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Sierra Daily

Feb 15, 2013

When Sparks Fly

Tesla s sedanThis week the blogosphere has been ablaze with a back-and-forth between Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and John Broder, energy reporter for the New York Times over nothing less than the viability of electric cars on America's roads. A week ago, the Times published Broder's report of his test of Tesla’s electric-vehicle “supercharger” stations between Washington, D.C., and Boston. Things didn’t go so well for Broder, who at one point had to have his loaned Tesla S sedan unceremoniously towed on a flatbed truck. That’s not great p.r. for Tesla, whose $100,000 vehicle has an EPA-rated range of 265 miles, far superior to the 80-and-under range of lesser priced EVs available today.

Musk accused Broder of faking his data, then posted blow-by-blow details from the car’s computer logs. Undaunted, yesterday Broder fired back. It’s still too hard to conclude that Musk is absolutely wrong or that Broder is absolutely wrong, but one thing is easy to conclude: While most Americans tend to treat automobiles like household appliances (and why shouldn't they?) electric vehicles and their charging infrastructure are still so new to the roads that they require an aficionado-like diligence. (Buy a Nissan Leaf in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, and you may be tempted to join the “Bay Leafs” owners group -- a dedication to information sharing that you’d unlikely consider when, say, buying a Kenmore refrigerator.)

Image of Tesla S by Tesla Motors.

HS_ReedMcManusReed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”

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