What exactly is Elon Musk’s problem?

Consumer Reports isn’t exactly the embodiment of the liberal media, but Elon Musk, the brain behind Tesla, is adopting the Donald Trump method of responding to journalists doing their job.

The publication chose not to recommend Tesla’s Model 3, the company’s first attempt at a car for the mass market, because it had concerns uncovered during its testing.

Specifically, according to CR:

*The Tesla’s stopping distance of 152 feet from 60 mph was far worse than any contemporary car we’ve tested and about 7 feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup.

*Another major factor that compromised the Model 3’s road-test score was its controls. This car places almost all its controls and displays on a center touch screen, with no gauges on the dash, and few buttons inside the car.

This layout forces drivers to take multiple steps to accomplish simple tasks. Our testers found that everything from adjusting the mirrors to changing the direction of the airflow from the air-conditioning vents required using the touch screen.

* The Model 3’s stiff ride, unsupportive rear seat and excessive wind noise at highway speeds also hurt its road-test score. In the compact luxury sedan class, most competitors deliver a more comfortable ride and rear seat.

And so on and so forth in rather typical Consumer Reports fashion. It didn’t like the car. Your mileage may vary.

Musk as much as acknowledged the braking issue because the company is pushing out updates to its cars this week to fix it.

So how to explain this barrage?

Musk piggybacked on a tweet by a Fred Lambert, who runs a website with news about the electric auto industry, whose latest story on the Model 3 merely relayed Tesla’s specifications for the car. No testing.

Is that more along the line of journalism that Musk is going for?

It’s impossible to say. Musk isn’t making himself available to comment and is using Twitter instead, as he did earlier this week after the San Jose Mercury News ran a story on a federal labor complaint that his firm is engaged in union busting.

“The forces at work here — psychological, political, sociological, institutional — are subtle and incalculable,” Tech Crunch‘s Devin Coldewey writes today.

The origins of this faith, and of the idea that there is somehow a quorum of truth-seekers in this age of deception, are unclear.

Facebook’s attempts to crowdsource the legitimacy of news stories has had mixed results, and the predictable outcome is of course that people simply report news they disagree with as false. Independent adjudicators are needed, and Facebook has fired and hired them by the hundred, yet to arrive at some system that produces results worth talking about.

Fact-checking sites perform an invaluable service, but they are labor-intensive, not a self-regulating system like what Musk proposes. Such systems are inevitably and notoriously ruled by chaos, vote brigades, bots, infiltrators, agents provocateur, and so on.

“It’s hard to explain how dumb this is,” he concludes.

  • Jerry

    I’m going to go with paranoid megalomania

  • Jerry

    His comments about advertising in regard to Consumer Reports is either idiotic or intentionally misleading. But if you don’t like the message, demonizing the messenger is tactic that never seems to fail.

  • RBHolb

    Of course, it would never occur to him that the negative press could occasionally be right.

    • When you hear people railing about the media not having credibility, it’s usually a response to the fear engendered by the fact it does.

      • 212944

        Tighten that up and you’d have a bumper sticker to hand to all J School grads with their diploma.

  • BloomingtonChris

    Hard to see how there’s a political bias in measuring the stopping distance of a car.

  • He seems like a stable guy. I’m super happy he’s one of the most powerful people on the planet.

    • Jerry

      Stability and power are two things that go together not often enough.

  • Jack

    I lost all respect when he created more space junk with the car he put into orbit.

    • Tyler

      Then you don’t really understand what SpaceX has achieved.

      • Jack

        My issue is with an apparent launch of something that isn’t contributing to the greater good. Not sure what was achieved by launching the car. My apologies if there is something that I missed.

        • Tyler

          SpaceX’s largest contribution has been to drastically lower the cost of launching satellites (and soon, people) into space. This saves taxpayers money as weather and spy satellites cost less to launch, and opens up more opportunities for space-base research (climate, etc). SpaceX has forced nearly every rocket company around the world to drastically reduce the cost of their rockets, and has nearly put Russian launch providers out of business single-handedly.

          One of their secondary achievements is returning boosters to land. Most rockets drop millions of dollars’ worth of metal and harmful chemicals into the ocean, wasting money and polluting the environment.

          Another ongoing project is recovery of the fairing – the large white cover over the satellite. Most companies allow these to sink into the ocean.

          Musk has also mentioned SpaceX is looking into recovering the second stage of the Falcon rocket. This is a smaller portion of the rocket that ends up orbiting the Earth and could be the “space junk” that you refer to. SpaceX attempts to de-orbit most second stages, but they are often in orbit for months until they reenter the atmosphere and burn up.

          In regards to the Falcon Heavy launch of the “car” into space, SpaceX offered both NASA and the Air Force the opportunity to launch a payload in place of the Tesla Roadster. Both reportedly turned down the offer. The Falcon Heavy is currently the most powerful rocket in production in the world. *Something* had to be on top of the rocket for the first launch, whether than was a 3-ton “mass simulator” or an electric roadster. With no other payload, Musk chose to self-promote, rather than send a mass simulator on the test-launch. FYI, the Roadster is in an orbit that extends to the asteroid belt and goes around the Sun, rather than around the Earth.

          In my opinion, the Tesla Roadster and ‘Starman’ *are* contributing to the greater good. Musk launched a car, something we all see and can relate to, and a mannequin inside it, into space. We see something familiar in the most exotic of locations, with our own world as a background to boot. What an inspiration! Sure it’s silly and non-nonsensical, but it also triggers our imagination. What if that was *me* up there riding shotgun, gliding between the stars and looking down on our world?

          As you can tell, I follow SpaceX pretty doggedly, and can tell you that Elon Musk and SpaceX have inspired literally hundreds of young people to go into aerospace engineering and related fields. I look forward to SpaceX’s test of the BFR, the rocket that may take mankind to Mars. We currently a one-world species, but we don’t have to be.

          Here are two parting gifts: the test-launch of the Falcon Heavy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbSwFU6tY1c

          And the four-hour video stream of the Tesla Roadster and ‘Starman’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBr2kKAHN6M&t=204s

          • Jack

            Thank you for the education.

  • Rob

    I’m still waiting for the time when more than a handful of Model 3s are gonna be produced, crappy brakes or not.

  • Jack

    Maybe better brakes is optional equipment.

    Until then, cut a few holes in the floor and add a few ballast bags to drop for extra braking power or drag your feed (Fred Flintstone style).

    • Jerry

      I’m sure it will be available when you upgrade to Tesla 3.1.

  • ec99

    Musk is a con man. 150 years ago he’d be selling snake oil. He got shareholders to pay for his solar company and made a fortune. TSLA burns through cash while Musk’s assurances of production constantly fall short. It produces no profit, nor will it ever. Its P/E is in triple digits, yet it’s a darling of Wall Street, whose big boys will eventually dump it and leave individual investors as the bag holders.

    • Jay T. Berken

      Nikola Tesla died alone and with not much to his name. He was not a good business-person and fought depression. Last I saw, we are using his electric transformer and AC is dominant over DC which Edison backed.

      You may be correct on your current analysis of Musk’s current state, but history will tell us if he really made the impact he (and his followers) believe his visions will make with the world.

      • ec99

        The question isn’t is there a future for electric vehicles. Obviously there is. But in five years the big boys will be at the forefront. The question is how Musk is a scam artist, burning cash, making promises he can’t deliver on, and cashing in.

        • Jay T. Berken

          How can you say that? Musk (with others) started Tesla in 2003 when no one else really producing EVs (electric vehicles). You can argue that he is just taking the technology that GM started, but they stopped. Musk took that and produced a car that is on the road and is spawning the further production of EVs with big boys. Without Musk, would the EV be as far as it is today? I do not know.

          Musk can go bankrupt tomorrow, but he moved the needle of two very conservative industries in the automotive and electric utility.

          EDIT: I should have said that Musk is taking on the automotive and energy business. He is also taking on the electric utility with solar and battery storage together, but with the combination of solar, battery and EVs, he is getting the trifecta of energy as a whole.

          • Tyler

            Not to mention his plans for Starlink, his satellite-based internet service provider company. He is a brave man for taking on car companies, oil companies, and ISPs all the in the same lifetime…

    • Tyler

      You are very wrong, and I don’t have the time or space to list all the reasons why. Read in depth about all the firsts SpaceX has achieved, and you’ll understand why Musk is a remarkable, if flawed, individual.

  • This Nate Silver thread could be posted as a response to someone just about every day.


  • Arthur Burnside

    “Musk is adopting the Donald Trump method of responding to journalists doing their job.” Gee, an anti-Trump “journalist.” The difference between Musk and Trump is that Trump criticizes journalists who are lapdogs of the Dem party and produce excruciatingly phony articles based on pure fiction. Musk does not deal with MSM, since they idolize him andnever produce any negatives stories. He is complaining about stock analysts and auto journalists, hardly the making of a vast conspiracy. Most people don’t like Musk because he is an overly inflated blowhard who pretends to be another Thomas Edison, but without the inventions to prove it. Tesla has no patents worth anything. Their technology is rapidly becoming second rate

    • See first line of Silver tweet.

    • ZeroLover

      Correct Tesla’s patents are not worth anything. Musk has given them all away.

      Edison would learn a thing or two from Musk.

      All Our Patent Are Belong To You
      Elon Musk, CEO June 12, 2014
      Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

      Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

  • mskz06

    Elon Musk-
    “Really appreciate the high quality critical feedback from @ConsumerReports. Road noise & ride comfort already addressed too. UI improvements coming via remote software update later this month.”
    The tweets shown in this article were not related to CR, but the general bias in the media towards Tesla (expected being a EV/solar company).