A weekly round-up of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird.
Tesla Zapped by New York Times, Fires Back Electronically
There’s no denying the Tesla Model S is one heck of a super-sedan. No need to attach a rider like “...for an electric car,” either. It’s good-looking, spacious, and just plain fast. Like, really, fast.
However, when New York Times journalist John Broder embarked on an East Coast distance test, it wasn’t the car that was up for evaluation. Instead, the intent was to try out Tesla’s “supercharger” stations — recharging points intended to make long-distance travel (the Achilles’ heel of the electric vehicle) stress-free.
It being so cold back East of late, I hardly need tell you what happened. Mr. Borden’s Model S tester ran out of juice about 20 miles away from his designated charging point, and had to be flat-decked to the next station. He wrote about the experience, and it got published.
Tesla owner Elon Musk, a shy, retiring type who owns his own space-rocket company, took to Twitter, the online micro-blogging service that allows a moment’s indiscretion the maximum audience. “NYTimes article about range in cold is fake,” Mr. Musk tweeted, “Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.”
Mr. Borden issued a detailed response by explaining his charging process — the car indicated full-charge reached, even though it was only at 90 per cent — as well as pointing out that the “long detour” was only two or three extra miles. The system just didn’t work, at least in winter.
Frankly, the kerfuffle should be no surprise to both proponents and opponents of EVs. Just like gasoline-powered cars, cold weather negatively impacts electric range. Without an extensive infrastructure to support refuelling, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Porsche Celebrates Half-Century of 911
Ah, the Porsche 911. As an icon, it’s instantly recognizable. And good grief, do folks love to argue about which generation is best.
That argument continues with the current generation, the rapid but somewhat robotic 991, and certainly Porsche’s PR department hasn’t done the new car a great service by parking it next to a fully restored ’60s original. Makes the new one look quite the Heffalump.
Even so, it’s worth a tip of the old racing helmet to Porsche for continuing to refine their recipe; each year a little more speed, as well as a little more comfort. With the Corvette also celebrating an anniversary (its 60th), we can’t wait until these two middle-aged behemoths are locked in combat on the racetrack.
First Corvette Stingray Crashed
This car’s only been out for... well, let me check my watch, not my calendar, if you know what I mean. Still, the first casualty is already noted on the books
Pictures of the crash were taken somewhere in Arizona, and are all over the Internet, as you’d expect. The smushed ‘Vette appears to be on manufacturer’s plates, indicating either an error in testing, or a really bad day for somebody who borrowed a car from the company motor pool.
It’s the first, but certainly won’t be the last. In this age of electronic nannies and driver’s aids, the Corvette remains a bit of a handful at times — like the deadly fish with which the car shares its name, best treat it with a little respect.
Ferrari to Release Enzo Replacement at Geneva Motor Show
If I’m honest, the Ferrari Enzo never really did much for me; I’d still rather have the older F40. Or a modern 458 Italia, which is faster around Ferrari’s own racetrack anyway.
However, Maranello will always have a range-topping hypercar, and it’s time for the next one. We’ve had the F40, the wonky F50, the F60 (that’s the Enzo’s unofficial designation), and now we’re going to have the F150. Wait, hang on a sec.
Why on Earth has Ferrari named their next car after Ford’s best-selling pickup truck? Not like you’d get the two confused, but seems a bit silly to me. Either way, expect around 800hp, F1-style driving dynamics and an excellent tow-rating. Kidding about that last part.
SRT: Good to the Core
Dodge/Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology department already makes some of the baddest American iron available. Both the Challenger and 300C SRT8 embody the best spirit of the muscle car era, perhaps better than the Mustang/Camaro, which have got all serious about the racetrack.
Now Dodge is promising to make muscle a little cheaper with decontented models. They’ll still pack a hemi-punch, and these so-called Core models will certainly look the part, with 20-inch rims, Brembo brakes and blacked-out grille treatment.
No official word on what’ll be left off the cars to keep the pricing down, but I say weld the doors shut, paint it orange and head for the nearest “bridge-out” sign: you can keep the sat-nav.
Watch this space for all the week’s best and worst of automotive news, or submit your own auto oddities to email@example.com. Follow brendan on Twitter at @brendan_mcaleer