Tesla Model S

Remember that episode of Top Gear, where the notoriously anti-EV crew pushed a Tesla Roadster to show what would happen if the car’s battery had run out of juice? And then Tesla got all litigious and filed suit (which the company eventually lost)? Well, we might be in for another public scuffle about the merits of electric vehicles.

The New York Times recently sent John Broder out in a Model S between the two new Superchargers on the east coast, located in Newark, DE and Milford, CT. Since, as Broder notes, the stations are “some 200 miles apart” the 85-kWh battery in the Model S should be able to make the drive. The EPA rates this model at 265 miles, after all. Heck, even the 60-kWh mid-range model has a 208-mile range. The trick, as we all know, is that your mileage may vary.

Following a 49-minute visit to the Supercharger in Delaware for a full charge (well, at least seeing a screen that read “charge complete”), Broder kept on driving, but discovered that, after 68 miles of driving, he had lost 85 miles of estimated range. He shifted over to energy conservation mode (driving slow, turning off the cabin heat, etc.). He writes:

Nearing New York, I made the first of several calls to Tesla officials about my creeping range anxiety. The woman who had delivered the car told me to turn off the cruise control; company executives later told me that advice was wrong. All the while, my feet were freezing and my knuckles were turning white.

The report caused TSLA to drop 2.5 percent to $38.27 (it has since regained some ground and sits at $38.42) and got a response from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who tweeted that, “NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.”

Tesla has promised it will post an article later today that “will refute Broder’s version of what happened, with data points pulled from the car’s logs.” Stay tuned for an update after that report is published.

*UPDATE: Tesla still hasn’t published a response article, but Musk did talk to Bloomberg West about the situation, and you can find the audio and transcript of that discussion below.

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By Sebastian Blanco