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back to article Tesla's Elon Musk v The New York Times, Round 2

There's no love lost between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and New York Times reporter John Broder this Valentine's Day, with the debate over the accuracy of Broder's recent review of the Tesla Model S having devolved into a bitter display of online "he said, she said." The public spat first erupted on Monday, when the paper …

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FAIL

It doesn't matter who's right anymore

All this bickering does is lower the credibility of Tesla dramatically. People haven't forgotten their (lost!) lawsuit against the BBC (Top Gear). And those same people are very likely reading all this thinking "here they go again...".

Its a given that companies who produce a product aren't very keen on bad reviews. You see this happening a lot in the gaming market where some companies actually push out some extra bucks in order to get positive reviews. This was already the case in the C64 era (games magazine covering $new_game and being very positive about it while also featuring 2 full-page ads for that same game. Yeah right....) and it still holds true today.

But the last you should do is start a public fight. As this article well indicates; the people are left in the dark about who's right (they can only speculate), it only costs time and money and in the end won't change a thing. At best you can simply get other media outlets to give this car a trial run.

Maybe Top Gear US would like to have a shot at it? When looking at the massive downvotes those guys got on YouTube I'd say it could be a win-win combination ;-)

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Re: It doesn't matter who's right anymore

Actually, it never mattered to start with. Both parties effectively agree that using a model S to drive from New York to Boston is an adventure. That, all by itself, is enough to condemn the vehicle to niche-market status.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It doesn't matter who's right anymore

You see, that's what happens when people only get the headlines.

Do you know why they lost to Top Gear? Because the BBC lawyers argued successfully that Top Gear is merely an entertainment show and therefore isn't expected to be accurate. Or in other words "Yes, we lied, but we always lie so that makes it OK."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It doesn't matter who's right anymore

Of course without this specialised and, at the time of the top gear 'review', non-existant super charging network Top Gear were 100% correct to demonstrate the consequences of trying to drive an electric car without an adequate refueling infrastructure.

Oh and unless El Reg's reporting is seriously substandard the judge did not agree with you in his judgement http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/21/high_court_rules_for_top_gear_in_tesla_libel_case/

PS - I think EM is doing a bloody good job with Tesla Motors and pushing the boundries of EV technology and is really the first person to seriously solve the rechare problem that has always been the problem for EV's.

Oh and even though I am a car nut, I don't own one as I live in the middle of a city and we have Car2Go service if I need it.

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Speed Limits...

Musk: Broder says he set the cruise control to 54mph, when in fact he drove at between 65mph and 81mph for the whole trip.

Broder: That's not how I remember it. Maybe the calculations are wrong, because Tesla actually sent me a car with the wrong size wheels.

http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/most-peculiar-test-drive

Delaware, Milford and Norwich....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limits_in_the_United_States

Looks like the test took part in New Jersey where the speed limit is 65mph. Broder regularly drove at 70mph and exceeded that.... could be pushing a point but perhaps US plod might wish to have a word.

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Re: Speed Limits...

No... Seriously Down Voters.

Mr Musk apparently has evidence that Mr Broder 'broke the law' and did so repeatedly..

Broder: That's not how I remember it. Maybe the calculations are wrong, because Tesla actually sent me a car with the wrong size wheels.

I would assume that the logging software recorded the same information that was provided to the driver and therefore the driver, if they were paying attention, would have recognised something was amiss rather than booting it up to 81mph.... Brum Brum, errr Whine Whine.

Either Mr Broder has 'broke the law', and needs some tickets, or Mr Musk is telling porkies about how his 'car' logs stuff.

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Re: Speed Limits...

Depends how the logging stuff is set up. It might be the Speedo is going off the wheels/gearbox whilst the logger uses GPS (sort of like the black boxes the insurance company uses). Of course, if that's the case I'd question why there isn't a logging system to check the two numbers are the same (to a tolerance) as I'd want to know if my speed was 15-20MPH out

Either Mr Broder has 'broke the law', and needs some tickets, or Mr Musk is telling porkies about how his 'car' logs stuff.

I've a sneaky suspicion that the truth may require you to change that or to an and.

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Silver badge

Re: Speed Limits...

Mr Musk apparently has evidence that Mr Broder 'broke the law' and did so repeatedly..

Mr Musk has no evidence that would stand up in a criminal court.

The only evidence he has has been in the unsupervised custody of an interested party with the means to falsify it.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Speed Limits...

Aren't there traffic cameras on the turnpike? I'm sure the logs from the car could be correlated with the cameras and show the average speed between the two points, but not that the driver was cruising along at a constant speed as opposed to yo-yoing in and out of traffic at wildly different speeds (like they drive here in Atlanta).

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IT Angle

They are both dancing on the head of a pin - All car manufacturers want all reviews to be done in as controlled a way as possible (therefore 'what it says on the tin' cant be contested, and negativity reduced), and journo's want to publish an interesting and attention grabbing story , it's their job to sell column inches after all... Who would want to read something saying Electric car, was fine, no problems, gave it back, the end.

I remeber when Aston Martin were less than pleased when Vicky Butler-Henderson snapped a belt on a DB7, and admonished her negative reviewof the car - basically nobody was expected to actually 'push' the fabulous sports car close to it's limit... to which she basically replied wtf is the point of it then?

Same here - Tesla want a 'test condition' car review which just isnt comparable with a standard user doing standard things in the real world at this current time - give it a few years though.....

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@Sutton Stourmead

Ah, Vicki... Tiff... Quentin...

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Mushroom

Let me just fix that.

"...what is at stake for sustainable transportmy bank balance is simply too important to the world to ignore."

A Tesla S is sustainable transport in the same way that a BMW X6 is a hatchback for the school run. The fact that some rich twat will tell you it is doesn't make them right.

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Re: Let me just fix that.

Sod the planet: I want 0-60 in under 4 seconds!!

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Interesting development

CNN have just completed the same trip and had no problems, even though they did a 30 mile detour to avoid traffic, only to get held up in traffic!

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Re: Interesting development

@people pointing to cnn:

- same conditions? Same test approach?

If not, no comparison.

Any fule kno that batteries will have problems when cold.

So keeping the car sit overnight w/o a full charge, may very well cause problems the next day.

At the same day the original review was posted, another article about e-cars in the Netherlands was posted. I'm paraphrasing here: a guy driving the Opel Ampera was shifting his driving habits because 'when the battery is warmer, I can drive further.'

So, to say 'CNN did it w/o any issues, so NYT is a liar' doesn't fly.

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Bronze badge
Flame

If this episode has taught me anything, it's that electric cars are STILL an amazing faff to use, compared to a normal petrol car. I for one won't be touching one with a bargepole.

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I know! Weird! It's like the charging infrastructure doesn't exist.

I wonder how it worked with petrol... Presumably all the petrol stations were losing money hand over fist before the petrol car was invented.

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Holmes

I think just hurt myself laughing.

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Holmes

A Cold Day in Hell

No vehicle performs well in extreme weather.

Rule number one in ANY long distance trip: fill up, ALL the way up, and fill often.

As for this he said/she said? There is enough of the teh stupid to go around.

But... there has been a clear and chartable trend of the media to try and discredit Tesla since day one that is far and above just healthy skepticism. Because of that, I have to give Tesla the benefit of the doubt on this one.

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Stop

The only fair way to test it would be to take the exact same amount of money that was spent fueling the electric car and spend it on petrol, and then trying to repeat the journey in a petrol car.

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Boffin

forget this "journalists" individual experience and look at the %'s

If you want to base the quality of a car and it's company on the "Facts" of this one "Journalist" than that's your choice.

Personally, I think the guys is a tool and DID write the story to fit his desired intent. It was not going to be a fair and unbiased review.

Anyone. Anyone who thinks the media is unbiased is lying to themselves. Not since the likes of Walter Cronkite, has a "Journalist" made any attempts to be fair and unbiased. Just listen to today's "Reporters" and "News Readers". They relish in the opportunity at adding their own personal comments to "Spice" up the story. I couldn't care less, what they think. I want to know the uncolored facts of the story. Today's media's mission is to stir up a story and the public emotions....regardless of the consequences.

As Detective Friday in Dragnet would say: "Just the facts Ma'am, just the facts"

Let the readers/listens make up their own minds. Just give us ALL the facts to work with.

Best wishes on YOUR choice of vehicle purchase,

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Viva Tesla!

Elon! You're a genius! Broder! your an idiot! There! That is the definitive. I would love for a university to bestow an Honorary PhD to Mr. Musk. Any man who can cover his tracks as he did, did damn well at research. Congratulations Elon and Tesla. As for the New York Times, what? You trying to over take Fox News in the bullshit department? Well, you still have a ways to go. As soon as I can afford it, I'm getting an S for me and the X for my wife. Woo! Hoooo! No more gasoline bills!

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What I find apalling is the whole "logic" of the situation.

A car maker sends cars for tests. One tester makes not just a negative review, but launches some fairly wile accusations.

Anybody in the press questions him? No, what he says it's golden, after all he comes from Top Gear, no?

The car maker wants to rebuff the statements made by said tester. Immediately they are labelled as troublemakers, tit-for-tatters. Anybody stops to question the initial article? No, fingers point at Tesla. "They're spying on drivers", "they have no place to argue", etc, etc.

Why not? They have the right to defend the product and it's quite astonishing that the point is not they caught one guy lying outright but the question is how they managed that. Apparently the press got used to being able to just make stuff up and it's a problem when some people got the means to unravel the lies.

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Thumb Up

There are many idiot journalists out there....

And Broder is one of them. I do recommend that Tesla not give out their cars for tests by biased individuals and journalists. That is why I dropped my subscriptions to Motor Trend, Road and Track, etc. Too much Bias and Whinning! Ohhh my God, it is not as fast as a Ferrari, nor as comfortable as a Bentley, nor as pretty as a Maserati. Nope, but my VW Jetta is fast -130mph, comfortable contoured seating, and elegantly simple design. These journalists are as lame, and arrogant as they come. To hell with them. Keep up the good fight Elon and Tesla. Hope to be able to afford one or two of your vehicles soon.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/thumb_up_32.png

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I sympathize with Broder thinking the Tesla can do miracles!

" I sympathize with Broder. When one drives the Tesla one is inclined to say: Oh boy, I never have to buy gas again, I can drive and drive and drive, in crazy comfort, with ultimate power under my feet, for ever, for free. That's what it does to one. It's hard to think straight. I drove one over the recent holiday period for several weeks, every day, touring around Colorado. It was bliss. I passed gas stations, saw the queues, and I felt sort of puzzled, guilty almost, but also elated. But unfortunately, even though much less expensive, one has to top up with electricity at intervals. I would start the day with about 220 miles available on the clock, drive all day and evening, and end the day with more than 200 miles still available. This was the regeneration system at work, of course. I would then plug the car in (that takes about 30 seconds) at night, on a slow charge, and have about 225 miles available the next morning. In Denver that cost me less than $2 (8c/kWhr). Then off I would go, day after day. Oh, and I drove in sub-zero temperatures with the climate-control on at 72 degrees. I changed this to 68 degrees when the ladies complained of being too warm! What a marvel this car is!

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Bronze badge
Coat

Why are they arguing about this?

We all know that the ability to charge an electric vehicle is a time consuming process. It is a fact of life. Having the "supercharging" stations just takes the ability to charge down to a smaller number. When I fill up my wonderful SUV with 20+ gallons (US) of fuel, it takes less than 15 minutes (longer if I wait in line). With that I can travel from here in Sillycon valley all the way to the Los Angeles area on a SINGLE tank of gas (petrol). These internal combustion engines are wonderful having been perfected over the course of 100 (or more) years to be prime movers.

While the nice sleek electric vehicles are nice, they just don't have the ability to "tank up" quickly for a 300+ mile drive. The only thing that might get you there is when you have swappable batteries, but that is problematical.

The money that is being put down this fancy golf cart 550 nm technology could be better put elsewhere. Maybe using electricity to generate nice fuels from the CO2 in the air and some water. Sure it would take lots of energy, but you just reverse the combustion reaction, adding energy in the process. In the words of our Top Gear hosts "how hard can it be"?

Time to go, Yosemite National Park awaits me this weekend with my nice big SUV.

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Anonymous Coward

I like EVs

Broder seems to have driven the car more or less like a normal car. Apparently that is beyond the state of Musk art. A driver should not have to bow and scrape to the (apparently undocumented) idiosyncrasies of the car.

Evidently the estimated range part of the car software needs to have the Paypal coders fired, and replaced with anyone that can write firmware. The idiots have the GPS location and time and date, hello? temperature range effect on batteries anyone? How about "you are in Boswash, old fashioned static cruise control isn't going to work all that well".... and expect traffic jams sometimes too, try I-95 or NJP during a typical day. And why isn't the car telling the driver where the charging stations are, flashing little lights saying "Dude, STOP AT THAT STATION OR UR GOING TO WALK!". (wait! Can I patent that idea and then hit money bags Musk up for some licensing? He obviously did not think of it!)

Most of those writers for car magazines sugar coat everything since otherwise they won't get anyone offering to let them test drive another car. This makes virtually all car evaluations completely worthless-- never a problem found, just less sugar on the pieces the writer did not like (and hope that the reader will figure that out and the car mfg won't....). True EVs are not ready for prime time for the typical driver-- why do you think that the only successful cars to date have gas engines as required battery accessories?

As far as I can tell, Broder did not hide anything, maybe expecting too much from an immature technology though. Soccer moms and other non-propeller heads had better buy roadside assistance before driving off the lot with one of these cars.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As far as I can tell, Broder did not hide anything,

except for the GPS unit, which he apparently hid in a car that went a similar route to him but did it much faster.

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Silver badge
Trollface

Well Musk's car company shares one thing with Tesla. The inability to turn a profit.

Financial Highlights

Most Recent Quarter (mrq): Sep 30, 2012

Profitability

Profit Margin (ttm): -265.05%

Operating Margin (ttm): -262.70%

Management Effectiveness

Return on Assets (ttm): -31.83%

Return on Equity (ttm): -291.29%

Income Statement

Revenue (ttm): 146.30M

Revenue Per Share (ttm): 1.39

Qtrly Revenue Growth (yoy): -13.10%

Gross Profit (ttm): 61.60M

EBITDA (ttm)6: -363.49M

Net Income Avl to Common (ttm): -387.77M

Diluted EPS (ttm): -3.69

Qtrly Earnings Growth (yoy): N/A

Balance Sheet

Total Cash (mrq): 85.69M

Total Cash Per Share (mrq): 0.75

Total Debt (mrq): 474.51M

Total Debt/Equity (mrq): N/A

Current Ratio (mrq): 0.74

Book Value Per Share (mrq): -0.26

Cash Flow Statement

Operating Cash Flow (ttm): -233.11M

Levered Free Cash Flow (ttm): -314.26M

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Silver badge
FAIL

Someone in the press engineering a test for a predetermined outcome

never heard of that before... (not). Pretty much everything on the internet is exactly the same. Journalists routinely have agendas. This one got caught out by logging software oooppsie...

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WTF?

Not to mention this was supposed to be a test/evaluation of the supercharging stations as I had read it. Not necessarily the car. Obviously, charging the car all the way up at a station is not in the interest of an interesting test........ And now another journalist makes the same trip in similar weather and has no problem..... He must be a miracle driver... maybe he carried a few electric eels to help the S along..

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Bronze badge

compare it to a vw beetle

Is the batteries' charge similar to the Beetle's gas tank. The top 20% of the tank holds 50% of the volume.

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Anonymous Coward

Am I the only one

Whilst I love the idea of the Tesla and EV in general (who wants to pay for fuel?), it seems to me I would never buy a car from Mr Musk. Whilst I understand him getting annoyed at journos who write stupid reviews, all I can think is "what happens when my car goes tits up?".

If Elon Musk has this attitude to PR, I can only imagine what reception I would get if I dared to complain about his precious car. AC because he might sue me for even mentioning it.

Customer service, Elon Musk has probably heard of it but I wouldn't like to stake my 70k on it if this is his approach to people.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Customer service and PR

are exactly the same thing! No really, they are!

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Vic
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Re: Am I the only one

> (who wants to pay for fuel?)

You'll be paying for it somehow.

At present, most governments take a substantial tax revenue from the sale of fuel. If we all go electric, that disappears.

Said govenment then has a simple choice :-

- Do without all that luvverly lucre

- Find something else to tax to make up the shortfall.

Hands up who believes it'll be the former...

Vic.

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Fight! Fight!

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