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Who are the biggest electric car liars - the BBC, or Tesla Motors?

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So who's really being untruthful here?

None of this is to say that the e-car's problems can't be solved: for instance the prospect exists that new li-titanate battery tech may come on the scene, able to recharge in minutes rather than hours or days. Garages would be much more likely to deploy the necessary industrial 3-phase power outlets on the forecourt if such cars ever became widespread, though perhaps disappointingly it would remain impossible to charge up one's e-car so fast using home wiring.

Something else might happen to change the picture and make the future of the e-car rosier. But for the foreseeable future, there are enormous obstacles facing any mass takeup of e-cars.

So was the Beeb's piece "bias", "myths", "ludicrous", "absurd", as Tesla and Llewellyn have said?

Not so much, more like a bit naughty. It was plainly done from a more critical standpoint than most e-car journalism is - you do have to suspect that Milligan and his biz-section editors are personally a lot more sceptical about e-cars than even the average motoring hack, let alone green cheerleader-reporters like the Beeb's Roger Harrabin. It is, as even Milligan admits, really a bit unfair to the Mini-E to drive it to Edinburgh at midwinter - this says nothing about the car's performance as it was designed and intended to be used.

The Mini-E - or anyway its possible production successor - is meant to be a runabout for short commutes, shopping trips, school runs: the consumer sacrifices many of the capabilities of a combustion-engined car, but evades pretty much all of the various motoring taxes - a large proportion of the cost of running and fuelling a normal car - and gets to feel a bit smug. (Much though in fact you would actually do better overall for the environment to buy a fuel-sipping ecodiesel than a Mini-E style electrocar; and somebody has to pay the motoring taxes, so the present tax exemptions can't persist if e-cars become common.)

So the Beeb biz guys were a bit naughty: but they admitted as much, and their facts all seem to be in order. Can one say the same for the e-car lovers?

Certainly one can for Peilow: his Edinburgh stunt was every bit as meaningless as the Beeb's, but like Milligan he reports his facts accurately (if a bit less accessibly thus far - though no doubt, based on past form, we'll see massive detail in due course).

Tesla Motors, though, don't adhere to the same high standard. Following the completion of Peilow's and Milligan's journeys, their famously strident PR department issued this press release. It says:

An electric vehicle enthusiast went to great lengths - nearly 500 miles - to dispel myths perpetuated by a BBC correspondent ...

No he didn't. It shouldn't have been a lot more than 400, if you believe Google Maps. Why not give us the actual figure, rather than bumping it up to the next hundred? And Tesla goes on:

David Peilow reached his destination within a day. In fact ... Peilow appears to be the first person ever to drive an electric vehicle from London to Edinburgh in a single day ... Peilow departed Wednesday morning from Tesla’s London showroom. He arrived in Edinburgh that night ...

That all sounds a hell of a lot better than "he got there in less than 24 hours on the road" or "he arrived 19 hours later". You could almost imagine that a normal, safe day's driving would get you from London to Edinburgh in a Roadster. And that last sentence isn't just spin, it's falsehood - Peilow actually arrived early the next day.

Perhaps worst of all, Tesla PRs tell the world that Peilow charged up "at conventional 240-volt outlets when necessary". He certainly did not: his first charging stop made use of a highly unconventional 70-amp specialist Tesla charging point, lent for the occasion by a Roadster owner in Nottinghamshire. For the second one he used a high-powered 30-amp outlet.

"Conventional" UK 240-volt sockets, the ones we all know and love, are limited to less than 15 amps and would have lengthened Peilow's journey by at least 36 hours.

That's a very untruthful press release indeed. If anyone here deserves the words "myths", "bias", "ludicrous" etc it isn't the Beeb. It's Tesla Motors PR - very much not the sort of people one would want to be a shill for, it turns out, even if you do get lent a Roadster for a few days. ®

Bootnote

*For some reason Llewellyn has changed the url of his e-car blog section to say "electric cars". It used to be called "electric car ranting", which seemed a better fit.

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