Tesla's Elon Musk lambasts New York Times article

After the newspaper publishes a story critical of the all-electric sedan's battery life, Tesla's CEO alleges that the article is inaccurate and that he has the car logs to prove it.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Tesla's Model S. Tesla

Tesla's CEO Elon Musk has become incensed over a news article critical of the all-electric car that was published in The New York Times last week.

"I do not think this is a he said, she said situation," Musk told Bloomberg West in an interview today. "It is really black and white. The facts are the facts."

The tussle got started after New York Times reporter John Broder wrote an article about taking the Tesla Model S out on a test drive in the East Coast's freezing weather. He claimed that the car couldn't keep a charge and ultimately died before reaching its intended destination. Before leaving on his trip, Broder said he charged the car until the display read "charge complete;" and then, working to conserve the battery while driving, he said he turned off the car's heat and drove on cruise control at 54 mph.

Musk alleges that none of this is true and he has the car logs to prove it.

"We will publish the actual logs on the car and it is crystal clear," Musk told Bloomberg West.

According to Musk, the logs show that Brody did not charge the car to full capacity before taking off on his trip. Also, the reporter allegedly took an unplanned detour through Manhattan and drove well above the speed limit. Musk claims it was these actions that drove the battery down, rather than the cold or some default of the car.

"If you do all those three things, which we were clear should not be done and obviously common sense suggests should not be done, then you will not be able to go as far," Musk told Bloomberg West. "If you did not fill a gasoline car's gas tank far enough, then went on a detour and ran out of gas, you should not be surprised if that occurs."

The New York Times is standing by its reporter, however. "The Times's article recounting a reporter's test drive in a Tesla Model S was completely factual, describing the trip in detail exactly as it occurred. Any suggestion that the account was 'fake' is, of course, flatly untrue," a spokesperson from the newspaper told CNET. "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."

CNET contacted Tesla for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

Updated at 7:10 p.m. PT with comment from The New York Times spokesperson.