More on That Tesla Blow-up

I posted about the original review here last week. But then things boiled over, including Elon Musk posting charts and graphs to prove that the reporter was wrong, if not lying. There was much back and forth.

Here’s Engadget’s editor-in-chief, Tim Stevens, to sum it all up and explain how everyone is wrong and the whole mess makes everything worse.

It’s been hard to miss, this brouhaha that’s been boiling over between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and The New York Times — specifically with reporter John M. Broder. Broder published a piece over the weekend called “Stalled Out on Tesla’s Electric Highway” in which he panned the Model S for inaccurate range estimates and drastically reduced range in cold weather. In fact, about the only thing he didn’t hate was the tow truck driver who was ultimately dispatched to pick up him and the charge-depleted Tesla he had been driving through Connecticut.

Musk, likely still stinging from an even more vitriolic 2011 takedown by Top Gear, was quick to take to Twitter and call the article “fake.” He later backed that up with comprehensive data logs recorded, apparently, without Broder’s knowledge. That data, at least at surface value, shows the Times piece is at best misleading — at worst libelous.

The Problem with Electric Cars

The Tesla works great in Silcon Valley because it never drops below freezing there. Drive it here in the North East and you run into some problems.

> I drove, slowly, to Stonington, Conn., for dinner and spent the night in Groton, a total distance of 79 miles. When I parked the car, its computer said I had 90 miles of range, twice the 46 miles back to Milford. It was a different story at 8:30 the next morning. The thermometer read 10 degrees and the display showed 25 miles of remaining range — the electrical equivalent of someone having siphoned off more than two-thirds of the fuel that was in the tank when I parked.

Link Dumpage

Need to get a few of these off my chest:

  • Haven’t done a hybrid car story here in a long time, but surely a Porsche hybrid calls for attention!
  • Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” movie to be a 3D motion capture CGI film? Sure, why not? Like the initial reports that Roland Emmerich was directing it didn’t lower our expectations far enough…
  • Hilarious bit of SEO: A story about Facebook logging-in techniques gets higher rankings on Google than your actual Facebook log-in page. Confusion ensues from the clueless who use Google to go everywhere. Seriously, there are still people who type Facebook into Google to go there, instead of just typing Ugh
  • I think I might still be drooling over the Canon T2i. And it’s only the entry level camera. This is nuts.

Links, Lots of Links

  • Sometimes, the technicalities of rules can lead a sports team to do funny things. This 1994 soccer game takes the cake! It ends in a team scoring on itself in order to win.  Fascinating!
  • Fans of reality TV are well aware of how aware the shows’ contestants are of the fact that they’re on reality shows.  Very meta, don’tcha think?  It also means the cliches have crept up.  Note this video of “I didn’t come here to make friends” pronouncements.   I hope someone follows this up with a video of losing contestants saying how happy they are to walk out as themselves, and not lose their souls to win.  ::sigh::
  • Now THAT is a sandstorm! It looks like something out of “The Mummy.”
  • While we’re on the topic: Solar-powered Prius. The ultimate vehicle?  Right now, they’d only power the air conditioning.  But, hey, it’s a start.

The downside of electric hybrids

One of the reasons I like the tech of hybrid cars is that they don’t tax the power grid. You use gas to get them going, but they create extra energy (actually, save lost energy) by the proper use of technology when you brake.

For some reason, lots of people want a plug-in car, instead. I never got that. An electric car just means you need more electricity, which is something we don’t have an awful lot of. Nobody wants an electric power plant in their backyard. They’re not cheap.  We’re just replacing one problem with another. Well, now we have a study that shows a sharp rise in hybrid electric cars could present a problem:

Will plug-in hybrids stress the grid? | Green Tech blog – CNET

Plug-in hybrids are coming. General Motors, Tesla Motors, Fisker Automotive and Toyota are all coming out with gas-electric cars that can be charged from a socket.The question now is can the grid handle it. The latest voice on the debate, Stan Hadley of the Cooling, Heating and Power Technologies Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, says it won’t be easy. Hadley examined 182 scenarios on how plug-ins might be used in different regions in the U.S. between 2020 and 2030. Hadley assumed a 25 percent penetration of plug-ins by 2020. In a worst case scenario, Hadley postulated that the U.S. would need 160 new power plants to handle the requirements of these cars. The worst case scenario, though, assumes that the millions of plug-in owners would want to charge their car at 5 p.m., the tail end of peak power demand.

In my wildest imagination, I couldn’t predict this one

Blind advocates lobby for noisier hybrid cars | Tech news blog – CNET

Hybrid cars may be on every environmentalist-cum-trend setter’s hot list, but their surging popularity is raising alarms among the blind and their advocates, who fear the near-silent vehicles could endanger lives.In recent months, the National Federation of the Blind has launched what is becoming an international lobbying campaign for legislation that encourages–or flat-out requires–automakers to install noisemaking technology to address those potential perils.

Or, how about a very cheap hybrid?

One Hybrid Priced Below Them All: Saturn Aura Green Line Lowest-Priced Hybrid At $22,695 – Jalopnik

Kudos to GM for not only finally bringing a sedan to the market to compete with the Camry — the Aura won NorAm Car of the Year — but then for bringing a hybrid model to the market. Oh and probably some more green-love today for pricing it below any other hybrid you can buy today. They’ve just announced pricing on the mean-grean four-door machine, and it’s got an out-the door MSRP of $22,695.

It’s the cheapest hybrid yet.

Forget Hybrid. Forget Electric. Think AIR!

The Air Car – zero pollution and very low running costs – gizmag Article

Many respected engineers have been trying for years to bring a compressed air car to market, believing strongly that compressed air can power a viable “zero pollution” car. Now the first commercial compressed air car is on the verge of production and beginning to attract a lot of attention, and with a recently signed partnership with Tata, India’s largest automotive manufacturer, the prospects of very cost-effective mass production are now a distinct possibility. The MiniC.A.T is a simple, light urban car, with a tubular chassis that is glued not welded and a body of fibreglass. […] Most importantly, it is incredibly cost-efficient to run – according to the designers, it costs less than one Euro per 100Km (about a tenth that of a petrol car). Its mileage is about double that of the most advanced electric car (200 to 300 km or 10 hours of driving), a factor which makes a perfect choice in cities where the 80% of motorists drive at less than 60Km. The car has a top speed of 68 mph.

Forget hybrid – try this engine!

Technology Review: The Incredible Shrinking Engine

. . .he shows off a turbocharger that could be bolted to the 2.4-liter engine; the engine, he adds, uses direct fuel injection rather than the port injection currently found in most cars. Both turbocharging and direct injection are preëxisting technologies, and neither looks particularly impressive. Indeed, used separately, they would lead to only marginal improvements in the performance of an internal-­combustion engine. But by combining them, and augmenting them with a novel way to use a small amount of ethanol, Cohn and his colleagues have created a design that they believe could triple the power of a test engine, an advance that could allow automakers to convert small engines designed for economy cars into muscular engines with more than enough power for SUVs or sports cars. By extracting better performance from smaller, more efficient engines, the technology could lead to vehicles whose fuel economy rivals that of hybrids, which use both an electric motor and a gasoline engine. And that fuel efficiency could come at a fraction of the cost.

Funky Toyota Hybrid Concept Car

Geneva Motor Show: Toyota Hybrid-X concept – AutoblogGreen

Toyota unveiled the Hybrid-X concept, which is supposed to give the world a hint at the new design language for future Toyota hybrid vehicles. Presumably that means that what we see here will be reflected in the next generation Prius when it comes out next year along with other future vehicles. The concept has a low-slung one-box shape stretched over twenty inch wheels.