Tesla CEO takes to Twitter to counter Consumer Reports review

The publication wouldn’t give the car maker’s Model 3 a recommendation, citing issues with brakes and problems with ride quality. Elon Musk attempted to sway readers with tweets.

Negative press coverage can send communicators and executives alike scrambling to repair their brands’ images.

Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, decided to handle it head on—by tweeting his response.

Musk’s tweets came after Consumer Reports published a review of Tesla’s Model 3, refusing to give the vehicle a recommendation.

Consumer Reports’ autos team lead, Patrick Olsen, wrote:

… In Consumer Reports’ tests, we found plenty to like about the luxury compact sedan… Our testers also found flaws—big flaws—such as long stopping distances in our emergency braking test and difficult-to-use controls.

…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.

Tesla immediately offered up data of its own, which contradicted Consumer Reports’ tests.

Olsen wrote:

A Tesla spokesperson told CR that the company’s own testing found stopping distances from 60 to 0 mph were an average of 133 feet, with the same tires as our Model 3. The automaker noted that stopping-distance results are affected by variables such as road surface, weather conditions, tire temperature, brake conditioning, outside temperature, and past driving behavior that may have affected the brake system.

Engadget reported:

Not surprisingly, Tesla took issue with the claim. In a statement, a spokesperson maintained that its testing showed a 133-foot braking distance using the 18-inch Michelin all-season tires. The company also claimed that CR‘s test units may have been affected by a number of factors, including temperatures (both for the tires and the environment), the road surface and even “past driving behavior.” And if there were issues, the spokesperson said, Tesla was in a better place to “address more corner cases” through software updates that could improve the stopping distance.

Though Tesla’s information was included in Consumer Reports’ article, the review was ultimately a ding for a company that must persuade consumers to shell out big bucks for the more expensive versions of the vehicle.

The Verge reported:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the final details of the dual-motor, all-wheel drive version of the Model 3 over the weekend, including a top-of-the-line variant that is more expensive than a base-level Model S or X. While we’ve known for a long time that these were coming, this is the most clarity Tesla’s offered yet about specs, pricing, and options.

Taken one way, it’s a sign Tesla is working through the early production struggles of the Model 3 and is ready to start offering more diverse options, much like it does with the Model S or X. But Tesla also needs to sell these more expensive Model 3s to grow its revenue at a time when the company is spending more money than ever. In the meantime, Tesla is holding back on making the cheapest version of what is supposed to be the company’s “mass-market” electric car — a decision that Musk says is a matter of life and death for the company.

So, Musk decided to address the article—as well as the Model 3’s shortcomings—in a series of tweets:

Consumer Reports isn’t the only publication Musk has responded to after negative coverage, either. The executive also tersely refuted a report by Reveal that alleged the company wasn’t prioritizing employees’ safety and fired workers who wanted to form a union.

Musk has a history of responding to both praise and criticism through his Twitter account. The approach seems to be working, as well—and not just with his fans.

On Tuesday, Consumer Reports published Musk’s response—though Olsen reiterated the publication’s report of the Model 3’s subpar brake performance.

What do you think of Musk’s strategy to counter negative press?

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