PHOTO CAPTION: Tesla Model S similar to one driven by NY Times reporter John Broder.

Telsa vs NY Times Fight Focusing On Wrong Issue

Grist's David Roberts argues that instead of obsessing over 'widget' solutions to our energy and transportation problems, we need to rethink the entire system.

Published: 18-Feb-2013

Last week, reporter John Broder of The New York Times wrote an account of his road trip from Washington, D.C., to Milford, Conn., in Tesla’s new all-electric Model S sedan, using the two Superchargers that the company has set up along the route. Broder says he got less range than advertised, lost a bunch of range overnight inexplicably, and ran out of power on his last leg. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, published a response to the story, effectively accusing Broder of journalistic malpractice.

Broder responded to Musk, and then responded again. Rebecca Greenfield at the Atlantic Wire also responded, charging that Musk hadn’t established his case against Broder. TechCrunch weighed in. Twice. Also GigaOm. Also Boing Boing. Even Gawker piped up. And of course our own Philip Bump.

This seems like an awful lot of attention devoted to the precise performance characteristics of this particular vehicle on this particular trip. The Tesla S has been extensively and mostly positively reviewed in lots of other outlets (including the NYT itself). It’s pretty well-established what it can and can’t do. What really seems to be behind this, yet again, is a proxy argument over electric cars in general.


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