Tesla v. The New York Times

The logs show again that our Model S never had a chance with John Broder. In the case with Top Gear, their legal defense was that they never actually said it broke down, they just implied that it could and then filmed themselves pushing what viewers did not realize was a perfectly functional car. In Mr. Broder’s case, he simply did not accurately capture what happened and worked very hard to force our car to stop running.

When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts. Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth. You are a news organization where that principle is of paramount importance and what is at stake for sustainable transport is simply too important to the world to ignore.

This, from the CEO of Tesla Motors.

Background: Last Week the New York Times posted a very unflattering review of Tesla Motors’ $100,000 all-electric Model S sedan. The reviewer complained about the car’s range and said he had to get it towed after it abruptly ran out of juice during his two-day test drive.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk wasted no time in discounting the review, and claimed that the reviewer, John Broder, wasn’t being honest about what really happened – and has the car’s data logs to prove it. (As a matter of course, after a disastrous appearance on Top Gear, the company carefully logs all test drives by media).

  • Amazing how obvious it is that the media is in the pocket of the automobile industry. The fight is ON! Go Elon!

  • This really makes you wonder how corrupt the NYT—which used to be one of the most respected newspapers in the world—must be.

    It’s 2013 and big oil and parts of the automobile industry still aren’t willing to change.

    • JohnDoey

      NYT and most newspapers have always been corrupt. That is why you are supposed to read 3 or 4 newspapers daily. However, NYT syndicates its crap into almost every other paper, so you get a wall of the same crap.

      Today, we can see the corruption more clearly because of better technology. But it was always just printing what sells.

  • Renderdog

    The NYT writer clearly began his test drive with the article already written, and then created the situation to fit his vision, of the Model S on the back of a flatbed truck. Sadly, he probably won’t lose his job for this, anyone who’s been quoted in the media knows that accuracy is secondary to the story they’re telling.

  • This is what happens when the media depends on advertising revenue. I guess the auto industry is among the NYT’s biggest customers.

  • Yeah, this is pretty disgusting.

    Unfortunately, I already see it turning into a he said/she said affair- with some claiming the data provided by Tesla has been faked. It would be wonderful if there were other evidence- but I think this will have to go to court to get that kind of corroborating data (traffic/security cameras).

    • Steven Fisher

      I assume Tesla has a way of proving the data has not been tampered. It would be foolish to log data in anticipation of faked stories without having a way of certifying the data.

  • As usual, coming from the company CEO, he might be biased and might have tempered with the data. But, overall, the story seems much stronger on Tesla side.

    • JohnDoey

      Newspapers are at least as untrustworthy as CEO’s.

  • royksupp

    So can we all agree now that Top Gear’s treatment of Tesla was also complete bullshit? Or do we still all have to pretend that it’s the greatest show ever for mid-life crisis blokes who wish they were as obnoxious and witless as the presenters?

    • tylernol

      I totally agree.

    • studuncan

      Hey, I resemble that remark!

    • I’ve attempted to watch Top Gear and don’t understand why it gets so much hype.

      • royksupp

        It’s a group of ageing rich white geezers who get to act like a bunch of schoolboys. Basic wish fulfilment for wannabe alpha-males.

    • JohnDoey

      Top Gear is complete bullshit. This is hardly their first inept review. They cheat and lie to add a UK tabloid sheen.

  • tylernol

    if the NYT does not apologize and fire the writer, I am canceling my subscription.

  • Maxi

    Here is Broders answer to the Post. My reading is that he “did not know better” I don’t see him challenging the data Tesla prvoided… http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-flying-over-a-test-of-teslas-charging-network/?ref=johnmbroder

    • studuncan

      Exactly. A supposed automotive review guy didn’t know how to use an electric car. And didn’t acknowledge the data that Musk provided.

      This is a hit piece, nothing else.

      • JohnDoey

        It reminds me of a PC Magazine Mac review where they complain there is no anti-virus on the Mac without realizing there are no viruses. And when you call them on it, they act like it is Apple’s fault. They act like a computer reviewer knowing anything other than Windows is absurd.

    • You’re mistaken. Broder wrote this two days ago, in response to the back-and-forth on Twitter. The Tesla blog post with the log data just came out last night. The NYT is apparently crafting their response to that as we speak.

  • Jörg

    Broder ist just onother paid soldier within the “special interest army”. Tragically, he´s not fighting some kind of “another competitor” with some kind of car. By fighting Tesla, he fights revolutionary innovation and transition to a cleaner world (which this planet urgently needs). Please, Mr.Broder, give your writingskills in a more precious way.

  • I would love to consider buying an electric car like the Tesla someday, but if the infrastructure doesn’t exist, then it’s not really feasible yet. I hope someday it is. Lord knows the special interests will fight that tooth and nail.

    • bibulb

      Exactly – what I got out of the article was that the lack of infrastructure was what boned the car, not the quality of the car. (And, since I’m predisposed to electric, that we need to fix that infrastructure problem, damnit!)

    • JohnDoey

      It is coming, because the batteries that are used in Teslas (and also in Apple products) were recently discovered to follow Moore’s Law. So every 2 years or so, they double in power. Also, Tesla is building charging stations across California and Nevada right now. They will go nationwide soon.

      Moore’s Law stuff seems to be crappy forever and then almost instantly it is more powerful than you need. The 286, 386, 486, and Pentium were dog slow, but by Pentium III you are running the chip at less than 50% all the time. So Tesla is setup right now to get an Apple-like last laugh.

      Also, once electric cars have 50% market penetration, neighbors will start suing the gas car owners for giving their little girls asthma, and towns and cities will start taxing gas cars based on the actual damage they do to health and cleanliness and infrastructure and gas cars will be unaffordable.

      The CRT is so outrageously power-wasting and radioactive and dangerous, the only reason you would ever use one is if there was no alternative. Today, if you replace a CRT with an LCD, that pays for itself within a year in AC power savings. Gas cars are CRT’s. They are definitely going away. It just takes time to replace them.

  • Steven Fisher

    Musk has done an excellent job discrediting Broder as reliable. This ought to affect Broder’s entire future.

    But probably won’t.

    • Steven Fisher

      Note: In the latest response, where Broder actually addressed the points, I think he does a good job of painting Tesla as a company where the service and support representatives are unable to deliver good and consistent advice. This is pretty believable, just based on the number of times I’ve heard how important it is to close every app on an iPhone.

      I think this redeems him, at least partially.

      • It’s beginning to sound like there are actually two sides to this story, which is what I’d expect. Nothing so simplistic as “it’s all so-and-so’s fault.”

        • Steven Fisher

          Yup. I certainly don’t think Broder looks good in all of these, but it’s looking more and more like incompetence rather than malice.

          Hanlon’s Razor moment here.

  • Top Gear have got form for this kind of fuckery. They pulled the same trick with Nissan a couple of years ago, only for Nissan to point out that the car had been sending them usage data all along.


    People need to realise that TG isn’t about motoring journalism any more than Big Brother is about social science, or X Factor is about music. It’s entertainment, pure and simple. Shame it could have such a poor affect on the future of motoring though.

  • JohnDoey

    Tesla right now reminds me of Apple/NeXT in the 1980’s. They are clearly offering the product of the future, even though it has some immature compomises, but selling into a sea of cheap, familiar antiques. Going forward, if they can transition into Apple of the 2000’s (skipping the 1990’s lost direction black hole) then that will be very exciting and they could be the next GM/Ford like Apple was the next Sony/Microsoft/Nokia/BlackBerry.

  • I like Top Gear. Their segment on the Marauder (a 10-ton military vehicle) is great fun. However, unlike the NYT, I think they’re more sitcom than news organization. The NYT, being less fun, should remember to deliver more news.