What I think happened:
Does the Tesla overstate its range? Yes, if you drive 50-55 with minimal heat/air conditioning. Reduce range by 10% if you drive 65. Reduce range by another 10% in winter with heat or summer with air conditioning.
Does the Tesla battery retain its charge when it is cold? No. That's why you plug it in at night.
Did Broder set the cruise control to 54? No.
Did Broder turn off the heat, and did his feet freeze, and did his knuckles turn white as his body tried to reduce heat loss through the hands? No. Eventually he turned the heat down to 64 1/2.
Did he think that running out of electrons would make for a more interesting story? Yes.
Did he try to make the car run out of electrons before Milford? I can't say.
Did he forget to plug in the car in Groton because he was trying to make the car run out of electrons? I can't say.
Did he fail to stop on the road from Groton to Milford because he was then trying to make the car run out of electrons? Yes.
Did he claim the car was dead even though it was not? Probably not--probably he did not understand that turning it off meant that with the battery so low it would not automatically restart.
For a guy who is always criticizing the press, funny how you jump to conclusions before getting both sides.
It does look like your guy is in substantial trouble with his:
I planted myself in the far right lane with the cruise control set at 54 miles per hour (the speed limit is 65). Buicks and 18-wheelers flew past, their drivers staring at the nail-polish-red wondercar with California dealer plates. Nearing New York, I made the first of several calls to Tesla officials about my creeping range anxiety.... All the while, my feet were freezing and my knuckles were turning white...
Tesla says its telemetry says he was going not 54 but 62; that he turned the climate up to 74, only later reduced it, and never reduced it below 64.5; and when he reached the Milford charging station drove around the parking lot for five minutes hoping the car would run out of electrons...
And consider Broder's:
Virtually everyone says that I should have plugged in the car overnight in Connecticut, particularly given the cold temperature. But the test that Tesla offered was of the Supercharger, not of the Model S, which we already know is a much-praised car. This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a “normal use,” no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it.
That seems to me to be as close to a confession of "I was going to do whatever it took to make this car run out of electrons" as we are likely to get out of Broder. When you stop for the night, you plug your electric cr in. Am I wrong?
Unless Tesla's lying about their telemetry, I simply don't see a second side here…
And Anonymous37 said:
As some Wired.com commenters have pointed out (http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/02/tesla-logs-nytimes/), the one fact which very strongly indicates that Broder's lying is that he didn't contact Tesla when the car supposedly ran out of charge (a fact which Musk disputes with the logs). He instead went with a different towing company, despite the fact that Tesla would have arrived in minutes.
The simplest explanation for this is that the car hadn't run out of charge. Had Tesla come instead, there would have been a very embarrassing cellphone video of Broder claiming the car was out of charge and then the Tesla folks demonstrating that he's an idiot or hugely dishonest.
Broder is claiming that he'll have a rebuttal up later today, but I honestly can't see how he can manage to effectively counter Musk's claims.