The New York Times did a Tesla Model S road test recently and the results pretty much solidified the very legitimate fears that people have about electrification of the automobile. It’s called range anxiety and NYT road tester John Broder felt it first-hand and wrote about it in a story on the weekend.
Broder’s task was to drive between two SuperCharger points, around 200 miles apart, and back again after an overnight stay. The 85kWh Model S that he was driving has an EPA-estimated range of 265 miles and a Tesla-rated range of 300 miles. Note that it was cold, so you can drop those figures a little (or a lot, as Broder found out).
You should read the story for yourself at the link, but let’s just say things didn’t turn out as well as either Broder or Elon Musk would have hoped. The car ended up on the back of a flat-bed truck and it wasn’t like the Top Gear test where they deliberately explored the range of the vehicle at max power. This was an exercise where the driver tried desperately to keep the car going, complete with Tesla engineers on the other end of the phone to advise him.
It’s an extraordinary, entertaining and enlightening tale. Go read it now.
Tesla head-honcho Elon Musk wasn’t happy. He took to Twitter to call the story a fake…
NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.
…which prompted a response from the NYT, noted at Jalopnik:
The Times’s February 10 article recounting a reporter’s test drive in a Tesla Model S was completely factual, describing the trip in detail exactly as it occurred. Any suggestion that the account was “fake” is, of course, flatly untrue. Our reporter followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel. He described the entire drive in the story; there was no unreported detour. And he was never told to plug the car in overnight in cold weather, despite repeated contact with Tesla.
Someone’s going to get a slapping at the end of all this.
Of course, even if Elon Musk is correct – that the journalist took a diversion along the route (which the NYT emphatically denies) – who cares? It’s completely beside the point.
Going on a road trip is all about going off the beaten track if you see a sign that catches your eye, a point along the coast you’d like to check out or an unexpected farmer’s market or animal park. Whatever. It’s about FREEDOM. It’s not about going point to point on a prescribed route and shirking deviations along the way.
Some will respond to that with “well, that’s why owners will have a petrol car as well as an electric car”, which is fair enough if you’ve got the money. At $100,000+, however, the Tesla Model S tested by the NYT is one hell of an expensive urban runabout. The whole point behind the 85kWh model is remove range anxiety, not project it.
Tesla’s Supercharging stations will become more commonplace in the US as time moves on and that will make the lives of some early adopters a little easier. Until there’s infrastructure that can charge all EV’s quickly and batteries that can offer ICE-like range, however, you can expect range anxiety to be writ large on the furrowed brow of EV owners on the highway, especially in winter.