Posts about life as an electric vehicle driver.
I drive a Tesla Roadster. For full disclosure, I own stock in Tesla because I put my money where my mouth is.
There’s a bunch of articles coming out claiming the Tesla car is at risk of being hacked. They all trace back to a single blog post by George Reese, a Tesla owner and exec of Dell.
But if you read and understand the blog post, there’s a key point all the news coverage missed. You are only at risk if you give other people or 3rd party apps your password! Yes, what he’s saying is that if you give your Tesla username and password to others, someone might get them and use them to unlock your car or change the air conditioning temperature! I put that in the “Duh!” category.
If you don’t give out your password, you can’t get hacked!
At the end of the day, what I think Mr. Reese is really saying is he thinks Tesla should have provided an API that supports 3rd party developers in a way that doesn’t require giving out your username and password. Fair enough, but as far as I know Tesla has never said it supports giving 3rd parties access to it’s API.
But I take issue with the tone of Mr. Reese’s article because it casts the lack of this 3rd party support as a security risk with the Tesla API rather than simply recognizing that Tesla never intended for 3rd parties to talk to it’s API. You could say that Tesla might as well have implemented an Oauth API rather than the one it did so that 3rd party support is built in, and that’s a fair point.
But this is a far different point from claiming the current API is a security risk. It’s only a risk if you use 3rd party apps, and as far as I know the API is undocumented and any non-Tesla use of it us unauthorized. It’s only possible if the car owner gives others their username and password, which I’d say is clearly not a smart thing for anyone to do.
I’ve been closely following the New York Times / Tesla debate over James Broder’s “article" about using Tesla’s superchargers. And now we have Tesla’s response and data showing his article wasn’t even factually correct.
I’ve actually always had a lot of respect for the New York Times, and I’ve been a paid subscriber in paper or digital form for over 20 years. But when I first read the article, even before seeing any of Elon Musk’s responses, I found it really strange that they’d publish what essentially seemed like a blog article as a news story without any context. The New York Times reaches a huge population that will read an article like this, form an opinion, and never research it further. What I valued about the Times was I felt that they provided a broader picture on any given situation that you could necessarily expect on a subject specific blog site.
In this case it seemed right off, even if the article had been factually correct (which we now know it wasn’t), that editor should have required that some basic other points be addressed for context. Why haven’t others reported any of these kinds of problems? Did Tesla want to offer any comments before publication? How about the experience of owners that have used the super chargers, ideally on the same route? (They aren’t hard to find… just go somewhere like teslamotorsclub.com and the stories abound.) And why is a reporter normally covering the oil industry test driving a car?
More generally, it seems there’s a huge difference between the real world of someone using these and a reporter trying to see what it takes to break the system. I’ve been asked about the “longest distance I’ve gone between charges” several times. Thing is that isn’t really real world behavior. I have to stop and eat and go to the bathroom. So I stop where there is a charger, given that they are pretty much everywhere, at least here in California and apparently on the route Broder took. This inevitably happens before the 3-4 hours of driving > 200 miles it takes to deplete the battery.
In the recent Verge article, Chris Ziegler was up front about this, which I appreciate. He said that while he stopped for lunch in Santa Barbara, which is loaded with chargers, and from experience he probably could have gotten a more convenient space at a charger than not at a charger. But he plainly admits that “We intentionally didn’t seek out a charger in Santa Barbara because we wanted to push the Model S’s battery to its limits… partly out of the masochistic belief that running out of power would make for a good story"
And just so anyone reading this knows, there are chargers up and down the route from LA to Morro Bay. They can be found easily on lots of websites and mobile apps. My favorites are plugshare.com and recargo.com, which both have very nice mobile apps for my iphone as well as for Android. There are so many charge stations on this route that it would be my guess that there are nearly as many charge stations as gasoline stations. There are even the rare breed of 70amp chargers at several spots along this route, which charge at more than twice the speed of the standard 30amp level 2 charging station if you are in a compatible car (which Mr. Ziegler was). I’ve used these multiple times on my own roadtrips along this route. In fact I charged at the very charger he used in Morro Bay.
Okay, I can respect Mr. Ziegler because he’s being up front about what he’s doing, even though it’s disappointing that this still doesn’t give the public an accurage perception of what it’s like to really own one of these. I don’t want to push the range on my car to it’s limit. I want to take advantage of any convenient chance to charge. As a result, I rarely am almost never “anxious” about my range with this giant hulking 85kwh battery. On the rare long trip, I just have to do a teeny bit of extra planning and I keep tabs on my status. Even if I got it wrong, in most cases as you can see, there are plenty of places to grab the extra juice. But in over 3 years driving EVs and over 40,000 miles under my belt, I have never once been in danger of running out of battery.
Here’s some behind the scenes photos from the shooting of Gallons of Light. Find out more at gallonsoflight.com or watch the video at http://youtu.be/QweNsLesMrM
A fun little video my daughter made back in September after we picked up the Model S. we stopped by the home of famous Disney imagineer Bob Gurr, a big car and EV enthusiast, on our way back so he gets a cameo.
Back in July I had the great pleasure of bumping into James Arnold Taylor at the Tesla service center in LA. If he doesn’t look familiar, he certainly would sound familiar. He does the voice characters for a huge percentage of today’s voiceovers and animated characters. Most importantly to my family, he is the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Check out some examples here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM4RMo0R2Vc
He was grabbing a charge on his Roadster after driving to LA for a recording session. Great to see these kinds of people leading the EV revolution!