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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  1. Anomalous Cowshed

    Engineering judgement

    The boss of SpaceX is a billionnaire who founded Paypal or some oither similar, highly popular company. He does not design the rockets or the cars of Tesla. He backs these ventures using his cash. And he basks in the limelight and the glory. And he also can pull nice looking birds as a result.

    1. jai

      Re: Engineering judgement

      are the birds the result of Space X and Tesla? or just solely the result of his vast piles of cash?

    2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      WARNING - Sexist remark - WARNING

      "And he also can pull nice looking birds as a result."

      Nothing wrong with that. If you've got it, flaunt it.

  2. DMH
    Facepalm

    I don't know about this case, but in the other two cases referenced Tesla was absolutely right to object about the poor press coverage.

    The Top Gear episode - they faked the whole thing - the Tesla Roadster didn't run out of charge on the track as depicted.

    As for the BBC's experiment with the Mini E: it has a range of 100 miles so I'm not sure what attempting to drive it to Edinburgh was supposed to prove, other than the stupidity of the BBC reporter. It's not a long distance vehicle - it's meant to be used for the 95% of journeys that are well within its range. I was one of the public 'beta testers' and had the car for 6 months during which time I drove over 4,000 miles at a total electricity cost of £52.

    I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but something was definitely a bit fishy about both of those items.

    1. Michael B.

      I just listened back to the original "review" and for Top Gear it is actually pretty complimentary. The controversial bit has a voiceover saying "Although Tesla say that it will do 200 miles, we worked out that on our track it would only do 55 miles." over the crew pushing the car. Now the voiceover never says that it did run out of charge just that if they did run out of charge it would do so after 55 miles.

      1. davefb

        In what way

        Controversial? Obviously the must have been correct with the 55 miles, because in two court cases tesla couldnt' show otherwise. They only appear to have complained that people may have got confused , but the judge disagreed.

        Crew push it, to show what you'd have to do. Not like you could walk up with a little tank of fuel is it?

        1. Stacy

          Re: In what way

          I thought that the report (if you can call anything on Top Gear a report) said there was a problem with the car, not that the car ran out of charge...

          And everyone knows that if you are pushing a car around a race track you are not going to get the range you would on the motorway... Petrol or electric!

          1. WatAWorld

            Re: In what way

            Yes, highway milage (similar to racetrack mileage) is usually quite a bit longer than (stop and go) city traffic mileage.

            1. Psyx
              Stop

              Re: In what way

              "Yes, highway milage (similar to racetrack mileage)"

              Racetrack milage is about HALF of city milage, mate! If you're lucky!

            2. Tom 13

              Re: highway milage

              For petrol vehicles, yes. For battery powered beasties all the articles I've read say city mileage per charge is higher because you get to stop it more frequently and it can use some of the braking to recharge the battery.

              I'll admit I have no experimental data, as it's always sounded entirely too much like a Brooklyn Bridge/Tower of London investment opportunity to me.

          2. Chet Mannly

            Re: In what way

            "I thought that the report (if you can call anything on Top Gear a report) said there was a problem with the car,"

            Actually Tesla sent them 2 cars. After the first ran out of juice they plugged it in, and continued filming with the other one. When the second ran out of juice they found out that while the first one was charging its brakes had packed up so they couldn't drive it...

            But Tesla were silly to dispute the distance claim - after all a Ford GT 4MPG around that track driven hard - the Tesla was always going to look bad range-wise...

        2. Frank Bough

          Re: In what way

          You could walk up with a little Honda generator.

      2. Oninoshiko
        WTF?

        @Michael B.

        The voice may not have said that the car ran out of power, but that is what any reasonable person would assume from the video accompanying it. What other reason would they have to be pushing the thing other then a failure?

        Put another way:

        If I pop a picture of you up on the screen when talking about pedophiles, I think you might (rightly) consider that slander. I wouldn't be CALLING you a pedophile, but any reasonable person would assume that's the message I was intending to convey.

        1. RubberJohnny

          Re: @Michael B.

          If you are a film director with limited time and budget, are you going to waste time driving a car round and round for 55 miles just to show an 8 second clip of it running out of charge, or are you going to use the Tesla supplied data and just go ahead and get the shot you need?

      3. Psyx
        Pint

        "Although Tesla say that it will do 200 miles, we worked out that on our track it would only do 55 miles."

        Well, my track-car used to do 240 miles to a tank... or about 60 on a track, too. What's the surprise? Drive a car on a race track and you're spending most of each lap either full on the throttle or full on the brakes. Singling out an electric car for being less inefficient in the circumstance is simply fucking stupid. Top Gear deciding to do so given their track experience seems to have been simply a bit of wilful and pointless sniping.

        That Top Gear flat-out lied and claimed that they did run out of juice was basically an outright lie, and they were right to have been pulled up on it. Electric cars have their up-sides and down-sides, but there does seem to be a corner of journalism that is enjoying pointing that they can run out of juice *if used pretty inappropriately and incautiously*. I like Top Gear, but sometimes they can be dicks, and the NYT journo seems to have fallen into the same category.

        I ask you: If you were driving 200 miles in a normal car IN WINTER, and there was no petrol stations on the way, would you stop the petrol pump when it said you had 240 miles of fuel? No: You'd be a dumb-ass to. What kind of moron would?

        If you fuelled your car and then it lost 1/3 of a tank of petrol overnight to the petrol fairies just before a long drive, would you not put more fuel in, or would you think "fuck it, I'm sure it'll be fine"?

        It seems to me that the journalist decided that he wanted to write a stand-out article, so managed to pretty much deliberately sabotage the road test for the sake of sensationalism. Crap journalism of course, but pretty typical for the newspapers these days.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Psyx,

          Yes it's true that trackday mileage sucks, in a petrol or electric car. There's a huge difference though, that makes the Tesla a lot less use as a trackday car. Do 55 miles in your Tesla, only 10-20 laps, then go home. In a different car. You can't do any more, as you can't charge it up - until tracks have fast chargers. Do the same in a Ford GT, fill up with petrol, carry on. Alternatively, you can manage 4 laps of the Nurburgring - and pray you don't run out on the 4th...

          They said it was a nice car, but it was fair to point that out. But Top Gear aren't a consumer program any more, they're entertainment. So they're not going to be nice about it, they're going to be sarky, and funny. It's not lying to show the car being pushed, it's entertainment.

          If Tesla couldn't cope with that, they shouldn't have gone on the show. If Top Gear had lied, I'm sure they'd have lost the court case...

          Electric cars are brilliant for town mileage. Lovely and efficient, as they do stop-start so well. But they have short ranges, and are impractical for long-distance work in most cases. Until we've got better battery tech, that's the way it's going to stay. I'm not even convinced I've seen a hybrid that's got any better fuel consumption than a decent diesel. The 2 Toyota Prius-es-es-es that I know owners of both only manage 35 mpg. Which you could get from a petrol car of that size, costing half as much. They may just be stupidly heavy-footed, and others do better, 2 instances does not good data make.

          1. Psyx
            Thumb Up

            "Yes it's true that trackday mileage sucks, in a petrol or electric car. There's a huge difference though, that makes the Tesla a lot less use as a trackday car."

            Yes. It's a bit of a shit track-day car, unless you have a trailer (and even then... it's still a pretty shit track car!). You'd have to be a bit insane to consider buying one for the track when you could have a Lotus 7 clone for a crap-ton less, which would also cost a crap-ton less to fix when it inevitably got bent or broke.

            "It's not lying to show the car being pushed, it's entertainment.

            "If Tesla couldn't cope with that, they shouldn't have gone on the show. If Top Gear had lied, I'm sure they'd have lost the court case..."

            As someone else pointed out, they've had to change the voice-over, apparently. So, they did lie if they had to change it. As you say: They're an entertainment programme, but sometimes they go a little too far in entertaining at the cost of factuality.

            "Electric cars are brilliant for town mileage. Lovely and efficient, as they do stop-start so well. But they have short ranges, and are impractical for long-distance work in most cases. Until we've got better battery tech, that's the way it's going to stay. I'm not even convinced I've seen a hybrid that's got any better fuel consumption than a decent diesel."

            Agreed. However, I feel that there is still a place for them if the battery costs can be brought down. Many drivers now are purely urban, and I think that -if we can detach ourself from the 'one car to do everything' idea- there is a place for a one-or-two seat, stylish, city-car commuter vehicle. It's only need a twenty-to-thirty mile urban range, which would drastically reduce costs, too. It would certainly suffice for 95% of my needs, and a hire-car or decent train service (fat chance, but it would be good!) would happily fill the gap, and it'd be economical if the car was priced right.

            Currently hybrids are just a wet-blanket for those who want to 'show they care' in a hypocritical manner, and for wealthy people who want the tax breaks and congestion-charge avoidance. They are not 'fit for purpose' and are more of a lifestyle choice. That said: Look at iDevices. If you can make them aspirational enough, then the functionality and sale-volume will come. An engine running at constant RPM charging a small battery should make for a more efficient design, and doesn't require the infrastructure. It's a step in the right direction, and our desire for four-seater, large, pure-petrol vehicles is mainly emotive, rather than rational. As much as I love vast amounts of power and the smell of fuel, I'd probably opt for a second commuter electric or hybrid vehicle if the cost-savings arrived.

        2. RubberJohnny

          Top Gear were proved right in court. If you only get 55 miles and run out in the Tesla then you have to get it towed and wait hours before you can refuel it again. In your old track car you just take a jerry can to it and you are on your way. That was the point.

      4. JeffyPooh Silver badge
        Pint

        @Michael B. - BBC's "voiceover" ?

        You mean one Jeremy Clarkson? He's a bit famous to be referred to as an anonymous voiceover.

      5. Aldous

        exactly, take a car with a quoted 30 mpg range and give it 200 miles worth of fuel. Now hoon it around a race track and you will be lucky to see 100+ miles. Tesla completly over reacted and they are doing it again instead of saying they will work with people they act like a 12 year old.

      6. RubberJohnny

        In fact it was Tesla's own boffins in California that calculated that 55 mile figure. If you look at the actual material presented you can see that the BBC was entirely in the right and that Tesla's PR people need replacing with people that can actually do the job. Top Gear were making a film, when you have a days shoot and people to pay you don't drive a car round and round for 55 miles just to waste time. No director would ever let that happen.

        Surey they should have done some research into what Top Gear was like before they handed them a car to test? Every car gets similar treatment, but usually the toys stay in the pram.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @DMH

      Funny that you should mention that. I read that NYT article by chance on an IHT (International Herald Tribune) copy that someone had left at a table in Charles de Gaulle (they give them away, even so I would not normally read it) and I though there was something of "let's write an article people will talk about" in there. I could not tell you exactly what gave me that feel, but that is the impression it gave me. Looks like the journo in question managed to achieve his goal.

    3. Rexford L

      So, when you buy a electric vehicle, you need to buy a petrol powered vehicle as well, so you can go more than a hundred miles. Why not just buy the petrol powered vehicle and use that for all your travel, you save thousands of dollars (pounds) in not just the initial purchase but also taxes that the government charges to keep and use that vehicle.

      1. JeeBee

        I believe that some manufacturers are looking to include a petrol engine as an electric generator within their cars, for when the batteries get low. Better than coming to a complete stop!

        And shouldn't the Tesla have a back up battery for essential things like electrically controlled handbrakes, etc, in case the main battery pack runs out?

      2. Psyx
        Thumb Down

        "So, when you buy a electric vehicle, you need to buy a petrol powered vehicle as well, so you can go more than a hundred miles. Why not just buy the petrol powered vehicle..."

        Because not everyone makes long road trips? I haven't driven more than a hundred miles in a go for about five years!

        In your scenario, if you wanted to go on long trips every so often, it's much more cost effective to just take a train or hire a car for £30 a day.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: I haven't driven more than a hundred miles in a go for about five years!

          And you Brits accuse us 'Merkins of being provincial?

          1. Psyx
            Pint

            Re: I haven't driven more than a hundred miles in a go for about five years!

            "And you Brits accuse us 'Merkins of being provincial?"

            If I want to go any distance, I take a train... so I can get properly pissed!

          2. RubberJohnny

            Re: I haven't driven more than a hundred miles in a go for about five years!

            Airport is only 20 miles from home.

      3. Chad H.

        Well to be fair at this point in the petrol engine life cycle you also would have needed a few horses...

      4. Frank Bough

        Perhaps you never make long car journeys?

        Perhaps you fly to your holiday destination? Or sometimes use a train? Or already have an ICE car? or are intelligent to work out the costs/benefits for your own lifestyle without some clueless fucknut telling you what to do?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Somehow I knew this was a Lewis Page article before I scrolled back up and checked the byline... *Yawn*

      1. Coldwind104

        "Somehow I knew..."

        He's a popular guy, it seems. He does seem to have garnered a pretty faithful following of (to use the trendy term) 'haters'. I take it he said something you disagreed with? Would you like to offer more accurate information?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Somehow I knew..."

          He writes like a conspiracy theorist, and they're usually crazies with an agenda that bears very little relation to reality. Given his previous form on articles related to AGW and 'green' technologies, I simply don't trust what he says in the slightest.

    5. TheRealWelshCJ

      The BBC article was not about attacking electric vehicles, it was about attacking the UKs electric vehicle infrastructure (ie; the lack of charging stations and charge times). To prove this the writer was trying to do a long distance journey in the electric vehicle. Admittedly the car was only designed to do short city distances, but the article was trying to prove a point.

      Electric vehicles are required for the future - but until the infrastructure is sorted out it will never take off!

    6. Rhiakath Flanders
      Unhappy

      People always resist change, and also, never forget, there's a lot of interest that cars like Tesla ( that don't use fossil fuels... ) fail, and are given a bad image.

      It's easy to talk bad about something brand new, or experimental, while it hasn't matured. People tend to forget not many years ago, you could drive at around 50 Km/h top speed. Everything has to mature. Electric cars are no exception.

      I still think it's great, and if they weren't so damn expensive, i'd proudly own one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ........cars like Tesla ( that don't use fossil fuels... )

        ........I must have missed the point in the brochure describing the 1/2 acre PV installation, the 12 Metre wind turbine, or the compact nuclear residential power station that comes with the Tesla.

        77% of UK electricity is generated by fossil fuels, and so self-generation is the only way to avoid this.

        http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/energy-industry/generating-electricity.html

        So next time you reject the building of a nuclear power station, consider the fact that if we all used EV as our personal transport, we double the consumption of electricity, meaning an increase of around 40% of generation capacity (assuming that people can be persuaded to charge their cars between midnight and 4AM, pushing usage up from 37 to 70+ GW, compared to the daytime peak of around 53GW.

        http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/Data/Realtime/Demand/Demand8.htm

    7. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      >...it's meant to be used for the 95% of journeys...

      That leaves 5% (1 in 20 or 2-4 times a month?) where it's a spectacular pain in the arse.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      TopGear is the three Stooges

      Got to agree, Larry, Mo and Curly are clowns and TopGear hasn't been about cars for years.

      However, EV cars do face a real problem. While most people's journeys are short - I do very few that are longer than 5 miles round trips - we all do those long trips that are essential. i.e. visiting the parents etc., and as many people live as far away from their parents as possible this means you have to have a car that can do a ~500 mile round trip without any messing about. Sure you can hire a car for such long journeys but actually it's a pain in the butt and turns out to be more expensive than the savings in petrol you've made ... add in the extortionate purchase premium that EV cars demand and it makes them a really bad idea!

      1. Psyx

        Re: TopGear is the three Stooges

        "this means you have to have a car that can do a ~500 mile round trip without any messing about. Sure you can hire a car for such long journeys but actually it's a pain in the butt and turns out to be more expensive than the savings in petrol you've made ..."

        Pain in the butt, yes. But it doesn't eclipse the fuel costs. Last time I rented, it was thirty quid for the day. That's less than I spend in petrol for the month.

        That said, the *ideal* solution would be a little 'Leccy car and then catch a train for longer distances. The problem though is that the trains are atrocious and far more expensive than driving anywhere. If they could make long-distance public transport more viable, it would make short-range vehicles a lot more viable.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sure you can hire a car for such long journeys

        And if electric cars were to become as common as greenunists demand they be, the volume for petrol vehicles will go down and the prices to hire them will sky rocket. So you'd get to see family even less.

    9. Alex King
      FAIL

      The difference...

      The difference between this story and the one about the Mini E story on the BBC is the reaction of the manufacturer's PR and Legal departments.

      Tesla seem determined to get all pissy and litigious about any negative coverage, and that just fosters the impression of a defensive company with something to hide. Instead, they should take the criticism on the chin, tell the world they'll look into the causes of the issue, and then report the "fix" that they come up with a few weeks/months down the line. Trying to get your retaliation in hard and fast like this just pisses everyone off - it's just really bad PR.

      By contrast BMW didn't make such a fuss about the BBC MINI-E article, as they saw it for what it was - a test of the infrastructure more than the car which - surprise surprise - found the vehicle charging infrastructure for the UK to be lacking. BMW have gone on to respond with their upcoming i3 and i8 - which you can bet your bottom dollar will be properly and thoroughly engineered solutions that will not risk damaging the company's hard-won reputation, supported by a competent PR effort.

      Tesla - you do not win at PR by starting an argument with the media.

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: The difference...

        Tesla - you do not win at PR by starting an argument with the media.

        Or to paraphrase: "Never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel”. It's called Greener's Law, apparently, though I'd always thought it was a Mark Twain coinage...

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Devil

    "Car is shutting down"

    That Space Cadet Feel!

    "Driving by a gasoline station and smiling is something everyone should experience.”

    Everyone should also experience knowing about energy budgets, storage and generation.

    1. bean cube

      Fossil fuel costs us more than we think.

      Fossil fuel should never be considered as the main source of energy. They are too expensive if we also consider their environmental impacts. Fossil fuel should be used to assist renewable energy source only.

      1. WatAWorld

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

        Sadly, in much of the world electric cars would be powered by fossil fuels, coal, oil or gas fired electric generating stations, with the added inefficiency of transmission lines, transformers and (most of all) the weight of batteries or fuel cells. And, strictly speaking, nuclear power is not renewable either.

        Electric powered vehicles only use renewable energy when the power in the electric mains comes from renewable energy.

        So currently only electric cars charged-up the minority of regions where the electric power primarily comes from hydro-electric generating stations are using renewable energy. So not the UK, not California, not New York.

        1. Gavin King

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

          "And, strictly speaking, nuclear power is not renewable either."

          In the strictest sense, nothing is renewable or sustainable: eventually the Laws of Thermodynamics tend to catch with anything that is done in this universe. Really it is just a matter of determining what the best wasteful method is. And perhaps that is fossil fuels, perhaps it is electric, perhaps it is merely settling for not transporting stuffs halfway around the world without good reason and not travelling hundreds of kilometres a day just to get to work.

          1. Coldwind104
            Alert

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

            "Really it is just a matter of determining what the best wasteful method is. And perhaps that is fossil fuels, perhaps it is electric, perhaps it is merely settling for not transporting stuffs halfway around the world without good reason and not travelling hundreds of kilometres a day just to get to work."

            There's working out what's least wasteful - that's always good - but there's also security to be considered. By which I mean the future security of that fuel source. In terms of fossil fuels, they're certainly amongst the most efficient energy sources we have - which is unfortunate, because they're also collectively the dirtiest and the most limited. Estimates of how much oil, coal and gas is left vary wildly - usually depending on the financial or political interests of the body assessing them - but the point is that there is a fixed amount of these substances under the ground, and once they're pulled up and burned, they're gone.

            But they do store and release energy most efficiently. Considering that alone, we'd logically go for fossil fuels every time, with the atmosphere being considered a small price to pay. The only viable alternative at the moment in efficiency terms is nuclear fission, and thanks to the media's success in convincing the public that fission power stations are prone to up and explode radiation all over everyone at the first sign of a Tuesday, no politician now is ever seriously going to stake votes on pushing for nuclear.

            Fission has had its day, so until fusion comes along (and I'd be surprised if my hypothetical grandchildren lived to see *that* happen), we're stuck with a choice between the efficient-but-limited-and-filthy-and-dangerous fossils, or the clean-and-abundant-but-not-much-actual-use 'renewables', which aren't efficient enough: I'm sure the Reg has already mentioned just how much of the UK would have to be dedicated to turbine farms to make wind power a serious contender.

            I think this is one of those moments in human history - or maybe the only one, if I think about it - where we have the opportunity to do what science fiction has been telling us for decades that humans will always be exceptionally good at: use our intelligence to save ourselves from extinction. Personally, I think sci-fi's always been far too optimistic. My hopes on that score are not high at all.

            1. TheOtherHobbes

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

              Meanwhile in the real world renewables spent last year breaking records around the world for affordability and reliability.

              See e.g.

              http://about.bnef.com/2013/02/07/renewable-energy-now-cheaper-than-new-fossil-fuels-in-australia/

              And that's not counting the fact that fossils are still subsidised with tax money worth around half a trillion a year, globally. Renewable subsidies are a tiny fraction of that.

            2. Tom 13

              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.

              1. Psyx
                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.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  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

        2. Psyx
          WTF?

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

          "strictly speaking, nuclear power is not renewable either."

          http://xkcd.com/1162/

          Seriously? Neither is solar, by the same absurd measure.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            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.

            1. Psyx
              Thumb Up

              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?

              1. Dave 15

                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?

      2. James Anderson

        Re: Fossil fuel costs us more than we think.

        And where do you suppose all those kilowatt so inefficiently stored in the battery were generated?

        Unless you live in France it Switzerland they were most likely generated using coal or gas.

      3. Chad H.

        Re: Fossil fuel costs us more than we think.

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

  4. JimmyPage Silver badge
    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 ....

    1. Tom 13

      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.

  5. Heathroi
    Pint

    insufficiently positive coverage

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

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

  6. Steve Evans

    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...???

    1. jake Silver badge

      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 ;-)

      1. Stacy
        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...

        1. jake Silver badge

          @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.

          1. Stacy
            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 :)

            1. jake Silver badge
              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" :-)

    2. Rexford L

      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.

    3. Throatwobbler Mangrove
      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...

    4. 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?

      1. Steve Evans

        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.

        1. jake Silver badge

          @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 ...

      2. Tom 13

        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.

        1. jake Silver badge

          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.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    7. Dave 15

      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.

    8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      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

      1. jake Silver badge

        @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.

  7. GotThumbs
    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.

    1. GotThumbs
      Boffin

      Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

      Apologies for my spelling.

      No edit option.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      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.

      1. graeme leggett

        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.

        1. WatAWorld

          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.)

    3. Ian Yates

      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.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

        "This car is not for Stupid People".

        Roads will be empty, man.

      2. sisk Silver badge

        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.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

        2. WatAWorld

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

          2. Dave 15

            Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

            It has an automatic shut off - flat battery

        3. Chet Mannly

          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 :-)

      3. Andy3

        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.

      4. SiempreTuna

        Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

        Motoring journos do seem to be ridiculously anti anything but petrol. There was a recent 'story' about how petrol cars were actually cheaper to run than diesels over the a typical 3 year ownership period with average mileage, if you took into account the higher purchase price.

        What the headline calculations excluded (to be fair, it was mentioned toward the end of the story) was the higher price you also get when you come to sell the diesel car. Which actually made the diesel cheaper. And the story false.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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,.....

        And flies in the face of being eco bloody friendly (lets ignore the toxic chemicals in the batteries). Last I looked even in below freezing conditions, my petrol tank didn't empty overnight.

      6. Nick L

        Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

        I guess this might have somewhat of an impact on the interstellar equivalent MPG figures, too...

    4. jake Silver badge

      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 ...

    5. Fuzz

      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%.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        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).

      2. Robert A. Rosenberg

        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.

      3. Psyx
        Holmes

        Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

        "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."

        In winter? In a car that you'd not driven on a road trip before?

        I sure as hell wouldn't. I'd think "Maybe I'd better put in a bit more, in case I'm stuck in traffic/get lost/decide to drive like a maniac"

      4. Rune Moberg

        Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

        In two of my cars, when it reaches 0, there is usually enough fuel vapors left to drive another 100+ km. (and then, at the petrol station, I fill 73 liters of fuel into a tank specified to hold 70. I guess some fuel hides in various pipes and tubes)

        Besides... For long trips, I bring a 5 liter spare can "just in case". Once, in Greece, I was driving around at night. I had to deploy my emergency fuel tank and then barely managed to reach an open gas station (turned out the guy had just started the first shift moments earlier).

        Either way; Yes, a normal car can run out of juice as well, but the result is not nearly as dramatic.

        1. Psyx
          Go

          Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

          "Either way; Yes, a normal car can run out of juice as well, but the result is not nearly as dramatic."

          I'm sure they said the same about petrol a hundred years ago. Why bother when you can just feed a horse some more hay.

          The infrastructure isn't yet here. But it could be if we wanted it to. We just don't want it enough, because we have an easy alternative.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

            So even if the infrastructure is there, I don't want to spend 3 hours doing a 2 hour journey. (+ usual jams)

    6. WatAWorld

      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.

      1. Robert A. Rosenberg

        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.

    7. Chet Mannly

      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.

      1. Frank Bough
        WTF?

        Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

        Isn't it plugged in when it's in the driveway?

    8. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

      Actually I tend to find that most vehicles' trip computers' estimation of remaining range is quite accurate. Certainly to within the odd percentage point or two of the overall range.

      Sounds like Tesla have borrowed their estimation algorithm from Vista's copy dialogue.

      Tesla do need a warning sticker, but it should say; "This is a rich bastard's toy, not a practical car.".

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    2/3 of charge lost *overnight*

    Are you f***ing kidding me?

    Note that Tesla did get a truck to haul him to a fast charge bay (but given what this thing costs shouldn't that have been expected?).

    And the parking brake that cannot be overridden?

    But the bottom line is

    "computer says no."

    So highly suspicious (design flaw or "doing a Clarkson") but not quite a FAIL.

    Yet.

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    It kind of shows that the battery powered electric car has a long way to go to replace the petrol/diesel cars unless you live and work in a city.

    Especially when you consider that as the car becomes a few years older the batteries will hold less power in between charges and they are extremely expensive to replace in the current Tesla models

  10. Ian Yates
    Big Brother

    "vehicle logs from Broder's Model S contradict his account of the journey"

    Oh good. Now your car can dob you in

    1. moiety

      Re: "vehicle logs from Broder's Model S contradict his account of the journey"

      Apparently this feature is turned on for media loans after the shoeing they got from Top Gear; according to a response from Tesla...it's optional for customers, apparently.

    2. Psyx
      Thumb Up

      Re: "vehicle logs from Broder's Model S contradict his account of the journey"

      Kinda handy if people lie their arses off and slate you in the press and you can prove 'em wrong, though!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "fuel vapours"

        In a liquid-fuelled vehicle, when the gauge is at the bottom - the tank is not empty.

        It is deliberately calibrated to give a 'reserve capacity', to help you avoid knackering the engine.

        In my Golf Diesel the reserve capacity is 9 litres - that is enough for over 100 miles of driving.

        There isn't as much leeway to play with when talking about current technology battery capacities.

  11. Heathroi
    Facepalm

    then another problem is what to do when your low on charge and you get to to charge up place only to find all of them taken. waiting round watching the other cars charge, the owners finally coming to collect them then you get to charge up. for an hour.

    http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2013/02/12/teslas-charging-problem/?section=magazines_fortune

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why was the charge lost overnight?

    I understand that cold weather can make batteries APPEAR to be low on charge, but once they get back up to normal temperature (thanks to Tesla's battery cooling AND heating system) it should have worked fine, right?

    Unless the battery heater stayed on all night? Seems like a huge design flaw in that case.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Why was the charge lost overnight?

      He parked the car in a rundown neighborhood...

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Why was the charge lost overnight?

        maybe 2/3 of the batteries were found on ebay?

  13. jake Silver badge

    Hey, Lewis ...

    "A normal US wall socket will take well over two days to do the job, according to the company's own specs."

    What, exactly, is abnormal about 50A, 240V wall sockets (NEMA 14–50)? Rather than griping about "wimpy US ones", perhaps you should gripe about the actual capability of the electrical service supplied to the house? Many people survive quite nicely on 60 Amp service. Most have 100 Amp service. Newer homes have 200 Amp service, and are theoretically capable of Tesla's "Fastest Way To Charge At Home". Personally, I have the power capability to install a so-called "supercharger". It's available, at home, for a price.

    That said, you couldn't pay me enough to put up with the hassle of an electric car. Something to consider: Have you ever raced radio controlled cars? What's the biggest difference between the electric ones and the gas powered ones?

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Hey, Lewis ...

      Most US homes have one or two 240V outlets. One will almost always be behind the clothes drier and there's sometimes another behind the stove (though that one is often missing). The only times I've ever seen one in the garage is when someone has either wired it themselves or brought in an electrician to wire it up for their arc welders or other professional grade equipment. I've lived in houses where 30 amps was sufficient to blow the main breaker, though admittedly that is not the norm.

      Now, the hassle of an electric car is another thing all together. I'd happily deal with it, but my daily commute is roughly 4 miles round trip, with perhaps another 10 or 20 miles a week added on by carting my family around when I'm not at work. (There are advantages to living in a small town that thinks itself a big city, even if it is often frustrating.) If I had a more typical commute, covering my normal weekly driving just going to and from work every day, I might feel differently.

    2. WatAWorld

      Re: Hey, Jack ...

      The electrical codes mandate those 100A and 200A services due to expected use with expected technology, expected technology that does not include your "super charger".

      So you are going to turn off at least the dryer, refrigerator, air conditioner, water heater and furnace in your home when you plug in that super charger.

      1. Chris_Maresca

        Re: Hey, Jack ...

        Maybe he has 480v industrial at home, how do you know? Quite a lot of older converted buildings still have that...

        1. jake Silver badge

          It's "jake", for the reading comprehension challenged (was: Re: Hey, Jack ...)

          @Chris: Bingo. I have roughly 200kw of unused 3-phase capability. Overkill for most households, but I have a small print-shop (Heidelberg KORD & Windmill, Chief 217 & 40" Polar paper cutter), a Bridgeport CNC, and I restore old mainframes to keep myself sane ... The power was initially brought in for the machineroom/museum/mausoleum/morgue (depending on the Wife's mood), and the Mill. I intentionally over-purchased the capability right from the git-go. Thankfully ;-)

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: It's "jake", for the reading comprehension challenged (was: Hey, Jack ...)

            I live in an old cottage with a 60A circuit. I reckon the wiring would melt if I tried for 60A. I certainly wouldnt like to run a big shower, never mind recharge a tesla.

            Not sure the local substation would be too happy if the row of two dozen cottages all started charging overnight either.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ WaterWorld: you fail

        Dryer = 2 - 3kW, on for an hour or so at a time. Can choose when to use it.

        Fridge = 0.3 - 0.7kW, short intermittent periods.

        Air con = 2 - 4 kW, less likely to be used at night, not applicable in many geographic locations.

        Water heater, furnace = Most work on fuel, not electric. Electric consumption of a typical fuel-fired home furnace (boiler) is negligible. Only used when needed. Unlikely to run heating at the same time as air con. Unlikely to need heating or hot water during night time. If electric, premises will have a larger supply rating.

        Your comment represents a fallacy.

        110V * 100A = 11kW, pretty puny. Probably not much spare when everything in the house is in use, but that is quite rarely.

        110V * 200A = 22kW. You have plenty of spare capacity, especially at night.

        In most other places in the world: 230V*100A = 23kW

        A three-phase supply will give you three times as much usable power.

        3 * 415V * 100A = 124kW, ample for a small industrial unit.

  14. LinkOfHyrule
    Trollface

    Well that's the trouble with milkfloats init!

  15. Seanmon
    Boffin

    Wrong application of technology.

    There is a place for electric cars, but it's not in any sort of grand tourer or anything to cover long distances. It's for taxi runs in an urban environment.

    Scatter a few high power charge points about your city - relatively easy to do, since a lot of the infrastructure - or at least the containment - is there already. Next, design your electric car so it can reliably cover the distance between, say, Heathrow and central London, reliably, a few times a day, in any conditions and carrying 5 adults plus luggage.

    Make sure those charge points have a reasonable amount of medium term parking space. When your taxi driver begins running low on charge, he parks it up, plugs it in and gets in a freshly charged motor and drives away. Eliminates hanging around for an hour with the car off the road. (An HOUR, btw? Fuck that.) The next driver similarly parks up the clapped out one and gets into the new one - ad infinitum.

    I know the argument that electric cars don't cut down pollution, they simply shift it elsewhere. Shifting it out of city centres is absolutely fine by me.

    1. theModge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wrong application of technology.

      That's always been my feeling on the bes use for electric power.

      That and local light delivery. Milk floats of old, couriers of new.

    2. Chet Mannly

      Re: Wrong application of technology.

      "Scatter a few high power charge points about your city"

      To handle the thousands (millions?) of motorists? I think your definition of "few" is radically different to mine...

      1. Seanmon

        Re: Wrong application of technology.

        No, just to handle the thousands of electric taxis. A quick google gives about 19,000 black hacks currently operating in London, fewer for smaller cities obv. Even if 100% of these were converted to run on leccy, is it really any more difficult than having petrol stations every few streets?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong application of technology.

      > Scatter a few high power charge points about your city - relatively easy to do, since a lot of the infrastructure - or at least the containment - is there already.

      I filled my car on Saturday morning at the local petrol station. There were 12 cars at six pumps when I arrived and about the same when I left 10 minutes later. In order to handle that volume with electric vehicles (and give them an hours charge) they would need about 60 parking spaces. When you take into account access roads you are looking at up to 1000 m2 of area being needed to handle 60 cars per hour. This land would be needed in built up areas where land prices are at a premium.

      > When your taxi driver begins running low on charge, he parks it up, plugs it in and gets in a freshly charged motor and drives away

      You are assuming that a large company owns the cabs and so can swap. The reality is that some cab drivers own their own cab (mushers) and others rent their cabs (journeymen). The mushers would have stop every few hours and wait for their car to charge (assuming a charger was available) which would severely limit their income. Journeyman will often rent the same cab and are responsible for that cab so, like the mushers, would have their income limited. There are relatively few cab companies that own large enough fleets of taxis to make this feasible. Most of them simply dispatch the jobs to mushers or journeymen.

      1. Seanmon

        Re: Wrong application of technology.

        1) Agreed. I'm vaguely imagining some variation of those vertical car parks I've seen in NYC and some German cities. Not hard to do if you're on a site with high voltage supply readily available I would think.

        2) I was indeed assuming a large cab company, based on some knowledge of one here in Glasgow who are in fact investigating leccy cabs for this very purpose - plead ignorance of how this arrangement works. Then again, if the scheme was proven viable (technologically and financially ofc) it surely wouldn't be long before some sort of lend/lease/rent/timeshare agreement became available.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Standardised, modular, swappable battery packs

          See title

  16. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    They desperately need new PR people

    Because at this rate they'll soon have burned up all the credibility they may have left.

    Going after Top Gear was very bad marketing, going after a website like El Reg is simply pathetic and as said; if they keep this up then it won't even matter any more if they eventually do manage to come up with a brilliant product. Because if the media covers it in a positive manner a lot of readers might wonder: "Are they positive because of the car or because they're being afraid to get sued if they reported otherwise?".

    I guess Tesla never heard of the old saying "Don't shoot the messenger".

  17. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    I can reproduce the electric car experience. Never, never ever, fill-up your car's gasoline tank past the one-eighth mark. Bring home a three gallon jerry can of gasoline so that you can 'recharge' at home; but you'll also need a funnel with a bottom opening about 1/64 of an inch diameter so that it takes an hour to empty the jerry can. Only fill-up on the road if the gasoline station's zip code is a prime number (following the three gallon limit and the tiny funnel). Enjoy.

    1. Frank Bough
      FAIL

      horse shit

      You drive the car around in the day, get home, plug-in, fuck off inside. Every morning you have a fully charged car. This is precisely what was discovered during the GM Impact trial. The trialllists got so used to this routine, they never even CONSIDERED their car's range.

  18. JFS

    My ford focus electric works fine in the cold. The instructions manual, the car itself and the app all tell me to plug it in overnight (or before driving) for best mileage if it's cold out. It has the same sort of battery "conditioning" system as the Tesla. So I'm pretty sure that user error was involved, perhaps compounded by bad tech support. Not bad technology.

    1. WatAWorld

      From the Battery University

      http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/discharging_at_high_and_low_temperatures

      "The performance of all battery chemistries drops drastically at low temperatures. At –20°C (–4°F) most nickel-, lead- and lithium-based batteries stop functioning. Although NiCd can go down to –40°C (-40°F), the permissible discharge is only 0.2C (5-hour rate). Specially built Li- ion brings the operating temperature down to –40°C, but only on discharge and at a reduced discharge. With lead acid we have the danger of the electrolyte freezing, which can crack the enclosure. Lead acid freezes more easily with a low charge when the specific gravity of the electrolyte is more like water."

      earlier,

      "Batteries achieve optimum service life if used at 20°C (68°F) or slightly below, and nickel-based chemistries degrade rapidly when cycled at high ambient temperatures. If, for example, a battery operates at 30°C (86°F) instead of a more moderate room temperature, the cycle life is reduced by 20 percent. At 40°C (104°F), the loss jumps to a whopping 40 percent, and if charged and discharged at 45°C (113°F), the cycle life is only half of what can be expected if used at 20°C (68°F)."

      And to further confound thing, maximum charging rates are reduced under adverse temperature.

      Where I live -- in the land of hydro-electric power* -- the overnight low temperatures are less than 5°C for 6 months a year.

      "Fast charging of most batteries is limited to a temperature of 5 to 45°C (41 to 113°F); for best results consider narrowing the temperature bandwidth to between 10°C and 30°C (50°F and 86°F). Nickel-based batteries are most forgiving in accepting charge at low temperatures, however, when charging below 5°C (41°F), the ability to recombine oxygen and hydrogen diminishes. If NiCd and NiMH are charged too rapidly, pressure builds up in the cell that will lead to venting. Not only do escaping gases deplete the electrolyte, the hydrogen released is highly flammable. The charge current of all nickel-based batteries should be reduced to 0.1C below freezing."

      * Canada's prairie provinces.

      1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: From the Battery University

        "Where I live -- in the land of hydro-electric power* -- the overnight low temperatures are less than 5°C for 6 months a year."

        Where you live, you have a house. Your house is connected to endless grid electric power. This electric power is connected to the electric car to recharge the battery. In other words, when the electric car is parked at your house, it has access to essentially unlimited electric power from the grid.

        Why oh why oh why would the car designer fail to provide a grid powered electric heater for the battery pack?

        See other post about how to combine good insulation around the battery to minimize heat loss, combined with some thermostatically controlled air ducts (doors) to provide unlimited cooling when appropriate.

    2. Chet Mannly

      "So I'm pretty sure that user error was involved, perhaps compounded by bad tech support. Not bad technology."

      Nope its bad technology - if my petrol car is left overnight without a petrol bowser being inserted 2/3rds of the petrol doesn't disappear. My range also doesn't drop by over 50% because its cold.

      Can't remember who said it, but someone was driving a leaf and said "I feel like I'm driving a Laserdisc" ie something that was groundbreaking and a great idea, but the tech hadn't advanced enough to make it convenient/practical for everyday use - I get the same feeling with current electric-only cars.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > The instructions manual, the car itself and the app all tell me to plug it in overnight (or before driving) for best mileage if it's cold out.

      So in the cold, your car is using energy even when it isn't moving.

  19. Logical_Thinker

    NewsFlash: Electric Cars require FULL charge for FULL range.

    The NYT article is full of holes, particularly in the fact that the news reporter ADMITTED he didn't fully charge the car.

    LOOK: In a regular 30 mpg gas car, put 6 or 7 gallons in your gas tank and you will have a hard time going 300 miles. Just a fact. You will have to do all sorts of hypermiling tricks to try to eek out extra range.

    Electric cars should be plugged in at night. It takes a luddite / incompetent reporter to not do so. FAIL by NYT.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: NewsFlash: Electric Cars require FULL charge for FULL range.

      NewsFlash: Electric Cars with enough charge to travel 185 miles should be able to do that, regardless of charge level.

      Given the consequences of fuel depletion in an electric car, they should have *even more* accurate range calculators than those in a petrol engined car.

      1. Psyx

        Re: NewsFlash: Electric Cars require FULL charge for FULL range.

        "Given the consequences of fuel depletion in an electric car, they should have *even more* accurate range calculators than those in a petrol engined car."

        Yeah, because the calculator knows that you're going to put the heating on and maybe sit in traffic for two hours?

        C'mon: No car mileage calculator is accurate, and only an idiot would go on a long winter journey in a car they didn't know without a very healthy reserve.

        If you run out of fuel, there's generally only one person to blame.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "eek"

      Eek! I am a mouse

      Can you help me disable this trap so I can eat the tasty cheese?

  20. Barbarian At the Gates
    Meh

    I'm not yet convinced that electric vehicles that rely soley on battery stored energy will ever be practical in temperate to artic climates. Where I live, it's not uncommon to have 10+ days a year in which the temperature exceeds 100F/38C, and round about the same number of days in which temperatures dip below 0F/-20C.

    That's pretty much murder for useful battery life, never mind the stresses of rapid charging at those extreme temperatures.

    Electrics with gas generators now, those I see on the roads even in the coldest winter days. Shame they burn dead dinosaurs, but maybe someday another form of chemically stored energy will become practical and replace one or both of the current EV power sources.

    1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Cold weather and cold batteries

      Perhaps I'm just naive and innocent, but it seems to me that battery temperature problem is (for the non-extreme cases) such a trivial problem to solve. Wrap the battery pack in two inches of super insulation. Add controlled air ducts for infinite air cooling when required, otherwise R2000 The Better Built House.

      Once rolling, use waste heat from the drive train to keep the battery pack toasty warm at the ideal temperature.

      When parked and connected to the coal powered national grid, feel free to use a wee feisty heater as required to help keep the battery pack toasty warm at the ideal temperature.

      When parked at the mall without AC power, make a calculated judgement to drain off a wee bit of battery power the battery pack toasty warm at the ideal temperature where the benefit of increased range outweighs the detriment of decreased range. The R2000 should only require a few watts. A solar panel in the roof might make up the difference.

      If you're parked at an Alaska airport in the dead of winter for six weeks, forget about it. You'll be buying a new $40k battery pack anyway.

      Heat is a trivial thing to conserve with good thermal insulation. Any car, even electric, should have plenty of waste heat.

      1. EvilGav 1
        Unhappy

        Re: Cold weather and cold batteries

        Excellent.

        Now, we have all that insulation around the batteries - what do we do about the excess heat we have when the temperature is at the other end of the scale?

        Batteries work best at a relatively constant warm temperature, cold will kill the charge, heat will kill the battery itself.

        Heat conservation *is* relatively trivial, heat disapation however is unfortunately not.

        1. Silverburn

          Re: Cold weather and cold batteries

          Batteries work best at a relatively constant warm temperature, cold will kill the charge, heat will kill the battery itself.

          Which is why they're pretty much doomed as a reliable energy source for vehicles sold anywhere other than SoCal.

        2. JeffyPooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Cold weather and cold batteries

          EvilGav 1 asked: "...what do we do about the excess heat we have when the temperature is at the other end of the scale?" having skipped over the cooling concept already described thus:

          "Add controlled air ducts for infinite air cooling when required..." (<- copied and pasted from my previous post),

          In other words, a thermostat. Controlling the air ducts (with tight little doors). Thermostatically controlled air ducts just a little bit like those in an air cooled engine found in a 1957 VW Beetle.

          Good insulation to keep the battery pack warm with insignificant power, but (as was already described) open some air ducts if it needs to be cooled.

          Rocket Science this is not. Sometimes I wonder about you humans.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cold weather and cold batteries

            Opening air ducts does not constitute "infinite cooling".

            1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Cold weather and cold batteries

              AC: "Opening air ducts does not constitute 'infinite cooling'."

              What is this? ...'Failure of Imagination' Week?

              The car designer, assuming that he/she has obtained a brain and had it installed, could EASILY arrange for the battery pack to be both highly insulated (so that it would require only a few watts of power to keep it toasty warm on a dark and stormy night), and equipped with selectable air ducts (with uC controlled doors) that could provide effectively ten times more air cooling than would ever be required (effectively "infinite", same as if the battery pack were not insulated at all). The concept of a controllable air system in no way impedes the required cooling. Not even close. 30+dB margin.

              The fact that a cold battery pack in the frosty morning is a apparently a real world problem when the electric car is ***still connected to the National Electric Grid*** is crystal clear evidence of just how f-in stupid these car designers really are. Perhaps they all live in Southern California and don't get out much... Daft.

              Cold batteries in electric cars is a stupid design flaw that is trivial to fix for 90% of the cases.

              Battery temperature should *only* be a limitation in the remaining extreme case where the car is parked away from commercial power for extended durations and there's no sunshine. For example, parked at in the distant cheap parking lot at an Alaskan airport in the dark dead of winter for six weeks. There's nothing much that could be done in such extreme cases, except perhaps to deploy a little windmill, or include a radioisotope thermal generator.

          2. EvilGav 1
            Thumb Down

            Re: Cold weather and cold batteries

            The problem with the little doors is that they only work whilst the vehicle is in motion. Whilst it is not in motion, there is little to no air-flow and little to no cooling.

            Those air-cooled Beetle engines are notorious for over-heating unless the later model fan is fitted.

            If we fit a fan to cool the battery pack, we've now introduced something that will deplete energy whilst the car is stationery.

  21. Certified Pain in the Arse

    Hatchet job

    This really looks like it is a NYT hatchet-job for short-interests in TSLA stock. The NYT article is probably the dishonest side of capitalism. Established industries like gas-powered vehicles and oil companies hold sway over advertising outlets like NYT that happen to be in real financial trouble since their print business is killing their profitability. The truth about Broder's trip will be shown in the vehicle logs. Broder probably wasn't counting on his journey being logged. If this ends up proving he's falsified his report, I hope he never gets another journalist job again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hatchet job

      "Established industries like gas-powered vehicles and oil companies....."

      So your new to this electricity generating concept.

      <Whisper>

      they are also established industries, been around a few years now.

      </whisper>

  22. bean cube

    Can you see how easy those big oil and big auto can use the media to kill the electric cars again and again? The media made you think Tesla is the best, then the media made sure investments to it are growing, and then the media trashes it by exposing crappy Tesla's test data. The principle is easy, they first push you to capitalize on this expensive one and you neglect technology development from others, then they focus on destroying what you are capitalizing on and you'll give up on innovations and being cornered back to their business traps.

  23. McChalium
    Mushroom

    No Surprise Here.

    I am an Electrical Engineer and I don't trust battery powered things of any kind because they always run out of power just when you need them most. All my power tools have cords and my car runs on gasoline ("petrol" for our friends in the UK). I don't even like hybrids because those who own them tend to ignore the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) under the hood when they are bragging about their clean air vehicle. Now if someone wants to build an atomic powered car, which like the ship I served on in the US Navy (GGN-9) ought to go 20 years or so on a refueling, I would finally be willing to buy an "electric" car. Of course with a reactor under the hood it could also be steam propelled (like my ship) or perhaps with an improved version of a Stirling engine. You British chaps would probably like that last idea just for the name. But that's the only way you'll get any decent range out of an electric vehicle, US President Obama notwithstanding. IMO, Battery powered Electric Vehicles are just toys for rich folk who like to pretend they care about the environment. I'd rather drive a FIAT 500.

    1. WatAWorld

      Why not take this info and create a freelance article on the electric vehicle of your choice.

      You obviously know nothing about testing a product to any meaningful extent.

      You do not test a products range by fully charging it and driving it 10 miles. You need to try to simulate the worst most grueling days of a year in just the testing time you have, perhaps a few days. Otherwise you're producing a sweet heart piece of promotional literature, not a serious journalistic report.

      You seem to know words, so why not take that info and create a freelance article on the electric vehicle of your choice.

      I'm sure there are plenty far better than the Tesla and it would be nice to read about them too.

      But you do have to admit, by attacking journos Tesla is grabbing media attention. Attention seeking might be part of a deliberate PR campaign to raise their profile and get more subsidies from taxpayers, or it might be an honest mistake.

      I can see subsidizing electric cars, but why should middle class taxpayers subsidize an car in the luxury price range that is created for wealthy people to show boat an image of being "green"?

  24. Infernoz Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    Electric vehicles are a joke until storage density and infrastructure get MUCH denser.

    Tesla is a state funded White Elephant because the technology is not even close to good enough; electrical storage technology and charging capacity needs to be an order of magnitude better to really be practical.

    Potential Mechanical energy and especially Chemical energy are much quicker to refuel with, and have much lower cost infrastructure than electricity; that's just the way it is, due to current materials and infrastructure limitations. Basically to refuel, say a car, should take no longer than fuelling a big lorry with diesel, excluding the time connecting and removing the refueling gear.

    The real solution for longer distance will probably be Hydrogen or Natural Gas vehicles; Gas is easy to transport or make on site (for H), and it will be very fast to fuel a vehicle with; you could even have swappable tanks, which is vastly more practical than then the silly idea of swapping huge, very costly and slow to charge batteries. With some careful design Gas tanks don't even have to be dangerous.

    For shorter distances mechanical energy in high pressure compressed air could be more sensible, and much much cheaper, even with advanced high pressure, light weight, composite tanks.

    Electric vehicles make no sense without beefy distributed power generation infrastructure (e.g. many commodity Thorium reactors), and seriously high power 'flash' charging cables.

    1. Chemist

      Re: Electric vehicles are a joke until storage density and infrastructure get MUCH denser.

      " Gas is easy to transport or make on site (for H)"

      This hydrogen, if you make it on site presumably by electrolysis the efficiency is poor. Electrolysis generates a lot of waste heat. If the electricity is generated by coal/gas/oil the overall efficiency is likely to be < 20%.

      How are you going to store it in the vehicle ? Either compression or cryogenics requires a large amount of energy and each has it's own problems anyway. The overall efficiency is now ~~ 5%

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Electric vehicles are a joke until storage density and infrastructure get MUCH denser.

      "Gas is easy to transport or make on site (for H), "

      The fact you prize that over anything else suggests you really have no idea what you're talking about.

  25. Pet Peeve
    Boffin

    Overly electric proven harmful

    I'm not going to slag electric cars in general - I think there's tons of potential (if not always potential ENERGY) and even if they never entirely take over transportation, they'll push battery research, which is always a good thing.

    That said - some of the complaints about how electric vehicles handle problems are spot on. My 2010 prius (I drive about 60 miles a day, it's usually worth it) had a total drive system failure a few weeks ago, and it made a lot of weird shit happen!

    The prius has quite a large battery, called the traction battery, that runs the hybrid system, charged off of the gas engine (in varying amounts depending on speed) and from regenerative braking. Silly me thought this was THE battery. It turns out that the traction battery is hooked up to a traditional car battery through an inverter, and all of the equipment in the car (the power steering, brakes, dashboard, etc) are hooked up to that smaller battery. In normal operation, the traction battery is constantly refilling the car battery, so you have lots and lots of power available.

    That is, until the inverter fails. Then, because things that are normally driven by the gas engine via belt, are all draining the car battery, and when you're on the side of the road, you drain it pretty fast. When the hybrid system crashed (on an ON RAMP. I do not recommend this experience unless you like the idea of your testicles retracting into your body in terror), the whole car just died. I hit the start button while grappling with the steering wheel and managed to get brakes and steering back for a few moments, and could even limp by on electric for about a thousand feet. Then the car battery ran out of power, and it was like the car was nailed to the ground. The brakes were engaged, the steering locked at the wheel position it was in, and the dash did a little "daisy daisy" kind of flip out and then died too.

    I called for a tow and got a flatbed, which was unfortunate, because the front wheels would not turn. With no power, you can't shift out of park! He ended up simply dragging the car onto the bed (he didn't tell me that, I was in the cab getting warm after sitting in a cold car for a half hour). Fortunately it didn't totally mess up the tires, but there's a bit of odd wear on them. And then when we got to the shop it was really hilarious - he ran the bed up to maximum tilt, and the car hardly moved. He had to rock it up and down, making the car hop a bit each time, to get it on the ground. I had it towed to the dealer the next day, and told them to please send a normal towhook truck.

    In the end, everything was on warranty (they even paid for one of the tows), but I don't look at the car quite as friendly as I used to (it did go 3 years without a single day in the garage other than oil changes and normal preventive maintenance). One thing I definitely learned - if the hybrid system crashes, do NOT run on automatic. Just stop and turn the car off, leaving power to get into neutral. It WARNED me that it was going to go into this mode by making a kind of off-key bell noise, but I didn't know what that meant. Toyota whould license the tardis cloister bell sound, I wouldn't ignore that!

  26. Matthew 25

    Roll on..

    Hydrogen Fuel cell cars : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21234234

    1. Pet Peeve
      Megaphone

      Re: Roll on..

      Pft. Never gonna happen. Hydrogen is a terrible transportation fuel, unless weight is your sole determining factor (like a rocket). And ... hydrogen is made from natural gas - if you want to drive on natural gas, convert your car to that!

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Roll on..

      Hydrogen Cars? Where to you top up? How much inefficiency in the fuel chain to you think there is? Hydrogen is produced commercially by reforming natural gas. It's much more efficient to just use the natural gas. Honda has had a hydrogen fuel cell car for years, the Clarity. They cost about US$2.5million each to make. Sure, the price would come down in production, but it would still be several hundred thousand dollars at best. The fuel cell makes lithium-ion batteries look cheap. What happens if your fuel cell goes wrong out of warranty? How many miles can you go before you have to replace the fuel cell?

      Hydrogen for transportation is a low probability concept. The technology is not even close. The reason you hear so much about it is because politicians think it sounds very futuristic and we all know how, ehem, smart, cough, politicians are. It also makes for good articles in Popular Science. It's just not ready for the masses and may never be.

  27. User McUser

    Meanwhile, 120 years earlier...

    Gasoline Powered Automobile Fails to Impress

    A reporter for the New York Times was nearly able to make a round-trip from Washington to Boston during a recent "test-drive" of a new gasoline powered horseless carriage. However he required stopping for additional fuel two times, and that was only possible due to the contraption's manufacturer's special "gas-stations" which were built specifically for this test.

    All was well on the first leg with the contraption making it to the first "station" without issue. However, on the return leg of the journey, the device suffered a mechanical fault needing to be towed into town by a mule team. "I was going past fields of hay, but I was not smiling" the reporter was heard to have quipped. Horse sales remain strong as people avoid automobiles for fear of running out of fuel far from the next fuel depot.

  28. Rob Haswell

    Srs?

    Does anyone still seriously consider an EV to be a primary vehicle? The electric car will be a luxury 2nd car for the environmentally conscious (hah don't start) well-heeled individual for a good long while.

    Personally, I want one. But only for CONSTANT TORQUE from 0-100. Woosh!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Srs?

      I have an Electric Car. An Ampera and yes the constant torque is great 0-60 in 8 and silent and smooth and no gear changes. It's funny when someone races from the lights as soon as they change gear they drop away.. oh and I have a petrol engine for those freezing cold days and longer runs. So I've got real world driving 110mpg lifetime in 10k miles in 9 months, with NO compromises, best everyday car I've owned (not as fun as my MK Indy toy car though).

  29. cpreston
    Thumb Down

    He did not "follow their advice"

    Here is what he said he did after he went to the last charging station:

    "I should have bought a membership to Butch’s and spent a few hours there while the car charged. The displayed range never reached the number of miles remaining to Milford, and as I limped along at about 45 miles per hour I saw increasingly dire dashboard warnings to recharge immediately. "

    The displayed range never reached the number of miles to Milford.

    let me state that again

    The displayed range never reached the number of miles to Milford.

    ...And so he decided to drive to Milford -- with not enough range to get there.

    He may have followed their advice on how to maximize range during that final leg. But nothing was going to change the fact that he knowingly left on his final leg without enough charge for said leg.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Re: He did not "follow their advice"

      "The displayed range never reached the number of miles to Milford.

      ...And so he decided to drive to Milford -- with not enough range to get there."

      OK That shifts it from a WTF to a "D'oh"

      Or as some would call it "Doing a Clarkson."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He did not "follow their advice"

      You have missed the bit where he followed Tesla's advice. Let me add it for you:

      "When I continued my drive, the display read 185 miles, well beyond the distance I intended to cover before returning to the station the next morning"

      ...

      "I drove, slowly, to Stonington, Conn., for dinner and spent the night in Groton, a total distance of 79 miles. When I parked the car, its computer said I had 90 miles of range, twice the 46 miles back to Milford. It was a different story at 8:30 the next morning. The thermometer read 10 degrees and the display showed 25 miles of remaining range "

      ...

      "After completing the battery conditioning process, the estimated range reading was 19 miles; no way would I make it back to Milford. "

      ...

      " After making arrangements to recharge at the Norwich station, I located the proper adapter in the trunk, plugged in and walked to the only warm place nearby, Butch’s Luncheonette and Breakfast Club, an establishment (smoking allowed) where only members can buy a cup of coffee or a plate of eggs. But the owners let me wait there while the Model S drank its juice. Tesla’s experts said that pumping in a little energy would help restore the power lost overnight as a result of the cold weather, and after an hour they cleared me to resume the trip to Milford.

      Looking back, I should have bought a membership to Butch’s ..."

      ...

      If you read the article for yourself (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/automobiles/stalled-on-the-ev-highway.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) you will see that it was Tesla that cleared him to resume the journey. He only had 46 miles left and despite parking it overnight with 90 miles of charge remaining and despite charging it for an hour in the morning, the car still couldn't make it to Milford.

  30. cpreston
    Facepalm

    The writer's story matches what Elon Musk said

    Elon Musk said that the NYT writer left w/o a full charge. The writer did that twice in his story. Check. (In addition, he didn't plug it in overnight in a cold climate where he should have known he would lose some of his charge.) He said the driver drove in excess of the speed limit. Everyone knows that "keeping up with traffic" is code for speeding. Check. He said the writer took an unexpected trip in heavy traffic. The writer said he took "a short break in Manhattan.." Check.

    THOSE are the facts of the story and they match what Elon Musk said. You can do one or these things, but you can't do ALL of those things and not expect a reduction in range.

  31. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Musings from a self-confessed wet liberal

    Robert Llewellyn drives and electric car and loves it.

    http://llewblog.squarespace.com/

    He also writes much better than I do.

  32. Silverburn

    Still on the Top Gear theme

    We all know about the cars *driven* by cocks...is there a new category for cars *made* by cocks?

    Your car didn't do well in the real world...again...no point being a cock about it.

    On the upside...damn, this is a good looking car.

  33. Coldwind104
    Unhappy

    Why does the choice of electric cars seem to be between 'city' cars that look like they were designed for Noddy and friends (that is, cars basically designed only for how well they work in London), and high-spec 'sports' cars like Tesla seems to be concentrating on? I'm sure I can't be the only prospective electric car driver who doesn't give two battery-powered hoots about whether the car can do 0-60 in three nanoseconds, or reach a top speed of 378mph into a headwind?

    What I'd like to see from an electric car is one that will allow me to commute to work (thirty miles for the round trip - yes, I know your commute's far further than that) plus allow for social use outside of work; reach and maintain a comfortable 70 mph on the motorway; carry up to three passengers; and ideally let me listen to my crappy music all the while. And I'd like to be able to do all this in the reasonable expectation that my car will keep going at least for the day, or - in the event of a protracted journey - that I won't be significantly disadvantaged by the need to stop regularly and recharge over a long period of time. An hour for a fuel stop is not practical, however you slice it.

    Didn't I hear something about fuel stations proposing to simply swap out the battery, or something? I was always a bit sceptical, mind: how many cars stop into the average petrol station every day? Not to mention HGVs? Where are all those batteries going to be stored?

    Believe me, if I thought for a moment electric cars were more than just an expensive gimmick I'd be all over the idea. But no-one seems to be taking it very seriously: it's all flash and shine, and no sense of practicality. And yes, before anyone says it, I know that a few high-performance cars can generate technologies that can then trickle down into cheaper designs at my plebbish level - but even allowing for that, I think the whole thing's scuppered by the vicious circle of "infrastructure needed before cars are developed but cars need to exist before infrastructure can be justified".

    Seriously - I'd be delighted to find I'm wrong.

    1. Psyx
      Stop

      "Why does the choice of electric cars seem to be between 'city' cars that look like they were designed for Noddy and friends (that is, cars basically designed only for how well they work in London), and high-spec 'sports' cars like Tesla"

      Umm... you did look at the picture at the top of the article, right?

      http://www.teslamotors.com/

      It's got 4 doors and stuff.

      1. Coldwind104
        WTF?

        "It's got 4 doors and stuff."

        So it has. Oh, cool. I'll buy one, then, since it's got enough doors to be cheap.

        1. Psyx
          WTF?

          Well, in two entire paragraphs of your desired specifications you never bothered mentioning price, so I assumed that wasn't a major factor.

          Obviously my fault for not reading your mind for further information.

    2. Frank Bough

      I recommend

      A Nissan Leaf. If used correctly it should be able to provide for your requirements. Unfortunately, the first thing most people seem to want to do with EVs is take them on long journeys, quite why I have no idea when Diesel cars are already perfected for that task.

  34. KierO

    Doomed to fail....for now.

    It's obvious to anyone with an ounce of technical savy that electric cars dependent on batteries are currently, at least, doomed to be short distance only.

    Mobile phones, laptops, cars...we have all known for a while now that battery technology is not moving at the same pace as the technology it is expected to power. 10 years ago a mobile phone could last 4-5 days on one charge, now you are lucky if you get more than 1 day. Tesla is a victim of this, and I admire them for trying to push for EV's despite the uphill struggle.

    There are some promising breakthroughs on the "battery" horizon such as Boron-Hyrdogen batteries (promise to be safe and store plenty of hydrogen) that could at last mean that there is a viable alternative to the well established and refined Petrol/Diesel engines.

    Until this new battery tech comes out though, electric will never have the range or charge time to make it a fully viable alternative.

  35. VinnieZillah
    Facepalm

    But does it blend?

    While it is highly suspicious that Tesla attacks every bit of bad press, suggesting it feels everyone is out to attack it, it's equally suspicious that every test seems to be about it's distance capabilities. I was the skinniest person on my college rugby team, so my coach never wasted me as a forward. Why aren't journalists praising it as a practical vehicle? Why would anyone EVER drive from Washington to Boston? Ever? That just happens to be the only journey in America that's more convenient without a car. We have planes, $1 buses, and even a high-speed train -that's our ONLY high-speed train. My family and friends are spread along this route: Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. These are all major whistle stops. Can the car easily make daily 50-60 mile commutes? THAT is the distance test for an American. Main Line, Virginia, New Jersey, and Long Island are short distances from the cities they serve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But does it blend?

      That route was chosen because that is where the super charging stations have been installed.

      Unless electric cars can complete long distances they can not compete. It doesn't matter if the majority of time you will only be driving short distances, you still need it for the occasional long distance journey. Not everybody can afford to run a second car "just in case".

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Car runs out of fuel..

    what a story!?!

    But seriously, I think The Volt, Ampera and Karma are the only way Electric Cars (with range extending engines) can work well for us, at this time.

    1. anaru

      Re: Car runs out of fuel..

      Yes on paper an REV seems to be the perfect compromise for the range anxiety thing. So why was the Volt such a flop, even with govt funding?

      They must have REALLY cocked it up, no?

  37. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Boffin

    Measurement unit?

    I wanted to check what battery capacities the Tesla Model S offers to find out how quickly my mains (400V, 70A) could fully charge it. And I found an answer. Tesla: "The battery stores energy. Model S can be configured with one of three batteries: 85 kWh, 60 kWh, or 40 kWh. Kilowatt hour (kWh) is a measure of electrical storage capacity."

    It's been a while since I studied this stuff but as far as I remember electrical capacity, or capacitance, is not measured in kWh (which would be energy) but in farad. When taking about batteries, the electrical charge might be more interesting but it's still not kWh but Ah.

    I'm sure someone here, maybe a Tesla employee, with more up-to-date knowledge can enlighten me on the matter of measurement units.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Measurement unit?

      kWh is actually a conversion of Joules (energy stored).

      1 kWh = 3600000J

      Its just a bit more user friendly to say 85kWh than 306MJ as it indicates that a using 10kW will last 8.5 hours where as 306MJ does not give any clues about how much power for how long.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Measurement unit?

      You are looking at power not energy. power is instantaneous, if how much is coming out of the tap, energy is capacity, how much is in the tank.

    3. Parax
      Boffin

      Re: Measurement unit?

      kWh is also available in J (Joules) or eV (electron Volts) or cal (calories) or even kg·m^2 s^−2 (Si Base) - feel free to choose.

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      capacity <> capitance

      And KWh is a measure of capacity.

      Power (Kw) would be how much the motor takes in any one second.

    5. JeffyPooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Measurement unit?

      @Evil Auditor "...it's still not kWh but Ah..."

      All the other replies were correct, but failed to address your embedded query about amp-hours.

      You are correct that battery capacity has traditionally been rated in amp-hours. But amp-hour ratings are only comparable for a given voltage.

      When designing an electric car, the designers are not limited to any particular voltage. They can choose 140 volts DC, or they might choose a different voltage. Higher voltage with the same amp-hour rating fails to capture the energy density. Since nobody really cares about the car designers choice of battery pack voltage, it's much better to define the energy density in terms of watt-hours (watts being volts time amps, for those that didn't know that already).

      Question for the crowd - how many litres of gasoline contain the same energy as "85 kWh" ?

      1. Parax
        Boffin

        Question for the crowd

        Gasoline is typically 36MJ per Litre - meaning 85kWh = 8.5 Litres

        But 8.5 Litres would typically only get you 70 miles in a gasoline car (37mpgUK 29mpgUS)

        In the Tesla 85kWh will get you 300+ miles

        So a gasoline engine runs at 4.3MJ per mile, whereas the Tesla uses 1MJ per Mile.

        Gasoline engines usually max out at 35% efficient. Whereas an electric motor is more like 90%.

        The interesting point is when you bring in Hydrogen in at 5.6MJ per litre (compressed at 70 MPa) and run it through a fuel cell at 50% efficiency to drive a 90% efficient Motor, it becomes obvious how stupid Hydrogen is as a fuel compared to battery EV.

        1. Parax

          Re: Question for the crowd

          Just to continue that hydrogen point: 85kWh in hydrogen is 55 Litres, as fuel cell is 50% efficient to match the Tesla's 300 mile range would be 110 Litres. At 70Mpa in a pressurised Round Tank, Which goes where exactly? its a 24" diameter sphere, or you could squash it to a 40" diameter rounded pill.. So how much space did you need in the car?

        2. JeffyPooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Question for the crowd

          Parax, thanks.

          "Gasoline engines ... 35% efficient. ...electric motor ... 90%."

          It's bit unfair to isolate the vehicle from the end-to-end environment impact of the entire fuel chain. The gasoline powered car contains its own power station. How does the CO2 emissions per unit distance driven compare assuming that the Telsa is recharged at each night from a coal-powered power station (quite a reasonable assumption for many)?

          "In the Tesla 85kWh will get you 300+ miles..."

          Apparently not under some typical real world conditions (this being the bone of contention).

          Where I see hope is that if the Telsa were improved by just +3dB (x2), that sort of e-car would perfectly practical. As it is now, I don't believe that they are.

          On top of this though is that some of us need a much larger five seat car. A practical Tesla (if you can call such an expensive sports car "practical") might be just five years away, but a practical e-E-Class might be 20 years out.

          As *all* the car shows have concluded, the future does not lie in packing cars full of mobile phone batteries.

          1. Parax
            Meh

            Re: Question for the crowd

            "It's bit unfair to isolate the vehicle from the end-to-end environment impact of the entire fuel chain."

            Yes it is isn't it. So here's a really good US govt report on oil refinery energy consumption. That is refining only, when you consider drilling, shipping, and overland transportation to forecourts, the old analogy of 2 barrels in for every barrel out, isn't that far from the truth. So even if you power an EV from a dirty coal power station it's still cleaner than an wheezy ecobox that claims 99g/km but in reality has already burned more than that in refining, production, shipping etc.

            As for practical, the Tesla Model S in the story is a SEVEN seater (watch the video here) perhaps you are confusing it with something else?

            Oh *all* the car shows? that would be except this one then? what about the papers? Oh.. I don't need to be convinced, I already own one..

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Measurement unit?

        Gasoline is 44MJ per Kg, therefore 306 MJ (at 710g per litre) means that your Tesla has a massive 9.8L of fuel inside, 2.16 Imperial or 2.7 US gallons.

        Still thinking conspiracy or media Hijack or something simpler. As they say YMMV but expecting a 4-seater to get >100 MPG (equiv) to make it viable seems a bit like sending a red-head called Ginger to primary school and being aghast at the name-calling

        http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2003/ArthurGolnik.shtml

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big problem is

    Auto hacks who seem determined to prove that electric cars can't replace petrol/diesel.

    Well, screw me, you don't say.

    As second cars, cars for local and medium distance journeys, cars for urban running around they are just fine. For long journeys they are not. Not without planning and serious allowance for margins of error anyway

    Cold weather, the length taken to fast-charge, all these count against them but as a friend who bought a Nissan Leaf to replace the family second car last year said, that's like buying a VW Up! and complaining it can't carry five fat blokes in comfort or a wardrobe. Of course it can't.

    Car hacks have done themselves no favours by in effect cheating for effect - like Top Gear lapping a Leaf around their track before setting out on a journey they then knew the car didn't have the charge to cover.

    The NY Times hack seems to have had a torrid time, but without a full journey map and telemetry I'm not sure it's as much the car's fault as he makes out.

    Electric cars - not for everyone, get over it.

    1. EvilGav 1
      FAIL

      Re: The big problem is

      With the Tesla Roadster, it was obviously meant as a run around, much like the Elise it's styled on cant really be considered a usable car (unless you never need more than 2 seats and don't need and luggage).

      But the S (and indeed the Leaf) are being billed as replacements - why else have something of that seating and luggage capacity if not as a replacement?

      Neither of these cars are in any way cheap, the vast majority of people don't have 2 cars (not as in 2 in the family, as in 2 cars, 1 for the week and 1 for Sunday best). Most families have 2 cars because 2 or more people need to actually get to different places.

      The fact that you yourself have basically said that you need 2 cars to be able to own an EV, means that any savings made are completely negated by the doubling of initial costs - 2 cars, 2 insurance premiums, 2 road taxes, etc etc. Plus there's now double the manufacturing, so any environmental impact is largely if not totally negated by building 2 cars instead of 1.

      Right now, today, these sorts of EV are not praticable. The technology simply isn't there to make use of it. There is an argument for electric mopeds for cities, which require shorter charging time (with a lower range to go with it), but you still have the charging issue at either end of your journey.

      1. Psyx
        FAIL

        Re: The big problem is

        "cant really be considered a usable car (unless you never need more than 2 seats and don't need and luggage).... But the S... why else have something of that seating and luggage capacity if not as a replacement?

        That's your perspective.

        The Roadster is plenty practical enough if you don't have a family. And if there's just one person in it, there's space for luggage/shopping, making it perfectly practical.

        And the S is practical as well *just not for long distances*. Many, many family vehicles are just used to pick up the kids, drive to work, and do the shopping. It is a perfectly acceptable replacement vehicle for anyone who doesn't drive long distances, it seems.

  39. VulcanV5
    WTF?

    Just sayin'

    Regardless of whatever a Tesla has or doesn't have under its hood, it's beginning to seem that El Reg has a bee under its bonnet about Tesla. How about not mentioning Tesla again until such time as it equals in performance and convenience a motor car running on fossil fuels? That should give us a rest of a couple of hundred years at least.

    1. Psyx
      Facepalm

      Re: Just sayin'

      "Regardless of whatever a Tesla has or doesn't have under its hood, it's beginning to seem that El Reg has a bee under its bonnet about Tesla."

      It's more that Lewis has a bee in his bonnet about anything vaguely green. Perhaps he was forced to eat sprouts as a child, or something.

      "How about not mentioning Tesla again until such time as it equals in performance and convenience a motor car running on fossil fuels? That should give us a rest of a couple of hundred years at least."

      What, you want it to be made slower?

      Frankly, the performance is fine. It's just not suitable for long drives (which is more of a matter of trying to use the wrong tool for the job: No shit my screwdriver is crap at driving in nails!) and costs too much (more of an issue with production costs that will change with volume).

      Mobile phones were shit all use without all the towers we have today and used to use car battery sized batteries. But we didn't decide to just give up on the idea: We developed it until it was practical and slowly built infrastructure.

      1. Frank Bough
        Unhappy

        Please

        don't tar EVs with the 'green' brush. These cars are engineering-led projects that seek to redefine the methods and materials used in creating personal transport. They're not for saving the planet, except insofar as more intelligent use of resources benefits us all. I would have thought that anyone with an interest in engineering and technological progress would value the work being done to commercialise EVs.

  40. Andy3

    Battery tech not good enough

    The battery technology simply isn't up to the job. Any scientist in the field will tell you that storing electricity is problematical and the energy density nowhere near that of fossil-fuel. Add to that the tendency for Lithium cells to behave badly at low (or high!) temperatures and you have major problems.

    If the EV ever gains mass public acceptance, expect to see our city streets and motorways littered with dead cars and desperate travellers.

  41. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    Moores law for batteries

    Is about 35 years.

    But the pace has been picking up a bit in the last decade.

    That improvement curve is shallow

  42. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Yet another vehicle with Plod Assist built-in

    Whilst I have no objection to loaner demo's or rental cars having built in software, I do object to this damn stuff being present in a vehicle I actually possess title to.

    A vehicle I owned back in Canada had seat-belt/crash bag electronics incorporated in it and the then Sergeant Cam Woolley, (retired since a new chief decided he was the only mouthpiece) of the Ontario Provincial Police, became aware of exculpatory evidence contained in these chips and he started reading these chips with his little goody box intended originally for mechanics.

    Then some police forces started using them as proof of speeding, in other words, writing your own tickets.

    I carefully excised my unit and placed it elsewhere in my SUV, leaving the original connector dangling and the device hooked up discretely with my wiring.

    Presently there are masses of vehicles driving around with 'hidden' electronics, all busy recording your every vehicle activity - some even calling home via cell networks.

    The public doesn't need any more Big Brother stuff, but it's good to see a NYT reporter caught out parsing his story - he should have known better.

    If you intend to do crime, make sure you use an old banger or visit your friendly mechanic, first.

    1. Chad H.

      Re: Yet another vehicle with Plod Assist built-in

      If its sitting in you car and can only be read after the fact with physical access, then it's hardly big brother-Ish. Now if it called the cops whilst you were speeding, that would be an issue.

      But in either case, surely the problem is that you WERE speeding, not the manner in which it is proven?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yet another vehicle with Plod Assist built-in

      My old Garmin portable GPS had a data field for registering the vehicle's peak speed. It kept registering numbers that I didn't like seeing, in case Plod wanted a look-see. So I took it on a commercial flight and it dutifully recorded "1025 km/h". So I left that peak speed reading in there for as long as I used it. It would have been amusing if Plod had asked for a look-see.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the whole 'charge at home' idea

    Not everyone has a driveway.

    Take a city like Aberdeen. Many people have cars as the local bus service is a joke (as any company with a closed market and no competition becomes)

    Nearly every home in the city centre is a flat, so no parking near your door.

    A little further out, you get homes with small driveways, enough for one car, so your second car has to be petrol too.

    Further out still and you get to the houses with more space and bigger driveways, but they are on the limit of how far you'd want to drive an electric car (especially in the winter when rush hour traffic will turn it into a portable heater, using up most of the battery when stationary)

    1. Frank Bough

      Shocking News!

      This car isn't for everyone!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm do you want a warranty from these people?

    I have an electric car(miev) which is great, and has performed in cold weather without a hitch, yes range goes down in the cold which is more down to the winter tyres and heating than battery performance. The battery warms up with use and you dont experience a big diff between 0 and -18 deg, but you really notice changing the tyres back to summer tyres and if you run the heater a lot. Anyway if your winter range is twice your commute round trip theres never an issue (people with electric cars still forget their laptop, need to go to collect sick children etc).

    We didnt buy the leaf because its batteries need heating in order not to freeze solid in -18 or below from memory. If the car was stored outside in winter (norway) for longer than the battery can heat itself then kiss goodbye the warranty. To Nissans credit they were quite clear that the cars computer would tell on you, same as if you quick charge too much or basically dont follow the manual 100%.

    Tesla appears to go a step further, the same logs that prove the journalist and top gear were sensationalising will be the ones used to deny your warranty claim.....

  45. Tim Brummer

    Musk has done well with SpaceX because he is competing against fossilized, political correct, unionized government funded companies that are very inefficient. And he has hired some really smart high performing rocket engineers. With that background it's easy to make big improvements. With Tesla he is competing against other free market well run companies so it's tough to improve on what their are doing.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and people claim "subsidies" are a good thing.

    tesla-the best car that taxpayer forced subsidies can buy. Protected from their failings by political pressure, while guaranteeing any new up and coming EV concern remains bamboozled and bankrupted by all sorts of Federal regulations that make protoyping and product impossible without tons of money in the first place-money such innovators and inventors have less of because it's being taken away to pay for campaign contributors like Tesla and their cash-padded but blind-to-Imperial-nakedness clients.

    Millions in breaks from the state of California, plus actual cash "loaned" from both the state of California and the American Federal Government, and we have less Teslas of both models than exotic Lamborgini's, and a handful of NUMMI guys who maintained their jobs after Toyota pulled out-"saved" rather than created-while most of the former Toyota guys are on unemployment or working somewhere for half their previous salary.

    Still no car for the "average" middle-class American to be seen anywhere but in promises. That's money well spent, yah? And I expect to see more state and federal cash going their way within the next three years as everyone involved double-down's on this bad bet.

    1. Psyx
      Pint

      Re: and people claim "subsidies" are a good thing.

      "That's money well spent, yah? And I expect to see more state and federal cash going their way within the next three years as everyone involved double-down's on this bad bet."

      That's no reason to single the company out though, given the plethora of state-funded cash cows there are around!

  47. papabear

    how come no one ever mentions the $ to charge these cars

    I do love to hear they can drive past the filling stations with a smile but you never seem to hear how much it costs to charge one of these, or any, electric car up. It would be nice to have a comparision similar to L/100km allowing the fool, I mean individual who is thinking of purchasing one. Even the dual fuel gas or Disel / electric only mention L/100km and neglect to mention the cost to recharge the batteries as if electricity was free.

    Sigh...

    1. Chemist

      Re: how come no one ever mentions the $ to charge these cars

      As 85kWh has been used as an example just calculate using whatever your local electricity cost is - here it would be ~£10 excluding any losses. I could travel ~ 90 miles in my diesel for that - mind that weighs 1.7 tonnes and carries 5+2

      On the other hand if electric vehicles did take a good portion of the market they'd be taxed in some way

      1. Dave 15

        Re: how come no one ever mentions the $ to charge these cars

        So you can take 7 people 90 miles in your diesel for a tenner, or perhaps one midget for probably about 90 miles if its not too cold in a car that costs probably 10 times the cost of your diesel for about the same price... ah, now I understand why I am rushing to buy one.

        Actually I can - if I drive nicely - achieve about the same distance in my 7 seat petrol ... but only if I drive nicely - pretty much the same as I could drive nicely in the tesla, my car costs what 10k brand new.

  48. Frank Bough
    WTF?

    What about the bloody CAR?

    The Model S (along with the similar Fisker Karma) is a major advance in personal transport. I can't believe that we're looking at the trees instead of the wood.

    1. Dave 15

      Re: What about the bloody CAR?

      Is it?

      It has limited range, limited use (waiting an hour every few miles), limited capability (speed, load carrying etc) limited availability and a huge price tag (yes 52k is 4 of my decently equipped petrol cars)

    2. Dave 15
      FAIL

      Re: What about the bloody CAR?

      Further to my last post thats 52k AFTER the mug tax payer has forked out 7500 in subsidies. Worse its for the cheapest model which only has a 160 mile estimated range at 55mph (and try doing that speed on a UK motorway and you'll have the lorries driving over you)/

  49. Isabello
    FAIL

    A journalist fibbing? Surely not!

    It seems that the journo might have been fibbing: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/most-peculiar-test-drive

    PS. I was indecided as to whether to use the "fail" icon, or the Big Brother one...

  50. mlorrey
    FAIL

    Plug it in, dummy

    What is it about journalists lacking in common sense? Batteries always loose charge with temperature. Why is he so irresponsible that he doesnt plug his car in at night like the manual says? This is not a failure of the Model S, its a failure of intelligence of the journalist and of the NYT for employing such a numpty.

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