Tesla Model S Road Trip: Electric Cars Make It From DC To CT

It all took less than a week.

Just days after the negative review of the Tesla Model S in The New York Times, a group of Tesla owners had finalized plans to re-create the reviewer's trip from Maryland to Groton, Connecticut.

On Saturday, some 30 electric car fans showed up at the Tesla Motors Rockville Service Center on a gloomy, cold morning in the Maryland suburb outside Washington, D.C.

They gave a festive sendoff to a group of three Tesla Model S all-electric sport sedans setting off on a trip to Groton.

The "Tesla Road Trip" would form a rebuttal of sorts to the recent New York Times story written by reporter John Broder, who took the same trip in a Model S and did not have a happy experience.

His review was titled Stalled Out on Tesla's Electric Highway, and the Times illustrated it with a large photo of the Model S being carted away on a flatbed truck.

Much back-and-forth then ensued with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

Broder took his late January early February trip at Tesla's invitation. The company delivered a Model S sedan with its biggest 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack to Broder, and invited him to make use of Tesla's Supercharging Network – special high-speed, high-voltage charging stations located along I-95, at rest stops in Newark, Delaware, and Milford, Connecticut.

Saturday morning in Rockville, Tesla owners and other electric-car advocates – many of them members of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater DC – discussed the trip, range-extending measures, and what Broder may have done wrong that would result in a shutdown that required the car to be hauled to a charging station.

Drivers and advocates alike were determined to show that the Tesla Supercharging Network and the Model S could make the trip without problems.

And they did.

The trip's route mirrored Broder's: Rockville to the Delaware charging station, then through New York City to the Connecticut charging station, followed by a leg to Groton, where Broder would spend the night, then to Stonington where Broder had dinner.

After some drivers spent the night in Groton--some plugged in their cars to condition the battery packs, others didn't--they returned along the same route. Broder ended his trip at the Tesla showroom in Manhattan. Four of the Tesla Road Trip drivers went further, since they had to return to Maryland, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere in New York.

The trip was successful: No flatbed tow trucks were needed.

Participants wanted everyone to realize that the trip was in no way sanctioned by, solicited by, or even known about in advance by Tesla Motors. It grew out of grass-roots outrage at a story that, in the eyes of Tesla owners, trashed a remarkable car due to a bad experience brought about entirely by the manner in which Broder operated the car.

Incensed owners put together the Tesla Road Trip in a matter of a couple of days. The plan was announced on the Tesla Motors Club website, and a @TeslaRoadTrip Twitter feed was established so others could "ride along" virtually.

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Comments (14)
  1. I think it's great that these owners were able to organize this so soon. This plus CNN's recreation of the NY Times test proves that Broder was trying to make the car fail.

  2. Agree. So if one is contemplating the purchase of a Model S, whose advice would they rather seek, John Broder's from the NY Times or that of actual Model S owners?

  3. Elon disputed Broder driving in circles near the Milford supercharger for .6 miles before charging. This was Broder's response:
    "While Mr. Musk has accused me of doing this to drain the battery, I was in fact driving around the Milford service plaza on Interstate 95, in the dark, trying to find the unlighted and poorly marked Tesla Supercharger. "

    Here is a 33 second youtube video of the exit to the Milford superchargers - you can decide for yourself who is telling the truth:


  4. Excellent video, again catching Broder lying. That looked so easy there's no way Broder needed to go .6 miles to find them.

  5. I forgot to plug my KARMA ECOSPORT one night last summer.
    So when the battery went dry (about 45 miles), the ICE kicked in and I drove around fine for the rest of the day. I have no range anxiety. I enjoy answering the many questions about the car. I also enjoy that teenagers who otherwise would not give me the time of day are stopping to inquire.

  6. There's no range anxiety here either this article is about the Tesla owner's responding to a fraudulent claim against the Model S in the New York Times. One question though, what do you tell the inquiring public when they ask is it fast?

  7. Burn.

    (hint for those who haven't driven a Karma, it's a bit of a slug, especially in comparison to a Model S).

  8. I bought the car to plug it in and reduce my oil consumption and because it looks cool. I am not a race car driver and zero to sixty is meaningless for me. In a word, it is fast enough. And again, I do not have to chart out my trips based on charge stations. I do wish Tesla well but I think KARMA gets beat up in the press and blogs more than is deserved.

  9. Great initiative, but one that's likely only to be noticed by a small crowd that already was well aware that the car is capable of trips like this unless you "Broder" it.

    It will take a lot of advocacy to compensate for the effect of one picture of a Model S on a flatbed in a newspaper like the New York Times. It looks like Mr. Broder set out to create that picture and I think that as far as he is concerned it's mission accomplished.

  10. I hope the fact that the car with the charging problem was fixed remotely from the other side of the continent gets more attention. Frankly I think that is the most incredible thing to come out of this whole brouhaha.

  11. Lotta stories have been claiming it was "broke down" which it wasn't. Perfectly drivable, just stopped charging when it got close to 200 rated miles, instead of charging to full. Fixed with a software update in under an hour.

  12. I expect even-handed coverage here, of course, and this is a fine example of it, IMHO. I was, however, not pleased to find some mainstream publications (in this case the Detroit Free Press) basically defending Mr. Broder and the NYT.

    As is noted elsewhere here in the comments, it's easy to convince the EV fans who know a fair amount about EVs and Tesla. It will be a longer, harder struggle to overcome the general ignorance out there in the non-EV crowd.

    Tesla can do it, of course, but people should not assume it will. There will be more disinformation, more idiotic rumors, etc... Thanks to the proactive Tesla owners for doing what they can quickly.

    Mr. Broder, we all make mistakes (or lie like crazy)... Step up and take a second drive.

  13. Broder admitted in a later blog post that he knew what a "Range Charge" was but chose not to perform one because he was worried it would damage the battery. This, despite the fact that Tesla had delivered him the car with a full Range Charge, which would indicate that Tesla intended the car to be fully charged.

    In his original story he reports this in a factual way that nevertheless fails to tell his reader the difference.

    He wrote it had a "Full Charge" when he picked it up. In Delaware he wrote he charged it "until it said 'charge complete' with 242 miles displayed". He absolutely knew the difference, and he used language to conceal the fact that he didn't fully charge it in Delaware.

  14. I think NY Times already admiting fault...


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