New York Times editor admits that Tesla test drive had some problems

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 21, 2013

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s faith in the New York Times has been restored after the paper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, said that the auto critic who lambasted the Tesla Model S had taken inaccurate notes, making criticism against him valid. Musk asserted that the critic, John Broder, “changed the facts” when they didn’t correspond to what he thought about EVs.

Musk went on Twitter to applaud the editor’s statement. Last Sunday, Sullivan wrote that Broder started the 200-mile test drive in “good faith” and that there were no bad intentions. Musk had previously said that Broder faked his story. The test drive started at the Tesla’s new supercharger in Newark, Del., and was set to end at its other supercharger in Milford, Conn. Tesla is set to present its earnings report for the latest quarter on Wednesday.

Broder has been defensive, asserting that Tesla failed to provide precise instructions on how to maximize the driving range, on the effect of cold climate on battery strength, or how to optimize the Superchargers or the lower-power charging ports along the route that the public could access.

Musk had been wary of Broder’s motives with a string of graphs that point out the speed, battery charge and distance on the journey in defense of the Model S. In a blog last week, Musk wrote that the company was “upset” about the article since it isn’t an accurate representation of Tesla technology, which was designed and tested to run well in any type of weather.

Sullivan said that Broder’s issues originated from poor judgment that was “instrumental in this saga’s high-drama ending.” She also said that these “casual” notes can’t be any match for the automaker’s digitally recorded driving logs.

Sullivan said that she had held meetings with several people that include Broder, Musk, two key Tesla employees, other Times journalists, the tow truck driver who picked up the Model S and a Tesla owner in California.

She said that several owners and media organizations had conducted successful test drives in the past few days, proving that the charging stations work. The only difference is that they didn’t do their test drives during one of the coldest days of the year.

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