He never quits!I thought the Tesla vs New York Times saga was over, with both sides having exhausted their ammo and now moved on, but apparently not. Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, still has a few things to add. He spoke at South by Southwest this weekend, calling the NYT's review of the Tesla Model S electric car an ethics violation.
"I would call it a low-grade ethics violation," Musk said. "Not a Jayson Blair-crazy-fabrication variety, but I would call it low-grade. It was not in good faith - that's an important point."
Musk seems to think that enough damage was done that Tesla might need to convince potential buyers all over again that cold weather driving is not that big a deal (it does reduce range, but it's the same with gasoline and diesel vehicles).
Musk told Reuters in February that he was considering a public relations campaign to fix "misconceptions" about how the $60,000 Model S performs in cold weather. At one point following the Times review, published on February 8, Tesla's market value plummeted 13 percent, but its stock price has since recovered.
"I have no problem with negative feedback, nor do I have a problem with critical reviews," Musk said Saturday. "I have a problem with false reviews."
Many other media representatives took similar roadtrips to Broder's in the Model S and didn't have any problems (see at the bottom of this post for CNN's take), but none of these got anywhere near the level of attention that the New York Times review got. I don't know what kind of PR campaign could have the reach and credibility to compete with the Times, so Tesla will probably just have to move on and hope that over time real-world successes from its customers will convince the skeptics.
There should also soon be many more Supercharger stations everywhere, so it'll become much harder even for careless individuals to run out of juice far away from a charging spot, though it'll never be impossible -- after all, people run out of fuel in gasoline cars.
See also: Tesla vs. New York Times: Epilogue