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Tesla releases logs on disputed NYT car review

The company's chairman and CEO Elon Musk says that there are some "inaccuracies" in the Times' review of his company's Tesla Model S.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
2012 Tesla Model S
The 2012 Tesla Model S. Josh Miller/CNET

Tesla, the electric car maker, has made good on its promise of releasing logs connected to the contested New York Times' review of its Model S.

In the review, published Sunday, the Times' John Broder criticized the Model S for range issues and for problems in low-temperature environments. Tesla's founder and CEO, Elon Musk, has wasted no time trying to discredit the review, claiming that Broder's account of what happened was not factual.

Here's a brief list of issues Musk gleaned from the logs:

  • Despite Broder saying that he called a flatbed truck after the Model S battery ran out of energy, the logs show that he didn't, in fact, run out of energy, according to Musk.
  • Musk charged Broder with an "obvious violation of common sense" when he he disconnected the Tesla's charging cable when its range was at 32 miles and his trip back was 61 miles.
  • The logs, Musk said, show that Broder never set his cruise control to 54 mph to save energy, as he suggested, and instead was driving at speeds between 65 mph and 81 mph.
  • Because cabin temperature can impact energy usage, Broder said that he reduced it. However, Musk claims that the temperature was turned up from 72 degrees to 74 degrees.

"When the facts didn't suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts," Musk said of Broder. "Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth."

According to Musk, his company years ago faced some issues with a review by television show Top Gear. That experience, in which the show "pretended that our car ran out of energy and had to be pushed back to the garage," prompted him to closely monitor media reviews.

"While the vast majority of journalists are honest, some believe the facts shouldn't get in the way of a salacious story," Musk wrote in a blog post yesterday, justifying his company's use of monitoring technology in cars tapped for media reviews.

Broder has yet to respond publicly to Musk's latest charges, but he did share his two cents in a column on Tuesday responding to some of the claims Musk published on Twitter (and are also in the latest blog post). He started off his defense quite bluntly: "my account [of the test drive] was not fake."

The Times writer went on to say that while certain recommendations by Tesla weren't followed, including that he "should have plugged in the car overnight in Connecticut, particularly given the cold temperature," he tried to frame his review around "practicality" and "normal use."

"Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop," Broder argued.

Given the back-and-forth that has already occurred around this review, expect Broder to respond to Musk's claims.