Tesla releases logs it says prove NYT reviewer faked review

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192 Responses to “Tesla releases logs it says prove NYT reviewer faked review”

  1. jsd says:

    *Walks into room*

    *Sees argument between Tony Stark-esque technocapitalist and NY Times auto critic*

    *Shakes head and slowly backs away*

    • Guysmiley says:

      Not even an auto critic, the reporter’s previous work has nothing to do with cars and the majority are about oil and drilling. Via Reddit: http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/b/john_m_broder/index.html?offset=0&s=newest

      • Greg Miller says:

        So, the man’s bread and butter is the oil industry. The thought that immediately comes to mind is that he sees electric cars as a thread to that industry (and I hope he’s right).

        • peregrinus says:

          Journalists make contacts in their field, contacts manage their journalists, contacts see an opportunity to erode a threat, contacts call the journalist and invite to coffee.

          Journalist’s eyes shine.

        • Churba S says:

          It seems like it, but having read a random selection of ten of his articles on that topic, it doesn’t seem that he has a bias one way or the other.

          Also, he can’t be stupid enough to think one review of one type of electric car will sink an entire segment of the industry. Even if the Tesla sedan really was shithouse, so what? Go buy a Leaf. Or an MiEV, or a Kangoo, or a Fluence, or a BYD, or even a Smart electric drive. And that’s just the highway models.

          Ignoring that, the oil industry is focused on more than just petrol and diesel – thousands of different products are made using oil. Even if we went all-electric tomorrow, the oil industry would take a massive hit, but it wouldn’t die completely, it would just shift focus.

          What I think? He was something entirely more dangerous than just a journalist with Bias. He was a journalist out of his depth, and desperate enough for a big story that he tried to manufacture one himself.

          • Greg Miller says:

            Now, there you go with your logic, making sense of things :-)
            That is an entirely reasonable conclusion, and the one I’ll be going forward with.

          • Churba S says:

            I must caution you on that – I’ve not a shred of evidence to back that up, it’s just my own speculation on what’s more likely, based on the very little I have to go on – namely, experience, and as for reviewing his bias, ten of his articles selected at random.

            That doesn’t mean it’s not true, just that it doesn’t have enough weight behind it. If that speculation is proven wrong, do not hesitate to abandon it.

    • jacklaughing says:

      Your sarcasm is amusing, but this is a major international publication running a “review” that is apparently not only full of innaccuracies, but completely biased in its opinion. Considering the product in question and the power of automotive and oil industries versus climate change, it seems fair to not only consider the facts but to make a big fucking deal out of it.

      Maybe you should grow up.

      • robotnik says:

        Maybe you should lighten up, jackjudging.

      • jsd says:

        I imagine Elon Musk weeping over my comment, while a board room of oil barons celebrate with champagne made from the blood of unbaptized babies. 

        Surely we must all take ourselves and the goings on of arrogant businessmen and journalists as seriously as you. 

  2. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    I’d be interested to see the actual log (if only to know more about what is logged, in what detail, and how structured); but unless team Tesla is lying their asses off, in writing, with the graphs shown, the NYT is probably going to have a few stern words for one of its staff members about just how vital he isn’t to the enterprise going forward…

    • GawainLavers says:

      NYT is probably going to have a few stern words for one of its staff members…

      No kidding, one remembers how hard they came down on Judith Miller.

      • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

        Given that their food critics are less supine than their Washington correspondents, I’d be unsurprised if their lifestyle/gadget reviewers are also held to a higher standard.

        The NYT has a reputation as a purveyor of only the finest in trivialities to uphold here.

      • GawainLavers says:

        Here’s a pretty good rundown of the competing claims by Ars Technica.

    • Churba S says:

      “NYT is probably going to have a few stern words for one of its staff members about just how vital he isn’t to the enterprise going forward…”

      I’d say that it’s not even a question that someone is going to be having tea and biscuts with the boss in the very near future.

    • lintman says:

      “I’d be interested to see the actual log”I’m guessing it very likely wouldn’t do you much good – it’s extremely unlikely to be human-readable in any way.  Most likely, the car’s computer is packing the raw data measurements for its assorted subsystems, along with assorted system state information, periodically to a non-volatile RAM of some sort, perhaps at 60 Hz, or at different rates for different pieces of data.  You’d need to have the telemetry data, plus both a key to the format, and the all the formulas for the calculations to convert the raw data measurements into meaningful numbers.  Tesla likely has one or more software tools to automate the data log analysis.In a way, it would be hard to truly falsify all that low-level data to make it self-consistently appear as an alternate faked scenario when placed under direct scrutiny.  But on the other hand, that level of scrutiny likely won’t be available to the Times or independent observer, so we’re mostly just left with Tesla’s word for it.I’m inclined to believe them, though.  I don’t think they’d have made such specific claims, with charts and graphs and all, if they data didn’t back them up.

  3. mattgriffin says:

    Will the Times be on it?

    • jsd says:

      Electric Strollers Catching on With Park Slope Moms: An Upper West Sider Takes One Out For a Spin.

      “We were stalled just outside the fair trade quinoa cafe. I didn’t like the look of the people milling about the Starbucks charging station, and the pestering homeless on the sidewalk made walking without braking far too difficult.”

  4. angusm says:

    And he’d have got away with it too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling robots.

  5. penguinchris says:

    As a fan of both Top Gear and electric vehicles, I was definitely disappointed in their Tesla review. In later episodes, though, they’ve had more favorable things to say about electric vehicles and even rather breathlessly praised them as the clear future at one point (James May did, anyway – he’s the engineering-minded and intelligent one – Clarkson seemed to only reluctantly agree, and that’s fine).

    I understand where the criticisms come from, and I understand why people don’t like the idea of electric cars. This situation just seems bizarre, though, and I wonder what part of the story we’re missing.

    Top Gear is almost entirely scripted and is mostly opinion and commentary (when it’s not just pure entertainment), not journalism. So at least they have a semblance of an excuse.

    Of course… neither the Top Gear segment or this NYT piece would be particularly interesting to anyone besides car aficionados if it didn’t have some drama or controversy. The media attention probably helps Tesla more than the negative reviews hurt it.

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      I’m honestly curious, why do people not like the idea of electric cars? It’s something I don’t understand.

      I can understand being underwhelmed by them(hydrocarbons are wonderfully energy dense by the standards of things that are remotely close to safe and relatively cheap, internal combustion engines are quite mature, etc.), given the somewhat tepid showing compared to conventional hardware; but that isn’t remotely similar to the downright visceral loathing that they seem to evoke in some quarters.

      • retepslluerb says:

        It’s new (well, not really, but close enough and it doesn’t make many sounds. 

        Lots of cars and bikes have heavily designed sound and even then some people go to great lengths to make them even louder or make them sound aggressive. 

        Perhaps a campaign touting their status as a stealth vehicle could work.

        • C W says:

          “Perhaps a campaign touting their status as a stealth vehicle could work.”

          Until the first lawsuit from a struck pedestrian…

          • GawainLavers says:

            The problem is the Prius doesn’t have enough weight behind it, which is why I added the scythes.

        • This sounds like cyclists need to adapt. If you wanted to talk about Blind pedestrians, that’s one thing. 

          I’ve been HIT by multiple cyclists ignoring road signs/traffic signals in my prius.

      • GawainLavers says:

        Well, people who are car aficionados, especially for performance, speed, style, are going to have a natural adverse reaction to “smug-emitting” do-goody cars that generally lack the abovementioned characteristics, and worry they they’ll be browbeaten into tooling around at 55 in enviro-pods from Sleeper for the rest of their lives.  Under such circumstances, one naturally jumps to any way to drag the do-gooders off their pedistal: the inadequacy of alternative fueling infrastructure, the carbon cost of constructing alternative vehicles (the most often cited opposition to the Prius), polluting battery by-products, etc.

        That’s all expected, and strident, healthy criticism is good for the electric car industry in the long term, but lying to make the point is certainly beyond the pale.

        • ‘That’s all expected, and strident, healthy criticism is good for the electric car industry in the long term’

          even when its 100% of the coverage?

          • GawainLavers says:

            I do hope the NYT isn’t your only source of news…   Maybe it’s a regional thing, but even the ever-more-dubious SF Chronicle is largely positive about electric vehicles in general and Tesla in particular, as are most of my “alternative” news sources.

            On the other hand, if you have a strong desire to learn about popular social trends a decade after they’ve happened, the NYT is on it.

          • procrastinet says:

            The Tesla Model S was Automobile of the Year in Automobile Magazine and Car of the Year in Motor Trend.  I’m not sure that supports the supposition of 100% negative coverage.

          • “even when its 100% of the coverage?”

            What? Car & Driver had a *very* positive review of the Model S, and aren’t they pretty much the most popular motoring publication in the US?

        • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

          It’s a trifle ironic because the Tesla S is aimed more or less directly at such people(unlike the Priuses, which have much greater smug value per dollar, or whatever Japanese subcompact is cheapest and lightest-weight this year, which is probably the best candidate for being the dystopian enviro-pod…)

        • silkox says:

           The other day I saw a bumper sticker on a large pickup: “Your Prius is Fagging Up My Atmosphere.”

      • tw1515tw says:

        I don’t think it’s the idea of electric cars, it’s the practicalities of building one. They use exotic metals that are shipped from around the world. They are built in comparatively small numbers. The electricity may have been generated by gas or coal powered generators. And so on. The criticism is that they are status symbols, by people who fly around the world on aeroplanes. They are still better than petrol driven cars IMHO, but not as green as everyone would like to think.  

        • GawainLavers says:

          Again, I think those are all legitimate questions, but in these cases (NYT, TG) driven not by a desire for answers (materials science is slowly chipping away at exotic metal requirements, any new product has to deal with inefficiency of small-scale initially, single point emitters are still better than multi-point emitters, and also provide single targets for replacement, nothing’s wrong with a celebrity endorsement, etc.) but by ego and fear of losing one’s place in the world.

        • SamSam says:

          The electricity may have been generated by gas or coal powered generators.

          Both of which are many orders of magnitude more efficient than the tiny combustion engine in a petrol car. Even after accounting for transmission loss.
          If we all went electric today, even with the dirty power plants producing our energy, we’d be expelling far fewer carbons and pollutants into the air.

          And then, going forward, the whole point is that they are source-agnostic. If you were to plug one of those cars into my house, you’d be getting entirely “green” electricity, because I’ve opted into using wind energy from my local electricity company. (The actual electrons are, of course, not coming from the wind farm, but I’m paying for the extra green energy going into the grid.)

        • Snig says:

          The assumption that technology will stay parked where it is today is a sucker’s bet.

          Studies in 2011 estimated that the US has enough Li in its strategic reserve to build a billion car batteries.

          From here:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_electric_vehicle#Rare_earth_metals_availability_and_supply_security

          Also from the same section:

          In order to avoid its dependence on rare earth minerals, Toyota Motor Corporation announced in January 2011 that is developing for future hybrid and electric cars an alternative motor does not need rare earth materials. Toyota engineers in Japan and the U.S. are developing an induction motor that is lighter and more efficient than the magnet-type motor used in the Prius, which uses two rare earths in its motor magnets. 

          Tesla claims it uses no rare earth metals in it’s Tesla S battery or motor.

        • Dick Pilz says:

          Yes, unlike petrol cars, with their “non-exotic” platinum group of elements in their catalytic converters.

        • Most of those metals are available here, just would be more expensive to mine here than there due to safety regulations.

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

        • TimRowledge says:

          And dino-burners are built from? OK, I know that US made cars are made from slabs of already rusting iron (steel being too exotic and expensive I guess) but advanced civilisations use steels with some fairly exotic alloying materials. And some of them have ‘electronic’ stuff in to be , y’know, more advanced. I hear that uses some exotic stuff too. And lots of them are shipped from Japan or Korea or even from the land of all that is communistical and Red. 

          Ceratinly the electricity may have been generated by a coal station. Or maybe it might have come from hydro, or wind, or solar, or geo, or spinning pussies. That’s the nice thing about Watts; they can come from a lot of sources and adding a clean source improves the average cleanliness of all of them.Me, sarcastic? 

      • Sigmund_Jung says:

        Until someone develops an ultra high density battery, gasoline will still hold the best power density. And the advantage that, as it delivers its power, it disappears in the air (ok, not disappear, but you get the point) and does not become dead weight.
        Hydrogen would be better than electric for similar reasons, although the tanks reduce its density advantage.
        But all this doesn’t matter when we actually ran out of oil. Electric will not be an option, it will be the only one. So it will be a discussion on what is the best: a low mileage electric or a horse.

        • Spinkter says:

          Valid points.  

          But at least for now, electric vehicles offer a “good enough” solution (keeping in mind that the enemy of “good” is “perfect”).

          They also have an advantage that one could rig a solar-powered charging system.  Granted, it would probably be slow, but it would work.

        • Liquid storage mechanisms are very likely to be more energy dense and provide faster fueling than charged solutions such as are in Lithium Ion battery packs. 

          That DOESN’T mean however that liquid will need to come from oil. Gasoline type liquids and combustable alcohols are able to be made by many many means, just more expensively than current US Gas prices.

          • TimRowledge says:

            faster fueling than charged solutions

            Not necessarily. Li based cells have been shown to be chargeable at ferocious rates given suitable technology. Around 1000C IIRC.  See http://www.technologyreview.com/news/423597/batteries-that-recharge-in-seconds/?mod=chfeatured for some info

        • oasisob1 says:

          Because suggesting bicycle here would just devolve the thread. Aw, crap. I mentioned it.

      • Just_Ok says:

        They’re quiet. Too quiet. Then you know what happens.

      • Graceless says:

        I recall a Top Gear review that mentioned subscription-based charging stations, confirmed by a NYT article:

        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703655404576293214225433344.html

        Essentially, scarce charging stations allow these companies to lock in customers. Plus, electric car batteries need replacement about every 7 years, currently priced at $12,000.

        Top Gear, reviewers, etc. at the time seemed hesitant to rely on a vehicle that could be more difficult or even impossible to maintain in the long-long-term.

        It’s kind of like when gamers were up in arms about DRM that relies on server authentication.

      • LogrusZed says:

         I can’t speak for everyone but as someone who is very keen on fully electric vehicles AND someone who had been very much a gearhead (Lambo poster on the wall as a teen, watch TG and used to watch Road & Track, built/rebuilt my last truck a 79′ Ford Bronco with a 400M Cleveland 625 Demon carb MSD, Edelbrock manifold, etc) I just realized that while the fantasy that most gearheads have is of 500+ horsepower supercars the reality is sub 150hp daily drivers that can be replaced with fully electric vehicles that, in terms of maintenance and “fuel” are cheaper and a damn-sight more kind to the air.

        Much of the die-hard (possibly most) clinging to fossil fuels by the average user is based on the fantasy of having some 700bhp crate motor powered Cobra taken from them by eco-hippies when the reality is they will probably never own anything more potent than a beige Camry and of those few who do own powerful vehicles an even smaller percent bothers to go to the track with it. Think of how few people who own 4×4 vehicles actually use them offroad.

        I believe this is supported by talk of the sound that people love so much (me too, I had stainless Flowmasters on the Ford for just that purpose).

        At the moment your options for a fully electric vehicle are pretty limited, but the potential for a fully electric off-road car or hyper car is not limited by the technology it’s being limited by pushing the argument into the socio-political rather than the technical. Those who benefit from the dominance of fossil fuels and internal combustion want this to be a culture war and want people to resent new tech because it threatens their wealth.

        This is the same thing with gun humpers. I’m not talking about someone who shoots a deer every year or goes and hammers targets on Saturday, etc. But the people who feel they need an armory to prevent a fascist takeover (I would argue “too little too late”) because a half dozen Bushmaster AR clones with 100 round drums will somehow stop tanks and Apache gunships in their fantasy. These are people who watched “Red Dawn” and couldn’t wait to get home before jacking off.

      • Heevee Lister says:

        Internal combustion vehicles are like phono cartridges were in their last years – a hopelessly complex, fundamentally flawed principle brought to an unimaginable level of refinement, thanks to years of creative engineers who couldn’t imagine anything better. 

        As records still have their fanatical devotees, so it is with ICEVs.  It’s just that EVs aren’t yet as far along as digital audio.

    • tw1515tw says:

      What was actually said on Top Gear was “Tesla say it will do 200 miles. We have worked out that on our track it will run out after just 55 miles and if it does run out, it is not a quick job to charge it up again.”

      Tesla sued and had their case thrown out of court twice. TG dramatised it by having a video clip of the car being rolled back into the garage (after it had I think broken down for a different reason) – and you can argue that was sneaky. 

      As for the debate in the studio, basically Clarkson and May claimed that the future was hydrogen powered cars rather than hybrids. Given this month’s announcement of the UK govt’s backed UKH2Mobility scheme, you could argue they are correct. 

      Top Gear played faster and looser with the Nissan Leaf, where Nissan reported they drove around in circles before driving into Norwich – a city that had no fast charging points.

      • Dan Hibiki says:

         essentially they could have ran the car on the track till it ran out of juice and then carted it away or just said that they did that and cart it away.

        Either way it would have been the same footage.

      • Mordicai says:

        Only semi-related, but I’d say the future is in not having a culture dictated by private ownership of automobiles.

        • mccrum says:

          I think this is going to be strongly dictated by the location of the culture.  If you live in Montana fifty miles away from the nearest store and spend most of the day in construction hauling sheets of plywood or tools to a job site you’re going to need a truck with a big engine.  If you live within fifty miles of a large metropolitan area you’re going to need a car to get to the train station.

          There will always be a need for private automobile ownership.  However, it would be nice to have fewer of them.

          Sincerely, a guy who rides public transit most of the time.

          • wysinwyg says:

            There will always be a need for private automobile ownership.

            You do realize human beings got by for about a half million years without them, right?

          • bobby says:

            This is such a worthless and stupid comment.  Things are different now than a half million years ago – or even a hundred years ago. 

          • mccrum says:

            And without antibiotics, and currency, and telephones, and the internet, and watches, and pets, and buildings, and fire, and words, and writing.  I’m not saying the Amish have to start using cars, I’m saying there are always going to be cultures that use private automobiles (or gyrocopters or belt flyers or whatever).

          • C W says:

            Yes, and the majority of persons lived and died no more than three miles from where they were born.

          • I hope self driving cars will make sharing vehicles more attractive. I do not begrudge the auto industry, but would LOVE to see the basic income level required to live drop in the US because car sharing works. 

          • mccrum says:

            I loved car sharing until it got less expensive to just rent a car for the entire day than for a few hours.  Zipcar priced themselves out of my range compared to traditional car rentals.  Damn shame.

          • C W says:

            Check out RelayRide and Cars2Go. I Zipcar a lot and have memberships in the other two, but haven’t yet taken a ride in either. I at least know that cheaper options exist :)

          • mccrum says:

            We moved out of The City when little people arrived and neither of those options were available at the time.  Car sharing isn’t available within 10-15 miles of where we are now, but I also think the cleaning fees from various bowls of dropped Cheerios wouldn’t make it worthwhile either…

          • Mordicai says:

            I’d answer that by saying that maybe people shouldn’t…live fifty miles from civilization? It is a cultural shift, but then I would argue that the current distributed model of population density is an unnatural quirk created by subsidy for cars & gas.

          • C W says:

            “I’d answer that by saying that maybe people shouldn’t…live fifty miles from civilization?”

            Most people yes, but not every job required for a functioning society can be located within a dense city.

          • Mordicai says:

            I think you are looking at my statement backwards; I’m not saying that there needs to be, like, a cruel regime that enacts these changes or something. I think as the cost of dwindling fossil fuels rise, as regulations on pollution get tighter, as things are currently trending…we’ll see a natural shift away from the current model of friggin’ everybody owning a friggin’ car. I’m not saying vehicles won’t exist, but that the ubiquity of private ownership is…well, unhealthy & unnecessary.

          • oasisob1 says:

            In the future they won’t be able to live fifty miles from civilization. We’re expanding…

      • C W says:

        “Tesla sued and had their case thrown out of court twice.”

        Moreso because such fictions are acceptable than that they couldn’t prove that Top Gear were lying.

  6. Boris Bartlog says:

    Interesting. Will be curious to see what Broder has to say. What is his supposed motivation for faking the review and/or sabotaging the test drive? Supporting his preconceptions seems a little insufficient.
    Anyway, it’s nice to see Musk coming out with both guns blazing, so to speak. I’m guessing that lawyers have already been summoned behind the scenes.

    • TooGoodToCheck says:

      Yeah, it is weird – of the two parties involved, at least one is flat out lying, and Tesla is the only one who appears to really have something to gain.  And yet I find that I trust them more than the journalist.

      I look forward to seeing how this shakes out.

      • mccrum says:

        The Times also has an unfortunate history of hiring reporters who have taken advantage of the paper’s reputation.  Tesla hasn’t shown themselves to push the truth envelope as much, which is probably why you’re giving them the benefit here.

      • dragonfrog says:

        There are more than two parties involved – there’s the Times itself, and John Broder.  The Times has nothing to gain by publishing a faked article – as to the author himself, I have no idea at all what his existing network of contact is.  Depending who they are, and how willing they are to provide, and he is to accept, free dinners, golf games, cruises, and monocle polish, he could easily have a strong interest in sabotaging the test.

    • retepslluerb says:

      Lots and lots of journalist wrote favorably about the tobacco industry’s studies that their stuff is mostly harmless. Lots of them simply wanted to keep smoking wherever they were. 

      And there was really no excuse for that, the health risks of smoking had been conclusively proven during the 3rd Reich. 

      And journalists are cherry picking the facts – and even distorting the facts – whenever they feel like it. Even here on Boing Boing, btw.

      • SamSam says:

        Cherry-picking the facts is quite different from creating the news yourself.

        Cherry-picking negative facts about vaccinations, for example, is quite different than deliberately jabbing a needle in your eye and then claiming that vaccinations cause blindness.

      • C W says:

        “the health risks of smoking had been conclusively proven during the 3rd Reich.”

        Hell, even Louis XIV’s physician spoke out against the practice. The risks have been known for centuries.

  7. gtrjnky says:

    I’m convinced.

  8. alkali says:

    I am puzzled by this.  While it certainly is possible that Broder was exaggerating, it doesn’t seem to me that he had much incentive to do so:  his original piece seemed pretty candid to me.  And while computerized logs are obviously important evidence, they have their limitations, particularly if they are based on GPS data. Tesla says that Broder “drove in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot.”  My intuition — and it is only that — is that that’s not something a log of GPS data could specifically confirm.  I might be wrong about this, and would be interested in hearing others’ views.

    • mccrum says:

      Let’s say the GPS can fix you to about 25 feet.  All you need to do is then look at the timing of the GPS coordinates, coordinate that time with the driving log (Driving 25 MPH for 30 minutes, GPS isn’t moving more than 50 feet from the original point…) and you start seeing something a little weird.  I’m sure if you then combine that with a satellite photo and find a large parking lot the pieces come together pretty quickly.

      As long as the GPS and driving log can then account for the 30 minutes or so prior and after this event, you should then be able to rule out the GPS doing something weird like losing signal and then popping up 30 miles away and claiming you did a massive speed jump.  Mine shows a top speed of over 400 MPH for a few seconds for that reason.  But, again, as long as you can eliminate that, the data should hold up.

      • alkali says:

        Thanks for your comment.  I’m sure that if Tesla’s logs weren’t at least consistent with that claim, Tesla wouldn’t make that claim.  The question to my mind is whether the logs really prove that claim, or whether the logs — keeping in mind their limitations — might also be consistent with some more normal behavior (e.g., being stuck in traffic and losing a GPS signal between buildings, etc.).

        • mccrum says:

          Having now read the story, they’re claiming he drove in circles in the parking lot of the charging station.  Which isn’t really normal for a car flashing you a sign saying “I need a charge.”  And driving past it as often as I have, Milford, CT isn’t exactly stocked with tall buildings to throw off the GPS.

    • This is exactly what a log of GPS data would exactly confirm.  GPS indicates the position.  A log of position, over time show movement.  Right?

      • alkali says:

        GPS data is not accurate to the foot, and GPS signals can be interrupted.  A GPS plot like you envision can confirm that someone drove from New York to Boston; I’m not sure it can accurately trace a car’s movement around a parking lot.

        • I think that GPS data while not accurate to the foot, could reliably indicate that the car was within a small parking lot.  Cross-reference that with the the odometer showing that the car was moving continuously at 5-15 miles per hour within that parking lot and I think the conclusion that he was driving in circles is inescapable.

        • C W says:

          “GPS data is not accurate to the foot”

          Do you ~really~ think it needs to be when it can be balanced with actual speed metrics? This gets averaged out with time and internal data to be far more accurate than you’re making it out to be.

        • I use the GPS in my phone to track my jogging. It can tell which side of the street I was running on if the signal is fair… don’t see why tracking a car around a car park would be any harder or need a greater resolution.

        • dragonfrog says:

          Sure, you might get a plot showing the car circling a parking lot, except on one side of the circle it keeps driving through a tree – you can safely conclude that that part of the plot needs to be shifted over to accurately reflect what happened.

    • mcg1969 says:

      I assume the conclusion about driving in circles relied not just on the GPS coordinates but also the speed logs.

      • Aaron Weiss says:

        Yes, the speed logs clearly show the vehicle decelerating from highway speeds, then driving continuously at 15-20 mph for a longer distance than it is from the offramp to the charging station where it was then plugged in.

        It’s pretty damning evidence, unless the NYT is going to claim Tesla faked all those graphs.

        • alkali says:

          It’s pretty damning evidence, unless the NYT is going to claim Tesla faked all those graphs.

          The issue is not whether Tesla “faked” graphs.  Tesla’s vehicle has a complex piece of software that records data from various electronic sources, and Tesla is drawing inferences based on that recorded data.  (I’m certainly not suggesting that Tesla made up the data on which it’s basing its claims.)  That data is important evidence but it is not proof that Tesla’s conclusions are correct.

          By way of comparison, if Walt Mossberg wrote a review of a new version of Windows where he described doing something rudimentary and having the system go berserk, and Microsoft responded, “we’ve looked at Mossberg’s system logs and that couldn’t have happened,” you could conclude that one of two things had happened:

          1) Mossberg is lying and Microsoft is correct.

          2) Mossberg is telling the truth and Microsoft has overlooked some of the limitations of the very complex piece of software that it built.

          This situation is even more complex because it involves indirect measurements of the physical state of a real world object.  If the data say the car is moving at 50mph at a particular time, then that could mean (i) that was in fact the case, (ii) the car was moving at somewhere between, e.g., 45mph or 55mph, and we don’t know exactly how fast, or (iii) the sensor was completely broken.

          Long story short:  there is good reason to be skeptical of Broder’s NYT story, but I’m not ready to conclude that Broder was lying because the manufacturer’s beta software tells us so.

          • C W says:

            “Microsoft responded, “we’ve looked at Mossberg’s system logs and that couldn’t have happened,”

            The difference here is that Microsoft isn’t going to ship a piece of software with all the debug flags enabled, while Tesla has set up a much more granular logging for journalists to ensure that faked incidents or exceeding safety parameters do not reflect poorly on them.

            I understand your hesitance and can’t criticize the wait before jumping on the journo, I just don’t think other analogies would work as well.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I’m not entirely sure why “release the logs” is being treated with so much more respect than “hit ‘Enhance’”.

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      GPS might not be accurate enough (though, under good conditions it can be downright spooky), but it would wholly fail to surprise me if the logged data include the measured states of user input(steering wheel position, pedal status, etc. especially so for any user inputs that are ‘drive-by-wire’ rather than mechanically or hydraulically coupled, since those must be measured anyway, it doesn’t cost much to write them down), and possibly vehicle output(wheel angle and rotation speed, brake status). Given that $100 smartphones have them, a few MEMS accelerometers and a magnetometer wouldn’t be a huge surprise either…

      Again, as stated above, I’d really like a look at the logs, not some pretty graphs made from an exerpt from the logs; but given the low cost of digital data storage and the downright creepy capabilities of even mass-market vehicle telemetry systems(y hello thar, OnStar), I’d be surprised by any major blind spots in the machine data.

    • Spinkter says:

      I doubt those logs are derived from GPS data.  
      For one thing, they show only distance and speed.

      Distance (as opposed to position) to me says that these are just relative odometer readings.   Speed (as opposed to velocity) is pretty easily derived from differences in odometer readings and a timer.

    • glatt1 says:

       Who says this is GPS data?  I assumed it was recorded directly from the vehicle’s computer.  I have similar charts I can generate for my own car using a simple data recorder that plugs into the cars OBDII port.

    • coweatyou says:

      The logs aren’t from GPS data, they are the actual numbers reported by the car. If you read the full post from tessla they also include battery charge level and predicted range which could only come from the cars internal systems.

    • Aaron Weiss says:

      “While it certainly is possible that Broder was exaggerating, it doesn’t seem to me that he had much incentive to do so:  his original piece seemed pretty candid to me.”

      That’s exactly his incentive to exaggerate (or lie outright). His candid story ran prominently in the Sunday NYT, and was a huge hit online. His chances of getting picked up again for another NYT piece of that magnitude rose quickly based on that article. If he didn’t realize Tesla had detailed logs showing he drove in circles and didn’t bother charging fully, he would have thought he could get away with the exaggerations. There were no witnesses.

      So he comes back with an “Electric Car vs. Winter Storm” horror story, which makes for a much better piece than a “Tesla S does just fine in the winter storm, as long as you’re patient” story.

      • alkali says:

         It seems to me that a story along the lines of “The Day of the Electric Car Has Arrived” would also have been noteworthy.

        • C W says:

          Not as noteworthy. It’s easier to define negativity than contentment, especially if most of the other reviews have been positive.

    • SamSam says:

      I am puzzled by this.  While it certainly is possible that Broder was exaggerating, it doesn’t seem to me that he had much incentive to do so:

      What? Of course he had an incentive. No one would have been at all interested in an article that said “I drove an electric car. It was fine.”

      He created news by pretending the car was far, far worse than it actually was, and thus made it an article that was emailed around, tweeted, and linked to from blogs, instead of ignored. That’s a journalist’s bread and butter — getting their article shared more.

      As for the logs, I certainly believe that they are that accurate (they could be lying, but that’s a different matter). My tiny GPS on my phone is good enough to tell what side of the street I’m on — that’s a distance of 20 feet. The GPS on the car is larger, and is actively cross-referenced with actual driving speed. That makes it much more accurate.

      • C W says:

        “What? Of course he had an incentive. No one would have been at all interested in an article that said “I drove an electric car. It was fine.””

        Exactly. The tarting up was his intention, plenty of poor journalists “create” a story when they have nothing else to offer.

    • GPS data is accurate to 3m of horizontal accuracy in the US.

      http://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/performance/accuracy/

      You can EASILY see someone driving in circles using modern GPS equipment. You can see someone RUNNING in circles with modern GPS.

      • IronEdithKidd says:

        You keep stating 3m as absolute fact.  It is – for consumer grade units.  Survey grade units are accurate to less than a millimeter horizontal.  Vertical isn’t accurate enough, so we still use ‘known’ vertical elevation reference points (often USGS monuments) and traditional survey instrumentation when vertical accuracy is required.  

    • dragonfrog says:

      As I understand it, absolute GPS accuracy can be tens of meters off, but relative GPS accuracy is much better – i.e. you can’t necessarily tell with very high resolution that at time t, the GPS logger was within some very small area, but you can tell that at time t’ it was within some quite precise offset relative to its earlier position.

      So, if you see a GPS log showing the car driving around in circles around one end of a parking lot, you couldn’t say for sure what part of the parking lot the car was circling, but you can be quite certain that it was going in circles.

      • C W says:

        “you couldn’t say for sure what part of the parking lot the car was circling”

        With the turning data available for reference, one likely could plot a pretty decent map.

  9. Nash Rambler says:

    I think we’re all missing the larger question here, and that is: how much ad space do big car companies buy from the NYT?  Can someone crunch the numbers on that one?

    • Oluseyi says:

      Big car companies don’t have an axe to grind against Tesla. Remember, Tesla and Toyota have already signed a contract to share technology, with Tesla rendering services to Toyota. Sure, they’re all competitors, but no way GM, Ford, Fiat/Chrysler, Nissan/Renault, Toyota, Honda—almost all of whom have their own electric or hybrid vehicles, after all—would intentionally sabotage Tesla in this way.

      Now, oil companies on the other hand…

        • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

          Did you notice that that article was about car dealer associations(who themselves sometimes have a slightly tenuous relationship with their suppliers)?

          For reasons not clearly justified(but apparently baked into some state or local laws), car companies are apparently required to sell to dealers, who take their cut as middlemen and then sell to you, and are not allowed to sell directly from their own retail store.

          Tesla contends that their retail locations are merely informational, with the customer buying online from the online store, while the dealers contend that their retail locations are dealerships operated by manufacturers, in violation of the law.

      • Churba S says:

        You’re a journo who has been covering big oil – good and bad – for years. Big oil comes to you and tries to pay you off, do you:

        A) Write a story that could destroy your career and future career prospects if you’re found out, in an era when it’s easier to get found out than ever before, for a sum of money that can’t last forever.

        B) Immediately publish with all the evidence you have that an oil company or companies tried to bribe you into writing fake stories. Even if they control the paper you work for, trust me, you can sell a huge story like that to goddamned near anyone, if you have the evidence to back it up – and any journo with even a quarter of a brain keeps EVERYTHING. Get lauded for honesty and integrity, become a massive story yourself, have your pick and choice of places to work for, crack one of the biggest stories of the year and have a lock on that Pulitzer.

        More likely: He was out of his depth, and desperate for an interesting story. So he tried to manufacture one that played into the whole “Electric cars are low-range and unreliable” popular perception, and he fucked up bad.

        • gracchus says:

          In scenario A, the bribe would more likely be a guaranteed full-time position as a spokesperson for an energy company or an industry lobbying group. Reporters with industry expertise often try to switch to PR if they want a bigger salary — not necessarily a bad thing, but high-paid VP of Public Relations jobs aren’t just out there for the taking.

          It may be a combination of your third scenario with some informal expectation that it would be a large deposit in the favour bank with his oil industry contacts.

          But this is all speculation. We have to hear his explanation for the weird behaviour that was logged, and wait for follow-up investigations.

          • Churba S says:

             It’s true, I’m just playing the “What’s possible, what’s likely?” game, combining it with my own professional experience (as a journo, that is, last I checked, I’m not a big oil company.)

            Your other proposed scenarios, revised A and revised C are just as likely as any other, and frankly, we’ve got as much evidence to back them up right now. You’re right, we are going to have to wait for further information before undertaking any serious speculation, let alone coming to a conclusion.

          • C W says:

            I doubt it’s worth bringing conspiracy into the picture. It’s so commonplace for a reporter to make themselves the “story” through fudging of the basic facts.

          • dragonfrog says:

            I’d speculate that there’s the entity buying the story might have both bribe and blackmail available

            In scenario A, you get the bribe, in scenario B you get outed as having taken bribes for years and suddenly having had a crisis of conscience.

            The bribes could start small and innocuous – your interview subject pays for lunch, then they  buy a few drinks, then you get invited along to industry-insider golf tournaments (totally legit, right?  You’re going to talk to sources), then you’re going along on cruises with them, then they’re lending you cars to review and forgetting to ask for them back for a year.

            Early on, a step up in the bribe scheme can be mostly justified as harmless, staying on good terms with the subjects you need to talk to for your job.  Later, there’s more and more attachment to the comforts, and fear of having the last payout revealed…

          • Churba S says:

             Clever, but known. That’s exactly the sort of thing many journalists are wary of for EXACTLY that reason. The first two can be somewhat justified under some circumstances. The Golf tournament is obviously dodgy. The moment it gets obviously dodgy, you start recording EVERYTHING, because there might be a story in it.

            As for review cars being lent, but then never asked back? Yeah, Doesn’t happen, ever. I’m pretty sure it would be the stupidest possible way to bribe someone, because everybody would notice and start asking very serious questions, because as you might have noticed, when a journo has a credibility problem or a conflict of interest problem, it taints the whole publication.

            Seriously, while I see where you’re going, this is is basically don’t take bribes 101 for journalists. Credibility and trust are more important than water or air for journalists(though do remember to poke holes in the box you keep them in, we appreciate it), and ethical violations of that nature are not only career-enders, they’re exactly the sort of thing that EVERYBODY in the food chain is looking out for. Even if you didn’t pick up on it, they also have to fool the editors(and cronies), legal(and cronies), the publisher, your fellow journos and columnists. 

            Basically, by the time you start getting a realistic chance of success, you’d have to be paying off half the damned staff, which simply isn’t cost effective, and is STILL trivial to defeat.

            Yep – It’s still trivial to defeat blackmail, because all you have to do is the exact same thing as bribery: You go to print. You shout it loud from the rooftops what they’re doing, and by extension, what they’re trying to hold over you, which both removes their ability to blackmail you, and their credibility for counter-allegations.

            Blackmail and bribery rely on Cowardice, and the latter, cowardice and greed. It hurts you the worst only if you don’t have the spine to face it head-on.

        • Oluseyi says:

          You’re a journo who has covered the oil industry for years, good and bad, and has become so familiar with oil industry talking points that some of them have surreptitiously begun to affect your thinking, such that you now have subtle, latent hostilities toward “green” initiatives that are anything short of perfect.

          You are presented with an opportunity to review an electric vehicle, even though you’re not an automotive journalist. It’s a good car, but you legitimately experience range anxiety, which causes your latent hostilities to flare up. “What a crock of shit!”, you exclaim to yourself. You zero in on every perceived shortcoming and adopt an aggrieved tone in your review…

          Bribery isn’t necessary to occasion the sort of bias that the review reflected. I’m a huge automotive fan and believe electric vehicles are the future, but I don’t believe in *batteries*. Take away balance and perspective and you end up with a screed against a strong but compromised step toward a practical EV for the masses.

    • gracchus says:

      I don’t know the numbers, but right off the bat I can tell you that car manufacturers and car dealers have historically been responsible for a large portion of any newspaper’s display ad revenues. Ads by real estate brokers and financial service firms are also up there. Display ads in daily newspapers are very expensive, especially given their short lives, so if you’re taking one out you want your product or service to be a pricey one.

      That said, the kind of influence a big advertiser gets is usually expressed in a paper’s editorial side being “encouraged” *not* to run a story about a threat to its business. So while car dealers might not be thrilled at the idea of a positive story about Tesla (which I believe sells direct to the public without a middle-man), it would be more effective to have no story (and no publicity) at all.

      I’m more concerned with the informal conflict of interest issue Guysmiley brought up above. A reporter biased toward an industry threatened by electric vehicles might be inclined to commit the kind of journalistic fraud being alleged here. If true it was an insanely stupid move on the reviewer’s part, but maybe he’s always been counting on a cushy PR gig somewhere in the industry he used to cover — politics isn’t the only place where there’s a rotating door.

      • Nash Rambler says:

        “So while car dealers might not be thrilled at the idea of a positive story about Tesla (which I believe sells direct to the public without a middle-man), it would be more effective to have no story (and no publicity) at all.”

        Crud, you’re right.  I didn’t think of it that way.

  10. pizzicato says:

    Who do you trust? an engineer, albeit a billionaire CEO, possibly with ego the size of his rockets, or, a motor journalist, who likely is just another propagandist for the auto industry. 

    I think Elon edge it, plus the data logs he has provided is so hard to fake… Take the classic coin toss for e.g. a statistician would be able to sniff out a fake data set of trials. Human aren’t able to do random.

    • noah says:

      I don’t think this is about “the auto industry” vs. Tesla. The core auto industry press has embraced the Model S with gusto. Lots of good reviews, high profile prizes…  

    • C W says:

      “a motor journalist, who likely is just another propagandist for the auto industry.”

      I find it more likely that he looked to prove his own bias and write the article he already had scripted than him being a direct shill for the industry. Similar effect, but slightly different motives.

    • He’s not a motor journalist.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I trust the guy who has only the most tenuous reason to fake his data over the guy whose billion dollar investment is on the line.

  11. Snig says:

    This is an easily repeatable test, either or both parties could do it with a camera going for  the duration.  

    “Doing donuts in a parking lot” was an activity occasionally performed during my adolescence, especially if it was icy or snowy.  He may have been testing operational parameters/having fun doing that rather than deliberately trying to run down the batteries.  

  12. cubby96 says:

    Newspaper journalists have been trolling since long before the internet even existed.  Congratulations all on taking the bait. 

    My prediction: NYT will publicly withdraw their ‘opinion’ piece and ‘reprimand’ the author, but keep him on staff, as he is good at trolling. 

    Glad to see that Tesla figured out a way to prove misuse/abuse/misstatements from reviewers since the last time (Top Gear).  I believe their side of the story, but then I did when Top Gear bashed them as well; perhaps I am biased.

  13. Kevan O'Meara says:

    Does a half mile influence the results that much? Seems to me the car had a pretty serious problem. If that’s the worst they could find in the log, it doesn’t clear up much at all. And Musks ranting doesn’t help buyers confidence – he’s his own worst enemy.

    • mcg1969 says:

      I would say the half mile oddity alone would not matter. But it speaks to the motives/attitude of the reviewer. And it is by no means the worst thing found in the logs. Go see for yourself.

    • cubby96 says:

      That’s not the worst they could find, it’s just the detail that was shared in the summary here.  I thought the tone of the piece was surprisingly calm – I expected some vitriol and was disappointed.  Perhaps you should read it: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/most-peculiar-test-drive

    • Buddha Buck says:

      The issue isn’t that the car failed to complete the journey after a half-mile circling the parking-lot, the issue is that the reporter circled the parking-lot for a half-mile when the indicated range was 0miles before recharging, and then not mentioning that fact.  It’s suggestive of an attempt by the reporter to intentionally run out of charge.

      There’s also the issue that the reporter allegedly left a charging station with only 32 miles indicated range to make a 61 mile drip, passed several other charging stations along the way, and had the car die after 51 miles — and then claimed that the car has a problem with running out of charge.  

  14. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    And I should automatically believe Tesla why?

    • C W says:

      With the current state of journalism, I’d almost be more likely to believe a corporation.

    • brerrabbit23 says:

       You’re providing a false choice.

      No one suggests you should automatically believe one side or the other, but it is worth noting that one side presents their argument beside a great deal of data which corroborates their claim.

    • mccrum says:

      You shouldn’t.  You should look at the data shown by both parties and come to your own conclusion.  One is reportedly based on notes taken while driving (or sitting by the road), the other is reportedly based on computer data from recorders in the car.

      • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

        But data without context can be junk data.  This comes up when comparing hospitals around here.  People will post death rates for patients and leave out important details like one hospital was taking the sickest, most challenging patients and the others were taking the easiest.

        Now the reporter is saying the driving pattern in the data recorder is due to instructions he received from Tesla and him trying to find the charging station.

    • gracchus says:

      You shouldn’t, and no-one’s saying you should. Tesla has plenty of problems, and Musk often ducks and weaves before admitting they exist. Still, the fact that Tesla provided logs and data showing strange behaviour seems like it’s due some further investigation by both the NYT ombudsman and by other media outlets.

    • AviSolomon says:

      Because Musk has more to lose by putting his credibility on the line.

  15. beaker says:

    When the story of this dispute broke a few days ago,  I was predisposed to believe the journalist.  After all, what benefit would he gain by fabricating or exaggerating his bad experience?  On top of that, I was predisposed to not believe Musk because, as owner of Tesla, he wants to sell cars. Furthermore, I’ve always thought that Musk was arrogant, and I don’t like PayPal.  I admit am wearing my biases on my sleeve.  Musk’s initial knee-jerk response further served to vindicate my views.

    I owe Tesla and Musk an apology.  Their response to the journalist’s claims, linked by others in this thread, is both sober and data-rich.  Further investigation of the journalist suggests that he indeed has a chip on his shoulder about electric vehicles. I await a point-by-point response from the journalist.  The ball is in his court, and he’d better back up his claims with as much data as Musk provided.  I now understand Musk’s initial knee-jerk response.  It was equivalent to that email we all need to write occasionally to vent our anger.  Musk’s only mistake was that he pressed the “send” button instead of sleeping on it.

    • bardfinn says:

      Musk’s mistake was in not having a response ready to publish 0.00001 seconds after the journalist’s piece was published, with the note “We thought this might happen when we reviewed the usage logs after the journalist returned the car.”

      Actually, I take that back: now that the NYT had what, a WEEK to call in the journalist, fact-check his story, and print a retraction on their own -— and did not —- there’s a GIANT chunk of their credibility (which honestly stopped existing the day News Corp purchased the title) gone.

      • beaker says:

        I don’t blame the fact-checkers.  They did not have access to the GPS logs, nor were they riding in the car.  This dispute neither supports or refutes the idea that NYT has gone into the toilet.  In retrospect, the prior work of this journalist does indicate a bias against electric vehicles, but the guy was no Sean Hannity.
        I don’t buy the oil company conspiracy theories.  I think Broder was gunning for a big story, and that got in the way of his integrity.

      • jeaguilar says:

        The New York Times isn’t owned by News Corp. The Wall Street Journal is.

      • fivetonsflax says:

        News Corp never purchased the NYT.

  16. Fangaffes says:

    Follow the money trail.  Which big oil company bought off this reporter?

  17. Aaron Weiss says:

    The NYT’s silence on the matter since Musk published the logs speaks volumes. It took 18+ hours for the public editor to acknowledge the post, and even that was a mere “hang on, we’re still looking at it” tweet: https://twitter.com/Sulliview/status/302093238846763009

  18. rocketpjs says:

    I can’t even remember the last time I went more than 200 miles in my car.  If I could afford an EV I would buy one today.  As it is I’ll milk every last km out of our little economy car (which we bought a few years ago before EVs started to arrive).  When our car dies (or I give it to my kids 10 years from now) I’ll be buying an EV for sure.  

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I drove 1050 miles last year. So I would definitely buy an electric car when I get rid of this one in the year 2093.

  19. KvH says:

    My next car will be an electric, it fits my driving needs very well (i rarely make trips > 80 miles round trip). However it won’t bea Tesla because even though electrics are expensive, Tesla’s are way expensive. However, I do own Tesla stock. So full disclosure.

    More than anything I read in the NYT’s article, the reporter’s continual recharging to lower and lower points was odd to me. Heck, I can even understand trying purposefully to run it out of charge to see what the actual distance was, but he didn’t do this. He seemed to be trying to run it out of charge just so he could say he was left stranded.

    The whole article he talked about how worried about the range he was getting, but never bothered to put a full charge in it. I can see a criticism like “we drove 600 miles but it took us hours longer because we had to recharge for an hour X number of times. When we tried in a gas car it took Y hours less because of greater range and faster (or no) refueling.”

    Mostly I think the NYT wasn’t clear on what their intent was, drive it ’til it dropped? or just see if it could do X task and how well/poor it performed doing it? I can drive a gas car until it runs out too, but it gives me lots of warnings that i’m doing so and if I ignore them it isn’t a fault in the car or technology and a review of this doesn’t really convey any new info.

  20. IndexMe says:

    Musk is awesome, as usual. Obviously they must have lots of data like inertial log, compass, wheel direction, pedal, etc. but all you have to do is look at the last map. The map is FULL of charging stations and blew past all of them running the charge as far down as possible despite that he was directed to fully charge it. I fail to see how mere incompetence can explain the behavior, aside from expecting a computerized car would not have a black box. Reprimand? Try lawsuit. Musk praised the NYT so maybe he thinks free NYT advertising for 10 years would be an acceptable resolution? This saga made me want to buy a Tesla!

  21. paul beard says:

    Did he not know the data was logged? All we have now is he said/he said. Looks like a trap, in a way.

    I say loan two cars to competing mags and see if they trash the car or their competitor.

  22. esquire says:

    What’s next?  Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant is actually serving good food?
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/dining/reviews/restaurant-review-guys-american-kitchen-bar-in-times-square.html

    • mccrum says:

      Let’s not assume everyne on the Times is lying.  I’m not willing to give Fieri the benefit of the doubt on that place.

      • C W says:

        There is no way in hell anyone should ever have to step foot in Flavortown. The only thing I can trust about Fieri is that his food will be like a roided-up Applebees with all the finesse and excitement of an open-at-3am airport corn-syrup and chipotle flavoring chain.

  23. usernamesallsuck says:

    how did he only drive that range if he was at the far end of the line from where he took receipt of the car? Are they suggesting that they are faking the part of the report where there was a tow truck operator that had to take unusual efforts to get it on the lift? His appearance at the “breakfast club”? I mean c’mon you want to take him down, let’s see a point by point demonstration of every alleged fact.

  24. chris jimson says:

    What’s a conservative Republican to do?  Criticize the NY Times as an untrustworthy liberal rag, but in doing so defend the oft-demonized electric car, or side with the evil NY Times so you can crap on the hippy-dippy electric car?

    • C W says:

      Side with the rugged capitalist and trash the NYT Liberal Mediaz.

      I think there are probably plenty of climate-denying Republicans who own Priuses.

      • jansob says:

        There are also conservative-minded people who aren’t climate deniers, who love hybrids…and think the NYT is quite biased. 
        I’m highly critical of EVs for anything but city commuting, because the battery tech and infrastructure is not here YET. I can imagine Thanksgiving weekend near a major highway in New England…5 or 6 Teslas sitting in a parking lot waiting an hour for each car to finish. And the Prius drivers stopping for 10 minutes to fill up. It’s all about the capability to go off the plan, to go a few extra miles to check out the giant ball of string museum or drive into a cold front without having to have planned for it the day before, or go pick up the neighbor’s kid at soccer on short notice. EVs are just too limiting for most people.

        If they ever do something like the exchangeable battery pack station or roads that recharge, maybe. But not now.

  25. Dale Mahalko says:

    As a tech hobbyist that edits Wikipedia for fun, I have to say that the journalist’s account is probably correct, and Tesla is doing major Cover Their Ass here.

    Anyone here live in northern parts of the USA where it gets to be -20F to -40F in the winter? When you start your car at -20F what do you notice? Oh yeah, the starter cranks really slowly, and the dash lights are dim.

    Why is that? Because the chemicals in the battery are really cold, and they don’t react very fast when really cold. So the amperage output is lower just because of the temperature. It’s why car batteries have what is called a “Cold Cranking Amps” rating.

    Most gas/diesel cars use lead-acid batteries, while electric cars generally use lithium, but still the same rules of physics apply: very cold lithium batteries have less usable capacity unless either warmed with an external heater or wrapped in insulation to retain warmth as long as possible.

    It’s not that the battery is dead but it just takes a lot longer for the chemicals to react, and if you NEED 3000 watts per second to move the car at 55mph but the cold battery can only provide 500 watts per second, well, you’re going to be stuck, and possibly not moving at all.

    Extreme cold weather testing really needs to be done on electric cars, as well as testing of battery insulation systems, battery warming systems, and whether electric cars are usable if you have no warm garage to park it in overnight, without a warming system.

    I wrote a letter about this to Consumer Reports just a few weeks ago about their recent electric car test reports not covering extreme cold testing at all, and they said they liked my comments and may use them for future stories or electric vehicle testing.

    So don’t think this one cold-weather driving report is going to be the end of it.

    • archvillain says:

       Uh, it sounds like you didn’t read the article.

    • SamSam says:

      Tesla has evidence that their cars are used lots and lots in the cold, and have a bunch of hard log data. You edit Wikipedia…

      In this case, the log data publication would look really, really bad if someone poked even a single hole in it. It’s one thing to give the journalist some slack for not taking accurate notes — no one expected him to provide to-the-meter GPS data in his article — but now that Tesla has, they’ve raised the stakes. If they were lying, they’d be gambling that there isn’t one shred of evidence — one casual time-stamped phone, one toll-booth receipt — that contradicts a single data point. Because if there were, this would be a PR disaster, bigger than the orinal story. This is why delivering such detailed data has upped their trust so much — because if they were lying, it would be so easy to pick apart, and they’d have so much to lose.

      • daneyul says:

        I’d consider your point, but I recently read a counter-argument from someone who not only has close ties to Consumer Reports but who is also an  editor of the largest online information encyclopedia in the world(!). 

        I have to go with the more credible source.  Sorry.

    • pizzicato says:

      My goodness! you contribute to wikipedia? Watts is in Joules/Second, 3000w per second ain’t even right. 

  26. beaker says:

    Broder tweeted that he will post a point-by-point response on the NYT Wheels blog before the end of the day.  It’s past 4 PM, and my popcorn is getting cold…

  27. AboutTheNumbers says:

    What!  A media outlet biased in it’s reporting?  I can’t believe it.  It’s not true.  No sir, you won’t convince me….. ;)

  28. beaker says:

    Broder’s response is now up at the NYT Wheels blog.  He defends himself pretty well.  Lots of his arguments rest on phone conversations Broder claims he had with Tesla employees during his drive, rather than addressing the GPS data presented by Tesla.  He speculates that some of the discrepancies about the car’s speed during the trip can be explained by different sized tires (??).  Sounds like both sides have an agenda (surprise!), but I don’t see convincing evidence that Broder “faked” his review.

    • C W says:

      “He speculates that some of the discrepancies about the car’s speed during the trip can be explained by different sized tires (??)”

      Absolute desperate bullshit unless he somehow swapped the tires they gave him and tinkered with their onboard GPS which would have corroborated the same speeds.

      • beaker says:

        Agreed.  I just visited the comments under the Atlantic Wire post. The commenters there have taken the discussion to a whole ‘nuther level. Some have even questioned the motives of the blogger, and I wonder if we can trust anything further that we might hear from the Tesla employees who were involved in the phone calls with Broder.  If I have anything more to contribute,  I think I’ll take it over there.  I doubt that Musk will let Broder’s recent NYT post be the last word…

    • SamSam says:

      Honestly, it’s a pretty good rebuttal. The tire-size speculation aside, most of what he says is reasonable, without contradicting the logs in any way (which I don’t believe for a moment were faked).

      I think it’s perfectly possible that the Tesla employee, for example, knowing that the cold was causing the battery to incorrectly appear to not be as charged as it was, might have told him that an hour charging would be enough so long as he then drove slowly.

      The logs do show that he spent most of the time driving 65, and a fair chunk of the trip at 55. This is not the behavior of someone who is intentionally trying to drive a car into the ground. And the explanation for why he drove around the lot (looking for the little charging station in the dark) is a lot more reasonable than the thought that he hoped a little driving in circles would “kill” the car, and then gave up after five minutes.

      Honestly, I was all ready to pile on to the reporter (and did so above in the comments), but I think that most of the explanations he gave were perfectly likely, and no longer think that he was just out-and-out lying.

  29. steve849 says:

    How do we know the logs are accurate?

  30. Deidzoeb says:

    So the car works fine as long as you don’t drive around a parking lot a few times, as far as half a mile? Sounds like sabotage.

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