Tesla validated as NYT editor weighs in

The electric-car maker has been in the news for days after a scathing newspaper report. It has an important earnings announcement Wednesday.

By Bruce Kennedy Feb 19, 2013 2:30PM

Has the recent ruckus between The New York Times and Tesla Motors (TSLA) been a good or bad thing for the company? Some negative publicity about the controversial electric-car maker has kept its name and products in the spotlight -- ahead of a very important earnings report.

Earlier this month, Times reporter John Broder wrote a scathing review after a long-distance test drive in one of Tesla's premium Model S vehicles. Tesla share prices fell sharply after the article. CEO Elon Musk soon fought back, questioning Broder's journalistic integrity and wondering if he had a prejudice against electric cars in general.

In the meantime, CNBC and other media outlets have done their own versions of Broder's Tesla test drive with much better results. And several Tesla owners decided to show some solidarity with the company by also re-creating the test drive and tweeting about the experience.

Times public editor Margaret Sullivan promised to investigate the controversy, and on Tuesday she published her results: Broder's article had problems with precision and judgment but not integrity. Tesla shares jumped more than 5% Tuesday in response.Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk drives a Model S at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. on October 1, 2011 ( Stephen Lam/Newscom/Reuters)

While she believes Broder took the test drive in good faith, Sullivan notes he "left himself open to valid criticism by taking what seem to be casual and imprecise notes along the journey, unaware that his every move was being monitored."

Meanwhile, Wall Street will be watching closely Wednesday afternoon when Tesla holds its fourth-quarter earnings call and discusses its overall 2012 results. Green Car Reports senior editor John Voelcker suggests it could be a make-or-break moment for the company.

Tesla was founded a decade ago and received $465 million in Department of Energy loans in 2010 as part of the Obama Administration's campaign to further the development of fuel-efficient vehicles. While its S model production line is apparently working at full capacity, the company is also expected to have lost money for all of last year.

And Wednesday's earnings report, Voelcker says, "will be the first chance for investors and shareholders to weigh in on the company's first real financial results as an operating carmaker."

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Feb 19, 2013 3:47PM
The NYT is protecting the scum reporter John Broder for his lack of integrity and ability to report.  Too many times reporters invent stories to sell papers.  Just think how dull the story would have been if he reported he drove the Tesla and it performed as described.  Boring....   BUT if you allege it performed badly look at all the attention you get.  Your name splashed across the nation and on the evening news.  What is worse is that  Times public editor Margaret Sullivan defended him and didn't expose him for a, "Once upon a time...." reporter.  I will never trust John Broder again, let alone the NYT.  The good news that has come out of this is that people can clearly see that newspapers do NOT report the news, they CREATE it.  For that we can thank Broder and Sullivan
Feb 19, 2013 3:57PM
OMG!!!!!!!! A reporter that didn't honestly report a story????????  who wouldda thunk........
Feb 19, 2013 3:55PM
Feb 19, 2013 3:48PM
Feb 19, 2013 4:29PM
John Broder wrote outright lies or, at the very least, grossly incorrect information. He should have been professional, unbiased and accurate.

His editor noted that his drive was "monitored" and yet did not apologize for Broder's incorrect article. Perhaps the Times should consider whether both these people should be on their staff.

Feb 19, 2013 4:14PM
Where do you people think the electricity comes from?  At least of the east side of the country, it's from fossil fuel power plants, in effect making it a coal powered car.

Where do you think the lithium for the batteries comes from?  Earth damaging mining around the globe.  Plus the concentration of these deposits is sure to make some other country the Saudi Arabia of the future.  Mind you, if we had large deposits, the eco-whackos would make sure we would never get to it.

Feb 19, 2013 3:57PM
as i understand things Broder did not charge the vehicle fully before leaving on his trip. also according to on board computer data he didnt keep a steady speed at all or do the things he was supposed to do to keep battery integrity. also EVERYONE else who has done the test had no issues. its a battery powered car not gas powered. dont expect the same results as you would with gas.  
Feb 19, 2013 4:33PM
The really  sorry part of this story is that no one is surprised that the reporter fabricated the story nor that the times found reason to support the reporter.  American journalism has certainly lost any remaining credibility (if there was any remaining).
Feb 19, 2013 4:02PM
Just when I believed the Times only wrote negative, inaccurate  articles using its bias against conservatives, theTimes staff  breaks new ground.
Feb 19, 2013 4:17PM
Obama gave them $465 MILLION!  Seriously? So their cars can cost a fortune and burn electricity from coal fired power?  This does not reduce pollution one bit.  Idiots all around, starting with Obama.
Feb 19, 2013 4:14PM
Border is the typical opinionated "expert" we see so many of on the news and in the press today.  They seem to pop up on any and all subjects and take advantage of the "bully pulpit" afforded them by yet another profit makng venture---the press. It's wonderful that his employer thinks his integrity is fine even if he is so dumb he can't even take good notes.  If we listened to this kind of jackass we'd still be using ox carts.
Feb 19, 2013 4:15PM
If we pay Tesla $400 million in taxpayer money this year, maybe they can make a profit of $10 million.

That's what you call ROI, right there.

Feb 19, 2013 3:59PM

Sure these renewable startups need government money, but it's money well-spent. We have to get away from fossil fuels and the sooner the better. And it also dishonest not to include  the amount we subsidize fossil fuels and especially the oil companies to make a valid assessment. How much does it cost to build, maintain and put into operation an aircraft carrier? And how many of them do we have on constant patrol in the Persian Gulf Region? When you include the associated costs for all the other ships in the carrier groups, wow! And the three wars we have fought in the Middle East, recently.


No folks, don't let the propanda fool you. Whatever we spend to develop alternative and renewable energies is money very well spent!

Feb 19, 2013 3:40PM
As we move toward vehicles that get greater gas mileage, the oil companies will conspire to keep raising the gas prices so they'll be able to maintain their huge profits while selling a lower volume of product. The oil lobby is simply too well organized and too well financed for anyone to stop this movement.  Plot a graph of overall average mileage increases for vehicles and then map the same average increase of oil and gas prices.  The graphs should visibly look the same, although the actual price increase margins will easily be greater than the mileage increases.  That is why the oil companies are continuously showing record profits every year.  That is the cost of living in a capital-based economy. 
Feb 19, 2013 3:09PM

It was a HIT PIECE, plain and simple! They did EXACTLY the same thing in the 1980s against all types of renewable energy and, pretending to be objective, are playing the same crooked game on behalf of the fossil fuel corporate bastards that love to get us into wars for THEIR PROFITS and "price shocks" from "global instability" that WE foster with our CIA and military. The fossil fuel lobby, otherwise known as the oil oligarchy that runs our foreign and domestic energy policies, is having severe nightmares over the fact that renewable energy is here to stay and fossil and nuclear fuels are on the way OUT so they are pulling out all the propaganda stops to LIE us back to fossil fuel dependency. IT WON'T WORK THIS TIME!


For more info, google my article, "Hope for Viable Biosphere of Renewables; Why They Work and Fossil and Nuclear fuels NEVER DID".


HINT: THEFT OF THE COMMONS in the form of increased pollution and health costs makes fossil and nuclear fuels prohibitively expensive unless you can make WE-THE-PEOPLE EAT those costs!


Shame on the New York Times!

Feb 19, 2013 4:03PM
These are cool cars to look at but don't work well with real world driving and power needs. If this was your sole car and the battery was dead or near so what would you do in a real emergency if you needed a functioning(real) car now!
Feb 19, 2013 4:09PM
I'm sure happy barry invested our $ for a vehicle most if us can't afford
Feb 19, 2013 4:58PM
Typical reporters.  Turn the story to make papers sell, to hell with the facts.  Next Polk will reward him with an award for journalism as they did for the Mother Jones article twisting Mitt Romney's 47% remark around. 
Feb 19, 2013 3:49PM

electric cars = mandatory solar cells built in the roof, imo, regardless of whos making them.


also high price = nobody will buy it anyway.



Feb 19, 2013 5:46PM

The Telsa and other all electrics maybe great technology but they get their power solely from the grid which is coal, gas or nuke generated.  More importantly, range anxiety is something many are ignorant of or will not endure well.  Without charging stations as common as gas stations, one has to be very alert as to where they are and how far they can go on the remaining charge.  Delays caused by weather, accidents or construction can throw a wrench into the whole plan to make it to the next charging station.  Finally, it takes 5 minutes to fill up a gas tank, versus hours for an all electric vehicle.  They simply are not ready for prime time.


Americans have a short memory – this happened before.  Remember the gas shortage crisis’s of the early and late 1970s when the Arabs turned off the valve?  Many, many gas stations were closed and for anyone driving a long distance, especially on the interstates, range anxiety was a very real fear, especially in the winter with spouse and children onboard, and scary if you had to pull over, for lack of fuel, in a less than desirable area.  I can remember the calls on the CB radios by people desperately looking for an open gas station.  Not doing that again.

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