Browsing through the NY Times’ Automobiles section, a review of Tesla’s Model S 416 hp supercar caught my attention. Tesla has been very successful on the West Coast of the Unites States in implementing a network of charging stations for its attractive looking electric vehicles. Recently, Tesla has opened up its Supercharger stations on the East Coast along a stretch of the I-95 corridor between Washington and Boston. Given how well the system is working out West, this seemed like a logical next step for improving electric vehicle charging infrastructures.
The test did not go so well for NY Times writer John M. Broder. In the below freezing temperatures of an East Coast winter day, the lithium-ion battery powered vehicle did not reach its EPA rated 265 miles/per charge leaving the test driver no option but to turn off the heater and drive 10 mph under the speed limit. Later in the trip, the car needed the assistance of a tow truck to get to the next closest charging point.
The article was published on February 8th to almost immediate criticism and controversy. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, Tweeted that the article was a ‘Fake’ and accused the author of not charging the car to its max, taking a long detour and driving at high speed and vowing to publish the vehicle data logs of the journey (Tesla claims that it does not log data on its customers without their written permission but for all media test drives they turn on the feature).
Mr. Broder responded with an article rebutting the claims of the Tesla CEO. His “long detour” was apparently a brief stop in Manhattan that added 2 miles to his journey. The author admitted that he did not keep the partially-charged car plugged in overnight on his trip not realizing the effect that the cold weather would have on the battery. Mr. Broder wrote,
“This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a “normal use,” no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop.”
Regardless of the outcome of the data logs, what is clear is that this 416 hp supercar cannot be driven like a BMW M5 if you still expect to arrive at your destination in one go. It also puts the spotlight on the challenges that exist for lithium-ion batteries. Increasing their range per charge is an important issue that will help determine how successful the current generation of EVs will be at gaining a share of the automobile market. Another factor is their cost – much of which comes from the battery pack as the production process of lithium-ion batteries is still not completely automated or optimized for high quantities.
Original article from the NY Times: Click Here
Response from Mr. Broder: Click Here
We are also hosting a conference on Smart EV and HEV Battery Production from April 22-24, 2013.
Find out more information about the conference and access lots of free relevant content by following this link
Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ