John Broder has been outed as a fraud.
The New York Times writer and recently uncovered news charlatan was blasted last week after manufacturing a hack piece about the Tesla Model S electric car.
In what was supposed to be a typical test-drive and analysis, Broder reported the Model S did not perform as expected, and even had to be towed after the battery died.
The dramatic story Broder manufactured was quickly picked up on news streams all over the world...
The report was so damaging, some analysts actually believe it affected Tesla's (NASDAQ: TSLA) stock price, which took a temporary nosedive following the release of the story.
Only problem was that the article was a complete fabrication. And if it wasn't for Tesla CEO Elon Musk being the savvy billionaire he is, Broder would've gotten away with it.
But as luck would have it, the Model S Broder test-drove was equipped with a sort of “black box,” which recorded nearly everything on to a series of driving logs. And as Musk pointed out in a blog, after reviewing the data, it was clear that Broder worked very hard to force the car to stop running.
According to Tesla's data logs, the battery never ran out of energy at any time — even when Broder called a flatbed truck to retrieve it.
The logs also showed:
The final leg of his trip was 61 miles, and yet he disconnected the charge cable when the range display stated 32 miles. He did so expressly against the advice of Tesla personnel and in obvious violation of common sense.
In his article, Broder claims “the car fell short of its projected range on the final leg.” Then he bizarrely states the screen showed “Est. remaining range: 32 miles” and the car traveled “51 miles," contradicting his own statement (see images below). The car actually did an admirable job exceeding its projected range. Had he not insisted on doing a nonstop 61-mile trip while staring at a screen that estimated half that range, all would have been well... Instead, Broder constructed a no-win scenario for any vehicle, electric or gasoline.
On that leg, he drove right past a public charge station while the car repeatedly warned him it was very low on range.
Cruise control was never set to 54 mph as claimed in the article, nor did he limp along at 45 mph; Broder in fact drove at speeds from 65 mph to 81 mph for a majority of the trip and at an average cabin temperature setting of 72ºF.
At the point in time he claims to have turned the temperature down, Broder in fact turned the temperature up to 74ºF.
The charge time on his second stop was 47 minutes, going from -5 miles (reserve power) to 209 miles of Ideal or 185 miles of EPA Rated Range — not 58 minutes as stated in the graphic attached to his article. Had Broder not deliberately turned off the Supercharger at 47 minutes, and actually spent 58 minutes Supercharging, it would have been virtually impossible to run out of energy for the remainder of his stated journey.
For his first recharge, he charged the car to 90%. During the second Supercharge, despite almost running out of energy on the prior leg, Broder deliberately stopped charging at 72%. On the third leg, where he claimed the car ran out of energy, he stopped charging at 28%. Despite narrowly making each leg, he charged less and less each time. Why would anyone do that?
The above helps explain a unique peculiarity at the end of the second leg of Broder’s trip: When he first reached our Milford, Connecticut Supercharger, having driven the car hard and after taking an unplanned detour through downtown Manhattan to give his brother a ride, the display said "0 miles remaining." Instead of plugging in the car, he drove in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot. When the Model S valiantly refused to die, he eventually plugged it in. On the later legs, it is clear Broder was determined not to be foiled again.
Charge Your Car in 10 Minutes
It didn't take long for Broder to get outed — not only from Elon Musk, but from other Tesla Model S owners who drove the same route with zero problems.
Fortunately, most reviews of the Model S have been truthful and objective. That's not to say the car always got rave reviews, but at least any negative reviews were done after an honest test-drive by reporters seeking to offer objective analysis. And for the record, negative reviews were few and far between.
The Model S even landed Motor Trend's 2013 Car of the Year!
Now in my line of work, it's always the manipulative naysayers that fire me up. Fortunately, there always seems to be plenty of good news in the world of electric vehicles to quickly extinguish my disgust...
In fact, while the Tesla Model S review debate raged on last week, big things were happening in California, where new research by the University of Southern California has led to the discovery of a new battery design that, according to researchers, could charge a typical battery found in an electric car in as few as ten minutes — while holding on to three times as much energy as conventional designs found in commercial use today.
Production level trials are expected shortly.
In the meantime, another major car manufacturer is bringing yet another electric offering to the table...
261 Miles Per Gallon
I've actually written about this one before: It's Volkswagen's XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid, which delivers a fuel economy of 261 miles per gallon. That's right...
And last week, the German automaker announced it's actually going to begin production on the vehicle.
According to Volkswagen, the impressive fuel economy is delivered by integrating a high-tech lightweight design (most of the car is constructed from aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber), perfect aerodynamics, and a plug-in hybrid system consisting of a two-cylinder engine, e-motor, 7-speed dual clutch gearbox and lithium-ion batteries.
There are a few downsides: For one, if you need room for four, you're out of luck, as this is a two-seater. As well, there is limited trunk space (which is actually under the hood, similar to the Beetle), and the top speed is limited to 99 mph.
But for more than half of this nation's commuting population (with only one driver driving less than 40 miles per day), it's not a bad deal (assuming the price doesn't keep it out of the hands of the middle class folks who would benefit from such a fuel-efficient vehicle)...
I suspect the first run of these will probably cost anywhere between $35,000 and $60,000. And this could definitely limit sales.
As much as I am impressed with the XL1, if I'm going to drop $60,000 on a car, I'm buying a Model S, which would allow me to drive to and from work every day without using a drop of gas — while offering room for seven and, quite frankly, a more stylish and higher-end vehicle.
But I won't jump the gun... because my price estimates could be completely blown out of the water after the company debuts the car at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
Also worth noting is that at next month's car show in Geneva, Audi will be showing off a compressed natural gas car that seems to be getting a lot of early attention from analysts. Certainly additional natural gas offerings in the auto space will only further enhance our domestic natural gas plays, like this natural gas infrastructure stock and these three domestic plays.
We're looking forward to checking out Audi's A3 e-tron Plug-In Hybrid as well. Audi estimates the A3 e-tron will deliver a fuel economy of around 100 mpg, with about 30 miles of all-electric range...
As always, we'll keep you posted.
To a new way of life and a new generation of wealth...
Jeff Siegel for Modern Energy Report
P.S. You can read Elon Musk's complete rebuttal to the New York Times hatchet job here.