On February 8, the New York Times published critic John Broder’s unflattering reaction to the Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S sedan based on an overnight test-drive up Interstate 95 along the Eastern Seaboard. Since then Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Elon Musk have been enjoying a steady stream of positive press especially as it pertains to the Model S sedan. Motor Trend gave the Model S the distinction of “Car of the Year,” while the fiercely independent Consumer Reports will publish its review of the Model S that will see it receive a mark of 99 out of 100.
Tesla Supercharging Stations
On the heels of Elon Musk sharing his vision for supercharging stations that will allow Model S drivers to make it from Los Angeles to New York on Monday, three days ago Musk announced that he would greatly accelerate Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s plan for a national “fast charging” network but Paul F. Mutolo, director of external partnerships at the Energy Materials Center at Cornell University is crying foul.
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While Mr. Mutolo does applaud Mr. Musk’s attempt to rethink the powering of vehicles, “That said, the consumer should be wary of two things, hype and safety.” He just doesn’t believe Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s claims will stand up to scrutiny, science, or safety concerns. It should be noted that Mr. Mutolo is a firm believer in hydrogen powered cars, something that Mr. Musk has never failed to criticize.
Mr. Mutolo doesn’t believe its possible to drive more than 140 minutes on a 2o minute charge, and that that number is only accessible to drivers if they stay under 50 miles per hour.
“The numbers don’t add up,” he said. Based on current lithium ion technology, “It could potentially catch on fire. Not a good idea,” Mutolo opined.
In Tesla Motors’ Defense
While Elon Musk has yet to respond to Mr. Mutolo’s claims others have been happy to comment. Jay Friedman, legislative director for the group Plug in America when asked about Mr. Mutolo’s claims as a hydrogen cell engineer, simply said “Hindenberg.” While not refuting Mr. Mutolo’s comments, he used the one word answer he loves to use when hydrogen cell proponents bring up safety issues. He was of course, referring to the fiery 1937 crash that cost 36 people their lives.
“If you look at any kind of fueling technology, there is some possibility for it to catch fire,” Friedman said.
“The way Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) cools their batteries and monitors them, you won’t have something called ‘thermal runaway.’
“Even in Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s fast-charging scenario, they are not charging the batteries in an abusive way. That is the real key thing.”