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The Art of PR: Tesla Takes C/D To Task On Tesla Review


2009 Tesla Roadster Photo Credit: Rex Roy

2009 Tesla Roadster Photo Credit: Rex Roy

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There has been a lot of things said about electric cars over the past couple of years, especially as they start to show themselves as being viable for the American public. Who wouldn’t want to plug your car in at night and drive emission free to work the next morning? It seems very Captain Planet. However, there is some debate about when an electric car will be ready for what American’s consider normal duty. This is where Telsa and Car and Driver start to disagree.
tesla model s prototype 010

tesla model s prototype 010

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Recently, Car and Driver’s assistant technical editor, K.C. Colwell, chose to drive the Tesla to an event in Saginaw, Michigan. Saginaw is some 90 miles one-way from the Car and Driver Ann Arbor, Michigan offices. K.C. reported thought that this should be a breeze for the Telsa Roadster, which has an advertised range of 244 miles. The sticky part, with Tesla at least, is that he chose to write a blog about it and post it before the company was fully aware of his concerns. His concerns—being stranded because the battery ran out of juice (read the blog here).

This led to Tesla’s vice president of communications, Ricardo Reyes, taking C/D to task on the Tesla company blog (read that here). In their estimation, K.C. was traveling between 70-80 miles per hour and didn’t charge the car in the proper “range” mode, but instead in the “standard” resulting in only an 85% charge when he left. The 85% charge is believable since 212 miles on the display (as K.C. reports) would be about 86.8% charge if you use the 244-mile range figure. Basically, Tesla alleges that Colwell is lying about his trip. How do they know? They claim the car’s stored trip information tells them so.

Of course, this led to C/D firing back a rebuttal today titled: Tesla Roadster: The Mistakes We Made. This may not surprise you, but this isn’t an apology. C/D claims that Tesla’s blog is “so beside the point that we feel we need to respond. The simple truth here is that we made but two mistakes: 1. Not charging the Roadster in “range” mode, and 2. Thinking we could use the Tesla like a real car.” They claim that Tesla won’t release the data from the trip, so they aren’t inclined to believe that K.C. Colwell had is foot nailed to the floorboards.

Bottom line—Tesla needs to show us the data. Both sides have a vested interest in coming out on top, but the fact is that one person says they were averaging 60 mph while drafting other cars and the other says computer data says they were doing 10 mph or better than that. Fair is fair, if the data proves C/D wrong, then user error doesn’t ding the reputation of the machine. If not, then C/D’s point is valid—maybe electrics still have a ways to go before the average American will trust in driving one.

Be sure to check out our partner sites assessment of the Tesla Roadster over at GreenCarReports.com.

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  1. I don't care if Colwell was keeping up with traffic or dawdling like a tortoise at 60mph (which would be extremely dangerous on a speedy Michigan interstate). If the Tesla couldn't manage a 90 mile trip, it's not ready for normal duty.
     
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