Tesla CEO Debunks New York Times’ Review of Model S

Posted on February 14, 2013 1:40 PM by Rob Williams

One of the worst things any company that sends out products for review can experience is having one fall into the hands of someone with a vendetta. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly uncommon, and it can be seen both by small and large publishers. The most recent case comes to us from Tesla, which sent the New York Times a Model S for the sake of taking a technological look at it. It was then passed on to John Broder to handle the article, which was posted a little under a week ago.

In his article, Broder criticizes the behavior of the car in cold weather and the fact that it runs out of energy quick with normal usage. In the same article, he showed a picture of himself standing next to a power-depleted Model S on the back of a flatbed truck. That’s right – the car ran out of power, and thus he was left stranded.


A couple of years ago, popular TV show Top Gear did a review of the Tesla Roadster and skewed some facts for the sake of comedic value. Tesla Motors didn’t appreciate it, and sued over it. Since then, the company has equipped all of its review cars with a detailed logging system to avoid such slander in the future. It’s thanks to this logging that John Broder has been ousted as a potential liar.

In a blog post, Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted a couple of graphs that illustrate where the inconsistencies lay. When Broder claimed to stick to 45 MPH, he didn’t. When he claimed to turn the temperature down, he actually raised it. When he claimed the car ran out of power and had to call in a tow, it’s seen that the car actually did still have power. While it’s hard to assume that Tesla’s logging is bullet-proof, there are many inconsistencies between Broder’s reports and the logs to favor Tesla.


It’s worth noting that Broder has a long history of writing about the oil industry for the Times, and in an article he published last year, we can see that he wasn’t much of a fan of electric cars from the get-go. Did Broder know about the logs Tesla had in place? I’m thinking “no”, based on the stark contradictions between what’s recorded in the logs and what he reported in his article. Either way, neither Broder nor the Times have followed-up on Musk’s findings, but being a newspaper focused on journalistic integrity, we’d expect to see one before long.

  • http://techgage.com/ Marfig

    I’m hoping the NYT won’t take kindly to Broder obvious lies.

    Tesla logging should be bullet-proof. Modern on-board computers can be incredibly accurate, but if memory serves me right they also must pass certification. There’s no way Broder will get out of this that easily.

    If there is one profession where I hate a lie. That’s got to be journalism.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      I agree… I think the logging is accurate. If it wasn’t, we’d certainly see obvious problems with the results, but we don’t. They look realistic.

  • http://techgage.com/ Brett Thomas

    The Times hasn’t exactly been a stalwart bastion of “fair and honest” reporting for a little while now, as it’s become increasingly politically editorialized. In all honesty, I’m kind of surprised this one got though, as it’s a bias that falls in the opposite direction of NYT’s usual.

    Hey, maybe they’re going for balanced by lying in BOTH directions now! :-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      Broder did have a couple of retorts, but that doesn’t get around the fact that he said he did certain things when he either didn’t, or did the opposite.


      • http://techgage.com/ Marfig

        Apart from inconsistencies between his report and what the on board log eventually showed, there’s also the problem of his charging policies. Here’s a user reply to that Broder retort that I feel best describes the incompetence of this reporter gentleman:

        “When I’m setting out on a longer trip, say San Francisco to Los Angeles, I know at the outset that I’m going to fill up somewhere along the road. So I only start out with 3/4 tank of gas – right? Of course not, but that is what Broder did effectively when he didn’t bother to fully charge the Tesla on departure.

        When I near my destination, on a road trip, if I am low on fuel, I only buy enough gas to barely make it the estimated distance – right? Of course not, but that is what Broder did when he only charged the Tesla a partial charge near the end of the trip.

        It is very disingenuous, if not flay lying, for Broder to say he was not trying to cause the Tesla to fail – or he is just stupider than any other driver on the road!”

        And much to Broder displeasure, CNN Money did their own review using the same track and in the exact same conditions with completely different results: http://money.cnn.com/video/pf/2013/02/15/w-tesla-model-s-test-drive-dc-boston.cnnmoney/index.html?iid=GM

        • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

          There were five different owners making the same trip as well. It’s nice when someone out with a vendetta gets caught.

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