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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Clueless, error-filled column on all-electric Tesla Model 3 is better than negative news

"Electric FUN," a front-page column about all-electric cars or EVs in The Record of Woodland Park on Monday, was illustrated with the Mitsubishi i-MIEV, an EV that was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2017. Sales of the small Japanese car, which had a range of only 62 miles, totaled 2,108 over 7 years, according to GreenCarReports.com.



HACKENSACK, N.J. -- John Cichowski, a columnist at The Record of Woodland Park, wants you to meet his wife's cousin, Bob.

Bob Silverberg, who owned a 20-year-old Honda, now drives a  new Tesla Model 3, the all-electric car that's been buried in negative news since deliveries to customers began last year.

But the Page 1 column on Monday in the once-great local daily newspaper was upbeat and positive, with no mention of past production problems, delayed deliveries or the eccentricities of Elon Musk, CEO of upstart Tesla.

Still, typical of Cichowski's work in the past 15 years, the column is filled with errors, and nowhere does the clueless reporter mention that Model 3, like all Teslas, is a zero-emissions vehicle that does no harm to the environment or to humans.

When he unveiled the midsize Model 3 in 2016, Musk noted more than 53,000 Americans die prematurely every year from auto emissions. 

Self-driving features

Chichowski, who calls himself The Road Warrior, begins the column with Tesla's "Summon" feature, which allows the owner using a smartphone app to stand outside the Model 3, start it and have it back out of the garage or, as Cousin Bob did, a carport.

But the reporter doesn't mention the owner of a  Model 3 can also have the car parallel park, drive and steer on the highway, and change lanes automatically.

'No gas tank'

Although he never tells readers the Model 3 is a zero-emissions car without an exhaust pipe, Cichowski does say the EV has "no gas tank."

All you have to do is plug it into "a wall socket," he says, but Cichowski doesn't mention Tesla's network of dedicated Superchargers (fast electric-charging stations) in New Jersey and across the nation, a key to the company's success.

He also exaggerates how much time a Tesla owner spends charging the car, and omits mention of a 240-volt wall socket any electrician can install that allows an owner to charge his EV in a few hours overnight just like he or she charges a cell phone. 

No transmission?

"Electric vehicles don't need transmissions. EVs run on torque," Cichowski claims, providing the two biggest laugh lines in the column.

"Torque" is the twisting motion produced by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor, but the car won't go anywhere unless you connect that torque to the driving wheels via a transmission.

Cousin Bob's Model 3 does have a transmission, but it has only 1 speed, so driving the EV is smooth, silent and -- with all of the torque available immediately -- effortless.

"I'm not polluting the air as much as I did with my Honda, and [my Model 3 is] a lot of fun to drive," Cousin Bob says.

Someone should tell Bob he isn't "polluting the air" at all.

For some strange reason, no photo of Cousin Bob's Model 3 appears with the column, but a photo of an "electric car" used in the Glen Rock July Fourth parade in 2017 appears on the continuation page, 6A.

More laugh lines

"The Model 3 doesn't even need a dashboard," The Road Warrior columnist reports. 

"Instead, it's got something we're already used to on our smartphones: a touchscreen -- except this one is almost as big as a chauffeur," he says, referring to the 15-inch touch screen on the Model 3.

"Like a phone, just touch it the right way and it'll do everything your dash did and more -- phone, radio, heat, air conditioning, etc., etc."

Gee-whiz. Will Tesla's wonders ever cease?

Postscript: John Cichowski, who committed more errors than any other single reporter in the history of The Record, retired in January 2019. He began writing the Road Warrior column in September 2003.

Using a free Tesla Supercharger in the Colonie Center Mall outside of Albany, N.Y., in 2017, I was able to add 100 miles of range to my Tesla Model S in about 40 minutes while my wife and I grabbed a bite to eat and used the restroom at a nearby Whole Foods Market.

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