Tesla's Musk calls NY Times report on range problem "a fake"

LOS ANGELES Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:35pm EST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk took to Twitter on Monday to defend the company's Model S electric car against a New York Times report that said the sedan ran out of juice sooner than promised during a chilly winter test drive.

"NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn't actually charge to max & took a long detour," Musk tweeted.

In the February 8 report, New York Times reporter John Broder said a Tesla Model S he drove from suburban Washington, D.C., to Connecticut did not travel as far as expected before needing to be recharged, forcing him to drive below the speed limit, turn down the heat in the car amid frigid temperatures, and ultimately have the vehicle towed to a charging station.

In an emailed statement responding to Musk's comments, New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said the article about Broder's test drive "was completely factual, describing the trip in detail exactly as it occurred. Any suggestion that the account was 'fake' is, of course, flatly untrue."

Broder "followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel," Murphy said, adding that "there was no unreported detour," as Musk asserted in his tweet.

The Model S, according to Tesla, has a driving range of up to 265 miles per charge. The battery range of electric cars typically constricts in very cold weather.

Musk, an entrepreneur who co-founded online payment system PayPal and founded Space Exploration Technologies, the start-up rocket company known as SpaceX, also tweeted that Tesla is working on a blog post about "what actually happened on Broder's NYTimes 'range test.'"

Finally, Musk tweeted that he's "not against NYTimes in general. They're usually fair & their own prev Tesla test drive got 300+ miles of range!"

That tweet was accompanied by a photo, presumably taken from a Model S digital dashboard display, that showed a distance of 300.1 miles "since last charge."

(Reporting By Nichola Groom; Editing by Leslie Adler)