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back to article Journo says Elon Musk apologized for Tesla battery fiasco

A New York Times journalist has hit back at Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk's charges that he botched a review of the company's Model S electric car, claiming that Musk had even acknowledged his troubles with the vehicle before the review went to press. In a detailed post to The Times' "Wheels" blog on Tuesday, John Broder argued …

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Yes but

Whatever way you look at it, electric cars will never take off until you can refill in five minutes or less

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Re: Yes but

... and until said electricity doesn't come from fossil fuels in the first place.

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Mushroom

Re: Yes but

No fossil fuels? Then nuke it

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Nucleon

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Re: Yes but

I don't agree with "refill in five minutes or less".

If you can charge at home (admittedly ruling out many city and apartment dwellers), you just change your daily routine to plugging in when you get home for the evening. With overnight charging you start out each day with a full charge. That can be less hassle than going to a special store and taking five or ten minutes when the fuel tank runs low. After a while it seems like way less inconvenience than standing in the cold, risking dripping gas on your hands, clothes or shoes.

That doesn't address long trips, but for most drivers those are rare (a few times a year) and never unexpected.

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Happy

Re: Yes but

Reactor in the back - what could possibly go wrong?

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Re: Yes but

"That doesn't address long trips, but for most drivers those are rare (a few times a year) and never unexpected."

So you need to own two cars just in case you actually need to go somewhere further than to work and back?

So far I can see the market for these being innercity greenies, who don't go anywhere. What about the other 99.9% of the world?

A fast recharge that still takes an hour to do stops electric cars from ever becoming mainstream

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Unhappy

Re: Yes but

Problem is that from a normal home power plug estimates a 2 day charge time, which means that you wouldn't be able to have a full charge daily.

The other big massive hole I see in this is that unless I keep my garage heated I will be losing money. Where gas powered vehicles, the power source just gets cold with the Tesla it goes poof into the air so it probably is dramatically worse for the environment as it consumed electricity from the grid, the cold whether took it away and you have to pay and use more resources from the grid to recharge a vehicle sitting still.

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Re: Yes but

I don't know where you live, but in my part of the US it is not uncommon to have an hour commute to work each way, assuming you don't make any stops along the way. I'm not worried about the miles you can drive, but the time element. How long can you be stuck in an interstate traffic jam, at night, in the rain, with temps just above freezing? You may need lights, wipers, and heater for a couple of hours in addition to driving a hundred miles.

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Joke

Re: Yes but

> Whatever way you look at it, electric cars will never take off until you can refill in five minutes or less

And wings. The car will need wings.

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Stop

Re: Yes but - @Thorn

"So you need to own two cars just in case you actually need to go somewhere further than to work and back?"

There are these companies, you may have heard of them, that will rent you a car when you need one. If that's only a few times a year then this is far cheaper than owning one. The average person in the US drives less than 30 miles per day, do they all need to own vehicles that can cover 400+ miles on a tank? If so you can apply the same logic and argue that they all need cars that fly at 600MPH because they do that a couple of times per year also.

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Re: Yes but

As Jtom points out, time sitting in traffic jams on a cold night will be a big worry. As someone who has spent many hours in the past stuck in jams on the M25 in cold temperatures I wouldn't be very happy if I couldn't have heating & radio on at these times. A 1 hour trip in light traffic becomes 2 hours at least in the rush hour and much more if there's an accident (not uncommon sadly) and I know an awful lot of people who commute via the M25 - that's the London orbital motorway for our transatlantic friends, a very popular route to avoid the horrors of central London.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes but

There is an alternative to this, how about an EV car that you don't 'fill up' at all? with over night charging and a big enough battery you'd never need to stop en-route. but we are talking at least 500 mile range to make this a feasible option. Moores law does not exist for batteries but if you could double capacity in 10 years then that 300 mile tesla could be a 600 mile car.

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Re: Yes but

I think electric cars have potential for those that live in cities for short frequent trips to work and back, or going across town. I'd be a little dubious about taking even the very latest one on a long trip (say London to Wales or even further). The only catch with that is that London has pretty good public transport compared to some of the other places I've lived, thus rendering an electric car somewhat pointless. =/

Plus I don't have a garage, so I'd need the world's most monster extension lead to reach the car park next to my flat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes but

You have to be kidding me, a huge number of people don't have offstreet parking, and while a small number of more money than sense greenies may live in city centres many people people have to cover far more than 50 miles a day fand or rural areas this is a complete no starter...

Telsa and its ilk are a novelty item, a fashion accessory. It is not a viable car for the masses. The muppets behind it need to get a grip on real life.

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Re: Yes but - @Thorn

....And most weekends I need a car capable of doing far more than this toy can manage, I'm sure the hire companies would love a steady income stream like that, but in REAL LIFE this isn't sustainable so the nasty pollution causing not at all green electric car is no more than a novelty item for airheads to chatter about at dinner parties, in the real world it doesn't work, is over priced and causes far more pollution than it fans like to admit.

This is not a real world solution

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Re: Yes but - @Corinne

The heater, lights and audio system are a small load compared to the motor. You could sit stationary in traffic in a Leaf, for example, with all three running at max and use less than 10% of the battery's power.

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Stop

Re: Yes but - @Thorn - @Da Weezil

You personally may need (or more likely just want) to drive more than 200 miles per day almost every weekend, in which case current EVs aren't practical FOR YOU, but that doesn't mean that they are not practical for a large number of people. The less of them that use petrol the more that is available for you. How is that a bad thing?

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Re: Yes but

"That doesn't address long trips, but for most drivers those are rare (a few times a year) and never unexpected."

"So you need to own two cars just in case you actually need to go somewhere further than to work and back?"

If it's a few times a year, then it's cheaper to rent a car for it or take a train. And it'd still be cheaper than petrol *if* initial purchase price can be reduced. Having a second car to use a few times a year is just an obtuse solution to the issue.

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Pint

Re: Yes but

"As Jtom points out, time sitting in traffic jams on a cold night will be a big worry."

Well, it is in a petrol car too, if you've only put in barely enough fuel to make the journey.

To be fair to electric cars though, sitting stationary isn't going to be sucking any power, except for lights/stereo et al, which is a small draw on the power, compared to moving a vehicle at 50mph. I'd rather be stunk in a traffic jam with a 'low fuel' warning in an electric car than petrol, I feel.

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Facepalm

Re: Yes but

"Telsa and its ilk are a novelty item, a fashion accessory. It is not a viable car for the masses. The muppets behind it need to get a grip on real life."

You mean like mobile phones 20 years ago?

Yeah: Best we not bother developing it any more, then.

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Mushroom

Re: Yes but - @Thorn

"This is not a real world solution"

Not for you. But pink G-strings aren't a solution for you, either. Should companies stop selling them?

However, they are solutions for *other people*. Not everything on the market needs to cater for your needs. That is why there are choices.

Frankly, I'd love a Roadster, and it would suit my needs extremely well. It's not even the faux green factor so much as the startling performance and cheap 'fuel'. Shame about the purchase price, really.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes but

Offered him a test in a few months when the temperatures are higher as well?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes but

That's not really true - if your range is predictable you can live with a longer charge time - but that is why it is better suited to perhaps buses, delivery vehicles for whose range may only vary by +/- 20% a day. For personal vehicles where you need a range of 0 one day and 400 miles another it is impossible (commercially non-viable) to do unless you can recharge very quickly or have a system to swap out a standard battery pack.

I am not a massive fan of hybrid vehicles but at least if they can run on electric 100% for most days and use fossil fuels when you need a much longer range it's a solution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes but - @Corinne

Lights, heater / AC on max and everything else in the car are likely to use more than 10% ??

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Re: Yes but - @Thorn

The point to the average punter is, I have a car that does both my commute and a cross country trip quite happily. Why would I replace that with something that only does one of those things, and be expected to shell out extra cash if I want to go visit Grandma at Christmas?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes but

Ford and its ilk are a novelty item, a fashion accessory. It is not a viable horse and cart for the masses. The muppets behind it need to get a grip on real life.

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Re: unless I keep my garage heated

And that's assuming you have a garage. I mean, where I live, we're glad when we can find a curb we can park our car next to.

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Re: stuck in jams on the M25

Never been to Old Blighty so I've never been on the M25, but you could substitute just about any road that intersects one of the big city beltways in the northeast US and your description would still be apt. Except I think you mostly get rain in London and not much snow. We get a lot of snow for several months of the year.

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Re: big enough battery you'd never need to stop en-route.

You need to lay of the pharmaceuticals. The car in the article couldn't manage 200 miles let alone 500. As it notes, not so much of a problem in more temperate areas, but in cold regions (more than half the day below the freezing point for water) batteries are crap for holding charge. It's a well established known scientific fact. Sort of like gravity. And trying to ignore it is sort of like trying to ignore gravity when you jump of the top of Big Ben: it will mess you up something fierce.

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Re: Yes but

@Psyx et al: Certainly you can hire a car when you need to make a long trip. Two problems with that:

1. For most people the constant availability of their car is a valuable attribute. Consider the truism that inner-city dwellers can save a lot of money if they don't own a car, but use taxis for all short journeys and hire cars for long ones. If you try this, you'll find that you don't do many things that you would do if you had a car, because the cost is direct.

2. Unless you live next door to the car hire office, hiring and returning a car will probably add at least two hours to your journey time. You will also have the annoyance of having to load and unload your luggage and find somewhere to park your electric car.

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Re: Yes but

or have one car for day-to-day stuff and rent one for longhaul stuff.

That's a more practical option in a lot of cases anyway, given you can't pack a car into aircraft carry-on luggage.

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Re: Yes but

@ Psyx, yes, but if the traffic jam is that bad you're not moving and even if it's cold I'd like to have the ability to switch the vehicle off knowing that whatever reserve I had in the tank would still be there when I switch it back on rather than the charge evaporate in the cold night air as these reports suggest

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Pint

Re: Yes but

"1. For most people the constant availability of their car is a valuable attribute."

I hear you, but I think that at most it's a terribly minor inconvenience. Sure, some people will absolutely refuse to make any convenience compromise to save some money, but many will. And it's not like long road trips are usually impulse affairs. All in all, getting a hire car is probably less of a chore than catching a train, and quite a few people don't consider that so much of an inconvenience as to render them useless.

"Consider the truism that inner-city dwellers can save a lot of money if they don't own a car, but use taxis for all short journeys and hire cars for long ones. If you try this, you'll find that you don't do many things that you would do if you had a car, because the cost is direct."

That's a problem with people being economical when it comes to getting out actual pound notes, rather than paying hidden charges, though. It's not a problem with the technology, but a perception bias. And not necessarily a bad one: Surely making people think about expense rather than just spending money without thought is a *positive* thing?

"2. Unless you live next door to the car hire office, hiring and returning a car will probably add at least two hours to your journey time. You will also have the annoyance of having to load and unload your luggage and find somewhere to park your electric car."

Car hire places are usually happy to have a car parked outside in my experience. Or catch a cab there. Many even deliver the car to your door. And remember that we are talking about urban drivers here. I don't know anyone who lives in an urban area who doesn't have a car hire place within an hour's drive. All-told, it's hardly a major hurdle. Frankly, it's already what I do on long trips, because my motor isn't practical for them either. It's simply a change of habit, and one that saves money.

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Re: Yes but

When batteries get cold their chemical reactions slow down - which means that voltage droops. The number of joules stored doesn't change though, so they provide reduced current for a longer period. (or as they warm up the "lost" power returns.)

This is why it's best to put your phone in an inner pocket if it's extremely cold outside.

In the case of electric cars it's more a case of trying to get rid of waste heat. Thse discharge/charge currents can make things toasty and smoky if not carefully managed (which also means a cold battery pack will wake up pretty quickly)

This effect is well known even in lead-acid batteries. At minus 40C you won't get enough current out to crank the motor(*) unless you switch on the headlights for a few minutes first - that discharge current is enough to warm the battery up to do its job.

(*) Or if you do, there's a high risk of cracking the battery plates.

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Re: Yes but - @Corinne

In an EV it makes sense for the "heater" to be a full-blown heat pump rather than a piece of resistive wire.

The extra weight over standard cooling kit is minimal.

If someone's having to run an EV in cold weather and the heating off they're already operating at the ragged edge of oblivion or there are serious design flaws, given battery heat needs to be vented somewhere and the cabin is as good a place to direct it as anywhere in such conditions. It's more like those 1000mpg economy runs than any real-world operating conditions.

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Re: Yes but

Several EV enthusiats have "solved" the issue of long trips by prducing a "power trailer" - essentially a generator on wheels. This works pretty well by all accounts.

Several other crazies have extended the concept into "pusher trailers" - usually the front end of a FWD car under remote control. Surpisingly these are also reported to work pretty well.

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Re: Yes but

2a: car clubs exist in london and a lot of other places - the rental car is at most only a block or 2 away and parking is reserved for the things. This does require forward planning but that's not an issue if it's a regular thing.

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Re: Yes but

Moving the goal posts. It's wonderful to watch them move!

Superchargers are at 90kW, planning on 120kW for the $30k BlueStar. I don't think anyone should execute an EV road trip without proper planning. And as it stands right now, anything other than a Tesla and superchargers are going to slow you down to almost twice the time of an ICE car for the same journey.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/1122181-has-tesla-solved-the-road-trip-problem

All non-Tesla EVs (short range, slow charging like the Leaf, iMiEV, et al) will eventually have to undercut the price of ICE vehicles to be successful. When that happens, watch out. In the meantime the volume production and sales of the Tesla have already proven the high quality of that car and the infrastructure.

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Facepalm

Re: Yes but

You RENT a car that one time a year you need the additional range. There are plenty of places to rent a car cheaply.

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FAIL

Re: Yes but

"You RENT a car that one time a year you need the additional range. "

That's a great option now. Unless there's a serious improvement in EV range, what happens if EVs do become popular with city dwellers/local commuters? I'm thinking weekends and especially holidays when many those EV owners are more likely to want a long range hire car.

I had a hire car last year while mine was in for some work to be carried out. I had a problem with it while en route to York. They tried to fix it there because they had no more cars available (all pre-booked/fleet hire). Another fault developed heading back to Newcastle. Same problem at the original hire station. They had *ONE* car they could swap me with.

They REALLY don't like having unused cars sitting around stationary nstead of earning money.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes but

Problem with car clubs, is you pay whilst you have the car away from its parking place, so if you want to go to town, or on holiday, you have to return the car, so you cant even use it to collect a hire car.

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Stop

While we're on the Tesla topic,...

...who was the mental giant who came up with the idea of needing battery power to release the handbrake? I realise that it's probably not in the spirit of high tech, but it's worked just fine for the last hundred years or so, and in a vehicle the weight of the Tesla/Lotus why is it needed?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/automobiles/stalled-on-the-ev-highway.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&

Icon 'cos that's what happens with no ergs.

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Re: While we're on the Tesla topic,...

Electric handbrake seems pretty common over there.

My last US hire car had it, and that was a big-standard petrol.

I'm guessing its due to the prevalence of automatics, and idiots forgetting to put the brake on when parked.

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Don't get me started on electronic handbrakes

Coming to a saloon near you. I tested a BMW 530 manual with this 'feature'. Having spent 40 years perfecting my skill at releasing the handbrake while simultaneously raising the clutch and depressing the accelerator, I asked the salesman how the hell you were supposed to do hill starts without either stalling it or rolling back. He mumbled something about it being fine with the automatic version, which I expect it is.

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Unhappy

Re: Don't get me started on electronic handbrakes

"He mumbled something about it being fine with the automatic version, which I expect it is."

So developed for the Merkin market.

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Re: Don't get me started on electronic handbrakes

That and it's probably got that "electronic hill hold" thingy as well.

So they introduced 2 bits of (expensive) technology to replace *one* simple one that was working perfectly well and didn't need replacing.

<slow clap>

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Vic
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Re: Don't get me started on electronic handbrakes

> I asked the salesman how the hell you were supposed to do hill starts

I drove a car with an auto handbrake once - an Audi, IIRC. It was perfect - worked just like a real hillstart, but I didn't need to do anything with my left hand.

I suspect moving back to a conventional handbrake might have been fun if I'd got used to it, though...

Vic.

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Re: Don't get me started on electronic handbrakes

"how the hell you were supposed to do hill starts without either stalling it or rolling back"

You slowly release the clutch until you notice that traction is about to kick in, then you move your foot from the brake to the accelerator and press it.

I have always thought that using the handbrake is kind of cheating.

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Happy

Re: While we're on the Tesla topic,...

Or idiots forgetting to release the parking brake when they can't find it in the "usual" place - "this bloke I know" once hired a car in Australia, picked it up and couldnt find the parking brake so drove it one block to the hotel where upon relating this tale to his Aussie mate about no parking brake and performing like a dog was then introduced to the concept of the parking brake as a pedal on the very left hand side of the drivers footwell.............

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Re: While we're on the Tesla topic,...

It's a "parking brake", not a "hand brake" and it's only to be used while "parked".

The lever thingie is called an "emergency brake" Stateside - used for parking and for emergencies.

Putting the parking brake on at traffic lights, etc (as is common in the uk) is an instant license test FAIL in many jurisdictions. (I suspect it's because there's a fairly high risk that the brake shoes will freeze solid in subzero conditions)

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