Elon Musk Takes On The New York Times Over The Tesla Model S

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Elon Musk has defended the Tesla before, most notably against the guys from Top Gear UK, but this time it’s the New York Times and their decidedly negative review of the Tesla Model S. The review comes from writer John Broder who took the car for a spin from Washington, DC to Boston and got stuck in Connecticut. He claims it was due to the cold. Musk claims it’s all a fabrication.

According to Broder, he drove conservatively and throughout his trip watched the numbers on the Tesla Model S show increasingly confusing and conflicting information.

As I crossed into New Jersey some 15 miles later, I noticed that the estimated range was falling faster than miles were accumulating. At 68 miles since recharging, the range had dropped by 85 miles, and a little mental math told me that reaching Milford would be a stretch.

It was at this point that he began following Tesla’s range-maximization guidelines which meant turning the cabin temperature a bit lower and slowing down to a measly 54mph on a highway with a 65mph speed limit. He made it to a service plaza for a recharge, but the next morning he wasn’t so lucky.

When I parked the car, its computer said I had 90 miles of range, twice the 46 miles back to Milford. It was a different story at 8:30 the next morning. The thermometer read 10 degrees and the display showed 25 miles of remaining range — the electrical equivalent of someone having siphoned off more than two-thirds of the fuel that was in the tank when I parked.

Broder stopped at a Norwich Public Utilities charging station for a boost before he continued his journey, but it wasn’t enough. He made it to Branford, Connecticut before the Tesla Model S shutdown and left him coasting down an exit ramp. Game over. Or is it?

Enter Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, who says that all is not as claimed in the New York Times review. He took his case to twitter.

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Before you think that Tesla is being terribly Big Brother by having the vehicle log operational on all their cars, it’s only activated with explicit written permission from individual vehicle owners. The only exception is when it’s a member of the media and in those cases the log is always active.

You can blame, or thank, Top Gear UK’s Jeremy Clarkson since it was his experience driving the Tesla Roadster and claiming he only got only a 50-mile range that set the policy. Tesla claimed he had another 50 miles to go, but without the log, there was no way to prove him wrong. Not this time.

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We’ll have to wait and see what sort of proof Elon Musk finally submits, but for the time being it’s anyone guess who’s right. What do you think? Did the cold kill the Tesla Model S or did Broder take the long way home?

Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. When not drooling over cars, Nicole writes for Wired’s GeekMom.