Tesla’s 10 minute driving time limit at their Model S press events are leading some to cry foul – “how can a journalist reasonably evaluate the new EV without getting an idea of its battery range?”.
The bigger question is “what value do press trips really provide to the reader?”
We all know the standard format; the writer gets a flight to somewhere warm, where the roads are smooth and winding. If they are important, or the OEM wants to make them feel important, they might be flown in Business Class. There’s a nice hotel room, lavish meals, unlimited alcohol and the chummy camaraderie that exists between humans with a mutually beneficial relationship.
The drive itself is held on perfect roads, and is meant to highlight the attributes of the car while minimizing its flaws. There might be a (heavily coned-off) track event or autocross, but the goal remains the same. A local road-test, in an uncontrolled environment conducted under real life circumstances, is a much better qualitative measure of the car. Quantitative data can only be gleaned via specialized, expensive equipment.
So why bother attending?
TTAC takes a particular view towards the press trip; we treat it as a compromised situation that still has the potential for an original story that can bring value to our readers.Getting face time with the decision-makers of the industry isn’t always possible, and the press trip is a great time to do that as well.
Others treat it like an opportunity to collect some Flyer Miles, get drunk and ask condescending questions to the engineers and product planners about why they decided to integrate the sway bar into the rear axle, ruining the ability to install a thicker one, on a $12,999 economy hatchback.
Unless you’re Bertel. Then you get driven.