Tesla CEO Claims NY Times Review Cost Company About $100M
Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO battling the New York Times over a negative review of his Model S car, has said the bad press may have reduced the company's value by $100 million.
Speaking on Bloomberg TV, Musk said "a few hundred" of customers canceled orders for the luxury electric car after a review by John M. Broder, a veteran Times reporter, claimed the car's battery petered out during an East Coast trip in freezing weather.
"It probably affected us to the tune of tens of millions, to the order of $100 million, so it's not trivial," Musk said during the segment. "I would say that refers more to the valuation of the company. It wasn't as though there were 1,000 cancelations just due to The New York Times article. There were probably a few hundred."
The Feb. 8 story, paired with a photo of a red Model S hoisted onto the flatbed of a tow truck, claimed that the electric car's battery could not hold up over long distances, as advertised. Musk quickly challenged the account of the test drive, and released driving data that seemed to contest Broder's article.
"There was this sad shot of our car on a flatbed as if that was the only outcome possible for such a drive," Musk said. "It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong, you don't battle the New York Times. But, to hell with that, I'd rather tell the truth."
He said he believes Broder, who writes about energy and environmental issues in the Times' Washington bureau, "fudged" the article.
"I don't think it's the end of his career," said Musk. "I don't think he should be fired, but he fudged the article."
Last week, the Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan said Tesla's data logs discredited Broder, whom she said exercised "poor judgment" in his reporting. However, she said she believed he took the test drive and wrote the article "in good faith."
Watch the full video here.