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Major Media & Tech Sites Fail Big Time On Tesla–NYTimes Story


Tesla Model S. Image Credit: Tesla Motors

When I first posted on the NYTimes–Tesla story, I figured I wouldn’t come back to the issue. I figured it was completely obvious what had happened, and that major media would be doing a good job of slamming the NYTimes and Mr Broder. Unfortunately, major media reporters, humans, and even tech reporters aren’t as bright as I had assumed.

Let’s start real quickly with the NYTimes–Tesla story before delving into the dumb responses to the story that I’ve seen on sites quite a bit larger than CleanTechnica.

John Broder, a NYTimes writer with a history of anti-EV articles, has gotten a lot of press for “surprisingly” finding that the 2013 Car of the Year couldn’t make a planned test drive. Good for him — everyone has a right to make money off of being idiotic. But it seems from data presented by Tesla that his story didn’t match up with the facts.

In his test drive, Tesla data has shown that he drove in circles in a parking lot, didn’t fully charge the Model S he was testing when it was obvious he needed to do so, and passed up public charging stations when he needed a charge. He even turned up the heat in the car when his battery was running low.

For anyone to pay Mr Broder’s “results” any attention is absurd, in my humble opinion. Yet, blogger after blogger and reporter after reporter are doing so. From TIME to MIT Technology Review, writers with very large audiences are blowing the story. Furthermore, they’re putting even more misinformation into people’s minds.

Without focusing on the myths, I’m going to bust some of them up a bit with a little bit of reality and perspective.

1. With common sense, you can easily drive an EV wherever you want today.

People have driven EVs around the world. There was actually an around-world EV race recently in which the Tesla Model S won. It’s not hard to fill up your gas tank and not run out of fuel. And it’s not hard to charge your EV and take long road trips if desired, even with EVs with much less range than the Model S.

2. EVs are completely ready for mass market… if the media would simply stop screwing up the story.

EV’s are now cheaper than conventional, gas-powered cars for many, many people. They can actually save many of us money. Simply do the math and check for yourself.

Furthermore, EV prices are coming down fast, making them even more of an obvious consumer option… again, for those who are willing to simply do the math and think for themselves.

3. Charging an EV is considerably more convenient than filling up a gas tank.

This is possibly the issue around which there’s the most widespread confusion. The fact of the matter is, all you really need to do to charge an EV is plug it in. That takes a mere seconds. You don’t have to stand at a gas station breathing in air pollution that can actually kill you. You don’t have to stand outside in the cold on a winter day. If you’re using your car for normal daily purposes (and you’re an average America), you can charge your car at night when you get home and not have to worry about it. In an increasingly number of workplaces, you can also plug in at work. Again, plugging in your car and unplugging it later takes a mere seconds. Yes, the car takes longer to charge, but you don’t have to pay it any attention after you plug it in.

If you want to take a longer trip, you can do so with some basic planning. If you don’t want to think about plugging in while away from home, you can buy an extended range electric vehicle (e.g. Chevy Volt) and use gasoline for the 1% or 10% of the time you might find it more convenient. Or you can simply rent a car for such trips.

Count up the hours you’d save each year from not having to stand or sit at gas stations. Consider how much easier it would be to plug in your car when you get home, forget about it until your next drive, and unplug it again when you go back out. Consider these things and I’m sure you’ll notice how much more convenient an EV is.

4. EVs are most certainly a lot greener than gasoline-powered cars.

This is an issue I’ve seen brought up in comment after comment… with completely the wrong point being made. People love contradictions, especially when they can say them and show people how “smart” they are. It has become common practice among some people to claim that EVs aren’t greener than gasoline-powered cars when they charge from our grid (which uses some coal power). For those who think they’ve got a useful point to make there, please read up on the facts before spreading misinformation. In the most comprehensive study on the matter to date, it has been found that EVs are greener in pretty much every corner of the United States (on the current grid).

Furthermore, from what I’ve read (don’t have a link on this one, though), the majority of EV drivers have solar panels. If you want to make sure your electricity is green, put up some solar panels, save even more money, and live happily.

5. The biggest barriers to change are closed-mindedness and ignorance.

What is actually blocking even more widespread EV adoption? The biggest obstacles to a faster EV revolution are apparently closed-mindedness, ignorance, and fear.

People like Mr Broder, who have made up a story before even giving the new technology a chance, are confusing the public and holding us all back.

People who don’t look past the claims of Mr Broder and gang, who even repeat the claims, are holding us back through their ignorance.

Those of us who don’t adequately look at the benefits of electric vehicles before buying our next vehicle, or discussing the matter with those who might be doing so, are slowing the technological revolution.

Those who don’t make the switch to electric sooner, or who even fight against electric vehicle growth and popularity (simply out of fear, simply because they are afraid of change), are holding us all back. These are the reasons why articles like those written by Mr Broder are not immediately scoffed at and thrown in the trash.

I’m sad to say that people who I thought would have “gotten it,” do not. I’m sad to see that they’ve written horrible responses to the Broder/NYTimes piece that simply reinforce the myths that are holding society back. Here’s hoping some of them learn a bit from this debacle and don’t make the same mistake again.

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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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