back to article Tesla vs Media AGAIN as Model S craps out on journo - on the highway

Californian electric car maker Tesla Motors - well known for tangling repeatedly with the BBC (and the Register) over coverage of battery vehicles which it did not deem positive enough - is now in a row with the New York Times after one of the paper's journalists wrote a stinging review of its new Model S. Tesla Model S sports …

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Happy

Re: in much of the world, electric cars would be powered by fossil fuels

Psyx,

That xkcd cartoon gives me an idea. Couldn't we have a car with a built in liposuction rig. Then the driver (and passengers) could lose weight as they drive, and the car could burn nice, renewable body fat.

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Re: in much of the world, electric cars would be powered by fossil fuels

How about we cut out the time-consuming syphoning process and just burn fat people?

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Re: Fossil fuel costs us more than we think.

Fossil fuels burned wholesale at a power plant can be captured and sequestered.

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Re: in much of the world, electric cars would be powered by fossil fuels

Feed me beer, beans and pickled eggs and I can provide enough methane for some very fast driving :)

On a more intelligent note weren't London taxis at one time looking to use the methane off the sewers. There is a lot of it, its 'free' and if the global warming brigade are to be believed (which I doubt) then methane is more dangerous than co2, so getting rid of it in such a useful way is a very good idea.

Indeed, why aren't more power stations methane fired? Is it we don't fart reliably enough?

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Re: Estimates of how much oil, coal and gas is left vary wildly

Only if you're still wet behind the ears.

I'm pushing half a decade now and those projections have been steady at '50-70 years left' since I was old enough to read books without pictures. And my parents always told me I was a precocious young thing.

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Holmes

Re: Estimates of how much oil, coal and gas is left vary wildly

"I'm pushing half a decade now and those projections have been steady at '50-70 years left' since I was old enough to read books without pictures. And my parents always told me I was a precocious young thing."

It's a complex question, because not only has the whole planet not been surveyed, but also extraction technologies develop, and rising prices make previously non-economic extractions viable.

Currently a lot of old wells are being re-drilled using new technology in order to get out the tricky stuff at the proverbial bottom.

It is finite and irreplaceable, though.

I used to work for an oil company, and exploration was a major part of what they did. They know where oil is *likely* to be found and prioritise looking there, but it can turn up elsewhere, and they don't tend to bother surveying areas where the tech isn't there to get the oil out.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Psyx

No, as the OP said, no energy source is truly renewable.

Conservation of energy is basic physics.

The Uranium stored in the Earth may provide a lot of energy, but it would eventually run out.

The Sun might provide a lot of energy, for a long* time, but it will eventually burn out.

*For some values of long depending upon your reference frame

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Coat

Vaguely reminds me

of the time in the 80s, when anyone in the US who owned a Jag was teased about needing a second car for the days the Jag was off the road ....

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Re: Vaguely reminds me

What do you mean 'in the 80s'?

My understanding is if you own a Jag, you still need a second car for the days when the Jag is in the shop. And if you were planning for the second car to be your other Jag, you'll need at least 2 more.

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Pint

insufficiently positive coverage

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Coat

But you need an equal amount of negative if want a working circuit!!

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Maybe...

Electric vehicles are all well and good, but they are far from perfect. As mentioned in the article, cold weather murders them. Not only do the lights and heating suck valuable power from the batteries, but the batteries themselves lose a lot of capacity just from being chilly. This is nothing new. Anyone who's used a digital camera in snowy weather will be familiar with this, and often carry two of three batteries which can be kept in an almost constant camera, warm pocket, rotation.

So whilst I'm sure the car is perfect in California, it's in trouble when it meets the far more real world environment of the North East Coast.

Just a thought...

Maybe if they spent a little more on R&D, and a little less on lawyers...???

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Re: Maybe...

"So whilst I'm sure the car is perfect in California"

You'd be wrong. A friend of mine, total green-a-holic, bought an ElectricLotusTesla. He was completely disappointed in it, says he could only get about 85 miles of "spirited" street driving out of it before recharging. In his own words "What good's a sports car that can't drive Hwy 1 from Bodega Bay to Mendocino without a stop for a recharge?"

That's just under 100 miles ... He made the trip once, just out of curiosity, with an over-night recharge at a friend's house in Manchester both ways. That's four days/three nights on the road (including an overnight in Mendocino) for a 200 mile round-trip.

After ~4,500 miles of swearing about the range, he sold the Tesla for more than he paid for it, and bought a proper Lotus Elise with similar miles on the clock, and enough loot left in his pocket for fuel for several years ;-)

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Unhappy

Re: Maybe...

I could handle having to recharge after 100 miles of spirited driving in what is basically a track car.

What I couldn't take is the long recharge times before I can drive again. I can't wait for when I can swap my petrol engine for an electric one. Unfortunately I can't see that happening any time soon :(

Or even better - converting my old Spitfire to use an electric motor rather than the 1950s designed lump it uses! But I can't see that any time soon either...

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Re: Maybe...

I take it, you've never driven in California. IF you only drive in Los Angeles San Diego or San Francisco, and have a short commute you MIGHT be fine but if you want to take your new shiny electric car anywhere outside of the city your screwed since California is 798 miles (1284 km) from the southern border to the northern border. It's can also get incredibly hot in areas. I've seen 131 degrees (55 degrees C) in Death Valley, and while your battery might like the heat, you definitely won't and will have the air conditioning on full blast trying to keep your body cool.

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WTF?

Re: Maybe...

Eh? California has both very hot and very cold places (and even some places that are alternately very hot and very cold, depending on the time of year). Cooling is also an energy-intensive process. And I have no idea why you think the environment of the North East is more "real world" than that of California - unless you're suggesting California isn't a real place...

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bep

Re: Maybe...

What is 'far more real world' about the North East Coast of the US compared to California? Don't far more people live in California? It would seem Tesla's electric cars aren't too good in areas where it snows and where you need to do lots of long-distance driving. If you live in such an area, perhaps you should just buy something else?

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Re: Maybe...

I didn't intend to start a "west-side "east-side" conflict here (so put the gold chains away and stop holding those 9mm sideways). I was just commenting that CA has a climate which generally further removed from the cold which is known to really bugger up rechargeable batteries.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe...

Depends on when and where you are in California. Right now it's 57F with an overnight low expected to be 46F in San Diego. Whereas in Big Bear Lake (outside of Los Angeles where they're torching a cabin to chase out a suspected murderer) it's 30F and expected to be 9F tonight. It's probably colder up north.

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@Stacy (was: Re: Maybe...)

"Or even better - converting my old Spitfire to use an electric motor"

I put in a rebuilt Mazda RX4 13B Wankel engine & 5 speed transmission when I rebuilt my 1968 Spitfire MK III. Slightly better fuel economy, but much better performance than stock, thanks to a little help from Racing Beat. Was an easy retrofit. My daughter still uses her as a daily driver, 28-ish years later (one engine rebuild). Recommended.

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@Steve Evans (was: Re: Maybe...)

"I didn't intend to start a "west-side "east-side" conflict here (so put the gold chains away and stop holding those 9mm sideways)."

Ignorant prat. This isn't the movies.

"I was just commenting that CA has a climate which generally further removed from the cold which is known to really bugger up rechargeable batteries."

Never spent much time in the wilds of CA, have you? And as a side-note, we have real hills, flatlander. Regenerative braking is all very well & good, but it's hardly 100% effective ...

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Happy

Re:@ Jake @Stacy (was: Maybe...)

Thanks for the info! The car is currently at the stage of the body restoration is finished - bonnet and chassis are still to come before it gets its nice new paint.

The engine was the last item on my list - depending on finances the slightly modified lump will remain with bearings and shells replaced or a new engine will go in. If the RX engine is an easy switch then it is really worth considering... I was considering a stage 2.5 engine - harsh, but still drivable on the road); but it's always nice to have other options to look into.

I don't suppose you have any info do you?

To all: Sorry for the high jack :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe...

Actually its the other way around,

What will kill the car is overheated batteries, battery lifetime (years not single charge) goes way down if operating temp goes up and must be actively cooled in hot climates.

Id wager that in 10 years time a temperate climate car will have much better batteries than a warm climate car.

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Re: Maybe...

Given the amount of effort I hear is spent keeping batteries and the electronics from melting down I don't see why there should be a real problem with using that heat to keep the passenger warm (its a bit like using the waste heat from combustion to keep us warm as we do now).

However I don't believe electric cars are or ever will be useful. I don't have the time or patience to wait an hour or more every 100 miles or so. Its stupid. Means the average speed is less than I can achieve on my pushbike. Certainly less than a horse achieved.

Steam is my friends the way to go. Easy and quick to fill, no need to have a fire or smoke (use a fireless design with a steam container rather than a boiler - we did it with locomotives years ago), you can even have them plug in at home to keep the steam lovely and ready.

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Re: Don't far more people live in California?

Lay out a contiguous area the size of Cali in the NE US and count the people.

Let's just say there's good reason the NE US supports about 8 yearly SF cons and the whole west coast supports 3.

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Pint

@Stacy (was: Re: Jake @Stacy (was: Maybe...)

My personal Mk IIIx13B hack was a "what if" exercise, kinda like the Buick 215ci ("Rover 3500") motor I put into a 1971 Datsun 510 ... but that's another story ;-)

Contact Racing Beat directly. They'll be happy to talk you through it ... Good people, good engineering, and not likely to rip you off ... They will actually tell you how to save money by sourcing/building your own parts (including wiring harnesses) instead of paying for them.

www.racingbeat.com

Suggested approach: "Hi! Not sure if you can help, but this anonymous idiot on TehIntraWebTubes suggested asking you guys & gals for ideas on stuffing a Mazda 13B+5-speed into a Triumph Spitfire Mk(??) ... is he completely loony, or is this actually fairly easy?"

Not affiliated, not a stock holder, etc. etc., just a happy customer for thirty years or so.

Beer. Because making old cars run again is always worth a "cheers" :-)

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Re: Don't far more people live in California?

"Let's just say there's good reason the NE US supports about 8 yearly SF cons and the whole west coast supports 3."

Tom's right. On the West Coast, we're actually getting stuff done, not playing.

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Unhappy

Re: Maybe...

You might like to look at the logs Elon Musk has put up - looks pretty damning to me.

http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/most-peculiar-test-drive

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@Will Godfrey (was: Re: Maybe...)

Speaking as an engineer ... Are you seriously expecting me to choose between a marketard & a journalist, without being allowed to pull the untouched, virgin logs from the hardware in question, immediately after the test run, & evaluate them for myself ... you actually want me believe the marketard's so-called "logs" without a believable audit trail?

Will, Will, Will. I used to think more highly of you.

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Boffin

Writer was intent on high risk of failure

I don't know of anyone (with reasoning skills) who totally relays on a cars "Mile to Empty" gauge in any car. Everyone knows the cold can/will affect your cars battery, so this twit should have AT LEAST considered the fact that a car that relies only on battery power, could also be affected by the cold weather.

I guess the moral of this story..is not all "writers" meet the minimum required level of reasoning skills needed for use of new technology. I guess Tesla needs to place a warning sticker on the dash....."This car is not for Stupid People".

Tip to anyone considering buying a Tesla or any other battery powered car......Don't gamble on expecting the car to tell you EXACTLY how many miles you can travel, till the battery is depleted. Just as you shouldn't do the same in your gas powered car. You should always factor in a safety buffer, to counter any unforeseen issues or conditions.

The "writer" has shown his lack of reasoning or ability to foresee possible situations based on current circumstances/conditions.

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Boffin

Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

Apologies for my spelling.

No edit option.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

Don't gamble on expecting the car to tell you EXACTLY how many miles you can travel, till the battery is depleted. Just as you shouldn't do the same in your gas powered car

There is a massive issue here, though. With a "normal" fuel driven vehicle, the distance from "low fuel" warning to "coasting to a stop" is pretty much constant - environmental conditions don't create that much of a variation as they seem to do with electrical vehicles.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

It's a fair point, but he states that TWO THIRDS of the charge disappeared overnight. Effectively meaning that the Tesla S needs to be plugged in while not in use, which somewhat diminishes its use for overnight runs away from home.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

"This car is not for Stupid People".

Roads will be empty, man.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

"This car is not for Stupid People"

In my experience, quite the contrary. A guy here in Sonoma has a Tesla. He drives it about town on weekends, and goes on and on about how "green" he is. He commutes to Cupertino five days per week. His commuter? A Lincoln Navigator. I think I can fly my Cessna A152 to Palo Alto from here on less fuel than driving the Navagator the same distance during commute hours ...

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

"I don't know of anyone (with reasoning skills) who totally relays on a cars "Mile to Empty" gauge in any car. Everyone knows the cold can/will affect your cars battery, so this twit should have AT LEAST considered the fact that a car that relies only on battery power, could also be affected by the cold weather."

I do, when I fill the tank in my car the gauge says 439 miles, it's never done less than that. If the gauge says 100 miles left I'd quite happily set off on an 80 mile journey with no petrol stations along the way. If the car says you have 180 miles of range and you want to go 120 then I would expect that to be OK. If it's not OK what's the point in the gauge? Nobody is expecting it to be accurate to the mile but I reckon most people expect to get within 20%.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

While external environment - wet roads and headwind aside - don't affect a petrol car as much as they seem to have done for the Tesla, the With a "the distance from "low fuel" warning to "coasting to a stop" is pretty much constant " is not true.

If you floor the accelerator, it you will get from A to B much faster but you won't reach C. Cruise at a slower speed and - though it might take an hour more to get to B, reaching C is still viable.

Likewise with the energy in a battery powered car, it may be more efficient in turning those precious amp-hours into forward motion and get back some of what it lost in regeneration when slowing or going downhill but it can't defeat wind resistance - the faster you go the more effort (squared) is required.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

I see two possibilities for 2/3 of the charge vanishing overnight. Either there was a short or faulty batteries or some other problem of a mechanical nature or he left something on. I find both unlikely, but I find it far more unlikely that a brand new electrical device of any kind without manufacturing defects would lose that much charge just sitting there. I also find it unlikely that they would have let a reporter get his hands on a vehicle with a defect that glaring, so, although it's still unlikely, I believe it to be most likely that he left a dome light on or something.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

The overnight disappearance of charge seems to have been something to do with the batteries getting cold, since he says that a bot of charge "reappeared" when he followed Tesla advice and left the heater on for a bit. Not that I am terribly impressed with a car which needs to warm up for half an hour on a cold morning, mind you. My Golf's good to go in 30 seconds, or 10 minutes if I want the heater to work.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

I would not be impressed with an electric car that didn't warn if the dome light was set to always on or the headlights were on when the driver's door was open. And I'd expect an automatic shut off after 30 minutes or so.

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He did use an ample safety margin, he charged it up to 185 miles for a 125 mile journey.

You state the hack lacks the minimum required reasoning skills to use new technology.

He charged it up to 185 miles for a 125 mile journey. In your considered engineering judgement what would be an adequate safety margin?

You say, "You should always factor in a safety buffer" and in fact the journalist left an ample safety margin.

Incidentally, living in one of the colder parts of Canada, I can tell you that the decline in battery storage with temperature is predictable and can be calculated. For a given model of battery there will be a curve.

The vehicle's distance calculator should include ambient temperature in calculating the range.

Therefore *I wonder* if that 1/3 drop in charge was actually a 1/3 drop in computed range.

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From the physics, it seems range calculations with electric cars should more accurate

Looking at the physics, a battery powered car should not be affected by wind or rain any more than any other kind of car -- wind and rain reduce milege through their effect on wind drag and rolling resistance, which does not vary with the engine.

An electric car should be less affected by stop-and-go traffic than a combustion engine car which needs to keep running while stopped. Mind you, in adverse weather any kind of car still needs to expend energy heating or cooling the interior when stopped.

The joules consumed to heat the interior will not vary according to engine type, but in a combustion engine waste heat can be used. When waste heat is put to a useful purpose, overall efficiency goes up.

And electric motors very efficient and the types you would use in a car are very efficient over a wide range of rotational speeds.

Electric motors are often over 90% efficient. The inefficiency comes in generating, transmitting and storing the electricity.

Electric cars will have their range vary with *temperature* a lot more than cars with fossil fuel or fuel cell engines. That is the only respect in which their range should be less predictable than other cars.

But then it ought to be possible to obtain a temperature forecast for the next 8 hours and accurately predict range from that. (I imagine that if the US's National Weather Service does not broadcast a machine decodable temperature forecast it will in the foreseeable future. Until then manual entry would be required, as is done in aircraft.)

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

Fuzz, it sounds like you drive in a sedate and consistent way. I'm sure if you were on a trip that was uphill against a head wind, your miles-to-go readout would start changing rapidly.

I would love to see the readout on how the reporter was driving. Electric cars have massive acceleration from the microsecond you put your foot down. No waiting for that little hesitation you get from even the most radical super car. If you haven't driven one, go to any dealer selling an electric car and get a test drive. I don't doubt that the reporter couldn't keep his foot out of it and killing the charge remaining. That coupled with the cold weather limitations led to trouble. Tesla were total prats to lend out a car to the media knowing that the cold weather was going to be a problem. If Tesla didn't know about the cold weather problem, they deserve to find out in this way.

It looks as if Tesla needs to do some more engineering before they market cars in cold climates and would be better served by concentrating in areas that are much more temperate. NIMH batteries may have lower power density, but there have been some nice advances by university researchers to increase charging cycles and temperature tolerance. If the US Patent Office could spank Chevron for sitting on the patents to protect their petroleum business, we could overcome some of the biggest limitations for E-Cars (Price, temp, fire).

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

You have to understand what the meaning of the "Miles to Empty" reading. It is based on an assumption that you will be driving non-stop at a designated speed. If you go some other speed (like getting caught in a rush hour backup where you are going 15MPH) the initial estimate will over state how far you actually can go. The estimate gets recomputed in real time based on the distance you have traveled as well as your average speed.

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Re: He did use an ample safety margin, he charged it up to 185 miles for a 125 mile journey.

"The vehicle's distance calculator should include ambient temperature in calculating the range. Therefore *I wonder* if that 1/3 drop in charge was actually a 1/3 drop in computed range.

When he charged the battery, the ambient temperature was much higher than overnight. Thus any recomputation would yield lower distance estimates. In addition, as the temperature drops, all batteries lose some of their charge. On cold days (after a cold night) it is harder to start your car. If you look at your charging meter you would notice that after starting the car while the baattery is recharged.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

"This car is not for Stupid People"

Sales must be bad then - I wouldn't call people intelligent for paying thousands of $$$ more for a car that has less range, less practicality and a heck of a lot more weight than the petrol car its based on (Lotus). Not to mention it reportedly drops 2/3rds of its charge sitting in the driveway!

Fuel gauges aren't 100% accurate, I accept that, but he had 50% more charge than he needed - it's perfectly reasonable for him to think a modern car would make it.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

"I find it far more unlikely that a brand new electrical device of any kind without manufacturing defects would lose that much charge just sitting there."

You've never used a rechargeable battery in below freezing conditions then I gather? My SLR gets about 1500 shots in normal conditions, can be as low as 500 below freezing, you have to carry spares if you want to get a day's shooting done.

Tesla batteries use a similar tech (although obviously on a far larger scale) and it seems are affected the same way.

But Tesla spare batteries are obviously a lot harder to carry :-)

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

It's the battery technology, as usual. Lithioum cells (especially high-power types) are known to be affected by temperature and any vehicle that uses them is going to suffer in the manner described in the article. In my view EV's are simply not up to the type of mixed driving that most people are accustomed to.

If ever we adopt EV's on a mass scale, I can see our city streets and motorways littered with dead cars and despairing drivers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

"My Golf's good to go in 30 seconds, or 10 minutes if I want the heater to work." - On VAG diesels you get an automatic aux heater which gives you warm air in about a minute if the temp is below 4c. Why they haven't stuck these on the petrol engines is beyond me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

Ditto. Every car I've had in the last 10 years or so has cut the interior light after a certain amount of time after the key has been taken out. So the worst that can happen is that you will have left the light on for half hour or so.

Likewise headlights. I can't open the door with the headlights on and the ignition off without the car screaming blue murder.

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