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Elon Musk Lays Out His Evidence That NYT Tesla Test Drive Was Staged 841

Posted by timothy
from the relax-cbs-does-this-all-the-time dept.
mykepredko writes "Tesla Motors CEO and founder Elon Musk definitely isn't the best guy to try to pull a fast one on. The visionary entrepreneur set Twitter a titter when he claimed earlier this week that New York Times writer John Broder had fudged details about the Tesla Models S car's range in cold weather, resulting in what he termed a 'fake' article. Musk promised evidence, and now he has delivered, via the official Tesla blog."
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Elon Musk Lays Out His Evidence That NYT Tesla Test Drive Was Staged

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  • Pathetic. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @01:27PM (#42897163)

    Did John Broder think that in a car as sophisticated as the Tesla they wouldn't keep event the simplest of logs? My home router keeps more detail than it took to debunk this story. When I'm 30 miles from stranded my far less sophisticated Volt starts nagging and the Nav system offers "Plot a course to the nearest refueling point?" If you ignore this for half an hour, I assume you run out of gas. I'll never know.

    Fake news enthusiasts should probably form a club so they can bounce ideas off one another and prevent embarrassingly weak lies from getting into print. It makes them all look... lame.

  • by Megane (129182) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @01:45PM (#42897425) Homepage

    We assumed that the reporter would be fair and impartial, as has been our experience with The New York Times, an organization that prides itself on journalistic integrity.

    AHAHAHAHAAAA that's a good one! They think they're better than everyone else and certainly haven't had any journalistic integrity regarding politics (being clearly biased for years now), so why would you expect it for a vehicle review?

    In his own words in an article published last year, this is how Broder felt about electric cars before even seeing the Model S:

    "Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate.”

    Too bad about that, but at least you zinged him back real good. Orbital high-five good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @01:58PM (#42897631)

    From TFA:

    Cruise control was never set to 54 mph as claimed in the article, nor did he limp along at 45 mph. Broder in fact drove at speeds from 65 mph to 81 mph for a majority of the trip and at an average cabin temperature setting of 72 F.

        At the point in time that he claims to have turned the temperature down, he in fact turned the temperature up to 74 F.

      The charge time on his second stop was 47 mins, going from -5 miles (reserve power) to 209 miles of Ideal or 185 miles of EPA Rated Range, not 58 mins as stated in the graphic attached to his article. Had Broder not deliberately turned off the Supercharger at 47 mins and actually spent 58 mins Supercharging, it would have been virtually impossible to run out of energy for the remainder of his stated journey.

    Let me get this straight: I can't drive 65 or turn up the heat without having to worry about getting stranded? It takes an hour to refill the thing, and I have to do it three times to drive 600 miles?

    Why the fuck would I ever want to buy one of these cars?

    I enjoy the above post where you assume that just because you drive 600 miles all the time everyone else must as well thus this car could never work for anyone.... well played.

  • Re:Pathetic. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@@@gmail...com> on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:00PM (#42897681) Journal

    Just personal bias. A lot of automotive journalists are not only conservative (and as such hate "green" stuff and especially Tesla who accepted money from the US government) but also hate the shit out of electric cars, basically because they're traditionalists.

  • Re:I trust data (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:03PM (#42897741) Homepage Journal

    This is right on. Trust data.

    You can look at my comment history... I have a history of trust problems with corporate America, but in this case there are logs backing up the claims. The NYT has free access to those logs and if there is tampering then it IS going to be found.

    What SHOULD have been done by the NYT here... they should have had video evidence of what they are saying. We're stuck with one reporter who has shown to have an anti-electric car bias and his word vs a log. It's not hard to see who has the burden of proof in this situation.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:03PM (#42897745)

    The plots show a precipitous drop in charge level around the 400 mile mark that doesn't match the constant discharge slopes elsewhere. The only thing that happened at that time was the temperature increasing from 70F to 75F. It seems odd that at 35% charge the heaters would have that effect when nothing seemed to happen at other times with the temp above 74F.

  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:07PM (#42897821)

    They had already decided that actual features of the car (poor range and heavy weight vs. the Lotus Elise on which it was based) made them not like it.

    As usual they put together a dramatic sequence, Tesla fishtailing off the track, lotus handling well. Ending with the Tesla having dead batteries and requiring a long recharge.

    That's no more dishonest then Consumer reports rating the 'vette as unsatisfactory because it has a small trunk and poor gas mileage. In both cases their assessment is based on fact and the argument is with their criteria.

  • by Brannon (221550) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:07PM (#42897837)

    They are selling them faster than they can make them and it has received spectacular reviews from the automotive press--or at least any automotive press that hadn't already made up their minds that "electric cars suck". This is a car which is more than competitive within its segment (luxury sports sedan). It's just a matter of time until the technology becomes more affordable and trickles down into mass market segments.

    It's absurd to claim that electric cars won't be practical until we have fusion reactors when they are clearly practical in some segments today.

    You sound like the sad, pathetic curmudgeons who crap on any trans-formative new technology--I'm sure some jackass said the same things about "horseless carriages" at the time. Someday soon you will be just as wrong and just as irrelevant.

  • Prove it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:08PM (#42897849)

    There is a simple way to prove it. Have someone else who is acceptable to both NYT and Tesla motors repeat the trip with the following differences;
    1. Video the whole trip.
    2. Charge to full at each stop.
    Compare the logs from both trips and report the results. Let the readers decide who is telling the truth. How about we have more reporters telling the facts and fewer commentators telling us how to think.

  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:08PM (#42897861)

    It was an accurate review. The Tesla is a useless track day car. (unless your day is very short)

    The only complaint Tesla could come up with is how they dramatized the out of power issue.

  • I think that's naive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pr0t0 (216378) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:18PM (#42898061)

    We all want to trust news sources, but it's really just naivete to think that corporate interests don't trump journalistic integrity. They absolutely do. Not just in terms of the actual reporting, which I'll grant you is probably less common. It's far more likely the case in terms of what stories to cover; what stories to bookend on those to produce a particular spin or emotional response; and what advertising to juxtapose with all of that. But I don't think a journalist, even a NYT journalist, is above taking a massively overpaid and cushy job at an oil company a few years after an early exit from journalism in exchange for a one-time unfavorable review.

    Journalists are humans and prone to the same failings as the rest of us. Even honest journalists are under the mantle of their news bureau, who in-turn is under the mantle of their parent company. Those parent companies drive the agenda, the story arc, the dialogue, and thusly drive the money back into their pockets. I don't want to be too conspiratorial, but money drives it all.

    The NYT does not have a parent company that I'm aware of, but I'm sure the executives rub shoulders with the executives of other large companies and conglomerations (like auto industry and oil execs). That becomes a kind of club where everyone looks out for each other. No one wants to be ostracized because that means less power, influence, and access. We're talking about people with enough of those qualities to effectively end the career of anyone who isn't on-board and hide their hand in it.

    OK so maybe that is a bit conspiratorial, but I'm willing to bet there's more than a grain of truth to it.

    To answer your question, I don't trust a legitimate journalist any more or less than a corporate CEO. Everyone has an agenda. "Telling the truth" is likely an agenda that only exists in J-School, when you're too young to know that the world is a far darker place than you realized.

  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:39PM (#42898497)
    The NYTimes writer drove in circles to draw the battery down!!! That pretty much clinches it for me to take Tesla's side. And I believe the NYTimes altered the story slightly between print time and what was on the internet on Tuesday. I'll have to find the print copy again to see what they changed. Here's a quote from Elon Musk's rebuttal statement:
    The above helps explain a unique peculiarity at the end of the second leg of Broder's trip. When he first reached our Milford, Connecticut Supercharger, having driven the car hard and after taking an unplanned detour through downtown Manhattan to give his brother a ride, the display said "0 miles remaining." Instead of plugging in the car, he drove in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot. When the Model S valiantly refused to die, he eventually plugged it in. On the later legs, it is clear Broder was determined not to be foiled again.

    Then, on the NYTimes' original response to the controversy (at http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-flying-over-a-test-of-teslas-charging-network/ [nytimes.com] ) Broder writes:

    I drove more than 100 miles below 55 on cruise control to conserve power.

    Yet the graphic presented by Elon Musk ( http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/blog_images/speeddistance0.jpg [teslamotors.com] ) of speed vs. distance clearly shows that Broder's statement is false, unless Elon Musk is presenting false data logs. Of course, one possible explanation could be an uncalibrated speedometer, which showed Broder the numbers he wrote in his article. But considering the digital-ness of this fancy-schmancy electric car, I expect that the display is a digital display of speed and that the console speed displayed actually matches the speeds logged and graphed by Musk.
    .
    Now little things lke "I but the climate control to low at 182 miles" when he really did it at 212 miles (approximately eyeballed by me) which would have seemed like picking at details and mistakes takes on a sadder dirtier note of trying to spin the story the way he wanted it to turn out.
    :>(
    How sad for the nytimes if Elon Musk's allegations turn out to be true and Broder lied.

  • Reputation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Capt.Albatross (1301561) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:40PM (#42898513)

    After Musk's initial complaint, the Times doubled-down and defended their report as accurate, and then Musk presented this quantitative evidence. Someone at the Times is going to be very pissed with Mr. Broder if Tesla's data stand up to scrutiny.

  • by Catbeller (118204) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:41PM (#42898527) Homepage

    They never mention that they are fakes during the shows. The reviews are presented as reviews. Entertainment is not an excuse for outright lying.

  • by Kreigaffe (765218) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @02:44PM (#42898591)

    Kinda dumb. They weren't reviewing its range, just the car, and running out of power is something you can realistically expect. Even if you don't drain it down to the point you have to push it into the garage, it's STILL a long wait until you can drive it again.

    What part of that is not true? Should they NOT have shown the primary downside to the Tesla and other electrics? Would ignoring the most serious flaw of an item be the more honest way of reviewing it?

    Top Gear's a entertainment primarily and review secondarily, but jesus christ. You're tilting at them for.. actually touching on the negative points of something they were reviewing. Good god. That's what is supposed to happen.

    They didn't say the Tesla's range was any less than what Tesla's engineers told them it would be, they didn't say it would take 3 days to charge, they didn't say you have to charge it with the soul of a murdered street urchin.

    They just pretended they drove 2 or 3 laps that we didn't see, and proceeded from that point as if those laps had been driven.

  • Re:Pathetic. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @03:01PM (#42898921)

    Well, from my perspective "rampant left bias" correlates with "acts like a whiny spoiled brat child" behavior quite frequently, whereas "rampant corporate bias" correlates with "punches you once and says 'fuck you'" behavior.

    As a parent, I can assure you that "acts like a whiny spoiled brat child" is far more aggravating and annoying than "punches you once and says 'fuck you'". I can leave the latter; it's impossible to leave or ignore the former, especially because the former is far more vocal.

  • Re:Pathetic. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @03:20PM (#42899245) Homepage Journal

    Funny though how they only seem to feel the need to make shit up when it comes to electric cars.

    Imagine if the reviewer had, instead, written about the latest Ford/GM/Chrysler Crossover, and announced that it was barely able to make it on the road before running out of fuel, oil, and R134a refrigerant for the A/C.

    That would also have gotten them some eyeballs.

    I think bias has a lot to do with this. Half the country thinks that the incremental cost of each Chevy Volt is about $50k because the anti-electric mob performed a dubious calculation that included sunk costs divided by total units sold early on in the car's history (you have to wonder why Apple ever made the iPod, as by these guys calculations the first few hundred cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make...) and it's become a thing, especially in the automotive industry, to just pretend that the technology is attrociously bad.

    No wonder Tesla Motors is upset. They're trying something new, in the process trying to make the world a better place (yes, I know they're also out to make money, but they could make a luxury car with fewer acceptance problems if they just stuck a six cylinder engine in it, and make a lot more money as a result), and they're being pissed all over by irrational jackasses who are more obsessed with upsetting environmentalists than they are with actually enjoying themselves or being happy.

    These people are why we can't have nice things.

  • Re:Theory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @03:26PM (#42899393)
    Unless these logs were doctored (unlikely), then Broder lied. However, the one claim of Broder's that Tesla doesn't try to debunk is the loss of charge from overnight cold. Looking at the graphs, somewhere around mile 400, there is a sudden drop in charge from ~45% to ~38%, with a corresponding drop in estimated range from ~80 miles to ~20 miles (the two are not linearly related, presumably because of the intrincacies of the charge/discharge curve being nonlinear). This seems to correspond to what Broder said, that by letting the car sit in the cold, it lost 2/3 of its range.

    This is the one negative thing that may have been true in the NYTimes story. Of course, now that Broder has ruined his credibility, even that must be called into question (did he leave it running in a parking spot for a few hours with the heater blasting? ... actually there is a spike in the 'cabin temperature' right at that point...). As someone actually interested in electric cars, that's the kind of question I would like a proper answer to. So, it would have been nice for Tesla to address it (beyond just saying that they have lots of sales in frigid countries).
  • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Thursday February 14, 2013 @04:26PM (#42900433) Homepage

    It's interesting how most, if not all, of the ad hominem attacks on Tesla Motors are done using anonymous accounts. I've read through half the comments for this article now, and some anonymous coward seems determined to throw dirt on Tesla and defend the journalist.

  • Tesla is lying (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @04:59PM (#42900979)

    Everything from the Elon's logs align with what John said happened. The "irregularities" in the logs are all reasonably within the measurement variances of the instruments, or within the programming safeties of the car itself. Even the harshest claims by Elon are just restatements of what John wrote, in a more inflammatory manner.

    Here's a simple example: Elon claims the car had juice left. This is true -- Li-ION batteries have a limiter to prevent 100% discharge. There's technically juice left in the battery. But it's irrelevent -- that juice can't be used -- because it would damage the battery to use it, and the car won't allow you to use it. A tow truck driver confirmed the car had reached its safety-cut off, and locked the wheels, and had to spend over an hour dragging the car onto a flat-bed. So, Elon lied -- He stated a technical truth that's not accurate to the scenario.

    There's tons others -- speed variance between the speedometer and a GPS within normal variance limits for the instruments. Charging to only 28% -- 2-3x the anticipated mileage. It's like buying $5 worth of gas to drive a $2 trip. The logs match what John, the reporter, said happened.

    IMHO, the reporter is telling the truth. Elon is making mountains out of molehills to distract us from the truth. And, I read both Articles -- not just talking out my ass like a bunch of commenters here...

  • Re:Pathetic. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Thursday February 14, 2013 @05:15PM (#42901225)

    But it also is somewhat onerous that Musk could get that much information, damning or not. I think that tracking that deeply is an invasion of privacy.... although it's a double-edged sword at this rate.

    TFA states that ever since the Top Gear thing, they've put data loggers in all the cars they send to the media to review, precisely to avoid the kind of situation that happened with dishonest reporters.

    Production vehicies will probably have similar data loggers, but with less data captured (akin to the black boxes that exist in practically every car sold today). Though, I'd also guess a modern vehicle today has that capability as well through their black boxes. Especially since they practically all have built-in satnavs.

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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