The New York Times vs. the Tesla Motors Model S electric car

CEO Elon Musk accuses journalist of making up data in poor review

by Emily Senger

The Tesla Model S. (teslamotors.com)

Electric cars aren’t quite ready for the highway, particularly in cold-weather conditions. At least that’s what The New York Times energy and environment reporter John M. Broder found out when he tried to take the much-hyped Tesla Model S out for a long-distance drive in order to review it for the newspaper.

Despite being in constant contact with Tesla spokespeople and engineers over his two-day journey along a portion of Interstate 95, Broder found that the car’s projected distance did not match the actual distance. In his words: “I noticed that the estimated range was falling faster than miles were accumulating.” He hypothesized that the unusually cold weather could have zapped some of the car’s battery life.

After many phone calls to Tesla, and running out of charge on the side of the road near Branford, Conn., Broder finally made it to New York City. The resulting review published in The New York Times Sunday issue was not favourable to the Tesla Model S.

In most cases, a company expects some bad reviews will be mixed in with the good reviews and it moves on. This wasn’t the case for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who didn’t like what he read. “It probably [would] have been the end of the tale, but for Musk’s unexpectedly sharp reaction,” writes Time technology reporter Matt Peckham.

Enter Musk, who replied with this tweet, three days after the Times published its review.

Having a platform readily available, Broder then responded to Musk’s response with a second New York Times story the next day. “My account was not a fake,” he writes. “It happened just the way I described it.”

And, one day later, on Wednesday evening, Musk used the Tesla company blog to question Broder’s data in detail, writing: “In Mr. Broder’s case, he simply did not accurately capture what happened and worked very hard to force our car to stop running.”

And, again, Broder responded Thursday to Musk, breaking down his criticisms in a point-by-point response published in The New York Times Wheels section. “His broadest charge is that I consciously set out to sabotage the test. That is not so,” writes Broder in his second response to Musk and his third story about the Tesla Model S.

Over to Musk now, who was back on Twitter on Friday again, taking on Broder.




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The New York Times vs. the Tesla Motors Model S electric car

  1. When the reporter supposedly missed a charging station when the car was telling him to stop, it’s like not stopping for gas when the gas light comes on and then saying to the car company that there specs aren’t right. I wonder if the NYT reporter uses the same test on gas cars since the black box recorder on the car showed odd behaviour.

  2. Update. Tesla recently published an article with the vehicle logs in it that totally debunk his article and show that he lied multiple times.

    • Yes. Sadly, I’m sure many victims of such yellow journalism don’t have such detailed logs of data to refute it.

  3. To John Broder: Instead of looking for a pink slip in your mailbox (since we all now what happens to NY Reporters with failed reputations) why not consider issuing a FORMAL APOLOGY to both Tesla Motors and Elon Musk for your shenanigans ? You might be able to salvage what is left of your rapidly diminishing professional reputation.

  4. So, 300 miles in 7 1/2 hrs. Really? We’re supposed to be impressed by that? In the last 5 years I have driven from Central Alberta to Las Vegas 4 times. Driving time is 22 hrs. That same trip in the Tesla would take several days, even with numerous, well placed charging stations. Cruising at 80+ mph, our car will deliver 25 mpg (US) and allow us to run the heater or the A/C depending on the state. We are, at minimum, 25-30 years from pure electric cars that will be competitive with gas or diesel.
    Plus- I’d like to see someone try an operate a Tesla in an Alberta winter. I would bet that you could not drive from Calgary to Red Deer and back inside of a 12 hour period on an average day between Nov 15 and Feb 28.

    • “We are, at minimum, 25-30 years from pure electric cars that will be competitive with gas or diesel.”

      Posterior extraction method? You haven’t the foggiest clue about this, nor are you an expert. This is your uneducated opinion.

      • If you had spent the majority of your life immersed in automotive culture, you would know my statement to be true. While Washington DC is chock a block full of lawyers (who have no engineering expertise or insight) that believe in electric cars, there isn’t an automotive engineer in the world who believes that true electrics are going to be on par with gas or diesel inside of 30 years. Electric motors and batteries have been routinely advancing for a century, just as have internal combustion engines. There has always been a need for high efficiency electric motors and advanced battery storage and power delivery. In spite of that, electric cars of today barely outperform average cars from the 1930′s. when an electric car can travel 500-600 km’s In 4-5 hour time period, and do that return trip on a 10 minute refuel, not have their range dramatically compromised by modestly cool temperatures, and have the ability to keep their occupants comfortable in all temperatures, all for a price under $25000, you will have a mass market electric car. If you don’t know that day is very far in the future, you obviously have very, very little automotive knowledge.

    • Las Vegas, eh?

      Classy………..

      80+ mph, eh?

      Even classier………

      Your wife is one lucky woman.

      • The defacto speed limit in most western states, outside of urban areas, is routinely above 85 mph, and there are vast swaths of the intermountain west where running 95-100 is fairly common. As for your other comment, while we use Vegas as a great jumping off point to visit Lake Mead NRA, Grand Canyon, Valley of Fire, various ghost towns, etc., I suspect you’re one of those who vacations in Castro’s Socialist Paradise where he whores out his populace for the luxury of keeping them trapped in the kind of poverty and squalor that only the Commies can produce.
        Back to the original point- The Donner Party made it across Utah and Nevada about as fast as you could make that trip in a Tesla. Until an electric car performs equivalent to a gas or diesel, for the same price, it’s a non-starter.

        Bonus question- if an internal combustion powered car pays $35 in road use taxes for enough fuel to travel 1000 km, how do you generate the same road use taxes from electric charging stations, when they currently have no provision to collect these taxes from the utility?
        Double bonus question- The areas of the US most electric friendly (climate) increasingly find themselves challenged by power supply issues. How will electric cars reduce that issue?
        Again, girly, I seriously doubt you have the intellectual depth to peruse those issues. Stick to stuff that’s in your league, like “who won American Idol?”.

        • Judging from your picture, you were likely IN the Donner Party. How DO fried buttocks taste, anyway?

          Bonus answer: Seriously? You’re suddenly concerned about the government’s INABILITY to levy/collect taxes? Can we say “BIPOLAR”, boys and girls?

          Double bonus answer: Your gunnutty cousins will deal with it simply (by necessity), by loading up the Prius, driving to Mexico, and using their American wealth and arrogance to acquire whatever they desire. Quid Pro Quo.

          Also, if you’re suddenly all fired up to join your American brethren on the “scary” side of the US/Mexico border (although it’s no longer a given which side that is), you might want to brush up on the following Spanish phrases:

          - Me estoy quedando pelón. (I’m going bald)
          - alguien me puede ayudar a cambiar el pañal? (Can someone help me change my diaper?)

          I’d reply to your last comment, but unfortunately I’ve loaned out my AMERICAN IDOL: COMPETE SERIES Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray DVD set to my compatriates down at the Socialist Party Headquarters, and I’d be loathe to try and name all the winners by memory for fear of getting some wrong. I’m a stickler that way, due to my extensive intellectual depth.

          Finally, I would appreciate it if you could post an image of your powerful, fossil-fueled people-mover online, as it would be helpful for the rest of the travelling public to be able to identify those vehicles, with seniors behind the wheel that insist that driving 100 miles an hour is the patriotic duty of every Canamerican, and be able to give them a wide berth.

          Q: What’s the difference between a monkey, an orphan, a prince, and Bald Bill?
          A: A monkey has a hairy parent, an orphan has nary a parent, a prince is an heir apparent, and Bald Bill has no hair apparent.

          Happy motoring, Chrome Dome!

          • If drivers of conventionally powered autos must pay road use taxes (in the form of fuel taxes), please give reasons why the owners of $100,000 electrics should be exempt from road taxes, especially in light of the substantial tax credits received for purchasing said units.
            As for the rest, your usual inability to engage in the debate by failing to address the questions raised by the issue at hand is telling.
            How do proponents of electric cars square the issue of power supply for large numbers of electric cars, when those same people are almost always at the forefront of disrupting our ability to provide the electricity those vehicles will need?
            How do you segregate the electrical use of property owners in order to apply road use taxes on the electricity used for transport purposes?
            If employers are compelled to provide charging stations for employees who choose electric cars, will they be able to deduct the cost, and will those employees have to record that as a taxable benefit?
            If a company buys an electric car, will they be allowed to depreciate it at an accelerated rate in anticipation of the short life of the battery pack, and attendant high replacement cost, and the resultant low or non-existent resale value of said car at a point where a gas engine equivalent would still have miles left in it, and thus economic value?
            Girly, we haven’t even touched on but a fraction of the economic and social issues that will come with large numbers of electric cars. They have a place, but no one commenting here or anywhere has mounted a serious challenge to the widely held and logical assertion that mass market electric cars are a long way in the future. Just because you’re capable of a smart aleck retort, don’t make you bright or witty, or smart. It largely means that you lack the ability to gain insight into that which you have little understanding, mostly because you are desperately close minded.

          • It’s a complete mystery to me why you’re asking me ANY of these questions – I drive a Hummer. Electric cars are just inverted speed bumps to me.
            Your obsession with all this looks suspiciously like you may be suffering from acute Rogaine intoxication. You’d be well-advised to back away from the squirt bottle and face the bleak truth: It ain’t never comin’ back. Much like your ill-fated experience with Viagra, the reality is that Big Pharma is not really there to help ease you into your inevitable dementia, they just want your hard (there’s a long lost word from your youth, eh Billy?)-earned/ill-gotten loot.

            Also, I take it back – your wife is soooooo NOT a lucky woman. Having to shave your ears and back every day while listening to you babble incoherently about the eco-terrorists threatening to swoop in and switch your comfy disposable Depends with a hand-washable hemp alternative is a fate that even Dante could not have envisioned.

          • I know you’re in denial, Chromeo, but don’t you ever wonder why people keep pointing at you and whispering “There’s that girl who tore up the Pope’s picture on live TV.”?

  5. The truth is out there… Why didn’t Broder just electrocute an elephant with the battery pack to demonstrate the dangers of an electric car?

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