Tesla Responds to NY Times Model S Drive; Broder Drove in Circles to Kill Range

FEB 14 2013 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 66

Tesla's Google Maps graphic of Broder's drive.

Tesla’s Google Maps graphic of Broder’s drive.

Tesla Motors has now officially refuted the accuracy and accounts of a Model S review published by The New York Times.    The Times’ reviewer insists that the Model S doesn’t meet range claims in cold weather, but Tesla’s evidence virtually proves that the range in cold weather claim made by The Times is “a fake.”  In our followup post on this still-developing story, we mentioned that an upcoming Tesla blog post would likely refute cold-weather range claims made against the Tesla Model S by The New York Times.  Well, that blog post is now here and we’ve highlighted as much detail as possible directly from Tesla.

Here is Tesla’s own summary of the key facts as presented by Tesla CEO Elon Musk:

  • 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.
  • The final leg of his trip was 61 miles and yet he disconnected the charge cable when the range display stated 32 miles. He did so expressly against the advice of Tesla personnel and in obvious violation of common sense.
  • In his article, Broder claims that “the car fell short of its projected range on the final leg.” Then he bizarrely states that the screen showed “Est. remaining range: 32 miles” and the car traveled “51 miles,” contradicting his own statement (see images below). The car actually did an admirable job exceeding its projected range. Had he not insisted on doing a nonstop 61-mile trip while staring at a screen that estimated half that range, all would have been well. He constructed a no-win scenario for any vehicle, electric or gasoline.
  • On that leg, he drove right past a public charge station while the car repeatedly warned him that it was very low on range.
  • Cruise control was never set to 54 mph as claimed in the article, nor did he limp along at 45 mph. Broder in fact drove at speeds from 65 mph to 81 mph for a majority of the trip and at an average cabin temperature setting of 72 F.
  • At the point in time that he claims to have turned the temperature down, he in fact turned the temperature up to 74 F.
  • The charge time on his second stop was 47 mins, going from -5 miles (reserve power) to 209 miles of Ideal or 185 miles of EPA Rated Range, not 58 mins as stated in the graphic attached to his article. Had Broder not deliberately turned off the Supercharger at 47 mins and actually spent 58 mins Supercharging, it would have been virtually impossible to run out of energy for the remainder of his stated journey.
  • For his first recharge, he charged the car to 90%. During the second Supercharge, despite almost running out of energy on the prior leg, he deliberately stopped charging at 72%. On the third leg, where he claimed the car ran out of energy, he stopped charging at 28%. Despite narrowly making each leg, he charged less and less each time. Why would anyone do that?
  • The above helps explain a unique peculiarity at the end of the second leg of Broder’s trip. When he first reached our Milford, Connecticut Supercharger, having driven the car hard and after taking an unplanned detour through downtown Manhattan to give his brother a ride, the display said “0 miles remaining.” 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.
Tesla paints a different story.

Tesla paints a different story.

Was Broder driving at the speeds he indicated?  Well, Tesla’s data shows otherwise and as we mentioned before, Broder broke past 80 miles per hour, a recipe for a ticket for sure.  No ticket?  Okay, well it still saps range when whizzing along at illegal speeds.

Tesla graphic showing speed throughout the drive.

Tesla graphic showing speed throughout the drive.

“In Mr. Broder’s case, he simply did not accurately capture what happened and worked very hard to force our car to stop running,” claims Elon Musk.   And do you need more evidence than this graphic below, which shows Broder driving in circles to kill the Tesla Model S?  These data points are taken directly from the Model S’ on-board computer.  Hard to deny this?

Data points showing Model S driving in circles.

Data points showing Model S driving in circles.

Musk’s opening statement closed with this request directed at the NY Times:

“When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts. Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth. You are a news organization where that principle is of paramount importance and what is at stake for sustainable transport is simply too important to the world to ignore.”

We don’t believe for a single second that the NY Times will take a back seat in this matter.  So, look for a response to come soon.  But does the NY Times have substantial data to support its side?  We doubt it.  For now, we’ll call this one a win for Tesla Motors and it seems Tesla feels the same way as one of it spokespersons issued this statement:

“Please note, no one from Tesla – including Elon – will be providing additional comment on this topic moving forward, as we feel the blog speaks for itself.  At this time, this post is the company’s final statement on the issue.”

Update:  Trick gallery feature added below.  Click on images twice for enlarged versions of Tesla’s additional graphics that dispute the NY Times claims.

via Tesla Motors Blog

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66 Comments on "Tesla Responds to NY Times Model S Drive; Broder Drove in Circles to Kill Range"

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David Murray

Wow.. I was too easy on the reporter. I thought most of his mistakes were just out of ignorance. but now I’m seeing a deliberate attempt to lie here.

Jon B

The media lie? Never! Tesla stock at 38.54 +/- soon after opening. 🙂

Brian

Ditto. I originally gave him the benefit of the doubt, but all signs point to him trying harder and harder to make the car fail.

Same here. Hard to deny the data from the logs and there are definitely major inconsistencies with the story. Musk is still brave to call out the NYT like this though.

I think I take back my recommendation of letting Broder try the trip again. If Consumer Reports was clever, they would take their on Model S, repeat the trip without consulting Tesla or NYT, provide their own findings and capitalize on all the current attention.

qwerty

In frigid weather, this Tesla Model S owner took her first road trip in her new car. She drove to Rochester, MN, a trip which normally takes her 16 hours each way to complete in an ICE vehicle. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well.

http://andwediditourway.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-not-so-ev-life.html

Bill Howland

Qwerty:

Thanks for the info. Before reading the article I had independently calculated that the car will lose miles plugged into 120 as indicated by the travel story in your link.

One point on Musk’s rebuttal. He says the car never ran out of juice. If the estimated range was 32 miles and the car drove 51 (due to very conservative driving) , how could there be much state of charge left? I don’t see a state-of- charge graph here.

Bill Howland

Just looked at “Tesla Graphic 2”. The car clearly ran out of juice at about 470 miles. Also, the car state of charge went from 90 to 25 as the reporter had indicated at the motel. Driving 0.6 miles in a parking lot trying to find a parking spot or looking for outlets is not “joyriding or galavanting”.

Schmeltz

Elon and Company slammed the NYT—plain and simple. Praise God that Tesla had the sense to have that computer turned on to record all of that data. Hard to refute evidence like that.

Future Leaf Driver

“Slammed the NYT”??? More like bitch-slapped them, lol!!!

Obviously a reporter with a certain agenda in mind!

Go Elon, Go Tesla!

Nobody speaks bad of the “Car of the Year” and gets away with it!

taser54

This needs clarification- Does the Dashboard range estimate = Battery SOC from log? It would seem that different terms are being put forth by Tesla (at one point talking about range estimate and then the other talking about SOC). If the range estimator/indicator is not a true indication of the SOC of the battery, it would explain how the reporter got more miles than indicated, it would also explain how the car’s display could indicate 0 miles left (with all the associated warnings, reduced performance?) yet not reach 0% SOC for the battery.

Open-Mind

From the NYT, I’m not at all surprised. Tesla is simply being treated like a conservative. When it comes to supporting NYT orthodoxy, the ends justify the means. Ah technology … a hundred channels of telemetry to refute their lies, and a CEO willing to do it. I have even more respect for Musk now. It’s a good day. 🙂

evnow

Bringing politics into the story for no particular reason. “Open Mind”, indeed – just like “Fair & Balanced”.

Open-Mind

When a media organization deliberately inflicts damage by spreading false info, the motive is usually politics. So that’s a pretty safe bet IMHO.

However, I would be interested to know your opinion about why the NYT is so eager to damage Tesla with false info.

Mark H

Journalist lesson. Do not screw with high tech engineers……

vdiv

Right! More generally, do not screw up with your own integrity.

Ok, now I’m scared to report on their quarterly results next week. Who has the least seniority around here?

vdiv

Jay,

No need to be scared if you report the results. You do need to be ashamed and scared from us if you make them up 😉

“After reviewing Tesla’s Q4 results we have to say Tesla is the most perfect, well-run, funded company that has ever existed”

evnow

Hmmm … do you want Musk to come after you or SEC ?

GeorgeS

Let Eric do it 🙂

the article was shaky from day one. not surprised considering the writer’s long history of anti EV, anti green, “pro-smoke” agenda. did anyone bother to read his accompanying article published the same day?? bashing EVs and touting CNG? THAT should have told you everything you needed to know about his motives

GeorgeS

Like I said before: NYT is a left leaning paper…….so what is their motivation to smear Tesla?

I see an article like this from the WSJ not NYT.

Ohhhh maybe that’s it: Broder is trying to get a job at the WSJ!!

Open-Mind

My analysis of their motive: Tesla markets their cars based on quality and performance, not liberal “green speak”. They have leap-frogged the rest of the industry, including President Obama’s success story General Motors. And they sell their cars mostly to “rich people” that “aren’t paying their fair share”. These things have made Tesla a target of the left, or at least the NYT.

GeorgeS

Perhaps that’s it. It’s all hypocricy anyway. The mayor of NY wants to ban styrofoam and then flys off to the Bahamas in his personal jet for the weekend.

evnow

Do you remember who pushed the “Saddam has nukes” story ?

Open-Mind

Judith Miller at the NYT who was later fired for same. Her stories were repeated by Powell, Rice, and Rumsfeld. Missing how this is relevant to the NYT attacking Tesla a decade later.

Levi

I knew that bastard was lying!!!!!! Even his own map tells a different story. Please examine the first leg of his journey
He said oh I did not speed,… then when he heard of the on board computer he changed his story to….
Oh I did 71-72 mph maybe a mile or two…..bull shi..tttt!!!

He drove from DC to the first supercharger…. 114 miles….in only…. 84 minutes….. (simple math)

That equals ……81 mph….. & that’s just the AVERAGE…. meaning that there are times he went over that…
The PUNK should get 3 SPEEDING TICKETS….as he crossed the three states. Tesla’s got prof & his own map is self- incriminating.

I think this is BIG OIL, BIG AUTO & BOEING ( Musk embarrassed them on their inferior battery architecture)!!

Levi

Taser54
This is no different that your ICE car when it tells you that you have 0 miles to Empty. You actually have 1-1.5 gallons of gas left so you can run to the gas station.
it’s an indicator that u r running dangerous low & u need to refuel.

Wood Foss

God, I want a Tesla!!!!

Anon

Cody: Told ya.

evnow

I’m waiting for NYT to cover up. After all finally, it is the cover up that gets them …

vdiv

The NYT has two choices now, cover up or ‘fes up. If the can get Broder to say he was wrong (and why) it will really exonerate them.

James
NYT has come out with it’s refute saying they stand behind Broder’s claims. They said he did just what the Tesla employees advised him to do… So what’s next if they don’t back down? Lawsuit? I hope so. BBC and Top Gear won against Tesla in the U.K.. I think he proponderance of evidence ( data ) here in Tesla’s case would make it a slam dunk here in the USA. Boy the NYT has some ‘splainin’ to do! Theories vary as to why Broder and the NYT would be motivated to smear Tesla. We remember Edward Niedermeyer a couple years back stickin’ it real good to Volt on NYT’s “The Truth About Cars.com” article. I’m puzzled as well as to the motivation behind slamming EVs. One would think that the very left-leaning paper would support Tesla and all EV makers being the green thing to do. One theory that’s been discussed is that Elon is a rich businessman who borrowed $460 million from the feds to start Model S production, and the NYT is more against rich getting tax breaks ( only the wealthy can afford Model S ) than they are for green transportation technology. Again, this is… Read more »
Rick

We could see it if there site did not get overloaded and go dead as soon as it went up

“Theories vary as to why Broder and the NYT would be motivated to smear
Tesla”
————————-

It sells papers (aka generates clicks).

Grady

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2013/02/elon-musks-data-doesnt-back-his-claims-new-york-times-fakery/62149/

The Atlantic Wire has a rebuttal that claims the Musk rebuttal isn’t 100% accurate. We’ll have to wait for the NY Times official response. But I think they’re going to weasel out of it.

Bill Howland

Just looked at “Tesla Graphic 2″. The car clearly ran out of juice at about 470 miles. Also, the car state of charge went from 90 to 25 as the reporter had indicated at the motel. Driving 0.6 miles in a parking lot trying to find a parking spot or looking for outlets is not “joyriding or galavanting”.

Steve

Great story. The evidence is clear — the NYT lied. Now I would like to know — *why* would a reporter do that? I can think of three possibilities —

1. The reporter thought a car fail would be more entertaining to read about.
2. An outside agency incentivize him to lie.
3. He is just an EV – hater.

Any other thoughts on this? Does anyone have a thought on this? I am actually leaning toward number 2 or number 3.

#1 and #3

Danpatgal

Steve, I think your #1 is it. I think it was Mark Twain who said, “I never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

When I saw the photo of the Model S on a flatbed, I knew the author was looking for a “good story”. If he had simply driven conservatively and charged fully (and when cold) we’d all be discussing something else, like when we’ll get to see the range numbers on the 2013 Leaf. For sure Broder didn’t come clean on his stupidity, but to his defense, he was probably trying to drive in ICE mode (not thinking) to emulate most drivers and to show a worse case scenario. To call the article a lie or fake is (through essentially it is) would be hard to prove in a court of law, so he and the NYT wins by selling papers and eyeballs. Such is our sad state of our press.

n0body

You know what would else would be interesting to read about? Someone destroying a bunch of stuff he cares about.

Bloggin

Great for Tesla!!

Elon Musk is on fire…..Broder openly lied, got busted, and should be fired…immediately.

I smell legal action coming.

But this is not the only instance of a ‘reporter/blogger’ writing a less than ‘balanced’ review of an EV, hybrid or plug-in vehicle.

I think with the enhanced ability of electrified vehicles to track the cars functions and movements, manufacturers should review data once the vehicle is returned, and correlate the data with the review.

This process should be able to shut down much of the supposedly ‘real world’ vs EPA mileage conflicts.

For example….driving illegally at 85-90, when writing he was driving as 65-70. Stating climate control was on low, when it was blasting heat or air conditioning all the way.

Bill Howland

Man this is a tough crowd.. I in general hate the NY Times.
I also own 2 electrics including a Tesla.

This story, has been educational for me in regards battery loss in cold temperatures of the Model S (versus my Roadster).

I understand why this is going to be Musk’s last comment on the subject (he hopes).

The whole issue showed up some very large battery loss in cold weather, including my calculations that the 120 volt cord WILL NOT charge the car in cold weather. \\

The referenced story about a lady taking a 16 hour trip in minnesota taking 65 hours PROVES my calculations correct.

http://andwediditourway.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-not-so-ev-life.html

In view of the above, the New York Times is on reasonable ground (the guy is not a professional driver after all, and cannot be expected to hypermill, but just drive the thing like an Impala), and Musk, sorry to say, is playing a very weak hand. His inability to acknowledge any imperfections in the car is to these eyes embarrassing. If he cares about the stock price he should cut his losses and go on.

Reply

Mark H

All sound points Bill except for the point about him not being a professional driver.
Forget all the nuances of the cold weather chemistry and the effects on range and how it compares to the specifications. Nothing to do with what he did. It is much simpler than that. Consider this:

You are in a gasoline car in a mileage test of any kind.
(Or any licensed driver for that matter in any powered auto)
It is 10 degrees outside.
Your gauge reads 32 miles of fuel
Your trip is double that.
You fail to refuel.
You are an idiot.
And then you write a review how you were stranded.
“You’re and idiot babe, it’s a wonder you still know how to breathe….” RZ
I do despise negative spin.

Bill Howland
Mark, he was given bad information by Tesla technical representative on the phone. I’m sure when he was greeted with a surprising 25 miles range after starting off from the motel, the Tesla Rep said to ignore the number since its a “Software Glitch” , or “Conditioning the battery by driving it will raise the range”. If you read my link to the minnesota story, you’ll see she didn’t get any battery conditioning either. If he hadn’t called, everyone would have been ALL OVER him for not asking for advice. But, he did ask. The information he was given was clearly nonsense. Auto manufacturers never give out bad information about their cars (Kia years ago was an exception:, they told me all known problems with their product: Bravo!). As I say, my main interest in this discussion is an enhanced education regarding Model S driveability in Western New York. I now have almost all the information I need. It looks like the electricity cost for me would be quite high during our cold winters. I was on the fence, but due to inflexibility @ Tesla (more so than with my Roadster), it pushed my decision over to DECLINE. In view… Read more »
Mark H
I hear ya Bill, and I think the biggest mistake by Tesla’s technical support was underestimating all the variables of what people can do wrong. Given that Broder just had a close call the day before, conventional wisdom would tell you to wait for the charge. If any “one” of the variables were thrown out he would have been OK. Had he driven the speed limit, he would have been OK. Had he relied on seat warmers opposed to heating the cabin, he would have been OK. Had he charged to 80 percent capacity, as all EV drivers should on extended trips, he would have been OK. Had the test happened in more moderate temperature. Had he been driving an EREV or PHEV. There are two main issues here. Can the public rely on EVs for long distance travel and/or can Tesla’s super chargers make this a reality? NYT will argue that it was Tesla specific, but read it again. They made negative spin implications to the industry at large. The EREV technology like the Chevy Volt allows for ANYTHING to happen with the current battery technology . For Tesla, the answer is YES with an asterix as you point… Read more »
Bill Howland
Well, I’m constantly trying to find the truth in these stories. So far I haven’t seen anyone interested into what is to me a VERY BIG DEAL, but then I have an interest because I live in a cold climate. People from southern California couldn’t care less, but people from minnesota might want to lend an ear. My conclusions: A). Model S in very cold weather loses battery capacity at an 1840 watt drain rate. This compares with the Roadster’s estimated 450 watt drain rate in very cold weather. B). Model S’s recharge rate using the model S supplied 120 volt cord will be 1440 watts ideally, possibly under 1300 in practical conditions. This means that the 120 volt cord CANNOT charge the cord in cold weather, and in very cold weather will actually lose miles even though constantly plugged in. C). Why? I would guess its that 4 times the square inches are exposed to the elements in the model S as compared to the roadster, and that it just takes a huge amount of electricity to keep the battery sufficiently warm, other from the attached charger dock, or failing that, the battery itself. D). What this means is… Read more »
Guinz

Ok. On Feb 1, 2013, the Rochester MN woman (“Regina Gasser”) ends her otherwise positive blogpost about EVs with this:

“Today’s lesson… Sub zero weather does not provide for optimum range.”

Um, du-u-uh…

So, what does she do a week later? On Feb 8, 2013 she posts:

“What happened instead is that it was negative four degrees outside (-25*F windchill) and I lost a LOT more range on my way to Dixon than I should have…”

NOTE TO REGINA: Read your own posts. Then get back to yourself.

As I posted elsewhere in these comments, I do not own an EV or Tesla stock. I do have a physics background. ALL commercially viable battery technology of today PERFORMS POORLY IN THE COLD. You don’t even need subzero temps.

So she knows this, and STILL attempts a (ready?) 16 hour sojourn…

And ANYONE is gonna put this up as proof of ANYTHING but foolishness?

Guinz

More on this ridiculous trip of RG…

If you actually read the blog, ALL her “obstacles” center around finding adquate charging.

This is 2013. Quick – name for me the EV charging station nearest your home…

Now, name for me your nearest gas station…

In 1913, it wasn’t a picnic to find gas stations either…

Of course, few, if any, people attempted 16 hour trips in their new automobiles, either…

All of these stories – the NYT/Tesla one and the RG one – all center around charging. Charging, charging, charging. Now, THERE’S a big surprise!

How silly these things will look, 25 years from now (or 10 maybe), when charging stations are as common as gas stations and batteries perform better, cold or not…

Robert Winfield (rockville, Md)

any RV park will take J1772 hint hint
“to broder”; a verb, as in “to purposely or with willful ignorance run down the battery pack of an electric vehicle to the point that it no longer moves the vehicle.”

Bill Howland

Guinz:

Your post is not germaine since the battery heater is keeping the battery warm… A warm battery has nothing to do with the ‘physics’ of a cold battery.

David Alan Foster

Thanks for the calculated comments. However, this illustrates the shortcoming in charging infrastructure, not so much the car… by her own admission. She will plan better next time. The comment above about hitching posts is most relevant.

I think the NYT is the one on shaky ground, now trying to protect an idiot reporter, ignorant of the technology on board the Tesla… like a black box recorder.

The stakes are high, and Musk is a high-rolling gambler to be sure. But that’s what it takes to create a new car INDUSTRY in the face of the entrenched Detroit players, not to mention a few others… like BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Nissan… et al.

If you know Elon’s obsessive fastidiousness in personally inspecting every S that goes out the door, you will realize that he knows full well the range of possible “imperfections” that could manifest in a product as complicated as a production automobile.

So, here’s to more education and more Teslas on the road!

Bloggin

The only question that matter is: ‘Did you fully charge the car at each charging station?’

If the answer was NO.

Then that explains why the reporter did not make it to his destination. PERIOD!

It’s like purposely not making a deposit into your bank account, and blaming the bank when your debit card does not work, you run out of cash, and find yourself stranded away from home.

Clearly this reporter is not smart enough to drive an EV, or review one.

Robert Winfield (rockville, Md)

6 Model S drivers in a convoy will retrace broders route from DC to Connecticut and back, today the 16th, stay overnight and return. one drove down from NY. 3 will leave from Rockville, Md Tesla service center and meetup with 3 more at Delaware Super charger. None of them will “Broder” (forget to charge) and expect to make the trip easily.

New EV term? “To broder” definition: forget to charge or not fully charge

Robert Winfield (rockville, Md)

actually, 8 Tesla S left Rockville Md @ 11:20 and will meet up with a few more at the superchargers in Delaware.

“to broder”; a verb, as in “to purposely or with willful ignorance run down the battery pack of an electric vehicle to the point that it no longer moves the vehicle.”

Guinz
There is a lot of silliness, both in the article and its response, and the comments here. A lot of heat, very little light. I am reminded of the early days of combustion cars, a little more than a century ago – constantly and consistently outperformed by horse drawn carriages. Bugs aplenty; terrible roads; drivers ill-trained for the type of vehicle. By 1930, 25 years later, nearly all those horses were gone (at least outside of very rural areas). Imagine if those early automobiles were subjected to the same kind of microcoverage that the EVs of today are getting! We’d still be looking for hitching posts… EVs are the vehicles of tomorrow, whether tomorrow is 25 years away (as the example above was), 10 years away or 50 years away. Our driving styles, expectations and habits will all change – just as they did when automatic transmissions and cruise control came in. So, EVs – today, 2013 – have batteries that don’t cut it well in frigid temperatures. I guess, then, that we should bag the whole idea, right? Before we mouth off, in our wonderfully benighted 2013 (compared to the entire lifespan of EVs), we might just wanna think… Read more »
There is nothing silly about this whatsoever, and this is not the era of the Model T. It is the era of the *Model S*, the most sophisticated car on Earth, a spaceship on wheels designed and built in Silicon Valley, USA. It is the first production electric car capable of reaching 300 miles on a charge, which makes it very much a vehicle of TODAY — not “tomorrow” — and it doesn’t deserved to be smeared for the sake of story in the New York Times. After all, it just wouldn’t do to write a boring article about driving from Washington to Boston, so why not create something with a little pizzaz? That is what I think happened here with Mr. Broder. Maybe he thought it was funny at the time. Maybe he thought his editor would appreciate a little controversy? Well he certainly got more than he bargained for! Broder failed to “fill the tank”, ran around in circles (and not to find a parking space) and then ran out of juice. Then he wrote the article in such a way as to blame the car. Result: Investors in Tesla, EVs and advanced batteries turn away. Perfectly capable… Read more »
Mark H

Can we expect any news on the week end customer run Eric?