Lies, half-truths, tricks and skulduggery have existed in commerce since the first ships sailed the briny seas and the very first merchant stalls went up in the desert. As time as moved on, so has the means and methods of deception, revolutionized in the industrial age by wagon-traveling salesmen peddling ‘miracle tonic’. Though the award for Dirty Trick of the Century rightfully belongs to the automotive industry, not only for the numerous covered up safety issues exposed by consumer advocates near the end of the 20th century but its diabolically ingenious smear campaign going back the the beginning of its existence.

Prior to the introduction of the automobile, which existed in prototype form going back to the 1840s, roads were basically a free-for-all. Pedestrians, carts, carriages and the still fairly new bicycle, co-existed with little problem, speed not really being an issue, save for the occasional runaway horse. With cars now on the road, early models basically operating like motorized battering rams, people started to die. In spite of the huge potential for the invention, citizens, initially largely ambivalent if not outright dismissive of the automobile, actively turned against it, calling on the government to ban the ‘death machines’.

Recognizing the threat to their profits, leaders of the automotive industry planted stories in the media of the day, blaming pedestrians for being dumb enough to be killed, adding insult to injury by coining the term ‘Jay-Walker’ to describe the victims. ‘Jay’ being a vulgar slur basically meaning ‘dirty peasant’. It caught on so well that it pawned the ‘look both ways’ mantra and ‘Jay-Walking’ would go on to become a legal term. While generally less fatal now, the auto industry is not known for its credulity. The most recent of this ignoble tradition are electric car pioneers and future of human transportation, just ask them, Tesla ruled over by Elon Musk.

Visionary or trade standards violation?

Since first bursting onto the scene with its Tesla S model in 2012, Tesla Motors has been on the lips and minds of oil company haters, ecology lovers, tech geeks and futurists alike. The company touted its ‘supercharger’ network, announced nearly immediately after the release of the Tesla, Mr. Musk seeming to have a penchant for declaiming, as ‘The World’s Fastest Charging Station’.

According to a case in front of Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority, brought against the California-based automaker by British energy company Ecotricity, there are shortfalls between what Tesla says their superchager can do and what it actually does. The ASA found in favor of Tesla, apparently putting an end to the matter.

Cloak and dagger: Tesla superchargers

The proverbial overweight soprano is still waiting in the wings however, as new evidence suggests that Tesla secretly made a few tweaks to capacity. At the time of launch, the battery packs of the cars had a scant 90kW of power, and the supercharger 120kW. At the time of the case the superchargers had 135kW but the battery capacity was increased to 120kW.

Concluding thoughts

With a 135kW charger and a 120kW battery, the Tesla S can be charged to 80% (roughly 170 miles of range) in 40 minutes. Faster than any other electric car either in existence or being contemplated, including Tesla itself until this year.

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Trevor McNeil
Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.

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