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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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Re: Don't get me started on electronic handbrakes

I asked the salesman how the hell you were supposed to do hill starts without either stalling it or rolling back.

The answer's simple. You just set off and it disengages automagically. The reason you can spot 'leccy handbraked cars by the dent in the back is that not enough people RTFM before driving off in their new toy.

Including it would seem your BMW salesman, who should be sacked.

BTW, they all have a manual override somewhere, usually in the boot, to permit recovery when the electrics have failed.

What I did see the other day though is that now these things are available, the safety nazis have got in on the act. I saw a complaint from a larger gentleman who had bought an Audi. He was in the habit of taking off his seatbelt so that he could turn around when reversing and was highly pissed off to find that a) it automagically engaged the handbrake when the seatbelt was disengaged and b) it wasn't possible to override this behaviour.

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Facepalm

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

At least you can release a 'leccy brake with the manual override, if you bother to RTFM.

For real fun, look at the Toyota / Lexus Hybrid range. Parking is engaged with a button and happens automatically when you switch the things off. This immobilises the transmission with a parking pawl in the conventional manner. The only way to move one, if the electrics crap themselves completely and jumping to the emergency power terminal does no good, is to jack it up and remove the parking pawl and its actuator from the transmission assembly.

Oops.

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Stop

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

Most automatic gear boxes don't like being towed. You need a flatbed recovery wagon, or one with wheel lifts. Citroens with hydraulic suspension are even more fun.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't get me started on electronic handbrakes

"He was in the habit of taking off his seatbelt so that he could turn around when reversing "

This was perfectly legal when I learnt to drive. Only whilst reversing/manoeuvring though

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Mushroom

Basically still not "Fit For Purpose" as a replacement for Petrol/Deisel

All the whinging from Elon Musk just advertises this fact even more... Streisand Effect in action...

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Re: Basically still not "Fit For Purpose" as a replacement for Petrol/Deisel

Agreed. As pointed out earlier, until batteries are capable of reliably holding sufficient power (regardless of weather) to cover 400+ miles (and to really compete, you're looking more like 600+) and can top up in five minutes to at least 80% of that, then forget it.

There are many occupations that require such range on a car on a daily basis, ignoring daily commuters. Sales types, field engineers and taxi drivers spring to mind.

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Stop

Re: Basically still not "Fit For Purpose" as a replacement for Petrol/Deisel

What percentage of the driving population do these occupations represent (hint: since the average milage per year for a car in the UK is 12,000, which equates to 50 miles per working day, then the answer must be low). We're not talking about banning all petrol cars instantly, just replacing them for the vast majority of occasions that their range is more than sufficient.

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Vic
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Re: Basically still not "Fit For Purpose" as a replacement for Petrol/Deisel

> 12,000, which equates to 50 miles per working day

...Except that it doesn't. It equates to 20 per working day, plus lots more on the weekend.

Getting the mean distance covered isn't the problem. Covering substantially all of the use cases for a sufficiently large number of vehicles is decidedly more difficult.

Vic.

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Pint

Re: Basically still not "Fit For Purpose" as a replacement for Petrol/Deisel

Apparently Steve, as long as electric cars aren't a solution for everyone whining about the idea, they are a shit idea and shouldn't be developed or bothered with.

And there was me thinking this was a tech website...

*goes to find something to throw a clog into*

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An idea springs to mind

To get around the whole charging point thing, why not just have wireless charging built in to the parking spot? No need for adapters or power cables that way. =)

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Re: An idea springs to mind

Ninja'd by an entire goddamn Reg article. Wow.

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Re: An idea springs to mind

charging via a wire takes forever, via wireless, that will be forever^2

add 20% to the ammount of juice requred for a charge (that goes out as heat)stick a bit more weight and complexity into the car, to make it even crapper.

both test drives of muskmobiles that come to mind, hilight the fact that the claims made by the manufacturer are total and utter bollocks, it wont go that fast, for that long on that charge, or charge that quickly.

could be a coincidence, but it does strike me that the car is not fit for purpose, and the company is full of shit.

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Facepalm

Re: An idea springs to mind

And this addresses the poor range and slow recharge how? Lets not get into the question of who would fund this, and where all this electricity is going to come from - especially on a nice still summers day...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: An idea springs to mind

Or inductive charging from the road?? Wonder how the GPS/Radio/mobile would react to that?

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Facepalm

6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

So.

Journo is advised to plug in over night in cold areas.

Journo ignores advice and capacity disappears.

OTOH

IRL everywhere is not Southern California. IE It gets cold at night and not every place you stop at night will have a charge plug. IOW depending solely on active cooling/heating to maintain charge is not a good idea.

I'm not sure either Tesla or jouno come out of this looking good.

I really hope there is a re-match and both will apply what they have learnt about each other.

A case of "D'oh" s all round?

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Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

The whole problem with *current* electrics (cars and infastructure) is that it's a degredation of the lifestyle a petrol car gives you. It's a step backwards.

Petrol gives you range, reliability, global reach, convenience and performance. Electrics...don't. So what he left it outside in the cold without a charger plugged in? That's a step *backwards*. Stopping every 200 miles, instead of every 400-600? Backwards. Fluctuations in range/performance due to temperature? Backwards. Hours to fill up, instead of 5 minutes? Backwards.

Electrics need to *advance* the concept of "the car" - on all fronts - if they are to be accepted. They need to be BETTER - the next generation, if you will. They need to be faster (ok, they can be already), have better range, have better reliability and have more convenience. We are a long, long way from that, and that's *exactly* what these types of articles prove. Being "green" (and that's questionable) is not enough.

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Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

RTFA

the test was for the charging stations _not_ the car.

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Stop

Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

"Petrol gives you range, reliability, global reach, convenience and performance. Electrics...don't."

Think about that carefully again.

Petrol has the range still, hands down.

Reliability? Electric has *far* fewer moving and component parts and is potentially a lot more reliable.

Global reach? In what way? You mean you can drive a car over the sea, or do you mean that you can buy petrol where you can't get electricity? I'd dispute that, as there are a lot more electrical outlets in the world than petrol pumps.

Convenience? In refuelling, petrol has that... maybe. Though not for me, because I consider it more convenient to get in and plug a car in that I do going to a petrol station. I don't know in what other way petrol is more convenient. What say you?

Performance? 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, and a 12 second 1/4 mile. 125mph top speed is generally enough for most occasions, too. What does your car do it in? That 0-60 time is a genuinely staggering number. And that's not good enough?

By all means slate the car for it's genuine downsides (range and recharge time), but there's no need to just pluck some other stuff out of the air and state it as fact.

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Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

@Naughtyhorse

The article mentions that, yes, but it also talks about how the car performed. Such as it loosing charge due to the cold. So while the intent might have been to write about the charging stations, it moved on to problems with the car instead (in particular the issue of it losing charge in cold weather).

Tesla should accept the fact a problem has been identified and they should work to fix it while letting their customers know about it. It's important because running out of power unexpectedly in an electric car can't be solved by having a spare can of fuel in the car, or calling out a truck with some fuel. Rather, it requires the car be recovered to the recharging point. Possible opening for mobile charging vehicles, perhaps, but this illustrates potential risks that drivers of Tesla and other electric cars need to be aware of and watch out for, and could put lives at risk if the driver is any distance from help.

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Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

@Psyx

Petrol has an edge over electric in that it doesn't just lose fuel due to a cold spell. It's kind of an important issue that could probably be fixed with some insulation but hasn't been.

I would say an electric car is more hazardous in a crash than petrol due to the chemicals in the battery, and the fumes should the battery start leaking, but that depends on the battery technology and will change, no doubt.

But the biggest advantage of petrol over electric? You can hear the damn things! Electric cars are too quiet. I've a friend who is partially sighted and relies on sound to warn of approaching cars: They can hear petrol cars easily enough, but not electric. There's little to no hum, or whine, or road noise until they're almost on you. Easy to fix: Add a small speaker to cast an 'engine' sound ahead of the car. Just hasn't been done, yet.

Other than that: Am waiting for the tech to mature and the faults to be ironed out. Would help, myself, but I can't afford one, and as I tend to go out into the wilds, I really don't want to risk finding my battery's gone flat and I'm now stranded.

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Pint

Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

"Petrol has an edge over electric in that it doesn't just lose fuel due to a cold spell. It's kind of an important issue that could probably be fixed with some insulation but hasn't been."

But it will be. And for home charging the thing will be plugged in all night anyway. Hardly a deal-breaker, and solvable within a year. It's really a bit of a non-problem, especially for urban drivers who the product is ideal for, who probably aren't going to use more than 50 miles of range a day anyway.

"I would say an electric car is more hazardous in a crash than petrol due to the chemicals in the battery, and the fumes should the battery start leaking, but that depends on the battery technology and will change, no doubt."

I'd disagree, based on the factor that electric cars have to meet the same safety standards as petrol ones. And it's a lot harder to rupture a battery than a petrol tank. I've been in quite a few car crashes, and had several petrol tanks rupture, but never a battery. Remember: Safety testing isn't going to be wavered for electric vehicles in any way. We've all been driving around with a bunch of petrol fumes in a box for years, and it's never been a massive concern. I feel you are perhaps making a bit of an unfair knee-jerk judgement there.

"But the biggest advantage of petrol over electric? You can hear the damn things! ...Easy to fix: Add a small speaker to cast an 'engine' sound ahead of the car. Just hasn't been done, yet."

Yes, it has already been thought of and done.

However, I'm rather in disagreement with the idea. We have the chance here to quieten our loud streets and improve the living environment for people who live by busy roads, and it beggars belief to me that we're considering making them 'noisy'. So pedestrians will have to *look* before crossing the road... well, I don't have a problem with that. It's a problem for the sight impaired, but what's the best solution to that: Come up with an alternative solution of some kind (transponder in vehicle, keyed to 'beep' in the hearing aids of nearby people when approaching perhaps), or put a speaker in every car and keep our cities noisy? I consider the quietness to be a massive bonus and we have a real chance here to improve the quality of city life and sleep patterns of a lot of people.

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Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

"Petrol gives you range, reliability, global reach, convenience and performance. Electrics...don't."

Think about that carefully again.

Ok, I will.

Reliability? Electric has *far* fewer moving and component parts and is potentially a lot more reliable.

I agree...but potentially reliable != reliable today

...or do you mean that you can buy petrol where you can't get electricity?

Yes. Because you can.

I'd dispute that, as there are a lot more electrical outlets in the world than petrol pumps.

Maybe, but they're all different sockets, different voltages, and only located in towns. And for flat dwellers, charging from your home circuit is impossible.

Petrol is standardised worldwide (see RON), petrol doesn't suffer from performance issues in cold temps, the pump nozzles are all the same, and in the middle of a desert, you'll find a pump before you find a charging point *today*.

I consider it more convenient to get in and plug a car in that I do going to a petrol station. I don't know in what other way petrol is more convenient. What say you?

Plugging is the easy bit...if you can find one...and find one that fits your car...and the voltages are compatible...and if you don't mind the HOURS of waiting for a full charge, even on fast charge. Petrol filling wins massively.

Performance? 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, and a 12 second 1/4 mile. 125mph top speed is generally enough for most occasions, too. What does your car do it in? That 0-60 time is a genuinely staggering number. And that's not good enough?

If you read what I said, I acknowledge electric performance. circa 100% torque from 1-2rpm will never be matched by petrol.

By all means slate the car for it's genuine downsides (range and recharge time), but there's no need to just pluck some other stuff out of the air and state it as fact.

1. range and recharge time...low temps performance, convenience

2. It is fact. You're the one trying to pluck stuff out the air.

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Re: test was for the charging stations _not_ the car.

We're the consumers. When the alleged impartial tester rigs the test in a way we don't like he gave go screw himself. The car AND the chargers have to work in concert to deliver a reliable, reasonably fast means of transit from point A to point B.

If it ain't ready for Alpha testing, keep your pie hole shut and keep the car in the lab. Don't try to sell it and get consumers to do all your research for you. Granted I don't expect MS will ever learn this lesson, but I expect that people who don't work for them and read articles on this site will.

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Stop

Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

"I agree...but potentially reliable != reliable today"

I said potentially because I don't have any hard figures. And you don't have any MTF figures that says it's less reliable to petrol, so you kinda just grabbed the fact from nowhere. I *suspect* that it might already be more reliable, given the lack of moving parts and that electric motors are essentially nothing new. In any case it would certainly be poor form to cite reliability as an issue when it hasn't proved to be. I don't think your point is at all valid.

I don't think that the inability to charge a Tesla in a village without any electricity can seriously be cited as a major problem, either. The third world uses thirty year old vehicles at present, so it isn't likely to be getting *any* new technologies any time soon. That petrol is easier to obtain than electricity is still something I'd debate, though.

"If you read what I said, I acknowledge electric performance."

Only in a backhanded way, after already saying they aren't fast enough! See: "They need to be faster (ok, they can be already), have better range, have better reliability and have more convenience. We are a long, long way from that"

"and that's *exactly* what these types of articles prove."

Except they really don't. Only if you take them at face value. I'd really recommend reading this:

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

The problem appears to have been that the hack already decided that he wanted not to review the charging system, but that he wanted to slate the car.

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Megaphone

Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

"Add a small speaker to cast an 'engine' sound ahead of the car."

Downloadable "ringtones" for cars. First on I hear with Crazy Frog, I'll shoot the bugger. (Note to self. Buy gun)

"Just hasn't been done, yet."

Actually, it has. Heard something about it on the radio last year. Probably not in any production vehicles yet as the idea is far too sensible and probably needs some sort of Govt. testing and regulation :-(

Even then, they were talking about having a choice of sounds, eg Ferrari engine noises etc. tied into the vehicle speed/acceleration/braking systems for a proper effect.

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Re: Heard something about it on the radio last year

Lotus has been developing active noise control for something like 20 years. ISTR the technology was initially used to reduce cabin noise and improve music playback, but then they added realistic, adjustable engine noise to improve the driving experience. :-)

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Vic
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Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

> they were talking about having a choice of sounds, eg Ferrari engine noises etc

They did this on "Tomorrow's World", many years. ago. ISTR Ketih Chegwin in one of those skinny '80s ties[1].

They were demoing an anti-noise system with an engine noise synthesiser, so that you could make your dodgy old Fiesta sound like a sports car.

Such systems - without the engine synth, natch - are available in the "nice" end of jet aircraft catalogues...

Vic.

[1] Sorry for that. I have a special offer on Mind Bleach this week, if you're interested...

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Re: 6 of 1, 1/2 dozen of the other?

@Psyx

1) I've been in a car crash where my fuel tank was ruptured, and sure, the petrol all spilled out. The danger was that the vapors would ignite. However, batteries are considered hazardous waste where as petrol and petrol tanks are not. True, petrol is a fuel and would be siphoned off, hence it isn't a waste, but there will be residue in the tank. So what is it in the battery that is so hazardous? What about it is toxic? Well, the chemicals that are inside.

But the risk is related to the tech used in the battery. I'm not saying EV's will use fluid cell tech, just that in the event of a breach, the chemicals inside are more likely to be hazardous than petrol.

2) Car noise. At no point did I say that electric cars had to be as noisy as petrol, just that they should have an 'engine' noise so they can be distinguished from other background sounds. A quiet hum would suffice - nothing too intrusive, just audible enough for a person who is out walking can hear as the car approaches.

However, one thing you suggest has me puzzled: Why does a visually impaired person need a hearing aid?

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logs don't lie

The data on the Tesla blog clearly proves Broder is a lying scumbag.

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Re: logs don't lie

@Jonathan 29

'logs don't lie'

They can be edited so they do lie. Or simply fabricated. It's not hard. All you need is a text editor.

'The data on the Tesla blog *implies* Broder is a lying scumbag.'

That would be more accurate.

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Unhappy

Re: logs don't lie

"The data on the Tesla blog clearly proves Broder is a lying scumbag."

I'd qualify that and say they appear to show that.

But there is no independent chain of evidence one way or the other.

There might be an argument for an independent body to fit some kind of black box to all cars sent on road tests by companies. If anyone complains they take the test out of archive and publish it for everyone to see. All road tests are subjective after all and you're reading the reviewers impression of the vehicle as much as it's detailed handling and driving qualities.

Finding (or forming) a body everybody would trust is likely to be tricky.

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FAIL

electric handbrakes

Are easier to package and reduce build costs. I hate them, them and electric power steering, the Fiat 500 has no feel at all.

Musk makes himself look a fool taking on trusted journalists like the NY Times and Top Gear, he clearly lives in a world where people say "yes sir, Mr Musk" , and when someone points out that the cars are not very good , or will lunch $60,000 of batteries if it goes fully flat, he throws a hissy fit.

He should concentrate on rockets where he is almost as good as the SPB, and give up on cars that only rich Californians want.

The next Tesla, an MPV is called the Tesla X, no doubt to capitalise on the Dragon X.

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Happy

Re: electric handbrakes

The next Tesla, an MPV is called the Tesla X, no doubt to capitalise on the Dragon X.

If it can me and the kids into low earth orbit on the way to Tesco's and in a cost effective and reuseable way, I can't wait to preorder one.

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Holmes

Uhm, yeah

So the whole NYT article is faked but they're still going to provide new chargers to close the gap ?

When someone starts telling a completely bogus story about something I build and I know its bogus; heck I can even prove it with logs and such, then there's no way I'm going to invest hundreds if not thousands of dollars to change stuff. Why should I when if I know that it simply works as it should?

Doesn't quite add up.

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Pint

Re: Uhm, yeah

"Why should I when if I know that it simply works as it should?"

Umm... PR?

Even if it's total crap, the company needs to respond in some way. It happens all the time.

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Facepalm

Re: Uhm, yeah

>"So the whole NYT article is faked but they're still going to provide new chargers to close the gap ?"

So by that logic, if petrol cars can go 400 miles between filling up, why would anyone put filling stations closer together than 400 miles?

Tesla are not adding more Super Charger stations because of the NYC article, they were always planning to add more to allow for more flexibility for drivers.

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Tesla's offcial answer

If you are curious you can read a post-mortem analysis of the test drive by Tesla:

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

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Re: Tesla's offcial answer

I love the bit where they catch him out trying to do a Top Gear by spending ages driving around the car park near the Super Charger trying to run the battery flat. He then gets bored when this fails and goes to charge up.

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Thumb Up

Re: Tesla's offcial answer

Brilliant link. Ta.

Well worth a look for anyone who was interested enough to bother commenting.

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FAIL

Re: Tesla's offcial answer

Downvoted by some muppet who'd rather froth without having both sides of the story, one assumes. /rolleyes

Wilful ignorance is a sad trait.

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Anonymous Coward

Personally I dislike having to go to the petrol station and fill up - for my daily commute if I could just plug in at home and / or at work that would be a good thing. If it were a hybrid and could run on petrol for extended range that would be better but of course costs more / more complex to build.

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Coat

Just to gratuitously poke a stick at a sleeping fanboi

Is this in fact the iCar?

Mustn't use it in cold weather, mustn't take detours - in fact you can only use it in a way previously agreed with the manufacturer.

Does it also fail if you hold the steering wheel in the wrong place?

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Pint

Re: Just to gratuitously poke a stick at a sleeping fanboi

No, it fails when you deliberately do everything you can to fuck it up.

Kind of the 'phone equivalent of pouring water all over it and taking it to a 'Genius' and saying it stopped working.

And like the example, it seems that both Apple and Tesla have ways of finding out when customers are talking shit to them!

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Trollface

Re: Just to gratuitously poke a stick at a sleeping fanboi

Oh I love these comment forums

It's like you can prod the wasps nest to see the buzzy things without any of the danger of the stingy bit getting you.

Right - I'm off to see if I can enrage a tribe of penguins.

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Re: Just to gratuitously poke a stick at a sleeping fanboi

"I'm off to see if I can enrage a tribe of penguins."

Easily done. Wave a Samsung laptop at them.

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"..Musk offered Broder a second test drive of the Model S "in a few months," once the new East Coast Superchargers have come online."

Right.....and when we're into Spriing and not the middle of Winter. Right.

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Big Brother

LOL

so "normal use" is to sit on your @rse for hours to do what any normal car does in a few minutes?

And doesn't require the use of a monopolized charger whose very technology is controlled by a single entity?

Does anyone but me worry about the amount of telemetry Musk was able to get from both the car and charging stations?

Big Brother Musk is watching you. Correcting the "truthiness" of your narrative.

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Anonymous Coward

A Most Peculiar Test Drive ..

"You may have heard recently about an article written by John Broder from The New York Times that makes numerous claims about the performance of the Model S. We are upset by this article because it does not factually represent Tesla technology, which is designed and tested to operate well in both hot and cold climates" link

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Gold badge
Meh

There are really 2 issues in this story.

Is the journo on the level?

How viable is the Tesla S / supercharger network?

The link to tesla motors

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

paints a very different picture to the journo's story. His driving is pretty lead footed and he likes his aircon. And if (as the log seems to show) you don't fully charge the battery (IE a full hour) then you're asking for trouble. Surprise surprise, that's what you get. Journos can't be trusted might be a big shock for US readers, not so much for Europeans.

Which leaves wheather the Tesla S Supercharger network can deliver the range. The answer seems to be "Yes, if you allow a proper amount of time on your journey for top ups and (if it's a long journey) they've got charge stations on your route."

Interestingly Tesla claim they sell a lot of vehicles into Scandinavia without problems, which begs the question do the get a special "cold weather" pack? Are Scandinavian garages better insulated?

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Holmes

Broder responds to Tesla Data ..

'Mr. Straubel said Tesla did not store data on exact locations where their cars were driven because of privacy concerns, although Tesla seemed to know that I had driven six-tenths of a mile “in a tiny 100-space parking lot.”

While Mr. Musk has accused me of doing this to drain the battery, I was in fact driving around the Milford service plaza on Interstate 95, in the dark, trying to find the unlighted and poorly marked Tesla Supercharger`. link

With the help of Googlemaps, do you think the Tesla Supercharger was unlit, poorly marked and poorly visible from the parking lot?.

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