Elon Musk Calls NY Times Piece on Tesla Model S a “Fake”


A recent article published in the New York Times by John Broder about the Tesla Model S is creating some fuss today, as Tesla CEO Elon Musk says it is fake. 

“NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour,” tweeted Musk.

Broder drove the car from Washington, DC to Boston to test Tesla’s new superchargers that have been set up at rest stops in Newark, Del., and Milford, Conn., about 200 miles apart from each other. He claims that the car barely made it between stops, and on one of the last legs of the trip, it didn’t make it at all and wound up on a flat bed.

Broder claims that after a cold night, his Model S test vehicle lost 65 miles of range. He was told by a Tesla representatives that he needed to “condition” the battery pack to restore lost energy, which consists of sitting in the car on low heat for about a half hour. After completing the process, he still didn’t have enough juice to make it where he was going.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Supercharger Network Launched for Fast Charging

“Tesla’s experts said that pumping in a little energy would help restore the power lost overnight as a result of the cold weather, and after an hour they cleared me to resume the trip to Milford,” claims Broder in the article. After setting out once again, Broder says that the car never displayed the amount of range he needed to get back to his destination, and that the Model S subsequently ran out of charge on the highway.

Each Model S is fitted with a data recorder that can be turned on at the owner’s request, though Musk says that every media vehicle is equipped with an active one. In this particular car, Tesla’s CEO says that Broder took a long detour which was not mentioned in the article, and that the car was not at full charge, according to the data recorded in Broder’s Model S.

The New York Times quickly issued a rebuttal: “Any suggestion that the account was ‘fake’ is, of course, flatly untrue,” the statement said. “Our reporter followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel. He described the entire drive in the story; there was no unreported detour. And he was never told to plug the car in overnight in cold weather, despite repeated contact with Tesla.”

A similar issue arose when Top Gear tested a Tesla and claimed that the Tesla Roadster ran out of juice. Elon Musk says that was also untrue, and that the Roadster still had 50 miles of available range.

 [Source: New York Times, Twitter]

Discuss this story at


Ryan Carroll says:

Apparently Tesla expects you to strategically plot your course so that you are “running on fumes” as you pull into the charging station…

Paul Scott says:

No they don’t. Tesla expects you to be a rational person capable of learning simple tasks. The reporter drove past several million plugs along the way. There were several thousand of these plugs that were within easy reach of the roadway that could have been used to top off the car. Most importantly, he didn’t plug in and charge overnight which is when all EV drivers charge their cars. 

The reporter was intending to write a hit piece on EVs.The Model S is literally the best car in history. This reporter was completely inexperienced and blew several chances to make his trip work. Anyone can do that in a gas burner, too, you just need to be really stupid.

Noe Japan says:

‘really stupid’ is actually what makes up the mass population. Sad but true.

Ryan Carroll says:

I think the Model S is a great concept and I don’t doubt the reporter “didn’t read the manual”.  But for mass consumption of a product, it needs to be stupid proof.  As an engineer (or otherwise intelligent person) I’m sure when you delve into the working of the product it won’t be a problem but for the average “button pusher” this isn’t going to work.  Just think about how “easy” it is to hook your PC to your HDTV  but for the mass majority, this is only possible through things like GoogleTV, Apple TV and the like.

Paul Scott says:

Trust me, Ryan, EVs are the easiest cars in the world to drive. There is no transmission, you are either going forward or backward. You have enormous torque, the fun part of driving. There is no noise or vibration. 

By comparison, gas cars feel old fashioned and clunky, very clunky.

Once you try one, you’ll immediately fall in love with it. Just go drive a Volt or LEAF. 

logical_thinker says:

see electricroadtrips dot com

NYT didn’t manage the electric car the way it should have been managed. It’s like they were trying a Model T Ford way back when there were big stretches of road with no gas stations, yet not filling up fully etc.

logical_thinker says:

Furthermore, if you buy a other brand, who goes calling the manufacturer as you are driving to get instructions on how to use the car?

You are expected to competently manage the tech. So basically the NYT reporter is saying he was incompetent.

Jeffuren says:

Another reporter trying to get published by sensationalizing plugin electric cars.
After driving over 50,000 EV miles I can tell you that electric cars are just like gas cars. If you don’t plan your refueling, you can run out of fuel. Period.

Daniel Watkins says:

I wrote this to Mr. Broder, the person who wrote that NY times article;

“Mr. Broder,

Your article does not state whether at Delaware, if you charged to really 100% or just regular 100%. In order to get the EPA 270 miles / Tesla 300 miles, you have to set the charging system to full recharge, not regular recharge. I forget what it is called. Usually when you charge up the car, it does not top off the battery so it will have an easier life.

You should have been aware that cold temperatures increase internal resistance of batteries, hence you should have plugged into a 120V outlet at least overnight there and that should have made for a much better experience.

I’m also concerned that you may have drove on some detour not mentioned in your article.

Regardless, it looks like the range approximation algorithms needs a few software patches to make it more accurate. Hopefully batteries will become more dense in the future and cheaper.

Daniel Watkins

electric ed says:

Sounds Like he should have a Volt instead to avoid all those problems.