Yesterday's outrageous attack on electric vehicles didn't come from the GOP (for a change), but from a seemingly disinterested blogger, one Michael Degusta. His charges against Tesla include suggesting that its cars will have "eventual, inevitable, catastrophic battery failure," lambasting the company for poor warranty service, accusing Tesla of tracking its owners without consent, and intimating that the company is not only failing to provide owners with proper notice of this phenomenon but also covering up the whole sordid affair. Serious stuff, this post of his that's rippled through the automotive web with the force of a 185-kW electric motor.

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Yet all may not be what it seems. Late yesterday, an e-mail surfaced on Green Car Reports, in which a disgruntled owner who bricked his battery pleads his case to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The e-mail, sent by one Max Drucker, CEO of Santa Barbara-based Social Intelligence Corp, is a clear plea for assistance in the repair of his car. Drucker identifies his car as Roadster #340, the same car that serves as the primary example in Degusta's piece. Drucker has since spoken with Autopia about his car, admitting that he drove his Roadster down to a 25 percent charge, then left it parked for six weeks, something the owner's manual specifically warns against.

Now, let's turn our attention towards Degusta, who noted at the end of his screed, "No one has paid me to write this article" and pointed out that his blog is not advertising-supported. That's an important point, as it's clearly designed to give readers the impression that Degusta is an unbiased outsider, something of a modern-day Upton Sinclair, defending the poor, innocent owners of $100,000 sports cars from the uncaring electric car company and its billionaire co-founder.

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Yet, a few minutes spent with Google shows that Drucker and Degusta are also business partners, having registered at least four corporations together in California, according to Corporationwiki. It also turns up this article, from the November 15, 2000, issue of Insurance & Technology magazine, a profile of Drucker, in which he is quoted describing Degusta as his "partner in crime." Indeed, we wonder if the famously litigious Tesla might be considering another libel lawsuit against this muckraking duo.


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  • 83 Comments
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Jeffis like a lot of moronic racists of the past, who would openly restrict or take shots at those who didn't look like him. That has become politically incorrect now, but the type of people are still out there. So moronic that they do tot realize that people who identify with the right comprise of about 30% - 40% of the population. But, people like him are so closed minded that they cannot even fathom that people out there might think differently, so he doesn't even realize that oh guess what? There are other web sites that talk about cars! Left lane news, jalopnik, the car connection. We don't need this, we don't need your.
      Gorgenapper
      • 2 Years Ago
      So why aren't there any safeguards in place for this sort of thing?
      ThomasP
      • 2 Years Ago
      Now if only this kind of investigation had taen place prior to the proliferation of this story....
      simianspeedster
      • 2 Years Ago
      Come on, Autoblog. Can't you at least pretend that you're neutral in all of this? That there's some fiber of journalistic integrity behind this site? First, you characterize Degusta's report an "outreageous attack on electric vehicles," then you have the gaul to link to an unrelated article about Volts and gun racks. What is that about? Guilt by non-association? The stories are wholly unrelated -- that's just dirty pool. More to the point, how can you say that Degusta's piece is "outrageous" when you go on to note that all the facts aren't in and verified. Regardless of his motivation, Degusta's article may have real value in forcing companies like Tesla to be more transparent and detailed about the consequences of running a pure electric car down to zero charge. Indeed, if there's any outrage, it should be directed at Tesla for doing everything they can to run interference and play defense rather than address the underlying issue here. As for questioning Degusta's character, you'd better be careful. All he claimed is that he wasn't paid to write the article. That's either a true fact or it is not. That he has a business relationship with one of the impacted Tesla owners that he writes about is material, but it doesn't give you carte blanche to question his character. He never claimed to be a disinterested party -- that's Autoblog putting words in his mouth. Until Autoblog stops taking ads from the companies it writes about, I'd be very careful about attacking the credibility of others. Lastly, all of this is a smokescreen for the real issue: whether or not you think electric car buyers should ultimately be held responsible for maintaining their batteries in a state of charge, it's clear that Tesla has not done enough to educate their buyers about the risk and associated cost. They had and now have again the opportunity to be very, very clear about what happens if, how much it cost if, and who pays if a battery wholly discharges. All these counterarguments about "it's the same as oil" are bunk in the real world. Tesla has to acknowledge that the shift from ICE to pure-electric motivation requires changes in consumer thinking which should result in initial retraining of early buyers, especially when they're plunking down $100K+ on relatively unproven technology. Attacking your customers and hiding behind your lawyers is not a good long-term strategy. Tesla should take advantage of this controversy by stepping forward and initiating a more detailed education campaign that would allow them to definitely say that they have given their buyers all the information they need to understand the duties of maintaining their electric cars and the risks and costs of failing to do so. I find it more than odd that Autoblog is taking an inidividual blogger to task for trying to educate the public more than they are taking a company to task for failing to do so. If you want to question anyone's motivation, question your own first.
        Kimithechamp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @simianspeedster
        That's about EXACTLY how I felt reading this piece. For putting the previous article out their in the first place (an AB decision one would assume) it seems strange then to refute it so absolutely without any clear cut evidence anything in the original story was entirely false. Is AB trying to tell people they don't check anything before posting it? I know that isn't true, but it doesn't say much of AB to put out a cautioned article only to renounce it with twice as much blind passion. "This guy's a liar (and prob a dity 1% R) and an sob! Well, he didn't lie, but he didn't tell us about facts we found later while barely doing our jobs, so, to the plank with him!" What a joke.
        SloopJohnB
        • 2 Years Ago
        @simianspeedster
        heh heh..you said gaul. Must be a French problem.
      Dean Hammond
      • 2 Years Ago
      these two Charlatons need to look up a word in Websters....."ACCOUNTABILITY".....funny though, as I work in the business I see this on a frequent basis, people can "chip" their cars, blow a transmission, remove the chip and scream blue murder at the dealership.....interesting watching reactions when the fault is traced to owner error....
        Dean Hammond
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dean Hammond
        ok vote downs, man up, let me know who you are, be accountable for your actions....LOL! keyboard cowards....but then again, even though you hit the button, it wasnt your fault right?.....
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          [blocked]
          Dean Hammond
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          SVX, exactly how did Tesla screw up the design?......after all they instruct said owners of the expected / REQUIRED maintenence of quite possibly the most important part of its overall design...so what you are saying is every Tom Dick and Harold should ignore any SPECIFICALLY mentioned recommendations made in the owners manual because there is always the dealer to blame ....correct?....that and they are obviously of no importance no?.....
          Dean Hammond
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          well at least you manned up....but y'know, I cant help but thinking, if I had the stones to purchase a car of this expense, an ELECTRIC car no less, first thing I would do is research the maintenence of its drivetrain....wouldnt you? or would you put gasoline in a Volkswagon TDI?........
        SloopJohnB
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dean Hammond
        Well said. I've seen at least one Porsche 911 GT engine cratered/overrevved at the track (the trouble with manual trans is it is possible to miss a gear or downshift to the wrong gear and blam!) and the local dealer covered the warranty repair because the customer had bought a half dozen of them. However, unless you're Daddy Warbucks the dealer generally says it's your fault. The rich guys that buy Teslas apparently feel the same way...but unless the rich guy is really really rich Tesla should tell him to go pound sand...the rich guy should have read the manual. At least that's what the 99% would say.
      montgom626
      • 2 Years Ago
      AB wrote a bigoted comment "Yesterday's outrageous attack on electric vehicles didn't come from the GOP" Does it bother AB that this statement "Yesterday's outrageous attack on electric vehicles didn't come from the GOP" is fundamentally bigoted? If you don't know the definition of bigot, let me refresh your memory A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs. Not everyone who is in the GOP agrees with another GOP comment. I understand that the two fellows Drucker and Degusta are Democrats. So does this make all Democrats anti-electric car? According to AB, it does.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @montgom626
        [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        @montgom626
        [blocked]
      clquake
      • 2 Years Ago
      Getting sick of this. This is a battery/car design failure and an owner failure, however, Tesla has a lot more at stake. So far, all they appear to do is sue (BBC - Top Gear, and they lost) and sling mud when problems pop up. Not exactly the best pr moves. It would be like GM having a press conference to call Corvette owners morons because they got trapped inside and couldn't find the manual release. Sure the info's in the manual, but the negative tone of the company sets customer expectations. They have already been a troubled company, who would still want to do business with them knowing that they could be embarrassed in the media? Nissan, on the other hand, used the negative publicity and provided a solution (Top Gear & the Leaf).
        simianspeedster
        • 2 Years Ago
        @clquake
        Thank you for the common sense post. If many of the posters in this thread ran consumer-focused companies, they'd be out of business in under a year.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @clquake
        The Nissan Leaf is vulnerable to this problem, so are all electric cars. It says in the Nissan Leaf manual to charge the car every 2 weeks. Putting a discharged car into storage for 2 months is going to = dead battery. It would happen to the 12v lead acid battery in your car as well.
          carboy55
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Wrong. The Nissan Leaf has a fail safe system in place that states it is unsafe onlt to leave the car comepletely drained for two weeks or more. It's in the owner's manual. How often to you leave your car totally empty of gas for two weeks? That's not good either. Any car left for weeks on end needs a full tank and a trickle charge.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          [blocked]
      Rally
      • 2 Years Ago
      Doesn't explain the other four bricked cars.
      Hambone
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seriously? Another blatant anti-Republican statement in an article that has NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS. I now see why your tagline "We Obsessively Cover The Auto Industry" ends with "...", it must end with "And Throw In Our Unrelated Liberal Bias In The Process." I think it's about time to switch my automotive news source to one that doesn't succumb to the pressure of it's moronic parent corporation.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hambone
        [blocked]
          ojfltx
          • 2 Years Ago
          See Dan? That is precisely the reason why this site should not have politics in their stories. Why this gratuitous attack? Just to start a fight?
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          I will look upon the left wing wonders, like the killing fields, the cultural revolution, the great leap forward, stains purges, national socialism, and the , I will rethink your post.
          Russell Ford
          • 2 Years Ago
          Destroy the world? Nice, moron.
      turbomonkey2k
      • 2 Years Ago
      So a Tesla battery pack is $60K? For the price of the Roadster I can buy a GT500 Mustang that will beat it to 60 MPH, beat its top speed by 77 MPH, out-handle it, out-endure it, carry three times the passengers and leave me money leftover for a Nissan Leaf and 70 thousand miles of fuel at $5.00/gallon. OK, I think we can all agree that the Roadster is the official fashion accessory for idiots.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Conveniently timed attack on Tesla, right before they launch the Model S. Conveniently leaves info like this out: >>>Apparently he tried to sell the car on Craigslist back in December. Not sure how that affects the story. http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/7039-340-Red-Santa-Barbara "Nov 22, 2011: Date on the Flickr photos for the Craigslist advert. Dec 15, 2011: Noticed the Craigslist listing which reported 12.5K miles on the car. Feb 9, 2012: Said to be "unrecoverable" after being unplugged "for just over 2 months". Reported 13K miles." Oh gee, owner does something that is warned against in the user manual, then starts a PR war. Autoblog green ( via Sebastian ) picks it up and parrots it without knowing the details to get us riled up and/or plan out discredit Tesla. Convenient timing as Tesla is about to launch the Model S. Convenient information left out that all lithium, lead acid, nimh, ni cad, etc batteries suffer self discharge, and all cars put a parasitic drain on said batteries, thus leaving the battery fully discharged for a month or more could result in permanent damage.. Condition for invalidating the battery warranty on a Nissan Leaf - "Leaving your vehicle for over 14 days where the lithium-ion battery reaches a zero or near zero state of charge." - http://www.mynissanleaf.com/wiki/images/f/fe/2012-leaf-warranty-booklet.pdf Does it smell like Toyotagate to anyone here?
      Super D Spamalot
      • 2 Years Ago
      It really doesn't matter what the owners manual says. If the battery pack in a CAR, an expensive consumer product essential for the day to day lives of millions of people, fails for any reason in less then 10 years it should either be replaced no questions asked, or electric car makers need to fess up and admit that electric cars are NOT and NEVER WERE ready for prime time. This whole cars running on batteries has been a pipe dream from the start and millions have been thrown away just so that people are blinded by the pretty colours long enough so that they can prolong the use of fossil fuels while pretending to care about the environment. It's a sham. All of it. Research and perfect Hydrogen fuels cells... Oh wait, oil companies don't make billions and billions of dollars of profit from the most abundant element in the universe, so... Yeah, that's never gonna happen is it.
        SloopJohnB
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Super D Spamalot
        You have a right to your own opinion, but not a right to your own set of facts. The owner's manual states....well, read it yourself. The Tesla is a state of the art electric car...the problem is the state of the art isn't so great.
        You guy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Super D Spamalot
        Hydrogen is the biggest green fuel scam of all. It won't ever be viable.
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