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Tesla CEO claims company lost $100M in value after New York Times spat

Tesla Model S

If you’ve followed the news in the past week, you’ve probably seen the battle of wits, statistics, and data between the New York Times and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.  Earlier in the month, the NYT published a story claiming that Tesla’s all-electric Model S luxury sedan didn’t live up to its 300-mile-per-charge range.  Even worse, the story explained how the author was stranded on the side of the road, leaving the car to be hauled away on the back of a flatbed truck.

Now, let’s be honest: a negative review like that from an organization as large at the NYT is a big deal, and Elon Musk knew that. But, rather than issuing an apology, Tesla’s CEO pulled driving data from the review car to disparage and discredit much of the article’s legitimacy. Where the author claimed that the car wasn’t as reliable as he had hoped, Tesla countered by stating that the driver downplayed his aggressive driving and time spent charging the car.  So, the question left is this: do you believe the objective penmanship of one of the world’s largest news outlets, or do you believe the data generated by Tesla that proves that the story was embellished?

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In an interview with Bloomberg over the weekend, Musk stated that this debacle cost the automaker $100 million in value.  “We did actually get a lot of cancellations […]probably a few hundred[…] as a result of the New York Times article,” said Musk in the interview. “It probably affected us to the tune of tens of millions, to the order of $100 million, so it’s not trivial, [but] I would say that refers more to the valuation of the company.”

Musk claims that the Model S continues to garner more attention and more reservations with each passing quarter.  However, it also seems that this media conflict may have put a damper on the startup company’s sales growth.

As we walk away from this duel, there’s one thing we know for sure: both Tesla and the NYT have their reputations at stake here, and neither are particularly excited about biting the bullet.  There are certainly questions that have been raised about the newspaper’s integrity, and we now know that Tesla has suffered a financial loss, too.  We just hope that everyone can play nice in the sandbox, allowing the Times to continue writing great stories, and Tesla to continue building its very cool, very progressive electric sport sedans.

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Tesla-New York Times dispute continues as reporter speaks out

After the New York Times published a critical review of the Model S, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk accused the newspaper of faking the circumstances of the story. Data logged during the drive seemed to give this accusation merit, and Musk went on to accuse Times reporter John Broder of sabotaging the test. Now, Broder is answering the questions brought up by Tesla’s data in a blog post.
The issue at stake is whether the Model S and Tesla’s Supercharger stations underperformed, or, as Musk says, Broder used both improperly.
In his blog post, Broder reiterates that he was in continuous contact with Tesla employees throughout the trip, and followed whatever advice they gave him.
A major point of contention is whether Broder fully charged the car at each of his stops. In particular, Musk accuses Broder of leaving a public (non-Supercharger) station in Norwich, Connecticut with only 32 miles of range, when he needed to drive 61 miles.
Broder says he was following the advice of a Tesla employee. Both Tesla spokeswoman Christine Ra and product planner Ted Merendino said to charge the car for one hour, Broder says, to restore range lost by cold weather. Apparently, the Tesla employees believed the car still had electricity in its batteries that wasn’t being discharged, in which case there wouldn’t have been a need to charge it further.
In between, Broder stopped at the Supercharger station in Milford, Connecticut. The Tesla data shows that he left after charging the battery to 72 percent. Broder says this was intentional, because it should have given him more than enough mileage to complete the next leg of his trip.
Musk also accuses Broder of driving past a public charging station but, again, Broder says no one he talked to at Tesla had told him about it. He notes that he was on his way to another charging station in East Haven, Connecticut when the Model S gave up the ghost in Branford.
Another major point is the way Broder drove the Model S. In his article, Broder said that at one point he had to set the cruise control to 54 mph and lower the cabin temperature to preserve range. Tesla’s data shows average speeds of 65 to 81 mph, and an average temperature of 72 degrees.
Broder says he drove most of the trip at 65 mph, and perhaps hit 81 mph on a downhill stretch. Still, the logs show him going about 60 mph on one stretch where he claims he was doing 45 mph. Broder offers that the car was delivered with 19-inch wheels and all-season tires, not the standard 21-inch wheels and all-season tires, so the data logging equipment may not have been calibrated.
Broder also says that he “raised and lowered the cabin heat in an effort to strike a balance between saving energy and staying somewhat comfortable.”
Musk accuses him of raising the temperature at the precise moment he said he lowered it in the article, but Broder said that was not true.
In his original article, Broder wrote that he “turned the climate control to low” sometime before crossing from New Jersey into New York, but does not give a specific point.
Finally, Musk said Broder drove in circles around the Milford Supercharger, attempting to run the battery down to zero. Broder says it was dark and he had trouble finding the charger because it was not well marked.
In his blog post, Musk says he called to apologize before coming to the conclusion that he’d been “played for a fool.” Broder says Musk also said the Superchargers should have been 60 miles closer together, and offered the Times another test drive after more stations were built.

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Tesla CEO reveals evidence against New York Times’ damning assessment in blog post

After taking to Twitter in response to a negative review of the Model S and Supercharger charging stations in the New York Times, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has released information, which he says came from the car’s onboard data logger, that contradicts some of the statements made by Times reporter John Broder.
To recap, Broder picked up a fully charged Model S in Washington, D.C. and ended up on a tow truck somewhere in Connecticut. Despite stopping at both East Coast Supercharger stations (in Newark, Delaware and Milford, Connecticut), Broder had trouble maintaining the car’s charge, resorting to cruising at 54 mph on a 65 mph highway, and turning down the heat.
Broder’s article, and some subsequent commentary, blames the 30-degree weather for ruining the Model S’ range. However, Musk says the problem was a case of operator error. Tesla has logged all data from its press drives since the company got into a scuffle with Top Gear over a test of the Roadster, and Musk is using it to substantiate his earlier claims that the Times article was faked.
On the final leg of the trip, Musk says Broder disconnected the Model S’ charger while the range said 32 miles, even though he had 61 miles to go. He also says Broder wasted energy by driving in circles in the parking lot next to the Connecticut Supercharger station.
One of the major points of contention has been whether Broder fully charged the Model S in Delaware. Here, both parties appear to be in agreement. Broder says the display read “Fully Charged,” with the battery reading 90 percent and 242 miles of range. Tesla’s graphs show the same thing.
However, Musk says Broder stopped charging prematurely in Milford, Connecticut and at a public station in Norwich. He also says Broder drove past at least one other public charging station, although since the point of the story was to test Tesla’s Supercharger network, this may have been intentional.
In the article, Broder says at one point in the journey he set the cruise control to 54 mph and turned the heater down to preserve the car’s batteries. However, Musk says the cruise control was never set to 54 mph, and that Broder “in fact drove at speeds from 65 mph to 81 mph for a majority of the trip and at an average cabin temperature setting of 72 F.” According to the data, when Broder said he turned the temperature down, he actually turned it up to 74 degrees.
This evidence appears quite damning, but Musk didn’t stop there. He’s accusing Broder of deliberately screwing up the test because of a preexisting bias against the electric car.
“We assumed that the reporter would be fair and impartial, as has been our experience with The New York Times, an organization that prides itself on journalistic integrity,” Musk wrote. “As a result, we did not think to read his past articles and were unaware of his outright disdain for electric cars. We were played for a fool and as a result, let down the cause of electric vehicles. For that, I am deeply sorry.”
Musk’s evidence of a media conspiracy is a 2012 article Broder wrote on the state of the electric car. In the article, Broder called the electric car a “victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate,” although he also gave space to Who Killed the Electric Car? Director Chris Paine.
“When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts,” Musk said of Broder.
Musk is asking the New York Times to investigate the story. As far as we know, neither Broder nor the Times has responded.

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Tesla CEO responds to New York Times’ criticism of Model S range with angry tweets

A less-than-positive review in the New York Times has unleashed the ire of Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk. After Times reviewer was unable to duplicate Tesla’s range claims for the 85-kWh Model S on a drive from Washington, D.C. to New England, Musk threw out a few choice words on Twitter and CNBC.
It all started with John M. Broder’s review, which was published in the New York Times this past Sunday. In the article, Broder says he had to power down the Model S’ heating and crawl along at 54 mph on a highway with a 65 mph speed limit to keep his Model S from dying.
This was despite the fact that Broder stopped at Tesla’s two East Coast Supercharger stations (in Newark, Delaware and Milford, Connecticut) to recharge. When he left Newark, the battery meter said he had a full charge, which should have been enough to complete the trip. Instead, Broder spent part of his return trip on the back of a tow truck.
Musk responded to the article with a tweet stating that “NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn't actually charge to max & took a long detour.”
The Tesla CEO went on to say that his company had verified the state of charge and the route Broder took with the car’s onboard data logger.
“Tesla data logging is only turned on with explicit written permission from customers, but after Top Gear BS, we always keep it on for media,” Musk tweeted. Tesla sued the popular BBC car show over a supposedly libelous review of its Roadster sports car. The original suit and Tesla’s appeal were both thrown out.
Musk also went on CNBC and called the Times article “something of a set-up.”
“If you had a gasoline car,” Musk said, and “if you only filled the tank part way, and instead of driving to your destination, you meandered through downtown Manhattan, and through all the traffic and everything, and then raced to where you were originally supposed to go, and you ran out of gas, people would just think you’re a fool.”
Broder responded to Musk’s attacks with a blog post. He said the meandering detour Musk described in his CNBC interview was actually a two-mile course correction through Manhattan that was meant to increase the Model S’ range by using its regenerative brakes in stop-and-go traffic. Broder said occasional braking (as opposed to straight highway driving on cruise control) was recommended to him as a range-increasing strategy by a Tesla employee.
In his article, Broder also describes several Tesla employees who said the Model S’ diminishing range was the result of low temperatures. After the article ran, Broder was told, by both Tesla employees and random Internet commenters, that he should have left the car plugged in overnight at the Connecticut Supercharger station to compensate.
The Supercharger also has a “Max Range” setting, which can add 25 miles to a Model S’ range, but takes longer and can damage the battery if overused. Despite contacting Tesla numerous times over the course of his trip, Broder says he was not instructed to use the Max Range setting.

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