CNN drives a Tesla Model S from Washington, D.C. to Boston, no tow truck required

Tesla Model S Alpha Model Front AngleIn the midst of the furor over New York Times reporter John Broder’s unpleasant experience with a Tesla Model S, and company CEO Elon Musk’s aggressive response, CNN was actually able to drive a Model S from Washington, D.C. to Boston, the original goal of Broder’s test.

CNNMoney reporter Peter Valdes-Dapena writes that the trip was only mildly anxiety-producing. However, despite taking the same route, this was not an identical drive to Broder’s.

“There were some differences with my ride and the one from the New York Times,” Valdes-Dapena writes. “The weather for mine was about 10 degrees warmer. And I did mine in one day; the reviewer from the Times split it into two.”

The CNN reviewer also drove faster. He set his cruise control to between 60 and 65 mph, and kept the temperature at a consistent 72 degrees. Musk and Broder continue to spar over what the Times reviewer did; Broder’s most recent blog post states that he varied both his speed (setting the cruise control to 54 mph for one stretch, but going 65 mph at other times) and the temperature to maximize range.

The two reporters apparently got different advice from Tesla. While Valdes-Dapena kept the cruise control on and kept stops to a minimum, Broder says he was told to avoid cruise control, and to use the Model S’ regenerative brakes to add range.

Broder doesn’t say why he split his trip into two days, although it seems like he had driven a full day by the time he reached Groton, Connecticut, while Valdes-Dapena’s higher speeds and fewer stops may have given the CNN driver more time.

It’s also important to note that CNN’s drive took place in warmer weather. The Times drive was done during a cold snap, with the average temperature hovering in the 30s and occasionally dipping into the single digits. This can really affect a battery’s ability to hold a charge, and this is what Tesla employees told Broder during his trip.

So Valdes-Dapena’s drive can’t solve the dispute between Musk and Broder, but it does show that it is possible to drive a Model S from Washington to Boston without getting too stressed out. That after all, was the point of the New York Times review.

“When Tesla first approached the New York Times about doing this story, it was supposed to be focused on future advancements in our Supercharger technology,” Musk said in a blog post. So what does Valdes-Dapena have to say about the Superchargers?

“The most scary part of the trip: the 200 miles between charging stations in Newark, Delaware, and Milford, Connecticut. That’s not a lot of cushion, especially after I missed an exit adding a few miles to that leg,” he said. However, he made it to Milford with so much extra range that he was able to cruise in the left lane.

Valdes-Dapena suggested putting a Supercharger on the New Jersey Turnpike, and he says Tesla is apparently working on that. In the latest round of the Tesla-Times feud, Broder said Musk had discussed placing Superchargers 60 miles apart after he first heard about the Times reporter’s mishap.

With one test drive ending in failure and another ending as a nearly stress-free success, it’s hard to know what to say. The Model S, and electric cars in general, are still new, so more people have to make long drives like this before anyone can really say which journalist’s drive was a fluke.


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