A great story from Lewis Page in The Register. You may be familiar with the recent test drive of an electric car from London to Edinburgh carried out by Brian Milligan of the BBC, which took four days and where only public charging points were permitted to be used.
Coverage such as this in EU Referendum, which put the journey into context, led to an outpouring of anger from those who have a vested interest in the market for electric vehicles, and those eco warriors who are determined to see an end to the petroleum powered internal combustion engine. The industry talking heads immediately criticised the BBC for the choice of car, a converted Mini E which had been created for the purpose of testing and for trials, even though Milligan’s said the car is a mass produced electric vehicle (EV).
To prove that an electric car could perform much better than Milligan’s test suggested, electric car company Tesla found a way to demonstrate that the bad press wasn’t accurate for all electric vehicles. That day, David Peilow, described as an electric-vehicle advocate, picked up a Tesla Roadster at the Tesla store in London and drove it to Edinburgh in a single day.
Peilow took a route up the M6 which was shorter, at just a little over 400 miles. Tesla says he charged up at 240-volt outlets along the way, as needed. The only charge stop described in any detail was during dinner at a Motorway service area in Tebay, about 270 miles north of London. With the Roadster’s seat heaters, Peilow did not suffer from the cold.
It should be impressive for as Lewis Page points out in The Register, the car used by Tesla for their rebuttal stunt certainly was. Whereas Milligan had used what will likely turn out to be a mass produced car, Tesla’s Roadster was the ‘Sport’ version – at £88,000 a pop it is a somewhat different animal to the Mini.
Context is everything. If this was an aviation challenge, it would be like pitting a Cessna 172 against a Learjet and saying the Learjet’s performance was evidence that Cessnas are great medium range cruising aircraft.
Update: In addition to the comments, I reproduce a polite email from one gentleman who read this piece and adds to the debate:
Just read your article.
I don’t think it was a stunt by Tesla. He actually drove a production car (not a prototype that will never be produced) and did it without doing anything unusual to get there.
The point I am making is Tesla’s choice of ‘production’ car. Surely something akin to the non-production Mini E that was used would have been a genuine comparison. That is why I consider this to have been a stunt conceived at high speed (excuse the irony) by Tesla’s marketing team who were no doubt worried about the impact on future sales as a result of Milligan’s observations.