Tesla Model S Road Trip: Electric Cars Make It From DC To CT Page 2

2013 Tesla Model S before DC-to-Boston road trip, Feb 2013 [photo: Aaron Schildkraut]

2013 Tesla Model S before DC-to-Boston road trip, Feb 2013 [photo: Aaron Schildkraut]

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Signs on the cars, hand-made at the Delaware rest stop, informed the curious: "@TeslaRoadTrip – Follow on Twitter" as a response to the on-the-road and rest-stop gawking by amazed drivers seeing their first-ever convoy of Tesla Model S cars. Twitter followers grew exponentially to more than 2,500 followers.

Organizer Aaron Schildkraut of Yonkers, New York, received a surprise phone call—while on the road – from George Blankenship, Tesla's vice president for sales and customer experience, who'd learned about the Road Trip via social media.

"We're just in awe of what you're doing," Blankenship said.

Nine Teslas Model S left the Rockville showroom, two as a sort of honor guard escort that went only as far as the Delaware Superchargers. One car went to New York City, where its drivers opted for dinner and a Broadway play instead of continuing to Groton.

The six cars that completed the trip started from Ocean City and Owings in Maryland; Westchester, Pennsylvania; Yonkers, New York; and Washington, D.C. Model S owner Ben Goodwin actually lives in Boston, which had been Broder's original destination. He drove all the way to the Delaware SuperCharger to start the trip with the rest of the convoy.

Owner Dante Richardson had already taken his Model S on a long-distance trip – from his home in Ocean City, Maryland, to Miami – just a few months ago, charging largely at RV parks along the way.

Long-distance travel in a Tesla Model S, he said, is a piece of cake. You just have to plan ahead.

The trip proved a number of points that effectively refute Broder's negative experience.

First, yes, low temperatures do affect batteries and you deal with it

The Model S displays real-time energy use and projected range – that is, how many more miles it can go on the current charge. If temperatures are low, some of the car's energy is diverted to keeping the batteries warm. All of this is clearly displayed.

Tesla Road Trip from MD to CT, Feb 2013 - Tesla Model S cars at Delaware SuperCharger location

Tesla Road Trip from MD to CT, Feb 2013 - Tesla Model S cars at Delaware SuperCharger location

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Measures can be taken to reduce energy use, such as slowing down and moderating the climate control features. While outside temperatures were a bit colder when Broder made the trip than last weekend, Road Trip drivers did the sensible thing anyhow and lowered their cabin temperatures and speeds to save energy.

But no one's knuckles turned white, nobody's feet froze--and nobody drove at speeds much below 60 mph.

Second, you have to plan ahead

Until charging stations are as ubiquitous as gas stations, long-range travel in an electric car will take planning and a careful eye on what the car is telling the driver.

The Road Trip cars all charged up FULLY at both supercharging stations. While Broder charged up fully in Delaware, he apparently didn't do so in Connecticut. There he charged until the display showed a range of 185 miles, "well beyond the distance I intended to cover before returning to the station the next morning for a recharge and returning to Manhattan." Had he invested a few more minutes and completed the charge, the story would have been different.

Just as important, given the temperatures, he did not plug the car in overnight to keep the battery warmed. Even plugging into a standard 110-Volt household overnight would have kept his batteries warm. The Road Trip drivers proved this.

Another point--somewhat geeky, but important. The Model S has two settings, "standard" and "range," which means maximizing distance From the logs of Broder's car that Tesla examined after the fact, Broder's "full charge" in Delaware wasn't actually full. It appears that he was operating and charging in standard mode, so the battery charged to maximum on that setting--but less than 100 percent.

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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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