word to the wise

If You Don’t Want Elon Musk to Call You a Fool and a Liar, Don’t Give Tesla a Bad Review

"NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake."
At least it's warm inside ... (Photo: Tesla)

At least it’s warm inside … (Photo: Tesla)

If there’s something that Tesla CEO Elon Musk can’t stomach, it’s a challenge to the company’s claims regarding the mileage-range on the batteries of its electric cars.

Case in point: On February 8, The New York Times published a less than flattering review of the Tesla Model S, in which reporter John M. Broder described his difficulties stretching the vehicle’s battery between charging stations.

While the roughly 200 miles between I-95 charging stations in Newark, Delaware and Milford, Connecticut were well-within the Model S’s 265-mile estimated range, Mr. Broder reported that cold weather seemed to drain the battery more quickly than anticipated, forcing him to forgo comforts such as heating, and necessitating an unscheduled detour in search of a charge.

That didn’t sit well with Mr. Musk, who took to Twitter to respond to the Times story.

That wasn’t all. Mr. Musk promised a blog post refuting the Times story, and offered other journalists the chance to test drive the Model S. (As far as we can tell, the blog post has yet to be published; several journalists jumped to tweet Mr. Musk test-drive requests.) And more:

Ah, Top Gear: That’s the BBC program that Tesla sued for libel after a 2008 television episode showed an earlier Tesla model running out of juice and bring pushed back to the garage. (Tesla said the action was staged; British courts dismissed the case, and a subsequent attempt to revive in, in 2011 and 2012.)

Mr. Musk didn’t limit his response to Twitter. After Teslas’s stock fell this morning, Mr. Musk went on CNBC, where he told hosts that Mr. Broder’s article “was something of a set-up,” and that the Times reporter failed to charge his battery completely, then detoured through Manhattan and driven above the speed limit.

“If you had a gasoline car,” he 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.”

As far as we can tell, neither the Times nor Mr. Broder has yet to respond.

Follow Patrick Clark on Twitter or via RSS. pclark@observer.com