Tesla accuses Reuters of ‘manufacturing’ a story

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Tesla is accusing Reuters of “manufacturing” a story about the automaker lying to customers to make repairs off warranty.

Last week, Reuters posted a story titled “Tesla blamed drivers for failures of parts it long knew were defective.”

In short, the report claims that Tesla gaslighted customers into thinking they were responsible for issues needing repair when the automaker knew that they were common defects. Reuters used anecdotal evidence from customers and claims to have seen service communications to prove it.

As we reported last week, we have been skeptical of Reuters’ reporting on Tesla lately, especially after we caught it back editing an article to correct it and then lying about the edit:

On our podcast last week, we briefly discussed the new report from Reuters with skepticism because it appeared that it was basing its claims of Tesla knowing about the “defect” on service notices that Tesla propagated among its service network.

Those notices are standard, and they help spread knowledge among Tesla’s service centers to get ahead of potential issues. A service notice doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a widespread defect.

Tesla has now responded to the story in a lengthy X post:

It is rare for Tesla to answer news articles since the automaker dissolved its PR department back in 2020.

But the automaker decided to answer this time. However, Tesla was contacted by Reuters prior to the article being published and only decided to answer after the fact.

Tesla called the story “manufactured” and says it is “demonstrably incorrect”:

Reuters published an article that leads with a wildly misleading headline and is riddled with incomplete and demonstrably incorrect information. This latest piece vaguely and nonsensically suggests there are thousands upon thousands of disgruntled Tesla customers. It’s nonsensical because it’s nonfactual—the reality is Tesla’s customer retention is among the best and highest in the industry.

The automaker claims to have “telemetry” that shows there was a collision in the main incident publicized in the article rather than simply a defect as alleged by the owner.

Tesla argued:

The author has conflated a noise-related (non-safety) issue with a range of unrelated and disconnected service actions. Contrary to the article’s statements based on erroneous data, Tesla is truthful and transparent with our safety regulators around the globe and any insinuation otherwise is plain wrong.

Electrek has contacted the owner involved in the Reuters article to get their reaction to Tesla’s response.

Electrek’s Take

I think that scrutiny is important, and Tesla’s service is certainly far from perfect. However, this article didn’t feel right to me because it seemed to put way too much weight on service notices.

That said, I am curious to see what the customer says about Tesla’s claim of having telemetry on an alleged crash because that was the main story Reuters used to make its point.

On a different point, Tesla could have likely avoided that article altogether – or, at the very least, made it a lot more accurate – by having a PR department to talk to those reporters before publishing the story.

At the very least, Reuters would have included Tesla’s response in the original article, but it might even have decided to drop the story altogether if Tesla was able to show that the anecdotal evidence was flawed.

I really think that Tesla needs a PR department again.

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