Wednesday, February 13, 2013
There is a cliche in newspapers and PR: Never attack the fellow who buys ink by the barrel. This is precisely what Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, did. It was dumb. Rather than testing his electric car to see if it drained energy as fast as a New York Times journalist reported, Musk said the Times article was a fake. The burden of proof lies on Musk, and thus far, he hasn't shown evidence the reporter's experience was made up. While attacking the media might make him a hero in some corners, it more likely damaged his credibility and that of his vehicle in the eyes of potential buyers on the East Coast. The Tesla has been a successful car in warm weather. There is a question now whether it is equally good in ice and snow. If not, the car has limited distribution in the US and elsewhere. This could sink the company, which hasn't been making money. No wonder Musk went on the offensive. He needs a PR counselor -- and he needs to listen to that adviser. The first thing he should be told is to get his facts straight before mouthing off.