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Ask Me Anything -- Motor Trend's Jonny Lieberman Defends Picking the Benz

Discussion in 'Video' started by jonnylieberman, May 15, 2014.

  1. jonnylieberman

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    Hey All,

    It's been brought to my attention that a great many people feel I picked the Mercedes-Benz S550 over the Tesla Model S because of shiny lights. I didn't, but those lights were shiny.

    I figured I should come here and defend my decision a little. Especially considering that I've been a Model S booster ever since I was one of the 11 people that voted it our 2013 Car of the Year and was one of the people on stage with Elon when we handed him the award. In fact, I handed him the award.

    With all that said, fire away.

    Cheers,

    -Jonny-
     
  2. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    It's nice to see people defending their actions, even climbing down into the lions' den/vipers' pit to do it. Where's the popcorn..... ;)
     
  3. Dart

    Dart Member

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    I am trading in my MB and ordered a Model S without ever reading a word of Motor Trend in '13 or '14. Don't really care about shiny lights or shiny awards :smile:.
     
  4. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Welcome. I thought it was an overall fair review and the shortcomings of the Model S are valid. Most of us here obviously feel you came to the wrong conclusion :)

    If it wasn't the superior quality of the interior alone that won it for the Mercedes what was it? The Model S wins on overall performance, safety, braking, acceleration, cargo, ability of 5+2 seating, environmental impact, 'fuel' consumption and had the 17" screen with software updates delivered wirelessly.

    The Mercedes (by virtue of being an ICE) wins of ease of refueling and it had the nicer interior and a few of the tech gadgets like ACC the Model S is missing but soon will have.

    I'm glad you voted for the Model S for Car of the Year too. Was a big win for Tesla.
     
  5. jonnylieberman

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    That's not a question, but which MB are you trading in?
     
  6. liuping

    liuping Active Member

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    I thought the video was well balanced. I don't agree with your final conclusion, but that's that not surprising, given I'm a Tesla Owner. :)

    The reality of the matter is that I would not even consider a car as expensive as the S550. My Model S is less than 1/2 the cost of an S550 over a 10 year period.

    The one thing I have to say I really disagree with is saying the Model S is 90%, but the S550 is 100%. Any car that only gets 16MPG is not a 100%. There is plenty of room for improvement with that embarrassing mileage...
     
  7. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    Well I was going to say this was a tough crowd, but so far, bunch of pussy cats. :)

    Jonny, welcome to the forum. And huge respect for showing up to talk about why you reached the (obviously completely wrong) conclusion you did. Here are the comments so far: Motor Trend's Head 2 Head Ep. 54: 2014 Tesla Model S vs 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550!

    Probably easiest if you just reply over there, in thread. Have at it!
     
  8. MikeC

    MikeC Active Member

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    If you could pick one of them to own as your daily driver, you would really pick the S550 over a Model S?
     
  9. jonnylieberman

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    I would say the S-Class trumps the Model S in terms of safety. I know people like to tout the "5.4 stars" (whatever that means) that the Model S got, but the Benz actively avoids accidents. It also does all it can to mitigate accidents and injury. For instance, when you close the rear doors, the rear buckles extend. May not seem like much, but most people in China (the only car market on earth larger than ours) don't wear rear belts, and most Chinese buyers than can afford an S-Class are driven. This small thing will save lives. Another example, in the event of a rear collision, the S-Class cinches all the seat belts, vents the windows and locks up the brakes (turns out it's safer to let the crash structure absorb the full impact rather than having the car move forward -- counterintuitive but apparently true). The S-Class also has radar cruise that can not only fully brake the car, but can choose how it brakes based on if it's looking at a car or a person. If the car thinks it's going to hit a person, it goes into a full panic stop mode.

    Anyhow, the Tesla isn't safer.

    Your other points are all true, though you left out that the Mercedes is nicer to drive, has better seats, is built better (a few things didn't make the video but that red car I drove was glitchy) and apples to apples is just plain more desirable, a HUGE factor when it comes to car purchasing, especially at the $125K price point, where people are buying things they certainly don't need.

    One story -- at the beginning of the video we had both cars parked in the garage for my stand up introduction. Just before were started filming there were four guys in their 20s in the garage just before we started filming. You'd think that "the kids" would all be geeking out over the Tesla, but in fact three of them wouldn't get out of the S-Class. The interior is that good.
     
  10. Dart

    Dart Member

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    #10 Dart, May 15, 2014
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
    I didn't ask a question because I didn't read your review. It was more of a general comment to participate in what will undoubtedly become a classic thread. :tongue:

    I had a CL600, then when the kids got too big, I downgraded to an E550. I was seriously considering (and test drove) the new S550 - a beautiful car with impressive technology - or possibly waiting for the coupe version. Then I test drove the Model S and was sold on it.

    I'll go find and read your article (er, watch the review). It's rather gallant to ask for the blindfold to be removed while facing the firing squad!
     
  11. jonnylieberman

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    I should have said, 16 mpg the way I drive. I'm an environmental terrorist. Normal people would probably see 23 mpg.

    My Range in the Model S is pretty dismal, as well. Because we wound up charging it at the Supercharger so many times (many takes for video, plus it's down the street from our office) Thing is, I'm forced to drive a certain way in the Tesla (RANGE ANXIETY!!), whereas I'm not in the Benz. Because it takes four minutes to fill it up anywhere. For a lot of people, that's a valid point. I know it's the old dirty fossil fuel way, but it's also reality.

    That said, there is a plug-in S-Class coming that should have much better mileage. A Hybrid, too. And a diesel.

    - - - Updated - - -

    As much as I love the Tesla (and I hope that came across -- I think the Model S is fantastic and would LOVE to own one. Sadly, I write for a living...) I'd rather have the S-Class. It's a better car.
     
  12. pgiralt

    pgiralt Active Member

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    Johnny, I applaud you for coming here and engaging with the Tesla community. I also thought your evaluation was fair, but I'm in the camp of many others out there that would never even consider buying an S-class. I see the two as completely different cars tailored to completely different markets. Maybe I'm just not looking for something so "luxurious". Also, when you really think about TCO, the Tesla is far less expensive than the Mercedes. I could really never afford an S-class (or a $125k Model S either for that matter - many Model S drivers are driving around $85k or lower cars that perform almost identically to the car you reviewed). When you think about the fuel and maintenance savings, the TCO of a Model S really starts looking more like the cost of an E-Class, not an S-Class.

    The part that I have to disagree with you about is the piece about range anxiety. Before I had my Model S, I was constantly fretting any time the gas gauge would get to 1/4 tank and I had to figure out where/when I was going to go fill up. Gas stations are generally not on my daily commute or at least inconvenient to get to and the hassle of having to stop during daily routines was annoying. One of the most liberating things about the Model S is is never having to worry about fueling up. You just get up in the morning and go and then recharge at night. I find it hard to believe that there are many people who will drive more than 200 miles a day unless they are going on a road trip. I agree that road trips take a little planning and if you're someone who doesn't want to be bothered with that, the Model S is not for you, but I'd much rather have to think about how I'm going to charge on an occasional road trip than figuring out how I'm going to fuel up twice a week. I've taken many road trips using SuperChargers and it's been fantastic. I suspect many others feel the same way I do.
     
  13. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Your point about auto extending seat belts saving lives isn't valid. People who don't want to wear seat belts won't no matter how much help they are given. Some cars in the US used to try and auto extend the seat belt for the driver and those people would simply wrap the shoulder strap under their should defeating part of the safety.


    Your test method is not someone's daily routine though. Most people don't spend the entire day running a car through its paces. They go to work and back and maybe some errands. On the weekend they may go somewhere. Sure, an EV isn't as easy to refuel at this point but from a normal day standpoint it actually is easier. Get home and plug in.
     
  14. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    The active cruise control and breaking feature (which I'm sure are nice and willing likely be in the Model S in a year or two anyway) help but some accidents are unavoidable. Are you saying the Model S isn't safer than the Mercedes in an accident?

    Unless Tesla was lying the NTHSA has a point system. Tesla got a 5.4 which they say was the highest ever given to a car. The NTHSA got upset since that is not how they want people to report things. A 'Five Star' is a five star to then no matter if it is a 5.0 or a 5.4.
     
  15. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    #15 dsm363, May 15, 2014
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
    Excellent points by pgiralt. Until you've owned a car like this and used it on a daily basis it is sometimes hard to understand the 'range anxiety' isn't really a problem for most people. Sure if you are driving over 200 miles that day you have to do some thinking and it might actually be an issue but on normal day zero thought is put into range. Plus, if it became an issue once a year most people buying a $80k+ car could afford to rent a car as a worst case scenario. They likely have two cars in the family anyway so taking their other car on non supercharger routes is usually an option too.
     
  16. jonnylieberman

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    Hmm. Well, let me tell you about the week I had. We had the car at the test track. Sure, no one ever goes to the test track. But let's just call it an unexpected trip. Anyhow, I got in the car with an indicated 75-mile range and I had a 45-mile commute home in 90-degree weather. Of course, going three miles to the freeway ate up 6 miles of range. Getting on the freeway hurt the range, running AC, turn signals, etc. I sat there moving at 63-degrees with the cruise control set, sweating and miserable. I made it home with 18 miles of range left. To me this is worse than what you described about the gas gauge being on a quarter tank. Los Angeles is, after all, littered with gas stations. I plugged the car in at 3:00 pm to 110 volts (I don't own an electric car -- I should, but don't have a charger at my house) and the next morning at 8:00 am I was SHOCKED to discover that I'd gained 27-miles of range. I had an appointment at 11:00 am. But I needed range. So, I decided to go down to the Supercharger station (25-miles from my house) and fill'er up. Leaving the station, I hit traffic and missed my appointment.

    I suppose my point is that if your life isn't regimented, range anxiety is pretty real. That said, I know it's going to get better.
     
  17. jerjozwik

    jerjozwik Member

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    first off, howdy hay loverman :D
    but i 100% agree here, granted my fit and fiat EVs are not a tesla intergalactic spaceship of wonder, but they are still EVs. the only time we ever had range anxiety is when me and the wife drove to angeles shooting range. which is entirely uphill from the west san gabriel valley. by the time we arrived we had used up over 50% of the battery and wondered if we would make it home. we did, because it was all down hill on the way back.

    but, that is 1 time in almost a year of driving around in EVs. every night we plug in our cars and wake up and drive like idiots to and from work and plug right back in at night. we describe it to non-EV people as how people use their cellphones now. burn through most of the battery daily, GPS, WIFI, bright screen. and then just plug it in when you go home.
     
  18. Zextraterrestrial

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    #18 Zextraterrestrial, May 15, 2014
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
    that sucks to get the car with only 75 mi range!
    you would totally begin with range anxiety in that case.

    and since I disagree with some of the review I'll just ask this:

    Autocross
    Model S or S550?

    don't think they are in the same class though, didn't see the S550 in SCCA rules

    and can the S550 use acceleration as a safety feature the same as the S? or is there a bit of lag
    and what happens at 100mph + with a benz in an unavoidable head on accident? say 2 lane road with no shoulders and a centerline crossover (or are there no roads like that in the LA area?) still safer?
     
  19. ckessel

    ckessel Active Member

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    The safety angle makes sense. NHTSA doesn't rate accident avoidance. And the superior interior is certainly valid.

    The range anxiety I don't understand. I don't drive my S "a certain way". I drive it however I want almost all the time and have a bit over 20,000 miles on it. The only time I've had to drive in a certain way was a long road trip down I5 before superchargers. With super chargers though, I can drive however I want even on the road trips. I am restricted to the paths the super chargers cover so far, but that's not range anxiety.

    Also, what do you mean by "my range in the model S is pretty dismal"? Range as in effective range you're getting per kwh or that your battery is badly degraded for some reason?
     
  20. SummerlinModelS

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    Reading between the lines, he says the range is pretty dismal in both cars. He stated he got 16mpg in the Benz but rated was more like 21mpg--that's no different than getting less than the Tesla's rated range. Same statement but slightly skewed against Tesla in that point as there was no even comparison made.
     

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