Elon Musk: 'Fudged' NYT article cost Tesla $100m
Not many orders canceled, though
Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk says a recent negative review of his company's Model S electric car by The New York Times may have cost his company as much as $100m.
"It probably affected us to the tune of tens of millions if not maybe on the order of $100m, so it's not trivial," Musk said in an interview with Bloomberg TV's Betty Liu on Monday.
But when asked whether he truly believed the article had convinced 1,000 customers to cancel their orders for the Model S – which ranges in price from $52,400 to $87,400, depending on battery capacity and features – Musk said his estimate wasn't based entirely on sales.
"In terms of $100m, I'd say that refers more to the valuation of the company," Musk said. "It wasn't as though there were a thousand cancellations just due to the New York Times article. There were probably a few hundred."
Tesla currently ships around 400 Model S sedans per week from its Fremont, California–based factory, and it looks to be on track to deliver 20,000 cars in 2013.
During the interview, Musk repeated his earlier objections to a review of the Model S and its network of charging stations by New York Times automotive reporter John Broder, in which Broder alleged that Tesla's East Coast Supercharger network was too sparse to sustain the Model S on long drives, and that during his test drive the car ran out of juice, shut down, and had to be towed.
"And so there was this sad shot of our car on a flatbed as though that was the only outcome possible for such a drive," Musk said on Monday. "And that's just not true. And lots of people said, 'Oh, it doesn't matter if you're right or wrong, you don't battle The New York Times.' And it's like, the hell with that. I'd rather tell the truth and suffer the consequences, even if they're negative."
Musk reiterated his belief that the telemetry data Tesla recovered from the car Broder reviewed "doesn't correlate at all" with Broder's account of his test drive. Still, he said, he doesn't have it in for Broder, so long as The New York Times owns up to what Musk maintains was bad reporting on Broder's part.
"I don't think it should be the end of [Broder's] career," Musk said. "I don't even think necessarily he should be fired. But I do think he fudged an article." ®
Re: Who cares?
The only person here without a decent brain in his skull is YOU. So many of you gasoline car-centric bigots can't deal with the idea of a motor vehicle not using gasoline for motivational power that you can't accept even the *idea* of alternatives. I'm a motorcycle rider and I look forward to seeing what great ideas the future will hold for motive transportation systems.
I've driven less than 200 miles in the last twelve months. In fact thinking about it apart from a hire car when I away last summer I haven't driven at all. In all probability you burn far more petrol than I have. This isn't some great position of principal but a simple reflection that my life is arranged in such a way that I wouldn't benefit from a private motor vehicle in ordinary circumstances.
The facts don't matter though - you didn't even know that so you assumed motives that I don't have and attacked me on invalid premises as a result. We see the real motives in your post, adopting a holier-than-thou attitude over my presumed transgressions because you ride a bike rather than drive a car. I've got news for you: it's the same fucking thing that goes in the tank as a car so I don't know what your attitude derives from.
No. This isn't the first time Musk has cried foul over shitty reviews. Again, he is unable to actually challenge the NYT account - the telemetry "disproving" the article actually correlates pretty well in substance. This particular electric car is not some future nirvana made real today. The fact that you want it to be does not make it the case.
Re: Who cares?
Actually, had you bothered to read either the NYT article or the CNN one, you'd know that "without incident" is a gross distortion of the facts.
Peter Valdes-Dapena (in the CNN article) explicitly states "not without some anxiety" and "the most scary part of the trip". And he goes on to acknowledge that his trip took place in warmer conditions and didn't include the overnight stop or the "battery conditioning" that Tesla told Broder to do.
So in the real world all CNN confirms is that it is possible, under different conditions, to make the trip. It in no way disproves Broder's findings, which boil down to the hardly surprising observation that in very cold weather electric cars use more current and their batteries hold less charge, combination that (gasp) results in reduced range, and that the Tesla charging network is spaced too far apart.
Re: Who cares?
"Both CNN as well as a group of Tesla S owners duplicated Broder's supposed 'failure' trip...and ALL managed the trip without incident"
In warm conditions - the NYT article was written during cold conditions - the article mentioned that as a downside of batteries for cars - batteries can sometimes deliver less than half their usual capacity in severe cold. Petrol obviously doesn't suffer from that problem.
BTW how did CNN solve the problem of the car depleting over half its battery overnight? Or are you suggesting the NYT somehow drained the battery on purpose just to make the Tesla look bad?
And to Elon Musk - you are sounding shrill and desperate with this move...
Seriously, you think a Tesla is remotely environmentally friendly? Do you have any idea at all about how insanely destructive to the environment cars like that are? Sure if you adopt the broccoli munching, don't look behind the curtain approach and believe they are made of toe lint and run off bunny farts then sure, they're amazing. The reality is the batteries are very destructive to make, need replacing every 5-10 years depending on use, and they still need power. In the US that power comes 45% from coal. Yes if you can charge them with solar (if you are prepared to drop even more money) and if you have a relatively short range requirement (until there is a larger and faster charging network) you can exist with one but cars like the Tesla are not the solution, they detract from a serious solution.
We need a solution that involves relatively clean and sustainable power generation (fusion \ solar \ hydrothermal etc) AND a method of transporting that energy that is also sustainable (far more likely to be chemical rather than electrical). Right now cars like the Tesla fulfill neither of these criteria fully, the latter not even partially. But sure, go on thinking that shit like this is great for the environment, I bet all those folks in South America just love all those strip mines and the polluted groundwater and the Asians just adore all the chemical run off from the processing plants, but it's all good in Cali with your 0.3% reduction in smog and a 2000% increase in smug. People buying these cars are stunting development of a real solution. Money invested in research and a fueling network for these vehicles would be far better being invested in a technology that actually addresses the problems rather than shifting them out of sight.
Has he looked at the telemetry he posted?
Because, apart from the speed issue, it was an exact correlation. Especially the huge drop in expected range overnight, it's there in the telemetry.
It's the sheer cheek , after all, NYT didn't ask to do this did they, Tesla approached them in order to publicise the new charging stations. Next time, keep the camera rolling.