Tesla Review Raises Questions About Reporter Test Drives
CNBC Auto and Airline Industry Reporter
Tesla CEO Elon Musk could not have been any clearer or more vocal about his view of a New York Times review that ripped the Model S.
"We explicitly said that to do this trip he needs to be fully charged when he starts up, that he doesn't do detours, and that he drives at a reasonable speed. I am not talking about some ridiculously low speed. I am talking not too far above the speed limit and none of those three things were done," said Musk when he called into CNBC's "Closing Bell" Monday afternoon.
Musk's anger and calling the Model S article by New York Times reporter John Broder a "fake" sparked a debate over whether or not journalists should do test drives of new vehicles.
One person on Twitter went so far as to say, "things like this should NEVER be done by reporters. Should be done by independent parties." The suggestion was clear, journalists doing test drives are biased.
(Read More: Tesla's 'Model S' Wins Car of the Year Award)
Times Defends Model S Review
CNBC reached out to Broder to see if he would respond to Elon Musk's allegations that he didn't follow directions.
While he never gave us an answer, the Times issued a statement defending the Model S article as factual.
"Any suggestion that the account was "fake" is, of course, flatly untrue. Our reporter followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel. He described the entire drive in the story; there was no unreported detour. And he was never told to plug the car in overnight in cold weather, despite repeated contact with Tesla." - New York Times Statement
We have yet to see the data logs Tesla says it has showing where Broder drove the Model S and it's unclear we ever will. So we may never know whether Musk's complaints have merit or if the Times review is an accurate reflection of Broder's test drive. However, fans and critics of Tesla have already weighed in with their opinions.
Justin Hyde with Motoramic, the Yahoo Autos Blog, checked the Tesla forums online and said the comments were split 60/40, with the majority of those issuing comments blaming The New York Times.
(Read More: Tesla CEO Extends Help to Boeing on Battery Issue )
Reporter Test Drives
The New York Times review is the latest example of a new vehicle test drive rubbing either the automaker or fans of the automaker the wrong way.
I've read scores of reviews over the years, and the majority of them have been straight forward. Sure, there are the usual slew of reviews where a writer heaps praise on a particular model and it's hard to tell how much of it is because they truly like the car/truck/SUV they are driving. There is some bias in all reporters doing test drive reviews. I've talked with journalists who like or dislike certain brands and that opinion will always influence any review.
Still, test drives by journalists are like restaurant reviews. You should never take what you are reading as the gospel. Every journalist sees every vehicle differently and what they like or dislike may not matter to you.
(Read More: Turbocharged Vehicles Fall Short of Promised Mileage )
That said, the question remains: Can journalists be objective when doing test drives? I think so. What do you think? E-mail me and let me know.
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—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau; Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews
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