Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc. said a range test of the Model S electric sedan by the New York Times was “fake” as the reporter didn’t disclose all the details of his drive.
“NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake,” Musk said in a Twitter post today. “Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.”
The Times on Feb. 8 published a story by John M. Broder on its website detailing how the Model S he drove failed to meet the electric sedan’s 300-mile (483-kilometer) range “under ideal conditions” while driving in temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-12 Celsius). The Times also published a blog post by Broder about the test-drive on the same day, detailing his plan to use Tesla’s new “supercharger” stations.
Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the New York Times, said she couldn’t immediately comment and Broder declined to comment. Christina Ra, a spokeswoman for Tesla, earlier declined to comment on the story.
Musk said in a separate Twitter comment that Tesla’s test cars for media drives have data loggers to record details of such trips. Musk also said a company blog is being prepared “detailing what actually happened” during Broder’s drive. Musk told CNBC that Broder took “an extended tour through Manhattan” and at times drove “10 miles or above the speed limit.”
Tesla fell the most in almost two months today after the paper’s first-person account about the cold-weather test-drive. The shares declined 2 percent to $38.45 at 3:48 p.m. New York time after sliding as much as 4.4 percent, the biggest intraday drop since Dec. 13.
The Times’ story and blog post detailed a test-drive on Interstate 95 on the U.S. East Coast. Broder planned to repower the car using rapid charge stations Tesla has installed in Newark, Delaware, and Milford, Connecticut, during his drive. Tesla is installing a network of rapid charger stations to eventually fulfill Musk’s goal of making it possible to drive cross-country in a Model S.
During the trip, Broder reported that the car ran out of power and had to be towed on a flatbed truck.
Tesla’s website says the range of the car’s almost 1,000- pound (454-kilogram) lithium-ion battery pack is well below the 300-mile level at highway speeds above 55 miles an hour and when the heating or cooling system is used.
“After digging into the background behind the article, our conclusion is that operator error likely played a primary role, due to improper charging protocol,” Elaine Kwei, an analyst for Jefferies & Co., wrote in a report earlier today. She rates Tesla a buy.
Tesla, which is to release fourth-quarter results this month, has said it will build at least 20,000 Model S sedans this year this year at its Fremont, California, factory and add the Model X electric sport-utility vehicle in 2014. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla is looking to the Model S to give the company its first profit as early as this year.
“Tesla has an outsize impact because it’s really the only public electric-car maker, so there’s a strong reaction to any news,” said Alan Baum, principal of Baum & Associates consulting firm in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
“There’s still a long waiting list of enthusiastic drivers waiting to get a car, and they’re still filling that existing demand,” Baum said. “From an investment standpoint, that’s what’s important right now.”
--With assistance from Edmund Lee in New York and Bill Koenig in Detroit. Editors: Bill Koenig, John Lear