The social media tête-à-tête between TheNew York Times and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, stemming from a defamatory review by John Broder of the Model S and Tesla's new "Supercharger" network on the East Coast, is heating up in a major way. Just yesterday we summarized the Twitter spat, and now Musk has expanded upon the data recorded during Broder's test drive - adding major credence to the criticism of the NYT writer.
The smoking gun in this case is the information that was captured by the data recorder in Broder's loaned Model S. The data recording function is one that is only activated for consumers when permission has been expressly granted, says Musk, but is always turned on in the case of media vehicles. Thusly equipped, Broder's vehicle was keeping track of speed, charging data, map data and more, presumably without the writer's foreknowledge.
The evidence recorded by the in-car systems happens to contravene Broder's most damning claims of the Tesla, says Musk in his article titled A Most Peculiar Test Drive. First, and perhaps most shockingly, the Model S "State of Charge" log shows that Broder's test car "never ran out of energy at any time." Broder's reporting indicated that the car ran completely out of juice at one point and had to be evacuated on a flatbed truck. The data log also points out that the trip was made at speeds ranging from 65 to 81 miles per hour, where the writer claimed to have set the cruise control at 54 mph, with periods of driving as slowly as 45 mph.
Musk's piece also indicates that Broder - who was ostensibly driving to test the charging network - didn't tell the truth about how long he charged his Model S. At one stop he specifically writes that he charged the car for 58 minutes on his second stop, where the log indicates that he was on the Supercharger for just 47 minutes. Tesla claims that the writer charged his car to 90 percent of capacity on his first stop, 72 percent on his second and just 28 percent on his third - all despite his concerns over just barely having enough energy to complete the respective legs of his trip.
Taken at face value, Tesla's data seems compelling to say the least. With that said, we're no more in a position to attest to the veracity of the logged data than we are the claims of Mr. Broder. At the very least it will be fascinating to see what the NYT does to respond, if anything at all, to this rather serious, high-profile assault on its credibility.
For its part, Tesla is taking Elon's article as the final word on the matter. A company spokesperson released this statement, just this morning: "Please note, no one from Tesla - including Elon - will be providing additional comment on this topic moving forward as we feel the blog speaks for itself. At this time, this post is the company's final statement on the issue." We've collected all of Tesla's charts and graphs from Broder's trip in our attached gallery, so you can have a closer look for yourselves, too.
The Audiphiles at Fourtitude have spoken to one of their sources at Audi AG and apparently found out about future iterations of the A1. Seven months ago our spy photographers caught somethingthat had us wondering about an S1, now Fourtitude reports that such a halo model is coming for the 2014 model year.
Not only is it coming, but it will reportedly be called the S1, which means it would partly share a moniker with that of the original World Rally Championship Sport Quattro S1 from 1984 (although S1 in that case meant "Series 1"; the "S" label wasn't used on production cars until 1990). It's thought that the S1 would appear when the facelifted A1 arrives, but what's under the hood is still a secret.
As for something above that, we're not sure anyone was really expecting an RS1, but some big-engined versions of the A1 like the A1 Quattro have been convincing arguments for more power in the little hatch. On top of that, an A1 decked out like an RS1 with the front scoops, wheels and a large rear wing was spotted by at least one spy photographer. Fourtitude's source puts that idea in Park, though, saying, "It is a very price sensitive market and (an RS 1) might get too expensive."
At least, that's what a senior engineer with the government agency said while in Michigan giving a talk, according to a report in Automotive News. What that actually means, however, is still in question. Just ten to 15 percent of new vehicles - something like 150 to 200 cars per year - are rested by the EPA to verify automaker numbers. The EPA's own tests include a "fudge factor" to adjust lab mileage for real-world mileage, and the agency still relies on automakers to submit datafor tests that it doesn't have the facilities to perform. How much more auditing can the EPA really expect to do, or perhaps a more relevant question would be how much more accurate could the EPA's audits become?
The price of gasoline, the psychological importance of 40 miles per gallon to a frugal car buyer, an automaker wanting to further justify the price premium of a hybrid, all of these things contribute to fuel economy numbers that insist on creeping upward. Perhaps the senior engineer encapsulated the whole situation best when he said, "Everybody wants a label that tells you exactly what you're going to get, but obviously that's not possible. A good general rule of thumb is that real-world fuel economy is about 20 percent lower than the lab numbers." If the lesson isn't exactly 'buyer beware,' it's at least 'buyer be wary.'