This week has seen a declaration of war between a New York Times reporter who wrote a scathing review of the Tesla S electric car and its network of free superchargers and the company’s head honcho and “product architect” Elon Musk. Being your ever faithful servants, we thought you might like a easily-digestible recap of the recent finger-pointing activity.
It all started with the NYT review by John Broder wherein he describes his attempt to drive the Tesla S from Washington, D.C. to Connecticut. In his review, he says the car couldn’t hold a charge, and in order to not run totally out of battery he had to turn the heat off which resulted in his knuckles turning white, ostensibly from cold and fear as he gripped the wheel. Eventually, the lifeless hunk of a $100,000+ car ended up on the back of a flatbed tow truck. It is surely a negative review, to say the least.
Elon Musk, well, he wasn’t happy with that, and issued an initial tweet crying foul.
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.—
Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 11, 2013
He then fired additional shots in a blog post Wednesday night that Broder had failed to charge the battery fully, drove the car around a parking lot to purposely make it drain, turned the temperature up instead of down, went faster than he claimed and took a long detour, among other things. He claimed that the driving logs that would back up Tesla and refute Broder’s claims.
“The logs show again that our Model S never had a chance with John Broder,” he writes.
Initially the NYT responded with a statement supporting Broder, calling his review completely factual” and stating that “[a]ny suggestion that the account was ‘fake’ is, of course, flatly untrue.”
This was followed by a blog post from Broder himself on Tuesday. In that lengthy retelling of his side of the story, he addresses Musk’s assertions point by point. He also noted that he would be game to take the car for a second test drive.
Today the NYT‘s public editor Margaret Sullivan addressed the war in a blog post and says she is going to speak with him this afternoon. She also requested that Musk present the Times with the raw data collected during Broder’s “harrowing” journey through the deepest depths of Milford, CT.
Meanwhile The Atlantic says that the logs from Tesla actually don’t jibe with what Musk is claiming and would appear to back up Broder’s side of the story.
Other news outlets like CNN have requested to take the Tesla S for a test drive. According to the CNN reporter’s Twitter, they are on their way and have recently stopped at WaWa, which in case you are not aware, is a delicious place full of magical touchscreen sandwiches.
We should close by noting that our car-obsessed cousins at Consumer Reports wrote about the Tesla S and Supercharging stations in January and found it to be a positive experience, but did note that cold weather affected the battery life estimates given by the car’s computer.
As for Consumerist’s staff, we have no position either way, because nobody in their right mind would let us drive the Tesla. Even just to WaWa for some hoagies.
UPDATE: CNN was apparently able to drive the Tesla to Milford without any drama, and Broder’s latest explanation is that Tesla’s employees told him to do everything that he did, and also he got lost in the parking lot.