NYT reviewer responds to Tesla accusations

Earlier today, Tesla's Elon Musk released logs suggesting that NYT reviewer John Broder deliberately abused the review car's batteries to contrive a poor performance. Broder has just published his response. Here's his explanation of one of Musk's centerpiece claims: that he drove around a car lot aimlessly to try and flatline the batteries.

“I was in fact driving around the Milford service plaza on I-95, in the dark, trying to find the unlighted and poorly marked [Tesla] Supercharger”


  1. The phone calls to Tesla bother me. He seems to have been given some terrible advice like:

    Tesla’s spokeswoman at the time, and Ted Merendino, a Tesla product planner at the company’s headquarters in California. They told me that the loss of battery power when parked overnight could be restored by properly “conditioning” the battery, a half-hour process, which I undertook by sitting in the car with the heat on low, as they instructed

    It looks like the time zone difference to the west coast of the USA made it difficult to get the right people on the line.

    1. My favorite terrible advice is “alternately slow down and speed up to take advantage of regenerative braking”… If this actually worked it would mean that the car is a perpetual motion machine! I can’t believe anyone would give advice that crazy.

      That said, I’m leaning toward Tesla benig the wronged party from what I’ve seen so far.

      1. At this point I’m leaning towards the NYT reporter as the wronged party – because he is, on certain points at least.  That Tesla interpreted his driving around briefly, looking for a recharger as a deliberate attempt to run down the battery for his story amounts to an attempt to smear the writer, rather irrationally.  That they claim the battery wasn’t dead when he needed a tow (something which the tow truck driver confirmed was, in fact, the case), it also indicates their logs aren’t very accurate (or they themselves have monkeyed with the data).  Doesn’t look good for them.

          1. At night? I mean, who knows, but it doesn’t look like there are light standards in those pictures, so it’s possible at least that there isn’t any ambient light on them. And if the light wasn’t great, the stylized Tesla logo on them wouldn’t be  particularly visible. If I was designing them, I’d put some kind of back lit sign on the top to make sure people could see it, but that’s just me.

            Anyway, alls I’m sayin’ is that by the picture, it don’t prove nuthin’.

          2. I have been to the exact rest area he’s referring to. Pretty much anyone from driving up from new york has. Yes, at night it would be difficult to find those, and yes, it is very poorly lit.

            Also, its the shape of a triangle, with the building in the pic at the center, so if you were on a certain side, its not trivial to look around you to see that charger, because the bathroom/mcdonalds building is in your way. & the whole thing is divided up with crazy barriers and medians, parking lot is the wrong word, its like a cattle shoot of cars getting off and on the highway, certain lanes to get to the pumps, others to get to mcdonalds, some for trucks only… definitely not your basic parking lot.

          3. Based on the map and further back pictures I’ve seen of the spot, I can easily see someone having a hard time finding the rechargers, especially at night (and possibly bad weather).  Certainly it makes infinitely more sense than the idea he was driving in circles for a couple minutes in some sort of attempt to sabotage the car right in front of the recharging station.

        1. I agree. While some parts of the defense are odd (different-sized tires?), everything he says seems to both match the logs (which I believe) and be a reasonable explanation.

          He clearly did turn the temperature down low for quite some time. He clearly spent the vast majority of his ride at 65 or 55 MPH (which is hard to do on the highway). These are not the actions of someone deliberately trying to run the car into the ground.

          I take back my slanderous statements about the reporter that I made immediately after the publication of the logs.

          1. I don’t find any difficulty staying at 65 mph on a highway, I only find annoying tailgaters who don’t know how to stay at the speed limit.

        1. Sure, but that’s definitely not what was being advised — gliding wouldn’t put any power into the regenerative braking system. If the quote was “glide” I’d agree with you, but it quite specifically says “brake”.

      2. I don’t know about how the efficiency of the Tesla’s motor varies versus output power, but see pulse-and-glide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy-efficient_driving
        So while it may be badly given advice, it isn’t automatically wrong

    1.  Why?  Regardless of who’s in the right here, the only reason this guy had trouble is he didn’t charge the car.

      1. That’s not quite true.

        The reporter did things that were wrong: he didn’t charge the car as it was parked in the cold overnight (I don’t know if he was told to), and he seems to have inexplicably left the charging stations without fully charging the car. If he really left without the car telling him charging was done, I don’t know what can be said in his defense.

        But Tesla did things wrong, too. They set up this test, with stations spaced 200 miles apart in a bitter February. Tesla rates their sedan at a 300 mile range, but they ship it set to charge to a 240-mile range; the user can alter the charging settings, but the manual warns not to, as this will decrease battery lifespan. And that’s before what Tesla says is a 10% decrease for cold weather, and before the user either maliciously or ignorantly leaves the car unplugged all night (should a naive driver know their car batteries could drain significantly while it’s switched off for an evening?), and before the driver runs the heater at a warm-but-hardly-toasty 73 or 74 (a Leaf driver in the previous thread about this contretemps claimed their car’s heater could sometimes nearly double its power consumption). This was a test rigged by Tesla to likely fail, either by design or by hubris. The bad advice the writer claims to have received (brake more to regenerate more power! turn off cruise control!) also didn’t help.

        In light of this last, it may not be irrelevant that the writer is (at least now being portrayed as) a notorious pro-oil-industry hack. Tesla may have engineered this squabble with him.

        Don’t get me wrong: it seems like both sides are disgracing themselves. The writer may have turned off the heat later than he claims (though Tesla is wrong to characterize this as his turning the heat up instead), and certainly did not drive as slow as he claimed for as long as he did. But, to a significant degree, and with the above disclaimer about the possible dishonesty regarding his too-brief charging stops, he tested the car as if it were an expensive and reliable luxury car, and he found it wanting. That much, at least, seems real. And, in that vein, the apparent inability of the car to predict remaining range is a problem; the ability of the driver to drain the car so thoroughly that no auxiliary systems function is a problem; and the claim that draining the car implements a parking brake that cannot be removed without charging from the grid, turning the car into a two-ton brick, is a design disaster.

        1.  and he seems to have inexplicably left the charging stations without fully charging the car.

          He addresses this. The person on the phone (apparently) said that the apparent-low charge was a result of the cold, and that conditioning the battery by charging it for an hour and then driving slow would provide more than enough power to get home, regardless of what the dash was reading.

          A pity there are no recordings of the conversation, but I’m inclined to believe the reporter here. Why? With all the logging Tesla does, he’d be perfectly rational to think that they might record the phone calls as well. In that case, lying about this would simply be digging his own grave.

          As for the previous unplugging at 70-odd%, he explains this too. The dash said it was charged enough to go the distance he wanted. This was exactly what he was testing: real world use, by people who want to actually get somewhere. If the car says you can comfortably make your destination, are you always going to choose to spend a few more hours fully-charging the car? In the real world we don’t always have a few more hours to sit around.

        2. “The reporter did things that were wrong: he didn’t charge the car as it was parked in the cold overnight (I don’t know if he was told to),”

          I bet he charged his cellphone.

          1. You charge your cellphone overnight not because you expect its remaining charge to rapidly dissipate but because you expect your phone to spend the night communicating with the cellular network, which uses battery. If instead you powered your cellphone down for the night – switched it completely off – you would be in a more parallel situation, and then you might well not plug in your cellphone, if you expected its remaining battery to suffice for the next day’s requirements.

            Also note that your hotel room has outlets that can be used to charge your phone; finding an outlet in your hotel’s parking lot may be trickier.

          2. “not because you expect its remaining charge to rapidly dissipate ”

            I expect to need to have it fully charged in the morning as well.

      1. They did a highly choreographed run exactly following Tesla’s criteria and it went well.  The NYT did something more like a real world test, and it went less well. 

        1. So we must test all products now based on someone half-assing it and making clear mistakes they were warned not to make?

          I disagree that it was anything like a “real world” test. It might have been what the writer THOUGHT was a real world test, which would show poor judgement on his part. 

          1. So we must test all products now based on someone half-assing it and making clear mistakes they were warned not to make?

            Unless Tesla wants to be the car company that forces buyers to attend a training course before purchase, then yes.

          2. But by the “real world” standard, the writer has already failed.

            Why not charge at another station? That is what would be done in the real world. I understand it wasn’t within the parameters of the test, but neither were the speeds nor the high heat. You can still fail the test by saying the car could not make it to the next Tesla charger. But if you do that, you don’t end up with the towed car or the photos.

            I think the writer, in the name of “realism” made explicitly poor decisions. I think that invalidates the test. I don’t think Telsa is entirely in the right here (putting stations nearly your max range apart? That’s just foolish), but I don’t think the writer in any way shape or form recreated a realistic scenario. 

            This (tongue in cheek) response sums of my feelings pretty well. 


        2. That’s debatable, but certainly possible. All the Tesla drivers that spoke out against the original article are probably a more relevant counter-point.

          From what I’ve heard of the phone support though that’s definitely on Tesla’s hands – unless he was making that up as well.

      2. big differences in the way the CNN test went. they did the trip all in one day, in temperatures that were ten degrees warmer. they didnt have to leave the car parked overnight in cold weather or look for charging stations in the dark. so if anything, this proves how inconsistent the experience of operating this car still is, and that it is vulnerable to cold weather. and that if unforeseen things happen you will be up shit’s creek.

          1. Depends on the car.

            Anyway this argument is stale and irrelevant, unless you’ve found a way to make oil renewable.

            The point is that the NYT article has now been shown to be an exception and not the rule (via a handful of rebuttals).

            Accept it and move on.

  2. Who are you going to believe, a journalist with no reason for hating electric vehicles and no prior record of bias, or the bastard responsible for PayPal? Your choice.

    1. The reporter has a history of hostility to electrical vehicles in past articles.  I would say believe the log and the log show the reporter to be a liar. 

      1. Actually I’d say the logs show Tesla to be lying.  They claim, for example, that the car had a charge when it was towed.  The tow truck driver confirmed it was dead.  Etc.

  3. If driving around a mall parking lot at Christmas could kill the car’s batteries, maybe it’s more of a novelty for the Neiman Marcus catalog than a reliable family sedan.

    1. Lots of upvotes for a troll. RTFA. He drove around a parking lot after he had driven a couple hundred miles. By your logic, any car that can run out of gas (that’s all of them) is a novelty for the Neiman Marcus Catalog.

      1. The critical difference here is that the amount of gas you have left doesn’t fluctuate based on temperature or whether or not the car is being heated. 

        The whole argument about “range anxiety” is that we have a rich understanding of how to calculate range in a gasoline vehicle, and the factors that may affect that range. For electric vehicles, the average driver doesn’t really understand these factors, the it sounds like the Tesla doesn’t make it easy to learn. Tesla has made the vehicle equivalent of a tricked-out linux box with a gorgeous window manager. Great, but not for everyone, and with a real learning curve. 

        To be broadly successful, an EV needs to be very clear, consistent and understandable in its energy usage and in the picture it paints of battery drain. 

        1. The critical difference here is that the amount of gas you have left doesn’t fluctuate based on temperature or whether or not the car is being heated.

          Not the amount, no, but your mileage does.  Internal combustion engines are considerably more efficient with cold air coming in than with hot.

  4. Tesla comes off like an ass.  He could have handled this reasonably, pointing out that electric cars need a different set of expectations and are better suited to some use case scenarios rather than others, but instead, he freaked out and dumped a bunch of data on the easily duped public, who, it seems, will believe Tesla’s interpretation of the data over a reporter’s, even though all data is subject to interpretation.  Granted, the NYTs has had some missteps (which they should be faulted for), and clearly, the reporter in question isn’t an engineer, but nonetheless, the car failed under the (real world) conditions that Tesla had agreed to.  Claiming that it’s the driver’s/reviewer’s fault instead of acknowledging the problems and using that data to make improvements makes Tesla come off like a sore loser.  

    In any case, it’s doubtful that it will convince any of the tech evangelists, who have drank the Kool-Aid and have already called for Broder’s head (wander over to Techcrunch and you’ll see what I’m talking about).  Musk is preaching to the choir when he issued his pronouncement — many people won’t care because they can’t afford his cars anyway.  The faithful seem blissfully unaware that any kind of ‘disruptive’ technology must encounter a whole host of problems and conditions that don’t exist in the confines of their computer screen in order to displace the competing, incumbent technology, which earned its place by actually working, and working well, but not without going through its own trials and tribulations in being the upstart that disrupted the incumbents.  

    Really, what it comes down is this unspoken faith that if something out of Silicon Valley doesn’t work, it’s because you don’t believe or you’re not doing it right (using it in the way they want you to use it), and the evangelists like Musk are the preachers for this religion, who’s words must not be questioned.  

    1.  ‘Tesla comes off like an ass.  He could have handled this reasonably…” 

        So, did somebody actually get to talk to Nikola Tesla?  Awesome.

    1. It does rather come off as a ‘nice save’ until you think about it for a few moments. Why bring it up now? It escaped the reporter’s notice that this might have had some bearing on the outcome? Pshaw.

  5. Some quick math shows that he drove around looking for the Supercharger for 3 minutes (using an average of 10 mph for 0.5 miles, as indicated on the Tesla rebuttal).  That seems like a pretty reasonable amount of time to look for an unlit, poorly marked charging station.

    1. I thought this too, until I looked for pictures of the supercharger and found it was at a highway service plaza, which looks to be <1000 ft long. Even assuming the supercharger was poorly lit and didn't have the great honking tower shown in images, he would have had difficulty not finding it.

      I'm still leaning towards benefit of the doubt in this case, but whatever happened this does not reflect well on him.

      EDIT: whoops, fixed my less-than symbol.

      1.  I dunno, I’ve seen people drive around for three minutes at a normal gas station.  It’s like a dog trying to find the perfect place to poop.  Looking at the photos, the tesla chargers seem pretty noticeable in the day.  They seem decidedly less visible in the night photo taken by Broder.  Also, since electric cars are most efficient when operated at low speeds http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/roadster-efficiency-and-range I don’t think driving around for 3 minutes at 10 mph had any great impact on battery life.

        I think the biggest issue was the author not having a great understanding of electric cars, how they charge, efficiency, etc.  But I doubt most vehicle owners do.  So maybe it was more a review of basic science literacy than of Tesla.

  6. To the extent the review was factual/fair, the problem is simply growing pains. Electric cars are here to stay, if only because we need them to be.

    1. It seems some people forget that the gasoline engine is going to become too expensive to operate as oil supplies grow scarce. Like you said there is a need for alternatives, their associated problems will need to be worked out over time

  7. I call bullshit on the reporter. He is concocting elaborate excuses for what was contrived criticism of the car. At one point in the response linked above he is explaining that the car came with all season tires on 19″ rims rather than the summer tires on 21″ rims the car is spec’ed with might some how be responsible for the discrepancy between the logs and his report for average speeds and cruise control settings. This is rubbish, as any person who has ever purchased car tires knows, tires come in different sizes that have different outside diameters, and even if the rim sizes were different the overall size of the tire is the same, and has no or little affect on the data that was logged.

    1. Tirewall height and rubber compound could increase rolling resistance though. One would expect though that they base their calculations on power output and speed to calculate distance. 

      On the other hand: How can you have no failsafe for the parking brake.

      1. As I understand it, the parking brake applies when the battery goes dead.  This is exactly how I would design the system.  

        1. With no manual release option? So much for pushing the car to the side. Battery fails in the middle of the highway? Watch yourself on the evening rush hour news.

    2. I bought tires for my car once that were one size bigger on the outside diameter because they were really common, and the ‘right’ ones were rare enough that they were twice the price.  Anyway, that meant that the circumference was about 6% longer and I always had to remind myself that when it said I was doing 100, I was actually doing 106 or so and my odometer was always off by that much as well.

      1. these all seasons were supplied by the manufacturer. They are the guys who typically spec the ones that are the right diameter even if they cost twice as much. The author is suggesting they are the wrong size?

      2. the difference is that the Tesla tires are calibrated for at the factory, while you’re using different tires than were calibrated for at the factory.

  8. I believe Broder took the car and thought he would have a nice road trip up to Boston. That he failed to take detailed notes for reporting throughout his trip, because he did not believe them to be necessary. Through probably a combination of negligence on his part, ie failing to charge the car throughly and misinformation regarding his route, and Tesla providing bad customer service advice he ended up shutting the car down at a safe place and could not get the brake disengaged because the secondary battery was out of charge. He then decided to write a complaint entirely tailored to his recollections where he was not ever wrong, never told Tesla less than the absolute truth etc. His recollections.

    The problem was that his recollections, eyewitness testimony being what it is, did not match up to the truth recorded in the logs. I don’t believe that this was malicious, but it was bad reporting. Hence his complaint of asking Tesla earlier for what ever logs they had so he could match truth to recollection. Since he didn’t have those, and had not noted the trip properly himself, he wrote the review. An angry “customer” where there is some truth, but not the entire truth. 

    Broder’s reason for writing a bad review, was that he had a bad experience. Elon Musk looked into it, and OCD’d the entire thing over, because of a drop in Stock Price, and felt like he was wronged by poor reporting. The combination was the trip sucked and the reporting was bad. Musk kitchen sinked every little complaint he could find to get back at the reporter.

    Did Broder unintentionally lie in his review. Apparently. Did the car get him to Boston based on Broder’s normal way of driving complete with admitted impatience, No.

    This trip though does not allow for standard human deviations (a few miles extra in Manhattan, a search for the Power station, the impatience on having to wait on the charging). If you are this sort of person, the sort who puts five dollars worth in the tank when you’re running on fumes because you are in a hurry, this is not the car for you.

     If you are of more an engineer or early adopter mind-set (the sort that looks for all the charging stations, analyzes how the batteries and the system work, know how to drive to increase range) than go Tesla. Enjoy the future.

    1. Did you read Broder’s response?  You didn’t read his response.  He took notes.  And it’s a bit rich that you would label the data in the logs as the ‘truth’, even though the events surrounding them are subject to the interpretations of Musk, who wasn’t actually there, and ‘filled in the blanks’ to explain what he felt were discrepancies in the reporter’s account.  It would be one thing, for example, to have GPS and video footage, and it’s quite another to present raw data as the ‘truth’ without having an explanation as to what it means.  Someone reasonable might wonder out loud why a company with a multimillion stake in the outcome of an experiment they agreed to would accuse a reporter of lying and try to get a better set of results by throwing the PR equivalent of a tantrum, instead of calmly explaining the anomalies in the data.  

      Like an engineer would.  

      1. Jesus. From the article:

        ” I do recall setting the cruise control to about 54 m.p.h., as I wrote. The log shows the car traveling about 60 m.p.h… I cannot account for the discrepancy, nor for a later stretch in Connecticut where I recall driving about 45 m.p.h…”

        This is a guy who wrote an article based significantly on his recollections.

        1. Sorry, I’m not a believer.  From the article:

          “According to my notes, I plugged into the Milford Supercharger at 5:45 p.m. and disconnected at 6:43 p.m. The range reading was 185 miles.”


          “I spoke at some length with Mr. Straubel and Ms. Ra six days after the trip, and asked for the data they had collected from my drive, to compare against my notes and recollections.”

          What was your point, exactly?  Oh, yes, this is a guy who wrote an article based significantly on his recollections and on the notes he took.  

          He had one significant discrepancy, which he admitted not being able to account for (because he didn’t take notes on it…).  The rest is basically a wash, if you bothered to take the time to look over the data Musk provided and compare them with the on-the-ground reporting of Broder, and his reasonable explanation.  

          Versus the specious allegation that Broder’s a liar and is trying to sabotage Musk’s reputation and company.  Which is…ridiculous.  

          Speaking of spinning conjecture out of data, what do you make of the driving through the parking lot to deliberately run down the battery?  True or false?  Of course, no GPS data to confirm Musk’s analysis.  But we should just trust the sales pitch from the equivalent of a used car salesman, correct?  Cause, you know, sabotage and all that.  

          The electric car works well under specific conditions, but is not something most people can afford or will want to use as their primary car, which is fine.  

          Since we’re on the Jesus thing, I’ll leave you with a quotation:

          “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own?”

          1. Wow. A mite touchy, eh?

            Neither I nor Edward Brennan said the  guy was lying so I’m not sure how you get to a ‘specious allegation that Broder’s a liar.’ The allegation was that he relied significantly on his recollections and had done a poor job of documenting his trip. Your rebuttal? Exactly one datum the reporter claims to have documented with notes. Nice.

          2. There’s an element of trust here that the reporter was acting in good faith, and that Musk overreacted.  

            If I had the reporter’s notes, along with his long form birth certificate, I would hope that would be enough to prove to you, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he is telling the truth, or at least a heavily annotated version of it.  

  9. Musk is starting to sound more and more like an irate developer who wants to close an embarrassing bug report with “User error — works as designed,” rather than realize that, yes, someones users do reasonable things with a product you gave them that was not what you had in mind.

    For example, on the “driving doughnuts” thing, Musk immediately went to, “Well, he spent three minutes driving around, he must have been *intentionally* trying to drain the battery so he could write a bad review,” rather than explain why a naïve user spending three minutes driving around a parking lot is such an obviously terrible thing.

    1. Yeah, this is what I don’t get.  There are lots of instances where a driver could get stuck driving at a crawl for extended amounts of time.  Is that so unreasonable?

  10. My impression as someone who deals regularly with batteries, charge, and current, was that this reviewer either hit the trifecta of being bitten by his own ignorance, or that he was deliberately trying to make the car fail. This was long before seeing any tweets or response from Fisker or Musk.
    I know the line “never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity”. So I was almost willing to think that he was just ignorant of how much power an electric heater would draw when he mentioned the car shutting-down the heater on him in order to conserve charge — at that point he had long been aware of the need to conserve, but hadn’t thought himself to turn off something that could draw several of the kW that he needed to get to the charging station.
    I’ll tell you this — When I’ve been stupid and forgot to fill the petrol tank until I’m running on fumes, and I pull of at a motorway exit full of retail business but no immediately obvious place to get fuel, I don’t drive around randomly looking for a station, I stop and ask at the first convenient business, because they will have the local knowledge. To do otherwise is imprudent.
    I’m half expecting the next shoe to drop from this author will be “well of course I was using the Xenon high-beam headlamps to help me find the charging point”.

  11. It was also Tesla that told me that an hour of charging (at a lower power level) at a public utility in Norwich, Conn., would give me adequate range to reach the Supercharger 61 miles away, even though the car’s range estimator read 32 miles – because, again, I was told that moderate-speed driving would “restore” the battery power lost overnight.

    Sounds like something out of The Onion, and about as useful as telling the customer to use a sharpie on the LCD to change the “32” to “82” miles in order to increase the range.

    And sounds about as likely. I would assume that the customer service call was recorded.

    1. My reading of this situation is that overnight cold reduced the power available from the battery pack but that this power would become available once the batteries warmed up. So moderate speed driving should restore the battery pack.

      1. While that might seem reasonable for an individual to risk if trapped without access to a charging source, I can’t imagine advising someone to leave a viable charging source with the car telling him he has only half the energy required to get to his destination.

        Why not just refuel the vehicle?

        1. I am guessing they gambled. They figured it may kick enough charge back to have him finish and report positively that the problem was “easily fixed”. Well, didn’t work, now they have egg on their face.

          It seems Tesla is taking that a bit like Google: “You got this cool tool, now figure it out.” I’d say they need to have better handholding for such a new technology that’s still in development and most people have zero experience with.

        2. Seriously? You think that a journalist who’s reporting on whether the car is functional should baby it rather than pushing its limits?

          1. Floor it to feel the acceleration… testing those limits, sure.

            Try to drive 60 miles on a 32 mile charge… that’s just running out the battery to see what happens.

            I hope he doesn’t test an airplane that way. Or scuba dive.

          2. In fairness, whether malicious, scrupulously rigorous, or merely fortuitous, his running the battery completely flat taught us two things:

            1) The Tesla lets the driver run the battery completely flat, until there is no power to run any auxiliary systems – hazard lights, for instance. This seems like a bad idea.

            2) Running the battery flat engages a parking brake that turns the car into a two-ton brick, a brake that has no manual release and cannot be released if 12V power is supplied. This seems like a superlatively bad idea.

          3. Charging it to its max occasionally would be required to “push it to its limits”, as you still need to refill a luxury car you’re doing the same to.

        3. Why not just refuel the vehicle?

          Because the Tesla rep said the car was fueled, it just wasn’t producing enough power because of the cold. The rep said that powering for an hour and then driving slowly would allow the battery to start producing enough power.

          Why not play it safe and wait six hours? Oh sure, we all would love to spend an extra six hours in a freezing-cold parking lot in Connecticut when trying to get somewhere. That’s not a feature of a luxury car that most of us would want…

  12. I don’t buy it.  His defense sounds and looks like retroactive justification.  I work with pathological liars, and there is a point when the arse covering starts to get absurd, right before all the cards start to fall down and the panic sets in.  This is looking like that point – though I doubt he is pathological, more likely just lazy.

    I suspect he made some mistakes, then tried to fudge a crappy article instead of doing it right.  Probably that is common practice, and 98% of the time nobody notices or cares – who reads yesterday’s paper?   It can become a habit that is all to easy for anyone to fall into.

    Not necessarily malice, just incompetence. In this case he probably thought he could just write a negative piece and carry on with his life, likely forgetting he ever wrote the thing as soon as possible.

    Then someone takes issue with the fudged article, and has data to disprove your hack job.  Uh-oh, time to come up with some retroactive justifications – some perhaps legit, others mere butt-covering.  This sort of thing never ends well.

    As for Musk, he probably over-reacted, but I might do the same if I was on the receiving end of some slipshod reporting.  I hate being lied about.

    I wonder if the calls to Tesla were ‘recorded for quality control and training purposes’, as it seems almost all of my calls to tech support tend to be.  They probably can’t release them, but they might be able to – I wonder what the legalities of that would be (assuming consent on the caller’s part)?

    1. “I suspect he made some mistakes, then tried to fudge a crappy article instead of doing it right.”

      Care to elaborate on what makes you suspect this?

      1. He pretty much admits as much, at least on some of the points raised by Musk.

        “I do recall setting the cruise control to about 54 m.p.h., as I wrote. The log shows the car traveling about 60 m.p.h… I cannot account for the discrepancy, nor for a later stretch in Connecticut where I recall driving about 45 m.p.h…”

        1. Okay, so you presume the graph that Musk posted is true, while Broder lied on purpose? That’s an interesting take on the story. Or do you have access to the original logs and can verify that they haven’t been tampered with / changed / are accurate?

          It’s really a matter of “he said / she said” and in this whole back and forth it strikes me that some people heavily align with Musk because he’s a “fellow geek who tries to save the world, oh and spaceships!!!!!” and on the other hand you have a bunch of die hards who don’t like electric cars and see this as proof positive that they are right too.

          Personally I am in neither camp. I think Musk is overselling his car and Broder seems to have made some bad choices and been given some bad advice from Tesla. To call him a liar because of that is a bit strong though, guess you belong into the first camp.

      2. I don’t buy it.  His defense sounds and looks like retroactive justification.  I work with pathological liars, and there is a point when the arse covering starts to get absurd, right before all the cards start to fall down and the panic sets in.  This is looking like that point – though I doubt he is pathological, more likely just lazy.

          @boingboing-0e12517bb2658ec10c92c1b317e14847:disqus did elaborate in the 1st paragraph.

        1. That’s his opinion, not really any specific facts to back up that opinion. I have a lot of opinions too: I think for example that Musk is a really good marketer who has Geeks eat out of his hand because they all want to be just like him.

    2.  I’d be very surprised if they weren’t these days. I’ve done my fair share of helldesk, and pretty much everywhere recorded every call as a matter of course.

    1. A completely, utterly pointless experiment, created just so that CNN could jump in on the publicity bandwagon.

      “Hi Tech Support, my Windows computer crashes every time I hit the ctrl key!”
      “I’ll test on mine. Nope, doesn’t happen for me. I guess you’re lying.”

      1. It’s as valid as the original shitty review with all the drama intact. He wanted to “prove” the “real world” driving of a road trip and intentionally refused to charge the car up repeatedly.

        Someone did the same thing, but refueled the car properly, experiencing none of the same issues. The only difference between the reviews is that one is far more boring.

    2. Nice.  I hope Musk trumpets this contrasting review loudly, and preferably in the face of the Times reporter.

    3. Well, we all know that when two experiments give opposite results, that the one that agrees with our premise must be correct.

  13. My two cents: Broder does not like electric cars and wanted to make Tesla look bad.  Musk got burned before by Top Gear and is very defensive. The reporter was dishonest. Musk said some silly things, but probably did not make up the log from whole cloth either.
    We are still talking about a car that won accolades from pretty much every other reviewer who is not Broder and is not on Top Gear.

    1. Broder does not like electric cars and wanted to make Tesla look bad.

      Evidence of past animosity to electric cars or Tesla?

  14. My take on it now is that there were plenty of mistakes to go around, but I don’t think either side is being intentionally dishonest.

    For his part, Broder should have been a lot smarter and more patient about charging the car.  Why didn’t he do a full charge before the trip?  After all the charge worries on the first leg, why did he do a “should be enough” charge on the second leg instead of a full charge?  His original article left me with the mistaken impression that had HAD started with a full charge, and he HAD fully charged it for the second leg.  Also, the “downtown Manhattan” thing:  If you take the Lincoln Tunnel, you are driving in Manhattan.  I doubt Musk was referring to a specific “downtown” district.  And while the mileage might be close between the tunnel/bridge options, it’s quite possible that travel time could be quite different due to traffic speed differences.

    For Tesla’s part, their phone support seems to have been giving out some really terrible advice – esp.  the stuff about braking to save energy, having him “wing it” on the 32 mile charge hoping it’ll go back up, the “warm-up” than ran the battery even deader.  And the unreleaseable parking brake issue is disastrous.  They also completely fail to address why the battery lost so much power overnight (from 90 miles to 25!).  This is dramatically more than the 10% cold factor they expect.  It almost seems like an overt failure happened here.  How could all those owners in Sweden or Norway or wherever deal with that on a regular basis?  My guess is they don’t and this is not normal and so should be addressed.

    I do wonder about the 47 vs 58 minute charging.  I really doubt Tesla is making up what their logs say, and Brder seems quite specific about the charge times.   But again, why didn’t Broder just let it charge fully – or even for a full 60 minutes – after his earlier worries and miserable slow unheated drive?

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