Taxpayer Millions and Green Batteries Don’t Mix Well

Undoubtedly alternative energy and transportation innovator Elon Musk (Flickr photo: Jurvetson) – like his competitor for the taxpayer-funded, six-figure electric automobile market Henrik Fisker – is a smart guy. But will economic and technological realities humble him, or worse, make him look like a fool?

After the experience recounted last week by New York Times journalist John Broder, who test drove the Tesla Model S in frigid conditions that required frequent unplanned recharging stops throughout the Northeast, humility is out of the question for Musk. The jury is still out on inanity.

The Times published Broder’s devastating account on Friday. The plan was for the reporter to set out from the Washington, D.C. area and examine the claims that the Model S battery has a 300-mile range on a full charge, utilizing the carefully spaced new superchargers located at rest areas in Newark, Del. and Milford, Conn. – approximately 200 miles apart. Broder explained that the 480-volt superchargers (other companies amusingly call them “fast chargers”) require 30 minutes of juicing to provide 150 miles of range, with an hour needed to fully charge the EV.

The first leg of the trip, from D.C. to the Delaware station, was uneventful, according to Broder. However the recharging process doesn’t sound like it went as promoted, requiring 50 minutes to fully power the half-drained lithium ion battery.

From there it was all-downhill, and not in the gliding “wheeee!” sense of the term. Rather, Broder noticed a dramatic, sudden drop on the battery indicator, and realized he would need to preserve his power by turning off cabin heat (outside temperatures were in the 30s) and slow down to 54 miles-per-hour, realizing that making it to Milford would be dicey. Range anxiety set in.

Read more at the National Legal and Policy Center. By Paul Chesser.


  1. Bob Higginbotham says:

    The article seems to identify some of the limitations of all electric but not all. What is the useable life of a lithium-ion battery and what are the requirements for disposal as well as the replacement cost. Many times what is too good to be true really is too good to be true. Battery technology still has a significant way to go.

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