Tesla CEO Elon Musk says Times article on Model S range was fake

By on February 12, 2013, 7:30 AM

The New York Times recently published an article featuring Tesla’s new Model S electric car. To say the author’s experience with the car went poorly would be an understatement – he ultimately had to have the vehicle towed as it ran out of juice between charging stations, or so he claims.

Tesla supplied John Broder with a Model S for a trip down Interstate 95 that started in a Washington D.C. suburb. By his own account, the journalist started with a full charge and was able to make it to the Delaware charging station with roughly half of his battery remaining. He stopped in for a recharge and 49 minutes later, he says the display read “charge complete” with an estimated driving distance of 242 miles.

As Broder entered into New Jersey, however, he began to notice the battery level was dropping faster than the miles accumulated. He started to follow Tesla’s recommended maximum range guidelines that includes battery-saving techniques like disabling the car’s cabin heater and driving slower.

He made it to the next station, recharged a bit then drove another 79 miles to spend the night. When he shut the car off, the mileage estimate read 90 miles of range left. When Broder awoke, that figure dropped to 25 miles – not quite the 46 miles he needed to reach a recharging station.

Long story short – he didn’t make it to the next station and had to call for a tow truck. He cites the extremely cold northeast weather – 10 degrees at one point – as the culprit for the poor battery life.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, on the other hand, said the article about the Tesla’s range in the cold weather was fake. He said vehicle logs tell the true story and that the reviewer didn’t actually charge to the max and he even took a long detour. In an interview with CNBC, he said he believed the article was a bit of a setup and was pretty unreasonable.

For their part, the Times released a statement saying the article was completely factual and any suggestion to the contrary was flatly untrue. Regardless of whether or not the article was intentionally negative, shareholders quickly took notice. Stock value in the electric car company closed down more than two percent yesterday, one of the largest single-day declines since late last year.




User Comments: 28

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Lurker101 said:

Are Tesla just going to sue and admonish everybody who reviews their cars without being completely positive? I still remember Tesla suing Top Gear for correctly reporting on the mileage they got out of the Tesla Roadster on the Top Gear test track.

mevans336 mevans336 said:

Are Tesla just going to sue and admonish everybody who reviews their cars without being completely positive? I still remember Tesla suing Top Gear for correctly reporting on the mileage they got out of the Tesla Roadster on the Top Gear test track.

While I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in-between the report and the rebuttal, Mr. Musk is pretty well known for being borderline arrogant.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Are Tesla just going to sue and admonish everybody who reviews their cars without being completely positive? I still remember Tesla suing Top Gear for correctly reporting on the mileage they got out of the Tesla Roadster on the Top Gear test track.

Most car manufacturers are like that when it comes to reviews detailing major problems. If something serious goes wrong during a test, it's either staged or driver error/shenanigans.

Guest said:

So, the dinosaurs didn't go extinct after all; they're still busy tring to kill the electric car! Laugh a minute, babies! I mean, no one has ever been stranded on the side of the road in a gas-powered vehicle, that's for sure...

1 person liked this | Guest said:

This looks like a case where the reviewer did not understand the capabilities or the most practical applications for an EV. I live in the south and I have owned a Leaf for 14 months and 14K miles. It is ideally suited to my 52 mile daily commute. I no longer stop for gasoline products and we have new electric rate plans and a EV electric company ryder. Consequently we are saving over 200 a month on gas and averaging a 200 a month electric bill savings as well. We could not be happier. Regarding the battery life, after 14K I notice I lose the "first bar" of charge at approximately the same location on my daily commute. So for my application, I am estimateing between 100K and 140K miles before I lose my first bar of charge. Once again, I cannot be happier. Some people have never been in an EV, and I can only speak on experience from my Leaf, but I can only think of 3 production cars less than $100K that could possible beat the Leaf zero to 50. When you floor the electron peddle the car absolutely flies. Regarding the corning capabiliteies of the Leaf, once again there are only 3 production cars that I know of that can corner as well as the Leaf. Someone told me the leaf will pull 1g on a skid pad if you replace the stock tires with Z rated tires. EVs are not for everyone, if you can only afford one vehicle, or you only have space for one vehicle, then you definitely should consider a hybrid. We also have a Prius, and we cannot be happier with the Prius even though it has no power and does not corner very well. Consider your specific application before you purchase your next vehicle.

David

2 people like this | Guest said:

Telsa needs to incorporate a Siri like voice telling the driver what he is doing wrong and that those errors will cost him mileage. My other comment is, did the driver account for the fact he was leaving a battery powered car out in 10 degree weather over night? Leave any battery powered equipment in 10 degree weather and see what happens. Bad review and the New York Times and the writer should have done a second test to account for stupidity.

MilwaukeeMike said:

While I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in-between the report and the rebuttal, Mr. Musk is pretty well known for being borderline arrogant.

Yeah, usually the truth is somewhere in the middle. But what's missing here are Tesla's test results. The biggest reason Mr. Musk would disagree is that he's probably driven one of these cars for a long time and never had a problem. But have they tested in 10 degree weather? If yes, just show us your results.

Regardless... one test really doesn't mean much. And even if the failure WAS true, Musk could just say the car wasn't setup for cold weather. It has California plates on it after all.

psycros psycros said:

If *any* paper was likely to fudge the truth, well...let's not dismiss Mr. Musk's complaints just yet.

Guest said:

The difference between the two being that the driver of the gas powered car could walk to a gas station and get a can of gas to get his vehicle un-stranded while the electric car driver must have the vehicle towed to a recharging station.

1 person liked this | cmbjive said:

"Consequently we are saving over 200 a month on gas and averaging a 200 a month electric bill savings as well."

So, Guest, you are saving on gas AND on electricity? The late economist Herb Stein is alleged to have said, "If it's too good to be true it must not be true." You saving money on gas and electricity is a bit over the top. Maybe if you said that you're saving on gas and had seen a modest increase in your elctric bill your story might be believable. However, you saving money on gas and electricity after switching to an EV is highly doubtful.

As for NYT article I do not think it is false. Car and Driver, Top Gear and Consumer Reports all experienced the same thing test driving a Tesla car. It should not be surprising that a battery has intermittent power. When my SIII was not broken on some days I would get an hour's worth of use and on other days I would get a day's worth of use. Li-Ion batteries are notoriously unreliable; just ask Boeing in regards to its 787 Dreamliner.

wiyosaya said:

So, the dinosaurs didn't go extinct after all; they're still busy tring to kill the electric car! Laugh a minute, babies! I mean, no one has ever been stranded on the side of the road in a gas-powered vehicle, that's for sure...

The world must look wonderful through those rose colored glasses.

Many people, I am sure, have run out of gas - many years ago, I did. In some respects, making sure your tank is full of gas is no different than making sure your batteries are charged. The only major difference is there are far fewer charging stations at this point. Either way, if your energy reserves run dry, Houston will have a problem.

As I see it, this test was kind of idiotic. We all know that even with gas, the mileage you get is variable. So it is with batteries. I am not saying Musk has no interest in the outcome, however, if I were driving such a vehicle, even for a test, I would be extra cautious about keeping the battery charged. We all know that with the state of battery technology, the range of such a vehicle is limited. I am more likely to blame the article's author for a "lets see what this thing can do" attitude rather than being cautious about the vehicle's limitations and actually using the vehicle to take a long trip.

I also suspect that the battery meter does not take into account aging of the battery, either, as that will also affect the meter's usefulness and its accuracy. I would not be surprised if somewhere in the manual it clearly states that the mileage remaining meter is only an estimate and that various conditions including weather and driving style (think putting the pedal to the metal) can effect the actual range the vehicle will achieve - just as it does with a conventional, fossil-fueled vehicle.

IMHO, the article's author might have tread more cautious ground and actually achieved what he set out to to - I.e., take a long trip in an electric car. When I planned a 3,000 mile driving journey a few years back, I made sure I had appropriately planned stops for gas. It is common sense, as I see it, and if the article's author could not figure that out, perhaps he should not have taken the car on such a journey. It is fairly common for people to experience something bad when what they experienced was a result of their own stupidity.

BMfan BMfan said:

What I don't understand is .how can people think that these sort of cars can save the planet?

Have they seen where that electricity comes from?

Have they seen how those batteries are made?

I can believe this guy's experience especially after watching Jeremy Clarkson testing the Leaf and Tesla.

wiyosaya said:

What I don't understand is .how can people think that these sort of cars can save the planet?

Have they seen where that electricity comes from?

Have they seen how those batteries are made?

I can believe this guy's experience especially after watching Jeremy Clarkson testing the Leaf and Tesla.

Where's the eyeroll smilie?

Reputable scientific studies come to far different conclusions than those paid to show that the electricity is a more polluting source or how the batteries were made. Your comments remind me of the article a few years back that stated a Hummer was greener than a Prius over the life of the car.

Transportation for gas to distribution points is far more energy intensive than transportation of electricity to a destination. That, and various other factors of which you will find plenty of valid information out there, make electric cars far more efficient and far less polluting even if the prime fuel source for the electricity is coal. Please, don't take my word for it; you'll be a more well-informed person if you find this information yourself.

bexwhitt said:

What I don't understand is .how can people think that these sort of cars can save the planet?

Have they seen where that electricity comes from?

Have they seen how those batteries are made?

I can believe this guy's experience especially after watching Jeremy Clarkson testing the Leaf and Tesla.

most electric cars will be charged at night when it's much cheaper with electric generation that cannot be turned of like nuclear or wind, more night time usage is actually better for the grid

On the batteries they are 100% recyclable and could have a secondary life use as electric backup

Electric cars will be main stream soon, IC engines are too polluting, 10 years from now you won't be able to enter big city's like LA with a oil burning car and good riddance

BMfan BMfan said:

I would rather have a Honda FCX Clarity.

That's the future not cars like the leaf or tesla.

A new Leaf gets about 85 miles per charge (what is often called "up to 100 miles" . Some Leaf owners in hot-weather climates who drove a lot, nearly 20,000 miles a year, have found they're only getting 60 or so miles per charge 12-14 months into the cars lives

In a recent test by Phoenix-area owners of a group of year-old Leafs, some got as little as 60 miles on a full battery charge. They've been worried because 12 to 14 months into their cars lives, they're seeing one or two segments of the 12-segment charge indicators not light up, even after a full charge

The Leaf manual says the first missing bar represents a 15% falloff in capacity.

Nissan's excuse for the bad life is that they are driving more than the average 12500 miles a year and it was very hot,which is a very weak excuse for getting low mileage out of a "car"

Guest said:

Completed expected for corporate media to present whatever they can to CRUSH the electric car movement. Whether its the Tesla S, Roadster, Prius, Leaf; we all know our leadership never has the intention to free us from polluting and money-hungry gas corporations. Super giants can go to the end of the Earth to squash any emergering technology that aims to be technolgically superior and ethically sound to the garbage culture, ideology, or outdated technology of the past. Just as a money system based on debt is old news (same can be said about racism, sexism, and our deranged socioeconomic system), the usage of limited fossil fuels has always been a mistake.

I'm damn proud of the fact that the CEO came out to speak up about this article being a lie and a fake. Logs do not lie, and from a technical point of view clearly there is something wrong if they say something and the individual says something else. Who are you likely to trust? Data from Star Trek/machines or a person aimed at corrupt ends?

With a 250 mile range there is absolutely no reason for people not to make the move to electric: considering it's a four dour Maserati look alike, it fulfills all the requirements a household would want. Despite the cost, it is far more important to liberate ourselves from gas (gauging prices anyone?) and to start being responsible citizens of planet Earth: our home and the home of our children.

Such a shame that people would rather belittle emerging technology than to implore it. For God's sake be proud of our achievement people! Despite this fake story, even if a electric car does have some problems it's expected with any new emerging technology. Spend as much money on this technology as nations spend on war, instilling a culture of fear, and of course blaming religion and you'll see how much further we can advance.

Clearly our leaders don't choose to honor the better/right/technically superior way of living. Glad to see the car progressing!

cmbjive said:

What I don't understand is .how can people think that these sort of cars can save the planet?

Have they seen where that electricity comes from?

Have they seen how those batteries are made?

I can believe this guy's experience especially after watching Jeremy Clarkson testing the Leaf and Tesla.

Where's the eyeroll smilie?

Reputable scientific studies come to far different conclusions than those paid to show that the electricity is a more polluting source or how the batteries were made. Your comments remind me of the article a few years back that stated a Hummer was greener than a Prius over the life of the car.

Transportation for gas to distribution points is far more energy intensive than transportation of electricity to a destination. That, and various other factors of which you will find plenty of valid information out there, make electric cars far more efficient and far less polluting even if the prime fuel source for the electricity is coal. Please, don't take my word for it; you'll be a more well-informed person if you find this information yourself.

That's not what those Earth Justice commercials on Hulu Plus tell me.

Littleczr Littleczr said:

What I don't understand is .how can people think that these sort of cars can save the planet?

Have they seen where that electricity comes from?

Have they seen how those batteries are made?

I can believe this guy's experience especially after watching Jeremy Clarkson testing the Leaf and Tesla.

Are you kidding me? Yes, some states burn coal for electricity but many use other means. Ever heard of the grand Cooley dam? And whoever install solar panels on their house and use this car will save some serious money.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

I think the car is a fake, for all its as-if greatness and reliability. And it is not practical at all having to wait that long at a charging station. Just stupid. Hybrids are the way for now.

Guest said:

I wonder, would any normal person's response be to someone who said to them,

"I drove my SUV out into the middle of the desert yesterday with only 2 gallons of gas in it. Would you believe it ran out of gas in the middle of no-where and I had to call the AAA to rescue me! These gas cars are junk!"

Unfortunately, separating stupidity from motor-journalists seems to be difficult. Why on Earth would they decide to stay overnight where they couldn't plug the EV in? That is basic EV driving 101.

{brucedp.150m.com}

Littleczr Littleczr said:

I think the car is a fake, for all its as-if greatness and reliability. And it is not practical at all having to wait that long at a charging station. Just stupid. Hybrids are the way for now.

I don't know about you, but I commute to work 24 miles times 2 everyday. And I been doing it for 7 years. Gas right now in Los Angeles is 3.94 premium. (24*2)*5*52=~12480 miles a year and not counting the days I go to school or go out.. I'm roughly spending $70 a week for gasoline. 70 times 52 is ~$3,640, so yeah that's around how much I spend a year. If I had solar panels on my roof and the Tesla model S... only in dreams my friend... only in dreams.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

I don't know about you, but I commute to work 24 miles times 2 everyday. And I been doing it for 7 years. Gas right now in Los Angeles is 3.94 premium. (24*2)*5*52=~12480 miles a year and not counting the days I go to school or go out.. I'm roughly spending $70 a week for gasoline. 70 times 52 is ~$3,640, so yeah that's around how much I spend a year. If I had solar panels on my roof and the Tesla model S... only in dreams my friend... only in dreams.

I'm spending 300 euro a month on petrol, which is relatively low, by local standards, as we have it at 1.60 euro a liter, which in your measurement is 8.15 USD per US gallon. How about that?

But the main thing I appreciate in a car - reliability, and sometimes - performance. To swap that for something that might work on occasion - doesn't sound very good to me

So you see, we all have different dreams

BMfan BMfan said:

Are you kidding me? Yes, some states burn coal for electricity but many use other means. Ever heard of the grand Cooley dam? And whoever install solar panels on their house and use this car will save some serious money.

Maybe in the states solar panels cost $100 but here in South Africa it takes a long time before the panel has covered itself and you have dams there but here most of them are coal, in fact Eskom wants to build two more coal power stations.

In South Africa we have summer temps of 40+ and winter temps of -0 so the batteries will probably be replaced every 5 years if not sooner and I'm sure they aren't cheap.

I'm not sure how it is in the States with hybrids but here in SA a Prius cost R381000(about$42000) has a fuel consumption of 4,1 L\100km(57mpg) and it has a CO2 of 94 yet you can buy a Golf 1,6tdi Bluemotion for R284000($32000) has a fuel consumption of 3,8L\100km(61.8mpg) and a CO2 of 99 or you could buy the polo Bluemotion which is even lighter on fuel burns cleaner than a Prius and is still R95000 cheaper than the Golf and is still a better car than the Prius.

The only manufacturers out there doing good work are BMW and Honda,Hydrogen is the way forward not cars that rely on been plugged into a wall socket to get power.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Well, it sounds like a lot of you have watched the Top Gear Episode where they test the Leaf etc...

As you can clearly see, they are absolutely useless in the UK!

I think it depends on where you live to be honest, In America you get a lot more sun than we do, making Solar Panels viable. Its also below 10C for two thirds of the year which doesn't help. Plus we pay much more here for electricity than America in general. Again as per what Top Gear tested, it costs just as much if not more to charge an electric car in the UK than to fill a decent Oil Burner, but the Oil Burner can get you 500+ Miles, the Electric car you'd be extremely hard pressed to get half of that.

I also find £30K for a Leaf is Audi territory, no offense but I would pickup the Oil Burning Audi any day over some silly Electric car that isn't half as capable, fun or indeed, as nice to drive or sit in.

Guest said:

Some people have never been in an EV, and I can only speak on experience from my Leaf, but I can only think of 3 production cars less than $100K that could possible beat the Leaf zero to 50. When you floor the electron peddle the car absolutely flies. Regarding the corning capabiliteies of the Leaf, once again there are only 3 production cars that I know of that can corner as well as the Leaf.

I'm sorry that you don't know many production cars.

Guest said:

The Leaf is one of the 3 best cornering and accelerating cars under 100k that you know of? I own a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, so there's one, and the Nissan GTR is tied as the 2nd fastest accelerating production car, priced just a hair under 100k. That doesn't even begin to consider the list of cars out there that could out perform the leaf in these two categories, those are just two cars that I'm interested in. While I believe that electric cars are great and the way of the future, this statement is just wrong.

wiyosaya said:

What I don't understand is .how can people think that these sort of cars can save the planet?

Have they seen where that electricity comes from?

Have they seen how those batteries are made?

I can believe this guy's experience especially after watching Jeremy Clarkson testing the Leaf and Tesla.

Where's the eyeroll smilie?

Reputable scientific studies come to far different conclusions than those paid to show that the electricity is a more polluting source or how the batteries were made. Your comments remind me of the article a few years back that stated a Hummer was greener than a Prius over the life of the car.

Transportation for gas to distribution points is far more energy intensive than transportation of electricity to a destination. That, and various other factors of which you will find plenty of valid information out there, make electric cars far more efficient and far less polluting even if the prime fuel source for the electricity is coal. Please, don't take my word for it; you'll be a more well-informed person if you find this information yourself.

That's not what those Earth Justice commercials on Hulu Plus tell me.

You believe commercials? LOL.

cmbjive said:

You believe commercials? LOL.

No, which is why I related it to your post.

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