Tesla Up In Arms Against the New York Times

Tesla Motors
Tesla Motors

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Motors, has called the recent New York Times Review on the Tesla Model S as ‘fake’.

The Tesla boss went on Twitter denouncing the review and defending the carmaker’s highly touted family super saloon all electric car. The review said that the electric car ran out of power sooner than expected when it was driven on one cold winter day. Musk tweeted, “NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake.” He added that Tesla is preparing a blog to detail what actually occurred in the test driver and is now “lining up other journalists to do the same drive”.

For its part, the New York Times defended its review, claiming Musk’s assertions as ‘flatly untrue’. The review was done by John Broder, who test drove the Model S from Washington DC to Connecticut. He said that during the trip the battery charge drained sooner than touted, which then forced him to turn down heating and drive beyond the speed limit. Ultimately, the car did not reach its destination and had to be towed to a charging station.

As for the tweet by Musk, the New York Times in a statement said that the review was ‘completely factual, describing the trip as it occurred. Any suggestion that the account was fake is of course, flatly untrue.” It further added that there was no unreported detour that occurred during the test drive.

Tesla has repeatedly stated that the Model S has a range of 265 miles or 426 km on a single full charge. In some instances, the car firm said that the Model S can run up to 300 miles.

Many industry experts has observed that the range of electric cars lower because of cold weather.

In another move, even Model S owners are organizing to set the record straight regarding the review John Broder did for the New York Times on the Tesla Model S. These concerned Tesla owners would be replicating the travel done from Maryland to Connecticut to show that the vehicles are more than able to complete the trip he couldn’t complete. The counter-review trip would start from Tesla Service Center in Rockville, Maryland and they would pick up several other Tesla Model S owners at the Delaware Supercharger, stopping over at Milford Connecticut SuperCharger to recharge their vehicles to full. The drivers would even be staying at the Groton, Connecticut hotel that Broder was billeted during his trip. The crowdsource trip is replicating the Broder trip as closely as possible.

A Twitter account has been set up so that team members can update one another during the trip. The car’s data logs would also be provided to support Musk’s rebuttal to the New York Times review.

The New York Times review has caused a ripple in the share prices for Tesla, falling two percent since the review came out last February 8. Overall though, the last twelve months have shown that Tesla share prices rise by 23.5%.

The Success and Glitches of the Model S


According to the New York Times, the Tesla Model S is a ‘game-changer, comparable to the Model T Ford.’ The vehicle from the Silicon Valley start up has won every 2012 ‘Car of the Year’ award from every conceivable award giving entity, including a unanimous vote from Motor Trend, the first of its kind in the car magazine’s history.

For its part, Tesla is not resting on its laurels, with its new brand spanking facility in California working at full capacity, the company is set to complete its 20,000 order backlog sooner than expected.

It has not been smooth sailing though for the company. There are a still a number of growing pains for a start-up building a car from the ground up using a refurbished production line. While, for a normal internal combustion car glitches can be overlooked, the Model S is not your ordinary vehicle, with much of its design and building under the microscope from start to finish.

Here are just some of the technical issues reported on the Model S:

  • Self-opening locked doors. Some Model S owners reported that they had incidents wherein locked cars suddenly opening, with one even reporting the door ajar. Oftentimes, this occurs after manual remote locking with the FOB key and in the ‘walkaway’ automatic lock mode. In this mode, the car automatically locks itself when it senses the key FOB is away at a distance.
  • Sticking Sunroof. Some Model S owners have reported that the sunroof was difficult in opening, especially when it is controlled remotely with the touch screen. This may either be a mechanical issue.
  • Software Glitches. There is a Model S software update version 4.1 providing for a ‘sleep mode’ to reduce power consumption during non-use or at shut down. There have been a number of reports regarding bugs and glitches, such as panoramic roof, door handles, locking, displays and controls that operate when powering up the Model S. While rebooting the software does away with the glitches, there are some owners reporting daily need for rebooting to address these glitches. Tesla is addressing the issue with a 4.2 software version.
  • Fogged Windshields. Many Model S owners reported poor defroster/defogger functionality during cold or humid conditions. This has been addressed though with a new vent design and retrofit kits are being made available and installation takes an hour.
  • Charge Port Door Malfunction. The charge port door is part of the taillight and in some instances, it does not open properly or close correctly. In some instances, there have been malfunctions on its locking and even jamming of the charge cord. Tesla is addressing the issue.

While these are issues that affect only a few, a greater majority is not suffering any issues or probably some are just accepting the vehicle’s idiosyncrasies.