tesla and what they’ve done and how I expect to own one of their vehicles someday, but I think Tesla could have had a more measured response that would have just let this thing blow over with minimal PR damage. Instead, Musk went on the offensive and I think that’s going to backfire. They guy had a bit of an agenda and he WAS looking for a good story, but I don’t think you can call him a liar or even a fake. Was he stupid, careless, and ignorant of good electric vehicle operation? Without a doubt!

I am pretty sure the OD of the tires is the same on 19″ and 21″ wheels, just lower profile tires on the 21″ wheels.

There is a only a slight difference of 0.2 inches in the circumference between the two tires sizes. Running the 19″ wheels on 245/45R19 tires in place of the 21″ wheels on 245/35R21 results in a speedometer reading that is 0.3% too fast. Thus, when the speedometer reads 60 mph, you are actually traveling 59.8 mph. The 245/45R19 tires have an an circumference of 87.0” which results in 729 revolutions per mile, while the 245/35R21 tires have an an circumference of 87.2” which results in 727 revolutions per mile.

But don’t take my word for it! Check out this tire size calculator to see for yourself:

The Tesla Model S tire sizes can be found on this webpage:

19″ aluminum alloy wheels with all-season tires (Goodyear Eagle RS-A2 245/45R19). Note: optional 21″ wheels come with Continental Extreme Contact DW 245/35R21 high-performance tires

The car navigation would have brought him directly to the supercharger, which is very easy to locate, with a big red TESLA on each of the tall white charging stations.

Clearly, Broder had an agenda, did not realize he was being tracked, and was busted. Now trying to justify the lies and deceptions.

But what he will never be able to justify, is the fact that he charged less and less each time in an attempt to run out of power. Which was his intent all along.

He has been exposed as a fraud….this is why Tesla stated they will waste no more words on the subject in the media. Legal action is next.

But now Tesla’s own Elon Musk is firing words off again. This story is far from over. Are you (our readers) still ready for more?

Bring it on Eric. This article is more about Broder’s response and not the NYT. My guess is that Broder is in a little trouble with his employer. Hopefully they will fire his ass.

ONYT’s LYING JOHN…..CAUGHT MANIPULATING DATA….FUDGING TEST-DRIVE.!!! 1. He was speeding from DC to MILFORD @ average speed 81 mph. (Look at his own map he supplied) He drove 114 miles in 84 minutes…. simple Arithmetic!!! Recommendation:- state highway troopers need to give him speeding tickets across the states he passed 2. He charged less and less to get his desired outcome. This exposes his intention…its no a question ANYMORE!!! His reply yesterday was just a). Shifting BLAME to Tesla instructions on phone . B). Excuses of’s no bliss with Technology!!!! How can you do an objective test-drive for the public while FUDGING the basic tenets of the experiment and expect It to be true &objective??? It’s not…& cannot be replicated…’s bogus & must be discarded. DON’T FORGET THERE ARE TEN’S IF NOT HUNDRED’S OF OWNERS DRIVING THIS CAR IN THE SAME N.EAST TO WASHINGTON daily!!!!!! Ever heard anyone of them running out of juice??????

Dont let Broder drive and review a Volt since he’ll probably state that it only has 25-35 mile range and then needs to charge for 4 hours before you can drive again!!!!

This idiot not fully charging the Model S is like not filling up the gas tank completely. What do you expect, reduced range, duh!

Just redo the trip and prove NYT wrong, end of story..

CNN did redo the story… see the newer post by Loveday.

This story is truly amazing. I’m a little annoyed that many have picked up on the idea that: “Broder charged less and less each time to attain the desired outcome”. I think this highlights an issue with waiting for the car to charge and learning whether or not to trust the Range Estimate. I’m on the fence again, to be honest. I can only accuse Broder of writing his story in the most negatively lit way. I also would accuse Musk of the same. Calling Broder a liar and a Fake is just uncalled for (very unprofessional.) Have we really reached that point in journalism? Some facts for you, regarding the big picture, as I see them: -Broder has been much more professional and well written in his responses. Why can’t Elon hire a better Marketing Director and better writers for his blog? -Obviously Tesla and Broder had some “behind the scenes time to discuss before print” and should have worked something out. (Agenda of one or both?) -Tesla maybe should have called off the road test until they could properly “administer the test” (again, better marketing person) -Broder should have known better than to write the initial article the… Read more »

Cody, per Tesla Graphic #2, the car lost 65 miles of range over 10 hours. that works out to an effective drain of 1840 watts. The 120 volt cord will charge at 1440 watts ideally, or more likely 1300. This is why the car in minnesota still lost range even though plugged in all the time.

From Graphic #2, I had theorized the loss. It was only after the Minnesota lady made her excursion that my heat loss calculations were proven correct.

Looking at the range indication, you will see some of the myths that some here, and even Tesla espoused are clearly nonsense: namely, the battery will not regain range as it warms up. The only thing that will make the battery get more range is to charge it.

Incidentally, this has nothing to do with “estimated range”. That has to do with your driving habits over the previous 30 miles. The 65 mile loss at the hotel then is clearly not this, since the car was driven 0 miles in the 10 hour period.

Cody, its more fun when Musk blasts his responses, a hired professional would be too bland 🙂