Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Am Lazy, but So Are You!

Recently a NY Times Writer drove a New Tesla S 85 to test the quick charge network. He had problems including driving with no heat to preserve range,  being DOA on the side of the road and making decisions based on "legacy" knowledge that were ill-advised (and in some cases, recommended by Tesla!) which contributed to a near comedy of errors. Basically, everything he could have done wrong, he did.

Now, a regular car guy or tech guy who had even a little understanding of EVs would have made the journey with comfort. After driving EVs now for more than 5 years, what "seems" like common knowledge to me might not be so much to the layman who has limited exposure to EVs so we EV'ers need to take a step back.

The real issues concerning EV adoption is really just like every movement we have had in the past that has "greened" us up.  Remember the movement to CF's? Then LED's?  Wow, that was a trip eh?

If you took all the reports to heart, we would all be dead of Mercury poisoning! or taking out 2nd mortgages to pay for the upgrades.  Either way, its the same old same old. We are resistant to change and the biggest reason is because we are too lazy!

In the case of light bulbs, I spent an afternoon about 10-12 years ago (the first time) changing out the bulbs including some that required some effort to access thinking that "great these bulbs will last 20 years because this is real work!"  (only later did I realize that the old CF's required being installed a certain way to last longer. IOW, installing them base up burned them out quicker...MUCH quicker)

But the point being is that instead of accepting change that is a good change for the better, we choose to either make up stuff or emphasize some obscure half truth as an excuse to continue being lazy thus avoiding any slight variation of our daily routine.  What's worse is that the more beneficial the innovation, the less likely we are to welcome it with open arms.

LED's had the too much money, not enough light, wrong color.   I mean "wrong color?"  how easy was that to fix? well, turns out, not much of a challenge. Now we have all kinds of colors, the price is dropping like a rock and they are brighter than they used to be and as a compromise to "something we apparently cannot do without" they are now dim-able.  Ya, thats important...

Now comes EVs. Here is something that is good but actually requires some thinking to even understand half the benefit and why? Because it involves money and lots of it.  We all know that each mile driven on electricity directly contributes to the lessening of our oil dependence.  The laundry list of good EV things still apply and nearly all multi-car households can make an EV fit their lifestyle but it still requires a change in routine and because of that, we are resistant.

We have to install a charging system at home. That requires a trip out to the garage to peer at the breaker panel and several calls. How can we fit that in?

We also have to plug the car in nearly every day! Wow, the work is really piling up here and there is the toughest task of all; planning a drive of more than 50 miles in Winter or 70 miles in Summer.  Now that requires at the very least Google Maps, several 3rd party charging station locator apps with knowledge of the area a plus... a BIG plus!

So, there is no denying that driving an EV to the fullest does require some work. Not a lot of work and to me its like a hobby. I frequently have to map out whether I can this trip or that trip and its complicated by the fact that most of the trips are work related so highly time sensitive so long stints at out of the way L2 chargers is almost never an option. But its a challenge to me, a hobby if you will.

But back to the NY Times writer. We will probably never know what he was thinking but his journey simply had too much go wrong to be a coincidence. I think he may have started out with the best of intentions but after his range estimates dropped below his destination's distance, I think he decided to "make a story"

You see, in its very young life, The Tesla S has been lauded, applauded, awarded and rewarded over and over and over. The positivity of the model has been overwhelming...a maybe a bit stale.  Now a failure?? that would be news! After all, the Tesla S has met and exceeded all that has been put before it.  Another successful trip would have faded into oblivion before the echos of the keyboard faded away.   But a Tesla S failure would really catch the attention of the fanatical EV world.  So, maybe there was a bit of manipulation going on here. 

After reading the article about the trip, I decided I needed to get to know this writer better. having been a "free" online subscriber of the NY Times for over 10 years, I cant say that I have ever heard of the guy. I thought I was very familiar with most of the tech guys who normally write about this stuff, so I went back and found that he is a bit of a "non" greener. a smoker if you will.  He disses Obama's green programs as not going far enough but not in the way of doing more. It was more of "it aint gonna work so give it up" vein, but that could have just been me reading more into his words then what was really there.

Now, the driver does appear to be a bit clueless about EVs but lets be realistic. No one, and I mean NO ONE is going to spend nearly 100 G's on a car and not know anything about it. Especially one that has so much space-age bling. It just aint gonna happen. So in that sense, the writer's blunders would not happen in real life.  Others like Chelsea Sexton thinks that too much emphasis is being placed on the Tesla S being able to do it all and she does make a good point in that EVs are not nor should not be the "go to" car for long distance journeys.

Either way; the "test" the writer performed was unrealistic. No real EV'er would have left themselves short nor would they have spent the night without charging, or have run completely out of charge without doing "something". There is little doubt in my mind, the writer wanted to run out, wanted that picture of the S on the flatbed and wanted his negative article to stand out in that huge sea of S positivity.

Elon Musk tweeted immediately after the story was published that the writer was a bit less than honest and states he has logs to prove it.  The writer wrote in his blog that everything he said was accurate, so I am guessing something is going to break in one way or another but either way, this is a win for Tesla because Musk promised the route would be repeated and the Tesla S 85 can do the route easily and all the attention gathered from this story will see those successful attempts and the negativity will have only gathered more interest in Tesla.


  1. Dave,
    I volunteer for the trip. I'd love to try a Tesla. More importantly I'd love to afford one =)

    I think you hit all the right points. This is a good article.


    1. Tom I agree that I would love to experience a Tesla but also a Ferrari, a speedboat, a ride in Space as well as things I have done like Helicopter flights over Puget Sound, skydiving, high speed electric go carts (that do up to 60 mph! VERY cool!) and all that stuff but that does not mean I want to buy any of those things.

      Like you, I have found a way to make my LEAF work for me. Is it perfect? no but what really is in this life. It is more than good enough and I am still thankful I am lucky enough to be able to experience what I do have

  2. BUSTED!! Elon posts logs

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