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Tesla's Elon Musk fires back at the New York Times

February 14, 2013: 12:40 PM ET
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Tesla co-founder Elon Musk with the Model S

Electric car maker Tesla fired back at the New York Times Wednesday, claiming the paper falsified a recent story about the company's "Model S" vehicle running out of juice during a long range test drive and leaving the writer stranded in the cold Connecticut countryside.

In a blog post on the company's website, Tesla (TSLA) founder Elon Musk accused Times writer John Broder of unplugging the car before it received a full charge, lying about how fast he drove, driving in circles, and taking other measures to deliberately run down the battery. Musk posted screen shots of what he said was data from the car to back up his claims.130214145451-inside-tesla-model-s-220xa

"In Mr. Broder's case, he simply did not accurately capture what happened and worked very hard to force our car to stop running," Musk wrote.

Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur behind other cutting edge ventures including PayPal and SpaceX, went on to accuse Broder of harboring a bias towards electric cars, and called for the Times to investigate.

"When the facts didn't suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts," wrote Musk. "Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth."

Related: On the road in a Model S

The bad press could be quite damaging for Tesla and the electric car industry in general, which has struggled to sell as many cars as it hoped amid continuing challenges with the technology and lower than expected gas prices.

Tesla has been so miffed by the story, and so convinced it got a raw deal, that the company invited other reporters to make a similar trip. On Thursday morning, CNNMoney's Peter Valdes-Dapena, embarked on his own Washington D.C. to Boston journey in a Tesla Model S.

Peter hits the road. The first leg definitely seems fun.

At 3:02 p.m. Peter reports from Newark, Del., the Model S is charging up for the second leg of the journey to the next Tesla Supercharger station.

At 3:59 p.m. with the gauges showing  269 miles of range (and a well-fed Peter Valdes-Dapena) it's off to Milford Conn., 200 miles away.

Musk's Thursday post wasn't his first response to the story. On Monday, after the piece appeared in Sunday's New York Times, Musk tweeted this:

The feud has sparked much conversation on Twitter:

That last post referrers to Margaret Sullivan, public editor for the New York Times.

The story itself is a highly entertaining read from Broder that chronicles the writer freezing in the slow lane on I-95, waiting in smoke-filled coffee shops for the car to charge, and ultimately having to put the $101,000 luxury "Model S" sedan on a flatbed tow truck.

Broder says the gauges told him he had enough juice to make the trip, and then he didn't.

On Thursday morning Broder tweeted a link to a defense of his article, and said he did nothing wrong:

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About This Author
Steve Hargreaves
Steve Hargreaves
Senior Writer, CNNMoney

Steve Hargreaves is a senior writer covering economic, energy and environmental issues at CNNMoney. Previously, he worked out of Istanbul and Bangkok, and has been published in the Village Voice and the Australian Financial Review. He tweets at @HargreavesCNN

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