"the Public Editor agreed that John Broder had “problems with precision and judgment," “took casual and imprecise notes” and made “few conclusions that are unassailable.”"
Let me try to cherry pick some points from the very same NYT response (1), spun towards the opposite conclusion:
"Mr. Musk presented his data "in the most damaging (and sometimes quite misleading) way possible" and "I am convinced that [Broder] . . . told the story as he experienced it."
My point isn't that my choice quotes above are accurate, but that Musk's assessment is disingenuous to the NYT's response, and that's in the first paragraph of his article.
I'm not sure what Musk is trying to accomplish at this point, his "spin" is transparent and it feels condescending.
Tesla's goodwill in my eyes is fast eroding.
Ms. Sullivan herself admits that "Did he [Broder] use good judgment along the way? Not especially." And also that "...Mr. Broder 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." Still, she insists that it was all done in good faith and integrity.
I'm sorry, but this is The New York Times. You can't just say "oh, our journalist just messed up by NOT following common sense instructions, and NOT taking proper notes, and still writing a misleading article [about the wrong topic -- the car -- rather than the super charge stations which was the original intention]. But hey, it was all in good faith, so no harm".
To me this is exactly the opposite of what I'd expect to hear from the editor of the NYT. She missed the opportunity to recognize the flaws of the original article, apologize on behalf of their journalist for not taking proper diligence and care that you'd expect from such publication, and offer readers (& Tesla) to re-do the entire test and publish the results again.
If Musk could really back up all of his accusations, why would he be "satisfied" with this "joke" of a response?
It seems Musk prematurely accused NYT of "faking" the review, then realized they couldn't back up that accusation, and are taking this opportunity to back down.
But, they made a bunch of noise, got some more headlines, cast doubt on the negative review, and gave their fans a good story to use at the water cooler. Time to declare victory and drop the issue.
In no way shape or form did Musk's claim turn out to be true, which indeed is just like the Top Gear thing.
I particularly love how Musk seems to blame the choices of the reviewers - i.e. selective reporting, cherry-picking - for the car's undenied failures. And of course that can be entirely reasonable; if you make the wrong choices things won't work. But then he turns around and does exactly the thing he's accusing the reviewers of: he cherry-picks his data, and selectively interprets it to present it as some kind of conspiracy.
I can excuse an individual reporter for experiencing something in typically human fashion: i.e. colored by preference and ignorance, somewhat muddled and poorly remembered, and certainly not necessarily representative of the experience of others. On the other hand; Musk doesn't have those excuses. He has tons of quantitative data that he can review as often as he likes, in whatever detail he likes. He's presumably an expert on the car and knows of plausible explanations for various observations to be found in that data. He and this team have reviewed such data many times before. And yet, nevertheless, he chooses to cherrypick his observations and read into them what he'd like to see - namely that the failures are entirely the reviewer's fault and in no way the car's. (I mean, that whole driving around in circles thing... or the exact moment the temperature changed...)
Worse, the test occurred in cooperation with Tesla, so they could have predicted at least a few of these issues. Why in the heavens did Musk agree to this review in this form when it was obviously not going to be an easy drive? Didn't they look at the weather forecast and know this was going to be a problem? Isn't it obvious that a reviewer accustomed to convential cars won't be an expert in electrical range-maximization?
I'd love to see electrical cars work. It's a shame that Musk seems to think (self-)deception is the way to convince the world that they're ready for long-haul travel.
Frankly, he's probably still not satisfied. But he realizes there's no point in trying to slay the New York Times. That's not his dragon to kill.
He's got other things to do, and the NYTimes writing terrible articles is not his interest or priority. Write a witty blog post and declare victory is the right choice here.
Not to mention, he's gotten a lot of good press from other media sources since (as he points out in his blog post).
There's a good point to be made here about arguing: like baseball, choose the juciest, easiest pitches and then swing for the fences. Don't try to argue every point and stretch the truth to do so, because it damages credibility. Musk tried to argue more than he should have.
So we have a whole lot of people attacking Musk when the NYT did a provably dishonest smear job and is trying not to admit it.
engaged in unrealistic driving patterns to get the car to run out of juice--stuff like driving around in circles
Broder's response: I drove around the Milford service plaza in the dark looking for the Supercharger, which is not prominently marked. I was not trying to drain the battery.
Musk accused Broder of "driving around in circles" for 0.6 miles. What kind of car would this be if an extra 0.6 miles was sufficient to cross the line into "the battery is now fully drained"?
Occum's Razor dictates that the reason for driving around "in circles for 0.6 miles" is easily explained as being lost while trying to find a location you've never been to before. Someone doing extra malicious driving would probably go further than an extra 3000 feet.
What is more realistic than driving around lost?
1. I've seen many comments suggesting that the parking lot is well lit in the night and the Supercharger is especially easy to spot and hard to miss, which directly contradicts to what Broader claims: "dark, unlighted, not marked". (http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/that-tesla-data-w...)
2. Here is a video of how well-lit and easy to spot: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3fO_OHpyYw)
3. Here is the Google map: (http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Milford,+Conn.,+supercharger...) If Google's data is to be trusted, each loop is less than 100m, and 0.6miles is roughly 10 laps.
Realistic scenario for driving around and lost? I think not.
I think you're looking at the wrong thing in the video you linked to. Those bright, well-lit things are gas pumps! The superchargers are the hard-to-see things the driver pulls up to at the end. I'm pretty sure I would have driven past them and I'm absolutely certain I'd have driven more than half a mile if I were intentionally trying to run down the battery.
3. I've just measured with Google Maps ruler. It takes about 0.3 miles to drive all the ways on the parking lot and around the gas station (just near the Superchargers). So it's about 2 laps really. He could also drive another 0.2 miles if he mistakenly went around nearby McDonald's.
The rest area looked rather large and in the video I didn't see any signs directing the driver which path to take through the parking lot to get there. I could see someone who might be slightly distracted (or not yet familiar enough with the landmarks) driving through the gas station instead of turning right and missing the whole thing, and having to circle back around.
I'd say it's undisputably true that Broder comes across as lacking professionalism. So sure, his review embellished the truth. But what exactly were you expecting?
The whole review set up is designed to be personal. It's not a scientific experiment with hundreds of trials, decent statistics, reproducible environments; it's not about the truth; it's about communicating with human beings: how does it feel to actually drive the car? It's an anecdote - and that includes all the good things (empathy, personal interest, real-life) and the bad things (non-reproducible, not your life, colored by that drivers opinion). Tesla knew this - but people make choices not just for purely rational reasons, so the human connection is one they wanted. They agreed to this test knowing full well that the range involved was going to be tricky at those temperatures, especially for a driver that doesn't have a clue about electrical cars. They also knew that the point of a review is to see what a car can do; so it's not unexpected for the reviewer to push the car a little further that you'd normally risk it.
And at the end of the day - I don't know Broder, I don't care about Broder - I don't really care about Tesla. I care about the future development of electric cars. And whatever Broder did or didn't do, the car didn't fare particularly well, and in a situation a normal car (and certainly a diesel) would have been able to do without any refill at all. Sure, you could have avoided the complete breakdown by not finishing the trip on schedule, but that's not a great alternative.
From my point of view it was never about Broder, it was about Tesla's car being put through a somewhat unfair test - but even taking into account the test's flaws, the car just doesn't come out looking good. Put it this way - I wouldn't have wanted to be Broder.
There's also the matter of him being wrong about speed and cruise control and temperature settings and range. There's also the matter of Broder being wrong in his broad thesis (testing the supercharger network) since he refused to charge when he needed to.
I should have edited support for these things things in, but had to catch a plane, and now other people have already done it in this thread. But I thought true, and discussed, and re-discussed, statements would not be judged so harshly by the mob. My mistake.
We call these sorts of things lies when they're said on Fox News--but defend distortions when the NYT does them against such an important cause and such an admirable company?
Perhaps I'm outing myself as a klutz of a driver, but just this week I missed an exit and ended up on the Bay Bridge to Oakland (ta-da, 20 mile detour).
If I were actively trying to burn through mileage I could probably do a fair bit better.
Oh and that giant, lit up structure is NOT the chargers.
I'm surprised so many people are hating on Mr. Musk.
Musk's portrayal of the New York Times's response is dishonest; that burden is not lightened by the Times's original article having been similarly inventive.
First the NYT says Broder was honest:
Mr. Broder and The Times have maintained that the article was done in good faith, and that it is an honest account of what happened.
Then the NYT says Broder was misleading (dishonest):
Mr. Broder left himself open to valid criticism by taking what seem to be casual and imprecise notes along the journey
Next, the NYT says Broder should have taken more detailed logs:
A little red notebook in the front seat is no match for digitally recorded driving logs...
But next the NYT says more detailed logs are pointless:
I could recite chapter and verse of the test drive...I don’t think that’s useful here.
And the NYT says Border did the test drive in good faith:
I am convinced that he [Broder] took on the test drive in good faith
But then the NYT criticizes his good faith:
...there is still plenty to argue about and few conclusions that are unassailable
That's just a quick snapshot of the whiplash-inducing spin in the NYT editorial.
That is why I said it was misleading, and parenthesized my judgement of it (dishonest).
"I’ve also had a number of talks with my brother, a physician, car aficionado and Tesla fan, who has helped me balance what might have been a tendency to unconsciously side with a seasoned and respected journalist – my own “confirmation bias.”
My own findings are not dissimilar to the reader I quote above, although I do not believe Mr. Broder hoped the drive would end badly. I am convinced that he took on the test drive in good faith, and told the story as he experienced it.
Did he use good judgment along the way? Not especially. In particular, decisions he made at a crucial juncture – when he recharged the Model S in Norwich, Conn., a stop forced by the unexpected loss of charge overnight – were certainly instrumental in this saga’s high-drama ending."
To me - that's like responding to a phone call about a reference for someone from a recruiter/employer with "Ummm, they're punctual, and, umm, they fit in OK socially - most of the time".
You wouldn't jump to employ a guy who can't arrange a much more glowing reference than that - and you wouldn't believe much of what Broder writes - at least not without expecting to read poor judgement and results of flawed decisions.
And political speeches are like yodeling: the point is to sound really nice, not to convey actual meaning.
Pot calling the kettle black there.
> Taking imprecise notes is sloppy, but it's not dishonest or even necessarily misleading. It certainly doesn't prove whether the review was done in good faith.
> I agree with the Public Editor that, at this point, parsing second-by-second detailed logs are unlikely to be illuminating unless they show some new rock-solid evidence of malfeasance.
> Your last point I don't follow at all. It's perfectly reasonable to believe the test drive was done in good faith and also believe that there is room for argument in some of the conclusions. I'm sure that's true for a great many reviews; it doesn't mean the review was malicious or even wrong.
More importantly I feel that this incident has heralded a new era in media communications where the press can no longer wield this one-sided power over companies, now the companies are in a position to retort back.
While there have been exceptions, I would imagine that the first real wide-ranging impact of such discourse in public in the States here began in the previous decade.
Basically they are saying what Broder wrote was incorrect, and showed poor judgement, but without faulting Broder in any way. (As ridiculous as that sounds)
Public Editor is not part if the newsroom. It is a role outside if it and she does not have any authority other than to post to her blog.
If there is a retraction it will be clearly posted on the original article.
In either case, take the train or rent a car. The car seems perfect for day to day driving.
As in, enthusiasts are the last people I would care if they could do something. I have seen enthusiast get over a 1000 miles from the tank of a Passat but I would not vilify anyone else who could not.
Having read a few stories on both sides of the issue, including Consumers Reports own issues with the range displays provided by the car its clear that this car is only for enthusiasts / first-adopters at this stage.
It has quirks, guess what, quirks don't cut it in the transportation business. People just expect things to work. If your gasoline powered car started up cold and said you had only ten miles range and twenty minutes later reported sixty would you just shrug it off?
It really comes across that Tesla has some work to do on accurately representing the potential range of the car at all times. Read the Consumer's report story to understand the confusion that they ran into, now tell me, what do we expect from a reporter who hasn't driven the car until the day he was writing the story?
Edit: My gasoline car will sometimes show my tank as almost empty when I first turn it on, but over the next 10 minutes, will slowly but magically reveal much more gas in the tank. I don't think it's unacceptable to have any kinks whatsoever in a car... they're pretty common actually. It's just that we haven't yet learned to deal with these ones like we have with the gasoline ones.
This is so totally correct, and I don't get why Tesla isn't OK with that message. Even though it absolutely isn't right for everyone or every situation, they are still selling them as fast as they can make them. Mainstream problems are for mainstream products. They don't apply here.
Which is fine, if money were no object, I would have an electric city car for daily use as well as a big luxury car with heated seats and a huge gas tank when I wanted to go on road trips.
Meh, the segments cover every trip I take frequently on the west coast, and the same will be true on the east coast once I-95 is covered.
I live in Australia and go bush/camping a fair bit. I'm not getting a Tesla for raodtrips any time soon. But If I was to drive MEL->SYD in it -- I'd be recharging in full at each super-charger along the way (assuming they existed)
And the graph of battery levels shows what level he recharged to. http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/most-peculiar-test-drive
If he had charged to 100% for that last Supercharge - I wonder if the result would have been different.
And while it's clear it's not a suitable car for GT touring type roadtrips, it wouldn't be _too_ hard for a local Tesla dealer to set up a pair of Supercharger stations 280-320km outside both Sydney and Melbourne to make that trip viable - hell, with a decent espresso bar and a better-then-typical food establishment at each, they might even pay for themselves...
I'd probably want 3 superchargers for the Hume (Wangaratta, Gundagai, Goulburn is my rough placement) (In large part this is because MEL -> CBR is probably too far for just one recharge - ie: Frankston to Tuggeranong is 737km)
If Broder had behaved more responsibly/reasonably his article would have been about how he had to sit in a diner, waiting for the car to recharge, because he forgot to plug it in over night. I don't think Elon would have gone ballistic over that article.
I do want journalists to produce 100% truthful and accurate work. Especially in a case where it is so very easy to actually be factual.
Musk has apparently decided after Top Gear that negative press is going to be an issue which he will fight to the death. It certainly feels like he's digging his way out of this particular PR hole.
Out of? Or into?
I have to admit I like Musk a lot more when he keeps his mouth shut. With this and his ludicrous Boeing grandstanding, he is sounding less like a mature, visionary CEO with every word he says.
[e.g. his "I'm the alpha in this relationship" quote,† at his wedding... I mean, that's downright creepy...]
[note: I originally cited http://www.esquire.com/features/americans-2012/elon-musk-int... as a source for the quote, and some replies refer to it, not the Marie Claire op-ed (which is a more direct source).]
Journalists shouldn't get a free pass simply by virtue of their profession, but neither should they be vilified for it.
I am not particularly familiar with this issue, but a google search turned up the following op-ed, written by Musk's ex-wife  :
Still, there were warning signs. As we danced at our
wedding reception, Elon told me, "I am the alpha in this
relationship." I shrugged it off, just as I would later
shrug off signing the postnuptial agreement, but as time
went on, I learned that he was serious. He had grown up
in the male-dominated culture of South Africa, and the
will to compete and dominate that made him so successful
in business did not magically shut off when he came
home. This, and the vast economic imbalance between us,
meant that in the months following our wedding, a
certain dynamic began to take hold. Elon's judgment
overruled mine, and he was constantly remarking on the
ways he found me lacking.
"I am your wife," I told him repeatedly, "not your employee."
"If you were my employee," he said just as often, "I would fire you."
Aping your heroes worst qualities is not good for you or your hero.
Yes. You made incorrect assumptions about the source of the quote.
Regardless of whether she [Musk's ex wife] may be biased, it's certainly a first hand account of the event in question.
I'd argue into. He appears to think he's digging his way out.
Then, when it turns out that the person you've just neatly placed upon a pedestal does something you very much disagree with, too, is when people actually become disappointed.
Musk: "Victory! The NYT admits Broder got his facts wrong!"
Devil's advocate "Defeat! The NYT still stays Broder was honest!"
No contradiction here, just plausible deniability. Broder made honest mistakes that lead him to get his facts wrong (well). Tesla motors is happy to come out clean, and its cherry picking is just making clear they won't press the issue.
He's attempting to change the public perception surrounding a very questionable hit piece on his company.
While it feels somewhat polarizing to me, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Of course you can say "but, you're not even fully informed about the issues" and it's true, but neither will most consumers.
"Yesterday, The New York Times reversed its opinion on the review of our Model S and no longer believes that it was an accurate account of what happened."
Could not be further from the truth. NYT stands behind the integrity of Broder. And it's clear based on the cherry-picked quotes in the next few sentences that Musk omitted the inconvenient facts. (quoting “problems with precision and judgment," but omitting where NYT stands by the integrity of Broder's account)
The worst part of this is that Tesla still hasn't answered to the actual issue here: the advice that Tesla gave Broder. And until they actually address the issue at hand, Musk is playing games with a public that seems to worship him and want to take down NYT.
As the dust settles, it appears that the worst that Broder is guilty of is being less than lab-test-precise in his reporting. (He did make some unfortunate decisions, such as not charging further on various occasions, but all of these decisions strike me as entirely reasonable given the facts as he understood them at the time, and -- critically -- the advice he was given by Tesla.) It should be noted that the basic thrust of his piece appears to be entirely accurate: everything started out fine; then he started having range problems; he took significant but not drastic measures in compensation; these measures were insufficient. For instance, he may have been a bit sloppy about details such as exactly when he turned down the cabin temperature or exactly what speed he slowed down to, but it's uncontested that he did lower both temperature and speed well below what a normal driver would expect in a normal car.
The car seems to have committed a sin larger than any of Broder's: it "lost" a large amount of range overnight. This was one critical element in the eventual failure (the other being various bits of bad advice from Tesla, in particular the advice to ignore the low range reading after charging for only a short period at the public station that morning).
But the worst sins, by far, are Musk's. He made many sensational accusations. Some seem clearly false, such as Broder "driving in circles" in a supposed attempt to kill the battery (Broder's explanation that he was simply looking for the charging station is far more plausible). Many more of Musk's statements are deliberate distortions of the worst kind. The "battery never ran out of energy"... which may be technically true, but whatever energy may have remained in the main battery, the car was so dead that it couldn't even be towed without a flatbed truck. "Why would anyone do that?" (leaving the last charging station with insufficient charge) when it now appears uncontested that this was under explicit advice from Tesla. "Drove right past a public charge station" -- which he didn't know about, Tesla staff didn't tell him about, and Tesla staff had implied he wouldn't need. And so forth. His entire "most peculiar test drive" piece reads like something Fox News would say about an Obama policy proposal -- nitpicking, distorting, misdirecting, and outright mocking.
I've always been a fan of Tesla, SpaceX, and Musk, but I will never look at him in the same way again.
I felt the same way, and that's why I think it is appropriate to link to the following post:
(There are some valid criticisms of LessWrong and EY, but none of the problems really concern the above post, which is simply an excellent piece.)
What we're seeing here is that kind of thing happening.
That said, it's possibly slightly ironic that many (perhaps even the majority) of the LW members, (in my personal experience) seem to naturally posses low levels of instrumental rationality, and tend to be unusually self-unaware of their own feelings and unconscious motivations.
Another way to say this: "common sense" is not something (in my experience), that is respected, understood or utilized in spades within the community.
Furthermore, while there are criticisms of LW out there, I agree with Aaron Swartz's central claim about a lack of skepticism. While I'm a huge advocate of Bayes theorem, I would be wary of calling myself a "Bayesian", or other self-reinforcing label. Although calibrated belief networks (eg BBN's) are powerful, they can also fall prone to delusional outputs where there exists a lack of sufficient external feedback.
Much of the rhetoric focuses around the charismatic and arguably pompous (don't mean to sound harsh) character of Eliezer Yudkowsky. IMHO this is considerably more evident, than the level to which HN centers around PG, for example. As for LW, further comparison's have been made to a cult before. 
In addition, and this is more a personal quibble, there seems to be an inclination towards debate vs dialectic. But that's probably true of nearly any community out there. HTH.
You're right that it doesn't get discussed much, I think largely because the explanatory material is dense and rather turgid, so would-be critics don't get far enough to make meaningful criticisms; that's certainly the case for me.
The "public" don't worship Musk and don't want to take the NYT down. The small group who like Musk do, but a whole bunch of public don't. This forum is very pro Musk, but also intelligently critical, while very much wanting to support him. The frustration here with Musk is very obvious. But that is only a small part of the pie as it were.
See, I have one foot in the hacker/geek/tech world, and one foot in the motor world. The motor world laughs at electric cars and Musk is the main "green hippy idiot" who makes great claims that fail, from their POV. Its worse, they feel threatened by Musk and his electric cars, as he threatens the big sexy V8 and the manly roar of man mobiles. And I can see that too. But any way they can attack him, they will. And these guys are the ones he needs to eventually convince.
Thats a lot of writing for such a small point!!!!
Broder has "problems with precision and judgement" and his method of keeping a log is "casual and imprecise notes" in "a little red notebook in the front seat". He is a hopeless amateur in the 21th century.
It is particularly weird that the editor seems to imply that it was somehow unfair of Tesla Motors to turn on the data recorder without telling Broder. If the Times had collected more rigorous data than Tesla and then cornered them on some claim or other without revealing that they had contradictory data, the Times would be patting themselves on the back for their hard-hitting investigative moxie. But I guess it's a different story when the shoe is on the other foot.
He's a freaking journalist. He should always approach note taking in the most careful, rigorous manner, regardless of whether he thinks his subject will be able to second-guess his conclusions.
Definitely not worshiping Musk here, but if you can get a rocket to dock with the ISS, I'm pretty sure you can collect charge state, speed, and cabin environment control settings pretty accurately.
And now maybe he and other journalists will know not to write damaging pieces based on shoddy notes and their vague recollection of what happened. If Tesla Motors had told him in advance that they were collecting data, then he would have been more careful in that specific review, and then when he went to report on a less resourceful company that couldn't keep tabs on him, he'd fuck them like he tried to fuck Tesla.
The fact is that Tesla has been bitten by this kind of thing before (see Top Gear). Who can blame them for wanting to set an example at the nearest opportunity?
The customer's perception is more important than the car sellers data.
>Who can blame them for wanting to set an example at the nearest opportunity?
Set an example of what? That if you don't write a glowing review they're going to throw an infantile fit on the internet?
Set an example of what happens when you fudge facts to get a better story.
The Public Editor's opinion is not the same as the NYTimes' opinion, so it is wrong to say, as Musk does, that "The New York Times reversed its opinion".
It can be an easy mistake to make, if one doesn't read carefully or understand journalistic conventions (such as the difference between signed and unsigned editorials). But the sidebar of the Public Editor's page helps to clarify:
Margaret Sullivan is the fifth public editor appointed by The New York Times. She writes about the Times and its journalism in a frequent blog – the Public Editor’s Journal — and in a twice-monthly print column in the Sunday Review section. The public editor’s office also handles questions and comments from readers and investigates matters of journalistic integrity. The public editor works independently, outside of the reporting and editing structure of the newspaper; her opinions are her own.
That is, the Public Editor is an in-house critic and independent opinion, but not a final arbiter or official mouthpiece.
What at first promised to be a battle of facts vs fiction is instead turning into yet another word-twisting smear campaign.
This is disingenuous. In fact, his willingness to blatantly twist the words of the NYT calls into question all his previous statements (including some of the interpretations surrounding the data collected during the drive). Unfortunate.
What was actually written:
"In the matter of the Tesla Model S and its now infamous test drive, there is still plenty to argue about and few conclusions that are unassailable."
You must be crazy if you think Tesla has "succeeded" over this.
So how does the editor's piece actually support any of what he's saying?
You are entitled to your own opinion. My opinion is that I am not alone in being turned off by Musk. I no longer desire to buy a product from a company he operates. As an astute friend of mine who is both a theoretically trained scientist and active entrepreneur wrote as a comment on the New York Times public editor piece (on my Facebook wall), "Even if you completely accept Elon Musk's analysis, the bottom line is that owning this car is very expensive and a big pain in the tookus." If I spend that much money on what one of my law school classmates once called a "penis car," I don't want the car leaving me feeling like a schmuck or the car company's president acting like a schmuck in public.
Agree. As the saying goes don't pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. Journalists probably stick together and have each others back more than they don't. Not to mention that they could very well be jealous of Musk's fame and fortune as well.
In many people's eyes as well where there's smoke there is fire. For example if this story appeared on 60 Minutes even as fair and balanced it would not be good for Musk and Tesla. (Not the same situation of course but to anyone curious dig up "60 Minutes Audi" to see what happened to that brand.)
All he's managed to prove is that he should leave the marketing to the professionals and go back to whatever it is he does at Tesla.
I understand he had beef with the original scathing review, but his own rebuttal should've been bulletproof. While it made some good points, it was also nitpicky and interpretive. I expect better from the public face of the silicon valley's vehicular prodigy.
'John Broder [...] made “few conclusions that are unassailable.”'
While, yes, the bit in quotation did appear in the piece, it was in the following:
"In the matter of the Tesla Model S and its now infamous test drive, there is still plenty to argue about and few conclusions that are unassailable."
I would deem that a "misquote", though if you insist it's a serious mischaracterization of the context of a quote or something, I'm not sure I'll argue too strenuously over the semantics.
Contrast with this:
> "The Times have maintained that the article was done in good faith, and that it is an honest account of what happened."
It's hardly accurate to say that the Times "reversed its opinion." Revised, maybe, but the article he's referring to did more side-stepping than anything.
Elon isn't winning points with me by trying to spin the story to sound more favorable.
We really should expect better from those with the job of giving us information.
"[...] I do not believe Mr. Broder hoped the drive would end badly. [...] Did he use good judgment along the way? Not especially. In particular, decisions he made at a crucial juncture – when he recharged the Model S in Norwich, Conn. [...] were certainly instrumental in this saga’s high-drama ending.
In addition, Mr. Broder 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."
>"People will go on contesting these points – and insisting that they know what they prove — and that’s understandable. In the matter of the Tesla Model S and its now infamous test drive, there is still plenty to argue about and few conclusions that are unassailable."
It is disingenuous to misquote to that extent.
The Times effectively said "well, our review wasn't quite true but..."
And Tesla figuratively jumped in and said "Hey, I'm glad you admitted your review wasn't true".
Seems like a fine way to end things.
Sure, one could say "But - but, the 'truth is the middle'..." Sure but when you're publishing a review that going to have an economic effect on a company, you have an obligation to both not be false and to not be "sloppy to the point of falsity". So what if Broder was found to not be engaging in an malicious falsification? That the Times admitted Broder was far too sloppy is enough so that Tesla's job of protecting his company's reputation is done.
The Times review's important points were "Supercharger distances are a bit iffy and cold weather drastically affects driving distances"
Tesla's important points were "Hey, since you quoted your speed wrong, I'm going to accuse you of lying/intentional sabotage and ignore all other issues/bury the criticisms"
To be honest, the Tesla owners telemetry drives confirms Broder's issues on the first 200 mile leg to Milford. I believe 4 out of 6 drivers ended with < 30 miles remaining (one with 3 miles remaining I believe) on a full 100% 270 mile range charge. Broder charged to 240.
Broder made many stupid choices. But the "important points" are that more superchargers are needed (confirmed by CNN), and cold weather affects battery level (confirmed by Consumer Reports). There were many ways of dealing with those two issues while showing that Broder had a outlying experience without turning this into a media whinestorm.
Its events like this which only go to show, even a 100k
Broder's figures are wrong, but Elon's entire story is basically a lie, and that's far worse.
Holy propaganda style writing batman. Does Musk's business card for Tesla have the job title Dear Leader?
Musk loses some points here by not being exactly forthcoming about the details of the 'community drive' that took place, which actually required an over the air update to complete due to one of the cars not taking a full charge:
He should have just left that bit out, now it calls the rest into question.
I mean, I don't think that if someone would have badly criticized the iPhone someone at Apple would have been deeply concerned, because they were certain that thousands of authors and thousands of users would have praised it soon thereafter, and a few bad opinions wouldn't have harmed it much.
Check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/60_Minutes#Unintended_accelerat... (referenced by someone higher up in the thread). One TV show with a car that had been tampered with caused a massive amount of lost sales for Audi, to the point where they considered pulling out of the US market entirely. Sales didn't bounce back for a full 15 years.
I can definitely see why someone in the auto industry would be extremely touchy about things they think were written by journalists in bad faith.
These weaknesses were illustrated by the original NYT article, and no amount of spin, or "better" reporting can change this.
Musk knows that once a meme gets started along the lines of ""Tesla is the car that leaves you stranded unpredictably and doesn't work in cold climate" gets started, it is game over for reaching a mass market. So the story is a potential existential threat to the company, requiring maximum response. Losing credibility with some of the HN crowd is not such a threat, the market they represent is tiny.
He mainly needed to bring up doubts about the story enough to prevent it from becoming a defining story on the S. It might not have been pretty, but in this I would say he succeeded.
submitted to HN while most participants were discussing the original New York Times review by John Broder. (Most participants missed the discussion on the article from The Verge.)
The author of the report in The Verge takes care to mention, "Tesla hopes for its first quarter of black ink this year after a decade of operation, but make no mistake, it’s still in the throes of startupdom. Much of its working capital has come from nearly half a billion dollars in low-interest rate government loans. It has just a few dozen dealers around the world." Elon Musk seems desperate to stay in spin mode about any article on the Model S that is less than laudatory precisely because he can't brag up his company by referring to market share or sales growth or other issues that most entrepreneurs refer to.
AFTER EDIT: I appreciate the kind reply that mentions that Tesla Motors reports fourth quarter results tomorrow (Wednesday 20 February 2013). That will be interesting reading. Of course I was referring to the kind of general statement that a president of a successful company can make along the lines of "We have a growing, profitable business, and the word of mouth from our customers in cold states speaks for itself." But that's not what I hear from Musk, but rather nit-picking about published reviews.
The comment below prompted me to look up some investor news about Tesla, and I found a Motley Fool blog post
commenting on the results of Musk's initial response to the New York Times review: "Tesla had to defend itself on this, but drawing more attention to the incident in a way that forces Tesla drivers to be patient through recharging stations, lighter on the accelerator, and focused on the most direct path from one destination to another doesn't sound like potent marketing material for a car that costs at least $60,000."
That said, the Verges review is worth reading (and watching) for the video editing alone.
This is a painfully obvious PR war in which the truth is the first casualty.
Basically, with out having to say anything it can look like the NYT did concede. Just superficially, but enough. However, now we have yet another response form Tesla, people, like the people here, will go over it work by word to see if it all squares up now. And of course it doesn't. So what's next, another response from NYT?
If it were me, I'd have stopped this right after the NYT article. Both sides could declare some sort of victory and lessons learned, and move on. Now, of course, Tesla open up again fro more scrutiny, and as people here have pointed out in detail, Tesla don't stand up.
All this will do is entrench opinion and further increase the notion that Musk is a man who makes false claims and freaks out when called out. That is how the motor world sees him. Which to my mind is mad because Musk will need the support of these guys to sell units.
Perhaps Musk feels he can ignore the motor industry culture entirely and create a whole new one for electric. If that's the idea, then OK, fine. But if so, he has a right battle on his hands, and I suggest he doesn't need it when IMHO what he needs to do is continue to develop and perfect his product. But then, why keep trying to court the motor industry?
Maybe that is the way to go. Completely ignore the current motor culture, and create a whole new culture for electric vehicles. I mean, the railway industry doesn't court the motor industry. Or vice versa. Car manufacturers dont try to impress train manufacturers. They are totally separate. So, separate out the electric car culture. Just a wild thought!!!
> Yesterday, The New York Times reversed its opinion on the review of our Model S and no longer believes that it was an accurate account of what happened.
The public editor is not the New York Times' opinion. She is the newspaper's ombudsman. Her opinions are entirely her own and are independent of the newspaper, and indeed often are at odds with the newspaper's policy or opinion.
This is not just spin, it's a petty and unnecessary lie. Musk has blown a lot of credibility with me.
Edit. This post comes at a curious time: Tesla's potentially make-or-break quarterly earnings report is due the next day.
But somehow I don't see that happening after Top Gear's handling of the Roadster ... (Tesla made a big fuss when Top Gear had two teslas break down and/or run out of power during a day of testing on their track)
Top Gear's conclusion at the time was the the Tesla is not suitable for the real world [yet]. Tesla of course disagreed ... publicly and loudly.
Top Gear could have tried to be accurate, and just kept flogging the machine around the track until it actually ran out of energy, but they really dont care. Top Gear isnt a news show, its entertainment. Its a soap opera about cars.
A mashup of idiocy, intellect, idiosyncrasy, and dialect?
"In linguistics, an idiolect is a variety of language that is unique to a person, as manifested by the patterns of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation that he or she uses."
No. The bottom line is you can't drive the Model S in winter even if you have the time or inclination to call a dedicated Tesla support line a total of twelve times during a two-day trip.
The bottom line is Tesla's advice is worthless.
The bottom line is you should plug the car in every instant it's not running (which is exactly what the user manual says).
- - -
I used to be a heavy smoker. What made me stop is, everywhere I went, the only thing I could think about was "where can I get cigarettes if I run out?"
I would not like to drive a car that would put me in the same state of mind.
Reading one owner's story it appears there are settings one could use to get more range than standard range, range mode settings to extend the range, and so on. As in, perhaps the people handing the car off should have done a better job at it.
There are still stories from owners of Tesla S cars who have not had the greatest experiences. Any car where it comes down to a comfortable cabin or having the range to reach the next charger screams "work in progress".
I am all for new technology in cars, I just don't think the taxpayer needs to help foot the bill for luxury versions of such.
Two parties are fighting over public image, I get that. It didn't have to escalate to this point, but it did. And now, when Musk has essentially emerged victorious, he makes a further blog post to grind his heel into Broder while he's down?
That's not honorable.
Broder showed poor judgement by leaving a charging station with an estimated range of half the distance he wanted to travel.
Margaret Sullivan is the one person who seems to have good judgement in this whole affair.
In any case, Broder's review and the subsequent donnybrook don't make me any less likely to buy a Tesla -- not that I have that kind of cash lying around :-) I've owned rechargeable devices for years. I'm well aware of what's involved in maintaining batteries, and it would never even occur to me not to plug in my electric car overnight, if I had one. D'oh! as they say.
In short, downvoting to express disagreement has always been done and is reasonable. Also, "Resist complaining about being downmodded. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading."
On the other hand, the paid-for crtique and general crusade against electrical vehicles will now probably shift to less notable outlets, but on a larger scale. Think - dozens blog posts detailing bad ownership experiences, and not with company loaners that log every bleep, but with actually bought cars. It'd be interesting to see how Tesle is going to handle this... because frankly I don't think they can.
You think so? I would think the opposite. Tesla has no power but to throw a fit and act foolish. If anything, I would expect future reviews to approach the review negatively and defensively.
-- Hamlet, Act III, scene II
1) Was Broder advised to brake frequently to use regenerative braking? (This kills the battery).
2) How much displayed/real charge does the car lose overnight in cold weather?
3) Was Broder advised that heating the cabin will increased the displayed range?
4) When Musk said the battery never ran out of charge what did he mean? That was meant to cast doubt on Broder implying he called the towing company needlessly, but a Tesla rep spent a long time with the towing truck driver on the phone and couldn't get it to release the parking brake. Why the technical BS nitpicking stating the battery still had charge if it was totally useless?
Broder gave us the times and names of support reps and all we get is this extreme piece of worthless spin?
The fact that he's not answering the above questions leads me to believe that Broder was given some really bad advice by incompetent reps and Musk is trying to shift the blame completely onto Broder.
Broder should've recorded the support phone calls without telling Tesla, just like they turned on logging on the car he was driving.
5) What were the cruise control setpoints?
This data must certainly have been logged, and Musk hasn't released it. Musk accused Broder of lying about using cruise control. So why not back this up with direct evidence, why only release speedometer logs?
My inference is that these logs must support Broder's account very strongly.
As unlikely as it may be, Imagine he was giving his best effort and his car did act as he wrote. What shitty luck.
One thing is for sure- Reviewing a Tesla is a risky thing to do. Most other car companies wouldn't go out in public to say the review was incompetent/fake/staged.
And you're right, most car companies wouldn't ever let themselves look so petty and unprofessional. If they did, you can bet that a lot more journalists would line up hoping to stir some major controversy!
Is it? Musk again seems petty and vindictive, and he is quite transparently very carefully selecting pieces that essentially pitches to the converted.
The editor gave a very coached response that was hardly the win that Musk seems to think it was.
How does this relate to Sullivans statement? It's the same situation: you can not openly condemn the work of a colleague or the NYT as a whole. So you write everything in the most conflict-averse way as possible. That is why its such a "coached" response and 1/2 of it is even the quote from a Tesla supporter.
But frankly, everything you need to know about Broder is in the headline:
Problems With Precision and Judgment
The US, in my experience, is no different, whether it be job references or letters of rec. Good writers will be able to use nuance to make their meaning clear, and good readers must be able to interpret the nuances appropriately.
However the primary complaint of the editor is effectively that the author used poor judgement in not getting every single detail absolutely right with pinpoint accuracy, particularly in dealing with anything to do with Tesla. They said that they turned the temperature down at a certain point, for instance, giving Musk the ammunition to cry outrage when his own data showed that not much further in the journey the temperature went to the minimum for over 50 miles of the journey (which, at the slow speeds recorded, would have been over an hour). It's things like that which have been the topic of most outage about the NYT article, despite not changing the actual substance of the article whatsoever.
1) Malicious/Lies to obtain desired result
Neither bodes well for him.
If anything happened, the journalist was vindicated.
No matter who's right or wrong here, the next person to review a Tesla will think twice before going about the usual raised-pinky bullshit write-up.
I love this whole episode, irrespective of who's right or wrong for so many reasons.
A CEO pin pointing bullshit (alleged) to such a degree and tech/auto journalism getting a nice dose of facts.
People review Teslas because there's a market for the reviews. That market has only increased.
Rather than fewer reviews, it's virtually certain there will be more than there would have been otherwise.
Reviewers will, however, be far more careful with the details they report, and that's good for everyone.
If by "coached" you mean "squirmy", yes. I mean, she refused to take a stance on the issue and instead tried to play the role of an impartial observer, and failed completely.
I wouldn't. He's proven to at best be very sloppy with the details.