CNN Jumps Into Tesla Fray, Makes D.C.-Boston Drive With Miles To Spare

Feb 16, 2013 10:37 AM EST

Every story has three sides: What he said, what she said, and the truth. In an attempt to get to the bottom of the the debate between between New York Times journalist John Broder and Tesla Motor Co. CEO Elon Musk, CNN sent auto journalist Peter Valdes-Dapena for a ride in the Tesla Model S to see wether the car could really make it between Washington D.C. and Boston using the new network of Tesla Supercharging stations along the east coast.

Valdes-Dapena made the same drive from D.C. to Boston with about 40 miles of range left in the all-electric Model S's battery, proving that the drive can be done, but, Valdes-Dapena admitted there was some anxiety that he'd run of of battery along the way.

Some factors differed in the CNN test drive and that of the Times, namely that the temperature was about 10 degrees warmer, and that CNN's test took place over one day instead of two. In his story for the Times, Broder attributed cold temperatures to the Tesla's reduced range, and part of the battery-draining problem was that the car was left in the cold overnight.

"The key issue is not the car itself, but the location of the charging stations, since the Tesla battery pack is only good for 270 miles," Valdes-Dapena wrote on CNN Money. "The most scary part of the trip: the 200 miles between Supercharging stations in Newark, Del., and Milford, Conn. That's not a lot of cushion, especially after I missed an exit, adding a few miles to that leg."

He also worried about 30 extra miles added to his route when he opted to bypass New York City and its battery-sucking traffic congestion.

"That seemed smart," Valdes-Dapena wrote, "until we hit traffic. While it wasn't as bad as the epic parking lot that is the Cross Bronx Expressway, I had gone 30 miles out of [my] way to avoid traffic and I got it anyway. This did not seem like the road to success."

But the drive ended uneventfully, with 40 miles of range to spare.

Valdes-Dapena concluded that the trip would have been easier if Tesla would install a Supercharging station along the New Jersey Turnpike. A spokeswoman from Tesla said the company plans to install one on the turnpike, but the first priority was to get enough charging station in place to make the trip at all.

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