One Of The Biggest Things I Learned From The Tesla--NYTimes Debacle −

One Of The Biggest Things I Learned From The Tesla–NYTimes Debacle

  • Published on February 18th, 2013 by

(Update) Also See:

I’ve written several articles on the Tesla–NYTimes (or Tesla–John Broder) story. But way beyond the specifics of that actual story, several electric vehicle topics keep coming up in other bloggers’ or reporters’ articles about the story, and in comments on the bottom of all those articles. Unfortunately, perceptions regarding several of these topics are often a bit off. Here’s one of the biggest things I learned from this whole Tesla–NYTimes firestorm:

People Don’t Understand How They Drive

97 percentOne of the only articles I read and actually found useful about the Tesla–NYTimes debacle was one by Martin LaMonica on OnEarth. He pulled out a stat that I think is very important — “Nearly all — 97 percent — of the driving trips that Americans take are less than 50 miles, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

Why is this stat so important? Because there’s a great misconception about how much range an electric car needs to have. The test drive on which John Broder was taking the Tesla Model S was a very long test drive, a drive that almost no one makes on a regular basis… if ever. 450 miles is far longer than the 50 or less that we drive 97% of the time.

Now, jumping off of that stat above, look at the range of these pure electric vehicles:

Yep, 11 pure-electric vehicles have a range greater than 97% of our trips. Obviously, this means that, for most of us, pure-electric vehicles have adequate range for our daily, weekly, and even monthly needs. It is not a compromise to go electric.

Yet, many, many commenters, and even reporters and bloggers who supposedly have an “expert” opinion on the matter, don’t realize this.

Yes, some people do take longer trips on a regular basis (but that’s a tiny percentage of our population). Yes, some people like to take long road trips (rather than flying, taking the train, or taking a coach/bus) when they go on vacation. But even for those people, there are extended range (or plug-in hybrid) electric vehicles that will give you the range of an inefficient gasmobile when needed but will run on electricity the majority of the time. Check out these plug-in hybrid electric vehicles:

In summary, there are a ton of electric vehicles one could buy and drive for all of their regular purposes. There are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that can fit the needs of those who regularly drive longer distances, or who have absurdly long drives to work and nowhere to charge there (but seriously, not many of you have a 25-mile trip to work).

For the rest of us, if you want to take a long trip in a car once a year or so, there are things called rental cars (a lot of people use them for this purpose anyway in order to keep their car in better shape), or you can see if a friend or family member wants to swap cars for a bit and maybe even accept an extra gift for the extra miles you’re going to put on their 4-wheeler.

Common sense? I think so. Unfortunately, it isn’t yet as common as it should be. Help spread the word!


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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, SCTY, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB. After years of covering solar and EVs, he simply had a lot of faith in these companies and felt like they were good companies to invest in as a portion of his retirement strategy. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.